Dining Plans at Disney World

My husband and I love the dining plans at Disney World.  We like not having to worry about setting aside enough money to eat while we’re on our trip.  It’s nice knowing it is already paid for as part of our vacation package.  For us, it makes life easier.  All we have to worry about is paying for tips for table service meals, and any alcoholic beverages we may want to try.  We try to keep expenses low.

Meal at T-Rex Restaurant, Downtown Disney.

Meal at T-Rex Restaurant, Downtown Disney.

I know a lot of people worry about how the dining plan works, and whether it is cost effective.  It all depends on your family.  I always advise friends to make sure they use ALL of their points/credits.  Don’t let them go to waste.  Also, it’s a nice way to take advantage of going to some of those character dining or signature dining experiences that you would normally pass up because of the cost.

In this post, I’m not going to get into whether getting a dining plan is the best option for your family, but I will give you a breakdown of what you get with each of the three main dining plans.

Dining plans are for guests ages 3 and over.  Guests 2 and under, cannot get a dining plan, but can eat from your plate.  You can also buy a separate kids meal for kids 2 and under.  Kids are required to order from the kid’s menu, no exceptions.  For each plan, this is what you would be entitled to per day, but with that in mind, you have access to all of your dining points/credits from the start of your trip.  I will explain further in a moment.

Quick Service Dining Plan

  • 2 quick-service meals
  • 1 snack
  • 1 refillable mug (for length of stay)

Standard Dining Plan

  • 1 table-service meal
  • 1 quick-service meal
  • 1 snack
  • 1 refillable mug (for length of stay)

Deluxe Dining Plan

  • 3 meals (any combination of table-service and quick-service)
  • 2 snacks
  • 1 refillable mug (for length of stay)

Below, I’ll list what you get with a table service or quick service meal.  It can be a lot of food, so be prepared to eat well while on vacation.

1 Table Service Meal 

Each table service meal includes:
1 entrée
1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage
Or
1 full buffet

1 Quick Service Meal

Each quick service meal includes:
1 entrée or 1 complete combo meal
1 dessert (lunch and dinner only)
1 single-serving, non-alcoholic beverage

1 Snack
Examples of snacks are: 1 pretzel, Dole whip, 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, pot stickers, egg roll, nachos, cheesy pesto bread, and chicken fried rice…and many more.

(Some of my favorite snacks are in the World Showcase at Epcot.  It’s fun to eat around the world, especially if you are there during the Food and Wine Festival.  If you use your snack credits at Epcot, you are bound to walk away satisfied.)

My daughter loves the Mickey Waffles.  Breakfast at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom.

My daughter loves the Mickey Waffles.  Breakfast at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom.

So you may be wondering how this all works.  Okay, say you’ve booked a 3 night stay at a Disney resort and decided to get the Quick Service dining plan.  You would be entitled to 2 quick service meals and one snack per day.  That means for a 3 night stay, you’d have a total of 6 quick service meals and 3 snacks to use for the length of your stay.  You can use them however you want.  You can choose to have three quick service meals one day, two snacks and one quick service meal another day, and one snack and two quick service meals your last day.  You can use it in any order you want, and on any day you want.  If you check in on Monday, spend Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights there, and check out on Thursday…you can still use your meal plan points/credits after you’ve checked out on Thursday.

On our departure day, we use up any remaining points/credits we have left.  If we have any snacks remaining, we get grab and go snack items.  The great thing about grab and go items is you can pack them up and take them home.  It works out for us.

We love the refillable mug too.  It’s a cute mug that comes in a few different colors.  You can pick one up on the first night of your trip, then you can use it throughout your stay.  My husband loves to take his in the morning to get coffee.  Then, he’ll fill it up later in the day with other beverages to take back to our hotel room.  I will admit that my daughter and I aren’t very good with using our mug while on vacation, but we use them all the time at home the rest of the year.  We use our mugs when we’re running around to all of my daughter’s activities at home.  The mugs come in quite handy, and bring back fond memories of our vacations.

As far as dining plans go, we’ve had the Deluxe and the Standard plans.  We liked both, but the standard plan worked out better for our family.  We loved the flexibility of the Deluxe dining plan and having more snacks, but it was just too much food for us.  As some of you may know, some snacks at Disney World are big enough to be considered a meal, so when we were trying to use all of our meals and snacks, it was just too much.  We were stuffed.  We enjoyed all the food, but we didn’t want to eat quite that much, and didn’t want to take that much time out of our day to eat so many meals.  The Standard dining plan had just the right amount of meals and snacks for us.  We were full and happy, and didn’t feel like eating took too much time out of our day.  Would we ever try the Deluxe dining plan again?  My husband definitely would, but for now, I think we’ll stick to the Standard dining plan.

When picking the right dining plan for your family, it’s important to consider how much time you want to spend eating each day, and how much food you think you’ll be able to eat.  Remember, a lot of meals at Disney World can be quite large, and some snacks are the size of a small meal.  I’ve heard many families say they love the Quick Service dining plan because they don’t like to spend an hour or more sitting down for a table service meal.  I think that’s understandable.  When you invest your money into a trip, you don’t want to feel like you “wasted” too much time sitting down for meals.  However, sometimes I think it’s nice to have a few table service meals during your trip to relax and unwind.  If you do plan to do some table service meals, just make sure to make Advanced Dining Reservations before your trip.  (That’s a discussion for another day.)  Believe me, you will need the reservations for most Disney restaurants.

If you’d like to learn more about Disney Dining plans, check out the following link:

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/planning-guides/in-depth-advice/disney-dining-plan/

I hope this helps explain a little bit about how the dining plans work.  If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or send an email to me at Jenny.Westbrook@mickeyvacations.com.

Dining at Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom was a great experience.  During lunch, it's considered a Quick Service meal.

Dining at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom was a great experience. During lunch, it’s considered a Quick Service meal.

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Cool Summer Savings – Save up to 30%

Save up to 30% on rooms at select Walt Disney World Resort hotels.

For stays most nights between June 16 – August 27, 2015.

Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Book from March 23 to June 12, 2015

You can enjoy great benefits like complimentary transportation, amazing entertainment, and extra time in a theme park each day to enjoy select attractions.  (Valid theme park admission and resort id are required.)

Add on theme park tickets to make the most of the magic.

Contact me at Jenny.Westbrook@mickeyvacations.com for your free quote.  My services are always free to you, the customer.

Free Disney Dining is Here!

Just released today, you can get a FREE Dining Plan when you purchase a non-discounted 6 night/7 day package that includes a room at select Disney World Resort hotels (in Florida) and ticket with Park Hopper or Water Park Fun and More Option.  This deal is only good for arrivals select nights from August 28 – December 21, 2015.

Dining at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, 2014.

Dining at Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, 2014.

Here are the dates for FREE dining:

August 28 – October 2

October 25 – October 31

November 8 – November 19

December 15 – December 21

Book between April 27 to July 10, 2015!

For a free vacation quote, please contact me.  My services are always free to you, the customer.

Jenny.Westbrook@mickeyvacations.com

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Remembering my First Trip to Disney World in 1983

The first time I went to Disney World was the summer I turned 3 years old.  My birthday is in July, and we were in Florida for my birthday.  Talk about a magical birthday.

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I hear parents say all the time that they don’t want to take their kids to a Disney theme park until their kids are old enough to remember.  Well, depending on how good your child’s memory is when they get older, they may be able to remember a trip as young as when they are 2 or 3 years old.  The memories may be vague, but they are still memories.  Wonderful memories of feelings, smells, and things they saw or did.

If you re-enforce memories with pictures and stories, it will help cement them into your child’s memory for years to come.  In this day and age, the best way to capture memories is through video recordings and pictures.  Believe me, even if your child doesn’t remember anything from their first visit, they will still have a magical time while they are there, and you will have cherished videos and pictures that will last a lifetime.

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My memories of my first time at Disney World are fuzzy and a little vague, but they are still my memories, and I love them.  I cherish them.  We used to go down to Florida once or twice a year when we were growing up to visit my grandparents.  We went down to stay with my grandpa for a couple weeks in July 1983.  My grandma had passed away the previous winter, so it was just a visit with my grandpa this time.  I was technically still 2 years old when I went to Disney World for the first time.  My mom believes we went a few days before my 3rd birthday.  My parents and my older sister had gone a few times before without me.  They used to leave me with my grandparents when I was a baby.  My sister is 10 years older than me, and I believe they wanted a couple extra years of going to the parks without a little one tagging along.

From my first trip, I can remember the feeling of excitement. I can remember sitting on my grandpa’s shoulders to watch the parade.  I remember loving the parade, even though I can’t tell you anything about the parade now.  I remember resting in my stroller while people in my family took potty breaks.  I remember that my grandpa never went to the bathroom the entire time we were there, and my mom kept telling him he was going to have bladder problems.  I remember wanting a big pinwheel sucker, and my mom saying no.  The sucker was so colorful.  I remember feeling a sense of awe when I went on rides.  I remember that my favorite ride was It’s a Small World, and I loved singing the song.  (I sang it over and over again after that trip.)  I remember being very tired at the end of the day, and my dad carrying me to the tram.  I also remember the smells.  The smell of sweets and popcorn.

At Epcot, I'm on the steps of the Mexico pavilion with my parents.

At Epcot, I’m on the steps of the Mexico pavilion with my parents.

Show in front of the castle.

Show in front of the castle.

Now that both my dad and my grandpa are gone, I am very grateful to have these memories with them in it.  Family vacations are special.  No, you don’t have to go to Disney World to have a special family vacation, but there is something about a Disney vacation that is like no other vacation I’ve ever been on.  It’s magical.

There is a certain feeling I get inside every time I arrive at Disney World.  It’s excitement and anticipation.  Every time I walk into the Magic Kingdom and see Cinderella castle at the end of Main St., I get a feeling of nostalgia.  It feels like a home away from home.  It feels like childhood.  I feel giddy.  I may even get a little choked up remembering being there as a kid with my parents, my sister, and my grandpa.  As a teenager, we even took a few family trips where we invited friends along.  It was my friends’ first time going to Disney World, so I was able to show them the ropes and share all of my favorite things with them.  There is nothing like seeing the beautiful lights on all the floats during the Electrical parade, or seeing Disney fireworks for the first time in person.

As a young kid, the experience of meeting your favorite characters in person is a dream come true.  I’ve been able to take my daughter to Disney World twice now, and I loved seeing the look of awe on her face.  Her eyes lit up the first time she got to meet Princess Jasmine, and she was thrilled when Jasmine took the time to talk to her.  It was a magical experience for her.

2014

2014 – Kayla’s 2nd time meeting Jasmine.

2013

2013 – Kayla’s first time meeting Jasmine.

My daughter loved Disney World so much, it was all she could talk about when we got back home.  From the moment we got home, she was planning her next trip.  We told her we wouldn’t be able to go back for two years because we needed to save money.  She ended up striking a deal with grandma (my mom) to help pay for our next trip.  She got her wish, and we went back the next year.  The experience was just as magical the 2nd year.  And guess what, she has talked me into going back again this year.  It looks like this may be a yearly trip around her birthday.  Eventually, I’ll have to convince her to branch out and go to a different Disney destination, but for now her favorite place on earth is Disney World.  It’s mine too.

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Best Rides & Attractions for Preschoolers at Disney World – All Four Parks

In front of Dumbo ride.

My daughter waiting to ride Dumbo.

I’ve been to Disney World many times. The majority of my visits were when I was young, but I have been several times as an adult. I remember the rides I loved as a kid. They stand out in my mind and bring back great memories. There is nothing like being a child and going on the classic Disney rides for the first time. It truly is magical.

When taking little ones to Disney World (or Disneyland), it is important to check the height requirements for all of the rides in advance so you’ll know which rides they will be able to get on.  To simplify this task for you, I’ve put together a list of the best rides for preschoolers.  Some of these rides are quite tame, so even the youngest kids can ride.  Others are more for youngsters that are already thrill seekers.  You may want to take the time to read up on the rides to see which ones will be best for your kids.  If your kids are afraid of the dark, some of the “dark” rides may not be suited for them.  (Dark rides are usually boat rides that are in the dark with the scenes of the ride lit up for you to see.)

We’ve taken our daughter to Disney World twice now.  Once for her 3rd birthday, and once for her 4th birthday.  She is a thrill seeker, so she will go on any ride that she is tall enough to go on.  I do not recommend pushing your child to go on any ride that they are not ready to go on because it may instill a fear of rides in the future.  Tell your kids about the rides, show them videos online before your trip, and let them have some input on what rides they want to go on.

Here is my list of the best rides and attractions for preschoolers at Disney World.

Magic Kingdom

– Dumbo

– It’s a Small World

– Peter Pan’s Flight

– PeopleMover

– Winnie the Pooh

– Mad Tea Party

– Regal Carrousel

– Jungle Cruise

– Magic Carpets (just like Dumbo, but with Aladdin’s carpets instead)

– Railroad

– Buzz Lightyear

– Enchanted Tales with Belle (not really a ride, but still cute)

– Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid

– Mickey’s PhilharMagic (3D show)

For more daring preschoolers, like my daughter, there are even more options. Some of these have height requirements, so make sure your little ones are tall enough. I am focusing on rides that are for kids 5 and younger.

– Astro Orbiter

– Big Thunder Mountain (40 inches or taller)

– Barnstormer (35 inches or taller)

– Haunted Mansion

– Pirates of the Caribbean

– 7 Dwarfs Mine Train (the newest family roller coaster, 38 inches or taller)

– Splash Mountain (40 inches or taller)

There are all types of attractions for youngsters to enjoy at the Magic Kingdom. The parades and fireworks are pretty amazing, especially if it’s your first time.  Some of my favorite attractions as a kid were the Enchanted Tiki Room, Country Bears, and Carousel of Progress (which is also great for getting out of the heat).  I also loved the Electrical parade at night.  It’s a beautiful parade with lights and music.

Magic Carpets

Magic Carpets

Mickey's Philharmagic

Mickey’s Philharmagic

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Mad Tea Party - Tea Cups

Mad Tea Party – Tea Cups

It's a Small World

It’s a Small World

Regal Carrousel

Regal Carrousel

Epcot

– Spaceship Earth

– Journey into Imagination with Figment

– Gran Fiesta Tour (World Showcase, Mexico)

– Seas of Nemo and Friends

– Soarin (40 inches or taller)

– Test Track (40 inches or taller)

– Turtle Talk with Crush

There are other rides/attractions for the little ones to do, but some of them may not hold their interest very well. We actually used Ellen’s Energy Adventure to put our daughter down for a nap two years ago. She stayed awake up until she saw the dinosaurs, then she fell asleep on my lap. It’s a nice relaxing air conditioned ride for adults, but it can be a bit long for the kiddos.  Kids enjoy the kidcot fun spots, where they can do projects and color. It can keep the kids entertained while adults and older kids check out the shops.

Journey into Imagination with Figment

Journey into Imagination with Figment

Kidcot Fun Spots

Kidcot Fun Spots

Animal Kingdom

– Dinosaur (40 inches or taller)

– Kali River Rapids (38 inches or taller)

– Kilimanjaro Safaris

– TriceraTop Spin

There are a lot of shows, trails to see animals, and areas to keep the kids busy at Animal Kingdom. This was my husband’s favorite park because it’s more laidback. Not as many rides. It’s a great park for the nature lover. It also has an educational aspect to it.

Kilimanjaro Safari

Kilimanjaro Safari

Hollywood Studios (MGM to those of you that haven’t been there in years.)

– Great Movie Ride

– Star Tours (40 inches or taller)

– Toy Story Mania

– Tower of Terror (40 inches or taller)

Hollywood Studios is a great place to see lots of shows for the little ones. They have the Muppets, Disney Junior, Beauty and the Beast, and Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Hollywood Studios doesn’t have as many rides as some of the other parks, but the shows and atmosphere make it worth it. As of 2014, they have a Frozen Sing Along that will delight all the little Frozen fans.  My daughter loved it.

Toy Story Mania

Toy Story Mania

Disney World’s four theme parks are definitely geared towards kids and families. They have plenty of rides for young kids, with just enough stuff for older kids and adults to stay interested. I hear parents all the time worry about taking kids under 5 to Disney World because they think the little ones won’t have enough to do. Believe me, there will be more than enough stuff to keep your little one entertained at the World. It’s well worth the money.

Welcome!

I am excited to start this new blog.  I’ve been a blogger for awhile now, and have written Disney related blog posts in the past, but this will be my first official all things Disney blog.  With this blog, I plan to write about Disney World, Disneyland, the Disney Cruise, Adventures by Disney, and the Aulani Resort in Hawaii.  There will be news updates, reviews, tips, vacation ideas, and much more.  I can’t wait to share my experiences with you, and hear about your experiences.  I am a bit of a Disney fanatic, so I love to hear Disney stories from others.  As my 4 year old daughter would say, I hope you’re having a Disneytastic Day!

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