There are 4 dining plans offered to guests staying at the Disney resorts. The Deluxe Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan Plus, Disney Dining Plan and Quick-Service Dining Plan are available for purchase to those staying on site. These plans vary, and the details are provided in this previous post. Now you don’t NEED to purchase any of these plans. They are optional. If you’re lucky enough, you can sometimes grab a deal that offers a free dining plan with your vacation package. If not, the additional cost to your vacation may or may not be worth it for you and your party.
You don’t need a dining plan to eat at any of the dining locations at Walt Disney World. At all of the restaurants found at the four theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs and the resorts you can use dining plan credits or you can pay out of pocket. There are a handful of restaurants that you need to pay for ahead of time, but again, all restaurants can be paid for with cash, credit card, by MagicBand or with dining plan credits.
You don’t need a dining plan to make a reservation at any of the dining locations at Walt Disney World. Reservations can be made at Walt Disney World resort restaurants 180 days ahead of time. These can be made by anyone. ANYONE! There is an advantage to those staying at a Disney Resort, they can reserve 180 days before their vacation, plus 10 days after that. For more details on that, see this previous post. If you pay for a dining plan, the Disney Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan Plus or the Deluxe Dining Plan, and make a reservation at one of the locations you need to pay for ahead of time, you don’t have to pay. It just confirms that you’ll be using X amount of dining plan meal credits.
You don’t need a dining plan to have the BEST Disney World vacation. Dining at Disney World can be a big part of your vacation or it can be a very small part of your vacation. If you want to focus on riding the attractions and taking in all the entertainment then maybe you want to just grab a couple meals here and there at quick-service locations. Therefore the dining plan may be a waste of your money.
We love vacationing with the dining plan. We love HAVING to use our meal credits. It forces us to take time out of our day to sit down and eat a meal. We also really enjoy eating at the Disney World restaurants. It’s a luxury for us. But you don’t have to. Take a look at some of my other posts on the Dining Plans so you can make an informed decision on whether adding a plan to your vacation is the best decision for you.