by Daisy Diva
If you have read Part 1 and Part 2 of my “So What Exactly Is the Disney Dining Plan” series, then you should have a decent understanding of the dining plan terminology as well as basic knowledge of the dining plan options. Today I am addressing some of the most commonly asked questions about the dining plan. There are some specifics that people should know before heading to Disney World armed with their Dining Plan.
Who qualifies for a dining plan?
Anyone over the age of three that is staying in a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel with at least one day of park admission with a Magic Your Way Pass can get the Dining Plan. Because children under three do not have park tickets, they cannot be on a Dining Plan. Guests who are only staying on property but do not have park tickets are not eligible for a Dining Plan. Those with park tickets that are staying off-property are also not eligible for a Dining Plan.
How do I feed the kids under three in my travel party?
Children under three who are travelling with a group that is on a dining plan are certainly not left to starve. They are welcome to share a meal with another person in the group. You can also fix them their own plate at a buffet or family style restaurant as they are still considered sharing a meal with another person. If you’re dining at a restaurant that is not a buffet or family style restaurant and you want your little one to have their own meal, you would have to use someone else’s dining plan credit from your party or pay out of pocket for their meal.
How do I use my credits?
When you dine at a Disney restaurant, you will typically be asked by your server if you will be using the dining plan to pay for your meal. When you inform them that you are on a dining plan, they will calculate your bill based on credits used not price. When it is time to pay for your meal, only one person from the travel party needs to scan their Magic Band. The entire party’s dining plan can be accessed with the tap of just one guest’s Magic Band (or Key to the World card if you opted out of using the Magic Bands) and the proper credits will be removed from the total. Your receipt will show how many credits were used for that meal and how many you have left in your plan. Check each receipt! The Cast Members are very efficient, but they are also human and will make mistakes from time to time. We were incorrectly charged for too many snack credits once, but a quick return to the snack counter had our extra credit refunded back to us with apologies from the cast member (who had caught the mistake as we were walking away but couldn’t get our attention).
Can the dining plan be split or only applied to part of the travel party?
In a word, no. Your entire travel party must be on the same plan. This means that you can’t apply the dining plan to half of the travel party while the rest pay out of pocket. It also means that you cannot apply the Deluxe Plan to the “big eater” in the group while everyone else has the Basic Disney Dining Plan. It’s all or nothing.
What’s not included?
There are two “biggies” that are not included in any of the Disney Dining Plans: gratuities and alcoholic beverages. So plan accordingly. This isn’t too big of a deal for those on the Quick-Service Plan, but for guests on any of the other plans, please remember to tip your servers at the Table-Service Restaurants. They work very hard and should not be slighted because someone is on the dining plan and doesn’t know any better. The times that we have traveled with the dining plan, I planned for all of my tips prior to the trip. I created an envelope for each restaurant where I knew a tip would need to be left and put the appropriate amount of money in each envelope allowing for extra money for exceptional service. This same principle could be applied for anyone who thinks they may want a beer or glass of wine with their meal. You can read all about my envelope system here.
What is free dining?
During certain times each year, Disney will offer their dining plans free to guests staying at specific resorts. Typically “free dining” times are in the fall from late August to December (excluding holiday dates) and winter/early spring from January to March (excluding holiday dates). Normally, guests staying at a value resort can get the Quick-Service Dining Plan for free, while guests at a Moderate or Deluxe Resort can get the Basic Disney Dining Plan for free. Guests are welcome to upgrade their free plan by paying the difference if they wish. As always, you can talk with Patricia with All for Dreams Travel and she can help your find the right vacation dates to get free dining or other discounts.
After all of that explanation, you may still have a few questions. You are welcome to ask more in the comments section, and I (or another diva or devo) will answer to the best of our knowledge. Stay tuned for my final installment of this series: Part 4 Tips for getting the biggest bang for your buck while on the Dining Plan.
Contact Patricia at All For Dreams Travel to plan your vacation.