Before you decide whether the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is right for you and your family, you must know what is is and how it works. The Disney Dining Plan is a pre-paid meal plan where, depending on which plan you purchase, a certain number of points are encoded onto your Magic Band which you can then use to purchase your meals with. When it’s time to pay for your meal, you will show them your Magic band and the server will scan it. Points will then be deducted from your account rather than you having to pay cash for it. There are 3 different plans to choose from at different price points so different needs can be met. Getting the most out of the DDP takes research, planning, math and a bit of strategy. The truth is, the DDP isn’t for everyone. In this article we’ll tell you all you need to know about the DDP so you can make an informed decision about whether the Disney Dining Plan is right for you.
Who can purchase a Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is available only for guests of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. There are some exceptions to this requirement for Disney Vacation Club points users and Annual Passholders. You must book your reservation through a travel agent or Disney directly. If you book a reservation at a resort through Kayak, Expedia or any other type of online booking tool, you will not qualify for the dining plan.
Guests staying at the non-Disney-owned Swan & Dolphin, Shades of Green, or International Drive hotels do not qualify for the dining plan.
The dining plan must be purchased for every member on your reservation for the duration of your stay at Disney.
How does the Dining Plan work?
Depending on which of the three dining plans you choose, each member of your party will be allotted a certain number of credits. These credits all go into one pool to be divided among everyone. When it’s time to pay for your meal, you simply show the cashier or your server your magic band and the appropriate number of credits will be deducted. You will receive a receipt showing the number of dining credits you have left. Let’s take a look at the 3 plans.
The Dining Plans
Types of Restaurants and Meals
Quick Service Restaurants
A Quick Service restaurant is either a cafeteria-style or counter service venue. In these locations, you either order or take your food, pay for it and sit down to enjoy your meal. Every Quick Service meal comes with one entree and one beverage (alcohol included).
Examples of Quick Service restaurants:
- Magic Kingdom
- Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
- Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
- Be Our Guest Restaurant (Breakfast and Lunch Only)
- Katsura Grill
- Sunshine Seasons
- La Cantina de San Angel
- Hollywood Studios
- Rosie’s All-American Cafe
- Woody’s Lunch Box
- Animal Kingdom
- Flame Tree Barbecue
- Harambe Market
- Satu’li Canteen
Resort Food Courts also are considered Quick Service locations.
Find the complete list of Quick Service restaurants here.
Table Service restaurants
At a Table Service restaurant, guests are seated and served by a waitperson. Included in every Table Service meal is one entree, one beverage (alcohol included) and one dessert. Additionally, with the Deluxe Dining Plan an appetizer will be included.
Examples of Table Service restaurants:
- Magic Kingdom
- Liberty Tree Tavern
- The Diamond Horseshoe
- Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
- Rose and Crown Dining Room
- Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria
- Coral Reef Restaurant
- Hollywood Studios
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe
- Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
- Sci-Fi Dine In Theater Restaurant
- Animal Kingdom
- Rainforest Cafe
- Yak and Yeti Restaurant
All Moderate and Deluxe Disney resorts have at least one table service restaurant.
Find the complete list of Table Service restaurants here.
Disney Dining Experiences
Spend breakfast, lunch or dinner with your favorite Disney character. Don’t forget your camera!
Character meals cost 1 Table Service credit. The only exception is Cinderella’s Royal Table which is 2 Table Service credits.
- Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet (Contemporary Resort)
- Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Faire (Grand Floridian Resort)
- Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Faire (Grand Floridian Resort)
- Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch (Polynesian Resort)
- Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Cafe (Yacht and Beach Club Resorts)
- Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast (Boardwalk Inn)
- A Buffet with Character at Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)
- Fairytale Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom) *2 credits*
- Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast at The Garden Grill (Epcot)
- Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot)
- Disney Junior Play ‘n’ Dine at Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)
- Minnie’s Seasonal Dining at Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)
- Donald’s Dining Safari at Tusker House Restaurant (Animal Kingdom)
For more information see our page on Character Dining.
Signature Dining Restaurants
Experience a wide selection of cuisines in an elegant setting. Each Signature Dining restaurant is 2 Table Service credits.
- Jiko-The Cooking Place (Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House)
- Flying Fish (Boardwalk Inn and Villas)
- California Grill (Contemporary Resort)
- Citricos (Grand Floridian Resort)
- Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian Resort)
- Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht and Beach Club Resorts)
- La Cellier (Epcot)
- Monsieur Paul (Epcot)
- The Hollywood Brown Derby (Hollywood Studios)
- Tiffin’s (Animal Kingdom)
- The BOATHOUSE (Disney Springs)
- The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe (Disney Springs)
- Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs)
- Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom)
*Please be aware that the dress code is Resort Casual. Tank tops, swimsuits or swimsuit coverups, hats for gentlemen, cutoffs, torn clothing of any kind or T-shirts with offensive language and/or graphics are not permitted.
Family-style dining at a themed dinner show with live entertainment. Each Dinner Show is 2 Table Service credits.
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground)
- Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (Polynesian Resort)
To identify what items are eligible snacks look for this icon at Quick Service restaurants, most outdoor carts and various merchandise locations:
Snacks may include a single serving of items such as:
- Popcorn scoop
- Piece of whole fruit
- Bags of snacks
- Frozen ice cream novelty, popsicle or fruit bar
- 12 oz cup of coffee, hot chocolate or tea
- 20 oz fountain soft drink
- 20 oz bottle of soda or water
- Prepackaged milk or juice
Examples of snacks available around the resort. This is not a complete list. It is meant to give you an idea of what qualifies as a snack:
- Nestle’s Mickey Ice Cream Bar
- Nestle’s Mickey Ice Cream Sandwich
- Cotton Candy
- Frozen Lemonade Cup
- Cinnamon Glazed Almonds
- Fresh-cut pineapple spear
- Chocolate Chip Cookie
- Caramel Corn
- Candy Apple
- Rice Crispy Treats
- Chip and Dale Snacks
- Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
- Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana with nuts
- Warm Cinnamon Roll
- Hummus and Chips
- French Fries
- Strawberry or Hot Fudge Sundae
- Dole Whip
- LeFou’s Brew
- Assorted Bakery Items
- Caramel Macchiato Espresso
- Green Tea Frappuccino
- Strawberry Smoothie
- Mickey Cupcake
- Apple and Caramel Dipper Pack
- Butter Croissant
- Roasted Tomato Soup
- Assorted Chips
- Mickey Pretzel with Cheese Sauce
- Nachos with Cheese
- Clam Chowder
- Vanilla, Chocolate or Swirl Waffle Cone
- Funnel Cake
- Carrot and Celery Sticks with Ranch Dressing
- Trail Mix
- and much, much more!
In most cases, tip is not included in the cost of the dining plan. So at the end of your meals, you will be expected to tip your waitperson based on the total cost of the meal. Parties of 6 or more will be automatically charged for an 18% tip.
Advanced Dining Reservations
Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) are required for all Table Service restaurants, Character meals, Signature Dining restaurants and Dinner Shows.
- All guests, including those staying off site, can make Advanced Dining Reservations 180 days in advance of your trip. If you are staying at a Disney Resort you will be able to make reservations for your entire stay (up to 10 days) 180 days in advance. If you’re staying 10 days this means that you’re actually booking 190 days in advance. This is a huge advantage if you’re traveling at one of the busier times of the year. If you are staying offsite, you can only make reservations one day at a time.
- If you are staying in a Disney Resort and your reservation begins on July 1st for 10 days. On January 3rd (180 days prior) you will be able to book all your dining reservations for your entire stay.
- If your are staying offsite and your reservation begins on July 1st for 10 days. On January 3rd (180 days prior) you will be able to book your dining reservation for July 1st. The next day, January 4th, you will be able to book your dining reservation for July 2nd. January 5th you can book for July 3 and so on.
- Make sure you plan ahead so that when the 180 day window opens you already know which restaurants you want to try to obtain reservations at.
- Have your credit card on hand when you make your ADRs. They will not charge you for your meal, but Disney will hold your reservation with a credit card guarantee. If you do not show up or cancel within 24 hours you will be charged $10 per person. Disney will charge in advance for dinner shows and dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table.
- You may book advanced dining reservations online, via the My Disney Experience mobile app or by calling (407)WDW-DINE (939-3463).
- If booking online, you will need your resort reservation number or be logged into MyDisneyExperience and have your resort booking linked in your account.
- When using the MyDisneyExperience app, you’ll need a valid resort reservation linked in your account.
- If calling, you will be asked for your phone number or reservation number. The agent will verify in the system that you have a reservation at a Disney resort.
- For those hard to get dining reservations, try a service such as Mouse Dining. They will monitor your dining picks and alert you when a spot becomes available.
Free Dining at Walt Disney World
Free Dining is a very popular package discount that Walt Disney World offers every year. After all, who wouldn’t want free food for their Disney vacation? Unfortunately, because it’s so popular it can be an extremely difficult discount to get. The discount details and times vary from year to year but here are a few helpful hints to know.
The Free Dining Plan package discount usually requires:
- You must book a Disney Resort room at the full “rack” rate and purchase theme park tickets in order to qualify for the free dining.
- The type of dining plan they offer varies. For those staying at Value or Moderate resorts, you will usually receive the Quick Service Plan. Deluxe Resort guests will usually receive the standard Disney Dining Plan.
- There are typically minimum night stay requirements (3-4 nights) and a minimum park tickets requirements (2-4 days). You may be required to purchase Park Hopper tickets.
We do not yet have Free Dining dates for 2020. However, when they release the dates, if you have a reservation booked that qualifies for free dining, we will adjust your reservations accordingly.
Also, keep checking our Walt Disney World Special Offers page for all the latest discounts.