The Disney Dining Plan can be a great way to eat at some of your favorite Disney restaurants and save you “up to 30%” off the cost of dining at the resort. Many Disney fans have strong opinions about whether or not the dining plan is worth it, but only you can decide if it’s worth getting for your family. If you do decide to purchase the plan, here are a few points to keep in mind to help you get the most out of your dining plan credits.
6. Avoid (or pay separately for) two-credit dining experiences
Anything that would use up two of your table service credits on the dining plan would be a better value if you paid for them out of pocket. I typically just avoid these experiences if I’m using the dining plan simply because I don’t feel like it makes a lot of sense to pay for food separately when I’ve already purchased the plan. If you really feel that the dining plan is otherwise worth it however, save your extra credits and pay for experiences like signature dining and room service separately. If you’re unsure about how much of a price difference it would be to use two credits or to pay separately, check the menus online and do some math while comparing the cost of the plan to see which way makes you come out ahead.
5. Skip vegetarian and pasta dishes
If you are a vegetarian, you may want to do a little bit of extra research to make sure that the dining plan will be worth it for you based on what you’ll order before you book the plan. In general, you would be getting the most value out of the plan by consistently ordering the more expensive entrees at table service restaurants. Because vegetarian and pasta dishes are not ordinarily the most expensive items on the menu, it’s important that you double check that you would otherwise be spending more money than the cost of the plan. If you’re not really interested in vegetarian or pasta dishes, opt for the steak or seafood (or other meat-based) dishes instead, as this will give you the greatest value over the cost of the plan.
4. Know which snack credits will maximize value
Though this is not always the case, snack credits usually cost $4.99 or less. (You can also look for the little Disney Dining Plan logo on the menu or sign where you’re ordering the snack from, or ask a cast member, if you want to be sure.) This general price for the snacks means that you should use your credits for the snacks that are more expensive, thereby giving you the most value for the cost of the plan. If you want some of the less expensive snacks, pay for them out of pocket, and save your snack credits for something more expensive. One easy way to make the most out of your snack credits (if you’re visiting in the fall) is to use them at the kiosks at the Food and Wine Festival in Epcot, as many of those items are priced close to $4.99
3. Don’t use snack credits on drinks
Because the most expensive snacks would cost you $4.99, it does not make sense from a financial standpoint to use snack credits on drinks that would only cost about $2.76 (a bottle of soda.) While this $2 difference might not seem like a lot, it can definitely add up when you factor in the multiple family members you’re likely paying for and the length of the vacation.
2. Order expensive entrees
At the most basic level, the easiest way to maximize your dining plan credits is simply to order the more expensive entrees at table service locations. The value here then, really comes down to your individual preferences and how much food you would realistically be eating. For instance, if you know that you never eat dessert, you may want to double check that the dining plan is worth it, since dessert is included. Conversely, if you don’t have a big appetite (and therefore cannot often justify ordering expensive meals) the dining plan can be a great way to try different things and pay less to do so.
1. Use table service credits for dinner rather than lunch
The reasoning for this tip is simple– dinner generally costs more than lunch, and if the plan is prepaid you would therefore be getting the greater value by using the plan for one credit table service locations during dinner. For lunch, opt for quick service options as the prices for quick service meals do not change throughout the day.