Disney World Quick Service, Regular, and Deluxe Dining Plan Introduction

by josh on January 4, 2012

Updated August 27 with 2013/2014 pricing

Introduction

Along with lodging, theme park tickets, and transportation, food is one of the biggest potential costs associated with any Disney World vacation.  In fact, food purchases may very well be the largest overall expensive.  In an effort to help vacationers budget food expenses (and guarantee most of your dining dollars go right back into Disney’s pocket), Disney offers several pre-paid Dining Plans to guests staying at Disney-owned resorts.  If you are staying “off-site,” at one of the Downtown Disney hotels, at the Swan, Dolphin, or Shades of Green, or any other resort/hotel/motel/tent/etc., you will not be eligible to purchase the Dining Plan.  You must be staying at a Disney Value, Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa that qualifies.  In addition, the Disney Dining Plan must be purchased as part of a package that includes at least a One Day Magic Your Way Base Ticket for everyone on the reservation or you must be an Annual Passholder, Disney Vacation Club owner or renter, or add a Dining Plan as part of a land/sea cruise package.

Furthermore, everyone on the same reservation must purchase the same Dining Plan for the entire length of the stay.  For example, it’s not possible to book a room for four adults and purchase a Dining Plan for less than four people or purchase different Dining Plans for each person.  The Dining Plans can be added to your package up to 72 hours before your check-in date, so you have some time to consider your options, even after you make an initial reservation.  There is no benefit to adding the Dining Plan when you book your package, other than it will save you a phone call sometime in the future.  There is no discount for paying for it early and you don’t run the risk of them selling out of Dining Plans.  It’s also much easier to add the Dining Plan than it is to remove it and you don’t run the risk of any fees or charges for removing the Dining Plan too close to your check-in date.   Once you qualify for the Dining Plan, you can begin to figure out if one of them “makes sense,” both in terms of potential savings and convenience.

There are three common Disney Dining Plan “tiers” available.  A Premium and Platinum Dining Plan are also available, but they include a lot of other recreational activities, spa treatments, and other goodies and those will have to wait for a different article.  They also cost $189 per adult per night for the Premium Plan and $239 per adult per night for the Platinum Plan.  This article will take a look at the Quick Service Dining Plan, “Regular” Dining Plan, and Deluxe Dining Plan.

How Much Do The Dining Plans Cost (all prices include tax)?

Quick Service Dining Plan

  • Adults: (Ages 10+) $40.00 per night
  • Children (Ages 3-9): $15.25 per night

“Regular” Dining Plan

  • Adults (Ages 10+): $59.20 per night during regular season or $60.65 during peak season
  • Children (Ages 3-9): $18.28 per night during regular season or $19.35 during peak season

Deluxe Dining Plan

  • Adults (Ages 10+): $106.47 per night during regular season or $108.92 per night during peak season
  • Children (Ages 3-9): $28.59 per night during regular season or $30.79 per night during peak season

For all Dining Plans, kids age two and younger do not qualify.  They can either eat some of someone else’s food, you can purchase a separate item from the menu for them (and pay for it separately), or you can bring food for them to eat.

What’s Included With Each Dining Plan?  Definitions of a “Quick Service Meal,”“Table Service Meal,” and “Snack” are Below

Quick Service Dining Plan

  • Two Quick Service Meals Per Person, Per Night
  • One Snack Per Person, Per Night
  • One Refillable Resort Drink Mug for the duration of your stay.

“Regular” Dining Plan

  • One Quick Service Meal Per Person, Per Night
  • One Table Service Meal Per Person, Per Night
  • One Snack Per Person, Per Night
  • One Refillable Resort Drink Mug for the duration of your stay. The mug is good at all resort refillable mug stations.

Deluxe Dining Plan

  • Three Meals Per Person, Per Night – Either Quick Service or Table Service
  • Two Snacks Per Person, Per Night
  • One Refillable Resort Drink Mug for the duration of your stay.  The mug is good at all resort refillable mug stations.

Dining Meals/Credits/Entitlements Are on a “Per Night” Basis and Expire at Midnight on Your Checkout Date

Your Dining Plan meals become available once you pick up your Key to the World Card(s) or MagicBands at your resort.  The Key to the World Card looks like a credit card, functions as your room key, and has a lot of information stored on it electronically, including your theme park tickets (if applicable), Dining Plan meals, credit card information (if applicable), and other pertinent information.  Dining Plan credits expire at midnight on your checkout day.  In addition, Dining Plan meals are assigned based on how many nights you are staying at the resort, not based on the length of your theme park ticket or anything else.  For example, if you are checking in on December 3rd and checking out on December 7th,  your Dining Plan credits will be valid from when you pick up your Key to the World Card/MagicBands on December 3rd and expire at midnight on December 7th.  You will receive “four days’ worth” of Dining Plan meals because your stay is for four nights.  If you purchased the Quick Service Dining Plan, you would receive a total of eight quick service meals, four snacks, and the refillable resort mug.  This is the case even if you purchase a ten day Magic Your Way Base Ticket, are staying in Disney World for three more days at another resort, or whatever else.  The meals will expire at midnight on your checkout date.

What’s Included in a Quick Service (Commonly Referred to as Counter Service) Meal?

For breakfast, a quick service meal includes one entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage (juice, milk, soft drink, coffee etc.).

For lunch and dinner, a quick service meal includes one entrée, one dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage.

Quick Service meals include the same items, regardless of which Dining Plan (Quick Service, Regular, or Deluxe) you’ve purchased.

How Does Disney Count Quick Service Credits?  I Heard They Don’t Differentiate Between Child Credits and Adult Credits.

Now you’ve done it.  This is a hotly debated topic, but I’ll explain exactly how it works.  Disney pools quick service credits so that there is no differentiation between adult and child credits.  Officially, Disney states that children (between the ages of 3-9) must order from the children’s menu when one is available.  However, there isn’t always a children’s menu available.  When a children’s menu isn’t available, children are allowed to order off the adult menu, as though they were using an adult quick service credit.  Disney’s system isn’t set up to take away a children’s credit when an adult credit is used at these quick service restaurants that don’t have a children’s menu.  Thus, the computer does not differentiate between a child credit and an adult credit.  This means that if you had one child’s quick service credit left, you could still use it on an adult meal.

However, Disney does attempt to curtail this practice by printing the number of adults and children that are on the Disney Dining Plan on your Key to the World card, which is what you will hand over to the cashier when you “pay” for your meal.  For example, if your room reservation has two children and two adults, you’ll see “2A 2Ch” on your card, indicating that you have two adults and two children on the Dining Plan.  When there is a children’s menu, most cashiers will not allow you to purchase more adult meals than the Key to the World card indicates.  For example, with your “2A 2Ch” card, you would only be allowed to purchase two adult quick service meals at a time.  You can get around this by standing in line twice or having each adult stand in a separate line.  You can also ask the cashier to run your card two separate times to bypass the computer’s limit on the number of adult credits it will use at one time, but that’s hit or miss.  To increase efficiency and decrease confrontation, other cashiers will allow you to purchase four adult meals with your “2A 2Ch” card.

Counter Service Locations That Do Not Currently Have a Children’s Menu:

Most counter service locations provide a children’s menu.  The following are part of the Disney Dining Plan and do not currently have a children’s menu:

Magic Kingdom:

  • Casey’s Corner
  • Golden Oak Outpost
  • Lunching Pad
  • Main Street Bakery

Epcot:

  • Boulangerie Patisserie
  • Fife & Drum Tavern
  • Promenade Refreshments
  • Refreshment Outpost/Africa Coolpost
  • Refreshment Port
  • Yorkshire County Fish Shop

Hollywood Studios:

  • Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner
  • Toluca Legs Turkey Company

Animal Kingdom:

  • Dino Diner
  • Mr . Kamal’s
  • Tamu Tamu Refreshments

Dessert Substitutions at Quick Service Locations

We have a saying in the online world called “YMMV,” which translates to “your mileage may vary.”  Officially, a quick service meal includes the entrée, dessert, and drink.  However, you may be able to make substitutions for the dessert portion of the meal, depending on the quick service location and your cashier.  Most quick services offer just a couple of desserts, usually in the form of a pre-packaged slice of cake or cookie. You may be able to substitute a bottle of water, kids’ apple slices, frozen lemonade, yogurt, or similar item for the traditional pre-packaged dessert option.  Because the Dining Plan is so prevalent now, Disney has expanded the dessert options on many menus to include yogurt and frozen lemonade-type drinks at many locations, so substitutions aren’t as much of a hassle as they once were.

Still, you’re not going to see bottles of water on many (any) dessert menus.  If you would like to try to substitute an item, simply ask the cashier if it’s possible.  You will have the most luck if the item you are substituting either costs the same or less than the item you’re “supposed” to order.  Smile, say something like, “None of these desserts sound like they’ll work for us…do you think we could substitute…instead?”  There’s no harm in trying and you’ll very likely have mixed results throughout your trip, even if you return to the same counter service,  get a different cashier, and ultimately get a different answer.

What is Included in a Table Service Meal on the Regular Dining Plan?

For breakfast, the table service meal includes one entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet.

For lunch and dinner, the table service meal includes one entrée, one dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet.

What is Included in a Table Service Meal on the Deluxe Dining Plan?

For breakfast, the table service meal includes one entrée and one non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet.

For lunch and dinner, the table service meal includes one appetizer, one entrée, one dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet.

The difference between the Regular and Deluxe Dining Plan is that adults receive an appetizer at lunch and dinner on the Deluxe Dining Plan, but not on the Regular Dining Plan.

Signature Restaurants, Dinner Shows, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Private In-Room Dining, and Pizza Delivery Each Cost Two Table Service Meals Per Person

To confuse things a bit more, not all table service restaurants “cost” one table service meal.  About a dozen restaurants around Disney property charge two meals (sometimes called table service credits or entitlements) and each of the dinner shows at the Deluxe resorts also cost two meals.  For example, if you ate at Artist Point and had five table service meals going into the restaurant, you would have three table service meals after.  The following restaurants cost two table service meals per person:

  • Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)
  • California Grill (Contemporary Resort)
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table (Inside Magic Kingdom Theme Park)
  • Citricos (Grand Floridian Resort)
  • Flying Fish Café (Boardwalk Inn)
  • Fulton’s Crab House (Downtown Disney)
  • Hollywood Brown Derby (Inside Hollywood Studios Theme Park)
  • Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
  • Le Cellier (Canada Pavilion, Epcot)
  • Monsieur Paul (France Pavilion, Epcot)
  • Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian Resort)
  • Wolfgang Puck: The Dining Room (Downtown Disney)
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club)

The following dinner shows cost two table service meals per person:

  • Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (Polynesian Resort)
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (Fort Wilderness Campground)
  • Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue (Fort Wilderness Campground)

Private In-Room Dining:

Private In-Room Dining is available at:

  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort
  • Disney’s BoardWalk Inn and Villas
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort
  • Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

The cost is two table service credits and the meal includes the same items as you would receive with a normal Table Service meal.  In other words, Deluxe Plan users receive an appetizer with lunch and dinner while Regular Plan users do not.  Otherwise, the meal includes the entree, dessert (at lunch and dinner), and non-alcoholic beverage.  The menu for Private In-Room Dining will be similar to what you can order at the resort’s various restaurants.  You are using the extra credit for the preparation, set-up, and delivery of the meal.

Pizza Delivery:

The Pizza Delivery Meal also costs two adult table service meals.  In this instance, Pizza Delivery includes two non-alcoholic beverages, one pizza entree item, and two desserts.  Because the pizza is meant to serve at least two people, the cost is two credits.

Pizza Delivery is available at:

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort
  • Disney’s Art of Animation Resort
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort

Pizza Delivery is also available at the Deluxe Resorts as part of Private In-Room Dining.

Gratuities at Table Service Restaurants and Buffets

At Cinderella’s Royal Table, the dinner shows, private in-room dining, and pizza delivery, the gratuity is included.  Gratuities are not included for any other meals, including buffets.  An 18% gratuity will automatically be added to parties of six or more, regardless of whether or not you are on the Disney Dining Plan.  If you feel that the level of service you received does not deserve an 18% gratuity, you can look forward to a discussion with your server and management.  It is customary to tip between 15% and 20% of the cost of the bill for attentive service.  The Disney Dining Plan does not cover these gratuities, except at the previously mentioned locations.

What is Considered a Snack on the Disney Dining Plan?

In practice, most food or drink items that cost $5.49 or less can be purchased using Disney Dining Plan snack credits.  Most counter service locations, refreshment carts, and stores offer items that qualify as snacks.  There are virtually thousands of items that qualify, including bottled water and soft drinks, frozen lemonades, ice cream novelties, pretzels, pieces of fruit, single serving boxes of cereal, pastries, desserts, and a whole lot more.  Many quick service locations and kiosks that do not officially participate on the Disney Dining Plan according to Disney’s literature also offer snack items.  There are some items in the four-dollar-range that do not qualify as a “snack,” including corn dog nuggets and other similar items.

What Restaurants and Quick Service Locations Participate in This Offer?

Just about every Quick Service location and most restaurants participate in the Disney Dining Plans.  Every restaurant located in a Disney resort (other than Victoria and Albert’s at Grand Floridian) participates in the Dining Plan program and the great majority of the theme park restaurants and quick services also participate.  In 2012, Disney signed on virtually all of the restaurants that previously did not participate, including all of the Downtown Disney restaurants, Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom/Downtown Disney, Monsieur Paul in the France Pavilion, and other quick service locations in the theme parks that did not participate officially.

For a full list of the participating restaurants on the Quick Service Dining Plan, see Disney’s official PDF here: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/2014Product/2014QuickService.pdf

For the Regular Dining Plan, see this PDF: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/2014Product/2014Dining.pdf

And for the Deluxe Dining Plan, see this PDF: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/DTA-Domestic/pdf/2014Product/2014DeluxeDining.pdf

Why Some Restaurants Choose Not To Participate and Why Some Restaurants May Be Left Off The Official List Until Right Before A New Year Begins

For restaurants, the Disney Dining Plan works a lot like Medicare.  That is, the restaurants are not reimbursed for the entire cost of your meal.  Instead, they are reimbursed based on a negotiated per-person price.  For the restaurants and quick services owned by Disney, this isn’t a problem because the money is all Disney’s anyway.  However, many restaurants around Disney World, including many in the theme parks, are not actually owned by the Walt Disney Company.  Yak & Yeti, La Hacienda de San Angel, Rainforest Café, Teppan Edo, Maya Grill, Portobello, and others are all examples of restaurants that are owned by companies that simply rent the space.

When Disney begins creating the Dining Plan pamphlets for 2014 and releases the first draft, many of the restaurants that are not owned by Disney will not be on the initial list of participating restaurants.  This happens every year and it isn’t something to be too concerned about.  I’m not familiar with any restaurant that previously accepted the Disney Dining Plan, but then chose not to accept it the following year.  Disney is merely in negotiation with the restaurants to decide the reimbursement cost and they do not publish that a restaurant will participate in the Dining Plan until all of the contracts are signed.  In addition, rent and other contracts for the coming year may also need to be finalized.

Now that you know the basics, read the next post to learn more about what each of the Disney Dining Plans offer and how to choose which one fits your group’s needs.  If you landed here from another source, see this post: Figuring Out If One of the Disney Dining Plans Make Sense For Your Group.



{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Gonzalo February 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

Hi, thank you very much for the article, it helps a lot. Just one quick question though, I understood that in the quick dining service if you want to have breakfast, that would count as one of the two meals, right?

Best regards
Gonzalo

Rob April 9, 2011 at 2:46 pm

Actually, Signature dining experiences that you use 2 dining credits for, do NOT automatically include an appetizer. Otherwise, your article was very informative.

Alan April 15, 2011 at 4:24 am

Great article! We’ll be on the DDP with 2 adults, 2 children. Will Quick Service cashiers need each person’s Key to the World to deduct credits, or will they deduct multiple credits from a single KTTW?

Thanks,
Alan

Josh April 15, 2011 at 10:07 am

You just need to provide one card and Disney will deduct the proper number of credits from it.

Schooony May 24, 2011 at 9:36 am

Great article, it helped a lot with our planning.
Also, according the the Disney site, Portobello does accept the Dining Plan now
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/portobello/

Jaime June 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm

I just got off the phone with Disney and they quoted me $83.00 per night for the Deluxe dining plan. Does anyone know if this is an updated rate for 2011? Or was I quoted the wrong price?

Dawn June 6, 2011 at 6:15 pm

Gonzalo: For the quick service dining, breakfast only uses 1 credit

Dawn June 6, 2011 at 6:17 pm

The dining plans are based on the “season” that you are traveling. Sometimes the dining plan cost would be higher, ie. holiday

Chris December 30, 2011 at 5:04 am

Hi Josh…does Disney still pool all credits together for adults and children and still rely on the “2A 2Ch” on your card to identify kids and adults? I’ve been reading a few other sites and it appears they are tracking adult and children automatically now. I was hoping to have my to kids share adult meals at times as many of the children’s menu’s aren’t very good.

Thanks.

Kelli January 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

I wasn’t aware the refillable mugs were now included in the dining plans. Is it one mug per person?

josh January 5, 2012 at 2:24 pm

Yep, one mug per person. The Mug was just added to the Regular Dining Plan for 2012.

Lisa January 13, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Can you only use two of the quick service meals each day or can you use three in one day? Thanks.

josh January 14, 2012 at 11:56 am

You can use as many as you want, but when they’re gone, they’re gone!

Terri in So Cal January 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Hi Josh. Just a quick correction.
Your link to the Snack Thread takes you to the 2010 one. Here’s the link to the new, and improved, 2012 thread.

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?p=43602721&posted=1#post43602721

Keep up all the good work! You are my eyes at WDW! :)

josh January 14, 2012 at 2:50 pm

Will update.

Terri in So Cal January 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Thanks! :)

Chrissy January 19, 2012 at 3:59 pm

I was wondering if you can substitute an appetizer for a dessert at your table service meal.

Amber January 22, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Hi,
Heading back to WDW in March, this time we are only getting the QS plan. Where can I find a list of QS locations that offer a pre-packed meals? We may want to head to the beach one day and would like to take our food with us without having to buy more elsewhere. For practical reasons, would prefer locations not within one of the 4 main parks… unless… there is a good suggestion inside one of the parks, then we may need to plan ahead. One place we may love to get some good food-to-go and eat later would be from Sunshine Seasons. Do they make this possible by offering boxes? Thank you!

Ben March 29, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Would you please tell me which, if any, restaurants are NOT owned by Disney in the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot. Thanks!

Donna September 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm

My husband and two boys stayed this summer at POFQ and we had the regular dining plan. I had did much research and knew that with the quick service meals we were supposed to get an entree, drink, an dessert. For the kids’ quick service meals, apparently they weren’t allotted a dessert so we gave ours to them. Why wouldn’t Disney include a dessert for the kids ?

Lindsey September 12, 2012 at 8:31 pm

@Donna – My understanding is that you get either one complete meal OR an entree, dessert, and drink. Kids meals are considered complete meals, so the dessert isn’t separate. Although grapes and carrots (usually) are included with the meal, you can substitute a cookie pretty much everywhere as one of your sides. So, if you substituted say fries and a cookie, you are basically left with a smaller kid-sized version of the adult meal. Also, if you eat at a place that doesn’t offer a kid’s meal, you would be able to get them the dessert. I personally agree and wish they would offer the regular desserts to the kids too!

Sally September 26, 2012 at 7:06 am

I understand there is no clear split between an Adult or a kid Counter service credits. But how are the table service credits split for an adult and a kid. Also, can my 8 year old share a TS meal with me? We are going in Nov. and would like to do few signature restaurants and share my meal with my kid and save credits for later. But if TS credits are clearly split than i think this will not be possible. Everybody’s help is greatly appreciated.

Anonymous January 8, 2013 at 6:04 am

Which plan do you think is best. Dinning plus or deluxe
Dinning. We will be there 6 nights with 5A one 13 and one 5 year old
I know we want to do cinderilla royal table and the candle light Procession.
What’s your Opinion?
Thank you
Jennifer

Nicola Horton April 5, 2013 at 6:10 am

Great information above. I just have one question. Do you HAVE to use one credit on the disney quick service dining plan for breakfast? Or can you use your two credits for a lunch entree and a dinner entree??

I ask this because my party and I are happy to just buy the odd bagel/croissant in the mornings which we class as breakfast. We would then like to use our two credits as lunch and dinner.
Thanks, Nicola

MM May 14, 2013 at 5:44 am

A bagel or croissant would count as a snack, not a quick service meal.

John November 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Josh,
Now that mickey bands are in service, is there still no differentiation between adult and child meals on the quick service dining plan?

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: