|Man, that’s a lot of food!|
Should you buy the Disney Dining Plan?
Here’s how we made our decision…My boys were only five at the time and they are extremely picky eaters. Plus they are not very big eaters yet. I knew I needed to think very carefully about this. I went on the official Walt Disney World website to do all of our planning. Since you can’t buy the dining plan separately, it’s hard to get a quote just for that. Once I knew when we wanted to go, where we wanted to stay, and what type of park passes we wanted, I entered all of that information in to get rates. Then I was able to see how much extra the different Disney Dining Plans would be. Here’s a simple breakdown for two adults and two children staying seven nights at a moderate resort, with all amounts rounded to the nearest dollar:
- Quick-Service Dining Plan = $775 extra (Each person gets 1 quick-service meal and 1 snack per night)
- Dining Plan = $1086 extra (Each person gets 1 table-service meal, 1 quick-service meal, and 1 snack per night)
- Deluxe Dining Plan = $1882 extra (Each person gets 3 meals of any type and 2 snacks per night)
I don’t know about you, but we typically eat three meals a day. For the Quick-Service Plan and the regular Dining Plan, you are still paying out of pocket for any other meals you want to eat. The only plan that includes all three meals is the Deluxe Plan. That plan works out to be $269 a day. If you ate at least two of your meals every day at a table-service restaurant, you would eat your money’s worth easily. We didn’t want to do that. My boys are too picky, plus most of the table-service restaurants require advance reservations. We didn’t want to tie up our trip with that many scheduled meals this time.
Our decision…No Disney Dining Plan for us. Financially, it just didn’t make sense. Maybe when my boys are teenagers and eating us out of house and home! By the way, we spent $1184 on all of our food for this trip. We only had three table-service meals on the whole trip, but we ate three meals a day and had snacks every day. This total also includes what we ate on our overnight stays (lunch and dinner) on the way down and back!
***Special note: There have been many times over the years when WDW has offered the Disney Dining Plan free. When they do that, they typically don’t offer hotel discounts at the same time. So, in that case, you need to whip out your calculator and decide which is better for you!***
What advanced dining reservations should you make?
One final tip for families with picky eaters:
Did you know that you can see menus from all of the restaurants (table-service and quick-service) online? Before our trip, I went to AllEars.net and looked at EVERY SINGLE RESTAURANT. Yes I did. I even made a spread sheet for each park, listing the restaurants we could eat at and what they offered. Have you ever been at a theme park for the first time with hungry children and you have to walk around to a few food places before you find one that has food you all like? Well, I didn’t want to waste time doing that. That’s why I went to all of that trouble. It was totally worth it! To give you an example, if we were in the Magic Kingdom, in Tomorrowland, all I had to do was pull out my paper and I knew we could head over to Cosmic Ray’s and we would all find something to eat.What should you do? If you are planning a trip in the near future, you should do three things right away:
- Think long and hard about how your family eats and then do some math to see if it is worth it for you to buy a Disney Dining Plan.
- Decide if you want to do any character meals. If you do, choose which ones and make your reservations ASAP.
- If you have VERY picky eaters, start looking at the restaurant menus so you know where you can eat on your trip.
Do you have a trip to Walt Disney World coming up? What dining plans have you made?