The Disney Dining Plan is a passionately debated topic. But for those who use and enjoy the plan, take comfort that the dining plan is on a high note. We share our opinion.
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The Disney Dining plan is one of Disney's hottest debated topics. Over the past couple of years there have been a few changes that make it (almost) as good as it's even been. Of course the "Is The Disney Dining Plan Worth It?" question gets asked a lot. The majority of us Brits, however, do take advantage of the free dining offer (which is more generous than the Americans get), so most Brits don't think too hard about it.
Although, if you're staying at a moderate resort, you only get the quick service dining plan for free. It is a must to pay a bit extra upgrade the dining plan to the table service one so you enjoy all the table service restaurants. As a couple though, we usually find it cheaper to get discounted room prices and pay for the dining plan, but that's a whole different story.
2017 brought us more snacks
2017 saw a change–which I think for the better–was quick service meals no longer come with a dessert, but you get an extra snack credit a day. (You still get a dessert with table service meals!) Most quick service desserts aren't the most high quality of food you can buy, and I found myself a lot of the time not even wanting a dessert, but you might as well have one because it's included! The flexibility of having an extra snack each day (now having 2 total) is so much better. Still want a dessert? No problem! You can just use that snack for the dessert and you'll be no worse off than previous years. But, that snack can be put to so much better use. Perhaps a $6 Venti Frappuccino from Starbucks–or better still–items at Food & Wine festival at Epcot. Because we get 2 snacks a day now, we can enjoy a 2 credit table service meal and use all the extra snacks for an evening at Epcot's Food & Wine and not have any meals missed.
2018 brought us alcohol
From Jan 1st 2018, all table service meals now come with an alcoholic beverage! Although some of the non-alcoholic beverages are nice, it's great that adults can enjoy a nice cocktail, beer or wine with their meals should they desire. With the price of a Coca-Cola being ~$4, and a cocktail being ~$11, it's great to see we can have a more expensive drink now included in the dining plan.
Leftover credits? No worries
Some people have said they go home with unused credits and not even knowing they can trade them down. Each quick service meal credit can traded for 3 snacks credits. Stock up on candy for yourself or for gifts with your unused credits. Or you could be generous and offer to pay for another guests meal. We had someone come to us and offered to buy us our meal once because they had left over credits. We kindly declined as we were a day ahead on credits as it is, and would much better being spent on another family who weren't on the plan at all. I wouldn't want to take advantage of such generosity when it could better serve others.
What's still not great?
A few years ago (because you got a dessert with a quick service lunch or dinner) you used to get 2 drinks with your breakfast meal. As we use our quick service for breakfast and table service for dinner, it was great to get 2 drinks each in the morning (this was because there was no desserts at breakfast). We'd enjoy one drink with breakfast and take the other to a park. That went away, and now that the desserts have gone away in exchange for an extra snack credit, it seems it'll never make a return. But, at least all quick service meals are equal now (1 drink, 1 entree).
The main thing that used to make the dining plan fantastic–which sadly will never return–was the dining plan included gratuities. It was an overnight increase of ~18% when guests were made to pay tips separately. Although you can tip a little less (as Brits tend to do), there is still a compulsory 18% gratuity charge for parties over 6 people. (I'd like to say I tip very generously–sometimes higher than 18%–if the service is even ahead of Disney's standard, avoiding that treacherous cheap-skate Brit stereotype.)
Other than that, the dining plan really is as good as it has ever been right now.