One of the things I love to do at Disney is eat! Walt Disney World offers a Dining Plan, but does it actually save you money?
First off, if you are going to Disney when they are offering FREE DINING than YES!!! It is worth it! We were lucky to have one of our visits coincide with FREE Dining and it did save us a lot of money!
But now you actually have to pay for your dining. One of the benefits is having the expense covered before you leave. Less money you need to take on vacation with you. However, even though you have the Dining Plan, you are still required to pay the taxes and gratuities on your meal. It is not completely FREE.
So, lets break it down. There are 3 Dining Plans: Quick Serve – $41.99/day/adult, $16.03/day/child 3-9 – 2 quick serve meals, 1 snack, 1 resort mug; Regular Dining – $60.04/day/adult, $19.23/day/child – 1 quick serve, 1 table service, 1 snack, 1 resort mug; Deluxe Dining – $109.53/day/adult, $29.86/day/child – 3 meals (of any type), 2 snack, 1 resort mug. The most popular Dining Plan is the Regular Dining Plan. The Quick Serve is fine if you don’t really care about eating – you just want to be quick and get back to the attractions. However, dining is a great time to take a break and relax a bit. Get re-energized! The Deluxe Dining is a lot of food! If you are planning on eating at a lot of 2 credit restaurants then maybe it would be worth it, but not for most.
So let’s say we are staying at Disney for 7 nights. 1 adult Regular Dining Plan would cost $420.28. A Rapid Fill Resort Mug is $17.99, so that leaves us with $402.29. Divided by the 7 days is $57.47/day.
Let’s plan a day at the Magic Kingdom. We will have lunch at Cosmic Rays: A BBQ Pork Sandwich $10.29, Lemonade $2.99 with Triple Chocolate Cake $4.19. Lunch, before tax, is $17.47. That leaves us with $40 for dinner.
We will have dinner at the Crystal Palace. This is a buffet and the Winnie-the Pooh Characters come around to the tables. The price here varies throughout the year, but is approximately $40. So you have now broken even, therefore getting your $5 snack for FREE!!
But let’s back track for a moment. If I was eating at Cosmic Rays I would order my BBQ Pork Sandwich $10.29, ask for a cup of water $0.00 and skip the dessert. Therefore my lunch would deb $7.18 less. Do you need to eat dessert at every meal? After 7 days, I just saved myself $50.26.
Instead of eating at the Crystal Palace Buffet, you decided to go to Be Our Guest. This is a restaurant that is a little more expensive. I love the Grilled Strip Steak $33.49, with a Coke 2.99 and the ‘Grey Stuff’ $4.19. Dinner here is $40.67. Just $0.67 more than Crystal Palace. Once again, I personally will just have water for dinner, but I’m enjoying my ‘Grey Stuff’! So I save $2.99.
These are average prices you will find across Disney for Lunch and Dinner. Once a child turns 10, they must be on an Adult Dining Plan. However, when Gemma and I went to Disney, most restaurants allowed her to order off the Kids Menu since we were paying for the meal, which saved us money. Or, Gemma and I often shared a meal, again saving us money. Plus, if you have an Annual Pass or are a DVC member, you can receive 10% off many table service restaurants.
So you have to decide what works for you. We personally find, for our eating habits, that the Dining Plan doesn’t save us any money.
Note: I got the food prices from various places on the internet. They may be subject to change.
Have you used the Dining Plan? What tips do you have for Dining at Walt Disney World?