With the Disney Dining Plan you will prepay for your meals as part of your overall vacation package. You need to be staying at a Disney owned hotel, and there are other requirements that you will need to meet. You can read the basics about it here. Instead of going over the information again, I’d like to talk about the Disney Dining Plan in terms of saving money. The info here is not about when Free Dining is offered.
One common misconception with the Disney Dining Plan is that it is a way to pay less for your meals. That’s not true at all. It is not a discount plan, and it is not intended to save you money. If you’re looking for a way to cut costs on your vacation you will most likely want to leave it off. The Disney Dining Plan is expensive.
There is one way that the Disney Dining Plan might make financial sense. If you are planning on booking a lot of character meals, this could be a good use of your Table Service credits. Character meals tend to be pricey. Still, to save money you should probably use all of the Table Service credits on character meals, and do you really want to eat at that many buffets?
If you want to see for yourself whether or not the Disney Dining Plan makes good financial sense, do a quick search for “Disney Dining Plan calculator”. There are several free ones online. You’ll put in some basic information and be able to see immediately what you will pay with the plan versus out of pocket. It can be eye opening.
When someone asks me about saving money on their Walt Disney World vacation, the first thing that I will recommend is to not book the Disney Dining Plan. If you’re looking for convenience, it’s a great thing to have. If you’re looking at your bottom line, you’ll most likely save money without it.