There are many pros and cons to getting the Disney Dining Plan.
Many Guests love it because everything is paid up front. For them, it’s one less thing they have to worry about while on vacation.
However, there is an equal number of Guests that really hate the Disney Dining Plan. These Guests say there’s an enormous amount of food and for many, it’s a poor value.
Some Guests argue that the atmosphere and interactions with the Cast Members make up just as much value as the actual food cost. But, for the purpose of this post, we’ll just be looking at the dollar amount.
The Best and Worst Restaurants To Use Your Disney Dining Plan Credits On
What is the Disney Dining Plan and what does it cost?
The Dining Plan at Walt Disney world is essentially a way to pre-pay for your meals.
Your money turns into Meal and Snack Credits. Each time you use a credit, the new balance is placed on the bottom of your receipt, so you never lose track of how many you have.
It’s an easier way to pay since you won’t be taking your wallet out every time a member of your family wants a Dole Whip or a Mickey Premium Bar.
Sound complicated? You just need to tap your MagicBand at the cash register, receive your receipt with your new balance, and you’re all set.
Dining Plans are purchased as a part of your Walt Disney World Vacation Package. It’s also only available to Guests staying at one of the Walt Disney World Resorts.
As of 2019, the per night cost of the Disney Dining Plan is:
- $75.49 / Ages 10+
- $27.98 / Ages 3 – 9
There are 3 Tiers to Disney Dining. There is Quick Service, Disney Dining (which is the the focus of this Post), and the Deluxe Dining Plan.
With the Disney Dining Plan, you will receive 1 Quick Service Meal (think fast food-type of service), 1 Table Service Meal (sit down meals where tipping is customary), and 2 Snacks per day.
You also receive one Free Refillable Mug per Guest for free refills at every Resort on Walt Disney World property.
Disney Dining Plan not for you? Refillable Mugs are available for purchase. The last I heard, the mugs were still $18.99 for Guests without a Dining Plan.
Value of the Disney Dining Plan
With a per night cost of $75.49, how do you know whether you’re getting your money’s worth?
Looking around Walt Disney World, you’ll see that eligible snacks around Walt Disney World run about $5 a piece and Quick Service Meals will cost you about $20.
This means that if you want the most “bang for your buck” from Table Service Restaurants, you should be looking for meals that are in that $45 per person range.
What do you get for your Table Service Credit?
One Table Service Credit includes an entree, dessert, and beverage (including alcoholic beverages for adults).
Tips are not included in the Dining Plan, so we will not be using it as a part of these calculations. This is something Guests don’t always thing of when they start grabbing Dining Reservations.
Restaurants with the Worst Values on the Disney Dining Plan
If you’re solely looking at getting the best value for your money, save your Credits for Lunch and Dinner and find other options for Breakfast.
Breakfast is the cheapest meal of the day. And dessert isn’t offered in the mornings. So, there’s no way you’re going to get the best “bang for your buck” by using your credits in the morning.
Less food + Cheaper Menu Items = Less Value for your Credits
Just taking into account the dollar price and not the entertainment, 50’s Prime Time Cafe is one of the worst “bang for your buck” Restaurants.
Entertainment speaking, this restaurant is one of the best around. It’s the only restaurant on property where you get scolded for putting your elbows on the table or not eating your vegetables.
However, with the most expensive item on the menu costing $27, you’re never going to get your money’s worth.
You’re better off paying out of pocket, instead.
Located in Magic Kingdom, the Plaza Restaurant is also one of the worst places to use your Dining credits.
While there is an opportunity to get your money’s worth at the Plaza Restaurant, it doesn’t leave you with many options.
Pairing the most expensive entree, $32, with the most expensive dessert, $10, does come close to that $45 “break even” mark. But, there’s one catch. This is the only combinations that works and these items are only available for dinner.
The majority of the Lunch and Dinner Menu cost between $18 and $22, with the exception for breakfast, where the most expensive option is $18.
So, unless your entire party wants to order the same exact thing, you’re not going to be getting your money’s worth here.
Beaches and Cream is best known for their ice cream and their infamous Kitchen Sink, the dessert made to feed 4+ people and comes with every single topping known to man…including an entire can of whipped cream!
While the ice cream, alone, is worth the trip over to Beaches and Cream, located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, as far as using your Dining Credits here, it’s just not a good idea.
The Patty Melt is the most expensive item on the menu. And at just $18, there’s no way you’re going to come close to the “break even” mark.
Everyone wants to eat in Cinderella Castle (including me). But, if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you’re surprisingly better off paying out of pocket than using your Dining Credits.
With an $80 price tag for Lunch and Dinner, you would think that this would be a great value for your Dining Plan.
However, this one of the Restaurants on property that will charge you TWO dining credits for just one meal.
That means that the $45 “target price” that you’re looking for suddenly increases to $90.
What does an $80 meal look like? This one set price includes an appetizer, entree, dessert, and a non-alcoholic beverage. However, gratuity is included into the price, so that’s a big plus.
Unfortunately, with everything included in the price of your meal, there is no chance of breaking even.
Restaurants with the Best Values on the Disney Dining Plan
Located at the Grand Floridian Resort, 1900 Park Fare is a popular Character Dining location.
Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner is not only a great value for those on the Disney Dining Plan, Guests also have to opportunity to meet characters such as Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Drizella, and Anastasia.
And with an all-you-care-to-eat price tag of $52.19, you’ll always get your money’s worth at this Restaurant.
This restaurant is a brand new Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs-themed Restaurant at Wilderness Lodge.
This prix fixe dinner includes appetizers, a main course, and desserts.
Snow White and a couple of the dwarfs can be found walking around as you eat.
But, Storybook Dining at Artist Point is the only place on property you can see the Evil Queen.
Surprisingly, with a price of $55, this restaurant is worth 1 Table Service Credit. At this price tag, Story Book Dining at Artist Point a great value for Guests on the Disney Dining Plan.
Featuring a variety of American and African Cuisine, Boma is located at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Known best for their Zebra Domes, Boma is one of those restaurants I frequently see on many “Guest Favorites” Lists.
With a dinner price of $49, we think Boma is a great value for your Table Service Credit.
If you’re a big fan of seafood, then you need to check out Cape May Cafe.
Located at the Beach Club Resort, on the Boardwalk between Hollywood Studios and Epcot, you can easily walk to this restaurant from either of these Parks…if you don’t mind the extra steps.
But, if you are looking for other transportation options, the bus, Friendship boats, Minnie Vans will also get you to Cape May Cafe.
With a nautical New England decor and a dinner price tag of $48, Cape May Cafe is another great choice for getting the most “bang for your buck.”