There’s no question that the Disney Dining Plan is one of the most enjoyed perks among those staying on-property at Walt Disney World as part of a Magic Your Way Vacation Package. Each Disney Dining Plan includes at least two meals and a snack, making it easy to dine around the resort as a family.
There are three primary dining plans: Quick Service Dining Plan (two quick-service meals, one snack, one refillable mug), Regular Dining Plan (one quick service meal, one table service meal, one snack, one refillable mug) and Deluxe Dining Plan (three meals, any combo of quick service or table service, two snacks, one refillable mug).
The Best Uses of the Disney Dining Plan
Quick service meals are meals in which you go up to a counter, order your food and bring it to your table. Table service meals are those in which you sit down, order a meal from a cast member and have the food brought to your table. Buffets and dinner shows are considered table service meals. The majority of table service meals require one credit, but some require two, like the Polynesian Luau Dinner Show.
Dining plans run from $41.99 per adult for the Quick Service Dining Plan to $109.53 per adult for the Deluxe Dining Plan. If you stay on-property, you’ll need to eat at Walt Disney World, so the Disney Dining Plan can be a pretty good deal for families.
However, with more than 100 restaurants across Walt Disney World, you may feel overwhelmed. So, I checked in with Beth Barbara of popular Disney blog, Disney with Children, for her ten Disney Dining Plan restaurant picks. She’s also a travel agent with Once Upon a Time Vacations and has been to Walt Disney World many, many times, so you’ll want to bookmark her top choices.
Quick Service Meals
1. Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom): Located inside Belle’s Castle, Be Our Guest is a unique quick service restaurant that requires you to order your meals from a kiosk. You’ll then be given a rose with a GPS. Next, simply choose a table and a cast member will bring you your food. Entrée selections are among the most unique across the resort and the desserts are divine.
2. World Showcase (Epcot): According to Beth, you cannot go wrong in choosing a country at Epcot to use a quick service meal credit. Two of her personal favorites are Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie (France) and Yorkshire County Fish Shop (United Kingdom).
3. Yaki & Yeti Local Food Cafes (Animal Kingdom): There is a table service restaurant with the same name, so make sure you go to the quick service restaurant. The offerings are unique, not the usual quick service fare. A few favorites include mandarin chicken salad and beef lo mein.
4. Wolfgang Puck Express (Downtown Disney): Honestly, you really can’t go wrong at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. Look for healthy selections at Wolfgang Puck Express, like a whole wheat hummus wrap and a half rotisserie chicken. Yumm-o.
At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the quick service restaurants are all pretty much just okay. None stand out in Beth’s mind, so she suggests skipping Hollywood Studios for using a quick service meal credit.
Table Service Meals
The character meals, which are all buffets or family style, are a very good use of a table service meal credit since they tend to be pricey. Beth’s personal favorites for table service meals include:
5. Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary Resort): Chef Mickey’s is an absolute must-do. Not only do you get a delicious buffet for breakfast or dinner, but you get to meet the Fab Five: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy. Since dinner is a more expensive meal, you are probably better off using your meal credit for dinner (make reservations as far in advance as you can).
6. 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian): At 1900 Park Fare, Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner is a must. The dinner is delicious and it’s served buffet style. Look for Cinderella, Prince Charming, the Wicked Stepmother and the hilarious Wicked Stepsisters. It’s also great for photo ops with your kids.
7. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom): While a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table is two meal credits, it’s completely worth it. It is a hard reservation to get, so if you see one, grab it, regardless of the time. Guests dine in Cinderella’s Castle where they are greeted by Cinderella upon entering and have a picture taken with her. As a bonus, the photo is included with the meal.
8. ‘Ohana (Polynesian Village Resort): Honestly, ‘Ohana is everyone’s favorite. They serve breakfast and dinner, but Beth suggests going for dinner. It’s hard to believe it only requires one meal credit, too. Various grilled meats are brought out on skewers (delicious) and the bread pudding is literally her favorite dessert in all of Walt Disney World.
9. Fantasmic! (Disney’s Hollywood Studios): While technically not a restaurant, Fantasmic! is a great use of the Disney Dining Plan. It’s an absolutely stunning night show. If you book a reservation at one of three restaurants (Hollywood Brown Derby, Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano or Hollywood & Vine), you’ll get reserved seating, so you’ll only need to arrive 20 minutes before the start of the show.
10. Teppan Edo (Epcot): Located in Japan in World Showcase, guests of Teppan Edo are entertained by a chef preparing their meals on a Hibachi grill right in front of them. It is entertaining and such great food. Stay for desserts like chocolate ginger cake and green tea cheesecake with raspberry sauce.
If you’re considering a Walt Disney World vacation, I encourage you to work with a travel agent, like Beth Barbara. Based in Orlando, she can give you the scoop on all the Walt Disney World hotels, restaurants, character breakfasts, behind-the-scenes tours and more. She’ll even be able to loop you in on Free Disney Dining (yes, free) when it opens up in the spring so you won’t miss out.
Photo Credit: Loren Javier