Best Dining Plan Counter Service Credit Uses
To get the best value from counter service credits and maximize your savings on the 2020 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 March 1, 2020.)
While most Counter Service combos are priced right around $14, actual prices vary from a low of around $10 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.
Since this list determines Disney Dining Plan value based upon the most expensive prices, you should not use this list if you’re paying out of pocket. If Dining Plan value maximization is your concern, you should also make sure to get your “money’s worth” from Table Service meals (click here to see our tips for maximizing your table service dining at Walt Disney World)…
This list is calculated by taking the highest combo and beverage 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 feel considering only the more expensive menu items is most helpful to vacation planners looking to maximize the Disney Dining Plan value, but your mileage may vary.
Additionally, since this list contemplates only expensive items, this list is completely objective. If a restaurant “scored” better thanks to its pricier options, it’s on the list. This is regardless of whether we think its food stinks. It’s very important to consider quality of food, not just prices, when determining where you want to eat. You’re not really getting more “value” for your money if you eat expensive food that you don’t like!
Which other Walt Disney World counter service restaurants made the list? Let’s take a look…
10. Primo Piatto – The good news with our update for the 2020 Disney Dining Plan is that every restaurant is either inside the Walt Disney World theme parks or at Disney Springs. Except Primo Piatto, which is the counter service restaurant at the new Disney’s Riviera Resort.
However, Primo Piatto is an easy Skyliner flight from Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios, meaning that it’s ridiculously easy to do it as a break from the parks. Note that Primo Piatto makes this list only for its dinner options. Specifically, the “Dinner Specialties.” (See our Primo Piatto Dinner Review for the best options there.)
9. ABC Commissary – You might be a bit surprised to see this Disney’s Hollywood Studios restaurant make the list, but it has seen a number of menu changes recently. It seemed like the menu changed a few times last year, so don’t be surprised if it changes once again before your Walt Disney World vacation.
Here, the BBQ Ribs Platter is the best option for value, but other dishes also offer strong value. Everything else here is fairly average in price and quality, so don’t get too enthusiastic about ABC Commissary. I tried this combo last year, and was disappointed both in terms of its quality and size, so keep that in mind before just going for it because of the value.
8. Tangierine Cafe – One of the most unique, and arguably one of the best Counter Service restaurants at Walt Disney World, you really can’t go wrong with anything here. We are huge fans of Tangierine Cafe, and the only reason we don’t eat here more is because it’s fairly expensive when paying out of pocket, but that’s not a problem on the Disney Dining Plan!
To maximize your value, try the Saffron Rotisserie Chicken, which is the most expensive entree (and is very filling!). If you’re not preoccupied with getting the most bang for your buck, the Shawarma Chicken and Lamb Platter is our favorite thing on the menu.
7. Flame Tree BBQ – This option really hits the ‘sweet spot’ in terms of value and quality. Also making our Top 10 Counter Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World–a list based on quality, Flame Tree BBQ is a can’t-miss option if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan.
The multi-meat sampler is going to offer the best bang for your buck, but we’d strong recommend the St. Louis Ribs entree instead. This is the single greatest counter service menu option in all of Walt Disney World. As far as snacks and sides go, the French Fries with Pulled Pork and Cheese are a solid choice.
6. Be Our Guest Restaurant (Breakfast & Lunch) – This lavishly themed restaurant in New Fantasyland is still inundated by crowds. Following the debut of new and more expensive lunch menu items (with a new breakfast menu supposedly coming soon), Be Our Guest Restaurant remains the best use of a Disney Dining Plan counter service credit in Magic Kingdom.
While we aren’t huge fans of the breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant (it’s still a great value–and others love it!), it’s a different story later in the day. We really like Be Our Guest Restaurant for lunch, and think it’s a good place with unique options. It’s somewhere you should eat regardless of whether you’re on the Disney Dining Plan. It’s like an attraction in itself, but that’s doubly true if you’re on the Disney Dining, as you can get some bang for your buck!
5. Regal Eagle Smokehouse & Craft Drafts – This “Muppet Meatery” just debuted 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.
Second, is the more universally-appealing American Platter. This is the most expensive entree, and gives you the choice of three meats plus a side and garlic toast. For our recommendations of what to get in the platter, see our Regal Eagle Smokehouse: A Review of All Foods, But Mostly BBQ Meats.
4. 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.
With that said, 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.)
3. Restaurantosaurus Burgers & Sundaes – For lunch, Restaurantosaurus is one of Walt Disney World’s worst counter service option. The food embodies stereotypical theme park fare, with the burgers being made from a mix of cardboard and mystery meat. On the plus side, if you do make the mistake of eating here for lunch, at least the theme is cool!
For dinner, it’s another story completely. Restaurantosaurus Burgers & Sundaes is truly a Supersaurus new restaurant on the Disney Dining Plan! Not only do you get to enjoy the fun atmosphere mentioned above, but you’ll also be treated to significantly higher-quality burgers plus an ice cream sundae bar. We love Restaurantosaurus Burgers & Sundaes, and highly recommend it to everyone.
2. 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.
1. Wolfgang Puck Express — If you order one of the other expensive entrees, this is the place to go to stretch the value of your Disney Dining Plan credits at Disney Springs. If you order the delicious but cheap pizza, it’s not such a good use of a DDP credit.
The Bacon-wrapped Meatloaf (pictured above) is the best of both worlds: one of the most delicious counter service entrees at Walt Disney World, and also expensive. There are several things that we love and would highly recommend at Wolfgang Puck. Add to that a variety of expensive wines, and you’ve got the best bang for your Disney Dining Plan buck at Walt Disney World! (The only downside to Wolfgang Puck Express is theme–it’s totally bland.)
Really, once you get past the first five 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 5 restaurants at Walt Disney World that offer roughly $30 in maximum total value plus over a dozen more restaurants that offer $20+ 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 $18-19 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!
You can find an entree that costs at least $10 at every Counter Service restaurant, and drinks are typically pretty close in price at these restaurants. Overall, the price differences at Counter Service restaurants are less drastic than they are at Table Service restaurants, but you can still come out pretty far ahead by eating at the right Counter Service restaurants.
Hopefully this list helps you get more bang for your buck on the Disney Dining Plan. Check out our Value-Maximizing tips for Snacks and Value-Maximizing Tips for Table Service Restaurants to get even more value out of the Disney Dining Plan! If you’re planning a Disney trip, read our other Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews and our 101 Delicious Walt Disney World Dining Tips. If you are planning a Walt Disney World trip, make sure to also read our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!
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!
Chicken Parm at Pinocchio’s Village — by far the best quality and best value quick service meal at WDW.
Last week we spent 6 days in the parks on vacation and hit 3 of your Top 10 on the list! Flame Tree Barbeque and the three meat combo plate is one of the best quick service/counter service lunch options on the entire dining plan! Flame Tree does it all up right and the portion size and flavor is amazing. ABC Commissary was also good, they had a three choice combo lunch option with fish/shrimp and chicken tenders that was a great value. Be Our Guest Restaurant for a breakfast one day was surprisingly good, better than we expected, the flavor of our dishes were all very good. The other two quick service we always enjoy is the Mexican spot at Epcot with a perfect seat overlooking the lake and Colombia Harbor House at MK for the Lobster Roll plate!
Thanks for another detailed and helpful post!
Question for anyone with experiencing booking free dining. If I have an existing reservation that I am hoping to modify to free dining (when and if more dates get released-not counting on it), is it easier and quicker to modify a reservation that includes a (paid) dining plan already? I don’t want to miss a chance at the offer if it becomes available.
When you factor in the potential for alcohol, it changes a bit..
Biggest example — La Cantina De San Angel — Most expensive entree is only $14.50, but you can get a $15.50 margarita for a total of $30
Satu’li Canteen could make the list too… with a top entree of $17 and $11 glasses of wine
Those are both equal or above the total value you can get at Tangerine Cafe, for example
You feel better about Restaurantasaurus now, right?? We have an upcoming reservation for burgers and sundaes!
I love this restaurant…its been our go too for years.
Hi, great site amwith loads of useful information. Is it possible to use 2 counter service credits for 1 table service credit?
no you can not “up” your credit. You can down them as in table service down graded to counter service or counter service downgrade to 3 snacks (adult credit and must be used all at the same place).
I believe that Rose and Crown has an evening dinner package that includes seats for the illumination s.
Any info. Looking to book for April 2020
Very surprised to see Satu’li Canteen not on the list.
One of the best I believe by far.
Is the turkey leg a QS or Snack or neither?
I believe there is one or two locations that accept DP and turkey leg counts as an entree and you’re allowed a beer or another alcoholic beverage of choice with a QS credit there.
Two number 5s and no number 8 with the August 2019 update?
Your numbering is a bit messed up ATM – no #8, two #5s. Thanks though, the list is very useful!
Thanks for the heads up–it’s fixed now!
Does Be Our Guest serve alcohol at breakfast/lunch or only at dinner?
Beer, mimosas, wine and maybe sangria at lunch and breakfast. bon appétit
Tom, are you going to update this for 2019?
I hope he does. Last I heard the polite pig is no longer accepting credits from DDP.
I just looked on the Disney site and it still lists The Polite Pig as accepting the dining plan.
I’d like to add the fajita platter at Pecos Bill’s (MK Frontierland) to this list. We ate there today. The fajita platter comes with chicken, beef, rice, beans, four flour tortillas, and fajita veggies. It is a lot! Also, they have a huge toppings bar with guac, sour cream, tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, etc. Two people could easily split a fajita platter. Add a side of chips ($4.99) and a side of queso (large portion, $1) and you’re good to go. Both the chips and queso are snack credits. Load up on salsa at the toppings bar and you’ve got a solid meal.
The fajita platter is only $15. And spending a snack credit on a $1 side of queso is a really bad use of a snack credit.
What you’re talking about sounds like a very good out-of-pocket deal though!
I like Blaze Pizza at Disney Springs. While on the surface it may not look like a great place to get the most dollar value from your dining credit, it really is unless you’re a big eater. The pizzas are all one size – medium. So unless you can eat a medium pizza by yourself, you’ll pay one dining credit for a meal that serves two people. My granddaughter and I always get a half-and-half. She likes bacon and I don’t.
The pizzas are made with whatever you want on them. There’s about 4-5 different sauces and a ton of cheeses. There’s even a vegan cheese for the vegans. The toppings choices is even bigger. And you can get as many toppings as you want for the one price. That alone makes it a deal because you’re going to pay extra for each and every topping you get at Via Napoli. And Blaze Pizza is really, really good pizza!
Oh this is good to know! And it’s a QS credit?
Do you have to make reservations for counter service. Because Be Our Guest says quick service breakfast and lunch. But you have to make reservations. Is that true of all quick service places?
We went to Be Our Guest twice during our stay and made the reservation, but the rest of the 9 days were quick service meals and you just walked in and ordered. No issues with getting a spot. Pinocchio’s Village Haus is really nice in Magic Kingdom!
Be Our Guest is the only QSR where you need to make advance reservations. It’s EXTREMELY popular, so if you don’t have an ADR, you won’t get a table. Even making a reservation 6 months our is difficult. It took me 3 months of trying before I got one. But it’s definitely worth it.
I started planning only 3 months out and managed to snag reservations for every meal time frame. I’m very persistent though lol. The only one I really wanted and didn’t get was the princess one at epcot.
I just was checking somethings and the online menus for Tangierine cafe and Cosmic Ray’s don’t have the dishes you mention anymore. Would you still rank them on this list?