Why I Use The Disney Dining Plan Even If It Doesn’t Save Me Money

Over the years there has been a considerable amount of in depth discussion on whether adding on the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is worth it. Most folks who crunch the numbers realize that at best you can come out even on the financial side of the equation. However a family vacation to Walt Disney World is about more than black and white financial decisions. Here are a few reasons that I love the Disney Dining Plan, even when it won't put me ahead of the game monetarily.

Why I Use The Disney Dining Plan Even If It Doesn't Save Me MoneyWhy I Use The Disney Dining Plan Even If It Doesn't Save Me Money

Paid In Advance

There's something freeing about having everything paid for vacation in advance. With the Disney Dining Plan you won't have to worry about sitting down at the table and adding the bill up in your head. The Disney Dining Plan has always taken stress out of my vacation mealtimes.

Order Whatever You Want

Someone in your party have a habit of always ordering the most expensive things on the menu? On the dining plan it's all the same, and as we mentioned above it's already paid for. As a family with three kids, this was often one of the biggest benefits of the DDP for us. When your 11 year old wants the steak or lobster, they can have it. The love of great food is an adventure, and with the DDP budding foodies don't need to be held back.

Even Counter Service Offerings Are Pretty DeliciousEven Counter Service Offerings Are Pretty Delicious

Easy Snack Time

Another great benefit for families with teens is that the ability to access snack credits from their MagicBand. I never had to worry about if the kids were hungry (or about them misplacing money) while they were off on their own because they had DDP snack credits available. I would tell them how many they had to use, and off they went.


There are several versions of the Disney Dining Plan, and that makes it even easier to pick the one that is right for your group. Like to stay on your toes and keep moving? Check out the Quick Service Plan. Are you a group of big eaters?
The Deluxe Dining Plan has served my family well.

Find out more about Disney Dining Plan Options on the Disney Food Blog.

Be Adventurous As You WantBe Adventurous As You Want

Stretching Tricks

There are several ways you can make your Dining Plan stretch even further. For instance, snack credits can be use on a light breakfast for light breakfasts, such as bagels, fresh fruit, and even cinnamon rolls.

All Disney Dining Plans come with a refillable mug for use when at your resort hotel. When getting breakfast in the morning you can use that mug for your beverage, and still pick up a bottled drink with your meal entitlement. Stick the bottled beverage in your day bag for later and you'll save money later in the day when you get thirsty. For a family of five like mine, that one little trick at breakfast can save us $22.50 later in the day, over a week that's more than $150. Grabbing a Coke can get pretty expensive in the Disney Parks.

Often choosing the Deluxe Dining Plan (which allots 3 meal credits per day) gave us the flexibility to splurge on a 2 credit meal at dinner. We would eat a late buffet breakfast, have a light afternoon snack, and then plan for an early dinner at one of Disney's Signature Restaurants or Dinner Shows. Not only did we enjoy a delicious evening meal, but the adventures were extra fun.

Use Refillable Mugs To Your AdvantageUse Refillable Mugs To Your Advantage

I've done the math time and time again. The Disney Dining Plan doesn't usually save us money, it breaks even. What it does do is give me peace of mind. It puts ease in my heart that while we are on vacation everything is already covered and I don't need to worry. The Disney Dining Plan helped me give my young adults more freedom, it allowed me to share fine dining experiences with them, and to create happy memories that will last throughout our lifetimes.

Neil wrote on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 15:59:

Neil's picture

Agree with much of this. We got our DDP 'free' as part of an early booking deal from the UK and it was great to be able to use it. We particularly liked using the quick service meals as we felt we got great value from these.

What I didn't like as much were the proper restaurant meals. Whilst a few waiters were happy to swap deserts for appertizers the majority weren't so we ended up purchasing an app and then either 'missing out' on deserts or getting them to-go which almost always ended up in the fridge and then in the bin after a few days. And you find that the waiters push the deserts so they get a higher percentage for their tip. Most of them were happy to swap over alcoholic drinks for soft drinks (so they would allocate the wines/beers to the kids and to the non-drinkers) and charge for the cokes/juices.

Also find that the additional costs for the appertizers and additional alcohol drinks and of course the tips means that you still have to spend a considerable amount of cash.

Also - whilst the restaurant offerings have improved massively I still miss going off-site and finding new and interesting places.

Jason Honingford wrote on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 17:41:

Jason Honingford's picture

It sounds like "peace of mind" is the major argument here and that's certainly valid! But for me, paying cash puts my mind at peace. If I'm not particularly in the mood for a $50 meal 6 months from now, I can change my mind and do something lighter. Managing credits and having to do more ADR's than I'm used to to ensure we maximize our usage is a major downside for me. Refillable mugs were cool when they were actually reusable (year after year lol), but now it's pretty pointless when you have drinks in the room. Neil brought up a good point, off-site options - and I was thinking more along the lines of that McDonalds by All Stars.

Aquila wrote on Wed, 10/17/2018 - 16:47:

Aquila's picture

The dining plan is one of Disneys best business creations. They can use it for promotions and their cost is well below the perceived benefit to consumers. The dining plans most importantly to Disney, keeps people on property. The most beneficial feature for Disney is that it helps accelerate price increases for dining. Disney ups the price of DDP until sales fall off because it has lost it's financial benefit. Then they can raise dining prices until the DDP looks good again. Look at the increase of food and Ddp Prices over the last 5 years. I just compared the diary I kept from our trip in October 2012, food and DDP prices are up 50% in 6 years while inflation has been almost stagnant. And you were upset at having to pay for parking.

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