If you’re confused about the world of the Disney Dining Plans and Disney Restaurant Options you are not alone! There are a lot of things to remember and keep in mind. Table Service, Quick Service, Counter Service, ADR’s, mobile ordering, oh my! And since some things need to be done before you arrive we’re gonna dive right in. Know that everyone will have a different idea of what is good and bad about what we’re about to share. So here it goes.
Disney Dining Plan Options
Okay, so if you’ve ever been to Disney you know they have tons of food options! There is no chance of going hungry. Whether your eating on the Disney Dining Plan or frequenting the closest food cart, here is what you need to know. Purchasing a dining plan with your tickets means you will have prepaid for all the food you plan to eat on vacation. Or if you choose not to go with a plan, you will be paying for meals as you go for everyone in your party, throughout your vacation. Here are the Disney Dining Plan Options available.
Disney Dining Plans
Walt Disney World has an option, whenever you buy a Disney Magic Your Way package, to add a “Dining Plan”. Here are the dining plan details for each price level. We share these here, because they breakdown the elusive world of Snacks( S), Quick Service Meals (QS) and Table Service Dining ( TS) . It is best when you can get a dining plan for free.
- Disney Quick Service Dining Plan will allow you a refillable drink mug for use at the resorts, 2 quick service meals, and 2 snacks per person. Details about the Quick Service Dining Plan.
- Disney Dining Plan also allows you a refillable drink mug for use at the resorts, 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal which includes dessert and 2 snacks per person. Details about the Disney Dining Plan.
- Disney Dining Plan Plus *NEW* allows you a refillable drink mug for use at the resorts, 2 Meals – Any combination of Table-Service and Quick-Service (per night of stay) 2 Snacks/Nonalcoholic Drinks (per night of stay) Details about the Disney Dining Plan Plus.
- Disney Deluxe Dining Plan allows you 3 meals, 2 snacks and again, the refillable mug. Honestly this is a LOT of food but if you have a big appetite or are just used to larger portion sizes, then this may be a good deal for you. Details about the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.
Types of Food included on the Disney Dining Plans
If you’re not thrilled about using your theme park time at a restaurant or at anything that requires more than 30 minutes without rides the Disney Snack carts littered throughout every park are a good option. And they do offer real food. You could grab Egg Rolls in Epcot, a Turkey Leg in Magic Kingdom, Fried Rice at Animal Kingdom and Crab Cakes at Hollywood Studios
Quick Service (QS)
Otherwise known as Counter Service, Quick Service is set up like your basic fast food joint. Wait in line, order from a menu hanging over the counter and get your food without waiting too long.
Table Service (TS)
Table Service usually requires a reservation and some advanced planning. A table service reservation requires that everyone in your party be present at the time of your reservation, and it also requires you to cancel at least an hour if not 24 hours ahead of time if you change your mind. In many cases, you can cancel the day of your reservation, but be aware that you will likely have to call to cancel and you may or may not have a penalty for canceling. We have never incurred a penalty, but we need to state it since its technically in Disney’s policies.
Mobile Ordering at Walt Disney World
Ahhhh mobile ordering! Where have you been all of our Disney loving lives?! While there are still kinks being worked out with the mobile order system, most of the time we have noticed that the errors occurring are actually more user error than anything else. Not all quick service restaurants have this feature available, however if you open up your My Disney Experience app and click on the restaurant, it will show you whether or not you can utilize this feature. Its super helpful and takes away those long wait times for busy meal periods. Order while you’re in line for a ride, pick up your food when you’re done! Here’s our quick guide to Mobile Ordering and what restaurants are included!
Advanced Dining Reservations Disney Timeline
Disney Resort Guests
If you’re staying at a Disney Resort you can make dining reservations 180 days in advance of your first day of arrival. You can make up to 10 dining reservations on that day. It’s best to do this online, that way you can keep track of your itinerary right in the Disney My Experience App and make sure you’re in the right park with the right restaurant each day of your vacation.
If you’re staying Off-Site you can make dining reservations 180 days in advance of your first day of arrival, but only one reservation at a time. So at your 180 day mark you can call and make 1 reservation for 1 restaurant. The next day you can make the next reservation for the next days restaurant. Again all of this is best done online, unless you really love the phone.
Note: You can make a Disney dining reservation at any time within the 180 day window before your hoped for dining experience. Just know that Disney restaurants fill up quickly with not only vacationers but also passholders, visiting highschools and Florida residents. Reserve early.
Cancelling Disney Dining Reservations
Yes, you can cancel your dining reservations. But be aware that since you need a credit card to make your Disney Dining reservation that if you cancel or don’t show you may be charged. Some restaurants require more notice than others and cancellation fees vary. If you don’t think you’re gonna make it, just call the WDW Dining line at (407) 939-3463. If you know far enough in advance you can also cancel reservations in the App.
Do I need a Park Ticket to Dine at Restaurants in Disney?
You will need a park ticket if the restaurant is located in a one of the parks. You can however dine at any Disney Resort Restaurant without park tickets.
What if the number of people in our party changes?
You will need to call and adjust your reservation or modify the reservation in your app. Disney does have a pretty strict rule that they cannot seat you until everyone in your party arrives at the restaurant. So if a rogue family member decides to spend dinner at flying dumbo you could be up a creek! You won’t get charged no-show fees, but you may not get seated or may have to wait until an appropriate sized table for your new party numbers is available.
Do I have to make reservations to eat at Disney Restaurants?
No! Disney has many many Quick Service Restaurants and those are always available without reservations or advanced planning. If you’d like to eat at a Table Service Restaurant we highly recommend getting reservations! Even if you’re just taking a last minute trip to Disney, it doesn’t hurt to check which restaurants have availability in the App. You might get lucky! If not you can always head to some of the better Quick Service Restaurants to eat.
What About Disney Free Dining?
We love the free dining offers. But…it’s not for everyone. Some don’t think the cost is validated and others can’t live without it. Decide for yourself! Check out information on Free Disney Dining Plan Promotions.
What’s the Best Way to Pay for Food At Disney?
So, this will be a different answer for everyone. For us, we’ve tried multiple dining options and have opinions to share! You will surely feel the bias here, but know we’re just giving it to you straight!
Disney Dining Plans
You pre-pay for the the Disney Dining Plans with your vacation package. As a result it feels slightly better than forking over hundreds of dollars at each meal. A favorite option, if we can get it for free, is to take advantage of the Free Disney Dining Plan. Then upgrade to the second tier plan which gets us a quick service and table service for lunch and dinner each day. Then we just pack little breakfast bars or buy yogurt with cash for breakfast. We of course also get 1 snack each day on that plan so could also find a snack to have for breakfast if needed, but then we do like our snacks, so we usually save those for treats. This choice is one that i like best for peace of mind. I know what I’ve paid, can eat what I want, and won’t face a high credit card bill when I get home.
Pay For Each Meal With Cash/Credit
We’ve also just paid for food in the moment while combining table service and counter service meals throughout our vacation. But I have to say the illusion of free food or even pre-paid with your vacation food is much better in my opinion than paying for things in the moment. When you’re at the table post amazing meal and get that check for 300 dollars you start feeling bad about a lot of things… that shouldn’t be part of your vacay.
Now, if you’re traveling with a smaller group or don’t really eat much this cash option could be your best choice if you’re good at self-restraint, won’t buy every amazing food item you see and can keep yourself on a budget. We’d recommend buying disney gift cards with your food budget money to keep it in check.
Add your Credit Card to Your Magic Band
Another option is to add a credit card to your magic band. While convenient, this is another one I wouldn’t highly recommend. The illusion of food being included in your vacation is real because you just charge it to the magic band, but instead of having that 300 dollar let down from one meal you now have a full vacations worth of charges you’ll have to reconcile when you check out of your resort. Not great.
Quick Guide to Disney Dining Plans Wrap Up
So that’s it! Our quick guide to Disney Dining Plan options. Remember, your Disney experience will be full of many surprises and hopefully lots of fun. Things like where to eat lunch or dinner, or how to pay for them shouldn’t consume your day. Make these decisions in advance and you’ll be able to enjoy your trip so much more because when lunch time rolls around… all you’ll have to do is show up! 🙂