Recently, Disney World announced a price increase for their dining plan packages. This comes at a time when many of the park's restaurants have either frozen or reduced their menu prices. These two factors have combined to lessen the value of the dining packages, leaving many to wonder if they are still a good deal.
The short answer is yes, purchasing a Disney World Dining Plan will still save you money…but not as much as they used to, and only if you use all of your meal credits.
Here is an overview of the three most popular dining packages:
Quick Service Disney Dining Plan: Includes 2 Quick Service or Counter Service Meals and 2 Snacks per person/per day. $34.99/day/adult, $11.99/day/child
Regular Disney Dining Plan: Includes 1 Table Service Meal, 1 Counter Service Meal, and 1 Snack per person/per day. $47.99/day /adult, $12.99/day /child
Deluxe Disney Dining Plan: Includes 3 credits that can be used for Table Service or Counter Service, and 2 snacks per person/per night. $78.99/day/adult, $21.99/day/child
Table Service meals are equivalent to restaurant meals where a server takes your order. They include an appetizer at lunch or dinner.
All credits are added at the start of your stay, so technically can use multiple credits per day. The Regular and Deluxe Dining Plans allow you to exchange two table service credits for a show or signature dining experience.
For most people, the Deluxe plan offers more table service dining than you would likely use. That is unless you want to dine at a restaurant for all 3 meals every day. With that in mind, most families could survive on the 1 restaurant meal, 1 counter service meal, and 1 snack provided with the Regular plan.
So let's see what you would pay out of pocket for a daily menu similar to the Regular plan…
Cereal and milk for breakfast = assume $4 (equivalent to 1 snack credit)
Counter service lunch = assume $15
Table service dinner with entree, dessert, and beverage = assume $35
Total out of pocket expense = $54
Price of regular dining plan = $47.99
Potential Savings = $6 per day
Now compare that to a daily menu similar to the Deluxe plan…
Table service breakfast = assume $12
Table service lunch = assume $18
Table service dinner = assume $35
Two snacks = assume $8
Total out of pocket expense = $73
Price of regular dining plan = $78.99
Potential Savings = None
A couple features not included in the calculations for the Deluxe plan are a refillable drink mug and the option to add appetizers to all table service meals. If you include those items then you would likely save a few bucks by purchasing this package. But again, this is A LOT of food for one person to eat every day.
So the bottom line is you won’t save an extravagant amount of money by purchasing a Disney World Dinning Plan. You do however get the convenience of budgeting your food expenses in advance, and with the Deluxe option you can redeem multiple meal credits for a dinner show or character dining experience.
In the end it just depends on what your family prefers and how much you plan to use the benefits of the dining package. If you really want to maximize your savings opportunities, then book your vacation during the “free dining package” promotional dates that occur every year.