by Military Diva
There are a lot of debates surrounding the best use of the Disney Dining Plans. Are they worth the cost? Will we have enough to eat? Will we waste food? Many argue that having the ability to purchase a more expensive menu item without the worry about price makes the plan a worthwhile purchase.
Choosing to purchase a Disney Dining Plan is a very personal choice. Your best bet is to consider how your family eats on a typical day as well as on a hectic summer type of day. Many guests find that they do better snacking throughout the day when visiting Disney World. Others head to Disney exclusively for the food and plan for three full meals a day.
Our family of six prefers the (Standard) Dining Plan and have found a strategy that works well to both maximize our dining credits and minimize the waste. You will never be hungry if you follow these tips!
To begin, only guests staying on Disney World Property are eligible to purchase a dining plan. (Sorry friends of Shades of Green, Swan & Dolphin and other neighboring resorts- you aren’t able to purchase a Dining Plan.) On-site guests can choose from three Disney Dining Plans for 2017-
Disney Quick-Service Dining Plan- $46.34 per adult per night/$20.18 per child 3-9 per night 2 Quick Service Meals and 2 snacks per guest (over 3 years of age) per night plus a refillable mug (refillable at any Resort quick service location).
Disney Dining Plan (Standard)- $67.33 per adult per night/$24.22 per child 3-9 per night 1 Quick Service Meal, 1 Table Service Meal and 2 snacks per guest (over 3 years of age) per night plus a refillable mug (refillable at any Resort quick service location).
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan- $103.57 per adult per night/$37.62 per child 3-9 per night 3 meals (any combination of quick service and table service meals) and 2 snacks per guest (over 3 years of age) per night plus a refillable mug (refillable at any Resort quick service location).
The (Standard) Disney Dining Plan seems to have gained the most popularity and is the plan that works best for our family. It provides a wonderful mix of all that makes Disney amazing-on the go counter meals, character meals, buffets and of course an abundance of snacks! It offers a lot of food! But most people view the plan as only two meals and become concerned. No worries! Follow our plan below for a fool-proof way to make the most of this plan and even turn it into 3 meals a day!
- First of all, pack small snacks and a filtered water bottle to bring with you. Or consider placing a small order with local delivery services such as Garden Grocer for items such as pre-packaged crackers, applesauce, fruit, granola bars or bottled water. These items are great to grab for a quick breakfast item on your way out the door.
- Consider using a few snack credits for breakfast items either at your resort or in the parks. You can use a snack credit for items such as cereal, fruit cup, side of breakfast potatoes, or even biscuits and gravy in your resorts. Or you can head to your favorite bakery and grab a muffin or Danish to start your day. As a family we LOVE to use snack credits to purchase decadent cupcakes as we leave the parks in the evening (We are on vacation, of course we have cupcakes for breakfast!).
- Now for your main meal! We plan our Advance Dining Reservations (Table reservations) to coordinate with a cool down period in the early to mid-afternoon. Aiming for a 1:00-2:00 reservation helps minimize restaurant crowds and gives everyone a chance to sit, cool down (if necessary) and just enjoy a few moments relaxing with a great meal. We take advantage of restaurants in the parks, but have also left the parks for a few hours to head to a nearby resort restaurant. Having the small breakfast and snacks to carry with us easily get us to this meal without any hunger pangs, but ready to eat a full meal! TIP: try to reserve a dining experience such as the Fantasmic! Dining Package or Festival of Fantasy Dining Package for a late lunch hour. You have the advantages mentioned above but will also receive a voucher for preferred seating during the evening show. Extra bonus, you aren’t rushing from an evening meal to make your experience in the evening.
- Enjoy your afternoon and grab a quick service meal at your leisure. The advantage here is that you are often still full from lunch. Many guests, especially children, are able to split meals or even go without. Hello left-over quick service credits! Again, if you have taken advantage of an experience such as the Fantasmic! Dining Package it is fun to grab your quick service meal and carry it with you into the venue. Grab your preferred seat and enjoy your burger or turkey leg while waiting for the fun to begin!
- If you are still hungry or passing by that must-have snack, late evening/park closing is a great time to grab it! Forget about beating the crowds to the bus or the monorail and enjoy your snack as they rush by. (Many park shops are typically open for almost an hour after park closing.)
- Now, if this plan has worked properly, you may have a few extra snack credits or even quick service credits left over. You can use the quick service credits for a full breakfast meal the next morning or trade each QS credit for 3 snack credits.
Note- the refillable mugs are also a great enhancement to any dining plan. However, they can only be filled with coffee, tea, fountain drinks, hot chocolate and water. They cannot be used for milk or natural juices. Plan accordingly if you have needs for either of these beverages.
So there you have it! A maximized Disney World Dining Plan experience. As said above, you will not ever be hungry on this plan. In fact, your greatest challenge may be trying to figure out how to fit it all in!