Disney Dining Plan Basics

by on May 1, 2009 3 Comments

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This is for those that are new to the Disney Dining Plan and possibly assume that they would be able to show up at most Disney Table Service restaurants without advanced reservations.  Hopefully, these tips will help you get the most for your money.

#1 Decide where you want to eat.  My suggestion is to read through the “UnOfficial Guide’s”  Full Service Restaurant Profiles of Disney restaurants (chapter 10). This listing will give you a description of the restaurants, the quality of the food, the price category and the overall value. With these ratings and descriptions you can narrow down what most appeals to your family. You can also search Allears.net and see the latest menus.

#2 Make your Advanced Dining Reservations (Also called ADRs) as soon as possible: To do this call 407-WDW-DINE. You can make your reservations 90 days in advance. The sooner you do this the better. Once you’ve paid for the Disney Dining Plan you aren’t going to get a refund because the places you want to eat aren’t available.

#3 If having a daily, sit down table service meal is too stressful for your family, try one of Disney’s Signature restaurants.  These restaurants use 2 Table Service Credits per person, thus using up your credits faster. This way, on another day,  you can eat much more casually and completely on your schedule at the Counter Service locations. Touringplans.com has a listing of all of the participating restaurants and the number of Table Service credits required.

#4 The Snacks. Use your snack credits for the most expensive snacks. Purchase the waters and lower ticket items yourself.  For example, if you are checking out, tell the cast member you will be using your Snack Credit for the Dole Whip, but will purchase the water.  Remember, each person in your party gets 1 snack credit a day.  Chances are you will run out of snack credits first.  So use them wisely. 

#5 Know how many credits you have left.  Use them.  There won’t be any refunds on unused credits.  I once found myself at the end of the vacation, about to get in the car and drive home, with extra counter service credits.  The cast member allowed us to put several snacks together, for our trip home, to use in exchange for the Counter Service credits we didn’t use.  This is often at the discretion of the cast member.  Be safe — use all of your credits before you have the luggage in the car.

#6 Enjoy every drop of food you put in your mouth.  Calories never count at Disney.  It’s magical!!

Happy Eating!!

Posted on May 1, 2009

3 Responses to “Disney Dining Plan Basics”

  • by DisneyDad59 on May 4, 2009, at 2:02 pm EST

    Excellent advice, Caroline!
    I understand some people’s frustration at not knowing what, when or where they’ll want to eat 90 days from now. I’ll offer this little piece of advice. Acknowledge that having to make such a choice is not your usual modus operandi. Embrace the unfairness of the universe as a given. Then go to any of the fine sites that also post menus and have fun planning with family and friends where you’re going to eat, when you’re going to eat and what you’re going to eat 3 months from now. In other words, don’t let the reality of the Dining Plan’s popularity ruin your vacation. Besides, once you have this detailed plan you always have opportunities to change, without taxing the system.
    If plans or moods change, try Guest Services that morning or stop at the preferred restaurant’s check-in and see if there are last-minute openings. (Of course, always ask them to call over and remove your name from the other restaurant’s list, out of courtesy.)
    My attitude: I’m at Walt Disney World enjoying a great meal. Things could be much worse. (Of course, my family enjoys planning 3 months ahead. We find that having a plan allows the room to be spontaneous when the opportunity arises.)

    • by Caroline Baggerly on May 4, 2009, at 2:46 pm EST

      Disney Dad,
      I love your perspective!! I have realized that a lot of people think you can just show up and be seated (like they do at home). I think a lot of first timers to the Disney Dining Plan have no idea how popular the restaurants are.
      You are right on — we’re lucky to be at Disney World.