Apr 5, 2013

How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part Four: Dining

This is the last part of our series, How to Plan the Perfect trip to Disney World. We've busted common Disney myths, talked about money, and shared resort options. Now it's time to talk about food!

In part three, we discussed the resort dining options. One thing we didn't mention is that there is no such thing as free continental breakfast at Disney resorts. They offer breakfast foods in the food courts, but you have to pay for it. Since so many breakfast items travel well, we just take our own. This year, I'm taking homemade granola and banana bread. The rooms have mini-fridges in them, so we'll probably buy some milk at the food court and keep it in our room. You might also find muffins, cinnamon rolls, coffee, etc. at some of the parks. Which brings us to park dining options.

Theme Park Dining Options
Each of the parks has a variety of dining options including snacks, fast food type meals (Disney calls it "quick service"), and fine dining (which Disney calls "table service"). You'll want to make reservations for table service restaurants, and than can be done 180 days prior to your arrival either by phone or at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/#/reservations-accepted. Also on their website, you'll find detailed menus and price lists for almost every restaurant. I don't eat meat, so I like to look at the menus ahead of time and make a list of restaurants with vegetarian options. Rest assured, there are plenty of meatless options available! There are also a lot of healthy options, such as fruit instead of fries or bottled water instead of pop. Whatever your tastes are, I recommend checking out the menus ahead of time.

Cupcake from EPCOT

Dining Plans
The first three trips I took to Disney World, I paid cash for my meals and spent approximately $30 per day, not including breakfast items I purchased ahead of time. Keep in mind that I don't eat meat, and meat entrees are usually a little pricier. That figure doesn't factor in snacks, extra drinks, or any table service meals. If you want to know how much you would spend per day, you can look up some price lists and figure out what your average meal would cost you.

Our resort reservation for the fourth trip came with either a discounted room or a free dining plan (a deal Disney usually offers in the autumn value season). We chose the dining plan, and now I can't imagine traveling without it. If you purchase a dining plan, they will load your dining credits onto your room key, which is also your park ticket. It's so much easier to swipe your room key, and you don't have to worry about cash getting lost or stolen or try to keep track of how much you've spent on a debit or credit card.

Ice cream brownie sundae from The Plaza at Magic Kingdom

Quick Service Dining Plan
In a value or regular season, the Quick Service Dining Plan is $37.58/night ages 10+. You receive two quick service meals (with a dessert and a drink), a snack (bottled drinks, ice cream, fruit, pastries, etc.), and a refillable mug (which can be filled with any drink of your choice at your resort for free) for each night of your stay. This is slightly more food than I was buying at $30/day. I don't think they've overcharged for the dining plan, and if you eat more expensive entrees, you may even be saving quite a bit of money. For example, if you spent one day in Magic Kingdom and bought food with cash, this is what you might expect to spend.

Lunch at Be Our Guest: Grilled Steak Sandwich (with a side), strawberry cream cheese cupcake, and iced tea: $17.77
Snack at Aloha Isle: Dole Whip Float (a must-have!): $4.99
Dinner at The Diamond Horseshoe: BBQ Turkey Sandwich (with a side), carrot cake, and smartwater: $16.28

Total: $39.04 (saved $1.46)

Magic Your Way Plus Dining
This is the plan we had for the last trip, and this is the plan we purchased for our upcoming stay. In a value or regular season, the Magic Your Way Plus Dining Plan costs $55.59/night ages 10+. You receive one quick service meal (with a dessert and a drink), one table service meal (with a dessert and a drink), and one snack per person per night. We like this plan for its table service meals. It's like going on a date 6 nights in a row, and that is something we'd never get to do at home! Some of our favorite table service restaurants are Boma- Flavors of Africa (at Animal Kingdom Lodge), Tutto Italia Ristorante (at EPCOT), and The Plaza (at Magic Kingdom).

Lunch at Electric Umbrella: Angus Mushroom and Swiss Cheeseburger (with a side), strawberry cheesecake, and pop: $17.07
Snack at Sunshine Seasons: fruit cup: $3.59
Dinner at Tutto Italia Ristorante: Bistecca del Macellaio, Torta di Nocciole "Cortemilia," and tea: $46.00

Total: $66.66 (saved $11.07)

Tutto Italia Ristorante at EPCOT
Disney also offers Deluxe, Premium, and Platinum plans, but I think you get the idea. The more you spend on a plan, the more food you get. I can hardly eat everything that comes with the Magic Your Way Plus Dining Plan; I can't imagine eating more (or spending more)! If you are interested in a larger plan, WDW Info has the cost breakdown here.

That wraps up our series, How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World. I really hope you've enjoyed it, and we can't wait to share pictures with you after our next trip! Below is a list of sites that that have a lot of helpful information as well.

How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part One: Myths Busted
How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part Two: Money Talk
How to Plan the Perfect Trip to Disney World, Part Three: Where to Stay

More resources:

Sharing at:
House of Hepworths
Tatertots & Jello

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