Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Disney Dining Plan (Done Right)

My family loves food and we love Disney food most of all. We always look forward to trying new places and we drool over menus every year in anticipation for our trip. The Disney Dining Plan has been a crucial part of our vacation! I have heard some people say that the dining plan isn't a good value. Just like anything in is what you make of it! I'm going to give you my top 5 tips for making the DDP work for it's money!

5. Character Dining

Let's face it. Even as an adult, it is very cool to see those characters up close. It's a time saver for anyone interested in meet and greets and a stress reducer if you are a mother of a preschool aged child. We also like to book an early character breakfast in the parks, like Crystal Palace or Tusker House. This gets you into the park early and on those rides faster than the crowd at the turnstiles. We were lucky enough to get to "open" Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin last year at the Magic Kingdom because we were the first family to the ride. I don't know if we would have spent the money on Crystal Palace out of pocket, so in this instance, that one dining credit bought us a great memory!

4. Try New Places

Sometimes the unknown is scary, especially you are a non-adventurous eater. The dining plan can be a great way to explore new cuisines. Each trip we try one restaurant that is different and new to us. I suppose this can be done with or without the dining plan, however I know that I probably wouldn't have picked half of the places that we have eaten at had we paid out of pocket. Using those credits takes the edge off of paying $29.00 for a dish called Couscous M'Rouzia Fassi, especially when you have no idea what to expect. Although, it turned out to be pretty tasty!
3. Snack Attack

Know your snack credits and use them wisely! I see too many Disney guests scrambling in the gift shops to use up their snack credits before they check out. We never have any left on that last day because we put ours to good use. Items such as the giant ice cream cookie sandwich from Sleepy Hollow ($4.19), chicken fried rice from Anandupur Local Food Café ($3.99), or a much needed café mocha at Starring Rolls ($3.69) are all good values of a snack credit. Another good use of a snack credit is any cult food in Walt Disney World such as a Churro, Mickey Bar or a Dole Whip. But by far, the best use of a snack credit is saving them all for the Food and Wine Festival. Most of the goodies that you can buy during the festival are available under the plan. Just look for the purple DDP logo next to the item to be sure. We love snacking all over the world showcase!
2. Creative Credits
We always have at least one sit down meal that is not as expensive as the others. On one of our trips we ate at Sci-Fi Diner for lunch and had burgers. We ended up paying about $15 per person out of pocket. In doing this, we were able to double up on credits and eat at a signature restaurant another night. At that meal, we all had entrees that were around $50 per person. Once again, I am not sure that I would have tried that signature table service had it not been for the dining plan. The restaurant that we had eaten at had gotten mixed reviews, but since we had the credits I thought it was worth the gamble. It turned out to be a wonderful dining experience and I would gladly eat there again. Don't feel that just because you are given a set amout per person - per night of stay, that they must be used that way. Get creative and see what you can come up with!
1. Order Big

The number one reason that we use the dining plan year after year is because that we love to eat...a lot...on vacation. My husband is notorious for ordering the most expensive item on every menu. I, on the other hand, love to eat sweets while on our trip. I literally have been known to pick a table service restaurant based solely on the desserts. Now, my husband will order big every place we go. Disney or not, plan or that in itself is a money saver for us. Now, as for me...I would never splurge on the calories or cost of a desert if I wasn't on the DDP. Having the dining plan is like a free pass for those sweet treats that I have grown to love. Just another reason that we will use that dining plan again and again!


I know that the dining plan will not be right for everybody, however I truly feel that it is a good value for our family. We love not having to worry about the cash for the meals and we love the way that it allows us to splurge on a $40 plate and a rich dessert afterwards. It adds so much to our vacations that I don't think we would take a Disney trip without it!!

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