To get the best value from counter service credits and maximize your savings on the 2024 Disney Dining Plan, you’ll want to eat at the Walt Disney World restaurants on this list. These offer the most ‘bang for your buck’ of quick service DDP credits because they serve what would be the most expensive meals, if you were paying out of pocket. (Updated October 1, 2023.)
While most counter service meals cost around $12, actual prices vary from a low of around $9 to highs of over $20. Note that the Disney Dining Plan has eliminated the dessert from counter service meals, but has more than offset that by adding alcoholic beverages. These two factors have caused a lot of changes to this list.
Walt Disney World has released the Full List of Restaurants on 2024 Disney Dining Plans, and there are currently 222 participating locations. With that said, the list isn’t final. More importantly, counter service menus are not final. Many menus are still scaled-back, and we’ve already seen a few receive refreshes in the last couple of months. This is key because just a few items can make a big difference between whether a counter service restaurant makes the cut or not.
Suffice to say, a lot could change between now and 2024. If the cut off date for the list were today, only 4 restaurants that made the list last time the Disney Dining Plan was offered would still make the cut. (In fairness, that’s partly because a few locations have permanently closed!) We’ll see what else changes and how many of the other options are able to regain their spots!
This list is calculated by taking the top two meal and beverages available on the Dining Plan and adding them together. We did this as opposed to taking the median or mean since, if you’re truly concerned with saving as much money as possible, you’re going to be ordering more expensive menu items. We think considering only the more expensive menu items is most helpful if you’re trying to maximize the Disney Dining Plan value, but your mileage may vary.
From there, we further added a requirement that at least 2 restaurants from each park must make the cut. Consider this the “Magic Kingdom Maxim,” which is done because counter service restaurants at Magic Kingdom don’t serve alcohol and thus offer less value across the board. Without that rule, there wouldn’t be a single spot from Magic Kingdom. Instead, there would be several pool bars that only have nominal food menus.
Basically, this is an objective list, but with a few guard rails so that the results are actually useful for WDW vacation planning purposes and aren’t nonsensical. We’re not going to recommend anyone do their counter service meals at Oasis Pool Bar & Grill or Lottawatta Lodge just because “The Math” dictates it.
Which other Walt Disney World counter service restaurants made the list? Let’s take a look…
10. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe – This used to be the Frontierland equivalent of Cosmic Ray’s, but Pecos Bill now serves a menu of Mexican cuisine plus typical theme park foods. The variety alone makes it one of the better choices in the Magic Kingdom, even if the glorious toppings bar is still MIA.
From a value perspective here, the top choices are the Double Bacon Barbecue Cheeseburger or the Fajita Platter. The former is pretty boring–the same burger you can get almost anywhere, whereas the fajita platter is at least somewhat interesting. Honestly, this only makes the list because we’re requiring 2 entries per park. Without that rule, Pecos Bill wouldn’t crack the top 25.
9. Columbia Harbour House – This is our favorite counter service restaurant in Magic Kingdom, thanks to its solid seafood menu and very relaxed upstairs seating. Whether you want something on the healthier side or a platter of fried delights, Columbia Harbour House has got you covered. It’s also a great place to escape the crowds of Magic Kingdom.
The portions are hearty, the dishes taste great, and Columbia Harbour House generally offers great bang for buck on the Disney Dining Plan. Highlights here include the Lobster Roll, Grilled Salmon, New England Seafood Boil, and Shrimp Skewer. From top to bottom, the menu is ambitious and satisfying–while also having basics that’ll appeal to those who would prefer something other than seafood. If Columbia Harbour House served alcohol, it’d be near the top of this list.
8. Sunset Ranch Market/Fairfax Fare – Sunset Ranch Market is the outdoor food court near Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Fairfax Fare is the main restaurant here, with Rosie’s All American Cafe and Catalina Eddie’s being the secondary options. They’re like separate ordering bays in the same big food court–which is why we’re lumping them together.
The best value here on the Disney Dining Plan is Fairfax Fare, but it’s by a close margin. It’s also the highlight, with its menu currently consisting of mashed potato waffle bowls topped with brisket, pork belly, or chicken. These bowls may seem weird with their waffle cones as a base, but they’re good against-all-odds. For those who want standard theme park fare, Rosie’s serves up burgers and hot dogs, while Catalina Eddie’s offers more of the “Almost Pizza” that Walt Disney World guests seem to love.
7. Katsura Grill – If at all possible, our advice would be to save snack credits for EPCOT and use those to graze around the festival booths–there’s a reason that tops our List of the Best Disney Dining Plan Snack Credit Uses. Alternatively, do a sit-down meal and burn a table service credit in World Showcase. Quick-service restaurants are literally your worst option at EPCOT from a cuisine quality and fun perspective.
Nevertheless, this is an objective list, and Katsura Grill scores a spot thanks to its “Osusume Recommended Menu” options. None of these are great values, but they’re the second-best option for using counter service credits on the Disney Dining Plan at EPCOT.
6. Regal Eagle Smokehouse & Craft Drafts – This “Muppet Meatery” is a new-ish counter service restaurant in EPCOT’s American Adventure pavilion, and it makes the list for a couple of reasons. The first is the variety of alcoholic beverages, several of which are fairly pricey and are Disney Dining Plan eligible.
The multi-meat sampler is going to offer the best bang for your buck, but we’d strongly recommend the St. Louis Ribs entree instead. As far as snacks and sides go, the French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese are a solid choice.
On the left is the Country-style Baked Meatloaf Served with Buttery Green Peas, Chunky Mashed Potatoes, and Gravy. On the right is the Barbecued Brisket and Burnt Ends Served with Potato Hash, Fiery Coleslaw, and Cornbread. As for a third reason, the atmosphere at Wilderness Lodge is second-to-none.
3. Satu’li Canteen – An objectively great value, and subjectively fantastic food. Satu’li Canteen is part of Pandora – World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom, and the highlight here is the “Create-Your-Own-Bowl” option, which lets you select a protein, base, and sauce. My personal favorite is the newer Ocean Moon Bowl, which features blue noodles and tuna, among many other colorful things.
The other bowls give you the option to choose among the fresh, high quality, and delicious ingredients to make something healthy, heavy and decadent, or in between. (I definitely go for the “wrong” end of that spectrum, and love the beef with potatoes and creamy herb dressing.) In other words, there’s something for everyone with the options at Satu’li Canteen. Aside from the Ocean Moon Bowl, the Combination Bowl is the way to go–both are great values on the DDP!
2. Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo – The new counter service restaurant in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge has a number of pricey entrees that make it a great option on the Disney Dining Plan. Like several of the restaurants that make this list, ribs are one of the menu items that’ll boost your value. The two others are Batuuan Beef & Crispy Topato Stir-fry and the Peka Tuna Poke. All three are awesome, and highly recommended.
Even beyond that, there are several entrees that are good picks in terms of Disney Dining Plan value. (Plus, the food is flat-out delicious–we love Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo!) That plus the specialty alcoholic beverages really elevate the value here into the top tier. (By contrast, nearby Ronto Roasters offers delicious options that are poor uses of DDP credits.)
1. Polite Pig – One of the relatively recent additions to Disney Springs, Polite Pig is another BBQ joint. Following our most recent visit here, we consider Polite Pig a must-eat meal on the Disney Dining Plan. (Above is what we ordered. As covered in that post, those are the two best bang for your DDP credit meals.)
The potential of this restaurant is through the roof, and if you have a good meal, it’s going to be really good. It still doesn’t compare to the exceptional D-Luxe Burger for us, but we’re hoping Polite Pig finds its footing. Still, it’s a great place to maximize the value of your Disney Dining Plan Quick Service credits thanks to the many expensive entrees, and that’s what matters most for the purposes of this post.
Really, once you get past the first few restaurants on this list, there’s not much that separates the remaining Counter Service Walt Disney World restaurants in terms of average value. Many restaurants only have one expensive entree that puts them on this list, and often that’s a combo like the popular chicken and ribs one. Just because a restaurant isn’t on this list doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dine there.
Based on our math, there are 8 restaurants at Walt Disney World that offer roughly $30 in maximum total value plus over two-dozen more restaurants that offer $26+ in maximum value, which is a pretty good number. If you go by average value instead of maximum value, you can find a lot of Counter Service restaurants with over $20 in total value.
This means that the difference between the later entries on this list and other spots is sometimes only around $1-2. With that little at stake, you really ought to just eat where you want if the menus for these restaurants don’t look appealing. If you’re able to hit $25 in total value from your counter service meals, you’re doing pretty well.
You can find an entree that costs at least $10 at every single Counter Service restaurant, and drinks are typically pretty close in price at these restaurants. As a result, it’s pretty easy to achieve at least $20-23 in total value. Overall, the price differences at Counter Service restaurants are less drastic than they are at Table Service restaurants, but you can still come out ahead by eating at the right Counter Service restaurants.
What tips do you have for getting the most out of the Disney Dining Plan? Have any tips to maximize your value at other Counter Service restaurants? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!