Today I will be discussing “food” at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World. I could go on and on about this topic, for my palette waters every single time I think about particular desserts I have sampled or meals I have engaged in. I have never once been disappointed in food that I have encountered while vacationing.
So what are the food options while vacationing at Disney? Many. Today’s blog won’t go into specific restaurant choices and things of that nature, but more so, helping you make the decision on whether or not choosing a dining plan is the right decision for your family. Then, if you do choose a dining plan, helping you understand the differences and understanding better which would be the best fit for you.
No Dining Plans for Me!
Let’s begin with the option of not choosing a dining plan, which I have done before. Even with this choice, there are many options and ways to experience food while vacationing. Whether you are using a dining plan or paying as you go, you can make ADR’s (Advanced Dining Reservations) at 180 days out from your trip. I highly suggest this if your family is looking to book some coveted character meals or there is a restaurant that is on your “to do” list. Again, at Magical Vacations, we can take of all of this for you, so you don’t have to think about it!
Disney is gracious enough to allow food and drinks into the park, which gives people the choice to bring in their own snacks. I have done this, and it is a fantastic option to have in my purse or my backpack. Especially for those times when you are in between meals or waiting in line for a ride and just need a quick pick me up. If you choose not to bring in your own snacks and drinks, there are food options to be found everywhere at the parks and back at the resorts. Just follow your nose and it will lead you to one! Prices are honestly better than what you would find at a professional ballgame or a concert and the food you get for your money is incredible. If you bring your own water bottle in with you, there are many water fountains to be found for you to get a quick fill up as well, which saves from buying fountain sodas. Let’s face it, we need that water on our vacationing days anyway!
If you made ADR’s as mentioned above, then you will have a little bit of comfort knowing where your next meal is coming from. If you didn’t make ADR’s, you will need to make the decisions depending on what park or resort you are at, as to which dining location you will choose for your meal. Choose wisely according to the time of day, as certain locations fill up quicker the closer you get to normal dining times. If you didn’t make ADR’s, just keep in mind that you may need to allow some “wait time” to go along with your meals. Even with quick dining options, there is a bit of a wait with the lines.
Also, many resorts have rooms with mini refrigerators, coffee makers, microwave ovens, and toasters. It is a nice option to have for those who would like to have at least one meal in their room per day. There are several businesses that delivery groceries right to Bell Services at your resort for a slight fee. Again, a great option to have if you want to have a stash of snacks available to take to the parks with you or know that you want to eat every breakfast together in your room. Room Service is also available and I can say, the pizza we ordered from the Polynesian this past summer might have been the best pizza I have ever tasted!
The best advice I can give to someone not using the dining plan or ADR’s is to be willing to be flexible. You may really want to eat at a particular location, but it may be busy at the time that your stomach is growling, and you don’t feel you can wait 30 more minutes. Make choices that won’t leave you hangry! We all know what that feeling is like and it doesn’t make for a fun vacation!
Now let’s jump into the different types of dining plans for Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
Dining at Disneyland with Vouchers
Disneyland offers a “Dine in the Magic” voucher system. Guests pay in advance for dining that they anticipate they will enjoy while on their trip. While it may not necessarily be a money “saver”, it does give you peace of mind that the food portion of your trip is taken care of. Vouchers will expire at the end of the year and are non-refundable.
A slight difference between this plan and the one we will discuss at Disney World is that you do not have to purchase vouchers for everyone in your party and the vouchers can be for any length, not the exact length of your stay as it is at Disney World. Also, ADR’s at Disneyland are 60 days in advance, a difference between this and the 180 days at Disney World.
There are four different plans and I will quickly discuss each one of those.
Donald’s 2 Day
- Adult $106/Child $64
- 2 Character Dining Vouchers, 2 Dining Certificates ($15 for adults/$10 children), and 2 Snack Vouchers
Goofy’s 3 Day
- Adult $159/Child $96
- 3 Character Dining Vouchers, 3 Dining Certificates ($15 for adults/$10 children), and 3 Snack Vouchers
Minnie’s 4 Day
- Adult $219/Child $132
- 3 Character Dining Vouchers, 1 Premium Character Dining, 4 Dining Certificates ($15 for adults/$10 children), and 4 Snack Vouchers
Mickey’s 5 Day
- Adult $272/Child $164
- 4 Character Dining Vouchers, 1 Premium Character Dining, 5 Dining Certificates ($15 for adults/$10 children), and 5 Snack Vouchers
Please note: Child rates are for young ones ages 3-9 years old. Vouchers may be used at any Full Service or Counter-Service restaurant. Vouchers can not be used for alcoholic beverages, room service, holiday buffets, Downtown Disney restaurants, and merchandise.
Next, we will move on to our final point, the Walt Disney World Disney Dining Plan.
Dining at Disney World with the Disney Dining Plan
There will be some similarities between this plan and the one from Disneyland. Dining plans offer peace of mind, knowing that if you have made ADR’s, you know where your next meal is coming from AND you don’t have to have extra cash prepared for anything except for gratuities at table service restaurants. The cost of the dining plan was figured into the resort package. Many people like the idea of knowing that it is already taken care of before they get to their vacation. While you will still have to decide between what quick service meals you would like and what snacks you want to choose, knowing that you have particular types of meals covered on a plan allows families to decide just how much to eat at other meals. The Dining plans are offered for those staying with their DVC (Disney Vacation Club) points or who purchased a Magic Your Way package.
Once again, remember that table service dining reservations can be made at 180 days prior to your vacation. Take advantage of that option. We missed Be Our Guest on the trip with my mother, and it was the ONLY restaurant that she wanted to go to. During this particular trip, we booked everything at three months out, so instead of having 180 days, we only had less than 90 days and it was already taken for our vacation dates.
Here is a breakdown of cost for the 2018 Dining Plan options:
Quick Service Plan
- Adults $52.49/Children $21.75 per night
- 2 Quick Service Meals, 2 Snacks, 1 Refillable Mug per person
Quick Service meals to me are similar to fast food. While it can still be a meal you eat together at the table, you order at the counter and pick up your own food. The refillable mugs will be included with each package and are really great to have. You can use them at your resort to get a quick drink to take back to your room, or as my kids would do, make several trips back and forth to refill!
- Adults $75.49/Children $25.80 per night
- 1 Table Service Meal, 1 Quick Service Meal, 2 Snacks, 1 Refillable Mug per person
Table Service meals are just like eating at a regular sit down restaurant. You have a server, they come and take your order, and gratuity is considered to be something given at the end of the meal. The servers/cast members REALLY do a great job with their guests and always interact with the families in a fun way. We have used this plan the most and feel it gave our family alot of flexibility with meal options. Since we were given a table service meal each night that we were there, it allowed for great character dining experiences which my children still talk about.
- Adults $116.24/Children $39.90 per night
- 3 Meals (any combo of table-service and quick service), 2 Snacks, 1 Refillable Mug per person
I always think of my husband when I think of the Deluxe plan. His favorite part of our Disney trips has easily been the food. We tried the Standard Plan once with him and he was still hungry, while I was very full and had not finished my food! However, he could easily finish mine for me and fill up. The Deluxe Plan is great for those families who come to Disney for the food. They know the food is excellent and they want to take every opportunity to take part in each course! It allows families quite possibly the most flexibility in their dining options because you have choices on your meals.
These are JUST the basics that cover the Dining Options. There are so many other things in which I can cover to help you navigate your way through the Dining Plan choices, and I will in a future blog. I know when I first learned about the dining plan, I was very overwhelmed! However, I will gather some helpful tips and share those with you at a later date.
In my next blog, I will discuss what to pack in your backpack for a day at the parks! If you have decided to make a magical dream come true, please contact me to let me help you make that happen: firstname.lastname@example.org