This list ranks the best table service restaurants at Walt Disney World for maximizing the value of your credits on the 2020 Disney Dining Plan. Even if you’re visiting during “Free Dining“, you want to get as much bang for your buck as possible. (Updated February 12, 2020.)
The Walt Disney World restaurants here offer the best ‘value maximization’ of table service Disney Dining Plan credits because they serve the most expensive meals (meaning greater savings on the DDP). That also means that this list is not a good resource if you’re paying out of pocket. Essentially, this list is an objective resource ranking the best 1-credit table service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
If a restaurant ranked better thanks to its pricier options, it’s on the list, regardless of whether we think its food stinks. When actually planning where YOU want to dine on your trip, it’s very important to consider quality of food, not just prices, when determining where you want to eat. We thus recommend weighing these “value maximization” lists we have along with our subjective Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews when making your Advance Dining Reservations.
The entries on this list are calculated by taking the highest entree, dessert, and beverage and adding them together (tax and tip are not included). 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.
Alcoholic beverages are now included on the Disney Dining Plan, which is a change as of a couple years ago. This has had a minor impact on the rankings, albeit to a lesser degree than our Best Counter Service Values on the Disney Dining Plan. One thing to keep in mind is that there are a handful of Magic Kingdom restaurants that do not serve alcohol, so if you’re chasing the best value, those few restaurants should be avoided.
As a general principle, there are a few guidelines about what you should and should not eat to maximize your table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan. Three easy rules of thumb are that character dining, steaks, and seafood will work out in your favor.
At the other end of the spectrum, vegetarian or plant-based dishes are a poor use of credits. You should also avoid Signature Restaurants if you want the best value. This includes Be Our Guest Restaurant for dinner now that it requires 2 credits. (See our Prix Fixe Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant Review for more info and thoughts on the new menu.)
Despite their higher menu prices, two-credit “Signature” Dining are not as good of a value due to its cost of 2 credits, so you will not find any two-credit restaurants on this list. Let me reiterate this, as some readers have asked about them: the total cost of meal at a Signature Restaurant is $100 per person, it is still not a better value than a 1-credit restaurant with a total cost of $60 per person. (It’s simple math: $60 x 2 = $120 > $100.)
10. Toledo – Tapas, Steak & Seafood – Is there any surprise that a restaurant with both steak and seafood–the two most expensive types of entrees on any Walt Disney World restaurant menus–makes this list? If anything, the big surprise should be that Toledo doesn’t rank higher.
For those unfamiliar with it, Toledo is the rooftop restaurant that opened last year at the new Gran Destino Tower. Not only is it a great use of Disney Dining Plan credits in terms of bang for buck, it’s a great restaurant, period. We love this restaurant, and highly recommend one of Toledo’s several spectacular steaks.
9. Via Napoli – This is a tricky one. Via Napoli has built a sterling reputation on its glorious pizza pies, but if you order one of these, the value is below-average on the Disney Dining Plan. Instead, you have to look to the traditional Italian menu choices, and choose one of the $30+ options.
Then, you need to pair that with a nice glass of wine and one of the more expensive desserts. Then–and only then–is Via Napoli a great value on the Dining Plan. The good news, though, is that Via Napoli is a great restaurant choice no matter what you order!
8. Chefs De France – Chefs De France has several expensive entrees, but the most expensive is the Filet de boeuf grille, sauce au poivre vert Gratin Dauphinois et haricots verts. The slightly cheaper Duck is also a great entree choice for maximizing value (and it tastes great).
We think Chefs de France is okay, but it is a popular restaurant among other Disney fans. The last time we ate there on the Dining Plan, I was able to substitute the French cheese plate (typically an appetizer) for my dessert. If you don’t have a sweet tooth, you may want to inquire about this, but don’t be surprised if you’re told that you can’t.
7. 1900 Park Fare (Dinner) – The restaurant with character(s) at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and like the hotel itself, this is arguably the flagship character dining experience in all of Walt Disney World. While earlier meals are more eclectic in the characters featured, dinner is a Cinderella-bration. The meal is called the “Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner,” and every characters that appears is from that animated classic.
Thanks to seasonal pricing, 1900 Park Fare is now (potentially) one of the best values on the Disney Dining Plan. Beyond that, it’s also among the best character meals at Walt Disney World in terms of cuisine. There’s something for everyone, from crowd-pleasing fare for kids to dishes with an international flair for adults. If your kids are into Cinderella but you want slightly more inspired cuisine, this is a great option.
6. Garden Grill (Lunch or Dinner) – Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast hasn’t changed much in the last few years, but despite that, it has inched its way up this list thanks to price increases.
The food here doesn’t quite compete with newer character meals at Walt Disney World, but the all-you-can-eat fare is both approachable and crowd-pleasing, and we prefer Garden Grill to Chef Mickey’s or Akershus, both of which rank higher here.
5. Chef Mickey’s (Dinner) – One of our absolute least favorite meals at Walt Disney World, Chef Mickey’s makes the list because it’s an objective one, not because we want to see it here. The food is undeniably awful–if it can even be called food. Beyond that, the ambiance is loud and the decor is dated.
However, wonderful character interactions here will likely redeem Chef Mickey’s in the eyes of many families, and if your kids are picky eaters, they might just like the food. Chef Mickey’s utilizes seasonal pricing, and during busier times of year, it’s one of the absolute best uses of a Disney Dining Plan credit if you’re going for value.
4. Maria & Enzo’s – The menu here changes periodically (potentially due to the Free Dining promo, which happens elsewhere, too). When they’re being offered, the high-priced steak and lobster entrees push this to near the top of the pack in terms of value for money.
There are also his is a very high ranking restaurant thanks to those and pricey and decadent Italian desserts. Additionally, fairly pricey glasses of wine help boost the value of Maria & Enzo’s even further if you’re a drinker.
3. Storybook Dining at Artist Point – This is the new Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs character meal at Wilderness Lodge, which replaces the previous Signature Dining experience at Artist Point. Thanks to a high prix fixe menu price, this instantly jumps up to the top of this list.
We’ve dined here already and were pleasantly surprised by it. You can read all about the experience in our Storybook Dining at Artist Point Review. That includes a ton of food photos, character meet & greet experiences, and how it compares to the old Signature Dining at Artist Point. Suffice to say, we are predicting that this will be the “hot ticket” of character dining at Walt Disney World for the foreseeable future! (Don’t be surprised if, like Be Our Guest Restaurant, it moves to a 2-credit meal in the next couple of years.)
2. Hollywood & Vine Buffet (Fantasmic Package) – This is one I’m hesitant to include because the Fantasmic dining package isn’t something some people want (without the package, this wouldn’t make the list), but given that it does provide some value–and we recommend doing Fantasmic.
Plus, we think the Hollywood & Vine buffet is actually quite underrated. Despite underwhelming theming, the food is quite good and the character interactions are exceptional. We are huge fans of the seasonal buffets here, particularly Minnie’s Holiday Dine and Minnie’s Halloween Dine.
1. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Dinner) – Akershus is a good value if you’re looking solely at price, but remember that it’s a princess buffet that also includes a photo package. If you’re paying out of pocket, you’re paying a premium for the princesses, but you’re paying an even bigger premium for the photo package.
We have yet to do dinner at Akershus, but we’ve heard the food is only decent (which is very much consistent with our experience here for other meals). Point being, you might nix this option if you don’t have kids or you aren’t keen on eating with princesses. Another option to consider is breakfast at Akershus, particularly if you’re unable to score FastPass+ for Frozen Ever After.
So there you have it–the top Table Service restaurants on the Disney Dining Plan if you’re looking to maximize your value. As you can see from the many caveats on this list, we aren’t big fans of some of the places represented. Objective cost and subjective value definitely aren’t the same. We happen to care more about the latter, but if the former is more important, that’s your call!
Restaurants that have expensive cocktails or glasses of wine also perform better than spots with basic beers or standard alcoholic drinks. After that, the price of desserts is the biggest factor here (ranging from high prices of $7 all the way to $14) and whether or not the restaurant serves smoothies, shakes, or some other sort of specialty non-alcoholic drink that is included on the Dining Plan.
Remember to always consider whether a particular restaurant or dish appeals to you before making your ADRs. While value maximization can be fun, it should not be the ‘end-all, be-all’ of your Disney vacation planning. Eating things you like is far more important!
Hopefully this list helps you get more bang for your buck on the Disney Dining Plan. Check out our Best Counter Service Credit Uses on the Disney Dining Plan and Most Cost-Effective Disney Snacks blog posts to get even more value out of the Disney Dining Plan! 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? Any favorite restaurants or menu recommendations for making the most of the Disney Dining Plan? Do you make a point of maximizing your value even when taking advantage of the Free Dining promotion? If you have any tips to maximize your value at other Table Service restaurants or any questions about the Disney Dining Plan, please share them in the comments!