The Disney Dining Plan was a great option if you wanted to visit Disney World and know all of your dining and snacks had already been paid for!
It was particularly good for Brits as the Free Disney Dining Plan was a big incentive to stay at a Disney Resort.
Unfortunately the dining plan has been temporarily suspended and is not available currently. But when will it return?
What Is The Disney Dining Plan?
The Disney Dining Plan was a pre-paid meal plan. The Dining Plan was a great option for people wanting to not worry about budgeting for their dining during their trip or to know the majority of their trip was paid for in advance.
Depending on the way you like to visit Disney World would decide whether the Disney Dining Plan was a good option for your group. If you love to experience all the amazing Disney foods and types of dining experiences available to you, and dining is a big part of your trip, the Dining Plan was a great fit! If you prefer smaller meals, or one main meal a day with a few snacks, the dining plan may not have worked out the best value for you.
You could purchase one of the available dining plans ahead of your trip and know all your meals and snacks were already paid for. No need to worry about how much money to take with you for food, everything was covered in advance!
There were different types of dining plan.
Quick Service Dining Plan - 2 quick service meals and 2 snacks a day
Disney Dining Plan - 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal and 2 snacks a day
Deluxe Dining Plan - 2 table service meals and 2 snacks a day
The Dining Plan was something Disney Resort guests had to pay extra for but many people enjoyed this option.
The cancellation of the dining plan was particularly bad for Brits as the Free Disney Dining offer was a massive benefit to staying on-site. On my last trip I saved all my receipts from all the meals and snacks we had on the Disney Dining Plan and it saved us over $2000!
When Will The Disney Dining Plan Be Back?
When Disney World shut in March 2020 the Dining Plan was suspended and all pre-purchased Dining Plans were cancelled. There is currently no date announced for when the dining plan is to be reintroduced.
One glimpse at the future of the dining plan could be found on the Disney World website. When they recently announced that bookings could be made for packages for 2022 when trying to book a trip a message popped up to say that the Disney Dining Plan is currently unavailable but to keep checking back for updates.
This tells us that Disney will be bringing back the dining plan, and possibly it could return in 2022, but there are no dates confirmed yet.
However, it is not likely that the dining plan will be returning any time soon. It is almost certain we will not see a comeback this year and it is unlikely to be up and running by the start of next year either. Later in 2022 seems a more likely timeframe for this dining plan to make a reappearance.
Why Won't It Return Sooner?
There are currently many factors that are preventing the Disney Dining Plan from being able to run at the present time.
At the moment not all of the restaurants at Disney World have reopened. With fewer dining locations available it means fewer choices for guests using the dining plan and a bigger strain on the restaurants that are open to have availability to accommodate dining plan reservations.
This becomes a bigger problem when all the restaurants are currently running with a limited capacity, meaning it is even harder to book dining reservations than usual. If people who have paid for the dining plan struggle to get dining reservations then they wouldn't get their money's worth. Disney definitely don't want people to feel they are not benefiting from a service they have paid for so this is a big factor as to why the dining plan is currently not available.
Many people that purchase the dining plan take advantage of park hopping, as they can visit one park in the day and dine in another in the evening. Park Hopping returned at the start of this year but if the second park a person would like to visit is at capacity they will not be able to get in, even if they have a dining reservation. This could cause big issues with people using the dining plan as they have already paid for their meals. If they are unable to get to their reservations this could lead to them losing money and not dining in the restaurants they wanted to. Disney definitely don't want unhappy guests so all of these factors play into why the dining plan can't run currently.
With the 50th Anniversary celebrations starting on October 1st 2021, which will be running for 18 months, even more people will visiting Disney World in 2022. This may be a reason why we might not see the dining plan in 2022. Unless all the dining locations at Disney World are open they can't offer the dining plan as there will already be a strain on people wanting to eat at Disney with so many extra guests visiting for the celebrations.
Buffet meals and many character dining experiences are still not available and it is likely these won't be possible for a long time, at least without modifications to family-style dining and physically distanced character meets. These types of meals were super popular with dining plan guests as they offered great value for money as well as an amazing experience! With these restaurants not currently on offer this could put people off purchasing the dining plan as they may not feel they are getting their money's worth without these experiences.
If a lot of people purchase the Disney Dining Plan and book reservations in advance it means that people in the parks have fewer options where they can eat as the reservations have been taken up. At the moment with fewer restaurants and limited capacity in the restaurants Disney can't really have even less dining options for people in the parks than they currently do.
At the moment entertainment, parades and shows are suspended meaning guests can only visit rides, shops and dining so Disney don't want to put people off spending whilst in the parks so need dining availability for all guests to Disney World.