5 Things You Need to Know About the New Disney Dining Plan

Earlier this week news broke that Disney was testing out a brand new tier of Disney Dining plan that would involve only quick service meals. Named Disney Dine-on-the-Go, this new dining offering will debut at the Magic Kingdom on January 12th. However, like with the regular Disney Dining Plan, we’re not too sure if this new offering is really a great deal for the majority of guests. But first, let’s go over the basics of this dining option.. 

1. Introducing the Disney Dine-on-the-Go plan at the Magic Kingdom

Image: Disney

As you might expect given the name, this new dining plan is focused on quick service options. Guests who purchase this plan are able to redeem a number of dining certificates at certain times of the day for quick service meals. Each Disney Dine-on-the-Go meal plan costs $29 per guest ($12 for kids 3-9) plus tax and includes the following:

  • One lunch quick-service meal that includes one (1) entrée and one (1) non-alcoholic single-serving beverage
  • One dinner quick-service meal that includes one (1) entrée and one (1) non-alcoholic single-serving beverage

While that sounds pretty good on the surface, this plan is significantly slimmed down from other dining plan options (even quick service ones) as it doesn’t include any snacks or desserts. In addition, there are also some serious restrictions on these meals that guests should definitely know about before they purchase this plan. 

2. Hungry guests are going to need to keep an eye on the time

Cosmic Rays

Image: Disney

One of the great things about the traditional Disney Dining Plan is that guests who aren’t necessarily hungry for breakfast one day or miss lunch trying to get to a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FastPass+ reservation are not penalized, and can simply retain their unused meals, using them at a different time or even on an alternate date during their vacation. 

However, the Disney Dine-on-the-Go plan is much more restricted. For starters, both meals the dining plan must be used on the date of purchase, and are not valid on other days. Second of all (and potentially more troubling), you can only purchase lunch until 4:00PM and you can only purchase dinner after 4:00PM. So, if you get a late start at the Magic Kingdom and then get stuck in line for Space Mountain, if you aren’t out of the attraction by 4:00PM, you forfeit your meal. 

3. Right now guests will be confined to dining inside a single park

Image: Disney

Right now, the 1-Day Disney Dine-on-the-Go dining plan is only available at the Magic Kingdom for a six week trial period between January 12 and February 22, 2017. Guests cannot pre-purchase this option online, as it must be bought at either Guest relations or a Vacation Planning Booth at this park. 

However, perhaps of greater concern, guests who want to take advantage of this option aren’t able to leave the Magic Kingdom. Though park hopping is a popular option for many guests, because of the time sensitive nature of the vouchers used by this program, and the fact that they are only good at select restaurants at the Magic Kingdom, guests who purchase this dinign plan are effectively stuck at a single park for an entire day.

4. Guests will have very limited options at the park

Casey's corner

Image: Disney

Despite being the most-attended theme park in the world, the Magic Kingdom is not known for having the best dining options at Walt Disney World. And even though things have been improving at this park with the addition of the Skipper Canteen in 2015, and updated menus at a couple locations around the park, guests who purchase this deal are only available to purchase quick service meals at the following restaurants: 

  • Casey’s Corner
  • Columbia Harbour House
  • Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café
  • Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Café
  • Pinocchio Village Haus
  • Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant

5. Guests will need to study the menu in order to get their money’s worth with this new plan

Image: Disney

The goal of most guests, when it comes to the Disney Dining Plan (in any form) is to save money by ordering enough food to outweigh the cost of the plan itself. However, given this plan’s cost ($29 per adult) and the cost of what you are actually getting, it would be very hard to “break even” or come out ahead. Don’t believe us? Let’s do some math. 

The cost of an adult plan is $29, and includes two entrees and two single-serving drinks. A fountain beverage costs $3.29 at all quick service restaurants inside Walt Disney World parks, so lets factor out our two drinks from the price for a remaining balance of $22.42. If we divide this by two, that leaves us with roughly $11.00 per entree. And when you are eating at places like Cosmic Ray’s, which only has 5 entrees over $12.00 (out of a total of 17 choices), chances are good that with this plan you will either break even, or only spend a few dollars less than you would just purchasing your food normally. 

Image: Disney

And of course, this is assuming you don’t have any affiliation discounts (annual passholder, Disney Vacation Club, etc.), which would again change the math, and make this plan almost always more expensive than the discounted price you would normally pay for two quick service meals (and drinks) aroud the Magic Kingdom.

Columbia Harbour House at Magic KingdomImage: Disney

Currently this dining plan is only scheduled to be a temporary offering at the Magic Kingdom, and will only officially be available for the next few weeks at this park. However, we expect that this will likely be expanded in the coming weeks, potentially to other parks, and hopefully with an easier purchase option that allows guests to pay in advance for this dining plan, the same way they would for other dining plans.

Are you interested in this new quick service dining option? Would you like to see it expanded to other parks, or do you think the Disney Dine-on-the-Go plan will go away after its initial trial period at the Magic Kingdom? Let us know what you think in the comments below!


– Originally published in Theme Park Insider By , Saturday, January 7, 2017 04:34

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