For 2020, Walt Disney World is introducing a fourth tier of its popular prepaid meal deals with the Disney Dining Plan Plus. In this post, we’ll cover info, where this slots in amongst the existing DDPs. We’ll also offer speculation and commentary about whether it’ll be a Free Dining option, pricing of the Disney Dining Plan Plus, and our preliminary review.
It’s worth prefacing this news with a note that some of this is speculative. Walt Disney World just internally released preliminary details of the Disney Dining Plan Plus. When we called this morning to confirm additional details, the phone representative was caught off-guard and unable to provide any info. (This is not at all uncommon–frequently Disney does not provide Cast Members with details about new offerings, even once they’re available.)
As such, we’ll start with official info about the Disney Dining Plan Plus and then offer our speculation about it after that. Booking of the Disney Dining Plan Plus will begin on February 27, 2020 for stays as soon as the following day. Its “rules” will work exactly like the existing tiers of the DDP, with credits rolling over, gratuity not being included, etc. Only guests booking a Walt Disney World resort stay being eligible–meaning that off-site guests can’t purchase Dining Plan “day passes.” Here’s what else we know…
Per Walt Disney World, the Disney Dining Plan Plus package will allow guests to redeem their two meals each day in any combination of either table service or quick service restaurants. This means you could do a character breakfast and character dinner one day, two counter service meals the next day, counter service lunch followed by a table service dinner the next day, and so forth.
Essentially, you’re receiving two table service credits per day with the flexibility to instead downgrade those credits to a single counter service meal, if you so desire (although this 1:1 trade would obviously offer poor value). Since almost every character dining experience is also a 1-credit table service meal, you could do those.
Additionally, the Disney Dining Plan Plus includes two snacks per night and one length-of-stay refillable drink mug (See our Refillable Mug FAQ for details about how this works and the upgrade options). At each meal, guests will have the option of choosing unlimited fountain drink refills, single-service teas and brewed coffee, or one specialty non-alcoholic beverage. Adults 21 years of age and older can instead order an alcoholic drink.
As noted above, all other rules apply. We assume this also includes the ability to upgrade via the Free Disney Dining Plan Discount by paying the price difference between the version of the plan included with your resort tier and the cost of the DDP Plus. We highly doubt the Disney Dining Plan Plus will be the included version of the DDP with any resort tier. (Although it’d be awesome if Deluxe Resorts received this, Moderates went back to the standard DDP, and Values received the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan!) All of that is speculation, though.
There are a couple of other unknowns. First, whether the Disney Dining Plan Plus will include appetizers at table service meals like the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (DxDDP)–we would guess that it will not. Second, whether you can combine these table service credits for Signature Dining–we assume so.
As should be clear from our many posts about the Disney Dining Plan, we are fairly mixed on it. We aren’t diehard devotees of the Disney Dining Plan, nor are vehemently opposed to it. Given how divisive the DDP is, with most Walt Disney World fans either loving it or hating it, we think this uniquely situates us to offer a less-biased perspective on the new Disney Dining Plan Plus.
Right now, we use the Disney Dining Plan strategically on occasion, and for our narrow purposes, it works pretty well. Almost all of our current usage is at the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan tier, but we anticipate some of that moving to the new Disney Dining Plan Plus option.
Generally speaking, we view the Disney Dining Plan Plus as a good addition to the DDP lineup, and one that’ll slot nicely between the standard Disney Dining Plan and the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan. Previously, there was a colossal gap between the two offerings. The standard DDP offered “only” one table service meal per day, whereas the DxDDP offered up to three table service meals per day.
The idea behind the standard Disney Dining Plan is that it’d appeal to the meal habits of the average Walt Disney World visitors. Some combination of two counter service and table service meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Plus, two snacks in between to “bridge the gap” so to speak. Even without three full meals, the standard DDP provides enough (usually more than enough) food for the average person.
By contrast, the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan is better viewed as something of an all-inclusive splurge for guests who really like to eat and don’t want to be constrained with their restaurant choices.
For the vast majority of Walt Disney World tourists, the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan is serious overkill and more about providing peace of mind than actual value.
However, the Deluxe Dining Plan can be utilized well if you follow the strategy of eating breakfast (or an early lunch) at a Table Service restaurant (character breakfasts are great for this) and dinner at a Signature Table Service Restaurant, plus snacks whenever.
The Disney Dining Plan Plus will likely fall somewhere in between: targeting both guests who have bigger appetites and those who want more peace of mind, but not quite as much as the overzealous DxDDP offers. It’ll also be perfect for families who want to do character breakfasts in the morning and character dinners in the evenings (with snacks in between for “lunch”).
While Walt Disney World has not yet released a price point for the Disney Dining Plan Plus, we can likewise speculate that it’ll fall somewhere between the standard Disney Dining Plan and the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan. If you’re interested, we can go a step further a reverse-engineer what might be a “fair” price based upon our valuations of DDP credits.
As we break down in our 2020 Disney Dining Plan Review, Tips & Info post, a table service credit is worth approximately $45, a counter service meal on the DDP is worth approximately $21, and a snack is worth approximately $5. (Note that these are our approximations–reasonable minds may differ slightly on each.)
Adding up those totals (and throwing in the refillable mug), the total nightly cost of the Disney Dining Plan Plus would be $100 per adult. However, that assumes redeeming all credits for table service meals, which is probably not going to happen as a practical reality.
With the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan, WDW discounts for this inevitability. If we used the above numbers to approximate the cost of the DxDDP, it would be $145 per night (or more if you count the fact that it offers appetizers and the other tiers don’t). In reality, it costs $119 per night.
This price disparity is part of why the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan can be leveraged for greater savings. However, since most guests aren’t going to jump through those hoops or strategically bifurcate their hotel stays, the actual value most tourists will obtain from the DxDDP is well below its maximum. (In fact, it’s probably closer to the standard Disney Dining Plan–the whole “eyes bigger than your stomach” thing comes into play when booking.)
To what degree the Disney Dining Plan Plus will be discounted to account for how guests will actually utilize it remains to be seen. Unlike the Deluxe DDP, which almost requires utilizing hacks or wasting credits, the Disney Dining Plan Plus actually will appeal to the eating habits of some guests–particularly those wanting to do character dining for breakfast and dinner.
As such, we anticipate there to be minimal price discounting with the Disney Dining Plan Plus. This is a total guess and should not be treated as rumor as it’s based upon zero inside info, but I’d bet that ~$98 per night will be the adult cost of the Disney Dining Plan Plus. That offers an ever-so-slight discount and puts it directly between the two upper tiers price-wise.
Ultimately, we view the Disney Dining Plan Plus is a savvy addition to the existing tiers. It’ll fill the considerable gap between the standard DDP, which is not enough for some guests, and the DxDDP, which is extreme overkill for all but those who hack it. So long as the price is somewhere between $90 and $100 per night, this will make sense for a good number of visitors to Walt Disney World. We’ll keep inquiring/monitoring for official pricing and other details, and will update you when we know more. Either way, we look forward to using the Disney Dining Plan Plus in the near future and reporting back on our results!
What do you think about the Disney Dining Plan Plus? Will this work well for your family’s eating habits? What would be your limit in terms of “fair pricing” for the DDPP? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!