I last wrote about the Disney Dining Plan in 2015 (and most of those points are still valid). To recap, I’m referring to the standard dining plan which is one table credit and one quick service credit per night of your stay, plus snacks.
My complaint in 2015 was that there were too many desserts – one with every meal. Now, thankfully, desserts are no longer included with the quick service meals. Instead they’ve increased the snack credits per day from one to two. We found this to be a ridiculous number of snacks, but still a better option than desserts we didn’t eat.
There are a few reasons this is a better option:
- Disney meals are big so eating a dessert afterwards is not always possible.
- Most quick service restaurants only offer one or maybe two dessert options. You might just not like them.
- If you want dessert, you can now use a snack credit for one at the quick service restaurants thereby getting exactly what you would have under the old system.
- It opens up the whole range of snack options for whenever or whatever you wish to eat during your stay.
That said, it does have some downsides also.
First, two snacks per day is a lot, especially if you consider that you’re probably not actually in the parks one “day.” (Disney counts “days” as the number of nights you are staying so if you fly in one evening and out early another morning you will have one table service credit, one quick service credit, and two snacks that need using.)
Second, like Disney meals, Disney snacks can be pretty large.
As in the past, we purchased a few items – mostly milk for breakfast and bottled water – from a grocery delivery service. With the new number of snacks, I would recommend using your snack credits for bottled water in the parks instead. It’s not the most bang for your buck in the snack department, but you will have plenty. Note that if you are fine drinking Florida tap water, you can get it free in any quick service restaurant.
The second significant change to the Disney Dining Plan for 2018 is that now all meals (quick and table service) include one alcoholic or specialty beverage, if such are available at that location. Note that quick service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom do not serve alcohol.
There are pros and cons to this. The most obvious con is that Disney charges adult meals to anyone 10+; clearly those under twenty-one cannot purchase alcohol. I’m not sure there are any specialty beverages that come close in price. On the plus side, it is nice to have a drink included with table service meals.
Finally, I do have two requests for Disney regarding the meal plan.
- Juice boxes are available as a snack credit in all of the quick service restaurants. However, they are not available at the ubiquitous drink/ice cream stands. This should change. Kids should not be forced to choose between soda and water (in large bottles) when juice boxes are available on property. And, adults should not have to stand in long restaurant lines to get such a simple item. Make them available at the carts!
- Figure out how to process meal credits, snack credits, and cash in a single transaction at quick service restaurants. Note: online ordering through the app wasn’t quite rolled out when we went so it may be that this option solves this problem. Somehow table service restaurants can take a single order and break it into meal credits and cash. It is a real pain to all parties involved (including those waiting in line behind) to have to complete three transactions to get meals, snacks, and cash items in the quick service lines. And, just about everyone has this issue eventually as their party runs out of meal credits at the end of their stay.
In summary, we still like the Dining Plan, and probably view the two changes as a net positive. But, figure out if it is best for your group. Make sure you will use your meal credits. Make table service dining reservations; they are almost always necessary. Paying for a few extra meals is better than paying for meals you don’t use.