An unofficial Walt Disney World news and trip planning guide!
The Disney Dining Plan, or DDP is a dining package available to resort gusts who either book using Disney Vacation Club (DVC) points, or book a Magic Your Way package. The plan works on a points system, you are allocated a set number of points which can be used against different dining locations.
The points are placed on your 'Key to the World' card, and update automatically every time you use the card to cover your meals or snacks. Depending on which plan you are on will depend on which types of restaurants you can use the points at.
There are five dining plan packages for 2012:
The credit system gives you some flexibility on when and where you can use your credits. Lets say you are on the Basic/Standard dining plan and you are at Disney for 7 nights. This gives you a quick service meal, a table service meal and a snack every day. Lets say on day 1 you go to the Magic Kingdom. You could go into the Main Street Bakery and pick up a nice pastry for breakfast and that would count as a snack. You could then go into Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe for lunch, which is a quick service location, offering a fantastic selection. You'll get a main meal, desert and a beverage. Then later in the evening you can go into a table service restaurant such as The Crystal Palace and have a full meal or buffet. This would be your days worth of credits used.
You don't however have to do it like this. You could do two quick service meals one day, and two table service meals another day. You could even use all your snacks at once if you really wanted to. From personal experience on the Basic/Standard plan and above, you'll find that you probably won't use up all your snack credits. Here's a quick tip: Go to Goofy's Candy Shop in Downtown Disney and you can use the snack credits to buy bags of sealed sweets to take home as gifts for friends and family!
There are a number of different dining location types:
These are generally small shops or portable stations in the parks, such as ice cream stools. You may also find that your resort has a pool bar that offers snacks. The snacks are greatly underrated, you can actually get some great items on the snack menus. For example, at the Magic Kingdom, Plaza Ice Cream Parlor offers a great selection of gourmet Ice Cream as snacks, and at the water parks you can usually get cookies, doughnuts, coffees, pastries, bottled drinks and more. When you visit a water park you'll probably only need to use a snack credit as the portions are fairly large. Alternatively they also have quick service restaurants.
Generally each resort has at least one of these. Many people think that quick service = fast food. This could not be more far from the truth. While there are a lot of fast food type restaurants on the quick service list, you'll find a few fantastic food locations. One such example is the fantastic food courts at the moderate resorts, such as the Pepper Market at Disney's Coronado Springs, which is split into a number of 'stations' offering fresh pizza, salads, shirt-fry and more, all made to order.
Most moderate and above resorts have at least one Table Service restaurant, and they can also be found across all resorts. You can really get your moneys worth at buffet locations as it gives you a great opportunity to try new foods and foods you wouldn't usually try. Since the buffet locations are all you care to eat, you could even visit a table service location that offers a breakfast buffet, and 'fill up. Then use a snack at lunch time and then the quick service option for dinner later in the day.
Signature dining locations are the most up-market locations on the Dining Plan, and as such require the use of two table service credits. You can go to any signature dining location as long as you have table service credits. These restaurants generally offer signature dishes and have well known chefs preparing speciality meals. Such examples are Jiko, located in Animal Kingdom Lodge and the California Grill located on top of the Contemporary Resort, which gives you a private balcony view of the Wishes firework show at the Magic Kingdom.
Our dining section contains menus and information about every restaurant on Disney property. Each one will tell you if the restaurant is a quick service, table service, snack, or signature dining location and how many credits they require. We urge you to make sure you pre-book your restaurants well in advance of your trip as they quickly fill up and the stand-by queues can run for hours. Disney offer a free booking service at http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/reservations/dining/
*Peak Times: February 16 - 25, March 9 - April 14, June 1 - August 4, & December 21 - 31, 2012.