Tuesday Disney Tips: Help with Disney Dining Questions

There are few things that brighten my day more than having someone who has never been to Walt Disney World contact me for help with their first ever trip. I get so excited for them and I really appreciate having the pleasure of helping them to plan such an important family trip.

No, I am not a travel agent nor do I have the skills of a travel agent. All I can offer is my advice from my own personal experiences and the first-hand knowledge gained from my travels to WDW this past many years. My children are always telling me I should go back to school and become a Disney travel agent but, as I tell them, I am looking forward to actually being able to stop working one day not start a whole new career from scratch. If I had known 20 years ago what I know now, that is exactly the path I would have taken.

Now, back to the reason for my post today. I was recently contacted by a very sweet lady named Andrea. She had some questions regarding her upcoming first-time Disney trip and I was very happy to help her. I thought that maybe others were having the same questions as she and so I thought I would share the advice I gave to her during our correspondence.

Her questions revolved mostly around the free dining plan she was lucky enough to get for her and her family. Specifically, she asked questions about Cinderella’s Royal Table and her other choices for table service meals. She also asked for advice on maximizing her free dining benefits while incorporating some additional meals.

First, the Disney Dining Plan affords her 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal and 1 snack per person per day. She has made all of her ADRs but was wishing to incorporate more table service meals. She was also questioning whether or not to keep her Cinderella’s Royal Table lunch, especially since it would require her to use 2 table service credits for each person (a total of 8) for this one meal.

I requested that she send me her daily itinerary to get a better feel of what she had planned. She had done a fantastic job planning out her trip – Go Andrea!! Then I responded to each day’s data in order to make some suggestions for modifications based on the questions she asked.

So, below I have used some of her plans as a guide for you, to hopefully help anyone else who is currently planning their ADRs as well:

Sample Itinerary

Day 1

The family is due to arrive in mid-afternoon on the first day, so she had decided to only use one quick-service meal that day. That is a great idea as you don’t want to try to cram too much into the first day.

Day 2

As the first full day at Walt Disney World, the family will begin with a character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s. This is an excellent choice and a great way to start off the trip. Dinner will consist of a quick-service meal which is a perfect way to use the plan.

Day 3

Her precious daughters will love her to death today, because the day starts at the pool. Her itinerary showed that they would be having breakfast in the room with foods purchased at a local grocer. In the evening, she has a great dinner planned at Teppan Edo at Epcot.

The advice I gave on this was just a simple tip – don’t forget about using snack credits for breakfast items. She had not indicated her plans for snack credits so I just wanted to let her know that these can be used at the food court at her resort or at various locations in the parks for breakfast items such as muffins, bagels, etc. I thought it might be nice for them to each grab something at the food court and have breakfast together out by the pool.

Her dinner plans sounded excellent as I have read great reviews about Teppan Edo so I am sure she made a great choice for dinner based on her family’s love for it.

Day 4

Plans for today include a quick service breakfast at the resort. For lunch, she was inquiring about paying out of pocket at one of the restaurants inside the park; then also paying at a restaurant at Downtown Disney for dinner.

I just provided one tip here. Since her family will be at one of the parks immediately before going to Downtown Disney, an alternate idea would be to take a bus to any resort of their choosing and have a meal there. They could choose a resort they were really interested in seeing and have dinner, then check out the property. Afterwards, they could take that resort’s bus to Downtown Disney. Luckily, Andrea took my advice and now she and her family will enjoy dinner at the Grand Floridian Café and get to see this breathtaking resort as well.

Day 5

Most of the questions she had for me revolved around her family’s plans for day 5. For that day, the plan is to have breakfast in the room, then head to the Magic Kingdom. Her precious little girls (ages 4 and 5) will be turned into princesses at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and they will then head to Cinderella’s Royal Table for lunch. Later, they plan to have a quick service dinner. As I said earlier, she was uncertain about going to CRT, especially because of the 8 TS credits required.

Here is the advice I gave. In my opinion, going to Walt Disney World for the very first time with 2 precious little girls, taking them to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to have them made up into the princesses they dream of becoming, then taking them to meet Cinderella and others in a magical place sounds like exactly what she should be doing.

Also, there are special complimentary items included with the CRT reservation, such as the complimentary keepsake pictures of her family, as well as the 6X8 print of Cinderella Castle. These are great keepsakes that they will treasure forever. Also, each of her girls should each receive a princess wand.

I know that the fact that it requires 2 TS credits each does seem like a lot, so I made another suggestion. Traditionally, breakfast dining is the least expensive meal. She can pay for the Chef Mickey’s breakfast and/or the Hollywood and Vine breakfast on day 6 to save some TS credits.

Let’s look at it more closely. The charge for breakfast at Chef Mickey’s is $26.62 for adults (2) and $13.99 for kids (2). So, that would be 81.22 to pay for Chef Mickey’s instead of using the 4 TS credits. Also, Hollywood and Vine breakfast costs 24.99 for adults (2) and 13.99 for kids (2). So, that would be 77.96. If she pays for this she will save 4 TS credits. If she decided to pay for both breakfast meals, she would be paying a total of $159.18 which is still cheaper than paying for CRT, and it will save 8 TS credits for two more dinner-time meals, if she chooses to use them that way. There are many options to maximizing the meal credits based on your family’s wishes.

If it was me, rather than paying the $173.00 for Cinderella’s Royal Table lunch, I would use the 8 TS credits for that and then pay for the less expensive (breakfast) meal at Chef Mickey’s. If she wanted to go out for another nice dinner, then pay for the Hollywood and Vine breakfast and save those 4 TS credits for an additional dinner. Most importantly, I would keep the CRT reservation for the thrill of having her daughters be princesses for a day and for the keepsake memories. Of course, it is all up to her, and up to you as you are planning your trip as well.

Day 6

The sixth and final day at the parks will begin with a character breakfast at Hollywood and Vine at the Disney Studios. This would have used 4 table service credits but Andrea decided to heed my advice about paying for breakfast in order to save the TS credits as she really wanted to have one more nice dinner. The choice now is to reserve either The Wave or Crystal Palace.

My advice? I have eaten at both The Wave and Crystal Palace. I have a family of 5 which includes two big boys, and we all eat a lot so we tend to go for the buffet (Crystal Palace). The food at The Wave is delicious, although the portions would, of course, be smaller. Should she decide on The Wave, I have advised her that the coffee creme brulee is awesome!

The last question she asked me was whether or not her girls could share a meal at either Chef Mickey’s or Hollywood and Vine. Sadly, I had to tell her no; since both Chef Mickey’s and Hollywood and Vine are buffets, they will not be allowed to split the meal. I wondered if they might allow one child to order the buffet and one to dine a la carte but, since I am unsure of all the rules, I suggested she contact the experts by calling Disney Dining at 407-WDW-DINE to ask that specific question.

My hope is that the information Andrea requested will help others who are currently planning their trips to Walt Disney World. Whether you are lucky enough to get free dining or if you have to pay for it, these tips will still help in your planning.

To Andrea, thanks for letting me help you in any small way and, especially for allowing your trip to help others. I hope you will have a supercalifragilistically magical vacation with your family.

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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2 Responses to Tuesday Disney Tips: Help with Disney Dining Questions

  1. Kim G says:

    I know that the Prin Brkfst uses 2 tbl serv. But couldn’t you also get the Dnnr at the Pal for 2 tbl serv too, right?! We are trying to fig out what would be cheapest restaurant to eat at too (for the night we would loose because of the Prin Dnnr at the Castle). I thought of Via Napoli. I think the lrg pzza is $39, and then I fig $15 for drinks (2 ad/2kids). Maybe add an apptzr for $20?. So that would put you at about $55-$75 for a family of four. Much chpr than some of the other restaurants. If you get a moment could you please let me know if I figured this out right? It almost seems too cheap to me, and I would love to know your opinion, and if you know of something I’m missing. BTW great tip for using a qck serice the night you get there for dnnr and using snack credits for brkfst-I never thought of those!!

    • Nancy says:

      Hi Kim, thanks for your comment! Crystal Palace is 1 Table Service credit, and is a buffet so if you are looking to use the Dining Plan, it is a nice value, as it is all you can eat. If you have some big eaters, buffets are always nice. If you want to pay cash, Via Napoli, as a pizzeria, would be a great value because, as you point out, you will be feeding a family of four for less than $75. Gotta love that! Depending on the ages of your children though, you may be able to do well at some other restaurants if you pay cash, by sharing entrees. It all really depends on your family. Something else that many people do to save money if paying cash, is to eat at TS restaurants for lunch….and then do counter service for dinner. Good luck with your planning!

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