Before I had kids, I never really used a dining plan during my stay at Disney. I was not really informed about how much I would save if I used one, versus paying out of my pocket. The only thing I knew was that my wallet was substantially lighter when I didn’t use a plan-and I didn’t eat nearly the same amount of food. Having a plan or paying out of pocket is really a personal thing. I know we will spend money on food. I know we will spend money on souvenirs. But I never know how much. It’s one thing to budget for souvenirs, but budgeting for a week’s worth of food for a family of four at restaurants you don’t frequent, is a bit more difficult. Can it be done? Of course? But, it goes back to the topic of personality.
The first year we stayed as Disney Vacation Club members was our first year with the kids on a plan. We had more than ample amount of food for us, plus some. At that point, I think we paid something like $39 a night for adults and $9.99 for kids. That included one snack, one counter service with a drink and snack and one table service. We were standing in line at The Mara (AKL-Jambo) and we were behind an identical family of four. We had two full adult breakfasts (eggs, bacon, toast, waffle, coffee, bottle of juice) and two kids breakfasts (mickey waffles, bacon, milk, juice) and we just swiped our card. That only took 2 Adult and 2 Child counter services leaving one table service and a snack left for the day. Now, what did the other family pay? Their meal did not include the extra juice bottles and the total came to over $50! That was only one meal of the day! God help you if you go to a character meal! We recently visited and had dinner at Chef Mickey’s. Our bill for two adults and two children was well over $150 without tip-and that was just for dinner. Once you factor in a pricey quick service meal and the all you can drink refillable mugs, you are well over what you paid for the meal plan that day.
The best part about the plan is the variety of restaurants you can go to and the fact that if you have unused credits at the end of your trip, you can trade them in for snacks to take home! One quick service meal equals three snacks. No money spent on the plan is wasted. Plus, you also get a refillable mug that you can use at your resort during your stay and then you get to keep it. My husband is getting a bit annoyed at all my Disney cups, but I don’t care. It makes me feel like I’m still there! 🙂
Just remember that regardless of whether you are on the plan or paying out of pocket, you are responsible for all gratuities! The cast members work hard to provide you and your family with quality service, they deserve to be tipped accordingly. Maybe as a nice gesture when you go to pay, write a nice thank you for great service at the top of the receipt. The little things you do can make a big difference in the life and career of a server.
And now, Eating In Room