When I started planning our first trip to Disney World, I had no idea what a dining plan was. As I looked into the details, I wasn’t sure if it was something that would be beneficial for us. We are not extravagant eaters, and our kids don’t always eat well at restaurants. We didn’t plan on a lot of Table Service meals, and with multiple opinions on whether the QSDP was more cost effective than paying out of pocket, it was confusing. Fortunately, we ended up with a Free Dining promotion, and were able to experience the Quick Service Dining Plan at no extra cost.
This post is about the Quick Service Dining Plan. If you’d like more information on the Disney Dining Plan, check out Lindsey’s post here.
What is the Quick Service Dining Plan? The Disney World website gives a great detailed explanation of the dining plans offered. The general idea of a QSDP is that you pre-pay for 2 Quick Service meals and 1 Snack per person (age 3 and over), per night of your stay. It also includes a mug that can be refilled at the resort’s food court/drink stations (not in the parks). Quick Service restaurants and snack locations can be found at resorts, in parks, and there are even a few at Downtown Disney.
(For clarification: A Quick Service restaurant is where you go through a line to order food, and take it to your table on a tray. A Table Service restaurant is where you are seated at a table and a server takes your order.)
Pros: Since the QSDP is pre-paid, you don’t have to worry about food expenses for the majority of your meals at the parks/resorts. Each meal (lunch or dinner) comes with an entrée, drink, and dessert. (We don’t normally order dessert at every meal!) Breakfast includes an entrée and drink. Portion sizes were generous, and we were never lacking for food. Reservations are not required, so you can eat whenever it happens to be convenient. You have the flexibility to utilize credits however you choose – you are not limited to using a certain allotment per day. You have until midnight on your check-out day to utilize all your dining credits, so if you check out of the resort and spend the day in the park, you will still be able to use remaining dining credits.
Cons: If you want to have any Table Service meals (including Character meals), they are not included in this plan, so you would have to pay out of pocket. If you have a child in your party (ages 3-9), they will be required to order off the kids’ menu whenever available. (This might only be a problem if you have a really big eater.) Quick Service restaurants do not accept reservations, so lines can be long and tables scarce during peak times. You are not allowed to “share” your Dining Plan credits with someone not on your reservation.
Overall, the QSDP was easy to use, and it was nice not to have to worry about the budget when we ordered our meals. Would we pay for it? I don’t know. How will I decide? I’m glad you asked.
Before our next trip, I will use this calculator at distripplanner.com. In fact, I have already played with it, just to see if what I’m thinking is anywhere close to reality. Brian has put in the work to calculate all kinds of factors that will help determine what might be the most cost effective for you. With completely customizable dates, party size, and restaurant choices for every meal, you can really get a great idea of what it would cost out of pocket vs. with a dining plan. Go check it out!
For more on the Disney Dining Plan (DDP), check out Lindsey’s recent posts here and here. Go here for more on the QSDP and how it worked for us.
Have you used a dining plan before? What did you think?