Disney 101~Disney Dining Part 1


Welcome back to Disney 101!! This week we are going to be learning all about Disney Dining and the different ways that you can dine at Disney. Good news is that both Jenn and myself do Disney Dining very differently. Today is just a preview into the dynamics of how our families dine at Disney. Please keep in mind these are two very different perspectives and it is our hope that we can educate you to pick the option that works best for you.  So the theme this week is Disney Dining Plan vs. No Disney Dining Plan….you pick.

*Click here to catch up on Disney 101. 

First Up….

Kelly~My family is made of up of 5 people 2 adults and 3 children ages 14, 7 and 4. I have stayed at every resort category on property but typically my family opts to stay at a value resort. This is because we often travel with a party of 8 or more and can evenly spread out among 3-4 rooms while keeping with everyone’s budget.  When we travel to Disney we ALWAYS do the Disney Dining Plan. We like to look at Disney as an all-inclusive vacation experience and we feel that the only way to do this is to have everything prepaid in advance.  In addition, we like to be able to sit down every single night for a relaxing dinner with our family…and I do NOT want to be the one cooking that meal…lol. Another option that is very nice for our family is the fact that we get a snack included on our plan for each person daily. We use our extensive snack list to help us decide the best way to use our snack credit daily. For us the Disney Dining Plan is part of the attraction of visiting Walt Disney World.



Jenn’s family: aka Dis Savvy 

Sam and Jenn with 8 year old Katybug and 4 year old Allygator.

When we travel to Disney, we add Sam’s parents to the travel party.  We are all members of the Disney Vacation Club.  ThClub allows us to share points between us so we are able to stay in deluxe level resorts in a two bedroom villa when we visit.  Because point values increase dramatically on Friday and Saturday nights, you might find us staying off property, visiting Vero Beach or even taking a cruise to cover those expensive weekend nights.

In terms of dining, we have never used the dining plan.  When the dining plan was introduced, it wasn’t available to DVC members.  (It is available now).  Every now and then we look at the plans but somehow it doesn’t seem to fit for us.  My kids are really picky eaters so I think we would be wasting food and money when paying for their plans.  We don’t eat at a table service every day, nor do we do quick service every day.   In terms of saving money, we do two things:  pay with reward points from our Disney VISA card and split meals with Sam’s parents (I stay out of that battle for the bill) LOL!!

I have mastered the ability to look at any menu and mix and match items to make sure everyone gets the foods they will eat.  The DVC villas have a full kitchen included.  While I don’t spend my vacation cooking, it is convenient to have amenities for quick breakfasts before we hit the parks!  For us, the Dining plan isn’t perfect for us so we continue to pay as we go!

So as you can see both Jenn and I approaching Dining at Disney in a very different way. That is the beauty of Disney…there is something for everyone. Stay-tuned this week as we discuss in depth the way each of us dine at Disney. Thursday you will see how Jenn and her family dine and save…while Friday I do the receipt breakdown challenge. Hope you will join us! How do you dine at Disney?

See ya real soon!!




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  • Both perspectives are interesting to me. We weren’t initially going to go with the dining plan, but we liked the idea of everything being pre-paid. If we were to go in the future with kids, I don’t know that we would do the dining plan – it would probably depend on if my children were picky eaters.

  • My husband and I have traveled quite a few times to Disney and have never used the dining plan. We are heading to Disney in a few weeks and will be using the dining plan for the first time. I am really excited to see how I like using it. I like the idea that everything is already paid for and we don’t have to worry about it! I will report back on what I thought when we return. 🙂

  • When we went to Disneyland last year I used a lot of coupons at neighboring places, as well as gift cards, since we were on a tight budget. It ended up stressing me out so bad! When we go to Disney world we plan on getting the deluxe dining plan, so anything and everything we would want to eat is paid for before we get there. No worrying about losing a coupon, or stressing about costs being more than we thought.

  • My husband and I don’t have children yet so it makes dining very easy. Also, the refillable mugs at the resorts have been added to the (basic) Disney Dining Plan so we can save our snacks for sundaes and fun treats instead of bottles of water in which we end up losing money. The refillable mugs are key, at least for us.

  • Michelle Atkinson
    July 3, 2012 9:16 pm

    We will be using the Dining Plan for the first time during our trip in October. My husband wanted to have everything paid for in advance and it seemed like the best way to do that.

    We are big eaters whenever we go to Disney. We have definite favorites and we like to sit down and take it easy.

    Can’t wait to read more.

  • We sit in between, we are DVC members and have mostly used dining plan. We don’t really cook in the villa but love late EMH and usually sleep in when morning comes. Having cereal, donuts, juice, etc. plus snacks for our after break on hand works outgreat. We’ve developed 2 strategies for dining plan so it’ll be a decent value. First if you have a 3-9 year old on it for each adult I think DP is a no-brainier because the ‘kids’ are so cheap, only slightly more than what you’d spend on lunch alone! Second, with the rise in buffet prices, doing several of these during your trip can increase the value of DP. Last trip we used TIW and came out ahead, slightly. The trade off is that I had to stress about the bill for each meal but I also got what I wanted instead feeling compelled to get the most expensive thing. Because I sit in the middle on this topic, I can’t wait to hear more from Team Guru!!

  • Shelbi Navarrette
    July 4, 2012 8:24 am

    Hi ladies! My 7 year old is the PICKIEST eater ever! We have never had an issue (at any restaurant in Disney) with him not finding something he likes to eat. Disney restaurants cater so much to children and what they like. The dining plan is the only way to go for our family. We like to sit down at least twice per day and have full service meals. We see meal time as valuable down/rest time from spending every second of the day in the parks. We do deluxe dining, so there is never anything we could want to eat that isn’t covered by the dining plan. Best for is is its all paid for before we ever leave our house!

  • We have a family of five, a 5 year old, a 3 year old & a newborn. I’m definitely leaning towards DDP because me & my hubby are BIG foodies and I think it will be more than worth it just for us. My two big kids would eat macaroni & cheese and corn dogs for every meal if we let them. Usually when we go to Disneyland, they hardly eat while we’re in the parks because they’re so excited. I think having the DDP, not having to reach in my wallet everytime we eat will keep us from being so upset when we waste money on full meals for them. Of course, this is purely psychological and I am just tricking myself, LOL.

  • Brandy Hobbs
    July 19, 2012 9:52 am

    We love using the dining plan and don’t see us going again without using it!

  • We went ahead and included the dining plan on our first family trip to Disney and it was a great experience. We have also gone w/out one and spent a lot less-it was dubbed our “cheap disney trip” lol I think however I can get to Disney, I will be happy! Of course, free dining is always appreciated 😀 I’m sure each trip will be different, depending on how much money we want to spend that trip.

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