Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Disney Speak - Disney Dining Plan

With the Disney Speak series I will continue to translate and explain the language of Walt Disney World.  It is ok if you don't know the ins and outs of everything Disney, because I do.  Today we will tackle the Disney Dining Plan.
The Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is a great way to add your meals onto your Disney vacation package.  It is a nice way to prepay for your food while at the world.  What do you get when you use the DDP? How does the DDP work?  How do I get it?  Let's find out!

Lots of snack choices that can work with the Dining Plan.
To purchase the DDP you have to meet certain requirements. You must be staying at a Walt Disney World resort. You must either purchase a park ticket with your resort stay, have an annual pass, or be staying on DVC points.  The number on nights you stay determines the numbers of days you get the DDP for. So, if you book a 4 night stay you get 4 days worth of meals. You book 7 nights you get 7 sets of meals. It has absolutely nothing to do with how many days are on your park ticket.  You also must buy the DDP for everyone on the resort reservation. You can not just get it for half the people in the room or not get it for little Susie because she is a light eater. Everyone must get it. 

Your table is waiting at 50's Prim Time Cafe.
The number of meals that you get with with the DDP are 1 table service credit, 1 quick service, and 1 snack credit per day.  You also get 1 refillable mug for the length of your stay.  

The Refillable mug.  It only works at your resort, not in the parks.
The system works like a credit or voucher system. The credits are tracked by using your Magic Band. You do not have use your credits in any special order or time frame, just use them by midnight the night you check out. If you want to eat all your meals on one day you can.

Your credit can get you high end food.

Let's look at what constitutes a table service meal. Any meal where you sit at a "table" and a server brings you everything or a buffet.  Your credit includes an entree, dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet.  All of the character meals are considered table service meals. Most of these meals require an "ADR" (advanced dining reservation).  Most meals are a very straight forward one credit. However, there are several meals that requires two of your credits. Some examples of 2 credit meals are Cinderella's Royal Table, Hoop Dee Doo, and California Grill.  

Any day that starts with Mickey Waffles is a good day.
Want unlimited mickey waffles, just book an ADR at a breakfast buffet. When you are looking at what meals to book you want to think about bang for your buck. Breakfast is often much cheaper then dinner. If you want to maximize the value of the DDP you want to use most of your Table Service credits for dinner. 

Why wait in line to meet someone, when you could eat.
Another great way to maximize credits and time is to do character meals. First off, character meals are expensive but they are very enjoyable. You kill two birds with one stone. You get to eat and meet mickey at the same time. 

Some meals offer exclusive characters.  Doc McStuffins is only available to meet at a meal.  There are also special outfits at many of the meals as well.  Want to meet Farmer Mickey or Hawaiian Mickey?  Just use a table service credit.

Princess, Princess, and more Princesses there are many opportunities to eat with royalty.  It is difficult to meet 4 different princess in an hour.  That makes the value of a character meal worth much more then just the food.  

Do you think you have to dine with someone that is furry?  Absolutely not.  Many of the the best uses of a dining credit does not involve a character.  There are many options that involve great themes and different cultures.  Lots of great culinary adventures await your palate it you allow yourself to get way from the buffets and burgers and explore.

Our favorite quick service in the Magic Kingdom.

Lets focus on the Quick Service credit now.  On the regular DDP you get one Quick Service credit a day.  This credit includes an entree, dessert, and one drink.  There are numerous options for the Quick service or as some people will call it "counter" service locations.  

Here at Sunshine Seasons their lots of options.  Our favorite in Epcot.

The kids meal will come with an entree, two sides, and a drink.  Most the time they make it look like the sides are predetermined, but you can ask and substitute french fries or a cookie.  We often get grapes and cookies.  

Free Ice Water at Disney!
You may think there are too many drinks on this table, that's because we always order a glass of ice water with our meal.  Ice water is free anywhere there is fountain drinks.  

Doug loves to use his snack credit for these (or Dole Whip)
It's SNACK TIME!!!!  You get one snack credit a day.  This might be the most confusing credit to use.  There are more options then you can count.  Basically you just need to look for the DDP snack credit logo.  Any menu item you see the logo next to you can get with your snack credit.  There are many items that can cost 5 to 6 dollars.

Popcorn and Mickey Bars!  Yes your credit can get you the traditional Disney snack.  Many people have the problem of left over credits at the end of their trip and end up in the shops getting little novelties with them.  Try to use them to get some thing good to maximize the value of the credit.

This location in the Magic Kingdom is great example of how you can get some things but not others.  You can get a funnel cake for $5.99 but you can't get the Waffle for $4.99.  It really doesn't make much sense.  This is also a good menu to show how you can get more bang for your buck.  That funnel cake or Ice cream Cookie Sandwich is a great use but a bottle of water would be a poor use.  In other words pay out of pocket for the drink and use the credit fro the Liberty Swirl Slush.  

It is fun to let the kids pick something from the big case of snacks!

After getting back from the parks a stop off in the food court is a great source of snacks.

Yes this $5 cupcake is a snack credit.  It can be found at the Contempo Cafe in the Contemporary Resort.  It is a red velvet cupcake with a cheese cake core!  

We will end with a 2 year old attempting to eat a Mickey Bar in the Florida heat.

What else do you need to know.  When you use your table service credit you will have to pay the tip.  If you have a party of 6 or more an 18% will automatically be added.  This is one thing you need to plan for when you budget.  There are a couple that the tip is covered by the dining credit, they are Cinderella's Royal table, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, Mickey's Backyard BBQ, and the Spirit of Aloha dinner show.   Appetizers are not included with the Table Service credit.  Drinks include soft drinks, coffee, and tea for the most part.  There are up charge type drinks that have glowing ice cubes and things of that nature.  Alcohol is also not included.  If you want something that is not include you simply have to pay out of pocket.  

There are several different levels of the DDP.  We just discussed the The Disney Dining Plan, but there is the Quick Service, Deluxe, Premium, and Platinum Dining plans.

Quick Service you get 2 Quick Service meals a day, one snack a day, and one refillable mug. (mug is only good at your resort)

Deluxe you get 3 meal credits(can be used on table or quick) and two snacks per day, and one refillable mug.  (mug is only good at your resort)

Premium you get 3 meal credits(can be used on table or quick) and two snacks per day, and one refillable mug.  (mug is only good at your resort)  You also receive unlimited selected recreation(i.e.miniature golf or watercraft rentals)

Platinum you get 3 meal credits(can be used on table or quick) and two snacks per day, and one refillable mug.  (mug is only good at your resort)  You also receive unlimited selected recreation(i.e.miniature golf or watercraft rentals).  Also unlimited admission to select theme park tours, admission to the children's activity centers, spa treatments, and much more.

On the Premium and Platinum plans every meal is only one credit.  So, if you wanted to eat 3 table service meals a day you could.

Is it worth it?  That is the big question and the answer depends on how your family eats.  When touring the Disney Parks it is nice to sit down once a day and relax while you eat.  I think that makes the regular DDP the most appealing to my family.  Some families can eat three buffets in a day which would make the Deluxe plan fit better.  The main thing is picking the right plan for you.

The other important thing is picking the right meals.  If you plan on doing a character meal a day then getting the dining plan is a good move.  The meals that you need to book 180 days in advance tend to be the ones that get you the best value for your credits.  

For a list of some of our dining reviews look HERE!

Bon Appetit 

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