The Disney Dining Plan vs. Paying Out Of Pocket

The answer to that question is quite simple – a resounding and uncompromising IT DEPENDS! Your choice depends on a lot of factors and varies from family to family:

  • Do you eat a lot of sit down meals?
  • Are you “fast food” (counter service) comfortable? – There are a lot of  excellent counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
  • Do you like “fine dining”?
  • Are the kids (like most) burger and fries fans?
  • How flexible is your budget?
  • Do you like a cocktail or wine with your meals?

It seems like considering all of these questions would complicate things but it can actually help make the decision for you. There are many options you can choose from but there are also some things to be aware of. Disney considers anyone 10 years old or older to be an adult on the dining plans and everyone staying in your room, 3 years old and older, must be on the same dining plan. Here are options you can choose from along with links to Disney’s sites:

  • The Dining Plans are : Quick Service Dining Plan, the standard Disney Dining Plan, the Deluxe Dining Plan, the Premium Dining Plan, and the Platinum Dining Plan. For those of you who enjoy wine with your meals there is an add on option for the basic and deluxe plans called the Wine and Dine Plan. The prices start at $37.26/adult and $12.77/child per night of your stay for the Quick Service Plan and go up from there.  Here is an  overview of the Disney Dining Plans along with the associated policies. There may or not be one that works for you but at least now you have all of the information in one place.
  • Paying Out Of Pocket - Surprisingly, this can be more economical that the dining plans depending on your family’s dining patterns. Nobody is tied to anything and all of the choices are yours. This can be especially helpful if you have kids in the 3-4 year old range who don’t eat very much and often eat off of Mom or Dad’s plate (Disney is pretty flexible on this practice). At that age they must be on the same dining plan (if you choose that route) as Mom and Dad and often will not eat that much food.
  • Tables In Wonderland – This is the option we almost always choose. In order to be a Tables In Wonderland (TIW) member you have to purchase at least one Annual Passport (AP) which limits you to a “room only” reservation and separate purchase of park tickets. Fear not though, it generally doesn’t cost more for your tickets (except for the AP) than if you purchased a package and AP holders are generally able to get significant room price discounts subject to them being offered (almost always except for peak periods) and somewhat limited availability. Tables In Wonderland discounts combined with AP discounts can be huge. At most table service restaurants, the TIW card entitles you to a 20% discount on your check for up to ten people on the same ticket including alcohol purchases. If you are a sit down type family your savings can be enormous!! A TIW membership costs $75 with an Annual Passport (it is available to Florida residents without an AP for $100).

It will pay for you to do the research and figure out exactly which options are most suitable for your group. Take a little time and use the internet to get the best deal for yourselves. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!



Ken

Ken (203 Posts)

Ken is just an old guy who loves all things Disney. He loves to share his experiences and advice with anyone who wants them. He focuses on Disney for seniors, quick tips, Best of..., and Top 5/10.




  • MyRapunzal

    I JUST wrote about this on my blog this AM! I did the math after we paid out of pocket this trip and calculated whether we would have saved money/time doing the dining plan or not!