Perhaps the most popular of the Disney Dining Plans is the basic or standard plan. As with all of the Dining Plans, this is an add-on to a Magic Your Way package, or as an added purchase to your room reservation for DVC members or Annual Passholders. And as with all of the Dining Plans as well, this may….or may not….be a good choice for your family. For the family with young children who are reluctant to sit for long meals, or for those who don’t want to take the time for table service meals, this is a plan that may not be right for you. But for those of you who, like our family, enjoy the chance to sit down each evening for a nice dinner, or wish to do several Character Meals, then the Basic Dining Plan may very well be a money saver for you. I know it has, undeniably, been for us.
So, having said all that, what exactly do you get on the Basic Dining Plan? This plan provides for each person in your room the following items:
- One table-service meal or buffet
- Breakfast: includes entrée, juice and non-alcoholic beverage OR full buffet, and tax
- Lunch and Dinner: includes appetizer (for kids 3-9 ONLY), entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage OR full buffet, and tax
- Gratuity is no longer included for table-service meals on the Disney Dining Plan. An 18 percent gratuity will be added automatically for parties of 6 or more; a gratuity may also be added for items not included in the Dining Plan, such as alcoholic beverages
- One counter service (counter service or “fast food”) per night. Choose one entrée/combo meal, one single non-alcoholic beverage, and either dessert (lunch/dinner) or juice (breakfast).
- One snack There are a large number of snack items throughout the Walt Disney World resort theme parks and hotels. What is available as a snack item is easily identified on the menu at all snack shops and counter service restaurants by the DDP snack item logo. Examples of the kinds of things you can get for a snack credit are ice cream (including Dole Whips and Mickey bars!), fruit, popcorn, chips, muffins, baked items, as well as a number of hot and cold drink items. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have found that more items ARE snack credits on the DDP than not, but when in doubt, just ask the castmember at the register.
What Does the Basic Dining Plan Cost?
In 2010, the Basic Dining Plan prices depend on the time of year:
- Adults (ages 10 and up) $41.99 and Children (ages 3-9) $11.99
- Cost is per person per night for the following dates: 1/01/10 – 2/11/10, 4/11/10 – 6/03/10, 8/15/10 -12/16/10
- Adults $46.99 and Children $12.99
- Cost is per person per night for the following dates: 2/12/10 – 4/10/10, 6/04/10 – 8/14/10, 12/17/10 – 12/31/10
You can download the 2010 Basic Dining Plan brochure here.
You can download the 2011 Basic Dining Plan brochure here.
As previously in Disney Dining Plan 101, everyone in the room must be on the same package. In addition, there is no charge for children under 3: they may share an adult meal, or you may pay separately for them. Children ages 3-9 must order from a kid’s menu when available. All dining credits must be used by midnight the last day of your stay, otherwise they expire.
Tips for Using the Basic Dining Plan
Table service credits can be used for any sit-down restaurant, character meal, buffet or dinner show. Note however, that the following locations/experiences will cost you two TS credits:
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Any of the Signature Dining Experiences
- Any of the Disney Dinner Shows – You can reserve Category 2 or 3 seating at either show, or Category 1 seating at the 9:30 pm Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (gratuity that gratuity IS included here)
Probably the single most important tip to using the Basic Dining Plan is to make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs). It is strongly recommended at all table service restaurants, character meals, and dining experience restaurants throughout the year….but at certain times of year (peak season, holidays, Free Dining) it is imperative: during these times, it is highly unlikely that you will have your choice of restaurants and/or times. In fact, it is quite possible you will have virtually no choices if you wait and try to do a walk up. Paying to eat at table service restaurants…and then not being able to do so is certainly not how anyone wants to spend their money at Disney World, or anyplace else for that matter.
As mentioned previously, only you can decide if the Basic Dining Plan is the right choice for your family. Consider the ages of your children, everyone’s eating habits, likes/dislikes, and then decide if the cost is worth it for you. It’s not a savings for everyone, but for many, like with our family, it unquestionably is.