How to Dine at the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida
Taking a vacation to Walt Disney World takes great planning, savings, and patients depending on what time of year you visit. One necessity to include is eating. Many people like to save money by skimping on what food they purchase while visiting the parks. Packed lunches, drinks, or arrangements to prepare most meals in a hotel room can help to reduce the cost of dining out, but it can increase the workload of the person making the food and cleaning up. This may also increase the cost for storage if you need to keep food cold.
Overall the attempt at reducing cost can lessen the enjoyment of the vacation for the person working hard to save money by not eating out. Special dietary restrictions may make this a necessity, but many of the dinning locations within the park can work to meet any dietary restrictions. To encourage guest to eat at the parks and resorts, Disney instituted a new prepaid plan called Disney Dining Plan. Three basic plan options are offered (Quick-Service, Dining, and Deluxe) for dining options, and then two options include more than simply dining.
Disney Dining Plans
Disney offers several levels of dining options to fit the needs of your family. The cost varies and provides different levels of service and quantities of meals and/or snacks. These plans are only offered to guest staying in the Disney Resort hotels and is based on the number of nights stays (8 nights equals 8 days of dinning). According to Disney, the dining plans help you save 20% for the food cost of your vacation. The following will provide the general basics for each plan offered as of 2011. Disney may change the plans annually or stop offering the plans in the future. Please check with the Disney Travel Company or your travel agent to confirm the plan details before purchasing. All information provided was up-to-date when this article was posted.
Quick-Service Dining Plan
The Quick-Service Dining plan is the least expensive of all meal plans offered by Disney. The plan provides 2 quick service meals and 2 snacks daily per person. A quick service meal could be considered a walk up or counter service meal where the guest orders from an employee at the counter and then carries their own food on a tray to a table to dine (similar to a fast food restaurant). Each park and resort offers plenty of great choices for quick service meals and makes this a good option for guest keeping a tight budget while on vacation.
The Dining Plan is the next level up and is a very common choice by many of the resort guest. The plan provides one quick-service meal, one table service meal, and one snack for each night staying in a Disney Resort hotel. If you are staying for 8 nights then you will receive 8 days of dining per person. This plan provides a great deal of food for everyone in your party.
The Table Service meals include an entree and non-alcoholic beverage for breakfast or one full buffet. For dinner a Table Service meal includes an entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage and for children (ages 3-9) the plan includes an appetizer from the kids menu or one full dinner buffet. Many guests celebrate special occasions with a Table Service meal.
Deluxe Dining Plan
The Deluxe Dining plan includes even more food options. Included in this plan is the refillable souvenir drink mug, 3 meals and 2 snacks per person per day of your stay in the resort. The Deluxe Dining plan does not specify quick-service or table service on the meals, so options increase.
With this plan you could enjoy a breakfast buffet with Mickey at Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet for one meal, then follow up lunch at 50′s Prime Time Cafe at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and have dinner at the Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot (note: a Park Hopper pass would be needed in addition to regular park admission). All of these are table service meals. If you didn’t want to sit down for a table service you could grab a bite to eat at any of the quick-service locations in the resorts and parks.
This option also includes an appetizer with each lunch and dinner table service. A table service under this plan includes an appetizer, entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet. This is a ton of food since the portion sizes are Disney sized at many of the locations.
Disney Premium Plan
The Premium Dining plan is the same as the Deluxe Dining plan, but is included in a Disney Premium Vacation Plan and includes unlimited resort recreations including golf, fishing, water sports, and many other recreational activities.
This plan allows unlimited access to recreational activities. It would be best used for a long stay at the Walt Disney World Resort. Weigh the cost with the amount of use you will get out of the recreational activities to decide if this plan or the deluxe dining plan would be the best option for your visit. You can apply the dining plan to many of the non-park restaurants include those in the resorts and some located at Downtown Disney.
Disney Platinum Plan
This is more than simply a dining plan. This is the plan for the guest who wants to do it all. It provides “that extra special touch” and includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks, as well as, refillable drink mug, unlimited use of recreation, special access to menu options, special show arrangements for fireworks, Fantasmic!, and Spa Treatments. Also included in this package are a Disney PhotoPass PhotoCD and a Richard Petty ride along experience (talk with your Disney Reservations Representative for specific details concerning this plan). The plan also includes tour options.
When deciding dining options consider your budgets options, time, and what you desire to get out of your vacation. Shorter plans may not require the more expensive plans, while longer vacations will provide greater amounts of time to use recreational and tour options. Look for specials advertised by Disney for “Free Dining” to reduce the overall cost of your vacation and make reservations for table service restaurants especially if the restaurant offers character dining options. Whatever plan you choose, dining with Disney has never been easier to enjoy!
Do you have any specific details to share about your experience using the Disney Dining plan options? Which option do you prefer? Please feel free to post comments or questions below.
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