You’ve taken care of accommodations, your travel arrangements and now you’re ready to think about meal planning. MamaMouse firmly believes in utilizing the Disney Dining Plans. Why? The answer is simple. Although we are a healthy family, we do like to eat. When we do eat out, we like to go to a variety of restaurants and enjoy table service meals. We like options in both where we eat and what we eat. We also like knowing that we only have to worry about paying the gratuity. If you saved up your change for a whole year, you probably would have enough to cover your entire meal plan, if not more! Or, one less Starbucks Mocha a day, and you’d be set!
The dreaded word…budget. What is your budget for food for the trip, including tips? How much does your family eat? Questions like these will guide your decision about doing a plan or paying OOP or out of pocket. Just remember, you are on vacation and the World does revolve around theme parks, which means the food can be pricey. If you look below, you will see a comparison of what the plan covers in a day, versus out of pocket. I think once you see it in black and white, it may make your choice that much easier.
Before we go further, let me explain two terms. Disney uses the term “table service” for any sit-down meal where you are served. “Quick service” is basically counter service or in an establishment that offers a wider option of food choices, a food court. The reason I point this out is because those two terms you will hear over and over when meal planning Disney style. The Disney Dining Plan offers an array of quality table service restaurants (including those essential character meals!) as well as great quick service stops. You pay a set price per night of your stay for both adults and older than 3. Children under 3 can share off mom or dad’s plate. (I loved that!) New for 2012 was the addition of the refillable mug to the plans above Quick Service only. This mug enables you to free refills at your resort. Just don’t be one of those people that try to use them elsewhere! That’s a no-no and looked down upon by Disney frequenters.
2013 Dining Plan Prices
Quick Service- No Seasonal Price Changes
Includes 2 counter service meals, one snack and one refillable mug
Adults (10 + up) $37.58 Child(3-9) $14.32
Plus Dining (Value & Regular Season)
Includes 1 counter service meal, 1 table service meal, one snack and one refillable mug-
Adults (10 + up) $55.59 Child(3-9) $17.16
Plus Dining (Peak)
Adults (10 + up) $56.94 Child(3-9) $18.16
Plus Deluxe (Value & Regular)
Adults (10 + up) $99.97 Child(3-9) $26.84
Plus Deluxe (Peak)
Adults (10 + up) $102.27 Child(3-9) $28.91
Let’s say you wanted to pay out of pocket for your meals or OOP in Disney speak. This is a comparison of how much that might be…
You want to have a character meal at Chef Mickey’s. Chef Mickey’s is not only a character dining experience, but it is also a buffet. The prices range from $20 to 40 PER person. Figure 2 adults and 2 children. This does not include tax or gratuity. Meal plan does not either. So, for a family of 4, your meal before tax and tip would be $120. For ONE meal. Eating at Chef Mickey’s uses 1 table service credit. If you were on the Standard Dining Plan (Value & Regular Season), the total for your entire day (including snack, 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal) for 2 adults and 2 children would be $145.50. Subtract the $120 from that and you would be left with $25.50 to pay for a snack and lunch for four people! I can tell you this much, you would be spending much more than that for lunch. A lunch will usually run you anywhere from $10-15 per person. When you consider that a snack at Disney is anything $3.99 and under, it can get pricey. Even if you don’t go to a buffet, expect to pay for an adult at least $25 for an adult entree and that does not include anything to drink.
The entire cost for a standard dining plan for an 8 day/7 night vacation is $1,018.50 for 2 adults and 2 children. Divide that by 7 and you get $145.50 per day for food. Sure you could probably come in under that if you cut out all character meals, only eat quick service etc., but a Disney vacation is meant to be an experience like no other. The great thing about the plan is you don’t have to choose a menu option that is the cheapest because you don’t have the money for the more expensive thing on the menu. If you have the plan, you can order ANY entree on the menu. It doesn’t matter. If you want to go to a super-nice restaurant like Narcoosee’s or something like that, you simply use 2 table service credits. When we do this, we know those meals are going to bigger, so we skip lunch on that day and use our extra quick service credit for dinner on the day we are missing a table service credit.(because we borrowed one to use for the 2 table service meal!). That’s what is awesome with the plan. You have flexibility and as a mom, that is super important! It is never wasted. Back to Narcoosee’s… My hubby loves lobster. They have it on the menu and it usually runs around $65 and up. He can order that because he is on the plan. I go for the filet mignon at $35. As you can see, if we paid out of pocket, we would never be able to afford those meals. And if we did, our pockets would be empty!
Below is a chart to explain how you could use your plan if you were staying 8 days and 7 nights. The plan will cover 7 nights worth of food, therefore you have 7 snacks, 7 Quick Service meals, 7 Table Service meals. This is if you were arriving Sunday and leaving Sunday.
LEGEND: QS= Quick Service TS=Table Service BiR= Breakfast in Room LiR= Lunch in Room
Note that on some days I might have used a TS for breakfast or a Quick Service for breakfast. Most of the time if we eat a big breakfast, we are full until dinner and will only eat a light lunch.
|Akershus (1TS)||BiR||BiR||BiR||Main St Bakery (1QS)||BiR||1 QS|
|Arrive||LiR (or bring PBJ)||1QS||LiR (or bring PBJ)||1QS||LiR (or bring PBJ)||1QS||Leave|
|1QS||1 QS||Liberty Tree Tavern(1TS)||CRT(2TS)||Sci-Fi Dine In(1TS)||Via Napoli (1TS)||Chef Mickey’s(1TS)|
As you can see, the meal plan offers more flexibility and options and takes away the questions of whether or not you can afford this or that on the menu. PLUS don’t forget that refillable drink mug which you can use at any time at your resort! I’d say that is a great deal-especially when you need that coffee first thing in the morning!
Want to see what restaurants are included in the plan? Click on the link below for the official Disney plan info!
2013 Quick Service Plan
2013 Dining Plan
2013 Deluxe Dining Plan