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Friday, July 19, 2013

This Mom's Take on Disney Dining Plans...

If you are staying on Disney Property -  you will be given the option to purchase a Disney Dining plan for the time of your stay.  Disney Dining plans cover each person in your party for each day of your reservation, giving you each an specified amount of food to use...

The different options are as follows: (PLEASE NOTE- 2013 PRICES!!!)

(as explained in great detail at )

The very first time our family stayed on Disney property (in spring of 2010 with our 2 children who were 7 and 3) we thought it would be a great idea to take advantage of the Deluxe Disney Dining plan.  What were we thinking!??  This was WAY TOO MUCH FOOD everyday for our family!!  I cannot even begin to tell you how much food was wasted on this plan.  It paid for us each to have 3 full meals a day PLUS 2 snacks! Wowzers, we could hardly do anything but eat!  Haha! We agreed that a dining plan was a GREAT thing to have for several reasons which  I will detail below, BUT not to this level of amount of food, for sure. Maybe if we had several strapping young lad who ate everything that didn't eat them!

So, the next time we went to stay in the world (in Spring of 2012, when our children were 9 and 5) we again got the Disney Dining plan, but this time the Standard (now called "Plus") plan and it was absolutely PERFECT for us! There were a few days we had planned to spend away from Disney (one at Sea World and one at Siesta Key beach) so we were able to use any "Extra" meals to go towards our Character dining experiences that required more than one meal credit per person.

What we LOVED about the Disney Dining plans:


     Now, don't let this factor be misleading.  Disney Dining plans CAN be confusing when you are trying to figure out at a resort quick service place how many different items you can get and what it will count for- a snack or a quick service? etc
    BUT when I say care-free ordering, I mean going into a restaurant (be it quick service or table service) and knowing we can order whatever we want off the menu and not even LOOK At the prices!  Now, THAT is what I call being on vacation!!  Because I don't know about your family, but at home, we try to be conservative with our spending and do not splurge on high priced foods on a regular basis.  I know what you are thinking - you ARE Paying for it, just all rolled into one lump sum in the trip price (unless you are blessed enough to get the free dining option).  But at least by the time you get there, everything has been paid for and you are covered for the rest of your trip!  So even if getting the dining plan ends up being more than we would have spent on all of our food expenses otherwise, it is full worth it just for the experience!


    If care-free ordering wasn't enough to sell me on getting the Disney Dining plan - then Character Dining sealed the deal!  Yes, you can get character dining if you don't have a dining plan, but it can be painfully expensive! So if you do decide to take advantage of a dining plan, then by all means, do character dining and do it often!  We would schedule a character dining event for every day we were at a Disney Park (both in 2010 and in 2012) and we were so glad we did!  There is no meal more magical than when Disney characters are constantly coming around to your table to hug and take pictures with your child!  I will speak more about our experiences with Character dining in another post, but just know that this is one of the best uses of the Disney Dining plans (in this mom's opinion!).


     Enough said, right??  I mean, you start out with a good breakfast, but after a couple hours crisscrossing the Disney parks, you need some nourishment to keep you going til lunch!  Or in the hot afternoons, everybody wants an ice cream Mickey head, right??  What I love about this is all the adults get a snack too!! (and that never happens otherwise, I feel like I always end up sacrificing mine so my kids can have one - don't you?).  And to those moms who are counting sugars for their kiddos.. there are lots of healthy snacks available throughout the parks, like fruit stands and baked chips, etc.


     I had you at "dessert," didn't I?!  Seriously though, how much more magical can each day get for a kid when EVERY meal includes a dessert?!! (except breakfast, obviously).  This is just GREAT and for people like us (who normally NEVER order a dessert out and ALWAYS order water only because ordering drinks really adds to the bill) these are 2 huge luxuries that we look forward to when vacationing at Disney World!


  1. The dining plan is a great thing....until both your 9 year old daughters suddenly turn 10 years old and have to pay the adult price! While they loved the additional choices, the adult meals were definitely a waste of food as both the girls are small eaters.

    So now we share 2 meals between the 3 of us, and pay out of pocket. I imagine that in a couple of years their appetites will finally catch up with Disney's idea of their being adults and we'll need all 3 meals....but for now, out of pocket is cheaper even when the girls want Salmon (our fav) or steak (i.e. the expensive stuff).

    I think the best way for each family to decide this is to look at the menus and price out what their family would normally eat....and see if it adds up to cover the cost. For us, the other big thing besides portion size adult vs child, was that we don't normally eat dessert at every meal, nor do we drink soda (we ask for ice water at restaurants at home, no sense changing that choice just because we're at Disney).

    Pricing it out right now we find it cheaper to pay out of pocket for whatever we want...and not feeling we "must" eat things we wouldn't normally want. I know this will change for us as their appetite changes.

  2. FYI-Those Minnie apples pictured on #4 cost about $10 and are NOT a dessert or snack option on the DDP

    1. Thanks for bringing that to my attention Jessica! I switched it out!