Monthly Archives: August 2013

Disney Dining Plans explained!!

Have you heard of the Disney Dining Plans? 

Disney introduced these plans in 2005.  The concept is pretty simple…if you stay at a Disney resort and purchase a package including park tickets, you can participate in the Dining Plan!  At first, there was one simple plan offered. However, Disney understands that everyone has different needs, different budgets, and different expectations.  So…the plans have “morphed” into many choices!  I’ll do my best to explain below.

The Disney Dining Plan…my personal favorite!

If you participate in the regular dining plan, each guest is given 1 Table Service credit, 1 Quick Service credit, and 1 Snack credit per night of stay.  You don’t have to use them each day or in a certain order, though.  For instance, if you want to participate in a dinner show or Signature restaurant, you will need 2 Table Service credits for that one meal.  Or, if you aren’t interested in any of the Table Service restaurants at Animal Kingdom, but want to try 2 different ones out the next day at Hollywood Studios, then you can use 2 quick-service the first day and 2 table-service the next.  Disney doesn’t care how you use your credits.  They simply give you a “bank” of credits to use during your stay.

One word of caution…if you are flying to Disney and staying 5 nights, but plan on being in the parks for 6 days…you only get 5 nights of credits…so plan wisely on how you will pay for the additional food you will need.

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A sampling of foods from the African buffet “Boma~Flavors of Africa” at Animal Kingdom Lodge

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One of our FAVORITE restaurants, Liberty Tree Tavern…YUM!

The Quick-Service Dining Plan

This plan is for those who don’t want to eat fancy while at Disney…who don’t care about trying new foods or taking a break during the day to sit down.  People who want to hit the parks hard without stopping love this plan. It’s a bit cheaper since your using your 2 quick-sevice credits per day on Disney’s version of “fast food.”  Like the regular dining plan, you also get 1 snack credit per day, as well.

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Totally recommend this place at Animal Kingdom…delicious, and the views are incredible.

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Here’s a quick-service hot dog.  Casey’s Corner at Magic Kingdom and Fairfax Fare at Hollywood Studios both have these and were highly recommended to us.  We didn’t like it at all, though. 😦

Disney’s Deluxe Dining Plan

This one is for those of you who worry about having enough food for all 3 meals per day. You want flexibility to eat at any table service restaurant that you’d like as often as you’d like.  Maybe it’s your goal to try each and every restaurant Disney has to offer over the years.  This may or may not be my goal.  🙂  I haven’t participated in this plan yet.  It basically gives you 3 meal credits plus 2 snack credits per night of stay per person.  You can use the meal credits at table service restaurants, quick service dining, etc.  This one costs a considerable more amount of money, and I personally wouldn’t recommend it if you aren’t going to be visiting Disney multiple times over the years.  Obviously, to get the most value for your money on this plan, you feel like you have to eat at a table-service restaurant for each and every meal.  From experience, I can tell you that a table service meal is usually 1.5-2 hours each. So, if you are okay with spending 4.5-6 hours of your day sitting down to eat, then GO FOR IT!  Or…if you want to spend your trip doing all Signature Dining restaurants (requiring 2 credits per person per meal), this may be a good option, also. I hope to someday…but for now, we just try new restaurants at each trip.  I have some tips below for how to get that “3rd” meal you may be worried about…

 

The Premium and Preferred Dining Plan package options

This is the creme de le creme. I probably spelled that wrong…  You get the perks of the Deluxe Dining plan PLUS preferred fireworks seating, unlimited use of select recreation such as golf and boating, seating at Cirque de Soleil, unlimited use of Kids Care centers at Deluxe resorts, and unlimited access to backstage tours.  It also makes ALL dining experiences except for Victoria and Alberts only cost 1 dining credit, no matter if they are a Signature dining experience or not.

And for a little more money (or alot more…), you also get your own personal itinerary planner, tickets to the Richard Petty Driving Experience, Fireworks Cruises, reserved seating at Fantasmic, private in-room babysitting, and Spa Treatments.

If I ever win the lottery…I just might have to enjoy this little lap of luxury.  🙂

 

Some tips about the Dining Plan:

If you are concerned that the Regular Dining Plan and the Quick Service Dining Plan only offer 2 “meals” per day, there are some easy ways to combat this!

  • Use a snack credit to buy a yummy cinnamon roll or breakfast item at one of the parks’ many bakeries and eateries.
  • Use one of your Table service credits to eat at one of the many awesome breakfast buffets. Plan on a later breakfast so that you fill up and can easily skip lunch and just use your snack credit to help you get by until dinner.  Then, plan an early dinner to skip the long lines/crowds.
  • Ask me about using a local grocery delivery service to order some breakfast items/snacks to keep in you hotel mini-fridge.  For under $50, you can stock up on bagels, cream cheese, coffee creamer, pop tarts, cereal, microwavable bacon, oatmeal, and more to last you an entire week.  The grocer will deliver the day of your check in to the resort concierge who will then deliver to your room when you arrive.
  • Budget some extra money for eating extra meals.  Simple as that. I recommend breakfasts, though, as they are definitely the least expensive meals.

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Cinnamon Roll from Gaston’s Tavern at Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom

Another thing to make note of are the rules of children.  If you are staying at a resort with a child under 3, they are free. However, they will not be able to dine on the dining plan, so you’ll need to plan on sharing meals with your tot, or buying them separately if you think they’ll need more food than that.  Also, children ages 3-9 can ONLY order off of the children’s menus.  However, children over 9 are charged as adults. So…your picky 10 year old who only likes chicken nuggets and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can order off of the kid’s menu if they want to, but you are paying premium for it!

 

Overall, I LOVE the dining plan.  We like to pinch pennies and have tried to see if it would be easier for us to just pay cash for food when we got there, but ultimately, we LOVE the flexibility of ordering STEAKS and LOBSTER whenever we want without having to stay within a budget while on vacation. 

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I did pay a little extra for this Glow-Tini…and it was worth it. 🙂

If you have any questions about the dining plan or any other aspect of your dream vacation, let me know!  I LOVE to talk!

Animal Kingdom Lodge

We were pretty excited on our last trip to WDW to visit Animal Kingdom Lodge to dine for dinner at Boma~Flavors of Africa.  We arrived early so we could explore the resort a bit, first.  It was AMAZING!

When we arrived, we were immediately greeted by the valet service with the words, “Welcome Home!”  This, in itself, is purely magical.

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While we waited for my husband to park the car, we visited with a lady who taught the kids how to play this instrument:

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We went inside and were completely in awe of the gorgeous browns and oranges – a perfect Safari feeling.  I was in the midst of pure bliss!

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There are decorations EVERYWHERE.

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This is the view from the balcony outside….well, I should say one of the MANY views…

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Of course, what kid (or BIG kid like me…) can resist a bridge?

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My baby had the idea of posing this way…

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And here’s one of all of us.  We all had matching shirts!  Well, except me.  LOL

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I didn’t get any pictures of the area outside that we walked around, but it was alot of fun…a nice fire, some animal exhibits, etc.

After exploring, we went to Boma to eat.  This is a buffet full of TONS of different dishes commonly served in Africa.  They have a few American-type dishes, too, for the picky eaters. LOL!

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This is called “Jungle Juice” and is very popular at the lodge, as well as in the Animal Kingdom theme park. It’s basically pineapple juice, orange juice, mango juice, etc. all mixed together. It’s pretty tasty! And just a fun tidbit…because of the animals nearby, they don’t serve plastic straws here or at the Animal Kingdom theme park…only paper straws!  My kids found this odd.  I was sure to explain to them why it was better, though!

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And just for fun, some pics of (most of) my family…

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We’d love to stay here someday.  I’m not sure if we want to stay here or the Polynesian first, but I am SO glad we took time out to see one of the resorts we have loved from “pictures” for several years!  If you like what you see, I encourage you to explore, too!!!!

Have a magical day!