The Ultimate Guide to the 2024 Disney Dining Plan
A favorite add-on has finally returned at Walt Disney World after a four-year absence!
Yes, you can now purchase the Disney Dining Plan for 2024 vacations! Here’s a guide to help you understand how this dining plan works.
What Is the Disney Dining Plan?
Did you ever have a meal plan in school or at least know someone who used one? Someone would pay a set fee in exchange for daily meals in the cafeteria.
The premise works similarly during a Disney vacation. For a set daily price, you’ll purchase an allotment of meal credits.
During 2024, a dining plan purchase provides you with two meal plan entitlements per day.
Disney will accept these meal credits in lieu of money at more than 100 restaurants, including some of the most popular places.
You choose the meal you want. Then, when it’s time to pay, you use an entitlement rather than a credit card/cash.
What Are the Dining Plan Options?
In previous years, Disney offered several variations of the Disney Dining Plan. For 2024, Disney has reduced the plan to its basics.
You’ll enjoy your choice of two dining plan options, the Disney Dining Plan and the Quick-Service Dining Plan.
With the Disney Dining Plan, you receive the following:
- 1 Quick-Service meal per person per night
- 1 Table Service meal per person per night
- 1 Snack per person per night
- 1 Resort Refillable Mug per person per stay
Should you choose the Quick-Service Dining Plan instead, you’ll receive the following:
- 2 Quick-Service meals per person per night
- 1 Snack per person per night
- 1 Resort Refillable Mug per person per stay
So, the primary difference is that the Disney Dining Plan entitles you to a Table Service meal each day.
With the Quick-Service Dining Plan, you’ll eat exclusively at Quick-Service restaurants.
What’s the Difference between Quick-Service and Table Service?
Disney has divided its 100+ restaurants into two primary tiers.
You can think of Quick-Service restaurants as something akin to fast food or fast-casual meals.
In most instances, you’ll eat an over-the-counter meal, but it’ll be more upscale than anything you’d find at McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A.
We’re talking about something between Five Guys and O’Charley’s.
Table Service restaurants are more upscale in nature in terms of cuisine and/or dining experience.
For instance, several Disney character meals like The Crystal Palace qualify for Table Service entitlements.
In other instances, you’re picking the restaurant for the menu.
Disney legitimately hires Top Chef and Iron Chef contestants/winners/judges to run some of its kitchens.
Services like TripAdvisor frequently grade Walt Disney World restaurants among the top overall dining options in Central Florida.
Generally speaking, you pay quite a bit more for these meals, but they justify the cost.
However, you sidestep the issue by using the Disney Dining Plan. Once per day, you exchange your allotment for a Table Service meal.
Of course, the grab-and-go convenience of Quick-Service restaurants makes them the preferred choice of many tourists.
You cannot go wrong with either option.
Simply decide whether you want to spend part of your Disney vacation sitting down for relaxing but lengthy meals.
I’ve listed a few highly regarded Quick-Service and Table Service restaurants here.
What Is the Price of the Disney Dining Plan?
For 2024, the Disney Dining Plan charges $94.28 plus tax per person per day during your visit.
Disney will bill you $29.69 plus tax per person per day for children aged three to nine.
Meanwhile, the Quick-Service Dining Plan costs $57.01 plus tax per person per day for anyone over the age of nine.
The charge for children aged three to nine is $23.83 plus tax per kid per day. So, the price is similar for kids under both plans.
However, adults pay $27.27 more (plus tax) to gain the daily Table Service entitlement.
So, you can do the math to determine how much you’ll save by purchasing one of these dining plans during your trip.
The other thing to remember about Table Service restaurants is that you’ll still need to tip your server.
Dining plan entitlements don’t cover the tip, which is an expense to remember during your trip.
What Are the Rules for the Disney Dining Plan?
Obviously, Disney enforces some rules about the Disney Dining Plan.
For example, everyone in your hotel room aged three and up must buy a dining plan.
Children aged three to nine receive a significant discount, though.
Let’s say that you’re a family with two adults, one eight-year-old, and one two-year-old.
You must purchase two adult dining plans and one children’s dining plan per day.
In exchange, Disney will add six daily meal credits to your dining plan account.
If you stayed for five nights, you’d receive 30 total entitlements (six credits daily for five nights).
The other thing to know is that Disney requires two Table Service entitlements at a handful of restaurants.
Generally, Disney refers to these options as Signature Dining Experiences, which makes them the most expensive meals at Walt Disney World.
However, some of them like Akershus are Table Service restaurants that charge two entitlements because they’re high-priced character meals.
Here is our discussion on the restaurants that require two entitlements.
When Does the Disney Dining Plan Go on Sale?
On May 31st, 2023, Disney opened dining plan sales for 2024 vacations.
You can now book the dining plan for any Walt Disney World vacation with arrival on or after January 9th, 2024.
What’s the Process for Using the Disney Dining Plan?
Once you pay for the Disney Dining Plan, the process for using entitlements is fairly simple.
Disney will add the appropriate number of entitlements to your account.
Let’s presume that you’re traveling alone in February 2024. Your stay will last five nights and six days.
By purchasing the Disney Dining Plan, you’ll receive five Table Service entitlements plus five Quick-Service entitlements.
You may use these meal credits as you see fit. Disney provides tremendous flexibility with this program.
For example, you could spend all your entitlements well before your trip ends.
Once Disney loads the meal plans on your account, you can use them starting on your arrival day.
Let’s say that you meet a friend for dinner and want to purchase their meal.
You can use one of your entitlements for your meal and another for theirs. I’ve done this on many occasions.
Similarly, let’s say you prefer to eat at two Quick-Service restaurants on your first day. You won’t lose your Table Service entitlement for that day!
Instead, after your first day, you’ll have three Quick-Service entitlements and five Table Service entitlements remaining.
In other words, once you have the ten entitlements in your account, you can use them as needed.
Some vacationers mistakenly believe that you must use exactly one Quick-Service and one Table Service entitlement per day. That’s not correct.
As for payment, you’ll inform the server that you’re using the Disney Dining Plan. They’ll explain the steps from there.
Of course, there’s also an easier way now…
Can I Use Mobile Ordering with the Disney Dining Plan?
For 2024, you can use My Disney Experience to order food. In fact, you’ll have a new option next year.
For the first time ever, you can use Mobile Ordering for Table Service To Go.
This option allows you to order a full meal from a Table Service restaurant and pay using your dining plan entitlements.
Disney only introduced Table Service to Go a couple of years ago. So, this will be a new process in 2024.
As always, you should verify that a restaurant accepts the Disney Dining Plan before you buy.
When you use the Disney Dining Plan with a Mobile Order, you’ll check a box on the payment screen. Voila! Your meal is paid for!
What Happens If I Don’t Use All My Meal Plan Credits?
Technically, the answer is that you’ll lose them.
Your meal plan credits expire at 11:59 p.m. on the night you check out of your hotel room.
Over the years, some guests have had success in exchanging extra dining plan entitlements for snacks.
In my experience, some cast members did this in the past, but it wasn’t guaranteed. In fact, I’ve been flatly told no before.
Given how Disney has changed the plan in recent years, you shouldn’t count on the kindness of strangers, even those wonderful cast members.
Instead, you should try hard to use all your meal plan credits before you leave Orlando.
If nothing else, buy a meal for a stranger on your way out! Your fellow Disney fans will appreciate the gesture!
What Counts as a Snack?
Disney remains fairly liberal with the concept of the Snack.
You can exchange a Snack credit for:
- Frozen ice cream novelty, popsicle or fruit bar
- Two scoops of hand-scooped ice cream
- Popcorn scoop (single-serving box)
- Piece of whole fruit
- Single-serve bag of snacks
- 20-ounce bottle of Coca-Cola® products, including Dasani® water
- 20-ounce fountain soft drink
- Single-serve coffee, hot chocolate, hot tea, milk or juice
- Cup of soup
- Add on toppings or sauces (e.g. side of cheese dipping sauce)
You cannot use a Snack credit for:
- Items that are more than a single serving (such as a box of doughnuts or a jar of peanut butter)
- Items (such as popcorn or drinks) that are served in a souvenir container
- Items considered to be merchandise (such as bottle toppers, glow cubes and bottle straps)
- Special dining events offered at certain Table-Service locations
What’s a Refillable Mug?
Imagine a delightful Disney-themed 16-ounce insulated cup with a lid.
Now imagine having the ability to refill said cup with your beverage of choice whenever you want during your stay!
That’s the concept for the dining plan Refillable Mug.
Disney installs RFID chips within the mugs.
So, when you visit a beverage station, the system will know that you qualify for a free refill and dispense your beverage.
You’ll love having this mug during your visit. I’ve got an entire kitchen cabinet full of them because they’re too cute to throw away.
Can I Buy the Dining Plan If I’m Not Staying at a Disney Resort?
No, Disney only sells these packages to guests staying at official Disney resorts.
Of course, you should want to stay at an official Disney resort anyway! They’re better!
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Feature Photo: Disney