The Disney Quick Service Dining Plan can be a fantastic option for a Walt Disney World vacation package. Many guests swear by the Disney Dining Plans, as they remove a lot of the stress of worrying about the cost of food while you’re enjoying the parks.  By either paying for the Dining Plan in advance as part of your WDW Resort Package or taking advantage of the Free Dining deals that pop up from time to time, guests can focus more on the food they want to try than the price associated with it. Personally, I like the Quick Service plan because it allows for a lot of flexibility, and I felt more inclined to try items I would normally pass on if I were paying full price for them.

Last year was my first experience using the Quick Service Dining Plan, which I got as part of the Free Dining promotion. Overall, I had a great time, and I think I ate more than I ever had on any previous Disney World vacation. I learned a lot about how to use my Dining Credits effectively, so today I’m going to share a few guidelines on how you can get the most out of your Quick Service Dining Credits.

The Basics.

The Quick Service Dining Plan gives you 2 meal credits and 1 snack credit per person per day. If you were traveling with a party of four for five days, you would get 40 meal credits and 20 snack credits. Be aware that you’re not locked into using 2 meals/1 snack per person per day. If you really wanted to, you could spend all of your vacation’s credits on the first day (although I wouldn’t recommend it). You have the flexibility to spend your credits when you want to.

Not all meals and snacks are created equal.

While the Quick Service Dining Plan is a lot of food, it won’t cover 100% of your dining while at Disney World. Sometimes, it’s wiser to pay out of pocket for one of the affordable meals and save your credit for a higher priced meal later. Most restaurants will give you an entree, beverage, and dessert, but not all of them will. The time this was an issue was at Gaston’s Tavern. I was only able to receive the Pork Shank and beverage for my meal credit, since they don’t consider the Colossal Cinnamon Roll a dessert item (even though it’s cheaper than some other dessert items that I was able to get).

Citrus Swirl - Sunshine Tree Terrace - Magic Kingdom Dining - Disney World

I found that being price-conscious was even more pertinent for snack credits. You have less of them to use, and the prices of what are considered snacks can range anywhere from $2 to $8. A $2.29 plain Nescafe Coffee and a $5.49 Venti Caramel Frappuccino cost the same snack credit. My general rule of thumb was if a snack cost less than $3.50, I would pay for it, and if it was more than $3.50, I would use a snack credit.

However, this doesn’t mean you should hesitate from using your credits. It’s good to be aware of some of the better deals, but if you hold out on using the credits, you’ll run into the next problem.

Don’t backload your vacation.

I inadvertently did this a little bit on my trip. Partially because I was a bit too price conscious/precious about my credits at first, and partially because I had a few table service meals towards the first half of my trip. The combination of those two factors meant that my girlfriend and I had four meal credits to spend within three hours on our last day at the Magic Kingdom. Not an impossible task, but too much food for that short amount of time. Next time, I’m going to be less precious with the meal credits and spread them out better throughout the week.

What if you do find yourself with a lot of credits to spend on your last day? Guide2WDW reader Joyce recently wrote in with a great tip for salvaging your unused dining credits by going to Downtown Disney and buying items that would travel well, such as treats from Goofy’s Candy Company or sandwiches from Earl of Sandwich.

Sharing is caring.

If you want to exclusively be using your dining credits while on vacation, keep in mind that many of the meals offer generous portions that can be split between two people. Sharing a meal every now and then is a great way to stretch your credits to cover all of your dining, and a way to avoid needing a mid-afternoon nap after a massive lunch.

You can also “share” your dining credits if you are traveling with a party that is not on the dining plan. My girlfriend and I were visiting Disney World with my parents, who were staying at a different resort and did not have a dining plan. A couple of times, we would treat them by purchasing lunch or dinner with our credits. They repaid by treating us to dinner at Be Our Guest (I think we got the better end of that deal since my parents are very generous). This situation won’t apply to everyone, but it’s good to be aware that you can purchase a meal or snack with a dining credit and then give it to a friend or family member who isn’t on the plan.

Just because something is the most expensive doesn’t mean it’s the best.

I definitely became a little bit too obsessed with getting “the best value” when using my credits. There’s a difference between being a savvy shopper and too focused on the price tag. An experience at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe pretty much showcased the pitfalls of solely ordering the most expensive item on the menu. I got the 1/2 Chicken and Ribs Combo ($16.19), an Apple Slush for the beverage ($4.49), and a Triple-Chocolate Cake for dessert ($4.19). It was fun to realize that I had maximized my credit by ordering a $25 meal. It was among the priciest meals I had ordered that week, but it was also by far the worst. If I had ordered the Barbecue Pork Sandwich and a soft drink from the same restaurant, I would have gotten about $7.50 less in value, but I would have enjoyed that meal so much more.

In general, go with an item that sounds good to you or that you’ve read good reviews of online rather than trying to maximize the price. You’re eating the food, not the value.

Recommended Restaurants for Quick Service Dining Credits

Fish and Chips - Yorkshire County Fish Shop - Epcot Dining - Disney World

In general, I found the following restaurants great for using your dining credits, factoring in food quality and value.

  • Be Our Guest (Magic Kingdom) – Lunch Only
  • Columbia Harbor House (Magic Kingdom)
  • Main Street Bakery (Magic Kingdom) – For Snack Credits
  • Gaston’s Tavern (Magic Kingdom) – For Snack Credits
  • Main Street Confectionery (Magic Kingdom) – For Snack Credits
  • Aloha Isle (Magic Kingdom) – For Snack Credits
  • Sunshine Tree Terrace (Magic Kingdom) – For Snack Credits
  • Sunshine Seasons (Epcot)
  • Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Epcot)
  • Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie (Epcot)
  • Epcot Food & Wine Festival International Marketplaces (Epcot) – For Snack Credits. If you are visiting during the Food and Wine Festival (which generally takes place from mid-September to early November), this is probably the best possible use of your snack credits.
  • Fountain View (Epcot) – For Snack Credits.
  • ABC Commissary (Hollywood Studios)
  • Tamu Tamu Refreshments (Animal Kingdom)
  • Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes (Animal Kingdom)
  • Earl of Sandwich (Downtown Disney)
  • BoardWalk Bakery (Disney’s BoardWalk Inn) – The combination of unique/delicious desserts and fantastic sandwiches make this very highly recommended.
  • Landscape of Flavors (Art of Animation Resort)
  • Capt. Cook’s (Polynesian)

Lettuce Wrap - Epcot Food and Wine

If you’re on the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan, you can’t go wrong by trying out these tips. However, I want to hear from you. What do you do to maximize your dining credits? What restaurants would you add (or remove) from my list of recommended restaurants? Let me know in the comments below!

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James is a lifelong Disney Parks fan. While at the parks, he loves finding new details, learning more about Disney World history, and taking pictures. His favorite WDW attractions include Spaceship Earth, Tower of Terror, and Star Tours.
James is a filmmaker and writer based in Los Angeles.

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