Everyone LOVES to get a deal on food because it can be so expensive! There are definitely ways to save money on food at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland! I hope you enjoy my tips!
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World has a lot of options for dining. You should be cautious and make sure that the Disney Dining Plan is right for you, before adding it to your package. It’s actually quite expensive and only worth it if you make the most of it. For instance, if your children are small or don’t eat a lot, you’re going to be wasting your money. You would be better off buying food as you go. (Tip: You can split meals to save even more money if you go this route!)
If you do have multiple older children who aren’t considered a child at Disney any more, you are staying on site at Walt Disney World and plan on eating every meal at restaurants, or a family that just plain eats a lot, then the dining plan is probably a great fit for you. You should start planning your Walt Disney World vacation at least 6 months ahead of time and watch out for the FREE dining offer that Walt Disney World puts on occasionally. This offer is the golden egg of Disney discounts, in my opinion, but keep in mind that this offer is not guaranteed! We never know if and when Disney will offer it so book your vacation as usual and just keep an eye out for it in the mean time. Disney will adjust your reservation for you if it does become available!
So now that you have decided to add a Disney Dining Plan to your package what can you do to make the most of it? Well first of all I’m talking about the Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining plan. Here’s what it looks like:
Disney Dining Plan
With your Disney Dining Plan, for each night of your package, each Guest in your party (ages 3 and up) receives:
1 Table-Service Meal
Each (adult or child) table-service meal includes:
1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
1 full buffet
1 Quick-Service Meal
Each quick-service meal includes:
1 entrée or 1 complete combo meal
1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
Examples of snacks are: 1 frozen ice cream novelty, popsicle, fruit bar, popcorn scoop (single-serving box), single-serving bag of snacks, single piece of whole fruit, 20-oz. bottle of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite or Dasani water, 22-oz. fountain soft drink or juice, 12-oz. coffee, hot chocolate or hot tea, single-serving prepackaged milk or juice
Children ages 3-9 must order from a Children’s Menu where available. Plan must be purchased for entire length of stay and for the entire party (ages 3+). Meals are non-transferable between party members and expire at midnight on day of check-out.
1 Resort-Refillable Drink Mug Per Person
Bring your Resort mug to any quick-service restaurant at your Disney Resort hotel and refill it as often as you like!
So how can you get the most value out of this particular plan? Here are some tips:
Share meals and choose snacks instead of desert:
Why would you do this if your meals are already included and therefore technically free? Even if you have children or a husband with a wooden leg, you can probably get more out of your meals than you think at Walt Disney World. Their meals are portioned quite large and you get a drink and dessert at every lunch or dinner meal. I would recommend looking at the portion sizes of other people in the restaurant to see what they have gotten before ordering. You may be able to split plates with your children and make your meal credits last longer. This is especially helpful if you plan on using two credits for a fancy dinner out or character meal at some point during your stay. (See Tip 4) You can also swap out drinks for additional snacks to go or your dessert for a snack or salad.
Use your quick service credits for supper and sit down credits for lunch:
There are no requirements as to what time of day you use your credits for a sit down meal or how many quick service or sit down meals you use in one day. The total number of meals you have is held in a pool for the total length of your stay. Lunch is often a perfect time of day to eat a sit down meal so that you can get out of the hot sun in the parks, enjoy a nice long rest and eat a huge meal to replenish your energy that you’ve already spent in the park! This tip requires planning ahead if you plan on fitting in a character meal at lunch in the park because those reservations fill up quickly.
Use your snack credits for breakfast or your quick service credits for snacks:
Snack credits can disappear really quickly in the parks, especially if you use them on water. Make sure you take advantage of using your refillable mug at your resort before going into the park for drinks and use your snack credits for a cheap breakfast of coffee, muffins or fruit at a take out restaurant or gift shop before leaving your hotel. You can also use one quick service meal credit for three snack items if you buy them all at once!
Use your credits for Character Dinner Experiences or a Disney Dinner Show:
You can use your Disney dining credits to book special meals such as character dining experiences or dinner theatres. The best part – unless you’re choosing to eat at the Castle at Magic Kingdom the character meals are still only going to use up one of your table service meal credits! Dinner Shows are another story – they require 2 table service credits. Don’t worry though – if you want to see a dinner show (and I highly recommend you do at least once) then you can stretch out your meal credits the way I mentioned above or use just purchase another quick service meal at a park on one day. It’s going to cost much less than purchasing the dinner show on top of your dining plan. TIP: While you can use a table service credit for a character breakfast, but I don’t recommend it. Based on the cost of breakfast, you’re not getting as much value out of your credits.
Use your credits the day you arrive or the day you leave:
Since your Disney Dining Plan will activate the moment you check in to your hotel and stays active until the end of your final day if you are able to stretch out your credits using my tips mentioned above you’ll be able to cover more meals on more days making the magic last even longer! Plus you do not want to have unused meals left at the end of your stay. (I’ve never had this happen!)
Disneyland doesn’t have a dining plan but they do have a lot of amazing restaurants and serve very large portions! My best tips for eating at Disneyland are:
Many of the meals at Disneyland come with snacks on the side, drinks and dessert. Some of them, especially entrees are just really large portion sizes. Seniors, small children and people who don’t have a big appetite will probably be able to split a meal at many restaurants and have more than enough food to fill both people.
Did you know you can exchange your drink or dessert at a quick service or table service meal for a healthier option such as salad or a snack to go for later. This is a great way to get more value out of your purchase!
Bring Your Own Snacks & Breakfast Items:
You can keep snacks in your hotel room and breakfast items such as bagels and peanut butter to reduce the amount you actually spend in the parks each day.
Get Water For Free:
Water and Ice are free anywhere you can buy a fountain drink. Bring your own bottle and fill it up often!
Order From The Kids Menu:
It’s ok for adults to order from the kids menu. With all the free sides and drinks that are included it’s often more than enough. Also – quick service restaurants will usually be much cheaper than sit down service and provide just as much food.
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Do you have any tips for making the most out of the Disney Dining Plan? Please comment below. I would LOVE to hear them!