On the Disney Dining Plan, you’re allowed one drink, an entree, and a dessert on the counter service, or quick service, plan. Pretty straight forward, but most people still have a few questions. Here are a few of the most common:
Q: Can you exchange two counter service meals for a table service meal?
A: No. Disney is pretty strict with what they allow for table service meals.
Q: Can you use a table service credit for a counter service meal?
A: Yes. And no. Technically, it’s not allowed but many cast members will let you use a table service credit at a counter service restaurant. Be prepared to be told no. Or yes.
Q: Can an adult buy a kids’ meal on the plan?
A: Yes. And vice-versa. Counter service credits don’t distinguish between the kids’ menu and the adults’ menu, so by all means, buy whatever meal you like as long as what you order fits into the plan. This isn’t cheating the system, so don’t worry about being dishonest here; Disney will verify this if you ask them. This means that you can get creative with your meals. Buy one regular adult meal and split it between two smaller kids or buy an adult meal for a child with a bigger appetite than the kids’ meal will accomodate. Edited to add 3/17/10: This post has generated a lot of hits, email, and even a discussion on one of my favorite message boards (which didn’t involve me), so I wanted to add some clarification. I’m the last person to advocate cheating the system; I get nervous using a fastpass after it’s expired. So I would never suggest someone else do it. I was able to use child CS credits for adult meals in December after being informed by a CM that this was how the system worked and I also called Disney Dining (twice) in the last few days to verify that Disney doesn’t distinguish between adult and kids’ meals. I’m not sure if it’s a glitch in the system at this point or what. I do know that a few people have reported being stopped from buying adult meals with kid meal credits, but overall, most CMs allow it and will even tell you about it. In my case, I didn’t even ask, she just gave me the information. Bottom line, the system does allow it. Keep in mind that it could change at any time; if you’re worried, call Disney Dining at 407-WDW-DINE. If I find ou anything new, I’ll post it here and elsewhere on the blog. I’d love to hear about your experiences as well. UPDATE 7/30/10: Please check out this post for more on this issue.
Q: Can I use quick service dining in Downtown Disney?
A: Yes. In 2010, the following Downtown Disney counter service restaurants accepted the Dining Plan: Cookes of Dublin, Earl of Sandwich, FoodQuest (in Disney Quest), and the Wolfgang Puck Express. Earl of Sandwich and Wolfgang Puck Express in particular serve exceptionally good food.
Q: Does everyone on the room reservation have to be on the dining plan?
A: Yes everyone on your room reservation must be on the dining plan unless they are under three-years old. In fact, they have to be on the same dining plan, so for example, you cannot mix a quick service plan with a regular dining plan.
Q: Can I purchase the dining plan if I’m staying off Disney property.
A: No. Keep in mind that the Downtown Disney hotels on Resort Plaza, Shades of Green, and the Swan/Dolphin hotels are not Disney hotels and do not participate in the dining plan.
Q: When do I have to add the dining plan?
A: You can add it when you make your reservation or up to 72-hours in advance of check-in.
Edited to add: Thanks to Ginger for pointing this out in the comments section: Animal Kingdom’s Picnic in the Park requires an adult counter service credit for each person served on this meal, so you’ll need to use adult credits but since Disney doesn’t distinguish between adult and kid counter service credits, you can use those kid counter service credits to buy adult meals elsewhere so everything comes out even.
For more on the dining plan, check out Disney’s official page here. For a lot of general questions, including ideas on how to use the dining plan more effectively, Disboards has a very active sub-forum devoted entirely to the dining plan here. You can also check out the Passporter community dining thread here.