Maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits for 2014

by Shannon Albert · 113 comments · Like the Facebook page

Maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits for 2014 from WDWPrepSchool.comThe Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is something that people staying in an on-site Disney World resort can use if they book a package (or if they have a DVC reservation).

The way it works is that you pre-pay for the DDP and then pay for your food during your trip using credits.

Let’s take a look at the cost and see how to get the most out of the Disney Dining Plan for 2014.

Reasons for getting the Disney Dining Plan

There are a few different reasons that people might choose to get the DDP.

  1. To make trips feel all-inclusive. This is why our family likes the DDP. When your food is pre-paid, it can make your trip more fun when ordering isn’t about checking prices so closely and worrying about the tab.
  2. Sometimes it’s free. Disney sometimes offers the Free Dining promotion (usually in fall) which allows guests to get the DDP for free. If you book a trip using the Free Dining promotion, you give up the ability to use other promotions. People staying in Deluxe Resorts are usually better off using a room discount than Free Dining.
  3. To save money. If you play your cards right, you can actually save money on food by purchasing the DDP and then eating meals that cost more than the DDP. This takes some planning and that’s what the info below will help you do.

Cost of the Disney Dining Plan

There are 3 versions of the Disney Dining Plan that most people purchase (there are some more expensive plans as well but they aren’t super common and would require a whole other post to explain).

Plan Includes Cost
Quick Service Dining Plan 2 QS credits, 1 refillable mug, 1 snack $41.99 for ages 10+, $16.03 ages 3-9
Basic Dining Plan 1 TS credit, 1 QS credit, 1 refillable mug, 1 snack $60.64 for ages 10+, $19.23 for ages 3-9
Deluxe Dining Plan 3 TS/QS credits, 1 refillable mug, 2 snacks $109.53 for ages 10+, $29.86 for ages 3-9

You get the credits listed above for each night of your trip. All of the credits are loaded to your account at once and can be used however you’d like during your trip (you could use 6 credits 1 day, 2 the following day, etc.).

The refillable mug is given to each person on the DDP and can be refilled at any on-site resort but can’t be refilled within the parks.

Gratuity is not included in the costs above so factor that in when deciding if the Disney Dining Plan or specific restaurants make sense for you.

What about kids under age 3? Kids under 3 don’t require park tickets and they don’t require a dining plan either. At buffets, kids under 3 can have their own plate. At all other locations, they can eat off of your plate.

Some people want to buy the Disney Dining Plan for their little ones but that requires that you also buy them park tickets as well so that’s not generally a good idea. If you want your toddler to have their own meals, you’d be better off just paying out-of-pocket for them.

What does a credit include?

  • A Quick Service credit includes an entree, non-alcoholic drink and dessert from a Quick Service restaurant (for breakfast, dessert isn’t included). These credits aren’t separated into child or adult categories so you can theoretically get adult meals for your child (if Cast Members see your child, they will require you to order from the kid’s menu).
  • Table Service credits include a non-alcoholic drink, entree and dessert from a Table Service restaurant (except at breakfast which doesn’t include dessert). People using the Deluxe Dining Plan also get an appetizer.
  • Snack credits can be used for many things including bottled water, ice cream and bakery items. Generally speaking, snack credits are good for many things that cost $5 or less. This list of confirmed snack credits on DISboards.com is the best source for snack credits.

Making the most of Disney Dining Plan credits

Roughly speaking:

  • Quick Service credits are worth about $15
  • Table Service credits are worth about $35
  • Snack credits are worth about $5

That means to break even on the Disney Dining Plan, you’ll need to choose food that costs at least that amount.

There are huge charts below detailing every Table Service and Quick Service restaurant and the value of a credit at those locations. You can plan according to those lists and/or keep these general things in mind when maximizing credits:

  • Character meals are generally a great use of a credit.
  • Signature Restaurants are almost never the best way to maximize a credit since they require 2 Table Service credits per meal but don’t cost twice as much if you were paying out-of-pocket.
  • Go for the steak, lobster, shakes and orange juice. Those are often the most expensive options so take advantage when they’re on the menu.
  • Don’t choose breakfast. Not only are breakfast entrees almost always less expensive, but breakfast doesn’t include a dessert like lunch and dinner do.

Table Service chart

The chart below shows the value of Table Service credits when using the Basic Dining Plan. To get the value of a credit when using the Deluxe Dining Plan, add the cost of an appetizer to each amount.

Maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits for 2014 from WDWPrepSchool.com

Quick Service chart

And here’s the chart for Quick Service credits.

Maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits for 2014 from WDWPrepSchool.com

Want the raw data?

Want to play with the Disney Dining Plan data that I used for the charts above in a spreadsheet so you can filter and sort to your heart’s content?

If you’re on the email list, you can get a link to that info. Once you sign up, just hit reply and I’ll respond with a link to the file. Sign up below to get on the list.

  

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Soooo….what are your thoughts on some of the info here? Still have questions? Make some dining decisions for your trip?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.



Maximizing Disney Dining Plan credits for 2014 from WDWPrepSchool.comMaximizing Disney Dining Plan credits for 2014 from WDWPrepSchool.comMaximizing Disney Dining Plan credits for 2014 from WDWPrepSchool.comMaximizing Disney Dining Plan credits for 2014 from WDWPrepSchool.com
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{ 113 comments (add yours) }

Lisa October 11, 2014 at 11:50 am

THANK YOU!!! Your break down seriously helped!

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Donna October 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Thanks for this great calculator! It confirmed what I thought – that the DDP is not a good deal for us. I put in sample info from where we ate on our last visit and the deluxe DP would have cost about $100 more that out of pocket for 3 days. Guess we’ll just keep winging it.

So if you stay 8 nights you are charged for 8 days? That would have raised our cost about $600. And we eat at the best places.

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Michelle June 26, 2014 at 4:23 pm

This looks incredible! We’ve gone every year during free dining (September) and I find your chart fascinating! However, I must be a dud cause I don’t quite understand how you come up with what is considered a good value. We go during free dining, however, I’ve heard arguments that sometimes room rate discount is better during other times of the year. Would love to know what your thoughts are on when you get the most bang for your buck when you are a family of 5 and how you came up with the charts above. Example: We love the character dining so that we don’t have to wait in line for autographs so let’s say O’hana for breakfast…you have it closer to the bottom of the list as far as value goes, but you get a photo and see characters?

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Shannon Albert June 26, 2014 at 5:51 pm

The values are based solely on meal prices.

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Jen June 22, 2014 at 11:16 am

Your website is incredible. SO helpful in planning! We are going over Tgiving break. My BIL booked the room & tkts. We are staying on-site and have park hopper tkts. He did not book a dining plan and I’m still deciding if I want one (I like the idea of pre-payment). Can I add a dining plan post-booking?

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Jackie UK June 13, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Thanks for this site – tremendously useful when planning a trip to WDW with twins who’ll be two when we visit. We plan to book all our table service meals 180 days before we travel – as our children will be too young to have dining plan, do you know whether we’ll be able to book places for them at the table, please, as as far as dining plan is concerned they don’t exist? Many thanks for your help.

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disneymom June 17, 2014 at 8:59 am

When you reserve dining for < 3 you still include a spot for them at the table. They can eat from your plate at a table service or have their own at a buffet.

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Joni June 4, 2014 at 3:03 pm

We are going to Disney World in a few weeks. I’ve been as a child but don’t remember a lot about it. Husband & I are taking our 9 yr old son, they’ve never been, in-laws are going too, their first time.
We got the deluxe dining plan. Still not sure how it all works. We aren’t using it for breakfast, just lunches & dinners, all sit down places. (Some signature places, like Narcoosee’s)
On this plan, have I read right that each restaurant you can get appetizer, entree & dessert? And then what about for my 9 yr old, can he get all 3 things too? I don’t want to order something & then find out later we had to pay out of pocket. And then what about drinks? No one in our party drinks, but some times I like to get a lemonaid when we go out to eat. But we are all ok with drinking just soda, since we all like coca-cola. Thanks in advance for any info you can give me on dining. I’m just confused and don’t want to pay more when we get home.

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Roxanne July 1, 2014 at 10:28 pm

Children under 10 can eat any meal at the quickservice places However, at the table service he will have to order from children menu. As far as drinks go- lemonade, sodas, etc are all included and you will also get a souveniere mug that can be used for free refills at your resort. Appetizers and desserts will be included in your Quickservice and TS meals Hope this helps

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Edgar June 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm

An amazing job!

Just what I have been looking for since I booked the Free Dining Plan a month ago.

Thanks!

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Brian June 1, 2014 at 5:14 pm

Great information. We have also created a free web site to help people decide if the Disney Dining Plan is the best choice for their trip. The site is http://www.distripplanner.com.

After spending hours on end running the number over and over for each trip, I decided to try and create a web site to help others with the financial analysis of “is the dining plan right for us?” I hope it helps others spend less time and save money on their next trip to WDW.

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Carim June 3, 2014 at 10:10 pm

This calculator is BRILLIANT. Thanks So much for posting this. I have been all over the internet, trying to figure out if I’m getting the best deal with the DDP. I have a 10 year old who eats like a bird and have made reservations at some buffets, so I wanted to see how I would come out in the end. I am bookmarking this and spreading the word.
THANKS SO MUCH AGAIN!

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Amy June 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm

This is so cool! I used it and found out my family is saving a whole 19 cents! My husband was trying to convince me that the dining plan wasn’t worth it but now I can show him that we are saving money (19 cents-Haha-I’m still right!).

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Jai May 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm

Great Job! Please send a copy of the raw data. Thanks!

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Shannon Albert May 24, 2014 at 9:45 pm

Data is sent to people on the email list and must be requested by email.

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Justin May 17, 2014 at 12:52 pm

Hi Shannon,
Thanks for the post. We have been to WDW and on the DDP many times and keep learning new things about which restaurants to choose. We still have not visited them all. Last time we went to Epcot Le Cellier but they wanted 2 credits instead of 1 for the meal. I guess there are several such high-end places that cost you double dining credits. Still, we may try it next time.
thanks,
Justin

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Brandi May 14, 2014 at 12:55 pm

I am staying on site. I got non-parkhopper tickets. Here’s the question: If one day I go to (let’s say) Epcot, can my dining plans be made for Magic Kingdom? Or does the meal have to take place in the park I am in? Thanks for all the great advice!

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Kelly May 15, 2014 at 10:11 am

I just watched the Disney vacation planning video and it said that you would need the park hopper option, and used the example of going to one park during the day and then having a meal at another park in the evening.

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Sarah May 13, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Thank you for all the info! On the dining plan, is it okay to share QS meals? Thanks!

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Nicole May 17, 2014 at 4:26 am

quick service meals are not monitored like table service, you can order and share. My daughter and I tend to share a bounty platter at the resort in the am and share a meal later in the day at whatever park we are in, as we prefer lighter meals, and the quick service meals do give you quite a bit, just make sure you use all your credits before you leave, use them or lose them. If you do get breakfast at your resort, opt for a bottle water or a powerade (to take to the park) use your mug for your breakfast.

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Kay May 12, 2014 at 12:04 am

Wow, thanks for all the great information!

One question… We have the dining plan for 2 adults and 2 kids, would I be able to get adult meals for my kids at the counter service restaurants if they don’t see my kids? Do they distinguish kids/adult meal credits?

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Kelly May 9, 2014 at 2:06 pm

Can you tip using the wristbands? Or do you need cash/cc? I’m trying to limit the amount of stuff I will need to carry on my person each day.

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Jeannie October 9, 2014 at 2:24 am

If you register your credit card info to the wristbands at checkin, you don’t have to drag around cash or credit cards, just swipe at the stores and for tips. :-) Hope this isn’t too late….

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Sarah May 8, 2014 at 5:42 pm

Do you think this is worth it? I usually go with my father. I qualify as a “kid” but I’m over 9, so I won’t have the discounts.

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Sarah May 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Wow girlfriend! You did a lot of work, Thank you!!

Per the WDW website, Crystal Palace does not accept dining plans? Is that correct or did I read something wrong?

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Shannon Albert May 7, 2014 at 3:43 pm

The website is messed up and keeps saying that about a lot of restaurants. Crystal Palace (and most restaurants at WDW) do accept DDP.

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Sarah May 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm

So they do accept the dining plan?

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Shannon Albert May 7, 2014 at 3:44 pm

Yes.

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Wendy May 4, 2014 at 7:38 am

I would love a copy of the raw data :)
Thank you

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Tracy Molina May 3, 2014 at 11:14 am

I’d love a copy of the raw data, thanks!

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Caitlin G April 30, 2014 at 11:01 am

I would like the raw data also please! Thank you!

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Shannon Albert April 30, 2014 at 11:02 am

Everybody who wants the raw data must be on the email list and send me an email after they sign up and I’ll send the link.

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Debbie Reynolds May 2, 2014 at 11:29 am

I would like data as well..thank you

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Shannon Albert May 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

Everybody who wants the data needs to be on the email list and request it in an email to me.

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Karen McGowan April 29, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Hey there, great job on this post….can you please email me the raw data ? of the ddp ? i always try to keep up with everything that you do, thank you so much for all of your hard work……

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Michelle April 27, 2014 at 7:49 pm

Hi,
Thanks for all of this great information – can I also get a copy of the raw data sheet? Thanks so much!

MT

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Amy April 23, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Hi Shannon- this is an awesome list!! All that hard work to crunch the numbers for us- thanks!!

I just listened to your favorite 5 sit down and 5 favorite counter service meals (again!) and we are taking a lot of that advice! Especially the QS- traveling with a 4 yr old- most of our TS meals are character dining! But one day…we will eat at Le Cellier!!

Have you thought about doing your “favorite snacks” podcast? Maybe give us some of your (well respected) opinions of your favorites as well as some of the better deals on the DDP? I know I would listen (twice! I’m sure!)!!

Thanks for all the wonderful advice !

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Sonia Elkins April 21, 2014 at 3:27 pm

Hi Shannon, I believe I am signed up for your website. Can I please get the raw dining worksheet. You must have worked hard on this. Thank you so much. Also do you know if the refillable cups have changed yet?

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Kimberly April 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Great website! It has been so helpful in planning my family’s first trip to Disney World. Quick question- If we are staying at the Contemporary Resort for 7 nights and 8 days and getting the Dining Plan Plus (1QS, 1TS, and 1 snack/ day), how many Table Service credits do I get? Is it 7 or 8 Table Service credits for the week?
I am thinking we might only get 7- and if that is the case what if we get an early arrival flight and a late departure flight- does that mean we will have to pay for that 8th day of meals?
Thanks again for making all this planning easier!

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ShanB May 4, 2014 at 12:51 pm

The DDP goes off of the number of nights you are staying. So, if you are staying for 7 nights, you will get 7 credits.

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Shelley April 10, 2014 at 10:23 am

I have signed up for your emails and would love the raw dining worksheets to help with our upcoming trip. Thanks?

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Kara April 9, 2014 at 8:59 pm

I have signed up for your emails, but would love the raw dining worksheets to help with planning my upcoming trip! How can I find those?

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Erin April 9, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Do any of the QS restaurants require ADRs or only the TS restaurants?

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Shannon Albert April 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Only Table Service restaurants require a reservation.

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Cheryl rosch March 29, 2014 at 6:35 pm

We are going to WDW (4 adults, 1 child and 1 infant) in September. I took the basic dining plan. I don’t eat much. Can I share from so done else’s plate? I’ve already made breakfast/dinner reservations for our stay and I think it’s (2) dinner shows and I’m not sure if I should upgrade to deluxe? Can you help me
Thank you, cheryl

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Tiffany March 25, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Please add me to your email club

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Sheila Nowell March 16, 2014 at 6:29 pm

Shannon, I heard from the Mousesavers.com website that Disney increased the Dining Plan prices last week. Is the information on this page updated with the new info yet? I can’t tell when this blog page was last updated. :) Thanks!

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Sheila Nowell March 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Here’s the new pricing courtesy of Mousesavers:

Deluxe Dining Plan $109.53 per night per adult or junior (ages 10-17), $29.86 per night for children (ages 3-9).

Plus Dining Plan $60.64 per night per adult or junior (ages 10-17), $19.23 per night for children (ages 3-9).

Quick Service Dining Plan – $41.99 per night per adult or junior (ages 10-17), $16.03 per night for children (ages 3-9).

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Shannon Albert March 16, 2014 at 6:35 pm

Appreciate you posting these new prices! Since those prices are different than the ones I listed above, this post was obviously written before the increase. However, it doesn’t change which restaurants provide the best value on the DDP.

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Laurieann March 11, 2014 at 3:01 pm

Hey Shannon, I am trying to prepare for my families first trip to Disney in October. Really appreciate all the information that you have compiled. Could I get the link to the hard data for the DDP?

Thanks again,
Laurieann

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Maria March 6, 2014 at 12:15 am

Thanks sooo much for all your hard work!! How much tip should you leave for a character meal that is usually self-serve? Still 18%? Thanks, Maria

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Shannon Albert March 6, 2014 at 4:34 pm

Same tip applies at all restaurants, even buffets.

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Elaine February 27, 2014 at 2:22 pm

We are going in Sept. we all have dining plans 7 a – 1 c How do figure out what to tip for dinner table service meal is it 18% of $35.00?

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Shannon Albert February 27, 2014 at 5:10 pm

18% of the actual cost of your food so it’ll depend what you order.

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AIMEE February 25, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Planning my first trip to WDW and about the dining plan…how does it work for your arrival/departure days. We may arrive very late and not need food on arrival day and we won’t need all meals on departure day.

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Shannon Albert February 25, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Hi, Aimee –
You get all of your credits when you check in and they can be used however you’d like until midnight on your checkout day. You don’t have to use a certain number per day or anything like that.

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Katrina April 30, 2014 at 12:32 pm

This is the answer I have been looking for. Let me make sure I understand though. We will arrive on a Wednesday and depart on a Tuesday. That’s six nights. Will I be able to start using my six nights worth of credits on tuesday, and if any are left on my seventh day I can still use them that morning before we fly out? Thanks in advance!

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Julia February 20, 2014 at 7:22 am

Hi Shannon, Could you send me the raw data please? Great work!

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Shannon Albert February 20, 2014 at 2:05 pm

Thanks, Julia! You’ll need to be on the email list and send me an email to ask for the data from there.

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AmandaM February 19, 2014 at 8:47 am

Can you tell me if you are staying for 6 nights do you have to play for the dinning plan for all 6 nights? it seems like a waste for your travel days…

Thanks!

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Nicole February 18, 2014 at 11:13 am

Regarding ordering Quick service adult meals for kids – do you get a Kids QS credit and Adult QS credit? If my 8 year old wants to order on adult menu will I run out of adult QS and have kid QS left or are all the QS credits the same? Thanks – Love this site – we leave in 1 week and this site has helped me plan it all!

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Michelle Dixon February 16, 2014 at 11:39 pm

I think my head just blew up, lol!! Thank you! This was a ton of work for you and I appreciate it. Especially the advice on breakfast. I think I’m going to bring some stuff with us to eat for breakfast. I just started looking at your blog and haven’t had a chance to search too deeply….do you have a “best snack” list?

Thanks!
Michelle

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Shannon Albert February 17, 2014 at 2:12 am

No, the snack list is too big and changes frequently. Basically, you want to try to find snacks that are as close to $5 as possible. This DISboards.com thread is a great source for confirmed snacks – http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3215018

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Keisha February 13, 2014 at 10:23 am

I read the comment about not choosing breakfast for the quick service plan, can you use your quick service credits for lunch and dinner only?

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Heather February 9, 2014 at 10:06 pm

If you purchases the quick dining plan for 2014 can you trade two quick meals for one table/character dining?

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Shannon February 9, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Thank you so much for this. I just realized I made a dinner ADR at Flying Fish and it would have been worth 2 credits. Just changed it to Kouzzina.

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Amanda February 8, 2014 at 11:25 am

We’ve not used the dinng plan (went with a group) once and used it once. I like it because we typically did character dining for our table service which took out the sticker shock for hubby, and no worries while we were there-paid for! I do have to say we tried getting a gift card for tips and that seemed to cause more problems…this next time we will just use cash, but we will be using dining. The only thing we need to do better is use our snacks…going to plan better this time! I think that is the key. I love this chart though, thanks.

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Marc Schreiber February 7, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Shannon I’m getting old and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I am already signed up for your great e-mail and can’t for the life of me figger out howta get to the raw data. Help is needed, PLEASE.

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Shannon Albert February 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm

Check your email! :)

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grace January 25, 2014 at 8:48 pm

I read somewhere about the refillable mugs that you get with the dining plan are now going to be “chipped”and only good for a certain amount of days? I know that our food credits do not run out till midnight of the last day….is this true for the mugs too???

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Shannon Albert January 26, 2014 at 3:06 am

Yes, I believe that is true for the mugs as well. The mugs can now be used at any resort and not just your resort which is a change from the previous mugs. They can’t be refilled in the parks.

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Summer January 19, 2014 at 9:44 am

I would love the file to sort. We are going next weekend and I haven’t sorted out the quick dining yet. All other dining is reserved. Your site has been invaluable to me! I have been several times before and wish I had had all this info those times.

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Alison January 18, 2014 at 4:48 pm

Hi, love all the info. We are visiting Aug 14 with 2 children age 10 & 7. I am sure that 7 year old would prefer some adult meal options (looking at some of the kids meals). Have read conflicting advice that should order child’s meal where available. Don’t want to get to end of holiday with only kids meal credits left! Does it determine how many are child/adult QS credits?

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Heather January 15, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Love it! I’m considering paying for CRT out of pocket. Good idea?

I’d love to see a snack credit chart if you have it!

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John MacDonald January 14, 2014 at 11:37 pm

We just quoted a trip for this December. It’s just 2 of us and we quoted what we expected to come up to 104/person/day for the deluxe dining plan for 7 days and were pleasantly surprised to see it only come out to $90. Minus $10 for 2 snacks, we’re down to $80/day or $26.67/meal That gets you a little further down the list for restaurants that become a good deal on the dining plan. For the details (not sure if this matters or not) this was on a reservation for 2 adults at the Art of Animation resort with 7 day park hopper and more tickets. Either way love all the hard work that went into the post. You’re the best Shannon!

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John MacDonald January 14, 2014 at 11:46 pm

Forgot to mention, if the deluxe plans additionally includes appetizers I’d take an extra $5 off the per meal plan for it’s value. That gets us down to $21.67 a meal. Just thought it was interesting.

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Debbie Yeiter January 13, 2014 at 4:16 pm

Amazing, as usual! Thanks for all the work you put into these charts and blog posts so that I don’t have to put all the work into it! :-) I tell everyone who I know that is planning a Disney trip to go to your site. Such a wealth of information all in one place.

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Sam January 12, 2014 at 11:57 pm

We received the disney quick service dining plan for free for our trip at the end of this month. We ended up upgrading out dining plan to the table service option. It ended up being 18.00 a day for each adult and 3.89 for a child a day. I feel like this was an excellent option for feeding us and getting to do table service character meals without having to pay an extra 500 dollars for a moderate resort.

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Raechel January 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm

How did you manage to get a discount or for free?

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Sarah January 12, 2014 at 11:00 am

Shannon you are a gift from heaven. You make our lives so easy through this site. Planning a Disney vacation is so stressful and we are blessed there is someone like you gathering all the info we need in one central place.

I would like to obtain this in Excel spreadsheet, please. I already have signed up.
Thank you.

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Julius January 10, 2014 at 2:33 pm

This is awesome!

And, I must say, using snack credits at the various Starbucks locations in the parks is good as well, especially if you enjoy their expensive lattés and baked goods.

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Rosko June 3, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Shannon-thanks for the the hard work and planning you do for all of us! I’ve got all my safari tabs filled with different WDWPrep articles on both my iPad and iPhone! I wanted to reply and say BOO TO STARBUCKS!!!! Main Street Bakery… Destroyed. By corporate America :-( Now you have to hike to Fantasyland to get cinnamon rolls and all the other yummy goodies they used to make fresh that everyone could smell walking up Main Street USA! Some things just ain’t right.

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Maryann Judge January 10, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Beaches and Cream is missing … I heard they are a great value. Am I missing it? DO you think they are a good value if you are paying out of pocket?

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Shannon Albert January 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Gah! You’re right. It’s in the data file but wasn’t in the chart. I updated the graphic above to include it.

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Disneygirl17 January 10, 2014 at 6:10 am

I found this article very interesting. There is a great spreadsheet at http://seeyareelsoon.wix.com/seeyareelsoon too. It is a dining plan calculator. It will tell you if the dining plan is best for you. It also tell you your most expensive meals as you enter in where you plan to eat. I highly encourage you to look at it – it may save you some time.

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Jessie March 21, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Thanks for this link! We’re planning our Honeymoon in September and we’re still trying to figure out if the DDP is the best option for us or not! Any and all information is so helpful!

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Suzanne January 9, 2014 at 10:14 pm

My trip is in 42 days! Are the dining credits redeemed with magic bands? If so, does everyone in my party need to be at QS counter to order? My husband and I will be there with our 7 year old daughter and 1 year old son. Would love if one adult could snag a table while the other orders and retrieves food. Also, I’m sure my daughter would like to try items not on the children’s menu. This is a terrific post! Thank you!

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Shannon Albert January 9, 2014 at 10:17 pm

You can have 1 adult order while everybody else sits. MagicBands are used to pay for the meal.

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Suzanne January 10, 2014 at 5:34 pm

Thanks! Would we need to bring each band to the counter to pay?

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Shannon Albert January 10, 2014 at 10:56 pm

No, all of the bands for your group will have the same info on it. Just need 1 band to pay.

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Jessica January 9, 2014 at 8:30 pm

This information is great! We are going in May and I chose the Quick Service plan. I didn’t want to be tied down to dinner reservations each evening, we are just going to pay out of pocket for lunch one day with the Disney Junior characters at Hollywood & Vine. From the chart it seems that we will pretty much break even which is nice. I love the idea of not having to worry about paying for the meals once we are there, so much easier to just tap our magic bands and go! BTW, I can’t imagine using a snack credit for a bottled water!!!

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Angela from Ohio January 9, 2014 at 6:35 pm

If you do a character meal it use to be a good deal, not sure with price increase. Sometimes we shared a quick service meal ( only send 1 adult to counter ) and would use leftover quick service for breakfast at our resort on the last day. Otherwise use garden grocer to order muffins and Cheerios (*** can not find anywhere in the world, so pack cheerios for your toddler) for the morning.

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Melanie January 9, 2014 at 2:24 pm

Wow! These charts are awesome! Thank you so much for putting it all together like this! I am sitting here right now trying to figure out where we’re going to eat for our August trip and this will definitely help my decision. Like you, we always use the DDP because of the all inclusive feel and I personally like having that part of the trip paid off. (except tips of course!) I can’t wait to check out the rest of your site, so far I am extremely impressed!

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Anna January 9, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Thanks Shannon! The chart is wonderful…we leave in 27 days!!! This will be our first trip. We purchase the Dining Plan and got a discount of each person was the child price…not too bad. I like the feeling of it being pre paid and ordering whatever we want and not looking at sticker shock! We have planned Akershus, Chef Mickeys, Coral Reef, Cape May, Yak & Yet all for dinners and Crystal Palace for breakfast (only becuase we can get into the park early)! So I think we are doing pretty well. Now I need to move on to loosly plan the QS dining we will do each day and this chart will certainly help. Thanks so much!!

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Bill Lesage January 9, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Thanks Shannon for the charts. We have been to WDW several times and only used the the dining plan one time. We did like the feeling that we “pre-paid” for all our meals. The biggest drawback was we had less flexibility to change our touring plan because we were tied to a dining reservation.

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Kristina Valcarce January 9, 2014 at 1:12 pm

This is fantastic! We are going in early June and got the dining plan primarily for convenience. Our plan is to use snack credits and our refillable mugs for most breakfast, counter service credits for most lunches (and we’re hoping to get into BOG!) and table service credits for most dinners. Four of our dinner choices are at the top of your list, which makes me happy!

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Beverly January 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

We are going in February, and your charts helped ease my mind about the reservations I have scheduled. I booked rather late (early Nov.) but was able to get breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, which I already paid for. Then, I made reservations for Boma, Chef Mickey’s, and Liberty Tree. Now I can keep my husband from freaking out about meal costs, and show him the dining plan wasn’t overpriced for us (He won’t ask about any of this until we are actually there, so I’m bookmarking this!) Thanks for all you do! You have been a lifesaver!

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Beverly January 9, 2014 at 11:58 am

The he info about toddlers under age 3 was appreciated also. My daughter turns 3 the day we check out, so I was a bit apprehensive about not having a dining plan for her. Not now, though!

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Stephalini January 9, 2014 at 9:35 am

I just quickly glanced at the charts, wow, that’s a lot of work you put into it! Thank you! So, silly question, but how do I interpret all your hard work? Are the restaurants at the top of the list the best value for the dinning plan if we order the most expensive thing on the menu? We have been lucky enough to get free dinning both times we visited. I opted for CRT, HDDR, Akershus, Mickey’s buffet, etc because we weren’t paying out of pocket and would never be able to afford CRT otherwise. So even though it’s not the best value it was free for us and that’s the best value. Now that we have done the most popular ones the last two trips, I want to make more “wise” decisions this go around so I hope to learn from your chart, I’m just having a hard time understanding it. I should pick from the top of the list for both QS and TS?
Thank you so much for all your wonderful information that has made our last two trips an absolute pleasure!

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Shannon Albert January 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

Yes, the charts are sorted so that the restaurants with the highest average meal cost are at the top. The maximum value column shows what the most expensive meal at that restaurant would cost but I like to use the average cost because often times the maximum cost is if you order steak (and even steak lovers might not want to order it at every meal so the average cost is a better metric to use to decide which restaurants to eat at).

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Stephalini January 9, 2014 at 10:05 am

Thank you so much! I followed the link on the email but I am not able to sort the data? Is it a function of me using Chrome on Apple products?

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Shannon Albert January 9, 2014 at 10:07 am

There are lots of factors that could determine how it works for you. You might want to copy the data and paste it into a spreadsheet on your computer to allow you to use it more easily.

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Bill February 16, 2014 at 11:33 am

Thanks for the great information. This is our first time going to Disneyworld with the Dining Plan and the chart will be very helpful. I understand everything on the chart except for “YELP Rating”. What does that signify?

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Shannon Albert February 16, 2014 at 4:54 pm

Yelp.com is a site where people submit reviews of businesses. The highest rating you can give is 5 stars so the ratings displayed on the chart are the average rating given to each restaurant by Yelp reviewers.

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Sara January 9, 2014 at 9:28 am

This is awesome!! We’re going in May and have been trying to make sure we get the biggest bang for our buck with the dining plan. We just changed around a couple of ADR’s after reading this blog! Thanks!

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Keri January 9, 2014 at 8:30 am

This is great. Thank you so much for your hard work. We are going to Disney in a few weeks for the first time and This will help us decide which meals to use DDP and which to pay out of pocket.

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Tina Jenkins January 9, 2014 at 8:26 am

These charts are really helpful and based on what I found on our last trip with the Deluxe plan, prove that the dining plan is just way to feel all inclusive. It would be pretty shameful to miss out on some of the great restaurants that are in the “not a good value” group. I really like that its paid for 45 days in advance and my husband did not have sticker shock every meal as it was already paid in advance. Over a 7 night trip we only saved about $100 vs out of pocket. Which ended up only being 7.54% savings. We could have saved that by just ordering 1 desert and/or 1 appetizer at each meal.

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Heather January 9, 2014 at 8:12 am

Wow thanks for all the great work!!! I loved the Dining Plan when we used it, but on a normal trip to Disney I’m not sure if its worth it. I almost decide to go with it just for the whole all inclusive thing, but the coupon-er inside of me is going crazy. I do have a quick question. Just recently we became pass members. Is there a way to do the dining plan still? When I bought the passes I was the under the impression that I could but when I called last the Cast Member said I couldn’t. I don’t mind just keeping track and doing it all out of pocket but I was just wondering…

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jaden January 9, 2014 at 10:31 pm

You can’t get the dining plan but you can get tables in wonderland which some think is better! You have to buy it but it usually pays for itself within about a week and is good all year. It gets you 20% off at almost all the table service restaurants and some quick service too. The discount is also good for adult beverages and apps, which the dining plan doesn’t cover. Hope that helps! :) http://www.tablesinwonderland.com

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Amy Pruitt January 20, 2014 at 10:38 am

Heather,

If you are staying on property, then yes, you can have it added to your room. If you are just going for the day or staying off property, TIW is your best option.

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Wendy January 9, 2014 at 7:58 am

we went for the first time last May and used DDP and loved it! As it turns out, per the chart above, we did eat at the more expensive restaurants. I felt we got good value for the cost given that we were eating in a theme park! Also, I was treating family so everyone felt free to order what they wanted and no one had to feel like they should only look at cheaper options or split a meal. The kids (all over 10) loved this and it let the adults relax and not think about cost – including me! We all looked forwards to the sit down time each night – and one kid was diabetic so it ensured he ate reasonably well. I highly recommend DDP for first timers and those who want at least one nice sit down meal per day. Even if you’ll only break even it’s well worth the feeling of freedom :-)

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Cassandra Parker January 9, 2014 at 7:53 am

Your website has become invaluable to me!! I cannot thank you enough for everything that you do! I LOVE the DDP and cannot see taking a trip without it. I like the inclusive feel and it really adds to the feeling of being on vacation and not having to worry about the cost of food.

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melissa January 9, 2014 at 7:11 am

Incredible amount of work, Shannon!!! I didn’t read it completely only b/c I am anti dining plan…at least the NEW plan. From what I gathered a while back your best case is a break even on on DP…and who wants to be forced to eat the most expensive entrees every day to beat the system?? MAybe b/c we go in June and food is not really on my mind in the heat, I would hate to feel like I had to eat BIG to break even or get ahead….MAny nights I share a meal with DD…But good value if you do character dining A LOT….We do not…..Nice first post of the year!

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