To Dining Plan or Not to Dining Plan?
If you are not familiar with the dining plan concept, Disney offers an exclusive meal plan if you book one of their Magic Your Way packages (staying on their property). While staying on property you can purchase this dining plan, unless exception offered, that can be used at any of the 100 food establishments listed on the dining list for snacks and meals at the four parks/downtown area. There are different dining plan packages for the types of meals they offer, quick service or table service meals, and your allocated number of snacks/meals per day depend on the level of plan you choose. Also, I believe this includes a free refillable resort mug that can be used daily. To use the plan, your “key to the world” card, your room key, acts as the credit card basically tracking your plan’s allocated meals/snacks, but it doesn’t include gratuity or alcohol, those are separate; which you can see on your purchase receipts. Anything unused is forfeited at the end. There is a comprehensive breakdown of this service on the Disney website here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/planning-guides/in-depth-advice/disney-dining-plan.
Most times it is best to opt into the dining plan if you plan on dining at some of the character dinners or signature restaurants which can be pricey on their own. Also, if you like to travel without thinking too much about things, like me, it’s a great service!
–>Last trip, we opted into the plan for the whole stay (8 days), because we got it for free with the package they were offering at the time, and figured it was a great service to have so we did not worry about much else but having fun at the parks. We went for the regular dining plan. This includes 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal, and 1 snack, per person per day. The snacks could be drinks or snack foods, which was a great thing to have on hand. The table service meals were an entrée and dessert if they were not buffet style restaurants.
I do like and dislike the plan. Of course, why else would I bring this up, right?
The plan was great overall. It was perfect for my children. Though it was a lot of eating for us, for my husband and I. In retrospect, we realized we were eating way more than being on normal vacation or every day life. It doesn’t seem all that much, 2 meals and a snack per day. It seemed logical..eating full meals twice a day and then a snack is more than enough for all four of us, but then well, it’s vacation..you get munchy..you add on top of that all the indulging treats like, MICKEY BARS, ice creams, cotton candy, beignets, pretzels, French pastries, etc, and then alcoholic drinks.. it ends up a lot! No amount of us busting our butts walking around those parks for 10-14 hours a day was enough to burn those calories!
So NOT happening this time!!!
–>For this trip, we are opting into the dining plan for 5 out of the 11 days, during the first half of the trip. Since we are splitting time at 2 resorts we can use it for half or all the trip. We will be using the plan for those character dinners the girls loved, and to the places we wanted to go last time and couldn’t. Honestly, I think the dining plan is great for the character dinners-that is if you or your family like that type of thing. The prices of these dinners normally on their own are sort of out of whack, in my opinion, so using the plan seemed right then and this time, too.
We already booked our dining reservations* for 6 locations, using one off plan later in our trip. We are going to a few new restaurants, and back to two our girls liked a lot. The other places we dined were ok last time, but the two they enjoyed the most are on the agenda up front. We went to a fun restaurant every night last trip, with only two being character dinners. The first night we went to The Crystal Palace to meet Winnie the Pooh and all his friends for dinner at the Magic Kingdom (I didn’t enjoy this place at ALL! But they had a blast and we finished eating in time to catch the fireworks nearby.). Then a few days later we went to the Arkershus Banquet Hall to meet all the Princesses in Norway at EPCOT, which we all liked a lot. When I had talked about Disney with them upon our return home, they claimed that was their favorite restaurant on that trip, Arkershus. They were part of the Princess parade and got to meet ALL their favorite princesses in one spot, and even had a photo shoot with Belle. So, how can I deny them that for this trip?
Our Dining Reservations:
-Dinner at O’hana
-Dinner at Chef Mickey’s
-Breakfast at Tusker House
-Dinner at Arkershus Banquet Hall (repeat)
-Dinner at Boma (repeat)
-and off the dining plan: dinner at 50’s Prime Time Cafe- cause my kids are obsessed with milk shakes. I mean OBSESSED! Plus, we can hit up Fantasmic right after, which wasn’t open when we were there last! It is an attraction we think they will absolutely love!
I am looking forward to the restaurants we have never been to; and ALSO, I am looking forward to Starbucks in the parks, like I keep mentioning ..does anyone know if you can use snack options there? ha
Thanks for reading!
*YES! RESERVATIONS! If you haven’t been to Disney in a long time, things have changed a lot. And I mean A LOT! The first couple of times I went it wasn’t a big thing for us to stay on property or to even eat at the parks, but now that I have children, it is all-consuming and a priority. Everything involving booking a trip to Disney is about the timing! Time of year to go. Time of day to fly. Timing on making dining reservations. Timing on ride lines. Timing on events. Timing to meet characters! Timing! Things book up super fast and if you don’t have your options put together you lose out..well, your kids lose out! Which is the worst.
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