Disney Dining Plans are great additions to your vacation plans. They can help you budget for your trip and give you more of an all-inclusive feel while on vacation. You have to be staying at a Disney resort and book a package that includes park tickets in order to purchase one, but they can be well worth it. Here are 8 facts and secrets you may not know about Disney Dining Plans:
8. The Disney Dining Plans aren’t just one size fits all.
There isn’t just one dining plan to choose from and that is what you are stuck with, there are actually 3 main dining plan options. There is the Quick Service Dining Plan that includes 2 counter service meals and 2 snacks per person, per night of the stay. Then there is the Disney Dining Plan that includes 1 table service meal, 1 counter service meal and 2 snacks per person, per night of the stay. And last, but not least, there is the Deluxe Dining Plan which includes 3 table service or counter service meals and 2 snacks per person, per night of the stay. The price points are different for each, so depending on your budget and eating habits, you can select the package that makes the most sense for you!
7. Gratuities are not included (usually).
When you are making your budget and you have a dining plan that includes table service entitlements, it is important to remember that the gratuities are not usually included. You will want to factor gratuity money into your budget. You will be able to pay gratuities via Disney gift cards, resort room charge, credit card, cash, etc., so planning for them will help alleviate sticker shock since those costs can add up. I did mention that this is the case, USUALLY. If you book a dinner show like Hoop Dee Doo Revue, Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show or Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, then gratuities are included in that case. They are also included when ordering room service or dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table, too. Experiences that don’t charge gratuities are usually 2 entitlement options, but note that not ALL 2 entitlement options include gratuities!
6. No dining plan for guest under age 3.
There are no dining plan options for guests that are under 3. Guests under 3 also don’t require theme park tickets. These small guests can share off of yours or another guest’s plates, so you don’t have to buy them a separate meal if you don’t want to. If you know you will need milk or other foods for them at the restaurant, then you will need to prepare to pay for those separately. If you plan to eat at buffet meals, there will be no charge for them and they can have their own plate and beverages, so if you have young travelers, those types of meals could be an extra good deal for you on the dining plan.
5. Credits can be exchanged.
Are you worried about what to do if you have dining entitlements left over? Well, have no fear. If you have snack entitlements there are tons of options that you can pick from to bring home, which also make great gifts for friends and family back home. There are pre-packaged cookies and other treats that will travel well to make the journey home. If you happen to have extra meal entitlements, those can be traded in for 3 snack credits so you can buy even more treat to bring home and not let the meals go to waste. Be sure to check your totals before you leave so that you make good use of any leftovers since they aren’t refundable.
4. You don’t have to use all of the entitlements in a single day.
Just because the allotments are determined based on the number of nights that you are staying doesn’t mean that you have to use those entitlements in that given day. The entitlements are basically added to your account as one total and you can use them as you see fit. You could even use every single one in one day if you want to (which we don’t recommend… that would be a LOT of meals). Plan your meals the best way that works for your plans and that gets the best use out of your dining credits!
3. If using quick service entitlements, consider splitting meals.
The table service restaurants can be more strict on letting you split meals on the dining plan (but you can definitely ask, since anything is possible), but if you are planning to dine on quick service and don’t feel like you need the FULL meal for one person, they are definitely shareable! At quick service restaurants, they won’t question the number in the party versus how many meals you purchase, so if you share you will save entitlements and still get a great meal. Many of the quick service restaurants also can’t tell the difference between child/adult credits, so you can split adult meals for kiddos instead of getting kids meals for each one.
2. Don’t forget your refillable mug!
Each of the dining plans includes a refillable mug for each guest on the dining plan. You can pick these up at any resort gift shop, and the mugs will also work for refills at any resort gift shop. There will be a wide variety of hot and cold beverages that you have access to. You also get to take the cups home with you as a souvenir from your trip, too!
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1. Alcohol (Specialty Beverages) will be included in 2018.
New in 2018, alcohol will be included in the 2018 Dining Plans. While this does mean a slight increase in price, we are surprised the increase isn’t more drastic. The great news is you don’t have to get an alcoholic beverage to enjoy this new perk. Disney is allowing for “specialty beverages” which do include alcoholic drinks for guests 21 and up, or non-alcoholic specialty beverages like milkshakes for guests of any age.