Recently Disney World offered its popular Free Disney Dining  promotion. 

Disney has upgraded their food game from just turkey legs and churros (though, those are still tried and true favorites) to 5 star dining experiences. You really have options!

  

I have been reading quite a few reviews on this program, and as you may remember from earlier, I personally am a fan of this program. To the point that I don’t mind paying for it either. I wouldn’t consider myself a ‘foodie’ by any means, but I like good food.

Without the dining plan, I would not have dipped my toe out of my typical comfort zone. I am a steak and potato girl.

But with these plans, I have tried different types of Fish, Seafood, Duck, Lamb and Chicken dishes. Appetizers that typically I would overlook, and deserts that are well worth the calorie counts.  Now to some of you, that doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, for me it was.

Plus as a bonus, the presentation is always exquisite and appetizing.

Watching different shows on the Food Network, I always see and think, “Wow that looks amazing!” This is always my chance to see if it really is.

To know what you are getting yourself into, here are the main talking points and Lingo:

Snack – single serving items like: beverages, cupcakes, ice cream, crepe (Epcot), pretzel, churro

You will see a Disney Dining Plan symbol next to any item you can order that will count. This includes food vendors through out all the parks.

or

You can use a table service for Breakfast which would include: entrée and non-alcoholic beverage 

or

1 Full Buffet

Signature Dining – Same inclusions, but will use 2 dining credits instead of just 1. Typically these are the higher starred restaurants and character and Dining shows.
Unless you have the Deluxe Disney Dinning – then you can choose a 3 course meal; appetizer, entrée and desert with a non-alcoholic drink

The value for me, as someone who likes to eat, is right there in the descriptions! I can get this meal plan and if I’m lucky I don’t have to pay for it … well okay!

Here are a few of my Pros and Cons to consider when making your decision:

Pro:

Pre-Paid Meals – no worry as to ‘How much is this place?’

Con:

You have gratuities to pay for Table Service meals (there is an auto charge of 18% for parties of 6 or more). We normally carry around cash for this instance, but you can charge it to your room.

Pro:

Variety – SO MUCH to choose from everyone will be happy

Con:

Variety – TOO MUCH to choose from, sometimes this is daunting

Pro:

Planning ahead – knowing where you will end your day, makes it easier to plan your mornings

Con:

Being confined to a schedule (though if you use FassPass+ , you already are, so deal with it!)

Pro:

Trying new things – we always try to order different entree’s so if one of us doesn’t like we they ordered, we can share so nobody goes hungry. (We have never had anyone go hungry.)

Con:

If you don’t like it, you just wasted a meal. The dining plan is not like a cruise ship. If you don’t like it, you are out of luck. (maybe it’s time to find better friends/family that will share with you)

Pro:

Character dining is available – get to see your favorite Disney characters without standing in line. They come to you!

Con:

Will normally cost an extra meal voucher (not always) – Typically these are in a buffet setting also, which is a Con for me.

*Side Note: Most people will say a Buffet is a Pro, but I don’t ever find enough to eat to make it worth my while. Plus, they stress me out!

Really what it will always come down to, is what your vacation budget will allow. You do not have to get a meal plan when you are in the park. you are allowed to bring food and sealed beverages into the park. (Side note: I could not stop laughing when I saw a family bringing in bags and bags of KFC into Hollywood Studios one day. I didn’t understand the KFC need ….. but if that is what you want, do it!)

Cafeteria/ Gift shops at your resort hotel will normally sell meal items like: Mac-N-Cheese cups, Bread, PB&J, snacks and beverages.

Or if you have a vehicle, or Uber – head to a grocery store near by. Or we always bring a box snack bars on the plane with us. Again, it’s up to you and what your families needs are.

Another tip I learned, which seams like a ‘Duh’ moment now, but we live and learn right!?

With Disney Dining, you receive snack vouchers/credits, which you can use to purchase a beverage, like a bottle of water or soda. The first time we went we used our snack credits on drinks. What a waste! I would rather pay the $3 for my water (less depending on where you get it) and get a snack that’s valued higher like a cinnamon roll, or mickey pretzel. Plus, you can always order an ice water (free). You also get a bottled beverage or fountain drink with your Quick Service Meal, so depending one where you are eating this meal get a bottled beverage to take with you into the park. You can always refill a water bottle in the park too. The water from the fountain didn’t taste terrible.

*A few other theme parks have started offering dining options similar to Disney Dining, but of the ones I’ve seen they are not as flexible. Just know  to look at the specials offers tabs when you are starting to plan to see what might be available.

Source: Big Kids at heart Travel Blog
Pros and Cons Disney Dining Plans

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