Tuesday Disney Tips: Choosing the Right Dining Plan for Your Trip

I have found the Disney Dining Plans to be hassle-free and easy to use. For several years we have been very thankful to enjoy free dining, but we have also purchased both the Quick Service and Plus Dining plans during some of our trips. Having experience with both plans, I thought I would talk to you guys today about some basic differences in these plans. I hope it might help you to choose the plan that will work best for you during your next trip to “the world.” Obviously there is a great deal of information regarding pricing, etc. but my point today is about choosing the right plan based on the type of trip you will be taking. The considerations I used are flexibility, dining offerings and trip expenses (during the trip).

Quick Service Plan

The Quick Service plan includes two Quick-Service Meals and two Snack credits per person, per night of your package stay for everyone in the party ages 3 and over. The plan also includes one Resort refillable drink mug per person, per package.

Flexibility

The Quick Service plan is very flexible. It literally provides the flexibility to eat whenever you get hungry with no planning and no reservations required. It makes everything easy and keeps you from being bound to a schedule.

Offerings

The only offerings with the Quick Service plan are the counter service and snack offerings at the resorts and parks. You cannot use your QS credits for other types of dining experiences.

Trip Expenses

There is no out-of-pocket expense required during your trip if you are on the QS plan. So, if you want to have a trip where you have paid in full and require no additional cash, this plan is for you, as it does not require any type of gratuity whatsoever.

Plus Dining Plan

The Plus Dining plan includes one table-service meal, one quick-service meal and one snack per person, per night of your package stay.

Flexibility

The snack and quick service portions of this plan are completely flexible. For the table service meals, advance dining reservations are encouraged and, in my opinion, necessary. This is especially true if you travel during the busiest weeks at Disney. You will need to have reservations if you have favorite restaurants or if you want to have character meals with your family. This means that if you are trying to get in a couple more rides, or you are at a park and your reservations are outside that park, you will need to leave to get to the location of your dining reservation. Also, in order to check in for your reservation, your entire party must be there. Sometimes having to be at a certain place at a certain time is fine, but other times you might wish your schedule was a little more flexible.

Offerings

Aside from nice, sit-down type breakfasts, lunches and dinners, buffet meals are also offered. We are a family of big appetites, and my boys love buffets, so Plus Dining has worked well for us.

If you are interested in having character meals for your family, you can plan those with the Plus Dining plan. Families with young children tend to enjoy character meals. For families with teens, many enjoy the experience of dinner shows. In that case, if you are willing to use 2 dining credits each for the experience, you may take advantage of this option offered with Plus Dining.

If you are interested in staying in and ordering pizza so that you can just chill at the resort, and you are willing to use two table service credits, you can use that option on Plus Dining.

Trip Expenses

In most cases, plus dining requires gratuity. For some special character dining, such as Cinderella’s Royal Table, as well as for in-room pizza delivery, gratuity is included; but that is the exception to the rule with this plan. When preparing your budget, be sure to include gratuity for each table service meal with Plus Dining.

As you can see, the type of trip you are planning really dictates the dining plan you should choose. Things to consider are: how many days you will be visiting, the number of adults and children in your party, the ages of the kids, out of pocket costs required, and whether you are a family who enjoys sitting down for long meals or just want to have a quicker dining experience.

For our recent trip, Susan and I chose the Quick Service plan for several reasons. First, there were only two of us (both adults) and our goals were to attend special events and ride all our favorite rides. We were burning the candle at both ends, as normally we have a 10-day park hopper and this trip we only had 3-day park hoppers. We also did not want to have to be anywhere at any certain time except for special engagements we had planned. For this particular trip, then, the QS plan was perfect.

For trips with my family, we typically enjoy the Plus Dining plan. One reason is that we usually take longer trips and concentrate on all our favorites, giving us a more relaxed park schedule. Another reason, as I mentioned, is the character buffet meals we enjoy. You can, of course, upgrade the plus dining plan to be more flexible and even to include a bottle of wine each night, but for today I just wanted to address the differences in these basic plans.

Which plan will be right for your upcoming trip? You might like to know that, beginning in 2012, Disney has decided that every dining plan will include a refillable mug for your resort.

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Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.

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Related posts:

  1. Affordable Disney World Dining: the Basic Dining Plan
  2. Affordable Disney World Dining: Quick Service Dining Plan
  3. Tuesday Disney Tips: Help with Disney Dining Questions
  4. Tuesday Disney Tips: The Cost of Free Disney Dining
  5. Disney Tips: Using the Disney Dining Plan Wisely
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