After a noticeable absence since the COVID closure, Walt Disney World is finally bringing back their Disney Dining Plan in 2024. For years, this plan was a hallmark of many vacations to WDW and a popular way for guests to pay a flat rate for food ahead of time. In this post, we’ll talk about the return of the Disney Dining Plan and answer some common questions people may have about the return.
I’ve decided to do this post in a Q&A format. While the return was announced, there weren’t many other details given yet so we’ll try to update as more information is passed along. If you have a specific question about the Disney Dining Plan that isn’t addressed then leave it in the comments below and I’d be happy to address it! Let’s get to the questions.
When does the Disney Dining Plan come back?
Starting on January 9th, 2024 the Disney Dining Plan will be back! Guests can begin booking it or add it to any Walt Disney World resort stays starting on May 31st, 2023.
Why did Disney take so long to bring it back and why are they announcing this 8 months in advance?
This is a complicated answer that I will try to keep brief. The Dining Plan took a while to bring back because of capacity and guest spending. When Walt Disney World first opened there were safety restrictions that limited how many guests restaurants could seat. Once those were lifted, there weren’t enough employees to fully staff those restaurant so capacity remained low. Eventually, Disney brought back the college program and hired enough people to where restaurant capacity started to resemble where it was pre-closure.
Even after this happened, guest spending was still extremely high. Disney earnings calls have been proof that travel demand was pent up and people were ready to spend once they started traveling again. There were record highs in guest spending. Because of that, there wasn’t much incentive for the company to bring the Dining Plan back. While it’s quite lucrative for the company, if guests are spending more than ever and buying food at an unprecedented rate then there’s no hurry in bringing back the Dining Plan.
So why bring it back but wait until 2024? Largely because spending is starting to slow but there’s a lot of details to take care of ahead of time. Resolving contracts between third party vendors, making sure capacity is ready for the return and waiting out this spending bubble all probably played some role in waiting until 2024. Notice that the date isn’t until January 9th, after the holiday travel has let up. That means Disney is waiting out the influx of guest spending but trying to incentivize booking for a slower season.
I’m new to this! What is the Disney Dining Plan?
I’ll back up here. The Disney Dining Plan is a flat rate cost that guests can pay for a certain amount of meals. When it returns, two plans will be offered. The traditional Disney Dining Plan will include 1 Table-Service meal per night, 1 Quick-Service meal per night and 1 snack/nonalcoholic drink per night of a package stay—along with 1 Resort-refillable drink mug. Meals and snacks can be redeemed at any time during the stay.
The other option offered is the Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan which includes 2 Quick-Service meals per night and 1 snack/nonalcoholic drink per night of a package stay—along with 1 Resort-refillable drink mug. Meals and snacks can be redeemed at any time during the stay.
Before the closure, there were a few other options offered. At this time, it does not appear that they will come back for the early part of 2024. They could in the future!
Is this the Free Dining Plan promotion?
The famed Free Dining Plan promotion is not what’s been announced. This is strictly the Disney Dining Plan coming back as a bookable expense to be added to a Walt Disney World resort vacation. Free Dining may come back someday and includes the Dining Plan free of charge after booking a room. At this point, I have my doubts about that ever returning but you never know!
Who is eligible for the Disney Dining Plan?
Any guest that is staying at a Disney Resort. You can not book this if you’re staying at a non-Disney hotel. The amount of days you get on the Dining Plan is based on how many nights you’re staying at a Disney resort. Most of the restaurants in the theme parks, hotels and Disney Springs do take part in the Disney Dining Plan.
What is the cost once it returns?
Unfortunately, we don’t know yet! When the Disney Dining Plan was last seen in 2020, the adult price per night for the standard plan was $78.01 and the quick-service plan was $55. That included two snacks per night and that has now been reduced to one. It remains to be seen if any other changes will be in effect. I’d guess prices will be close to that, likely slightly more when they are announced. Disney has said that more details will be released on May 31st.
Are you excited about the return of the Disney Dining Plan? Let us know, along with any questions you have, in the comments below! Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Check out our planning guide for help! If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog and like our social media pages. You can do both of those things on the right side of this page. Thank you for reading, we really appreciate it!