Disney Dining Plan Primer

There are a few forms of the Dining Plan. They all consist of some allotment of snacks, quick serve meals, and table meals. First let me explain some terms.


Snack - a snack consists of almost anything under $5.00 it could be a
bagel or pastry at breakfast time, ice cream, popcorn, drink etc.
Everything that can count as a snack will have this symbol next to it on the menu.


  • Keep your eyes open because you will find them all over. You can redeem your snacks anywhere including quick serve restaurants, outdoor food carts, and some merchandise locations.
  • Make sure you get the largest serving aloud. This may be 2 8oz cartons of milk, a sundae or multiple scoops of ice cream. You can then share the snack between two people and have them go further.
  • If you use your snack for bottled drink you can ask for a cup of ice to go with it for ice water from the tap. You can always ask for an extra cup for water.

Quick Service Meals - This is what we would call fast food or a counter meal. This is any restaurant where you walk up, place your order, and take your food to go or to a table to eat. This meal includes 3 parts; the entree, a drink and a dessert or side.


  • Again be sure you are getting the best deal possible. It may be the breakfast platter at breakfast or a combo meal at lunch. You can share the meal with another person in your group and make the meals go further.
  • Quick service meals do not get separated into adult and children meals so you can split an adult meal for a child if you want.
  • You don't need to use a meal for each person in your group each time you go into a quick service restaurant. You can just buy one and share now and buy another a share later.
  • For your drink get a bottled drink that you can take with you to drink later when you get thirsty (water or juice). Ask for a cup of ice water to drink while you are eating your meal. Don't waste your snacks on drinks if you can help it.
  • For your dessert you can choose anything with the snack symbol. There are other options on the menu that are better than a premade cake or cookie. Get something to make your meal go further even another bottled drink for later and get a fresh dessert later using a snack.
Table Service Meals - These are sit down meals with waitress service. This includes your entree, dessert, and beverages (non-alcoholic) or a buffet. GRATUITY IS NOT INCLUDED. Dinner shows and a few signature restaurants count as 2 table service meals.


  • There are wide range of prices for table service meals. Look for those with the best value.
  • Most character meals count as 1 table service meal. This is a great opportunity for children to spend a little time talking with their favorite characters without having to wait in line. It also keeps them occupied while you are eating. I try to incorporate all our character visits into a few table service meals. Then we are free to wave as we walk buy characters in the parks while others are waiting in line.
  • Buffets are great options if you have children under 3 that are not on the meal plan but still will eat a meal. They can eat for free at the buffets.
Resort Refillable Mug - Some plans offer a refillable mug. You can refill the mug as often as you want at your resort for free (not in the parks). There is usually soda, lemonade, hot tea and coffee at the self service fountain. (May vary slightly by resort) You can also purchase a mug for $12.99. Its a nice souvenir too. You don't have to buy one per person. You can share. We usually buy 1 for our family of 4.

More information on the different types of dining plans is available here.

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Matt Getflix said...

This is very helpful! Thanks for putting this together!

acsandberg said...

Glad you found it so helpful.

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