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Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan

Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan CaseysHotdog 1

I quite literally put my money where my mouth is and tested out the actual cost/ value comparison of the Disney Dining Plan. Full disclosure: I went into this experiment not trying to prove its value one way or another and ate without a strategy. While I would absolutely recommend having a plan of how to utilize your Dining Plan credits, I wanted to give a fair look by ordering what I wanted in the moment, regardless of price. So get your appetites ready and let’s do this!

For this Dining Plan adventure, I ate as if I was on the Disney Dining Plan. The cost of the Disney Dining Plan is $94.28 per adult or $29.69 per child (ages 3 – 9) per day. Or if you’re a Disney+ subscriber, check out the current Free Dining Plan offer. Included in the Disney Dining Plan per person per day:

  • 1 Quick Service Meal
  • 1 Snack
  • 1 Table Service Meal

One thing you should know about me is Disney’s Polynesian Village is my absolute favorite resort and I’m always looking for an excuse to be there. It was a busy weekend, but I happened upon a last-minute reservation at Kona Café and had not eaten there since the recent refurbishment. Kona reservations are typically easy to come by, and the menu is pretty unique. I often stop at Kona for pot stickers and sushi, but today I was all in. The entree prices here are all around $20, so I can immediately tell you this is not a great value for a Table Service restaurant. Why? Because for that same Table Service credit, you could eat at a $60+ character buffet. But hey, the heart wants what it wants!

The Disney Dining Plan now includes alcoholic beverages for those 21 and older. When at the Polynesian, you’ve got to order the “Backscratcher” cocktail, and I did. This tropical cocktail is on the stronger side with two types of rum and whisky. At $15, it also comes with, of course, an actual bamboo backscratcher.

Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan BackscratcherCocktail

For my entrée, I chose the rainbow poke bowl, which includes tuna, salmon, shrimp, Hamachi, Fresno chili peppers, lotus root, and spicy ponzu at $25.00. While I thought the portion of fish was decent, there wasn’t much else to the dish, and it was not a super filling. Thankfully, Kona’s delicious pineapple-coconut rolls are included, and I still had dessert to look forward to.

Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan KonaPoke-1

Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan KonaBread

Speaking of dessert, one of the hidden gems of Kona Café is the same fabulous pineapple-coconut bread pudding also served at ‘Ohana. At $13, this desert could easily be shared between 2 – 3 people. When I asked for the dessert menu, the server automatically assumed I wanted the bread pudding. This tells me it is the obvious superstar on the menu, and I agree. My total before gratuity at Kona came to $56.71. Side note here – don’t forget gratuity is not included in the Disney Dining Plan.

Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan KonaBreadPudding-1

At this point, I’m pretty full and trying to hype myself up for more Disney eats. So I hopped on the monorail to Magic Kingdom, and after some walking and a few attractions, I was ready for a Disney snack. Who am I kidding? There’s always room for a snack at Disney! I was torn between a cream cheese stuffed pretzel from the Lunching Pad, a caramel butter bar at Big Top Souvenirs, or the ever-classic Dole Whip. I went with a Dole Whip float at $7.44 to continue my Polynesian theme. It had been a while since I had a Dole Whip float and it was somehow even better than I remembered. Like any Disney pro, I happily ate my Dole Whip while enjoying the Enchanted Tiki Room. It doesn’t get much more Disney than that.

Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan Dolewhip

Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan TikiDoleWhip

My go-to Quick-Service at the Magic Kingdom is usually always Columbia Harbor House. However, it was a beautiful day, and nothing seemed more perfect than having dinner on the Hub grass. So I placed a mobile order at Casey’s Corner and found my spot. For dinner, I had the foot-long chili cheese hot dog with French fries, a Diet Coke, and the very cute baseball brownie. Of course, I also splurged for the $1 side of cheese… because I’m worth it.  While this meal is nothing extraordinary, being able to soak in the Magic Kingdom with a view of Cinderella Castle is iconic.

Tasting and Testing the Value of the Disney Dining Plan CaseysHub-1

My day of eating had sadly come to an end. Without knowing my total, I really enjoyed the freedom of ordering exactly what I wanted and not thinking about “the most bang for my buck.” I would argue this in itself is part of the Disney Dining Plan value. Spending at Disney easily gets out of control and the dining plan allows you to prepay and set your food costs for the trip.

Drumroll please… my total cost for the day came to a grand total of $90.38. This is slightly less than the $94.28 the Disney Dining Plan costs per day. To me, this proves two things about the Dining Plan. First, if you plan to eat at buffets or character meals, you are saving at least $25 a day per person. Second, if your family likes to split meals or eat more snacks, (aka eating around World Showcase) the Dining Plan may not bring you the most value.

Let us know in the comments if you’re booking the Disney Dining Plan in 2024!

Hannah Anderson is a Dreams Unlimited Travel Agent, DIS Contributor, former Disney Cast Member, and Orlando local. Mostly importantly, she is a mom and loves spending time in the Disney Parks each week with her family.
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