The wait is nearly over. Walt Disney World has lastly formally introduced that the Disney Eating Plan will return in 2024. Right here’s all the things we all know to this point, together with modifications, pricing, tiers, reserving dates, what’s included & nonetheless lacking, and extra. Plus, our commentary about why the DDP is lastly coming again, hypothesis about the way forward for “Free Eating” and extra.
For individuals who haven’t been taking note of the multi-year saga of the Disney Eating Plan’s potential return, it began three years in the past whereas the parks had been nonetheless closed. At the moment, there was nonetheless quite a lot of uncertainty about reopening, however one factor was clear: cancellations. Not simply within the near-term, however for months into the longer term. In an effort to reverse this, a brand new Free Eating restoration deal was launched for June by way of September. A few months later–and virtually 3 years to the day of this announcement–the restoration deal was quietly cancelled.
That was the primary signal that main modifications and cutbacks had been on the horizon when the parks reopened. Solely a pair weeks later, Walt Disney World quickly suspended the Disney Eating Plan, Additional Magic Hours, FastPass+, and plenty of different issues. Within the time since, Walt Disney World has resort or completely eradicated all the things else…besides the DDP. At this level, the Disney Eating Plan is without doubt one of the final main issues that’s nonetheless quickly unavailable. Just about all the things else has been formally ended/cancelled or introduced again by 2023.
For its half, Walt Disney World has not been completely silent concerning the Disney Eating Plan’s future. The DisneyWorld.com pages for the DDP haven’t been pulled, as a substitute displaying a “quickly unavailable” message. In-park menus, even at new eating places and EPCOT festivals, have continued to show the DDP emblem or “qualifies as a snack.” It’s as if Walt Disney World has put the DDP into hibernation, however desires it able to roll as quickly because the deep sleep is over.
So far as bulletins go, the final one got here means again in 2021 when Walt Disney World introduced theme park early entry and prolonged night hours on-site visitor perks. That acknowledged the Disney Eating Plan would return, however that the corporate is “not fairly able to share an replace on timing.”
It’s been radio silence since then…till at this time. Right here’s the official announcement that Walt Disney World simply shared concerning the Disney Eating Plan’s belated return:
Time to eat! Disney Eating Plans will probably be coming again as an possibility for these staying at Disney Resort lodges who buy a trip bundle with us beginning with stays starting January 9, 2024, which may also open for bookings on Could 31, 2023.
Walt Disney World is aware of that friends – and households specifically – have missed the Disney Eating Plans, which provide friends the comfort and peace of thoughts of pre-paying for his or her meals and snacks. Friends will be capable to select from two common choices: Packages that embody both the Disney Fast Service Eating Plan or the usual Disney Eating Plan. In accordance with the corporate, each plans will probably be an excellent worth for households with younger kids with entry to many spectacular meals and beverage choices throughout Walt Disney World.
Unsurprisingly, that is lacking main particulars concerning the 2024 Disney Eating Plans, and people will most likely trickle out over time. This was not standalone information–it was contained throughout the announcement of 2024 Walt Disney World trip packages, which go on sale beginning Could 31, 2023.
With that stated, the official Disney Eating Plan pages stay unchanged, frozen in time since February 2020. Properly, minus the little banner on the prime that claims that they’re “quickly unavailable.” Level being, that is the kind of factor that usually receives a stealth edit previous to or shortly after bulletins like this are made.
UPDATE – Walt Disney World has added the next message on its DDP pages: “Whereas some eating plan data is at present out there on the Walt Disney World web site and on the My Disney Expertise app, full particulars and collaborating places will probably be shared starting Could 31, 2023. Please examine again on Could 31 to be taught extra.”
In any case, right here’s what every tier of the Disney Eating Plan affords:
Fast-Service Disney Eating Plan (RETURNS IN 2024):
- two counter-service meals (per night time)
twoone snack (per night time)
- a refillable drink mug (per keep)
Disney Eating Plan (RETURNS IN 2024):
- one counter-service meal (per night time)
- one sit-down meal (per night time)
twoone snack (per night time)
- a refillable drink mug (per keep)
As indicated by the strikethroughs, each tiers of the Disney Eating Plan that’ll be out there in 2024 will provide everybody within the journey get together (ages 3 and up) 1 snack or nonalcoholic drink per night time of their bundle keep. Beforehand, that was 2 snacks. Up to now, that’s the one change we’ve noticed.
The official web site additionally states “meals and snacks are nontransferable between get together members,” which I consider is new. Nevertheless, that’s unlikely to be unenforceable–what, are the cupcake police going to leap out of a bush and smack a snack out of your child’s arms in the event you used your credit score and gave the dessert to them?!
For reference, right here’s what was provided by the 2 tiers of the Disney Eating Plan which are NOT coming again in 2024…
Disney Eating Plan Plus (NOT RETURNING IN 2024):
- two meals at your alternative of desk service or counter service eating places (per night time)
- two snacks (per night time)
- a refillable drink mug (per keep)
Deluxe Disney Eating Plan (NOT RETURNING IN 2024):
- three meals at your alternative of counter service eating places or desk service eating places (per night time)
- two snacks (per night time)
- one refillable drink mug (per keep)
When it comes to commentary, our first thought is that it’s about time. For those who’ve been following the literal years-long saga in When Will the Disney Eating Plan Return?, that response might be unsurprising. We’ve been anticipating the Disney Eating Plan to come back again for some time now. (Understatement of the post-reopening interval!)
As for why that hasn’t occurred prior to now, the explanation has developed over time. When Walt Disney World reopened, there have been important constraints, bodily distancing guidelines, and plenty of eating places remained closed. Early on, solely a small fraction of Walt Disney World’s complete desk service capability was out there for us. We estimated this as being below 20% on the time. Frankly, I’m undecided how that quantity was arrived upon (and any calculations carried out by me needs to be questioned), however it sounds about proper.
Capability has remained the important thing obstacle to bringing again the Disney Eating Plan, however the underlying causes of which have developed. By the point Walt Disney World made the announcement in Summer season 2021 that the DDP could be again quickly, bodily distancing was a factor of the previous and tables weren’t going unfilled as a consequence of well being security protocol.
As a substitute, there have been provide constraints and pent-up demand as shoppers sought to make up for misplaced time and spend extra money on journey and different experiences. This was a major downside–not less than because it pertains to bringing again the Disney Eating Plan–for a lot of the final 2 years. In fact, “an excessive amount of demand” is an efficient downside to have from the corporate’s perspective!
However, staffing shortages weren’t such a “good downside” for anybody. There have been many causes for this, from Walt Disney World being sluggish to reopen and recall Forged Members to the suspension of the Worldwide and School Packages to many older workers retiring early. And that’s only a partial checklist! It’s most likely not value fixating on this since we’ve already completed that in many prior posts, and it’s additionally been documented extensively in mainstream media.
Regardless, the staffing shortages distinctive to Walt Disney World are largely resolved. Culinary job festivals are occurring much less continuously and hiring bonuses are much less frequent apart from specialised roles. It’s our understanding that Forged Member turnover has decreased and morale has improved, too. Walt Disney World reaching an settlement with the Forged Member unions leading to important pay will increase most likely helped with these. (And for these questioning, no frontline Forged Members at Walt Disney World are among the many firm’s hundreds of deliberate layoffs–the parks are actively hiring, not firing!)
Virtually all eating places have reopened as of Summer season 2023, to the purpose that the variety of places which are unavailable is pretty insignificant within the grand scheme of Walt Disney World’s eating capability (See Open & Closed Eating places at Walt Disney World). The few places that aren’t open now possible will probably be by January 2024.
Moreover, eating places which were open for months have continued to scale up operations, bringing again breakfast, buffets, or different lacking meal companies. This has already occurred with a number of eating places for the reason that begin of the final fiscal 12 months in October, and continues this month and in June 2023.
Given ongoing Disney Springs redevelopment, resort enlargement, and tasks like Roundup Rodeo BBQ and House 220, it’s totally doable that there will probably be extra eating capability at Walt Disney World in early 2024 than there was in late 2019. Our hope is that this additionally means a few of the distinctive culinary choices that enhanced the expertise additionally return. The Disney Eating Plan returning might sign a shift that goes past its credit score system.
This enchancment is seen in the event you open the My Disney Expertise app and browse Advance Eating Reservation availability. We’ve been in a position to e book eating places which have eluded us since reopening and in spot-checking ADRs for June and July 2023, even the height summer season months don’t look as aggressive as both of the final 2 years.
ADR availability has been bettering for over a full 12 months, minus sure peak season dates (which had the identical downside even pre-closure). It hasn’t been this good, although, not even final August and September. Eating places like Chef Mickey’s, Story E book Eating at Artist Level, Akershus, Cinderella’s Royal Desk, Topolino’s Terrace, California Grill, and others all have availability all through the month.
The ultimate obstacle to the Disney Eating Plan returning was truly unrelated to capability and provide vs. demand. It was visitor spending. For those who’ve listened to any of the corporate’s earnings calls or examine worth will increase, you’ve most likely seen that Walt Disney World has “loved” record-breaking per visitor spending within the final couple years.
There was a prolonged stretch of quarterly earnings calls on which Disney reported per visitor spending numbers that had been roughly 40% increased than 2019. A part of that was unquestionably increased costs, fewer reductions on resorts, and the alternative of free FastPass+ with paid Genie+ and Lightning Lanes. Nevertheless, it’s additionally possible that, not less than to some extent, friends paying out of pocket had been spending extra on common for his or her meals than they’d have with the Disney Eating Plan.
In some unspecified time in the future, these record-breaking numbers had been certain to come back again to actuality. Not as a result of friends would develop disillusioned with Walt Disney World (though that has definitely occurred with some longtime followers), however as a result of that has been the broader development. This started with retailers final 12 months, which reported a slowdown as spending shifted from items to companies. It was solely a matter of time earlier than journey–which has been surprisingly resilient–skilled its personal return to earth.
That’s segue into why the Disney Eating Plan is returning in any respect. It’s value briefly addressing the all-too-common false impression that Walt Disney World eradicated the DDP to chop prices. On the contrary, the Disney Eating Plan is definitely extremely profitable and advantageous for Walt Disney World in regular instances.
The Disney Eating Plan is a primarily a income engine, however one which’s additionally perceived as a perk by friends. It was actually a win-win for firm and shopper. A number of guests benefit from the comfort, budgeting, and potential financial savings of the Disney Eating Plan. The corporate enjoys the assured spending, unused or underused credit, and quasi-captive viewers of the Disney Eating Plan.
In terms of why the Disney Eating Plan is “good” for friends (or not less than perceived favorably by them), the money-saving angle is overrated by blogs like this one and diehard Walt Disney World followers. As with so many issues, our opinions are skewed by our personal bubble, and we assume everybody does or views issues like this. (Opinions about FastPass+ amongst planners versus most of the people are one other good instance of this hole.)
The proportion of precise friends who lower your expenses on the Disney Eating Plan is comparatively low. The overwhelming majority of the park-going public is not studying blogs or doing meticulous menu scouting to make spreadsheets of all the things their household will order over the course of a week-long journey. Although any such planning is common, it’s nonetheless solely a small sliver of friends. Most individuals need the simplicity of an “all-inclusive” meal plan and prices recognized up entrance. They don’t care or notice that they’re doubtlessly losing cash or credit.
Walt Disney World’s causes for wanting the Disney Eating Plan are multifaceted. If friends are already locked-into all of their meals at Walt Disney World, they’re much less more likely to enterprise to Common, SeaWorld, and so forth. With Disney’s Magical Specific now gone and rideshare companies decreasing obstacles and poking holes within the “Disney Bubble,” the DDP is one method to preserve a quasi-captive viewers. If friends who purchase the Disney Eating Plan do enterprise off-site to eat or go to different parks, Disney nonetheless has their cash for the on-site meals missed.
Traditionally, this has been quantifiable. Walt Disney World noticed increased per visitor spending on meals & beverage amongst friends who purchased the Disney Eating Plan. Think about what number of friends on the DDP find yourself stockpiling stuff from Goofy’s Sweet Firm on the finish of their journeys as a result of they’ve so many unused snack credit. (An objectively poor use of credit and a high-margin merchandise for Disney, anyway.) Now consider what number of friends do not try this, and as a substitute simply let snack–and even desk service–credit go to waste.
Not solely does Walt Disney World maximize income from friends utilizing the Disney Eating Plan, but in addition with working members that settle for the DDP. Walt Disney World units a reimbursement price for the numerous third get together eating places working within the parks and at Disney Springs.
If a third-party desk restaurant accepts the Eating Plan, they’re repaid at a set price–typically under the price of the meal. For instance, the third get together may be paid $30 by Walt Disney World for every desk service credit score that’s redeemed, regardless that the visitor is ordering $50 value of meals. These third events might decide in opposition to accepting the Disney Eating Plan, however its recognition and widespread use made that tough–they’d lose bookings or have issues with complaints from friends who didn’t notice the DDP wasn’t accepted.
Towards this backdrop, it is smart that Walt Disney World would announce the return of the Disney Eating Plan in 2024. The circumstances have modified, as extra eating places have reopened, further tables are being stuffed, meal companies have been restored, staffing has reached adequate ranges, and there isn’t a provide and demand imbalance.
Past that, there are already early indicators of pent-up demand slowing down. Walt Disney World already has launched 14 completely different reductions for 2023, which is greater than had been out there for the whole thing of final 12 months. Most of those reductions have been launched sooner than regular by historic requirements, and provide higher financial savings than their counterparts from the final two years. Some are superior to 2018 or 2019, however baseline costs and perks have additionally modified since then.
That is related to the present dialog as a result of the Disney Eating Plan is each a method to incentivize bookings and prop up per-guest income numbers. If shoppers are now not spending freely on journey & leisure, the Disney Eating Plan returning might operate as an offset to all of that, giving a lift or second-wind to spending, so to talk, when it in any other case may decelerate.
As with the discharge of trip packages themselves, bringing again the Disney Eating Plan in 2024 is financially advantageous for the corporate. Locking shoppers into spending a number of months to a 12 months upfront is rather a lot higher than giving them the choice down the street. How a lot you’re keen to funds in direction of meals subsequent 12 months may be increased at this time than it’d be in January 2024 or everytime you journey.
For those who’re Walt Disney World, you’re taking the positive factor and commit shoppers to subsequent 12 months’s trip budgets earlier than family financial savings have been additional depleted and other people make powerful decisions and develop into extra discerning with their spending. This might be a savvy transfer amidst a journey slowdown, and is a method to seize trip reservations for 2024 and safe a dedication of future income. (It’s not a assure, but it surely’s higher than nothing.)
If it’s true that Walt Disney World is already seeing a softness in bookings for Summer season 2023 and past, you may marvel why the corporate is just not bringing again the Disney Eating Plan ASAP. In any case, if demand is weakening and the DDP is seen as a perk by some friends, it stands to motive that it might assist buoy bookings within the close to time period, too. That’s a good level.
We expect that if issues had been actually dire and Disney didn’t have any levers to tug, they’d do all the things doable to convey again the Disney Eating Plan within the subsequent few months. For one factor, they’re virtually definitely not “actually dire.” A slowdown from unprecedented demand is just not a disaster, it’s extra like a normalization–not a 5 alarm fireplace. In fact, Walt Disney World would’ve liked to keep up record-breaking numbers or that progress trajectory, however even internally, they knew a slowdown was on the horizon.
The fact is that there are a ton of levers that Walt Disney World can pull if or when there’s a sharper slowdown. One lever we’ve already seen pulled is new Annual Go gross sales resuming. One other is the aforementioned improve in resort reductions. It wouldn’t shock me if extra summer season ticket offers are launched for Floridians or DVC members, and maybe extra focused room offers. One outdoors chance is a summer season celebration or shock leisure. (We’ll know issues are dangerous if Disney performs the MSEP card!) All of those levers would most likely be simpler to tug within the near-term than bringing again the Disney Eating Plan this summer season or fall.
The Disney Eating Plan returning in January 2024 additionally provides Walt Disney World the power to make a clear break and handle bookings accordingly. It additionally permits will get previous the Christmas season, which is at all times a well-liked time for eating demand. (Even when there have been summer season or early fall slowdowns prior to now, the months of October by way of December have been sturdy.) To handle no matter summer season slowdown could occur, the corporate can pull different levers whereas saving the DDP as a method to bolster 2024 bookings.
One other large a part of why this most likely is just not occurring is as a result of nothing with Walt Disney World is as simple as flipping a change. The Disney Eating Plan has its personal complicating elements. Bear in mind these aforementioned third get together working participant eating places at Disney Springs, EPCOT, and elsewhere? Disney must hammer out the contractual particulars with dozens of them earlier than they’ll settle for the DDP.
In different phrases, even when it is smart for Walt Disney World to convey again the DDP ASAP, it merely might not be doable to perform that. Bringing again the Disney Eating Plan is such a important change that it appears unlikely that it’s one thing Walt Disney World would do whereas scrambling to buoy bookings for this summer season, except they had been actually dangerous–or except the corporate has been involved about this slowdown for months.
Now that the Disney Eating Plan is confirmed as returning in 2024, many followers will flip their consideration to Free Eating. Personally, I’m hesitant to attract any conclusions or hypothesis as to what this implies when it comes to whether or not Free Eating is obtainable to the USA normal public for 2024 (it was not launched for the UK, however that’s not conclusive). We might dedicate in depth commentary to arguing each in favor of and in opposition to the return of Free Eating, it’s just too early for that.
Whether or not Free Eating is obtainable in 2024 will finally come right down to occupancy projections and demand at a later date. If reductions are needed, Walt Disney World will attempt to decide whether or not lesser particular affords will sufficiently transfer the needle. If in any respect doable, they’ll attempt to get away with solely providing the free eating card low cost, however that might not be sufficient. (It doesn’t appear like there was a lot buzz round that, and resort availability for that promo was fairly good for your entire time it was out there.)
As for why solely two tiers–the Fast-Service DDP and commonplace Disney Eating Plan–are returning in 2024, the reply is probably going addressed not directly above. Though the availability and demand imbalance is basically addressed and Walt Disney World is probably going on the precipice of a slowdown, this isn’t going to affect all the things equally suddenly.
Particularly, demand for character eating experiences has remained surprisingly sturdy and that’ll possible proceed to be the case going ahead. It’s totally doable that there’s a level of lagging pent-up demand for these meals, as so a lot of them had been lacking or modified lengthy after the parks reopened.
These actually began returning to regular final 12 months, with that accelerating between October and now. Because of this many Walt Disney World regulars possible postponed character eating experiences. (A minimum of, to the extent doable…youngsters do develop up rapidly!) Some character meals have at all times been extremely common, however we’re seeing unprecedented demand for Akershus, Backyard Grill, Tusker Home, and a number of other different eating places that was a lot simpler–and that was with the Disney Eating Plan boosting their recognition!
That’s related right here as a result of the Deluxe Disney Eating Plan and Disney Eating Plan Plus had been significantly common with character eating fans. Although the DDP+ had solely been out there for a few weeks pre-closure, it was rapidly recognized by planners as being greatest for these planning on reserving numerous character meals.
There are undoubtedly different explanations as to why the DxDDP and DDP+ are the 2 tiers to get the minimize for 2024. Different theories are already swirling in my head, however with this submit already a number of thousand phrases deep, I’ve most likely already misplaced most of you, so maybe that hypothesis is greatest saved for a separate submit.
In any case, simply because these tiers aren’t being provided at first of 2024 Walt Disney World trip bundle reserving doesn’t imply they’re gone for good–and even all of subsequent 12 months. In any case, Walt Disney World did introduce the Disney Eating Plan Plus in February 2020, so it’s not like they’re afraid to launch or restore choices after the calendar 12 months is underway!
Finally, it’s good to lastly have affirmation that the Disney Eating Plan is coming again to Walt Disney World in 2024. For those who instructed me again in July 2021 that the DDP’s return wouldn’t be introduced till now and launched subsequent 12 months, I by no means would’ve believed it. On reflection, it now makes full sense that the Disney Eating Plan wasn’t introduced again final 12 months–though it aggravated followers, that was a savvy transfer each from the angle of pent-up demand and the sluggish tempo of restoring eating capability and resolving staffing shortages.
Conversely, I believe what we’ve seen over the primary a number of months of the 12 months–minus about 3 weeks–demonstrates why the Disney Eating Plan most likely might have been introduced again at first of 2023. In fact, that’s with the advantage of hindsight, and circumstances had been very completely different when such a call may’ve wanted to be made. It’ll be fascinating to see simply how far more modifications within the second half of this 12 months, because the return of the Disney Eating Plan modifications the calculus for lots of different issues and can itself have ripple results.
For a lot of Walt Disney World followers and DDP detractors, this will probably be non-news or maybe even construed as dangerous information. (Though…in the event you’ve learn this submit by way of up to now, you’re most likely not in that camp!) We’re removed from the most important Disney Eating Plan cheerleaders, however we’re nonetheless optimistic and excited.
There are nonetheless quite a lot of little ways in which menus and eating places nonetheless aren’t again to regular at Walt Disney World, and it’s doable that the return of the DDP might be the catalyst for fixing a few of these remaining shortcomings. Issues like breakfast & lunch at Be Our Visitor, pre-park opening breakfasts, Restaurantosaurus Burgers & Sundaes (the one nice model of that Dinoland eating spot!), breakfast at counter service places all through Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and extra.
There are quite a lot of little enjoyable issues which are insignificant in isolation, however actually add up. Maybe this received’t transfer the needle and people are gone for good whatever the Disney Eating Plan, but it surely’s not less than value a shot after 3+ years and nothing else being the difference-maker.
Planning a Walt Disney World journey? Find out about lodges on our Walt Disney World Lodges Critiques web page. For the place to eat, learn our Walt Disney World Restaurant Critiques. To economize on tickets or decide which sort to purchase, learn our Ideas for Saving Cash on Walt Disney World Tickets submit. Our What to Pack for Disney Journeys submit takes a novel have a look at intelligent gadgets to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Experience Guides will assist. For complete recommendation, the very best place to begin is our Walt Disney World Journey Planning Information for all the things it is advisable to know!
What do you consider Walt Disney World bringing again the Disney Eating Plan in 2024? Disillusioned that it has taken so lengthy, or isn’t occurring in time to your journey this 12 months? Disillusioned that the Disney Eating Plan Plus and Deluxe Disney Eating Plan are remaining unavailable? Will the Disney Eating Plan’s reinstatement make you extra more likely to e book a visit? Different ideas or feedback in response to this information? Any questions we might help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even once you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!