Worst Uses of Dining Plan Snack Credits
A suitcase full of Goofy’s Candy Co. Gummies. An Ewok-sized stack of Mickey Mouse Rice Krispies. Seven bottles of water per person on your last day at Walt Disney World because why not, you’ve got more Dining Plan snack credits to burn than you can possibly use. You’ve either personally been there or heard stories about it.
In this post, we’re going to break down the worst uses of Disney Dining Plan snack credits, and why all of the above are truly terrible ideas. If you think there’s something magical about racing around your resort hotel’s gift shop, Supermarket Spree style, trying to clear the shelves before Disney’s Magical Express arrives, you might want to stop reading now. Or don’t–you need to hear this more than anyone.
We start with the unassailable premise that the Disney Dining Plan is never free. We’ve been over this so many times, but it bears repeating: even if you aren’t paying directly for the Disney Dining Plan, there’s the opportunity cost of forgoing another discount. Whether that’s room-only discounts, booking WDW resorts via Priceline Express, or renting Disney Vacation Club points. You’re paying more to get that “free” Disney Dining Plan, which of course means that it was discounted and not actually free.
By extension, this means that those snack credits are also not actually free. While there’s a natural inclination to create a mental disconnect between money and Dining Plan credits, that’s an illusion. The reality is that there is a per-credit value that can and should be ascribed to snack credits, and that ranges from about $2.50 to a little over $5, depending upon whether you’re leveraging Free Dining to its full potential or paying out of pocket for the Disney Dining Plan.
For what it’s worth, this is not anti-Disney Dining Plan or Free Dining propaganda. Even as the tides of fan opinion have started to turn, we still maintain that both Free Dining and the paid Disney Dining Plan can be good values if you know how to take advantage of them. In fact, we purchase the Disney Dining Plan a few times per year (we’ve chronicled our money-saving success with the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan here) in attempts to leverage as much value as possible out of it.
To that end, we’ve long had a series of articles about effective use of the DDP, and our Best Value Snack Credit Uses on the Disney Dining Plan is a good companion piece to this one. The point is that our tone here shouldn’t be misconstrued–pretty much everyone who has used the Disney Dining Plan has been there when it comes to these mistakes, us included.
Rather than digging in and becoming entrenched in defending past mistakes, we hope those of you who have made them will learn and be better prepared for maximizing your value in the future. With that said, here are things for which you should never use Disney Dining Plan snack credits, in my highly subjective opinion…
Anything from Goofy’s Candy Co. – The second premise for this post is that packaging or shape doesn’t make food special. At a rational level, I think most people would agree with this. However, there’s the understandable power of nostalgia and emotion that come into play.
This is why we crave Mickey waffles, sour Goofy gummies, or willingly spend $8 for a box of ordinary ice cream bars shaped like Mickey’s head at our local grocery stores. It’s an attempt to relive a special moment or get a hit of the feel-good emotion from the parks. I get it–that “mentally take me back” desire is a big part of why I listen to Walt Disney World background music at home.
Nevertheless, snacks from Goofy’s Candy Co. are poor uses of Disney Dining Plan snack credits because they are, quite simply, normal candy that has a Disney label slapped on it. You can buy the same candy at home for less than half the price, which is why no one would spend actual money on 15 bags of this stuff from Walt Disney World.
Joffrey’s Coffee – In Joffrey’s defense, it’s better than Nescafe. (Anyone else remember the coffee ‘dark ages’ at Walt Disney World?!) Moreover, they have some premium blends at the resorts that are actually good. However, Joffrey’s at kiosks and counter service restaurants in the parks seems to be a proprietary mixture of real coffee and burnt garbage sourced from Electric Umbrella, brewed using (too much of) the finest, unfiltered Central Florida swamp water.
Even if you’re the biggest Starbucks hater in the world, I think you have to concede that their coffee is better than this. Failing that, a cup of Joffrey’s coffee is pretty cheap (for good reason!) making it an objectively poor use of a snack credit.
Fresh Fruit – I mean, it’s one banana, Michael. What could it cost, ten dollars?
Buying fruit in the Disney Parks is a controversial topic in our household. To protect the innocent, I’m not going to name names, but one of us believes that fruit is an acceptable thing to purchase on vacation. The other believes it just gets in the way of real snacking, plus there’s probably more than enough fruit in Dole Whips and Citrus Swirls.
One thing we can agree on is that a minuscule portion of apple slices, watermelon, or grapes is not worth the Disney Dining Plan snack credits. If you’re concerned about getting enough fruit and vegetables on a Walt Disney World vacation (and you should be, notwithstanding my Dole Whip joke) make a point of eating at buffets or, better yet, doing grocery delivery and ordering a few inexpensive bags of apples, carrots, etc.
Bottled Water – I’ll be the first to admit that Walt Disney World drinking fountain water is disgusting. That doesn’t mean the solution is paying for water.
Instead, either pack a Brita Water Bottle with Filter (as recommended in our Packing Guide for Walt Disney World) or request a free cup of ice water from any counter service restaurant. As Walt Disney World begins to install bottle refilling stations, the former option is definitely looking more and more attractive.
Churro – This is sure to be controversial, and defended by responses that Disney churros are iconic, delicious, etc. The best defense is that it’s objectively a good use of a Disney Dining Plan snack credit by virtue of its price, which is above the $5 threshold.
However, that reasonable argument unreasonably assumes a churro is worth over $5 in the first place. Perhaps this already controversial article is a poor time to reveal my anti-churro bias. I’ve never understood the hype, and no one is going to convince me that a churro is worth over $3, much less the current $6+ price tag for one with dipping sauce.
Oh, and you’ll need that dipping sauce to mask the brutal reality that Walt Disney World churros are frequently stale or overcooked. Would you really pay that much money out of pocket for something Costco does better for $1? (Yes, I know. “Shots fired.”)
Random Cupcakes – Since this is already controversial, I might as well pile on: Walt Disney World cupcakes peaked over 5 years ago, and it’s been downhill since. As other desserts around Walt Disney World have become more ambitious, inventive, and delicious, cupcakes have gone the other direction. They’ve gotten smaller, dryer, and instead of doing interesting things with flavors, they’ve aimed for outlandish looks that are photogenic but not tasty.
This is painting with a broad brush, and it’s far from a complete picture of the Walt Disney World cupcake scene. Even though the trend is mostly played out, there are still some truly exceptional cupcakes at WDW that rank among the best snacks. That’s why this is “random cupcakes” rather than “all cupcakes.”
Unless it’s a cupcake you’ve heard praised, we’d caution against rolling the dice on random ones, no matter how Instagram-worthy it might look. Of course, there are far worse ways to burn that surplus of DDP snack credits, too.
Anything from Generic Outdoor Vending Carts – In reviewing a few of the above choices and what else I had planned for this list, I probably could’ve condensed much of this list into the “outdoor vending cart catch-all.” (The inconspicuous Adventureland Egg Roll Wagon is the biggest exception to this general rule, but there are other generic ODVs serving up tasty treats.)
Basically, if it’s available at a nameless (or generically-named) outdoor vending cart, it’s not a good use of Disney Dining Plan snack credits. This includes other bottled beverages, cookies, muffins, donuts, ice cream, and more. We’d argue that in terms of taste, even the pricey Mickey Pretzels aren’t worth it.
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Do you agree or disagree with our picks for this ‘worst use’ of Disney Dining Plan snack credits list? Disagree with our thoughts on churros, cupcakes, or grocery store Mickey ice cream bars? Anything else belong on this list, subjectively or objectively speaking? 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!
Besides the Adventureland Eggroll cart, what are some of the BEST or BETTER values to get for snacks?
Agree with all your picks! My favorite use of snack credits is a venti latte of some sort and/or the giant cinnamon roll at Starbucks. Some of the kiosks at food and wine festival too. Heading to Disney tomorrow. First dinner stop, the California Grill
I recently took home 78 bags and or bars of candy and rice krispy treats. I mean, they made good presents for my girls classrooms. And friends, and neighbors, and like 25 other people to get rid of them. Yah, DXDP was WAY too much for my family, and we did it with 4 adults 2 kids and a 2 year old. And we used a crap ton of the credits on ourselves, lots of those ended up being converted meal credits too. Now THAT is the worst use of snack credits, taking a potentially 60 dollar meal and having to fly home with 17 bucks worth of candy instead. Will no do DxDP ever again.
Just curious did you book all the top restaurants?
Snack credits were an amazing value at the kiosks during Epcot’s Art Festival last February. Our family of six adults were on the Deluxe Dining Plan. From a fabulous dinners at Flying Fish and Tiffins to incredible edibles at the Ecot kiosks, we really enjoyed the plan. Yes, we still had credits left over even after Dole Whips and Mickey Bars and made the obligatory last minute dash to the resort store for water, fruit and snacks. But it was impossible to use up dozens of snack credits. All in all, we felt it was a very good deal for our party.
So agree with your comments about the cupcakes. Our family (filled with major capcake fans) has noticed and discussed the downgrading of many of the cupcake options available. While some good ones do still exist across the parks, they can be few and far between. One hint for those undertaking the quest… Look for cupcakes that you can see still have the ridged paper cupcake sleeves like one would use at home in their muffin tin. Those are still good. The ones where the bottom is tucked into a decorated, smooth paper (almost like card-stock) sleeve are the ones that tend to look better than they taste. (Check out the one shown in the cupcake picture in the article to see what I mean.) Happy Hunting!
We found snack credits to be of good use at Port Orleans French Quarter years ago such as for large fresh cookie & ice cream sandwiches and also to get some type of breakfast item. We were disappointed at what Caribbean Beach had to offer on our trip a few months ago.
We found this trip that you can use your snack credits to get some pretty good breakfast items at the hotel. We used quite a few of our snack credits for a plate of scrambled eggs or other breakfast items and we saved our counter service credits for lunch. It worked out really well and we still had some credits left at the end of the week.
Coming from the U.K and having only been once we loved the dining plan & thought it was good value. If I was paying outright for some of the meals I probably wouldn’t have some items on the menu as I would be reluctant to pay the price & would think I would have something cheaper to eat.
Any snack credits we had left we did spend in the shop on sweets & goodies to take back for friends.
I would do it again when I go next time definitely
Great info and I agree but what are the best uses?
Agreed. I usually don’t have anything more than a bagel or muffin for breakfast, and they are considered snack items, therefore I never wasted my meal credits on breakfast. 🙂
I have to disagree with you, Tom. The worst use of Dining Plan Snack credits is not to use them at all. Every single item on here beats that option by a large margin.
I say this as someone who a bit over 11 months ago sprinted from Cosmic Rays to Goofy’s Candy Co. frantically grabbing overpriced candy to get in the checkout line, with my points vanishing while still in line when the single person in front of me in line suddenly morphed into an extended family buying souvenirs. Fortunately, since I was in line, they let me use my points. What happened is that for the first time we extended our stay by a day, but didn’t realize until almost midnight that our points didn’t (I really, REALLY hate the inability to add time onto your dining plan).
So, yeah, I’d much rather have spent them on more ice cream or ice cream cookies at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor, anything Dole Whip related, or any of the other yummy options, but having your credits vanish into the ether unused…
That’s THE worst use of snack points.
We were there for hurricane Irma… opted to leave early & didn’t realize we wouldn’t get refunded for the whole portion of missed time (lost the cost of the remaining DDP)… therefore we LOST a crapton of credits
Is agree that all of those snacks are overpriced for “what they are” but you don’t discuss that my kid wants the gummies because he enjoys gummies and I don’t need to spend valuable vacation happiness to talk him into something that is better value. So it IS a good use of a credit because the alternative is to pay $8 out of pocket. He gets to choose what to do with his credits and I get to choose what to do with mine. He did surprise me and choose candied warm pecans on our last trip. Nothing he couldn’t get at a farmers market but not a gummy worm!
While this isn’t the “best use” of snack credits review…..we like using our snack credits to eat our way around the world during dood and wine festival. So convenient! Also a fav is the monster cinnamon roll at Gaston’s Tavern. Have split more than one of those for bfast for our family of four….when really I wanted one to myself. â€â™€ï¸
The Giant Micky Cinnamon Roll at Starbucks in AK puts Gastrons to SHAME !!!
Lol because we have done the frantic shopping spree while waiting for the magical express more times than I care to admit. Thanks for your help as always. Btw I share the same quirky psychology.
I’m not going to engage your nonsense about churros. But obviously, the Mickey bars and bottles of water are poor value. If you buy a ticket to DAH you can get them for free 😉
We did the deluxe dining plan for the first two nights of our stay (after I read your post about using the deluxe plan for 1 night). Per person, the meals alone (without drinks) cost about $10 more than the dining plan (so, not much of a difference). If the dining plan only included meals, it would pretty much be a wash. However, it also includes snacks and drinks with the meals! So, the way I choose to see our dining plan is that we’re using it to pay for our meals ahead of time, and our drinks with those meals and the snacks that we get with the plan are all “free.” Sure, I get more value out of my freebies if I choose the more expensive snacks, but we just tell ourselves that whatever snacks we get, it’s free! It makes them that much more enjoyable 🙂
We are currently at Disney with our granddaughter and my son and daughter in law. We are all on the Disney dining plan and have tried through pre booking to get around the fine dining restaurants in all the parks and hotels. However whilst they have received a mixed review regarding quality especially those retiring two credits we have been appalled at the standard off old for children. The menus offered at these locations have been a standard PiZZA spaghetti with or without. Meatballs or fried chicken or beef burger.
We have then bee told we need to use snack credits to purchase a bag of carrots or apples to create a more balanced meal.
We have been so disappointed given the whole idea is to welcome children. Our granddaughter is three and used to meals with vegetables. We have not seen anything green like peas broccoli or beans on any child’s menu.
We know you don’t have children. But some research into how bad the culinary offer for small children really is would help families. We have needed to go to the supermarket and buy food to make for her particular breakfast Please get Disney to investigate what children from oh her countries eat and put some on offer
A very disappointed family using the dining paln
If your on the dining plan with children, you do not have to order from the child menus for the kids!
If you are on the regular dining plan book buffet meals. Children can eat from the entire offering and there are always plenty of vegtables
We buy the refillable popcorn bucket and never use our snack credits on the refills. They’re too cheap to use as a credit. Dole whip or Mickey ice cream are our favorite uses of snack credits by far
We were at dIsney when hurricane Matthew came through a couple years ago. On Friday, our last night, we were scheduled to eat at Rose and Crown on the dining plan. . They closed the parks at 3 pm. We ended up using 2 dining plans for a pizza. And using our remaindering snack credits for 2 cokes and 2 fruit tarts. All and all we used a lot of credits for pizza, we were really looking forward to Rose and Crown. But we were so thankful the hurricane ended up not being as bad as forecasted. We made our flight on time Saturday but the airport had been closed down Friday. Need to rethink going to Disney during hurricane season. But we will be back.
Cheese cups. My husband once used a snack credit on a .99 cents nacho cheese cup at Pecos Bills on accident. The worst part is we are AP holders so we actually could have bought the cheese cup for .89 cents at that time!
The Dining Plan works for me as I take teens to Disney and it’s my guarantee that no one blows the food budget when they’re out on their own, buying their own meals or snacks. However, we always have serious talk about not wasting the snack credits. Appreciated this piece bc it reinforces a couple of ideas I already had. Especially the one about the water and the fruit.
The bigest snack ripoff is an individual box of cereal for 1 point and than have to buy a small milk for another point.
I’m not one to think about maximizing value on the Dining Plan; quite the reverse, the entire reason I use it is to avoid thinking about maximizing value while I’m inside the Disney Bubble, and instead to let myself think of food as something that just appears on request, like when I was a little kid and my parents were the ones who knew it cost money.
It’s a purely irrational quirk of my own psychology (I make no claim that it makes sense) but I could not get the same effect from using a pre-paid gift card. I’ve tried. The fact that I could also use that card in the gift shops, or Disney Springs stores, or even in the local Disney Store after getting back home, causes me to think of those dollars as dollars– the Dining Plan, not so. Those credits are only food credits, and that was settled well before my trip began. I suppose it’s strange that I can fool myself with an illusion I set up myself, like a magician fooled by his own trick, but that’s emotions, nostalgia and the Disney Bubble for you.
All of this means I really shouldn’t have any use for articles like this one– and yet I do. When making my advance reservations, I’m not in the Bubble yet and I peruse your articles and value ratings carefully when setting up the magic trick. Snacks are more spontaneous but I still will have this advice in the back of my mind (but carefully out of the front of it) next time I’m there.
I share your irrational quirky psychology. You’ve expressed it perfectly. And, Disney knows how to cater to us for sure!
I have perused this site in anticipation of our Holiday trip, and find Tom’s advice and recommendations extremely helpful. Now I find myself on it and reading posts about Disney that I didn’t ever think I would.
Keith – well said! As a retired teacher, I substitute teach for many, many days, in order to prepay, months in advance, for Memory Maker, DDP, special events, our WDW Resort room – whatever I can! With no credit to repay and little to no cash needed, I psych myself into feeling like EVERYTHING is free! Truly, if I had credit cards to pay, after returning home, I would be depressed. Planning, planning, planning!
Your rationale is also why we first tried the DDDP. We love being able to try different restaurants and not worry about the costs. Top tier restaurants are Ann excellent value. If you go during early February you will find amazing value at the Epcot Festival if the Arts – there are many really great offerings at the food kiosks and require only one snack credit. The portions are big enough to share. And, in Feb the crowds tend to be lower, the temps mild and the humidity zero. Great value.