Mom And Daughter Magic Kingdom Cinderella's Castle
  • On Apr 11, 2008
    Sherri from IL Asked Note: This answer was provided prior to the change to planDisney and may still contain references to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

    Experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer.

    Is the Disney Dining Plan cost effective and does it include gratuities?

    The dining plan does not currently include gratuities.

    As for cost effectiveness ... yes, the dining plan can be cost effective if used wisely. For a thorough description of what's included in the plan, go to the website and search for an article called "Magic Your Way Dining Plan." In a nutshell, the basic dining plan includes 1 table service meal (entree, dessert, non-alcoholic beverage), 1 counter service meal (entree, dessert, non-alcoholic beverage), and one snack. Prices can change, but the rate for this is now $37.99 per day for adults.

    Suppose you spend the day in the Magic Kingdom and do not have the dining plan. (Again, all the prices I'm about to mention could change, so just use this as a guide.) You eat lunch at Columbia Harbor House. You get a $6.89 Starboard sandwich and a $2.29 beverage. You later have a $3.00 popcorn snack. You eat dinner at Tony's Town Square. You get the $16.99 chicken parm, a $2.29 beverage, and a $4.99 gelato. You've spent a total of $36.45, just about break even with the dining plan.

    If you're a sensible eater and skip the popcorn and gelato, then you would only spend $28.46. Thus, getting the dining plan would be overpaying for you.

    On the other hand, if you decide to have the same lunch at the Magic Kingdom and the same popcorn snack, but instead have the Cape May Cafe all-you-care-to-eat seafood buffet at the Beach Club resort for dinner. The buffet is $26.99 and a beverage would be $2.29. In this version, you would have spent $41.46 on food and the dining plan would be a bargain.

    So, the real answer to your question depends on where, what, and how much you plan to eat. If you're light eaters, you could save money by not getting the dining plan. If you're big eaters, you could save a bundle. If you go to the site and search on the names of different restaurants, you'll find sample menus with prices. You can then do some informed planning to see what makes the most sense for you.
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Meet the Panelist: Erin, New York

I have three teenage daughters. We're DVC members obsessed with Disney travel. We've been to Walt Disney World countless times and have visited Disneyland & Disneyland Paris. We've taken several Adventures by Disney and Disney Cruise trips. Learn More About Erin

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