Disney Dining Plan, Is It Worth It?
Disney easily comes up in conversations with random people I meet, but when they find out I am a travel consultant they always ask me if the Disney Dining Plan is worth the money. I have read so many different opinions on various Disney blogs, Facebook pages, and travel agent outlets about people’s views on this subject matter. It seems like people are split, some love it and some say it is a waste of money. Well, several family trips with the dining plan and hundreds of clients who have been on the dining plan, the verdict is in, and we all think YES!
For my family we choose the Disney Dining Plan which includes 1 quick service, 1 table service, and 2 snacks per person per night of stay and 1 resort refillable mug. The refillable mug can only be used at your resort but a nice tip is to take it with you to the parks to hold your Free ice water. With each table service meal, we were able to choose one entrée from the menu, one dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage. When you choose an entrée you are not limited to a select menu specifically for those on the dining plan. You receive the same menu that everyone receives and get to choose any of the entrées including steak or salmon. Dessert at Disney is fantastic! It is gourmet and no matter what you choose it will not disappoint. However, having dessert every day could be a lot for some people, as it was for me. There is a little known fact that isn’t shared by the wait staff, but some restaurants now allow you to substitute your dessert for an appetizer. You have to ask your server when you sit down if this is one of the participating restaurants and which appetizers are included, but you may have an option of a salad instead of the that rich chocolate cake.
Quick service meals are just like the combo meals that you get at any of your local fast food places, and snacks include a variety of foods including popcorn, cookies, cupcakes, fried rice, Mickey soft pretzels, a banana, or the famous Mickey Mouse ice cream bar.
Now the Disney dining plan was the perfect amount of meals and snacks for my family, but some families have teens or growing, hungry children who eat a lot more or need more snacks, so purchasing another plan to fit their family’s needs would be a better option. On the other hand, if you have members of your party who do not eat a lot of food, not including small children, any dining plan might be too much food for you and your family. We always advise our clients to know what is best for you and your family, so we can make sure to fit your needs.
So are you ready to find out if the dining plan is worth the money? For a family of four ( 2 adults and 2 children under age 9) going to Disney for seven nights, who elect the Disney Dining plan, it is a little over $1100. Now that is just for the Dining plan, not including park tickets or resort stay. For four people on this seven-day Disney vacation, it comes to around $40 per person per day. One character meal is around this same cost, if not more, so if you do one character meal you have paid for your entire day right there!
Even if you are doing non-character meals, your meal cost with entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage can easily reach the $40 to $50 range per person. When you look at the numbers you really see that you are paying for table service but getting a quick service meal and two snacks for free. I, personally, find that the dining plan is worth the money and saves me time when we are there. My meals are planned out, they are paid for, and everyone is happy because the food is so good.
Now, one thing you must know is that tip/gratuity is not included. The suggested tip is based on your total meal cost prior to deducting your plan. It is up to you, how much you want to tip unless you are a party of six or more than 18% is automatically added to your bill. Also on your bill will be the total remaining allotment of your meals. If you had six table services to start and just finished eating, then your bill will show that you have five remaining. You can always get your entire amount of allotted meals from the concierge or guest services at your hotel. It is important to note that meals do not roll over after your stay. If you don’t use them up you will lose them so I highly recommend planning out your meals for each day you are at Disney. Also, the meals are to be used at your discretion. If you want two table service meals on one day and two quick service meals another day, it is up to you how you use them, but again, use them up!
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