Before I get going on this subject I want to let everyone know one thing. The dining plan can be a great value if you use it correctly and do a little research. If you do not use it correctly, Disney makes oodles of money off of you. Also in the article I will be comparing the regular dining plan to the deluxe dining plan. I will not be mentioning the quick service plan because I’ve never used it.
First things first - always make an ADR if you are going to use the dining plan. This will help you to avoid eating at restaurants that provide little value when on the dining plan. This might sound odd but where you eat will make or break the dining plan. If you can’t get into your first choice, always have a second choice ready.
Next thing you need to do if figure out the monetary value of your credits. For example one day on the deluxe plan is about $75. I think that’s over but it is close enough. For that price you get three table service credits. That breaks down to about $25 a meal. Knowing this detail helps you to decide where to eat.
After you figure out the monetary value of your credits look at the menus for the places you want to eat. Would you spend $25 a person there if you were not on the dining plan? If the answer is no, then don’t eat there. If you look at the menu for the Plaza Restaurant in the
you’d realize that it’s impossible to get a good value there if you are on the dining plan. Doing this with each place you want to go helps you determine if you want to use your credits there or pay it out of pocket. Magic Kingdom
Signature Dining locations seem to strike fear into the hearts of people who are on the dining plan. Don’t be afraid just do your research. Two big things to remember when it comes to signature dining – one what do you get for your two table service credits and two – what are the reviews for this dining location?
Let’s compare two signature locations to see what a little research is vital.
Cinderella’s Table: The price is different for lunch and dinner. At its most expensive the price is $60. In both cases you get a photo package. Now check the reviews. For a place that’s so hard to get into, this place has really poor reviews. It’s not what you’d want from a signature location. If you go to dinner you basically break even on your credits but if you go to lunch you’d be better off paying out of pocket.
Another VERY helpful tip is to compare the lunch menus to the dinner menus. In some cases they can be drastically different. Possibly the biggest difference is at the Liberty Tree Tavern. This is one of the rare places where lunch is more of a value than dinner. In fact if I were on the dining plan, I’d avoid the dinner there like the plague. The reason being – dinner is a fixed price family meal with no selection. On the other hand Lunch has a full menu.
Know when you can use your credits. You can start using your credits as soon as you check in. Some people think your unused credits go away when you check out. You can use your credits even after you check out. Your credits don’t expire until the next day.
One final tip and this is the most important tip – Make a list of all the days you are in Disney. Next fill in where you want to eat. After that compare it to the number of credits you have. Have extra credits? Go back and see where you can fit them. Waste a credit or two and you go from getting value out of the dining plan to being fleeced by it.