A suitcase full of Goofy’s Candy Co. Gummies. A year’s supply 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. (Updated June 19, 2023.)
In this post, we’re going to break down the worst uses of snack credits on the 2024 Disney Dining Plan, 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 the clock strikes midnight on your checkout day, 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. 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 $5 to $6.50, depending upon which tier of the DDP you’re using.
For what it’s worth, this is not anti-Disney Dining Plan propaganda. Even as the tides of fan opinion have started to turn, we still maintain that the Disney Dining Plan can be a good value if you know how to take advantage of it. In fact, we purchase the Disney Dining Plan a few times per year in attempts to leverage as much value as possible out of it. We’ll be doing that once again in 2024, and have already started compiling a list of places and things to eat in order to squeeze as much bang for buck out of the DDP.
Being careful and conservative with snack credits will be even more important on the 2024 Disney Dining Plan, as Walt Disney World is reducing the number of snack credits from 2 to 1 per night. This is a negative and disappointing change, especially for those who are adept at saving and strategically using snack credits.
It’s also not a huge surprise. This ‘worst of’ list was prompted in the first place by repeatedly observing or hearing about the behaviors at the top of the post. Tons of guests wasted snack credits–or raced against the clock at the last minute to use their extra credits on pre-packaged treats to take home. (I’d hazard a guess that over half of Mickey Mouse Rice Krispies Treats and Goofy’s Candy Co. products were previously “purchased” with spare snack credits. Seriously.)
Equally as important as not wasting snack credits on the DDP is using them wisely. To that end, our Best Value Snack Credit Uses on the Disney Dining Plan is a good companion piece to this one. That will help you conserve DDP snack credits and use them where and when it’s most advantageous. You won’t just get more value out of the 2024 Disney Dining Plan, you’ll enjoy better savory snacks and sweet treats, too!
In any case, 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 is just not good. It’s usually watered down and tastes a bit off.
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, Tom. 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.
Anything Available via Grocery Delivery – Fruits and vegetables are examples of many things that are a waste of snack credits that also add nothing to the enjoyment of your vacation. Whereas some other items on this list are arguably fun or have nostalgic value, fruit is fruit and vegetables are vegetables. Virtually identical to what you could get from a grocery store at home.
This kills multiple birds with one stone. Grocery delivery means not wasting money or DDP snack credits on basics, it’s faster and more efficient than going to the hotel food court each morning, and offers a well-rounded meal with fruits, vegetables, and other healthy options you might not get at Walt Disney World restaurants.
There’s also not really any opportunity cost. Again, fruits and vegetables are not unique at Walt Disney World. Moreover, breakfast is the weakest meal at Walt Disney World. You aren’t missing much–unless you enjoy powdered eggs and rubber bacon–by eating breakfast in your room. Put those snack credits to better use!
Speaking of which, you can also use order Mickey Mouse ice cream products via grocery delivery. They are unquestionably overpriced as compared to “good” ice cream, but there’s something to be said for eating ice cream shaped like Mickey Mouse while at Walt Disney World!
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? (Note: this criticism does not apply in full to Disneyland churros, which are equally overpriced, but at least usually fresh and delicious.)
Random Cupcakes – Since this is already controversial, I might as well pile on: Walt Disney World cupcakes peaked many 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 aren’t really doing interesting things with flavors. 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.”
In general, the best cupcakes are seasonal offerings or those available at locations that are actual bakeries. In our experience, the resorts tend to be better, especially the Contemporary, Grand Floridian, and BoardWalk. There are also unique and ambitious cupcakes at Starbucks locations, and throughout World Showcase at EPCOT. If you’re just browsing the cases at a random food court or counter service spot, chances are that the cupcake will underwhelm.
Unless it’s a cupcake you’ve heard praised or that looks appealing, 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.
Bottled Water – I’ll be the first to admit that Walt Disney World drinking fountain water is disgusting. Rumor is that it’s sourced directly from the Florida swamps and is actually 3% alligator urine. (Okay, so I made up that “rumor,” but if you’ve ever tasted Florida fountain water, you might’ve believed it!)
That doesn’t mean the solution is paying for water. Buying bottled water is a waste of money or Disney Dining Plan snack credits, your time standing in line, and is just generally wasteful. This is why we strongly recommend the Life Straw Go Filter Water Bottle. This bottle filters out the gator pee, and it’s BPA-free! It also uses a 2-stage activated carbon filter to reduce odor and chlorine, leaving zero aftertaste! (If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, Brita Filter Water Bottles are great, too.)
Alternatively, you can request a free cup of ice water from any counter service restaurant. As Walt Disney World is installing more and more bottle refilling stations, refillable water bottles are really the way to go.
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.
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!