When I was young, we went out to dinner often – but there were some pretty strict rules: “No appetizers. Drink water only. No dessert.” And unfortunately, that philosophy carried into my adult thinking. So when I’m on vacation, “letting go” and allowing us to truly enjoy the food – instead of silently racking up the cost – is always a problem for me.
Enter the Disney Dining Plans, which allow you to feel like you’re on an all inclusive vacation, where everything is pre-paid.
There are different plans to chose from. The thing to remember is that you’re not on a typical daily schedule where you’ll necessarily want to stop, sit and eat three meals a day. The “heaviest” plan offers just that – plus snacks! The lightest plan offers less. The one in the middle is my favorite – one table service (“TS”, meaning a sit down meal with menus and wait staff), one quick service (“QS”, meaning a meal where you stand in line, get the food on a tray and sit down to eat it), and a snack (which can be anything from sushi rolls to Mickey Bars with LOTS in between). If you do your research, that snack can act as a light meal that can truly hold you over between the bigger meals.
A few tips from my perspective:
- Take full advantage of whatever plan you choose and book the most expensive meals as your “big” TS meal of the day.
- Beware of meals that take two dining credits (I didn’t realize this my first time and ended up having to pay out of pocket (nooooo!!!) by the end of the trip.
- Avoid a TS for lunch. For us, it interrupts our Park flow, and bogs us down with full bellies for the rest of the day.
- Really work that snack credit. Speak to your Travel Agent to learn about the foods that can be used as a snack – and their locations!
If you do the research, you’ll hear people say that there isn’t that much of a savings to use the Plan. But for people like me, who would never shell out $100 per person to meet a princess and eat mac and cheese, it’s worth every penny!
Alysia has always been a Disney freak. From her first visit in 1974 to her most recent visit in September, she has grown up loving the experience that Disney provides its guests. Now with two children, she can proudly say she’s raising two little Disney freaks of her own. When she’s not planning a trip, Alysia has spent the last 23 years in marketing, working at both billion dollar corporations and small non-profits. It was during her time at one of those non profits, the Wildlife Conservation Society (parent company of the Bronx Zoo), that she took a side job at the Disney Store to supplement her income. Those five years as a Cast Member convinced Alysia that she would do whatever she could to work in and around the Disney company to marry her professional expertise and her passion for the Mouse! Writing for the Affordable Mouse brings her one step closer to that goal!