2018 Ultimate Disney Dining Plan Guide

Using the Disney Dining Plan for your 2018 Walt Disney World vacation or are wondering, “is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?” You’ll want to read these comprehensive articles we’ve written about the divisive Walt Disney World meal plan options. We consider this collection of posts our Ultimate Guide to the Disney Dining Plan. (Note: if you want to know about recent updates, read about 2018 Disney Dining Plan Changes (Now Including Alcohol!) to see how those might impact your trip.)

We have used the Dining Plan several times and also opted not to use it several other times (and instead pay out of pocket). We’re neither blind fans of the Disney Dining Plan nor are we opponents of it, and we bring this balanced perspective to our articles covering the Disney Dining Plan.

The Disney Dining Plan can be a good or poor value depending upon how you will use it, and these articles will give you an idea of the best and worst ways to use the Disney Dining Plan from a value perspective, so you’ll know whether it’s for you (if you’ve yet to pull the trigger), or how you should plan on using the Dining Plan if you’ve already booked your Walt Disney World vacation!

Click each link for comprehensive information you’ll want to know for each stage of planning your trip to Walt Disney World on the Disney Dining Plan!

Top Disney Dining Plan Posts


2018 Disney Dining Plan Overview and Pros & Cons – Here’s all the information you need to know about the various versions of the Disney Dining Plan, including prices and what the various plans include. We also share our review of the Disney Dining Plan, and whether we think it’s worth the money. (It certainly isn’t for everyone–not even when it’s “free.”)

“Free Dining” 2018 Dates – Aside from bounce-back dates, Free Dining hasn’t yet been released for Fall 2018, but history tells us it’ll be back, likely with a late April 2018 release for travel dates beginning in August. In this post, we predict when those dates will be based on historical offers. Keep tabs on this article for full details on when it’s available and which each tier of resorts gets on the promo.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews – Not all Disney restaurants were created equal. While none are so bad that they have rodents in the kitchen (well…as long as you don’t count Chef Mickey’s!), some Disney restaurants are surprisingly bad…and some are surprisingly good! Read our thoughts and opinions on each restaurant, as we give you some ideas as to our favorite restaurants and least favorite restaurants, and why we like or dislike particular restaurants. Just don’t read these on an empty stomach, as there are lots of mouth-watering photos in the reviews!

Maximizing Table Service Credit Value on the Disney Dining Plan – The alternate name for this article is “Best Value=Order STEAK!” And really, that title would be all you need. Actually, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. This article ranks the top 10 table service restaurants at Walt Disney World in terms of objective value on the Disney Dining Plan. In other words, we examined the menus of all Walt Disney World table service restaurants and listed the 10 that are the most expensive (and thereby offer the most “bang for your buck” on the Disney Dining Plan, objectively speaking).

Maximizing Counter Service Credit Value on the Disney Dining Plan – Thanks to some high priced combos (like the chicken and ribs combo at Cosmic Ray’s or Fairfax Fare) and restaurants that serve expensive desserts, there are a lot of ways to maximize your counter service credit on the Disney Dining Plan, too. Some of these more expensive meals are even big enough to split, meaning that you can do breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the Disney Dining Plan if you use credits effectively!

Maximizing Snack Credit Value on the Disney Dining Plan – That bottle of water or that banana you might spontaneously want? Bad uses of snack credits if you care about bang for your buck. Find out what items are a good use of snack credits. (Most of them are not nearly as healthy as that water or the banana…but they sure do taste better!)

Disney Dining Plan v. Paying Out of Pocket – Here we breakdown our dining costs from one trip where we paid out of pocket and compared that to what we would have paid on the Disney Dining Plan. This post also includes a comparison of paying out of pocket to Free Dining, and explains why Free Dining isn’t really “free.”

Deluxe Dining Plan Savings – The Deluxe Disney Dining Plan is a huge splurge, and way more food than most people will be able to eat. Disney counts on this, and offers the Deluxe Dining Plan at a relatively reasonable price point given what you can get on it, because Disney assumes you’ll skip some meals and not be able to “maximize” the Deluxe plan. We “beat the system” with the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan, and ended up saving a lot of money. Here’s where we ate, how much we saved, and how you can do the same (YMMV).

Best Character Meals on the Disney Dining Plan – Just like the “Maximizing” articles listed above, except for character meals. Although this list is objective, in our experience, these are some of the better quality character meals at Walt Disney World, too. It does stand to reason that restaurants costing more would serve better food, so this shouldn’t be too surprising…

If you need personalized help with planning any aspect of your vacation including the Disney Dining Plan, or want someone to watch for the Free Dining promotion for you and book it once it’s available–we recommend contacting a no fee “Authorized Disney Vacation Planner” (Disney’s term for a travel agent) to get a quote and to help you plan. They get their commission from Disney, so none of the authorized (key word) planners will charge you for booking their trip and helping. Here’s one such recommended Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

Your Thoughts

Is the Disney Dining Plan a good value for your family? If you use the Disney Dining Plan, how do you maximize your savings and enjoyment of eating at Disney while on the Dining Plan. Please share any tips or thoughts you have in the comments!

128 Responses to “2018 Ultimate Disney Dining Plan Guide”
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