Quiz: Is the Disney Dining Plan for You?
Quiz: Is the Disney Dining Plan for You?
“Save up to 30% on Walt Disney World dining costs with the Disney Dining Plan.” That’s how Disney advertises one of its dining plans. With the dining plans accepted at over 100 different restaurants at Walt Disney World, how can you go wrong? In my case, it can be summed up in two words. Marital Harmony.
Disney Dining Plan Basics
Purchase dining credits to use at Walt Disney World restaurants, character dining, dinner shows, and even private in-room dining through one of Disney’s dining plans. Depending on the plan you purchase the dining credits will be for a combination of snacks (think water, Mickey ice cream bars, or even cupcakes), table-service restaurants, and quick-service (counter-service) locations; you’ll receive credits for every day of your Magic Your Way Package stay. The Disney dining plans offer significant savings on the cost of food provided. Notable restrictions on dining plans are gratuities and alcohol. My favorite feature of the dining plans is the ability to use credits in any order and combination that suits you. If you go hog wild and use all your snack credits on the first day, no one will say no though you may wish they had.
Here’s a summary of the three most common plans. The plan that fits my family best, Disney Dining Plan, offers one table-service meal, one quick-service meal, and one snack per person per day. Table-service and quick-service meals include an entrée, dessert (for lunch/dinner), and non-alcoholic beverage or a full buffet. The Quick-Service Dining Plan provides guests with two quick-service credits and two snack credits per day. The Disney Deluxe Dining Plan is truly deluxe. Enjoy two table-service meals, one quick-service meal, and two snacks each day. With the Deluxe Dining Plan, table-service meals add an appetizer.
Here’s a little quiz (based on the Disney Dining Plan) to help you decide if you should skip the Disney dining plans*.
Each question has the same answer bank:
- Sometimes, but not on vacation
You’re at a local buffet and have had your fill but want to make sure you get your money’s worth. Do you mosey back up for a third plate?
One of the most frequent complaints I hear about the dining plans is that there is too much food. Generally, Disney World offers well-portioned entrees – you won’t leave feeling hungry. Add a dessert to lunch and dinner, plus a daily snack item that may be substantial, and well, I feel ready to burst toward the end of the trip. Sure, I could forego a dessert or two, but if it comes with my dining plan meal, who am I to say no?
Think about how you normally dine at home. Odds are you’ll save money with the dining plans if you normally order a dessert, drink soda instead of water, and prefer a filet over a salad or light pasta dish. But, if using the Disney dining plans means you’re paying for food you normally wouldn’t eat, you may not be saving as much as you think.
A new restaurant has opened in town! While reading the local paper, you notice an advertisement for the restaurant – save 20% off a promotional menu. You’re really in the mood for your favorite burger joint. Do you try the new place instead?
This quiz question focuses on flexibility. We make Advance Dining Reservations (ADRs) for dinner every night but breakfast is usually a pastry and coffee in our room and lunch plans are flexible. Take the basic Disney Dining Plan. With a table-service ADR every evening and breakfast on the go, we pretty much have to use our quick-service for lunch. If that’s what’s required to save 30% on our dining, I’m game. My husband is not. He’ll tell you straight-up, “I’m on vacation.” Translation: I don’t care if we have a credit for a quick-service meal. If I want to have lunch at a table-service location, I want to have lunch at a table-service location.
If you’re willing to give up a little dining flexibility, by all means consider the dining plans. Also, the dining plan is a plus if you want to try new restaurants that may not have fit your budget before.
You decide to try the new place in town but your first choice for the entrée isn’t on the promotional menu. Do you go to Plan B and order something that qualifies for the discount?
My husband is an appetizer man. It doesn’t matter what the appetizer is, one must be ordered. Go figure. We also rarely eat dessert right after dinner. If we do get a dessert at Walt Disney World, we like to try something from one of the bakeries a couple of hours after dinner.
According to the Disney Dining Plan’s “terms and conditions,” appetizers are not included; desserts are. Most people would skip the appetizer and settle on a gorgeous dessert. Is this how it plays out in my family? No. I’ll argue strenuously for ordering the items included on the dining plan. My husband will repeat his mantra of he’s on vacation. To keep the peace, we will pay out of pocket for the appetizer and for a pastry at a World Showcase bakery. I know we could have the dessert from our meal wrapped but who wants to lug leftovers around the park?
Let’s talk snack credit next. By carefully selecting the item you purchase with your snack credit, you can get the most out of your dining plan. Some snacks are large enough to be shared and others can qualify as a satisfying breakfast. I’ll search for snack items that give me the most value for my dollar, my husband won’t – he’ll choose whatever strikes his fancy at the time. Also, not all goodies we consider a snack qualify for the Disney dining plan. If this is the case, I’ll choose something else. My husband will not.
The ice cream parlor in town has the most decadent hand scooped ice cream sundaes. You drive by and notice the “Buy One, Get the Second Sundae Half Off” sign. You pull in. The rich sundaes are large enough to share and you’re not really all that hungry. Do you buy the second one anyway because it’s half off?
Everyone in your traveling group has to purchase the same Disney dining plan. So, you have to figure out if you’re really purchasing more food than you need (i.e. the second sundae) given your family’s preferences and your vacation plans. We have small children and for reasons I don’t understand, an appetizer is included in the children’s table-service meal. My four year old simply isn’t going to eat an appetizer, his meal, and dessert. Many counter-service meals are large enough to comfortably share which means he doesn’t need his own counter-service meal either. Whether the dining plans make sense for kids, or adults for that matter, depends on circumstances. If I had a nine year old who was a hearty eater, I’m sure I would get my money’s worth with the children’s dining plan but the reality is my four year old just doesn’t eat that much.
What Does It All Mean?
If you answered A (Always) to most questions, it’s a good bet the Disney dining plans are a good choice for your family. If you have a lot of B (Never) and C (Sometimes, but not on vacation) answers, you may want to re-think a decision to purchase a dining plan.
For the record, I answered A for most questions while my husband answered C. For us, saving a few dollars on the dining plans isn’t worth bickering about food and jeopardizing the carefree, relaxed nature of our Walt Disney World trips. We agree to disagree and usually purchase a Tables in Wonderland Membership instead.
*Disclaimer: This quiz was meant to be a bit of fun and to help you think about whether the Disney dining plans are for you. It’s not scientific and there was no control group so please don’t email me about the lack of rigor in quiz design Also, despite my husband’s perceived shortcomings in the area of Disney dining, he is a really great guy!
Lisa M. Battista is the author of Beyond the Attractions: A Guide to Walt Disney World with Preschoolers When she’s not chasing after her little ones, you can most likely find her at the beach or in the kitchen trying her hand at a new recipe.