The summer before my September 2010 trip Disney was offering a great deal. “Free Dining Plan” they said. Awesome! Except I wasn’t eligible. Or so I thought! When I first booked my trip the cast member signed me up the deluxe dining plan.
In case you’ve never heard of the deluxe dining plan the rules for it go a little something like this: 3 meal credits a day and 2 snack credits a day per person per night of your vacation. Meaning for my 7 day 6 night Disney vacation I was able to have 18 meal credits and 12 snack credits.
After I had already paid full price (At the time this was $72 per person per day) for the plan I went online and saw that you could still get free dining on regular dining plan or you could get deluxe dining for a way reduced rate. I called Disney a second later and got my $500 off my dining… I know. It’s awesome!
So how did I like the dining plan you ask? (Ok maybe you didn’t ask but I am answering) I personally LOVED it. But I also see why it gets mixed reviews. Let me tell you what I loved about deluxe dining and then you can make up your own mind.
What I loved most about it is I didn’t have to think about or budget out food for my trip. It was already paid for! I could just walk into any (eligible) restaurant I wanted, sit down and enjoy the food. Ok truth be told I found myself the weeks before my trip being a total ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) freak and trying to plan everything out perfect. But once I got to Disney I just went with the flow and ate where I wanted.
I also got to try places that I would have overlooked. For example me and my best friend decided to would be great fun to use a dining credit at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary. I would never have wanted to pay the $36 out of pocket. But a dining cred?! Sure. Why not?
Having the dining plan also made it so I could go to restaurants that I couldn’t afford to go to otherwise. I was able to go to 3 different Signature (read: expensive) dining restaurants and 2 of those I went to twice! For me being able to go to Citricos and California Grill twice in one trip made the deluxe dining plan completely worth it! Most signature places are 2 credits off the dining plan but that’s not too much to ask.
Now a word of caution: Not every part of my meal was paid for. If I wanted alcohol (and I did) that came out of my own pocket. Also tips were out of my own pocket. So even though I would go to a restaurant and get over $100 worth of food and pay nothing I would still have to tip according what I would’ve paid. And let me tell you tips add up quick! So even though most of my food was paid for when you add up tips and alcohol I probably spent as much as I saved. (Contrary wise if I hadn’t had the dining plan I would’ve had to spend twice as much.)
Anyone paying attention will have noticed that I said the meal plan comes with snack. They would also notice that I did not mention snacks. This is because with all of the regular food I couldn’t find room in my stomach for snacks! But a smart planner might use the snacks as breakfast and use the meals for lunch and dinner. The other way snacks help is one snack credit is a bottle of water which you need in September in Florida.
In any case that was my experience with the dining plan. As of this post I am fairly certain there are no free dining deals floating around so if you do decide to go for deluxe dining it will cost you $79 per person per day. However if it helps your decision $79 will barely pay for one diner at California Grill! Happy dining!
- Disney Dining Plan or Deluxe Disney Dining Plan… Which To Choose? (chipandco.com)
- Deluxe Dining, More than a Meal (chipandco.com)
Thank you for visiting Chip and Co. Be sure to sign up for our Daily Newsletter where we deliver the best in Disney News & Planning Tips to your inbox! You can find us all over the internet at Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, and even our Tee Public Store!
DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for products that I recommend on our website. If you purchase those items through my links I will sometimes earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. In fact, I oftentimes am able to negotiate a lower rate (or bonuses) not available elsewhere. Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to pay for my website, and continue to offer you lots of free stuff. Thank you, in advance for your support!
Latest posts by Chip and Co Guest Blogger (see all)
- Episode VII Fans Celebrate Rey Day 2016 at Disneyland Park - January 27, 2016
- 10 Disney Souvenirs You’ll Be Glad You Bought - December 30, 2015
- Walt in Walt’s Disneyland Footsteps Tour Review - September 4, 2015