Our meal schedule was heavy in the character meals as it was our 3 year old's first trip. My mother-in-law joined us in the parks for 3 of our days, that is really where our value was added by having deluxe dining. She used 6 of our credits, without her there those credits would have had much less value. Generally speaking we would have used those credits but probably more as a shareable lunch at a quick service instead of a full table service meal. So those 6 credits would have gone from a $35-49 value down to $20-25. We would have still saved some money, so its still good to do the math.
Big things to remember when thinking about the difference of the deluxe dining plan and the quick or standard plan is that deluxe included an appetizer and desert for table service meals. Our 3 year old also was not required to eat off the kids menu (I think that is not the case for standard dining plan table service). Only 3 of our meals were not buffets the first one I did not realize that she could order a standard meal/appetizer, the second we ordered her an adult appetizer (after the waitress suggested it) but a kids meal and the third (Be Our Guest) I did not order her a meal she shared with us. It's my understanding that for quick service the meals are all grouped together and kids are not required to order kids meals so that makes for much better value. I would recommend knowing where the best shareable quick service locations are to maximize your value. We used one of our credits at Flame Tree BBQ and shared it between 4 people (toddler included) because we got the chicken, ribs, and pulled pork combo.
I will admit that I did not maximize our snack credits because I had just intended to use them instead of spending any money on snacks. Looking back I wish I would have gotten water to take into the parks as I bought several bottles of smart water, at $4.5 a bottle its a good value but if I would bought it before hand at $1.50 a bottle it would have freed up several snack credits. Even if I only had a bottle a day to start our day with it would have given us 5 extra snack credits. I only purchased one cupcake out of pocket when we were leaving the hotel so our credits really covered our needs just not anything extra to take home. I also wish I would have had a better plan to have a grab and go breakfast in our room for my husband. A bag of bagels would have saved us a lot of stress. I had planned several late breakfasts so that we could ride stuff first then head to breakfast on those days we really needed something to take with us for he and my daughter to eat at the bus stop or walking through the park.
As I look back the best advice I can give you is check the numbers based on what you would order at each location you want to visit. If you plan to have two rooms really check the value of one room with deluxe dining and one room with a different plan until you find a combo that will benefit you. Be creative if you planned on having two rooms one with 2 adults and one with 2 adults and 1 child it might make more sense to have 3 adults and 1 child on the deluxe plan and the other adult on no plan. You have to be careful because this affects your room entry but if your all going to be together or if your rooms are adjoining keep the door open and it wont matter. When doing the math it always makes more sense for kids to be on the deluxe plan rather than an adult. My sister and I have discussed this option and really think the next time we visit it will be the way to save money. What you need to do when you plan ahead is to be sure that the standard dining plan is used for buffet meals and the deluxe is used where at non buffet table service options. You also need to be sure that you plan if you all wont be dining together that someone has meals on their account to use. I would also have a written plan of what room will pay for which meals so that you don't have to think about it once your there.
Hollywood and Vine (Fantasmic Package) - 3 credits
Sci-Fi Drive In - 3 credits
Crystal Palace - 3 credits
Tony's Town Square - 3 credits
Akershus - 4 credits
Garden Grill - 4 credits
Be Our Guest - 3 credits
Cinderella's Royal Table - 8 credits
Tucker House - 4 credits
Flame Tree BBQ - 1 credit