I love to eat. I HATE to eat bad food. The last time we visited Disney, we had the dining plan but I did NO preplanning. We decided to wing it. We ate a LOT of burgers. I vowed that would not happen on this trip! Since we stayed at a Disney Resort, we had the option to buy the Disney Dining Plan. We took the plunge and purchased the standard Dining Plan which gives you one quick services meal, one table service meal and one snack per day and an insulated cup that is refillable at your resort for approximately $45 per day per person. At each meal you get an entree, a dessert and a refillable soft drink/milk/etc. There are some nuances within the program but this is the general gist. Edited to add: You have to buy the dining plan for everyone staying in your room for the entire length of your stay. This makes it very difficult to use up if you plan on spending time at places other than Disney (like SeaWorld, etc).
Pros for the dining plan:
- You pay in advance. This is GREAT for budgeting purposes. I am very Type A so I love this facet. I know that our food is covered so there are no surprises at the end of the trip.
- Dessert is covered. The kids loved getting dessert with the meals. It meant that they got dessert without having to ask or begging. Often dessert would have been kiboshed otherwise.
- There are lots of restaurants included on the dining plan so there are plenty of options.
- Table service restaurant meals can be reserved up to 180 days in advance.
Cons of the dining plan:
- You have to make sure you get your money’s worth. If you order the cheapest thing on the menu all the time, you probably paid too much for the dining plan.
- It pushes you to eat things you wouldn’t normally eat and more than you (or at least me) would normally eat. I would NEVER eat dessert with lunch AND dinner but since it’s included….I often did.
- Kids under 9 are required to eat from the children’s menu which often has very limited options (which are often junky “kid food”).
- Table service restaurant reservations can fill up very fast. If you aren’t organized, you may not get into the restaurant you want.
- Having to make reservations so far in advance means that you have to pull out your crystal ball to determine where you will be and when.
- Gratuity is not included on table service meals. We always tip so that’s not the issue….it’s that you tip on the amount that it would have been had you paid cash. Since I would never have bought 5 desserts if they weren’t included, the tip was artificially higher than it would have been normally.
Overall, I was happy with our decision and we used up all our credits except for one quick service meal (we used a snack credit for Evan’s lunch one day). Most of the meals we had were great with only a few duds along the way.