What are Dining Packages? And Do You Need One?

Little River Band at Garden Rocks

One thing that you’ll run into when trying to make plans for your Walt Disney World vacation is the expression “Dining Package”. You might wonder what, exactly, is a Dining Package? Is it a good idea? Those are the questions that I hope to answer here.

Walt Disney World is filled with special shows and entertainment. Most of these are incredibly popular, and if you want to get a good seat or spot you will need to arrive early. With a Dining Package you will receive a voucher for you and each member of your party so that you will be able to skip the Standby Line and head to a separate entrance. You should still arrive a bit early, but you won’t have to worry that you won’t get a seat. Dining Packages are a similar idea to FastPass+, but unlike FastPass+ you do pay for the privilege.

Disney on Broadway is held during Festival of the Arts

Currently Dining Packages are for a set price. What that price is depends on the event and the restaurant. You’ll receive a full meal, and everyone in your party needs to be on your reservation. Once you’re finished, you’ll receive a voucher. Make sure you check the time, because if there is more than one show it will be time specific. Head to the Dining Package entrance once it’s time, and you’ll be all set.

Make sure that you specifically book a Dining Package when you make the reservation. Some people mistakenly think that they can receive special seating just because they dine at a participating restaurant, but that is not the case. You also need to have the full number of spots on your reservation. You can’t make a reservation for four people, but then ask for a voucher for five. There are a limited number of spaces.

Rivers of Light is the main nighttime show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

If you’re interested in a Dining Package, your best bet is to check on the Walt Disney World website. The list of restaurants and shows changes from time to time. Some of the events that offer a Dining Package are Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade at the Magic Kingdom, Disney on Broadway, Eat to the Beat, Garden Rocks, and the Candlelight Processional at Epcot, Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. These options could easily change, depending on what is happening at Walt Disney World.

This was the line for Rick Springfield, without a Dining Package. I still got a great seat

Whether or not you book a Dining Package depends on your schedule, your budget, and your dining preferences. I have never tried to go to a show and been turned away because there were no seats, but I also have the luxury of being local. When Rick Springfield was at Epcot this past Flower & Garden Festival I was able to show up early enough to just wait in line for a while. If that was my only day at Epcot, I might have booked a Dining Package just so I would be guaranteed a seat without the long wait. People start lining up hours early for the most famous acts such as Boyz II Men, so keep the artist’s popularity in mind as well. The time of year also makes a difference. If you book a Dining Package for the Festival of Fantasy Parade on the 4th of July or the Candlelight Processional on Christmas Day, you’ll be glad that you did.

Actor Warwick Davis at the Candlelight Processional in 2017

If there is a participating restaurant that you want to try and a show that is on your must do list, go ahead and reserve a Dining Package. There will then be one less long line that you need to wait in. If you’re not interested in the restaurant, or if the price is too much, you should be okay without it if you give yourself extra time.