The Disney Dining Plan is an extremely popular topics among Disney World fans and trip planners. We’ve discussed the positives and negatives of the dining plan before and, frankly, I should update my thoughts on the subject at some point. In short, I don’t think there’s a big value to be had from adding on the promotion but there is an added convenience or comfort for some, especially when going with a bigger group. With that out-of-the-way, the standard dining plan is not what we’re getting into today. Instead let’s talk about the Deluxe Dining Plan.
This is what is offered per night when you add the Deluxe Dining Plan to your on-site resort stay:
- 3 meal credits (any combination of table-service and quick-service) that include an alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage, appetizer, entrée and dessert (for lunch and dinner, no appetizer or dessert for breakfast unfortunately).
- 2 snacks
- Refillable mug
That’s a bunch of food. The cost of this package is $116.25 for each guest per night. At roughly $50 a night more than the standard dining plan, the deluxe is a pretty penny for more food than most guests will likely eat each day.
Before we go on, the deluxe dining plan is probably not the right choice to add-on to your entire vacation package unless money is of no object to you. If that’s the case, then go for it! Eat like a king for a week and enjoy yourself. Even then, the plan may simply just end up taking too much time away from the parks. So, I wouldn’t absolutely recommend it.
Again, that’s for those guests who money is of no object. Since that likely isn’t many of you, this will not be a full review of the deluxe dining plan but instead a few ideas on how to properly utilize the plan. There is a great value to be had if you go about it the right way, and that’s what I’ll try to convey in this post.
Starting off, this is entirely too much food. Yes, it’s 3 meals but an appetizer, entrée and dessert at every meal (outside of breakfast) adds up. On top of that, there are 2 snacks a day that can be fairly heavy. With this and the cost in mind, if you were going to use the deluxe dining plan then you should do it for only a portion of your stay. My wife and I used it for a 2 night stay and this worked out well. Pushing it to three would probably be fine and shouldn’t put you on food overload. After 3 days I’m not sure I’d recommend it unless you want to leave food on the table (pun intended).
Along with wanting a shorter span to use the deluxe dining plan, another practical tip is to go to a few signature restaurants. Neither of these tips are to really give you more bang for your buck instead I recommend them to simply make the plan more realistic. Going to Disney World to eat a pretty nice sit-down meal 3 times a day is a novel goal but I don’t think that’s anyone’s actual purpose for a trip. There are better places to go and eat in the world than Disney World.
Aside from these recommendations, the deluxe plan actually does offer a pretty good value. Using very conservative estimates for each meal ($50 for a drink, appetizer, entrée and dessert) and snacks ($5 each) will get you to $180 a night. Say instead you go with a signature restaurant and a table-service meal along with the snacks. That will still be around $150 and that’s, again, conservative.
When we utilized the plan a few months ago on a 2-night stay. We ate 5 meals over the course of 3 days (you can use the plan the day you check in and the day you check out, so while charged for 2 nights we can stretch out those 6 credits each over the course of 3 days). The total for those 5 meals would have been around $300. Our snacks were all over $5, but let’s be cautious and say that’s what it was. That’s a total of $320 for the price of $232.50. My total also could have been much higher because this was before alcoholic beverages were offered in the plan and I didn’t factor in the refillable mug. As you can see, the value is there.
But this plan involved eating most of the food we wanted to eat during our long trip over the course of 3 days. The problem in comparing the costs straight across like I did in the above paragraph is that we may not have eaten all of that food if we didn’t have the plan. In our case, the restaurants we ate were all places we had in our plans. Instead of spreading it out across our trip, it made financial sense to put the reservations in the span of 3 days and then eat counter-service meals throughout the rest of the trip.
All this to say, I think the deluxe dining plan fits a few vacations quite well. I would recommend it to people who have gone to Walt Disney World before and have table-service or signature restaurants that they absolutely want to do. On top of that, I would recommend the plan for no more than 3 nights and then spread it to the course of 4 days. Mix in some signature restaurants along with the table-service restaurants. This idea would require a split-stay, unless your vacation was short in the first place. Yes, this is quite a few prerequisites to make a dining plan fit your family. But there is a place for it and it certainly saved us a little bit of money last trip.
Do you have any questions or thoughts about Disney World’s deluxe dining plan? Let us know in the comments. If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page. You can find both of those on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!