Skip to Content

When Will the Disney Dining Plan Return to Disney World?

The Disney Dining Plan is one of the most popular guest offerings when visiting Walt Disney World, but since the parks have reopened it has been unavailable.  When will the Dining Plan return to Disney World?

Disney Dining Plan Disney World

Over the past almost 2 years, guests have had to endure some big changes in the Disney theme parks.  There have been countless modifications to the experiences and offerings available since reopening including new safety guidelines, reduced entertainment, a park pass reservation system, and many of the most popular restaurants staying closed.

Thankfully, over the past few months, we have seen big improvements in many of these areas and things are slowly returning to normal.  The majority of restaurants are open once again which is great news for foodies. 

So that leads us to our next question…When will Dining Plans return to Walt Disney World?

Disney World Dining Plan

During this whole time since the parks have reopened, asking when the Disney Dining Plan is coming back has been one of the most popular questions on guests’ minds, and for good reason.

It doesn’t matter if you are eating at the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, or one of the resort hotels, dining is one of the absolute highlights of any trip to Walt Disney World and many people want to use the Disney Dining Plan as soon as possible.

In this post, we will go over why the dining plan isn’t available at this time and the reasons why Disney stopped offering it.  We’ll talk about if the Dining Plan is coming back at all, and when that is most likely to happen.

when is the Disney Dining Plan coming back

We’ll also discuss what changes Disney could make to the Dining Plan if and when it returns such as price increases, if it could be a better value, and overall modifications to the way the plans work.

Before we get started, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. There we bring you the latest updates at Disney World as well as vacation planning tips. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter!

What is the Disney Dining Plan?

So before we talk about when it might be coming back, let’s start with some of the basics and what exactly the Disney Dining Plan is, and how it normally works.

getting the dining plan at Disney World

If you aren’t familiar with the Disney Dining Plan, it is a service that guests staying at any Walt Disney World Resort Hotel can add with their vacation package that allows them to pay ahead for their meals throughout the trip.

Guests pay per person, per night of their stay and are then given an allotment of dining credits they can spend throughout the vacation on food and drinks. 

Credits are broken down into three categories: sit-down meals, counter service meals and snacks.  Each category of meal requires you to “spend” a certain number of points in order to order that food.

Guacamole Frontera Cocina

The biggest reason to use the Dining Plan is that it makes getting food in Walt Disney World much easier than paying out of pocket. You pay for your meals upfront, and then just scan your MagicBand every time you want something to eat. 

You can walk around and not have to worry one bit about spending money on food during your trip because it’s already been taken care of.  This gives people peace of mind on an otherwise stressful vacation.

Even though we usually don’t recommend getting the Dining Plan, we are aware, however, that many people love using it for its convenience.  And ever since the Disney World reopening people have been clamoring for the dining plan to return.

Why Isn’t the Dining Plan Available?

Pinocchio Village House menu

Even though the Disney World theme parks have been reopened for almost 2 years, there are still many services and perks that have not yet come back or that have been eliminated altogether.

When the parks first reopened in 2020, Disney announced they were canceling all booked Dining Plan packages through the end of 2020.  2021 came, and even 2022, and yet there is still no Disney Dining Plan.

There are many reasons why it was suspended and why it still is not available to guests.  The first reason is many of the restaurants were closed when the parks reopened.  Without many of the restaurants available, it wouldn’t have been advantageous for guests to purchase it and they might feel they were getting ripped off.

Beer in EPCOT

Even using Mobile Order at quick service restaurants has been a challenge, and sometimes you can’t book a pickup window for an hour out, or even longer.

Greatly reduced restaurant menus also played a part in suspending the Dining Plan.  It’s hard to convince guests they are getting a good value if many of their favorite items are not currently on the menu.

On top of everything, the lack of available Advanced Dining Reservations at pretty much every Disney World restaurant has put even more strain on guests.

Disney has improved in some of these areas in the last year.  Almost all of the restaurants are now opened again, and about 75%-80% of the menu items are now back.  However, reservations remain extremely difficult to get, and services like Free Dining and the Disney Dining Plan have not yet come back.

Is the Disney Dining Plan Coming Back?

Dole Whip Disney Dining Plan

The good news is that the Disney Dining Plan is returning to Walt Disney World at a future date and it has not been eliminated permanently, only suspended temporarily.

In June 2021, Disney gave an update about changes coming to the parks in the upcoming months and one of the things they said is that the Disney Dining Plan is definitely coming back to Walt Disney World.

They didn’t give an exact return date for the Dining Plan or what changes there are going to be, but they did confirm that it IS coming back!

Disney Dining Plan Returning quick service meal

Here is the official statement from Disney:

“Speaking of Disney Resort hotel stays, we know many of you are also wondering when Disney dining plan packages will return. While we’re not quite ready to share an update on timing, we are planning to bring this guest-favorite option back at a later date. We will also continue to reopen more Resort offerings, including restaurants like ‘Ohana (with the noodles!).”

That is good news for millions of guests who use the popular dining plan and it will make things one more step closer to normal again.

Disney Dining Plan Drinks

In fact, all the new menus during the EPCOT festivals like Food and Wine or Flower and Garden still feature the DDP symbol next to each eligible item.  That confirms that they haven’t forgotten about the DDP and still plan on using it going forward. 

Some people think that Disney got rid of the Dining Plan to save money and cut costs.  While that has certainly been the case for just about every other aspect regarding the Disney theme parks, that is not the case with the DDP.

It’s actually quite the opposite, the Disney Dining Plan doesn’t cost the company money, it makes them tons of it and it has been an incredibly lucrative revenue source for years.  Even though many guests like the convenience of the DDP, Disney is really the one who benefits the most as it guarantees guests are going to spend a high amount of money on food and drinks during their trip.

Disney Dining Plan Returning

Another reason to keep the Dining Plan around is that it keeps guests on-site instead of wandering off to Universal or any of the dozens of attractions in the Orlando area.  And if they decide to go off-site anyway, it’s no problem for Disney, they are collecting your money for dining anyway since you already paid upfront.

Disney also makes a ton of money by getting on-site third-party restaurants to carry the DDP, such as the ones at Disney Springs and in EPCOT.  When a guest uses the Dining Plan at a third-party restaurant, Disney pays that restaurant a flat fee for each credit that is redeemed.

Fish and Chips Columbia Harbour House

For example, Disney might pay the restaurant $30 per dining credit used, but in reality, the guest is ordering $40 or $45 worth of food.  That money has already been paid to Disney up-front before the vacation, so Disney is making $10-$15 profit on each dining credit spent at a given restaurant. 

That’s pure profit since Disney is not the one paying the restaurant staff or paying for the ingredients to make the food.

As you can see, Disney has every reason to bring the Dining Plan back ASAP.  Unfortunately, Disney is having major issues staffing all the restaurants and most are not yet running at 100% yet.  But the fact that Disney has confirmed it is coming back at some point is positive news.

What were the Most Recent Dining Plans Like?

Casey's Corner Magic Kingdom

When Disney Dining Plan was suspended in 2020, there were 4 different plan types guests could choose from depending on the specific budgets and appetites of each group.

The most recent Disney Dining Plans included:

Let’s look at them one-by-one and compare the features and prices:

Quick Service Dining Plan

  • Prices:
    • Adult – $55.00
    • Child – $26
  • Two Quick Service meals (entrée or combo meal at lunch and dinner and a beverage)
  • Guests under 21 years of age can choose one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages — i.e. Artisanal Milk Shakes,  Fresh Smoothies, Premium Hot Chocolates, or Soda, Coffee or Tea — where offered). Guests 21 and older can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) within their meal entitlement.
  • Two snacks
  • One Resort refillable drink mug per person, per package

Standard Disney Dining Plan

  • Prices:
    • Adult – $78.01
    • Child – $30.51
  • One table service entrée, dessert (lunch and dinner only), OR full buffet
  • One quick service meal, including entrée OR combo meal
  • Guests under 21 years of age can choose one non-alcoholic beverage with their Quick Service and Table Service meal (including specialty beverages — i.e. Artisanal Milk Shakes,  Fresh Smoothies, Premium Hot Chocolates, or Soda, Coffee or Tea — where offered). Guests 21 and older can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) within their meal entitlement.
  • Two snacks from a wide variety of options
  • One Resort refillable drink mug per person, per package

Disney Dining Plan Plus

  • Prices:
    • Adult – $94.61
    • Child – $35.01
  • Two dining credits per day that can be redeemed for either quick service or table service meals.
  • Dining credits can also be used at character meals, buffets, signature dining, private in-room dining, and dinner shows.
  • Guests under 21 years of age can choose one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages — i.e. Artisanal Milk Shakes,  Fresh Smoothies, Premium Hot Chocolates, or Soda, Coffee or Tea — where offered). Guests 21 and older can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) within their meal entitlement.
  • Two snacks or non-alcoholic drinks per night of stay
  • One Resort refillable drink mug per person, per package

Deluxe Disney Dining Plan

  • Prices:
    • Adult – $119
    • Child – $47.50
  • Three table service or quick service meals (table service includes appetizer, entrée, and dessert (lunch and dinner), OR full buffet); quick service includes entrée OR combo meal
  • Guests under 21 years of age can choose one non-alcoholic beverage with their Quick Service and Table Service meal (including specialty beverages — i.e. Artisanal Milk Shakes,  Fresh Smoothies, Premium Hot Chocolates, or Soda, Coffee or Tea — where offered). Guests 21 and older can choose either one non-alcoholic beverage (including specialty beverages where offered) or one single serving mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered) within their meal entitlement.
  • Two snacks from a wide variety of options
  • One resort refillable mug per person, per package

Will the Price Increase?

Disney Dining Plan at EPCOT Festivals

If there is one thing that is sure in this world, it’s that Disney will increase prices on its various offerings on a regular basis, and we fully anticipate the price increasing for the Disney Dining Plan when it eventually comes back.

There are a few reasons we feel strongly about a price increase.  The first reason is by looking at previous DDP price increases.  Over the years the DDP has had increases on an almost yearly basis, and the last one from 2019 to 2020 saw an increase of almost $3 per guest per day across all plan types.  A similar situation is likely to occur when the Dining Plan returns.

Secondly, the prices have increased for just about everything since the parks reopened.  Annual passes are more expensive than before costing as much as 15% more, plus without some of the previous perks. Regular theme park tickets increase on average every year between $3-5 per day, per guest.

Disney World Pulled Pork Sandwich

Perhaps most scary of all are the hard-ticketed events such as the Halloween and Christmas parties increasing by as much as $64 per person!

On top of all of this, the economy isn’t making things any easier and inflation has risen to the highest levels since the early 1980s.  The price of food has been hit incredibly hard with things like meat, poultry, fish, coffee, and eggs all skyrocketing over the last couple of years.  Of course, when this happens, it means higher prices for the consumer, and in this case theme park visitors.

Disney World Refillable Mug

Higher prices were already happening across the board the last time the Disney Dining Plan was offered, and they’ve reached astronomical numbers now.  Who knows how much more the cost of food will have risen by the time the DDP actually comes back.

It goes without saying then that we are sure to see a price increase for the Disney Dining Plan when it returns.  In fact, over the last few months, we are already seeing Disney raise prices drastically on food and beverages throughout the parks.

We’ve seen big increases on hundreds of snacks throughout Disney World including Mickey Pretzels, Dole Whip, Churros, Soda, Popcorn, Ice Cream Bars, Alcoholic Drinks, and even Refillable Mugs.  Many table service meals have also gone up a lot in price.

Disney Dining Plan Coming Back Coca Cola Machine

Since all these food and drinks have increased in price on the regular menus, it makes sense for Disney to increase the cost of the Dining Plans.  In order for it to be as profitable for Disney as it has always been, they need to offset the newly increased cost of food with higher prices for the DDP.

How much will the Disney Dining Plan go up in price when it finally returns?  Since normal increases are $2-3 anyway, that is the very minimum of what to expect.  It will be at least 2 years by the time we see the DDP again, and I think that means a bigger increase than usual.  

I don’t think it’s out of the question for the Dining Plan to cost $4-$5 more per person, per night when it returns. 

Even though Disney hasn’t increased restaurant and food prices for the guests as much as the ingredients themselves have increased, there are enough guests who aren’t really interested in maximizing value for the food they are getting, they just want the convenience and won’t flinch at the increase.

Other Changes

Disney Dining Plan Lobster Salad

Besides an increase in price, what other changes could we eventually see with the Disney Dining Plan?  Will the system be completely overhauled or just a few modifications?

One reason they are taking so long could be that it’s getting a bigger overhaul than what we previously thought. 

It’s possible Disney will reevaluate which restaurants cost 1-dining credit and which ones cost 2 credits.  Perhaps some of the buffets or character meals that previously were only 1 credit will get bumped up to 2 as with signature dining restaurants to maximize margins.

Prime Rib Olivia's

One thing we would absolutely love to see is on-site resort guests get priority Advanced Dining Reservations.  Especially now since it’s almost impossible to get a reservation to all your favorite restaurants, it would be a huge advantage to be able to book those restaurants before the general public.

Since the reasons for staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel have decreased in recent years, this could be an added incentive to get guests to stay on-site, ultimately increasing profits for the company.

Will it Be a Better Value Than Before?

Foot Long Hot Dog Casey's Corner

Will changes to the Disney Dining Plan mean a better value for guests when it comes back?  In our experience, it’s unlikely.

Back in the day, the Disney Dining Plan was a more economical way to pay for food when going to Disney World and each guest would save a significant amount of money. That hasn’t been the case for years and in most cases, it’s almost impossible to save money using the dining plan.

With pretty much everything that Disney has brought back in the last couple of years, 99% of it has been more expensive than before the closure of the parks.  Even free services like FastPass+ have now changed to paid ones with the introduction of the Genie Plus system.

When was the last time Disney did something to actually SAVE guests money?  I’ll keep waiting.

Quick Service Food Restaurantosaurus

Now more than ever with shareholders demanding higher margins, most of the decisions the company is making are about increasing profits, and not necessarily providing actual value for the consumer.

For example, on a company conference call some months ago, Disney CFO Christine McCarthy was asked what the parks are doing to combat inflation.  Her response revealed everything:

“We can adjust suppliers. We can substitute products. We can cut portion sizes, which is probably good for some people’s waistlines. We can look at pricing where necessary.  We aren’t going to go just straight across and increase prices.”

“We’re going to try to get the algorithm right to cut where we can and not necessarily do things the same way. We’re producing technology to produce some of the operating costs. That allows us to absorb some inflation. We’re trying to use our heads here to come up with a way to kind of mitigate some of the challenges that we have.”

Citricos Restaurant Grand Floridian

Since those comments, Disney has already raised prices on food in the parks, but even if they don’t raise the cost of the DDP too much, they could make portion sizes smaller overall.  This lowers the cost for Disney, and at the same time, guests aren’t scared away.

We’ve already noticed the shrinking snack sizes for some time and it’s likely we see that trend continue.  However, smaller portion sizes bring worse value.  It means, in the end, you are still paying more for the amount of food you get.

We’ve also seen this trend with all the new prix fixe menus introduced in Disney restaurants of late.  Places like La Crêperie de Paris, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and the California Grill all offer meals for a set price no matter what you order.  Usually, it’s some combination of appetizer, entree, and desserts for one set price.

Dole Whip Animal Kingdom Simba Sunset

This is similar to the DDP and beneficial for Disney in 90% of the cases.  Usually, the price is based on the more expensive items on the menu, and guests only get value if they order those items.  Since the price is the same no matter what you order, if you feel like chicken or a vegetarian option, you aren’t going to get the same bang for your buck as if you were to order the beef.

Hence the reason why guests end up overpaying most of the time and it’s worth it for Disney.

Along the same line, we usually do not recommend getting the Disney Dining Plan.  We are all about saving people as much money as possible, and the dining plan won’t do that for 95% of the guests.  Remember, it’s all about convenience and that is likely to never change.

Will the Disney World Dining Plan Return in 2022?

Fish on the Disney Dining Plan

So to answer the opening question: “When is the Disney Dining Plan coming back?” Honestly, that’s still up in the air at this point.  The original announcement from Disney was made in June 2021, which at the time of this writing is 8 months ago!  Since then, we haven’t heard anything more.

Disney was intentionally vague in its press release and only said “at a later date” without giving us a specific timeframe. I don’t think it would make much sense to announce something is coming back and then wait multiple years to actually bring it back. 

So for that reason, it looks like the Dining Plan will return sometime in 2022, we just don’t know exactly when.

Popcorn stand Magic Kingdom Frontierland

Besides just gut instinct, Disney has given us some clues to make us optimistic that it will, in fact, be back in 2022.

For one thing, those snack price increases we talked about earlier, may actually signal that we are close to getting the DDP back.  Historically, price increases tend to happen right around the same time Disney Dining Plan announcements are made.

Guests seeing all their favorite foods suddenly become more expensive can be a good incentive for them to consider buying the DDP as it appears to be a “better value.”  The price increases took place in January 2022, so it’s quite possible we could hear something in the next few months.

Restaurantosaurus Dinosaurs on the wall

The biggest impediment to bringing back the Dining Plan at this time is the lack of available dining reservations across Walt Disney World.  The problem is no longer a lack of open restaurants as it was a year ago.  The vast majority of restaurants have reopened, and after this last group opens up they will be over 95% open. 

The problem right now is the lack of staff at each restaurant.  There are not enough cooks or enough waitstaff to run each restaurant at 100% capacity.  So even though when you go to make reservations you see most of the restaurants open, they simply don’t have the manpower to handle the demand in guests.

On the latest company conference call, Bob Chapek outlined that the shortage of staff in culinary roles has been the reason why some Disney World restaurants have still not reopened and the rest are running slower than usual with fewer cast members to handle the influx of people, especially during busy dining hours.

Boathouse Inside Dining Room

There has been some improvement in recent months.  Disney started up the College Program again which has helped to bring in new help, and menus have expanded in the last 12 months which means Disney is able to handle more than they had been able to.

The company has also stepped up its bonus program and is being much more aggressive when looking for new help.  Disney is currently offering hiring bonuses from $3,000 to $6,000, and up to $1,000 for current Cast Members who refer people that become employees.

Grits and Eggs Boathouse

Once these problems get sorted out is when we will see the Disney Dining Plan return.  Disney has to balance setting the Dining Plan at a price that is enticing to guests but at the same time profitable for them.  On top of that, they just can’t offer the Dining Plan until reservations are more plentiful and they get some of these staffing issues sorted out.

So when will the Disney Dining Plan return?

In the very best-case scenario, the Dining Plan will be back in April or May 2022.  There was some hope it could return by Spring Break, but we think that isn’t highly probable at this point.  There are logistical operations to work through and some time is needed from the day they make the announcement.

Disney Dining Plan Returning

If they made an announcement in the next few weeks, they could have it ready by April.  You probably need to inform guests at least 60 days in advance of when it returns.  That gives people time to decide if they want it or not, and then get dining reservations.  A 90-day window is probably more appropriate.

What we think is more likely, however, is for the Dining Plan to return to Disney World in Summer 2022, possibly around Memorial Day, or June 2022.

That would give Disney time to see if large crowds continue through Winter and Spring 2022, get staffing issues worked out, and get third-party contracts in place.  There is no real way for us to accurately predict it right now because a number of world conditions could change those plans.

Disney Dining Plan Snacks Returning

We have no doubt that whenever Disney feels that they are able to support the Dining Plan and make it profitable for them, they will bring it back.  Until then, we just have to wait and see when the next announcement is made.

Either way, it’s the biggest news since they announced fireworks coming back to Disney World and we should be hearing more details about the matter very soon. Stay tuned for more.

To make sure you are informed right when it happens, sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. There we bring you all the latest updates about the Disney Dining Plan and our best vacation planning tips. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter

Here are some more of our most useful Dinsey World planning posts:

Your Thoughts

I want to know what you think about the Disney Dining Plan returning to Walt Disney World…

  • Are you happy it’s coming back?
  • What changes would you like to see made?

Let us know in the comments section below!

If you enjoyed this article, as always I appreciate it if you’d share it with others via social media.  I work hard at making this website into a useful resource for you and your family to plan your visit to the Disney Parks and I hope it can help you! Thanks 🙂

Meet the Author of Ziggy Knows Disney!

Jen Barker

Saturday 12th of February 2022

Without doubt your comments and reasoning behind why Disney and at the moment Bob Capek are making their decisions are the most understandable of any of the blogs being offered. They make perfect sense always and your latest piece on the Dining Plan is really brilliant reading. It has given our family hope some-thing might happen by the summer in time for our trip with luck and why the delay so far. We have always used the Dining Plan before and found it a big relief to be able to book a restaurant during the day in the air conditioning and in very comfortable surroundings. It makes the holiday far easier to negotiate and brings total piece of mind, rather than having to fight for somewhere at the right time and place. Thank you so much, Ziggy, for your valuable inputs which are always keenly awaited.

Chapek Sucks

Sunday 4th of July 2021

The Dining Plan is a complete rip-off and the ones most excited about it are the travel agents

Ringling said it best.....

Monday 5th of July 2021

@Chapek Sucks, They should reimagine the plans name. Something more fitting. Like the "French Fry Dining Plan"

It is 50% of most meals you pay for !

Lorraine Liddell

Friday 2nd of July 2021

I am glad the dining plan is coming back. I used it several times and found it very convenient and did save money. However, I haven't been to DW in 6 years so I'll have to check out the prices to see if it makes sense for us in 2022. Thanks for all the great info!

Leeann Clapper

Friday 2nd of July 2021

I don't use the Disney Dining Plan any more. I used to until the price went up so high that it was cheaper paying by gift card or cash. Now I buy what I want when I want, and charge to my room. I am a DVC person, but I am on vacation, so I don't usually cook, either, so I go to the restaurants.