Is it worth getting the dining plan to use for character meals

I’ve previously been to Disney & used the QS dining plan which I didn’t mind paying for. Next year it is just myself & 12 year old (who is classed as an adult :frowning: ) so money is tight. I am considering the table service plan rather than QS as I can use the tokens for all the character meals & not have to pay cash for them (only usually do 1 character meal due to cost?

I am really considering the thought that it will be worth me paying for this plan & do all the character meals possible as I think paying cash will cost too much?

anybody tried this & think it is worth it??


You need to look at the meals you would do and compare the cost of the plan to paying cash. You can definitely save money but it’s not guaranteed. And you need to remember to factor in tips, because high cost meals means bigger tips.


Less valuable when the kids are 10+ because you have to pay the adult meal plan price.

Welcome to the forums! I have a hard time making the dining plan work, but it is definitely a case-by-case situation. There are a few Dining Plan calculators out there that will help you determine the out of pocket vs. dining plan. is one. But as @missoverexcited said, don’t forget to factor additional gratuity into your budget.


With careful planning and focusing on character meals, it is possible to eat $1000 worth of meals while paying $800 on the dinning plan - but is this saving money if you would normally spend $500 on food?

Numbers are made up, but this is the general gist of the dining plan, financially.

You need to compare the price of eating normally, the dinning plan cost (with tips) and the price of eating what you would eat if you had the dinning plan (adding tax and tips).

Based on what you described, the dining plan will be considerably more expensive than what you normally spend on WDW, but it might be worth it if you really want to go all in on character meals.


I think sometimes we under estimate the cost of dining at wdw. IF you are really going to go to one character meal a day…

The current cost of the DDP (1TS, 1QS, 2N) is $78.01

Dinner Buffets:

Tusker: $57.51 plus tax
Akershus: $66.03 Plus tax
Artist Point: $62.84Plus tax
Chef Mickey’s: $62.84 plus tax

Do you like a drink with your meal- add another $10-15.

2 snacks:

2 Mickey Bars: $12
2 Pretzels: $14

Plus you each get a QS meal a day (you can get beer or wine with yours).

Now I am going to add: I think the days of character meals as we have known them are over. I think family style where you can see characters might be the future but I don’t know if that is what you want?


I was struggling with the same dilemma before our trip few months ago.
Here is the thread with some helpful links to online calculators:

As a rule of thumb, in my experience the dining plan doesn’t save money for most guests. Some people like the psychological effect of having most dining costs be prepaid, so that can make it worthwhile for some guests. And if you’re doing a group trip it can make it easier to have folks pay for the plan rather than having to split a full check every time (though you’ll still have to pay out of pocket for the tip.)

If you really want to know if it’s worth it for you in your particular situation, you’ll have to crunch the numbers. If you’re ambitious enough I’d suggest doing three calculations. (1) How much you’d probably spend on food without the dining plan, (2) how much you’d spend on food if you didn’t have the dining plan but dined where you wanted to (ex. went to as many character meals as you wanted, got apps when you wanted to, bought snacks when you felt like it), and (3) how much you’d spend (dining plan, tips) with the dining plan.

I’m betting that #1 will be the cheapest, #2 will be the next most expensive, and #3 will be the most expensive. Just a guess, though. There are situations where the dining plan saves money. But those are not the norm.

You don’t want to get the dining plan and then feel obliged to go to more expensive places just so that you are getting the value out of the plan, you know? If you really like Flame Tree Cafe, you don’t want to feel obliged to go to Tiffins just to make the plan “worth it.” Not that I have anything against Tiffins, I’ve heard great things about it.

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DDP is such a personal thing. I’ve been to WDW twice, Summer 2012 and Christmas season 2019. Both times, I have looked longingly at the DDP. After listing out all the places we wanted to eat at and what we would order, the numbers never worked in our favor. Because we don’t drink alcohol, we would need to order the most expensive dishes to just about break even; order an entree for each person, even when we didn’t need all the food; and eat everything when our tummies were full. And we didn’t want to be tied down to ADRs for TS.

BUT, if you were planning to go to all those character meals anyway and you drink alcohol, it would totally be worth it big time to get DDP. I’m with @Beth33.

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The character meals are going to fundamentally change upon re-opening; distancing, no touchy-touchy, posing from afar, etc. You’re missing out on the personal interaction of the character meals that make them oh so special. Under those circumstances, I personally wouldn’t bother with a TS dining plan with a 12 year old, especially if “money is tight”.
I’m sure the character meal circumstances will eventually evolve and loosen, but it’s a guess on how fast and when. The fact you’re planning now, and asking the question now, suggests you’re a planner and not prone to “lets wait and see”… don’t do TS.


We have a trip planned for December. When we were there in October 2019, we had 3 buffets: Tusker House, Akershus, and Biergarten. Those were everyone’s favorites. We did not have a dining plan because it would have cost us more being there 8 nights and only having the 3 more expensive meals. But, this time we were planning on getting DDP and booking 9 character meals or all you care to enjoy options. With a 4 year old, it is a definite savings. At this moment, I can’t say for sure that we will keep DDP. It depends on what changes there are to the meals.

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Pre-COVID having the dining plan was definitely worth it for the character meals. However, with the uncertainty of what character dining will look like after Disney opens back up, I’m not sure. That being said, I always get the dining plan with 1 QS and 1 TS and I’ve always come out ahead. We drink the alcoholic beverages at every meal, like the character meals, enjoy dessert at dinner, and like to order lamb, steak, and pricier entrees.

There are different ways you can approach this.

IF one of your main goals is to make the trip as inexpensive as possible, but ensuring you get certain “must-dos” including a Character Meal, then I’d wager you could save more money by not having the dining plan and being frugal with how you eat, etc.

If you’d rather not have to worry about what to eat based on cost, then there is value in that, as well, which then means that even if you aren’t necessarily saving money on the dining plan, it still is worth something more than money.

In my own calculations, we couldn’t make using the dining plan worth it for us. But we actually went through each menu and picked out the items we were most likely to eat, plus added in snacks and drinks, to see where we fell…and then did the same on the dining plan. The dining plan always ended up costing more. (BTW, no need to add in gratuity when doing the calculation because the cost of the gratuity would be roughly the same in either scenario, so it becomes a wash.)

Now, if you want to pay roughly the same price as you would by NOT being on the dining plan, but then be able to splurge on a few dining options where you otherwise wouldn’t to “save money”, then again, that should be weighed.

You can also (normally) get the added benefit of the dining packages for Fantasmic! and Rivers of Light which effectively get your FastPasses with your character meals, so that adds something to the value.

But if you want to save money on the dining plan, you kind of have to work at it (unless you’re splitting it among a large party) at which point you’d probably rather just eat where and when you want and just pay out of pocket.

If you want the benefit of not having to worry about what you’re spending, put a bunch of money on a gift card and use it as your food budget. Then you can splurge a little bit without worrying.