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Getting the Best Bite for your Buck.

“I’m so rumbly, in my tumbly… I’d be grateful, for a plateful….”  We have all had that happen to us, enjoying our park day and your stomach starts to talk.  Today we thought we would break down what plans Walt Disney World offers for their Dining Plan and how you can get the best bite for your buck!

Walt Disney World offers three dining plans as options with the Magic Your Way package. The three plans available are: Quick Service, Standard, and Deluxe.

Let’s break down the cost of each plan and what it includes (Costs are approx for 2010):

  • Quick Service Dining Plan
    • Cost:
      • $31.99 per adult, per night
      • $9.99 per child (3 – 9) per night
    • Includes:
      • 2 Quick Service meals (per person , per night)
        • Entrée or Combo
        • Dessert
        • Non Alcoholic Drink
      • 2 snacks (per person, per night)
      • 1 refillable mug, (per person
  • Standard Dining Plan
    • Cost (Tiered based upon season):
      • $42 – $47 per adult, per night
      • $12 – $13 per child (3 – 9) per night
    • Includes:
      • 1 Table Service Meal per person, per night
        • Buffet or Entrée meal
        • Dessert
        • Non Alcoholic Drink
      • 1 Quick Service Meal per person, per night
        • Entrée or Combo
        • Dessert
        • Non Alcoholic Drink
      • 1 Snack per person, per night
  • Deluxe Dining Plan
    • Cost:
      • $72 per adult, per night
      • $21 per child (3 – 9) per night
    • Includes:
      • 3 Meals (Table or Quick Service) – (per person, per night)
        • Buffet or Entrée Meal
        • Appetizer
        • Dessert
        • Non Alcoholic Drink
      • 2 Snacks (per person, per night)
      • 1 refillable resort mug per person

Example of cost:

  • Family of 4 using the Quick Service Dining Plan (two adults, one 17 year old, one 8 year old)
  • Total cost for 7 night vacation would be approx $750.00 (or about $107 a day)
  • Total credits:  56 Quick Service credits, 56 Snack Credits

Quick Service credits can be used at most all counter service establishments in the parks and in the resort hotels. A counter service restaurant is typically where you would order your food at a counter, and carry your food back to your table. Table Service credits can be used at most ‘Sit Down’ restaurants inside the parks and at the resort hotels. A Table service restaurant is typically where you are seated and someone comes to your table to place your order, and returns with your meal(s). You can use Table Service credits at many of the Character Meals. Some special meals require using two credits per person, such as the ‘Hoop De Do Review’ and ‘California Grill’. A complete list of which counter and table service credits can be used at which restaurants is available at www.waltdisneyworld.com

Our first experience with the Dining Plan was during a promotion in September 2008 – we were offered the Standard Dining Plan (One table and one Quick Service) for free as an upgrade with our ‘Magic Your Way Package’. This offer is now common during the times around late August and September. If you are planning a trip around that time, it is a great way to get a feel for the plan without spending the money.

On our next family trip in 2009, we decided that we liked the plan so much and the convenience it offered, that we added the Quick Service plan to our package at our own cost. It was so nice to know that all our meals were paid for before we left. The only cost we had to worry about was any souvenirs!

Like anything, there are many pro’s and con’s that you will need to consider before making the decision yourself regarding the Dining Plan. Here are just a few:

Pro’s of Magic Your Way Dining Plan:

  1. All your meal expenses will be paid for before you leave home.
  2. Allows family members the freedom of choosing what they want for their meal without having to worry about cost.
  3. Easier to manage your meals – every receipt has a credit balance that tells you exactly what is left for your entire family.
  4.  Depending upon your eating habits, it can save your entire family money in the long run.
  5. Having snack credits (1 or 2 per person, per day depending upon the plan) is very, very convenient when you are walking through the parks at mid day in 90 degree heat. You can walk up to a snack cart and simply swipe your card for an ice cold drink or ice cream.

Con’s of Magic Your Way Dining Plan

  1. Unless you would normally eat an entrée, dessert, and drink during at least two meals every day – you may not be saving money, you may possibly spend more.
  2. You need to have a good idea of where you want to eat well in advance. This is especially true with the plans that include Table Service credits. Advance Dining Reservations are highly recommended for Table Service meals, and need to be made 180 days prior to arrival if at all possible.
  3. Having an ADR each day can limit your flexibility. If you have a reservation in one park for a given day, you are either going to have stick with that park, unless you have park hoppers, or you are going to risk not getting seating at another location in different park because you did not have the ADR set up.
  4. Unless you would plan on eating one to two snacks per person every day, you might not see the savings.
  5. If you plan on going offsite for any partial or full days, and eating at that off site location, you will end up spending out of pocket for that meal(s) and either have to eat an extra meal on property to use that credit, or not use that credit, and end up losing money.

After our family weighed the pro’s and con’s, along with our eating habits, we found that we would not save money by using the dining plan. Since the cost difference was not very large, and having our meals paid for with our package before we arrived for our vacation outweighed the cost difference, we now plan to add the Dining Package to each of our vacations.

If you have any other questions about the dining plan or if it would be a good fit for you – feel free to ask away.

6 Comments »

  1. Excellent explanation of the Disney meal plans.
    We have always done the Standard Dining Plan, but this year we are going with the quick serve plan. No planning ahead, more flexibility. I just hope I’m not drooling as I walk past all of my favorite restaurants.

  2. We did not care for the DP. We found it to be too much planning and too much food for us. We don’t tend to get desserts and snacks that much. We found it cheaper to just buy as we go and make the ADR for one or two dinners.

  3. Thanks so much for this blog!! I convinced my husband that we should go with the DP for our late November trip and we chose the Standard Plan. We’re very excited and I’m already bothering everybody about choosing table service restaurants so I can make ADRs when the time comes. So far, everyone in the family has voted for The Crystal Palace in MK (but they haven’t decided to make that meal breakfast, lunch or dinner). My husband said he wants all of our table service restaurants to be for dinner, but I don’t know. Any advice?

    • I think it will depend a little bit an two things. One – your preferences for meals, and two – your plans for the day. We personally are not huge breakfast eaters, so it is rare for us to have a major meal in the morning. Now, we still have had a few character breakfasts in the past, just not very often. A few that we went to are 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian Resort, Ohana’s at the Polynesian Resort, and Cinderella’s Royal Table at Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. All were amazing food and atmosphere. I have not personally been to the Crystal Palace breakfast, but have always heard very good things about it.

      Another thing to keep in mind is what your itinerary is for the day. We personally get to our park for the day right when it opens, and attack our major rides right away to avoid long lines later in the day. Eating at a scheduled breakfast can cause a problem with that type of plan, so it depends on how you plan your day. There are a few breakfast meals that schedule early enough to enjoy your meal and head to the park by opening – depending upon where you are eating and what park you are going to.

      We have found though that with so many major meals planned on consecutive days, it is nice to throw a breakfast in there and have a lighter supper that day. Like I said – the character breakfasts are all amazing, and a very cool way to start off your day.

      On a side note – there is one added benefit to some of the character breakfasts. If you are scheduled for one at one of the theme parks, such as Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table, and the time for your meal is before the park opens, you will actually be let in to that park before actual open hours. All you need to do is tell someone at the gate that you have a reservation, and the verify and let you in (you still need to have park admission). It is very, very cool to walk down Main Steet USA in Magic Kingdom all by yourself. No rides or shops are open, but seeing that park empty is a very awesome memory! Hope that helps!

  4. We got the free basic dining plan last time we stayed (All Star Movies!! Toy Story) and I can tell you it’s certainly worth it if you can get it because we counted up ALL of our receipts at the end including food/snacks, and guess what the total was??? Just over $1000!!! Can you believe it?! For ONE week! Family of four! 2 adults/2 children. Wow!

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