How to make the most out of Disney Dining Plans for at the best Disney World Restaurants.
If you’re planning a Disney Vacation then you are probably considering the Disney Dining Plan. When we started planning our Disney World vacation, we wanted to stay on budget. We only wanted to pre-pay for things we knew we would use!
It was our first time staying on Disney property at the Art of Animation resort. After we selected our hotel, the next thing to do was to select our Disney Dining Plan!
My Top Tips for Staying on Budget while Planning Your Disney World Vacation Using the Disney Dining Plan
Tip 1: Determine your schedule on what parks you’ll go to on what days.
The first thing we did when we started planning our Disney World vacation was to figure out an “ideal” schedule for parks. We planned on going to all of the Disney World parks and wanted to space them out over the week.
Since each Disney World theme park has it’s own must-do restaurants, we wanted to space them out. There are also some amazing restaurants that are not at the parks. We wrote out our idea schedule so that we could see on paper where we were going and when!
When we were planning our Disney World Vacation, we wanted to make sure we had a schedule that was doable, but not overwhelming. One tip for planning your Disney vacation is to plan breaks! Ideally we want to go and see everything, right? An afternoon at the pool can go a long way! We planned for a least a two pool days during our Disney vacation. Plus, the pools at the Disney resorts are so awesome, they can be just as entertaining for little ones!
Traveling with toddlers or babies? Check out my top tips for the Best Rides at Disney World for Babies and Toddlers.
Tip 2: Make a list of must-do Disney World restaurants.
I did a ton of Pinterest research on the best Disney World restaurants. That, combined with the opinions of family and friends helped us to create a list of must-do restaurants.
Our must-do Disney restaurants were Chef Mickey’s, Ohana, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Cinderella’s Magic Table. Once we had this list ready, we were able to see how many credits each meal would take! For example, Cinderella’s Magic Table took two table-service credits per person. That was valuable information for us to select which Disney Dining Plan was worth it for us!
Tip 3: Figure out which Disney Dining Plan makes sense for your family
Since our family has two adults and two children over the age of 3 it made sense for us to go with the Disney Dining Plan. I’ve heard some people say that they do not want to have to sit down or make reservations for table-service. For us, the chance to sit and relax after chasing two kiddos through the park was a welcomed respite. Since our girls are still very much into character dining, it made sense for us to have some table-service options.
According to the 2018 Disney Dining Plan guide, there are three options for Disney Dining.
- Disney Quick Service Meal Plan
- This meal plan is designed for on-the-go eating. Each guest over the age of three will receive two quick-service meals and two snacks per day. There are a ton of Quick Service Disney restaurants around the Walt Disney Resort. One of our favorites was the Polite Pig at Disney Springs!
- Disney Dining Plan
- This meal plan has a nice mix of on-the-go and table-service. Each guest over age three will receive one quick-service meal, one table-service meal, and two snacks per day. Most table-service restaurants require reservations. If you are planning on doing character dining, this is the Disney Dining Plan you’ll want to consider!
- Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
- If you’re heading to Disney World to eat, this is the meal plan for you! Each guest over age three meals (quick-service or table-service) and two snacks per day.
Tip 4: Make a list of Disney characters you want to see. Then make Disney dining reservations based on that.
For table-service restaurants at Disney, many require reservations. Character dining is one of our favorite things to do at Disney! We made a list of all of the Disney characters we wanted to see. The Disney Princesses ranked high 🙂 We also wanted to make sure we saw Mickey at Chef Mickey’s. Now that we had our ideal schedule down and we selected our Disney Dining Plan, we could start making reservations!
Tip 5: Use your snack credits wisely!
You’d be surprised what is considered at “snack” at Disney. I nearly jumped for joy when I saw that Starbucks was considered a snack. So you better believe I was using my snack credits there! This list of Disney Snack Credits for 2018 was really helpful!
Doing Disney on a Budget? We were too! But we didn’t want to be cheap. So we invested in these Top 5 Disney Splurges that were completely worth it!
Was the Disney Dining Plan Worth it?
For us, absolutely yes! These tips helped us to make the most out of our Disney Dining Plan. We left the resort with zero food credits left! That was a huge victory! We even had to borrow a few credits from my in-laws on the last day for breakfast!
A little planning went a long way for us. The Disney Dining Plan was definitely an investment, but it was well worth the cost. When we calculated the cost of what even one dinner would cost us at one of our favorite table-service restaurants, we realized we made a great decision by investing in the Disney Dining Plan.
Did you use the Disney Dining Plan on your last trip to Disney? Or are you planning on using it on your next trip? Tell me about your favorite Disney Dining Plan restaurants or tips!