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by Pixie Dusted Diva

I am a big fan of the Disney Dining Plan, especially the Dining Plan which gives you one quick service, one table service and one snack credit per night of your stay. I am also all about maximizing the dining plan and getting the biggest bang for your buck while at Walt Disney World. I’ve learned the following tips I would like to share with our Diva readers.

Table Service Meals – Book Character Meals
When making your advance dining reservations (ADR) 180 days in advance I suggest booking character meals. We actually book several character dinners. Looking at the price of each meal character meal, it will run over $35 per adult for dinner. Note that prices do vary slightly during different seasons but are generally within a few dollars. Character meals give you the opportunity to meet characters without waiting in line in the parks while enjoying a nice meal in the air conditioning! Most of the meals are buffet style and those under 3 eat for free and get to meet the characters too!

For example, I kept track of several meals we ate at during our April 2015 trip. For character dinners we ate at 1IMG_9215900 Park Fare which was $41.99 per adult and $19.99 per child, Akershus $47.99 per adult and $27.99 per child, Chef Mickey’s $46.99 per adult and $23.99 per child. Hollywood and Vine Lunch was $31.99 per adult and $17.99 per child. Crystal Palace breakfast was $26.99 per adult and $14.99 per child. You’ll notice by the price of the meals this takes up the majority of your price per night of the dining plan, which is a good thing! You want to actually spend over the price of the cost of the dining plan.

Not only are characters a good bang for your buck, they save you park time whereas you won’t be waiting in line to meet your favorite characters you are meeting them and eating at the same time. You are also taking break from the hustle bustle of the parks in a nice air-conditioned restaurant! If you have an infant or toddler under 3, they can eat for free at the buffets, drinks included. My little one would fill up while meeting her favorite characters.

Snack Credits

IMG_0961Use your credits wisely! There are many times you can make a meal out of a snack credit. There are also many snack credits that will hold you over if you are skipping meals. I do not recommend using your snack credit on things such as bottled water or a soda when you can use it on a nice ice cream sundae at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. Freshly popped popcorn in Fantasyland or freshly roasted almonds by Dumbo or the Magic Carpets are also a favorite of ours! Making a meal out of snack credit also allows you to spread out your credits since you do not have three distinct meals and will reduce the amount you pay out-of-pocket for food. Snack credits can also be used on a huge cinnamon bun from Gaston’s Tavern or a bagel, muffin or other bakery item from your resorts food court. A Mickey pretzel is always a nice treat too! For all your Starbucks or coffee lovers, any sized Starbucks drink is also a snack credit.

Diva Tip: Any counter service or snack cart which service fountain sodas can give you water for free, just ask! That ice water can save you from bringing bottled water into the parks, and the best part is it’s FREE!

Counter Services

Many people think the only counter service meals Disney offers are hamburgers and french fries and one couldnBreakfast’t be more wrong! In each of the four theme parks you will find a wide variety of counter service meals. For breakfast, we like to share the bountiful platter at our resort which typically comes with scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes, mickey waffles, biscuit, and sausage. We typically get two platters and fruit as a snack credit and it’s plenty for my family of two adults and two children to share. We also use our refillable mugs when we are at the resort and take a bottled beverage which comes with our meal at breakfast back to the room to drink later.
Diva Tip: When ordering a fountain beverage at a counter service restaurant and you are on the dining plan, ask for a large! You most likely will be given a regular size automatically, but a large is included on the dining plan!

Remember you can only purchase the dining plan when staying on property, so it is another perk to staying on property. Reservations are strongly suggested for all table service restaurants.