Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?

Disney Dining Plan

By Mike Ellis.  The Disney Dining Plan is often a subject of great debate between Disney fans.  Some people swear by the Disney Dining Plan, insisting that they do not experience their vacation fully without adding the Disney Dining Plan — or getting it for free through a Disney promotion.  Others insist that the Disney Dining Plan isn’t worth the money you spend, that you end up overeating, not enjoying yourselves as much, and that the resort drink mug you get with your plan just isn’t worth it.

So where does the truth lay?  I’m betting that it is somewhere in the middle…

In this post, I’m going to take an in-depth look at the Disney Dining Plan and help you discover if it is worth it for your family, and if it isn’t, I’m going to also explore some options that may be a better fit for you.  As always, I invite you to comment and let me know your thoughts, and tell me — do my points make good sense or do you think I’m full of it?

Disney Dining Plan Options

There are three different Disney Dining Plan options.  Here they are, along with a quick description of what each plan offers you:

  1. Quick Service Dining — The Quick Service Dining plan will give each person in the travel party aged three and up two counter service meals per night of stay, plus one snack, along with a refillable resort drink mug.  The Quick Service Dining plan is the least expensive option.
  2. Plus Dining — The “Plus” Dining plan option is the one most people go for — it includes one table service meal, one counter service meal, and one snack per person, per night of stay, for everyone aged three and up.  It also includes the refillable resort drink mug.
  3. Deluxe Dining — The Deluxe Dining plan option gives each person in the travel party aged three and up three meals per night and two snacks per night of travel, along with the refillable resort drink mug.  The three meals can be any combination of table service and counter service meals.

Five reasons for the “Plus” Disney Dining Plan

For the purposes of this article, I am going to really focus on the most common option that people go for with the Disney Dining Plan — the “Plus” Dining option.  Here are my top five reasons why we love the Disney Dining Plan:

  1. I like the idea of having my vacation expenses already taken care of as much as possible before my vacation.  By ordering the Disney Dining Plan, I already know that I have my dining taken care of except for any alcoholic beverages (which are really few and far between) and gratuities to our wait staff.
  2. I am a person that likes to eat.  As a result, I like being able to try out restaurants that offer food that I won’t normally experience when I’m back home.  It is for this reason that I really enjoy Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway.  The food is authentic, and is something I just won’t experience back in North Carolina!
  3. One thing we like to reserve is character dining restaurants.  By doing so, we are filling our bodies with energy during our meal, and we’re also taking care of a large number of our character pictures and autographs that we want to get as well!
  4. As you all probably know, one of the biggest things that I love about our Disney vacations is the Disney Magic and special Memories that we have experienced.  Many of them have happened during our table service meals, and I don’t want to miss those opportunities!
  5. Lastly, while there are a great number of incredible counter service restaurants — for my top ten, just click here — eating the Disney equivalent of fast food does get old after a while, and I don’t think that it is nearly as healthy as a good, relaxing, sit down meal at a table service restaurant.  For these reasons, I really enjoy the Disney Dining Plan.

Five reasons against the “Plus” Disney Dining Plan

Now, in comparison, let’s take a look at five reasons why the Disney Dining Plan may not be the best option for you.

  1. Expense.  The Disney Dining Plan is not cheap — in fact, for a family of four (two adults and two children aged eight and five) that is going to Walt Disney World in late June for six nights and seven days, the cost of their dining plan comes out to $930.48!  That is a huge expense.  For a family on a budget, that is potentially a big savings, depending on how they plan to take care of their meals while they are there.
  2. Picky/small eaters.  In many cases, guests that travel to Walt Disney World are either very picky when it comes to the food they like, or don’t eat a whole lot.  In either case, if you are making one table service reservation after another for your stay, you may find yourself or your kids not eating very much, and definitely not getting your money’s worth with regards to what you are paying for the plan.
  3. Your family is always on the go.  If your family is the type of family that is always on the go, wanting to get to the next attraction and the next show and on and on and on, the Disney Dining Plan may not be for you because you might not want to take time away from your time enjoying the great attractions and shows.  In a case like this, the Quick-Service Dining Plan might be a good alternative for you.
  4. “Scheduling your vacation.”  In many cases, people don’t like to go for the Disney Dining Plan because they don’t like having to make reservations for restaurants — they feel like they are planning every minute of their vacation because of the reservation times for their table service restaurants.  In cases like this, the Disney Dining Plan is probably not for you.
  5. Lastly, if you are not staying on Disney property for your resort stay, you can not participate in the Disney Dining Plan.

Tables in Wonderland

Tables in Wonderland vs. Disney Dining Plan

So, if you are leaning in the “against” group when it comes to the Disney Dining Plan, it’s okay — you can still take advantage of the great Disney table-service restaurants to enjoy.  If you have a big enough party size, one option that may be of interest to you is the Tables in Wonderland card.  This special dining card — which, by the way, is only available to Florida Residents, member of the Disney Vacation Club, or Annual Passholders — offers 20% off dining costs at over 100 Walt Disney World restaurants, and is good for the cardholder and up to 10 additional guests.  The cost of the card is $100, and the card is good for one year from time of purchase.  However, if you use the Tables in Wonderland card, you will automatically be charged an 18% gratuity, so keep that in mind when using it.  There are cases where I don’t think the Tables in Wonderland card is going to result in savings.

I hope that this article has helped you in your understanding of the Disney Dining Plan, and whether or not it is right for you and your family.  If you are interested in a quote for travel of your own, click on the image at the bottom of this post or on my sidebar on the right.  Each will take you to my quote page where you can fill in your information and generate an email to me for requesting a quote.  Also, if you have any other questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments, or email me at Mike@PixieVacations.com.  Lastly, let me know — do you like the Disney Dining Plan, or do you do without it?  Let me know in the comments as well, and thanks for stopping by!

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Get ready for Epcot Future World!

Spaceship Earth, the Epcot Disney Weenie and the symbol of Future World!

Spaceship Earth, the Epcot Disney Weenie and the symbol of Future World!

Hello everyone!  As you may know, here at My Dreams of Disney we have a collection of Disney Planning Resources that we are proud of sharing with you. However, it is sad that we have many areas of Walt Disney World that we need to cover in more depth!  Starting this week, we are going to start filling in those gaps of information so that you, our readers, will be able to have much more information at your disposal to help you plan your Disney vacations better!  So, priority number one for us is going to focus on Epcot Future World!

Look for a series of posts about the various fun activities that you can find and enjoy in Future World, and thanks for stopping by!  We have a rough schedule, here is where I’m headed with this:

  1. An overview of all of the Future World pavilions in a general post.
  2. Breakdowns of each Future World pavilion in greater detail.
  3. Selected posts on the favorite attractions and restaurants of each pavilion, if applicable.
  4. A series of rankings:
    1. Favorite Pavilion
    2. Favorite Attractions
    3. Favorite Restaurants

I hope that this information gives you some excitement over our mini-project!  At the very least, it gives me a to-do list to work off of!  Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to comment below on what your favorite Future World things are!

 

Magical Blogorail – Disney Online Planning Resources!

MBRed Logo 2013

Welcome to those of you joining me from Growing Up Disney and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Today’s topic is about our online planning resources.  Other than our own sites or those of the Magical Blogorail Red line, what are some of our favorite social media or other online planning resources for planning our Disney vacations?

You know, it’s kind of funny to me, when I really sat down and started thinking about my online planning resources, it was kind of hard to come up with a concrete list.  I have a TON of Disney sites I read — including my teammates here on the Red line — but generally speaking, I’m reading their sites more for their trip reports, incredible pictures, and unique stories that they tell us than I am for planning tips.  In fact, and I’m sure that I’m being short-sighted in my trip planning — but I can probably narrow my online planning resources down to three sites — or less!

Online Planning Resources

Walt Disney World’s main website

I’ve been using the Walt Disney World website for several years now, really ever since we first started staying on Disney property way back in 2007.  This site, while it does have it’s technology hiccups — and being a TA and and IT guy, I know all about them — also has a wealth of information about so many things related to the Walt Disney World resort. Here are just a few of the things you can find there:

  1. Detailed information on the resorts, the parks, and the dining options.
  2. Incredible customized maps that you can have printed on special paper and mailed to your house — and they are free!
  3. The park schedules for knowing when they are open and when they close, and what time some of the shows are going on.
  4. The new My Disney Experience section — which, while it is still quite buggy and full of hiccups, will get better in time.

Touring Plans

I recently started using the Touring Plans website to create customized touring plans for my clients.  This is one of the free services that I provide for my clients.  It is a useful tool in helping you see as many attractions as possible while spending as little time as possible in lines.  As a site goes, it feels a little wonky to navigate, but it is stocked with many touring plans that you can customize for you and your family, and there are plans for all situations, all times of the year, and more, so I highly recommend you check them out if you are interested!

The MouseChat.net Podcast

There really aren’t a whole lot of podcasts that I listen too — but one that I really do listen to, in many cases just for the sheer entertainment I get out of it — is the MouseChat.net Podcast.  I listened to it before I started my endeavors as a travel agent, and I listen to it now as well.  The gang of Chris, Steve, Lisa, Lauren, and Bob never fail to make me smile and crack me up when I listen to them!

That about wraps it up for me — not that many things to research, right?  But somehow, we seem to be doing okay none-the-less!

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney Donna Kay.

Red Map Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ A World View
2nd Stop ~ Growing Up Disney
3rd Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney
4th Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay
Final Stop ~ Colorado Mountain Mom

Disney Gift Card Promotion for 2013 and 2014 travel!

Disney-Quote-pixie-vacations

This past Wednesday, the 10th, Disney opened up the reservation system to allow agents to book Disney vacations for their clients for the 2014 calendar year, with few exceptions.  Are you or your family interested in taking a vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or any of the other exciting Disney Destinations next year?  Well, if you are, I can help!

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Magical Blogorail Red – Favorite Disney Souvenir!

Welcome to those of you joining me from Growing Up Disney and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 4th stop on our Magical Blogorail. Welcome aboard the Magical Blogorail Red line!  I am your pilot Mike, here to navigate you around the world of my favorite Disney souvenir!  As you can tell by the picture above, I am a huge fan of Pin Trading!  I first started trading pins in 2008, and it is a fun and enjoyable thing that I like to do during my Disney vacations!  My daughter likes to trade pins also, but unlike me, she is into it more for the enjoyment of trading, and less about collecting special pins.  That is what I enjoy about it.  Last year, for the 1st Anniversary of my blog, I gave away those two special pins in a  contest that also commemorated the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World, but don’t worry — I bought two of them so that I could enjoy them as much as the person that won the contest!

Pin Trading is just a fun little hobby for me.  I don’t really do much with it outside of our vacations, but it’s nice to take a look at all of the different pins and select ones that you want to add to your collection.  Here are some of the pins I have on my lanyard right now.  Enjoy!

The world of Pin Trading is yours to explore.  It doesn’t take a whole lot to get started — you can purchase your own lanyards at places like the Dollar Tree or other dollar stores, and you can go online to eBay and buy pins for a significant reduction per pin versus what you would pay if you bought them at Disney.  After that, all you do is trade and look for the best pins to start your own collection!  It’s that simple!

Thank you for joining me today. Give it up for your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop: Disney Donna Kay!

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Colorado Mountain Mom

2nd Stop ~ A World View

3rd Stop ~ Growing Up Disney

4th Stop ~ My Dreams Of Disney

Final Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay