Disney Tips: Using the Disney Dining Plan Wisely

When you plan your Walt Disney World Vacation, food is often a key factor in your budgeting and planning experience. The Disney Dining Plan(DDP) can offer you great food and memorable meals with the ones you love. But beware, if you do not plan wisely you can end leaving your magical vacation feeling frustrated and like you wasted your time. Here are some Disney Dining Plan tips that are sure to help you leave your Disney vacation feeling full and magical!!

  • Know your eating habits There are three DDP’s to choose from. Before you decide which one will suite your needs there are a few things to keep in mind. There is a lot of food offered with each plan. Plans that include sit down meals not only will have an ample amount of food but can include signature dining which can take hours to fully experience.  So knowing your eating habits along with those of your travel party can help you determine which plan will having you feeling like you got the most for your money.
  • Understand the DDP credits For those that are looking for food other than your average burger and fries it is good to know that almost all of the table-service meals on the DDP (except for Signature dining) are considered equal.  Dining at the famous Ohana’ will cost you no more DDP credits than dining at the burger drive in Sci-Fi Dine In. Or knowing that you can indulge in a wonderful steak lunch at Le Cellier for 1 DDP credit vs. 2 DDP credits for dinner can make a huge difference. Understanding the way the DDP credit system works can help you feel like you ate like royalty while on your Disney vacation.
  • Where is the deluxe food? There are several DDP locations that offer you a more bang for your buck type of meal, but while on the DDP you will not have to pay a penny more to enjoy it. Breakfast lovers will enjoy the higher end breakfast selections at; 1900 Park Fare Character Breakfast at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort  or Booma’s at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Lunch lovers would love to know that you can get a great quality lunch at Le Cellier and Coral Reef at Epcot and at Sanna’s located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.  For those on the quick service plan do not fear there are some wonderful high end quality dining experiences for you as well. Earl of Sandwich and Wolfgang Puck Express both located at Downtown Disney along with Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons and Tangerine Cafe and Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbeque are all wonderful quick service dining options.
  • Plan Last it is super important to plan out your Disney Dining in advance. Compare park hours with your dining selections and then make your Disney Dining reservations at least 180 days in advance.

With the proper planning and following these easy tips your Disney Dining Plan experience is sure to leave you full and feeling like you got your money’s worth. Wishing you happy planning!!

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Kelly, her husband, and three children live in the Chicagoland area. Kelly has been traveling to Walt Disney World since the age of two. She considers Walt Disney World to be her primary vacation destination. With 20 plus trips under her belt she still enjoys researching and learning new things about the most magical place on earth! Kelly began Disney Guru in August of 2010 with the vision of sharing fun vacation tips and magic with all fans of Disney World.

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3 Responses to Disney Tips: Using the Disney Dining Plan Wisely

  1. Pingback: Disney Tips: Using the Disney Dining Plan Wisely | DisneyDigest

  2. Dan says:

    Some good tips. I hate to give out too many of my own tips publicly, because I’m afraid they’ll get ruined when everyone else starts using those tips too 😉 But, to expand on your ‘Deluxe Food’ portion; for me, the dining plan is part of the vacation experience, and not just a way to fill my stomach. When I choose my restaurants, I usually go with the higher end restaurants, because I want to experience food and an environment, that I wouldn’t normally experience at home. The Grand Floridian Cafe is a great example of that. And don’t be afraid to order the most expensive items on the menu. If it’s not coming out of your pocket, then why limit yourself, like you might when dining at home.

    And people should not overlook the benefit of using their ‘sit down’ meal for breakfast or lunch. They use your quick service for dinner. Most sit down restaurants are packed for dinner, yet many are open for lunch (and some for breakfast). The food quality is still the same, and you can stop just about anywhere for a quick service meal, for dinner, and not have to race off to meet a reservation. One our favorite things to do, is to start our day by visiting Ohanas for their awesome family style breakfast buffet, then have a quick service dinner at the park we chose to visit that day.

    To expand on your last point, always get your reservations in advance. ALWAYS. The first year we visited WDW, I greatly underestimated how quickly the restaurants fill up. Most have all their reservations filled, months in advance. If you try walking up to a restaurant, without a reservation, you’ll be told they won’t have an opening until 8 or 9PM. I thought for sure, we’d be able to find a restaurant when we were ready to eat, because of how many restaurants Disney has, and because the sit downs are so expensive (which would scare away non-plan visitors). I was so wrong, and that night, my wife scrambled to make reservations for the rest of the week. We were able to squeeze into places for the rest of the week, but it definitely wasn’t at the restaurants we really wanted to visit, and the locations were not convenient to the parks we were visiting.

    • Nancy says:

      Great point Dan about using table service credits for breakfast or lunch, as it is often easier to get reservations that way. Thanks for sharing your tips! 🙂

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