Let me start off by saying I NEVER add the dining plan to my package. For the way I eat in the parks, it’s just not worth it. For some people it is, and if you’re new to this system, it can be a little confusing to figure out, so let me help explain it to you!
There are different tiers of options:
(Prices are per person, per night. Price range is indicative of different slow or peak seasons during 2013! With all of these packages, you receive a refillable mug, which you can use for “free” soda, coffee, hot chocolate, iced tea, and the like at your resort hotel.)
Quick Service Dining – 2 quick service dining credits, 1 snack credit, per night of stay (Adult-$37.58) (Child-$14.32)
Plus Dining – 1 table service credit, 1 counter service, 1 snack (Adult-$55.59 – $56.94) (Child-$17.16 – $18.16)
Deluxe Dining – 3 meals per night – including counter service and/or table service, 2 snacks (Adult-$99.97 – $102.27) (Child-$26.84 – $28.91)
Premium Package – 3 meals per night – including counter service and/or table service, 2 snacks (plus some other non-food perks) (Adult-$189.00) (Child-)$139.00
Platinum Dining – 3 meals per night – including counter service and/or table service, 2 snacks (plus some other non-food perks) (Adult-$249.00) (Child-$179.01)
(Points do not cover gratuity for table service locations, unless otherwise stated!)
Now here’s how you use ‘em for your Quick Serving Dining or Plus Dining:
• Quick Service Dining Credits: If you use your meal credit for breakfast, it covers an entree or combo meal. For lunch and dinner, you get the same except add a dessert into the mix, plus a non-alcoholic drink.
• Table Service Dining Credits: 1 entree, 1 dessert (for lunch and dinner), and a non-alcoholic drink, or a buffet.
• When you start heading up to Deluxe, Premium, or Platinum Packages, though, an appetizer comes into play for dinner and lunch at table service restaurants in addition to the options above! These 3 plans are the same as they apply to dining, but differ in other non-food related options, like admission to La Nouba, Children’s activity centers, certain tours and things like that.
How you spend your points:
Points get loaded on your Key to the World card, which is basically a credit card sized card that is your room key, park ticket, and acts as a charge card if you stay on property when you book an all inclusive package for your room and park tickets. The points go on this card, and they put a little sticker on the corner of it just to make it more clear that the card does in fact have the dining plan on it. Now here’s where some people get confused – everybody in your party has the rest of the party’s collective amount of dining points on their card, not just theirs. This way, Dad can go up to the counter and put his family of 4’s meals all on his card instead of everyone having to check out separately.
Here are some dining plan tips!
• The amount of points you get is totaled on your Key to the World for your length of stay – it doesn’t renew on a daily basis, so even though they describe the plans as being, for example 2 quick service meals and 1 snack per day, you could ACTUALLY do something like 4 quick service meals and no snacks one day then 3 snacks and 1 quick service meal the other day, etc. Try and plan ahead if you are going to play around with your points though so you aren’t surprised only 2 days into your vacation that you are out of meal points! You can always ask for the balance points remaining, though it is also printed on your receipt every time you use your credits!
• Just because you have the meal plan, doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to purchase food otherwise! You can buy meals and snacks with cash or card as well! This might be something to consider for those who only want to dine at one table service location during their trip, so they purchase the Quick Service Dining Plan and just charge the bill separately for the table service restaurant they decide to dine at!
• Every restaurant marks on the menu what food is part of the dining plan. Some restaurants don’t comply with the dining plans and/or some menu items are not covered under it. It’s really easy to find out what options you can order once you are in the parks, though, as they are clearly marked with the dining plan symbol!
• Most meals just use one credit to purchase, but be aware that some “fancier” table service restaurant meals and buffets are more than one point! This might be a good reason to “save” points and using a snack credit for one of your meals, or paying with a charge card instead!
• When it comes to snack points, I’ve heard some pretty interesting options of how people use them! First, you can use them for your breakfast, because they usually cover things like pastries, muffins, and such. But, some people will actually “save” their snack points until the last night of their vacation to buy stuff to take for the trip home. They’ll buy packaged food like cookies, rice crispy treats shaped like Mickey, and bagged popcorn, and pack it in their luggage to eat at home!
• There’s always the option of sharing meals, too! If you and your significant other, child, or friend aren’t big eaters, you can always get the Quick Service Dining plan or Plus plan and share meals! This gives you each an extra entree credit to use at breakfast!
• The kid’s prices of the dining plans covers kid’s meals. There are separate kid’s menu’s at WDW’s restaurants where they will order from!
• Usually in early Spring, WDW announces Free Dining if you book certain dates in Fall! They also usually do a 20%-30% off hotel discount, so you have to decide what works better for you!
My biggest tip of all is to look at a couple menus online before your trip to get an idea of what you think you’ll want to eat while you are in Walt Disney World. If you get a general average amount you will spend per day, compare it to the price for the dining plan that would coincide with your food preferences and see if it’s really worth it!