Are you planning a trip to Disney soon? If so, perhaps you have heard friends or co-workers talk about Disney Dining, or you’ve seen advertisements on this plan. What is the Disney dining plan exactly? Today we are going to break this plan down and try and make it really simple to understand. If you are new to Disney or haven’t used the plan before, we are sure this will be beneficial to you!
A New Way to Eat
Think back to your childhood trips to fairs, Six Flags and other amusement parks. Food has always been a highlight, but an expensive one! Disney recognizes this and has sought to make the Dining experience easier for everyone.
Basically, purchasing the Dining plan allows you to PREPAY for your food. Purchasing the Dining plan allows you to buy a certain number of food items per day, depending on the plan you choose.
Once you buy the food, you then get your magic band. It basically is a Disney credit card that is only active during the time period you are at Disney. You can charge souvenirs and gifts onto your card, and all your Dining credits are loaded onto the card so that you don’t need to carry credit cards or cash!
What types of Food Can I Get?
- Snacks, such as ice cream, candy and many other types of “goodies”
- Soft drinks
- “Quick-Service” meals
- “Table-Service” meals
Let’s break down the differences between a Quick-Service meal and a Table-Service meal.
A Quick-Service Meal, (QSM) is basically a “Disney” fast food joint. In all four parks, you will see hamburger restaurants, pizza places. You also can find BBQ, and even some exotic QS meals in Epcot and the Animal Kingdom. If you are staying onsite at Disney resorts, the food courts have QSM restaurants there as well.
Basically, if you go to a restaurant and are immediately able to order food at the counter, you are in a QSM establishment.
Typically, the plans allow you to get a drink, an entree, a side and a dessert. Children have their own meals as well that provide child-size portions.
A Table-Service Meal (TSM) is simply a traditional sit-down restaurant, with a waiter, in which you tip at the end. Disney is full of FANTASTIC restaurants in all four parks, in Downtown Disney and at many of the nicer resorts. The Epcot World Showcase has fine dining in many different flavors, and some of the resorts have absolutely fantastic food, such as Ohana at the Polynesian resort!
You can also use TSM’s on character dining experiences. At these restaurants, many of your favorite characters will come and visit your table while you eat! This is a great way to allow your children to see their favorite characters, and eat at the same time! This really allows you to focus on rides while at the parks!
Disney Dining Packages
There are a number of different packages you can buy. I highly recommend our page on Choosing a Disney Dining package. We break down all the different type of packages you can buy. Suffice to say you can eat “fast-food” the whole week, or you can buy a package that allows you to eat at the best restaurants for your entire vacation. The choice is yours.
What is “Free Dining”?
Basically this is a promotion that Disney runs to get people into the parks during time periods that traditionally have fewer people. Disney will take the cost of a normal resort and ticket package, and add the dining in for free! This can save you a lot of money and is something I highly recommend!
Is the Disney Dining Plan right for me?
This is a personal question that only you can answer. If you can afford it, I recommend doing the dining plan once and seeing how much you like it. You could probably save money by eating less, bringing sandwiches and desserts and making your own meals at your hotel. If money is your biggest concern, perhaps its not for you, as the Dining plan can be expensive.
However, if you can get the free dining, I would highly recommend trying it out. For our family, it makes the vacation so much more fun. We don’t have to worry about buying food. We have our magic bands and we just “charge it”.
The plan is a favorite of many guests, and we hope today you’ve been able to understand the basics of Disney Dining!
Now that you’re in a position to choose the right dining package, lets head over to our Planning Section to help you along every step of the way!