Analyzing Disney’s Quick-Service Dining Plan for 2013

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In my third and final in-depth evaluation of the 2013 Disney Dining Plan at Walt Disney World, I am going to analyze the least expensive plan option, the Quick-Service Dining Plan. In 2013, this plan costs $37.58 for an adult and $14.32 for a child, per night. Every guest staying in the same room (on Walt Disney World property, of course) must be on the plan, with the exception of children under 3 years old. Children under 3 are free to share from another family member’s plate at no additional charge or a separate meal can be purchased. Per night, each guest using the Quick-Service Dining Plan will receive two Quick-Service meals and a snack. Each guest will also receive a refillable mug that can be used only at the resort he or she is staying at for the length of the stay.

The Quick-Service Dining Plan is often seen as the time and money-saving plan. This plan does not include a sit-down meal; however, that does not mean a family cannot pay for one out of pocket. If you think your family is more of a “one sit-down meal a day family,” you might want to think about the standard Disney Dining Plan. If you are thinking about pricing out the Quick-Service Dining Plan for your family to see if it is a good fit, consider your family’s eating habits. How many full meals do you like to eat a day? Do you often order dessert and a soft drink with each meal? Does your family ever share meals?

Let us take a look at how a family of four (two adults and two children) does on the Quick-Service Dining Plan at the Magic Kingdom. This family is my favorite kind of family. They are very money-savvy and like to get the biggest bang for their buck. To do this, they are going to eat breakfast in their room before heading out to the Magic Kingdom for the day. My prototype family is also going to try to order more expensive options off of the Walt Disney World restaurant menus as they dine throughout the day.


Lunch at Pinocchio Village Haus

Adult 1: Barbecue Chicken Flatbread – $9.69, Chocolate Cake – $3.59, Water – $2.50 = $15.87
Adult 2: Caprese Flatbread – $9.69, Chocolate Cake – $3.59, Water – $2.50 = $15.87
Child 1: Macaroni and Cheese Kid’s Meal = $5.49
Child 2: Cheese Pizza Kid’s Meal = $5.49
Total + tax = $45.49

Dinner at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe

Adult 1: BBQ Rib Meal – $10.69, Carrot Cake – $3.59, Water – $2.50 = $16.78
Adult 2: 1/2 Rotisserie Chicken – $9.69, Gelato – $3.29, Water – $2.50 = $15.58
Child 1: Chicken Nuggets Kid’s Meal – $5.49
Child 2: Turkey Sandwich – $5.49
Total + tax = $46.15

Snacks at Aloha Isle

4 Dole Whip Floats at $4.49 each = $19.12 (including tax)

  • Disney Dining Plan paid for $110.76 worth of food
  • Family paid $103.80 for the Quick-Service Dining Plan
  • Family saved $6.96

In this situation, the family could not have done things much better while using the Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan. Yet, they only came out $6.96 ahead. Had this family ordered a few less expensive options or passed on dessert, they would have lost money. You will notice that I did not include the cost of the refillable mug in my figures. Reason being, the refillable mug is only worthwhile if you use it, and not just use it, but use it every day. The longer your vacation, the more potential value you can get out of the refillable mug. However, if you are staying four nights at Walt Disney World and only one member of your party uses the refillable mug every day, the savings are nonexistent.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at potential savings for the prototype family is how they would eat if they were not on the Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan. The cost of the 4 desserts ordered at lunch and dinner totals $14.06. If this family ordered the same things as I listed above, sans dessert, it would be cheaper to pay out of pocket than to use the Quick-Service Dining Plan. If the family’s children happen to be finicky eaters and prefer to eat off of their parents plates, you could save the cost of 4 kids’ meals. All of these alternatives result in a higher savings than choosing the Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan.

The bottom line is that your family could very easily lose money using the Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan, so you want to really think about it before adding it your vacation package. Many times, people only use the Quick-Service Disney Dining Plan when traveling during a time of year when the popular “Free Dining” promotion is taking place. The way I look at this is that if you are going to book a full-price Magic Your Way vacation package anyway, you might as well add the “free” Quick Service Plan and get some food out of it. However, sometimes a room-only discount at Walt Disney World can save your family more money. The only way to know for sure is to crunch the numbers for your family, and purchase the Walt Disney World vacation package that works best for you.

To see an analysis of the Basic Disney Dining Plan, click here. If you are interested in crunching numbers for the Deluxe Dining Plan, click here.

I’m curious to find out how many of you have used the Quick-Service Dining Plan at Walt Disney World and how it worked for your family. Will you consider using the Quick-Service Dining Plan in the future if the price of the plan increases? Let us know in the comment section!

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Posted on November 28, 2012

14 Responses to “Analyzing Disney’s Quick-Service Dining Plan for 2013”

  • My family had used quick service for our past 2 trips.
    We had crunched the numbers and once they took away
    The second snack it lost value. We bought Disney
    Gift cards for our trip in September (the equivalent amount to what the QS plan
    Would have cost). We came out way ahead. Ate 2 counter
    Service meals a day and even had 2 sit downs and
    Extra gift card money for souvenirs. The QS plan is
    No longer a good deal!!!

  • Tracey – I really like that idea! We’ve only done the dining plan once when it was “free.” I’d be curious to see how we’d do with our regular eating habits. I’m 99.9% sure we wouldn’t get close to that amount per day on qualifying meals. Mainly because we don’t always order drinks and rarely order dessert. I know when we had the “free” plan, I ordered more than I actually wanted with my meals.

  • While we don’t pay out-of-pocket for the meal plan, we always take advantage of it when it is “free.” On our up-coming trip, it saved us only about $40 over our budget for a trip with the room-only discount and a very conservative food budget: no desserts, drinking only water, breakfasts in the room, and one snack per person per day. And who wants to follow those rules at Disney World?! The quick-serve meal plan means that we can eat whatever we want and not worry about a budget. We have learned a few tricks to optimize our savings:
    -Choose desserts that can be put in your backpack or taken back to the room for late night snacks or breakfasts, because as great as it sounds, you won’t really want dessert with every meal.
    -Use the refillable mugs with every meal that you eat at your resort. Select a bottled beverage that you can take back to your room for when you return, or take it with you to the park. This way you use fewer snack credits for drinks in the parks. (We will be able to use our extra snack credits to snack our way around the World at Epcot.)
    -With a 10 and 12 year-old on the dining plan, we will be able to often share 3 meals between the four of us. This means that we will have enough extra credits to cover meals for all six of our days when paying for the meal plan for five days.
    Using these techniques, the plan is absolutely worth it. However, we have also found that paying gratuity out-of-pocket makes the Basic Dining Plan not worth it for us.

  • We used the Quick Dining when it was free. I didn’t bother to crunch the numbers as the convenience alone was worth it for us.

    It was way more food than my family would ever eat. When we could we packed the ‘desserts’ as snacks later and started asking for items like yogurt or a fruit bowl in lieu of dessert (it tends to be a bit cheaper so they let you). This allowed us to use a lot of our snack credits towards breakfast items such as bagels, fruit etc.

    We travelled 2 days to Universal and we went to the Earl of Sandwich the night before, used our meal credits and packed lunch with us. We didn’t spend any money on food at Universal as we were back in time to dine in our hotel for dinner.

    Overall it was worth it for us even if it didn’t save us much.

  • We have used the quick service plan for our last few trips to WDW. We are a family of 4 with nearly adult children. We don’t think we saved any money..but we still loved it.

    Part of the enjoyment was how we were eating all day long starting with breakfast at our WDW hotel. We didn’t buy 4 meals two times a day. Instead we had one to two meals at a time and split them. We used meals as snacks many times. We also got to eat at a wide variety of quick service locations, which can be fun.

    It was also fun to plan how to use up our credits.

    I think the plan has more value than just monetary savings.

  • by Diana Drummond on November 28, 2012, at 4:42 pm EDT

    I know that it’s not kosher to mention rule-breaking but…our kids are currently 7 and 9 and the 9 year-old in particular does not get enough food from a counter service kids meal.

    So, since the counter service credits are still not tracked by child and adult you can actually use a ‘child’ credit for an adult meal. We did this many times on our trip with no problems.

    If you use ‘child’ credits for adult meals for your kids the plan can actually save a lot of money (since if we were paying OOP we would have had to get her an adult meal anyway).

    • How exactly do you accomplish this “hack?” Going in May with the QS DDP and our oldest is 9 and our 6-year old eats a lot! Do you just order adult meals and take them to the register while the kids (and mom) are at the table already? It was included in a Small World Vacation package so I see it as a good deal for convenience as a part of our overall package.

      • by Diana Drummond on April 8, 2013, at 11:37 am EDT

        We always send the kids to get a table while we order but that’s not because of the hack. We just order four adult meals and they take four meals off. We have done the same thing when one of the kids were there and no one made a peep.

  • We quit using DDP quite a while ago when Disney sucked the value out of it, so I had no idea how much it cost now. When I saw the QS plan will be just under $38, it reminded me that just 5 years ago the cost was $39/day for the standard TS plan. How times have changed.

  • I don’t use the meal plan at all. I find that the portions for adults are so big that we can share. Another option we did alot on this past trip — kid meals. Especially breakfast was a perfect portion. The value of all the meals plans is not there anymore.

  • The dining plan has become a joke. When it first came out, it was an amazing value. In this case, it provides a 6.7% savings in what’s really a best-case scenario. As you mentioned, it’s actually a loss if you wouldn’t buy desserts, and I’m willing to bet most people wouldn’t.

  • We haven’t used the quick service dining plan but I thought it was a decent value with the 2 snack credits. We have been to Disney with free dining twice, once staying at a Value resort but upgrading our dining plan. We’ve been going to Disney for years and the dining plans have substantially increased prices for those “paying out of pocket” (not on a DP) Now that we live down here and use annual passes, Disney restaurants in the parks are not a “destination” for us but more of a convenience. Table service meals, even with “Tables in Wonderland” are really cost prohibitive for us, a family of 4. I think we’ve used the discount card maybe 4-5 times, partly because even when we thought we might like to go to a table service restaurant, if we didn’t have an ADR, we assumed we couldn’t get a table.

  • My wife and I live in Northern Illinois, but we are Disney Vacation
    Club members and retired, so we go down to WDW at least twice a year (Food/Wine Festival + Flower/Garden Show). Sometimes by ourselves and sometimes we take friends and family. We have tried every iteration of the DDP and not using the DDP and not going DDP always wins. In May we did the Flower and Garden show at Epcot, just the 2 of us and we tried the 2-counter service DDP. At the end of 7 days, we had $60 worth of food not used and ended up standing at a checkout lane at a resort restaurant and buying a random family’s meal with our leftover dollars rather than letting them go to waste.

    This November, we took the kids and grandkids to WDW for the week of Thanksgiving. There were 6 of us over 10 years old and 1 that was 6 years old. DDP would have cost us $324.26/day for the group. we averaged $267/day on our own. that is with the Tables In Wonderland (TIW) card which we purchased for $75 (Annual Passholder price) and not buying 3 meals a day. The TIW card gave us a 20% discount on sitdown meals, including booze. we brought cereal and english muffins from home and bought milk & eggs here so we ate breakfast in our room. DVC rooms have a full kitchen so it is easy to do this. Lunches were more like snacks – so it didn’t cost that much and we came in under cost of DDP. Who wants dessert every meal? The kids didn’t, so we saved not having to buy dessert. Our TIW card can be used for up to 10 people for all sitdown meals and our savings was $279 for the week and the rest was just that we didn’t eat as much as we would on the DDP. we will definitely not be doing any dining plans any more.

  • by juliachilling on February 9, 2013, at 3:06 pm EDT

    We are staying at WDW for 5 days with 2 children (age 11, 12). That is 4 adults (Disney style) for 5 days. $40×4=160 day. $160 day x 5 days= $800. We would either have to have a dessert and full meal with each of 3 meals to eat that much food. We will pay out of pocket. This plan appears to work better if rolled togther with other offers.

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