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Unread 13 Mar 17, 02:00 AM  
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Getting the best out of Disney dining plans

This thread has been automatically created, because the original thread had over 500 posts.

The original thread was located HERE.

Please feel free to carry on...

With me doing some editing I seem to have lost the content of the first post which would normally show up in the new thread so I've pasted it below. I expect some of the links won't work so you'll need to click through to the original thread.


Hi all, I was thinking with the free dining being released and a whole load of newbies to QSDP/DDP it would be useful to have a thread sharing our top tips about how to get the most out of having the dining plans.
There's a link to the DIBB guidebook page on dining plans here.

This is a link to the WDTC page on dining plans. From what I can see there are no longer PDFs of the dining plan leaflets and it's now an information page however a kind Dibber has linked to this PDF on another thread which has 2018 locations disneyworld.disney.go/me...ions_added.pdf.
I've also found the Disney Parks Moms Panel to be a great source of official Disney info on the subject.

Explaining Dining Plans

From 2018 QS and TS meals now include the option of an alcoholic drink (beer, wine, cider and some cocktails). For those that don't drink or for under 21's you can choose a speciality drink, milkshake/smoothie or "mocktail" as well as the standard soft drinks previously available.

From 2017 the dining plans no longer include a dessert with QS meals. Instead there is an extra snack credit. Dessert will still be offered with TS meals.
So QSDP - one resort refillable mug, 2 QS credits and 2 snacks.
DDP - one resort refillable mug, 1 QS credit, 1 TS credit and 2 snacks.
DxDDP - one resort refillable mug, 3 TS/QS credits (full flexible) and 2 snacks.

The dining plans are very flexible. You have all your credits available to you at check in and the vast majority of menu items are allowed. Some items will require a supplement, particularly at signature restaurants. There are some restrictions on sharing items but even then most allow you to use more than one credit so in practical terms there are no restrictions.

You can't use credits of one type towards a meal of a higher credit type. For example, you can't use QS credits to go towards a TS meal and can't combine snacks for a QS meal or TS meal. Disney now say a TS credit can be used for a QS meal but there is a suggestion this is at the CMs discretion. You can also use a QS or TS credit to pay for 2 or 3 snacks which seems to depend on location and CM. This has to be done in the same transaction and is not available at every location. Here's a link to a Disney Parks Moms Panel question on this subject.
The exception to all of this is Deluxe DDP whos TS and QS credits are interchangeable.
Previously you could exchange your QS drink for anything that's considered a snack. There is some internet chat from people who have been unable to do this however it appears it's more likely in resort QS places than in the parks.

The final list of restaurants accepted on the dining plan doesn't tend to get finalised until the end of the year. Don't panic if your favourite restaurant doesn't show for next year! If it's there this year there's a good chance it'll be there next year. More recently it tends to show up next to the individual restaurant on the website.

Abbreviations

QSDP Quick Service Dining Plan
DDP Disney Dining Plan
DxDDP Deluxe Disney Dining Plan
TS Table Service
QS/CS Quick Service/Counter Service
ADRS Advance Dining Reservations
MDE My Disney Experience
OOP Out of Pocket


ADRs
You can make ADRs 180 days out and when staying onsite you can make the first 10 days ADRs 180 days from check in day. Then at 179 days you can do day 11, and so on. Reservations open at 11am online and 12pm if you prefer to phone Disney. You need to link your resort reservation to your MDE account to do this online. Disney Dining number is 0800 16 90 748 to make ADRs if you prefer. The online link is here.
When making an ADR Disney will ask for credit card details (a debit card will do). They won't charge you anything unless it's a meal that has to be paid in advance however if you don't show up and don't cancel they'll charge your card $10 per person. As long as you cancel the day before they won't charge you. It's useful to have a credit card linked to your MDE account before you start making ADRs to make this process easier. Since you also need a PIN while over there it helps to have set this up ahead of time too. This can also be done via MDE.
You only need ADRs for TS restaurants and Be Our Guest (CS at breakfast & lunch). If you want specific restaurants or specific times then it's best to book ADRs however if not you can use the website or app to check availability while there. I check regularly out of curiosity and find if I was there now (I wish!) Id always get something.
When making ADRs make your hard to get ones first and try and make them for later in the holiday. Be Our Guest for example is particularly difficult to get. Other restaurants it can be more the time you want thats hard to get. We like Tusker House & Crystal Palace breakfasts the first couple of days and like them as early as possible so I always put them near the top of the booking order.
Dont be disheartened if you dont get what you want first time round as people often change plans so keep checking.
If you're struggling choosing restaurants have a look at the dining reports. There are some excellent reports with great pictures. I've had loads of ideas from there and am now struggling to narrow it down!

Keeping track of credits

Disney have added the facility to MDE to keep track of dining plan credits. This wont show up as an option until you check in and doesnt show straight away so dont panic if its not on your MDE account. Once it does show up it updates very quickly but also disappears after check out.

Upgrading Dining Plans

You can upgrade any free dining plan to the next level by paying the difference in cost. The value of the free breakfast per day is 11.99 per adult and 4.99 per child for 2018 bookings. 2019 value Adult 12.99 Child 5.99. You cannot purchase the breakfast, this is just a value in order to give an upgrade price.

2018 upgrade prices per person per night are:

Free breakfast to QSDP - Adult 24 Child 11
Free breakfast to DDP - Adult 38 Child 14
Free breakfast to DxDDP - Adult 68 Child 24
QSDP to DDP - Adult 14 Child 3
QSDP to DxDDP - Adult 44 Child 13
DDP to DxDDP - Adult 30 Child 10

2019 prices

Free breakfast to QSDP - Adult 25 Child 10
Free breakfast to DDP - Adult 42 Child 13
Free breakfast to DxDDP - Adult 71 Child 23
QSDP to DDP - Adult 17 Child 3
QSDP to DxDDP - Adult 46 Child 13
DDP to DxDDP - Adult 29 Child 10

Remember tips are expected on TS meals of between 18-20% so factor that in when considering upgrading.
You can also upgrade a child to adult dining plan by changing their ticket to an adult ticket. The cost difference is only the difference in the two theme park tickets which varies depending on the deal at the time. Remember though, if you've upgraded from QSDP to DDP you need to take that cost difference into account too. This isn't possible if you've booked flights with the same operator as dates of birth need to then be correct.
Kids can then eat from the adults or childrens menu and you can either use credits or pay OOP and save the credits. Theres no distinction between adult and child credits on for QS meals, only TS.

Paying for dining plans

Although they are offered free during the offer you can buy them if you choose. You still need to be staying in a Disney hotel and buying park tickets at the same time.

2018 prices are:

QSDP - Adult 35.99 Child 14.99
DDP - Adult 49.99 Child 18.99
DxDDP - 79.99 Child 29.99

2019 prices

QSDP - Adult 37.99 Child 15.99
DDP - Adult 54.99 Child 18.99
DxDDP - Adult 83.99 Child 28.99

Whether its worth paying for is a very individual thing. I personally dont think it saves much money, mainly because most people probably wouldnt eat the same amount of food, however it can suit people who want to know food is pre paid. I also think the significant increase in price for DDP may be due to the alcoholic drink and I dont drink so wouldnt take advantage. Heres a link to a dining report currently in progress by adamtoonarmy where hes paid for DDP and kept a note of food costs.

Edit: just wanted to add that I recently had a no DDP trip and spent just as much money as I would have paid for DDP so I may be back tracking on my statement above!

Maximising dining plans

Many meals are big enough for sharing. An individual pizza at Wolfgang Pucks Express plus a side of fries will easily do 2 people and many resort food courts will do you a large pizza for 2 CS credits that would do a family of four plus you'll get 2 drinks. You can then substitute the drinks for 2 snacks (fries for example) and use your refillable mugs for drinks.
This is also true of CS breakfasts and many people will split a breakfast and then split a lunch leaving snacks free for other things.
The dining plan doesnt differentiate between adult and child credit for QS meals only (or if you are on the deluxe plan or above).
You can get desserts to go at TS places if you think you'll eat them later.
If you use your refillable mugs at the hotel food court (you can use them at any hotel by the way not just where youre staying) when getting a CS meal you can then get a bottled drink for later.
At TS places you can sometimes substitute dessert with a soup, side salad or fruit salad. Substituting for appetisers is not allowed. This is not offered at every TS location and they server will usually tell you. We were offered a small salad or lobster bisque at both The Yachtsman and Narcoossee's.
You can get iced water from any CS place free of charge. There are also water fountains scattered around. Last year we took a couple of collapsible cups and an Oasis squirty juice thing. We also used the cups to share drinks if we shared a CS meal.
The Disney hotels all have fridges so you can store milk and have breakfast cereal in your room if you want. It's also a great places to store all those "to go" desserts!

Here's a link to Papamouses thread on QSDP. It's a helpful take on the practicalities of using the plan. And here's a link to Loves2plans recent QSDP report.

Snack Credits
Snacks are now any "single serve" item regardless of price. You can also now get any size drink as long as it doesn't come in a souvenir mug. Youll see the DDP symbol next to anything thats a snack.

Heres a link to the snack credit list. This will now be out of date due to the changes mentioned above but gives you an idea. An updated thread can be found here for people to post what they've managed to get for a snack credit. And a link to a recent dining report specifically about snacks.
Snack credits can be used for anything from drinks to side orders that would do you for lunch such as chilli cheese fries or baked potatoes. Yak & Yeti at AK do chicken fried rice too as a snack. If you're in WDW for the Epcot Food & Wine Festival it's even better as there's loads of stalls with amazing food - even fillet steak for a snack credit! I'm hoping this won't change!
Many people will say drinks are a waste of a snack credit however you may find you dont have room for any extra food! We found as the trip went on last year we started using them for drinks as wed rather do this than bring bags of sweets home.
If you have any left there are loads of options for buying stuff that you can take home. Goofys Candy Co., Ghirardellis and any sweet shop in the parks will have a variety of things.

Dining Packages

Dining packages get you priority seating at Fantasmic, The Music of Pixar Live! and Rivers of Light.

You can get packages at the following restaurants at DHS for either Fantasmic, The Music of Pixar Live! or a package that includes both:

Hollywood & Vine (1 TS)
Mama Melrose (1 TS)
Brown Derby (2 TS)

Rivers of Light packages at AK are available at:

Tusker House (1TS)
Tiffins (2TS)

You must book a dining package though and not just a normal reservation.

Character Dining

People often ask what characters are where. Heres a link to a thread started by laurac1988 with a spreadsheet of character meals.

Planning ADRs

It's often asked how you go about planning your ADRs so I posted later in the thread about how we do it. I've copied it here for anyone who doesn't read the whole thread. This is just how we do it and won't suit everyone.

I always do a rough itinerary so I know which parks we'll do each day and which days will be rest days. From there I can pick which TS place we want to do on what day and for what meal. Character breakfast are usually planned for the first couple of mornings when the time difference means we're up early anyway. I don't tend to book an ADR on a Universal day so we don't need to rush back but might book a resort restaurant on a pool or shopping day. We don't often do full park days so where we eat in the evening is less relevant.
I choose times that we would eat at home. Breakfasts are usually as early as we can and preferably an hour before park opening. Lunch around 1pm and dinner 6-6.30pm but I tend to book earlier times at the start of the holiday until our body clocks adjust.
Choosing where is based on previous meals we've enjoyed as we've been before however we ate at a few new places I'd seen in dining reports last year and that's where I'd recommend starting if you're new to DDP. The link to that part of the forum is here. I recommend anything by Dixonsontour where they've done DDP, GopherLass (because it was just so entertaining!) and Mrs Pumpkin or Collybird for DxDDP.
It's quite easy to change ADRs while over there if your plans change so if something doesn't suit just change it on MDE or give WDW dining a ring from your room phone. Calling is better if you want to cancel on the day so you dont get charged.

Practicalities

Paying for TS - we usually tell the wait staff at the start that we're on dining plan although they usually ask. Most of them will explain what you can get and what you have to pay extra for. They sometimes scan a Magic Band at the start of the meal but may wait until the end. Once scanned you have to enter your PIN that you created on MDE. You then get brought a receipt to sign and there's a line for the gratuity. If you want it charged to your room just write the amount. If you want to pay cash just write CASH on the line. With parties from more than one room someone from each room needs to scan their MB and you need to tell the server how many credits from each.

Paying for QS and snacks - again I always say straight away that I'm on the dining plan. Again, many CMs will explain what you can have. Once I've ordered I tell them how many of each kind of credit I want to use when it's not straightforward. So for example, we ordered cakes and drinks at Sunshine Seasons and I explained "we have 9 items and want to use 3 QS credits". When ordering snacks I always say I want to use a snack credit. You scan your MB and again enter your PIN.

Mobile Ordering

Many QS places now allow you to order your meal via MDE. Be Our Guest have allows this for a while but there its essentially pre-ordering as youre making an ADR.
At other QS places you order online then click to say youve arrived. Theres a separate counter for mobile ordering so its handy when you want to try and find a table before you get your food. You can use dining credits to pay but if paying cash it will charge direct to your linked credit or debit card.

Edited at 09:46 AM.
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Unread 25 Mar 17, 08:00 AM  
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Really useful article for a newbie such as myself, thanks
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Unread 25 Mar 17, 09:22 AM  
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Originally Posted by bang_bang View Post
Really useful article for a newbie such as myself, thanks
You're welcome. That was my intention. You see so many posts asking the same questions that Disney don't put answers to in their leaflets that I thought it'd be handy if it was all in one place. If there's anything people feel is missing just let me know.
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Unread 2 Apr 17, 09:01 AM  
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Excellent post which will help us greatly when we start choosing restaurants for our trip in October. We have stayed on resort with the dining plan before and love the freedom it provides us but on this occasion we are also visiting Universal and having a day shopping. On each day out of Disney we will return to the resort/ park in time for a TS meal but wondered if there was any way to use our CS credit for an early breakfast before we leave in the morning or if a CS meal can be used for a takeaway packed lunch or similar? Any suggestions gratefully received!
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Unread 2 Apr 17, 09:14 AM  
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Originally Posted by Molezer View Post
Excellent post which will help us greatly when we start choosing restaurants for our trip in October. We have stayed on resort with the dining plan before and love the freedom it provides us but on this occasion we are also visiting Universal and having a day shopping. On each day out of Disney we will return to the resort/ park in time for a TS meal but wondered if there was any way to use our CS credit for an early breakfast before we leave in the morning or if a CS meal can be used for a takeaway packed lunch or similar? Any suggestions gratefully received!
All resorts will have some sort of QS breakfast option. Where are you staying? We've never tried to take a packed lunch but there are places that sell sandwiches that you could eat later.
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Unread 2 Apr 17, 09:32 AM  
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Originally Posted by sha9 View Post
All resorts will have some sort of QS breakfast option. Where are you staying? We've never tried to take a packed lunch but there are places that sell sandwiches that you could eat later.
Staying at Old Key West.
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Unread 4 Apr 17, 10:48 PM  
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Originally Posted by Molezer View Post
Staying at Old Key West.
The QS option, Goods to Go, isn't great but you will get a breakfast there.
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My boyfriend and I booked up to stay at POR for 10 nights in October and we got the QSDP for free. My question for the experts is this; we plan on eating at BOG (dinner), Crystal Palace, and Cinderella's royal table so would we be better off paying the extra to upgrade to DDP or paying out of pocket?
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Originally Posted by amiiliek View Post
My boyfriend and I booked up to stay at POR for 10 nights in October and we got the QSDP for free. My question for the experts is this; we plan on eating at BOG (dinner), Crystal Palace, and Cinderella's royal table so would we be better off paying the extra to upgrade to DDP or paying out of pocket?
That is exactly what I've done, we are also staying at POR for 10 nights in October, sat down and thought about it and in the end it made perfect sense to upgrade, without actually working out figures, I'm sure the upgrade would pay for itself with just Crystal Palace and CRT.
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Unread 5 Apr 17, 06:51 AM  
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Originally Posted by amiiliek View Post
My boyfriend and I booked up to stay at POR for 10 nights in October and we got the QSDP for free. My question for the experts is this; we plan on eating at BOG (dinner), Crystal Palace, and Cinderella's royal table so would we be better off paying the extra to upgrade to DDP or paying out of pocket?
If you have a look at the menus on here it'll give you a rough idea of price for each of those. If you add it all up and it comes to more than the upgrade then you have your answer. I'd say you could be up to $260 for those 3 at a rough guess.
We do always upgrade or book deluxe hotel as we prefer TS meals anyway.
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