Thursday, January 5, 2017

Disney Dining Plan Tips & Tricks: Be a Jedi Diner! Get the most of your Dining Plan 2017!

Disney Dining Plan Tips and Tricks; Be a Jedi Diner! Get the most out of your Dining plan!

May the Fork (er...Force) Be with you!

So…Your bags are unloaded in your room, you have your shiny new magic band on. You are headed to the gait of the Magic Kingdom. After you ride Pirates, Space Mountain, and the Tea Cups, your stomach starts to growl…Now what?

Well, luckily, your super-duper Disney Travel Agent with Travel Time Travel has HOOKED YOU UP, and you have reservations for dinner, but first we still have time for a snack, a few more spins on Dumbo, a quick lunch, then after Space Mountain, shooting targets with Buzz, we can have our first sit down meal.

What is a dining plan and who can have it?
To be eligible for a dining plan, you have to have a package booked with Disney, either room only or room and tickets, or be utilizing a DVC reservation (Lucky you).

The 2017 Magic Your Way package includes 3 options.

#1: Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan:
·        Two Quick Service Meals (includes one entree and one non-alcoholic beverage)
·        Two Snacks
·        One Refillable Resort Mug
#2: The 2017 Disney (or Standard) Dining Plan:
·        One Table Service Meal (includes one entree, one non-alcoholic beverage, and one dessert OR one full buffet)
·        One Quick Service Meal (includes one entree and one non-alcoholic beverage)
·        Two Snacks
·        One Refillable Resort Mug
#3: Disney 2017 Deluxe Dining Plan:
·        Three Meals (redeemable interchangeably at Quick Service or Table Service locations)
·        Two Snacks
·        One Refillable Resort Mug

The BIGGEST difference is that Disney added another snack option to each day per person. This is HUGE! You are going to have such fun at the end of your trip selecting goodies to go home! (we will get to that).

The official word from Disney for the most popular standard Disney Dining Plan for 2017 can be found here.

Is it worth it for my family to pay for the dining plan?
This is probably the #1 most asked question I get ALL YEAR. Let’s break it down.

*QS plan: per adult per night is $46.34 for adults, and $20.18 for children 3-9 years old.
*DD plan: per adult $67.33 per adult, and $24.22 for children 3-9 years old.
*Deluxe D plan: $103.57 per adult, and $37.62 for children 3-9 years old.

The answer is different for each family.

·       If you are a family that really just wants to be at Disney and is willing to eat PBJ’s and Cheezits from your backpack to save money just to get you there, the dining plan is not for you.

·       If you want to be totally submersed in the Disney experience, and also need some breaks from the magic to get off of your tired feet, the dining plan may be for you.

·       For my family, we probably wouldn’t eat at as many table services if we didn’t do the dining plan, so it “forces” us for lack of better word to try something different each time, and enjoy eating while on vacation.  There truly is something magical to eating and having characters come talk to you and interact and take as MUCH time as you want and as MANY pictures as you want during your meal.  In my book, this is SO much more of a value than standing in line for an hour for 1 minute with a single character.  We love the dining plan, and we take advantage of free dining as much as possible (which I will touch on later). 

I recommend doing the math.  Add up what a typical day with your family might be, and the costs of each meal vs the price I listed for each day.  It may not be worth it if you really would rather just eat quick burgers and maybe a nice restaurant here and there. I just have to say from personal experience, and now that we are traveling as a party of 3 instead of 1, the sit downs are WELCOME for a break, and the entertainment value is amazing.

More Bang for your Buck! Where to go?
If you are a savvy shopper, a couponer, a dollar store diva, this part is for you.
Here are some tips and tricks to absolutely use your Disney Dining to the max!

Top 3 Most expensive Quick Service options: Be Our Guest averages at $25.00 pp, and includes *sometimes* Beast at dinner. Pecos Bill’s at MK comes out to $20.00 pp, and the ABC Commissary can be as high as $19.00 pp. 

Top 3 Most expensive Table Service options (1 meal credit only)
Akershush is a princess dining experience in Norway at Epcot. This meal averages about $51.00 pp and only requires 1 TS credit.
Hollywood and Vine and Chef Mickeys are also up there with an average of $49.00 pp and includes character experiences.

Which table service restaurants cost you 2 credits?
Cinderella’s Royal Table
California Grill
Hoop-De-Doo- Revue
Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
Yachtsman Steakhouse
Monsieur Paul
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
Le Cellier
Artist Point
Flying Fish
Wolfgang Puck Dining Room
The Boathouse
Hollywood Brown Derby
In-Room Pizza Delivery

IMO the only 2 worth 2 credits are:
 Cinderella’s Royal Table which you must pay in advance for or use 2 credits, but this is a 3 course amazing meal INSIDE the castle with several princesses and personal time with Cinderella. 

CaliforniaGrill for the Experience on the roof of the contemporary and the view of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks.

Mickey’sBackyard BBQ Dance with Mickey, Minnie and Friends at this finger-licking, foot-stomping barbeque buffet.

Disney Dining Secrets!!
The 2017 Dining Plan only includes dessert with the table service option, and instead you have an extra snack. Having said that, if you don’t have a sweet tooth, most locations will allow you to substitute a side or snack for your dessert or your drink if you already have a drink.

For example:

We ate at the Contempo Café at the Contemporary quite frequently for a quick supper to get back up to our room to see the fireworks after a long day at the parks. 

My favorite entrée was this TO DIE FOR sandwich:

Braised Beef Grilled Cheese
Pot-braised Shredded Beef, Broiche Toast, Cheddar, Vegetable Slaw, Cheese Sauce, and Southern-style Barbecue Sauce served with French Fries
My husband ordered the pot roast:
Beef Pot Roast
Served with Seasonal Vegetables, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Chicken Nuggets
Served with choice of two side items: GoGo squeeZ AppleSauce, Apple Slices, Carrots, Grapes, French Fries, Chocolate-Chip Cookie or Chocolate Pudding and choice of Small Lowfat Milk, Small Dasani® Bottled Water or Minute Maid® Apple Juice

Neither of us wanted dessert, so the castmember offered some tips.  The slaw on mine was not substitutable, so I got the sandwich, the slaw, fries, and since I didn’t want a drink or a dessert because I had my refillable resort mug, I was able to also get a salad and a box of cold veggies with dip to eat later. We had a fridge in our room, so this was perfect for a snack.  My husband opted to get an order of grapes with his and a bag of Cheetos. Both could be eaten later. We got my child the adult version of chicken nuggets which was a little bit more but a lot more food (you can do this on quick service, don’t waste a snack credit on a kid’s meal or if you need a kid’s meal, just pay for it) Table service, you have to order from the kid’s menu if they are 3-9. He opted for another side of grapes substituted for his drink, and a pack of cookies for dessert. This is a LOT of food for 3 quick service meals!

 It's the end of your vacation, (tissues anyone?) I have 2 meals and 6 snacks left. Now what?

Most locations will substitute a quick service meal for 3 snacks. On our trip, we always finish up at the Magic Kingdom before the dreaded trail of tears for home, and this time we stopped at the Confectionary. We substituted a meal for 3 snacks and had 6 other snacks left. We left with a bag full of goodies to enjoy on the drive home and for after we were back in SC.  

Here is what we got:

Mickey head rice crispy treat on a stick dipped in chocolate and M and M’s.
2 large lollie pops
A candy apple
A bag of Goofy candy lollipop sticks
A bag of Goofy candy sour balls
A cars shortbread cookie iced in a package
A lion king iced rice crispy treat
A box of Minnie mouse cookies
A bag of caramels

You can order anything from the fresh made counter like an iced cookie, an apple, rice crispys, just not one of the huge painted iced apples.  Basically keep it around 5.00 and under. You can also grab cokes or waters from the fridge, but this isn’t a high price item, and I wouldn’t use up a snack credit for this.

Keep in mind you can use snack credits for all sorts of things you wouldn’t think of. A cupcake from the bakery, a taste from one of the countries in Epcot, Coffee at Starbucks, a Danish, a box of popcorn, drinks, fresh fruit, French fries, a Mickey shaped pretzel with cheese to dip in (personal favorite) a Dole Whip or float (also personal favorite) a smoothie, an ice cream Sundae at the Plaza, etc…etc… 

There are so many options! Get creative! Get the most out of your money! Most importantly, HAVE FUN!!!

Let us make your vacation even easier!  We'll help you plan from the start and can advise you and handle your arrangements, including dining, fast passes, room requests, discount application, and celebrations.  We are the same price or less than if you book on your own, and you get us for FREE!  Have an expert on your side at zero cost to you and contact one of our agents today!