Buy the Disney Dining Plan, or walk the plank, Savvy?
Ok, I’m not exactly Jack Sparrow, but I am a budget conscience wife and mom of two and I want to make sure we get the most for every one of our dollars. For one of our first trips, my husband suggested we get the Disney Dining Plan (DDP). After thoroughly analyzing the cost and experiences and flexibility of the plan, I discovered why the Disney Dining Plan is necessary for every trip to WDW. It started with Point #1…
#1 — Because of someone’s suggestion. Remember, my husband suggested that we get the plan. Then I discovered how many plans there really are. (see #3)
#2 — 1 credit here, 2 credits there… You can use the credits however you wish. All credits are somewhat flexible, but not interchangeable. Most meals are 1 credit. Dinner shows and some Character meals are 2 Table Service Credits. So if you choose, you can have a buffet for breakfast (1 credit) and see a show for dinner (2 credits). This flexibility applies to all 3 plans. Each plan has the credits based on your length of stay—the differences are in how many of each type of meal service (Table Service Credits vs. Quick Service Credits) and the higher priced plans have more inclusions (like an appetizer at sit-down meals, instead of just an entree and dessert).
#3 — Variety is the spice of life. With 3 plans to choose from, there MUST be one to fit within your vacationing needs. Each plan comes with a certain number of meals, snacks and a refillable cup per person. Let’s look at them all…
Read on to learn more…
#4 — The Quick Service plan. This one is for the family—or couple—on the go. You want to grab your food and go. No sit-down, 1 hour meals for you!! (2 Quick Service meals, 2 Snacks per day). It’s also a good option if you’re planning on only 1-2 sit-down meals on your trip, which you can pay for out of pocket.
#5 — The Disney Dining Plan. I know it sounds redundant, but the “basic” plan is so simply named. This is the plan that worked best for my family. It gave us the option to grab-n-go or sit, and we liked that dessert was included at sit-down restaurants for lunch and dinner. (1 Table Service meal, 1 Quick Service meal, 2 Snacks per day)
#6 — The Deluxe Plan. this one is for the “foodie” in you. It’s 3 meal credits, anyway you like. Quick Service or Table Service. With more meal credits available, this is designed more for the enjoyment of food, 2 credit “signature meals” and/or dinner shows. (3 meals, 2 Snacks per day)
#7 — Refillable Mugs .All of the plans come with one refillable mug per person. This means that you get a travel-tumbler type cup which you can use at your resort for unlimited refills of soda, Powerade, iced tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and tea. That’s a big bonus on hot days when you’re lounging by the pool or on those mornings when one coffee just isn’t enough.
#8 — Room Service. On the Disney Dining Plan and the Deluxe Plan you can order room service or pizza delivery (depending on which your resort offers) those times when you just want to call it an early night. It costs 2 table service credits, but the pizza delivery could stretch to feed a family of 4.
Some friendly advice on the plans…
#9 — Prepayments are awesome! Since you pay for the plan in advance of your trip, there is no need to worry about budgeting for that last meal or snack of the day. It’s paid for. So budgeting for meals is less stressful since it is limited to monitoring your credits, which is easy as they are listed on all your receipts. (Note: gratuities aren’t included, but you can charge them to your room on the MagicBand!)
#10 — Simplify Snacks. This is pretty easy, and most things you want to “nosh” on are included—especially that ever important Mickey Bar. Look for the “Purple Square” on the Quick Service menus as your guide.
#11 — Quick Service. Use these credits for meals you buy at a counter, a kiosk, or from a cashier. This credit is good for families to stay on the go as there is no fussing with cash or card at the registers, a simple scan of the band—any family member’s band is all it takes. You can use a meal credit (for an entree and non-alcoholic beverage) or a snack credit for select items.
#12 — Table Service With a Table service credit you can get an entrée, a non-alcoholic beverage (or you may choose a speciality beverage or selected alcoholic beverages) and a dessert at lunch and dinner (or access to a buffet and a beverage). There is no need to be concerned about the cost of ordering a soda for dinner or dessert after.
#13 – Priority Booking for Advanced Dining Reservations. Now this is actually a great tip for anyone dining in Disney. However, because you are staying in a Disney resort and you have purchased the Dining Plan, you actually can make your reservations for your Table Service Meals 10 days ahead of everyone else. At the 180 day mark, you can make ADRs for up to 10 days! So you have a better chance of securing that “MUST HAVE” reservation that your family has at the top of your list!
#14 — Budget, Smudget. OK, so that’s not really a word, but I’d like to highlight again how since the plan is already paid for and most of the meal is already included, it’s easier to say “yes” to the FUN extras like a drink in a light-up cup or an appetizer or even that souvenir popcorn bucket!
#15 The peace of mind… This was so important to me and my family. I found such peace of mind knowing that it’s all paid for and it was all included. It gave me freedom to simply sit and enjoy our meal. The quality and quantity of food was a stupendous value. In comparing the price of the plan and the price of the foods we choose, the plan paid for itself before we were done with our trip. And since dessert is included, why say no that that 5 layer chocolate cake with fudge frosting??
Again, after scrutinizing everything, I realized the value, flexibility and variety of the plans. I discovered the necessity of the Disney Dining plan. I dare you to buy it, and compare for yourself! I believe you will find the same thing, that the Disney Dining Plan is a cost-effective, stress-relieving necessity to every Disney Vacation!!!