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Disney dining plan plus

Is the Disney World Disney Dining Plan Plus Worth it?

Earlier this year, Walt Disney World introduced a brand new dining plan for Disney resort guests, the Disney Dining Plan Plus. This new plan is a combination of the original Disney Dining Plan and the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan.

What is the Disney Dining Plan Plus?

The new Disney Dining Plan plus includes the following:

  • 2 meals per night
  • 2 snacks or non-alcoholic drinks per night
  • 1 resort refillable mug

The meals can be used for either quick-service or table service meals. You can also combine 2 credits and dine at a signature restaurant if you wish. Of course, if you plan on using the meals for quick-service restaurants, you should stick with the Disney Dining Plan, which is cheaper and would fit your plans better.

Currently (Spring, 2020), the cost for the Disney Dining Plan Plus is $94.60 for adults and $35.00for children (3 – 9 years old) per night of your stay. You must purchase a plan for your entire stay, and everyone in your party must purchase the same dining plan or no plan at all.

Let’s look at an average day for one adult and one child. That would cost $129.60 and include two meals for each person plus 2 snacks. We will leave the refillable mug out of the equation, as that only amounts to a dollar or two per night, depending on how long you stay.

We will look at three different options since this plan is so flexible. In the first example, our family is going to a character breakfast at their resort and then dinner at a table service in the parks, plus a few afternoon snacks. Let’s say they are staying at the Contemporary and then are in Epcot and pick these meals:

  • Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s – Contemporary – Total cost for this breakfast buffet (complete with Mickey and friends) is $83.00.
  • Afternoon Snack – Two Mickey Ice Cream Bars ($5.69 each). With tax, a total price of about $12.15.
  • Second Afternoon Snack – A bottle of diet coke ($4.50) and popcorn ($5.25), a total price of about $10.40.
  • Dinner at Tutto Italia – Epcot – Adult dinner of Bistecca del Macellaio ($36.00) plus Mocha Tiramisu for dessert ($12.00) and a fountain drink ($4.25). Child dinner of Spaghetti ($10.00) and a Gelato Sundae for dessert ($5.00). With tax, you get a total price of about $72.00.

So, for the two meals and two snacks, I get a rough total price of about $177.90

Our second option will include one deluxe table service dinner, plus the snacks of course.

  • Breakfast at Contempo Cafe – Contemporary – Mickey Shaped waffles ($10.29) plus orange juice ($4.99) for the adult and mini-Mickey Waffles ($6.99) and chocolate milk ($4.19) for the child. With tax, you get a total of about $28.31
  • Afternoon Snack – Two Mickey Ice Cream Bars ($5.69 each). With tax, a total price of about $12.15.
  • Second Afternoon Snack – A bottle of diet coke ($4.50) and popcorn ($5.25), a total price of about $10.40.
  • Dinner at Akershus (Norway) – Epcot – This restaurant features your favorite princesses and great food. With tax, you get a total price of about $104.00.

So, for the three meals and two snacks, I get a rough total price of about $154.86.

Option number three, one signature restaurant for dinner, plus the snacks:

  • Afternoon Snack – Two Mickey Ice Cream Bars ($5.69 each). With tax, a total price of about $12.15.
  • Second Afternoon Snack – A bottle of diet coke ($4.50) and popcorn ($5.25), a total price of about $10.40.
  • Dinner at California Grill – Contemporary – Adult dinner of Oak-Fired Fillet of Beef ($59.00) and Strawberry Creme Brulee ($16.00) and a fountain drink ($5.00). Child dinner of Wild Seared Salmon ($17.00) and ice cream ($11.00). Total price with tax is about $115.56

For the super nice dinner and two snacks, I get a rough total price of about $138.11.

For all of these options, I did not include alcoholic beverage (they are typically quite a bit more than soda), so the prices could be quite a bit higher.

You can see from the first two options, there is quite a savings by purchasing the Disney Dining Plan Plus. Even in the second example where you only did a quick-service breakfast, it still saved you money. Using your two credits for one deluxe dinner probably isn’t the best idea, but you do save some money.

Disney Dining Plan Plus PROS

  • With the examples shown above, you do save money. The more character meals you do and the fewer quick-service meals you do, the more money you save.
  • The plan is very flexible, allowing you to use your dining credits at just about any restaurant.
  • For most people, this plan is better than the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan since it is cheaper and you don’t have to be eating constantly to make it work for you.
  • The biggest benefit I try to explain to my clients is that with all the dining plans, everything is prepaid and budgeted, so you just show up and eat, no need to worry about the cost of meals, how much money to bring or trying to order the cheapest thing on the menu just to save money. Just enjoy, that is the idea of going to Disney World, isn’t it?

Disney Deluxe Dining Plan CONS

  • The cost! The dining plan plus is expensive. For a family of four, assuming the kids are between 3 – 9, you are looking at an additional $1,814 for a 7-night trip, just for the food!
  • While technically not a con, you must plan out in advance what your dining plans are going to be during your trip. If you are planning a lot of character meals and table service meals, this plan is a big winner. If you are just going to wing it and eat anywhere, most likely you will be much better off with another plan.

So, is the Disney Dining Plan Plus worth it? Absolutely (mostly). As long as you plan on using your dining credits for table service meals (either character or non-character meals), you should come out quite a bit ahead. Plan in advance and hit a lot of nice table service restaurants for breakfast and lunch, and you will have a fantastic Disney vacation for a lot less than if you had paid for your food out of pocket.

Have you ever used the Disney Dining Plan Plus?

 

disney free dining

Why Disney Free Dining isn’t really Free

Every year since 2006, Walt Disney World has released a Disney Free Dining discount, typically for Fall dates, though early on we did see some Spring dates included. The Disney Free Dining discount for 2018 was released earlier this week. Historically, this is the most popular and most looked forward to discount for regular Disney visitors. The basics are the Disney Free Dining discount is that you book a package at a Walt Disney World resort that includes your hotel and park passes, and Disney includes the dining plan for free. But, it really isn’t free.

One thing to note here, Disney DOES NOT love you, they are not giving you something free because you have been a great customer, or because they think you deserve it, Disney releases discounts, whether free dining or any other package or room discount, to fill rooms. If there is a time when they can’t fill up at full rate, they offer an incentive to get you to come to Disney. Disney Free Dining is just another marketing scheme to get you to come to Disney. Plus, Disney is smart, they know that when people hear “free” they go crazy and don’t even consider doing any math to see if it really is free, or even if it is a good deal.

Why Disney Free Dining isn’t really Free

  • Minimum Night Stays – As part of the 2018 Disney Free Dining discount, Walt Disney World requires you to stay a minimum of four nights, a maximum of 14. While this really does not affect many people, there are some that may want to visit Disney just for 1 or 2 nights, but must extend their vacation an extra day or two in order to get free dining.
  • Minimum Ticket Purchases – Disney requires the purchase of a minimum 4 day ticket with you Disney Free Dining package. This is a requirement regardless of the length of ticket you really want. If you are an annual passholder, you still must purchase a 4 day ticket. If you are a Florida Resident and have access to cheaper tickets, still, you must purchase a 4 day ticket. If you have tickets left over from another trip or happened to purchase tickets elsewhere, everyone on the package must purchase a 4 day ticket. While this doesn’t sound like a huge deal, a 4 day base ticket is roughly $405 per person, so for a family of 4, you are talking a minimum ticket purchase of $1,620 just for the right to get the free dining.
  • Park Hopping Add-on – Another requirement added in recent years, in addition to purchasing the minimum 4 day ticket, Disney also requires that you purchase the park hopping add-on for everyone in your room. The park hopping add-on runs about $75 per person, so a family of four must pay an additional $300 whether they want park hopping or not.
  • Limited Resorts – As part of the 2018 Disney Free Dining discount, Disney did not include many of the popular resorts as part of the discount. Want to stay at Port Orleans Riverside or French Quarter or a Little Mermaid room at Art of Animation? Contemporary or Wilderness Lodge? All-Star Movies?You are out of luck. Plus, many of the resorts were included, but have zero availability? While this doesn’t necessarily increase your cost, you may have to stay in a resort that you have no interest in staying in just to get a discount. Many of my clients have actually had to upgrade to a more expensive resort to get the Disney Free Dining, they want to stay in a Value resort, but because they are all sold out, they are forced to pay more and upgrade to a moderate resort just to get a discount.
  • More expensive rooms – Availability with Disney Free Dining is very tight. While you may find a room at Pop Century (your preferred resort), they may be sold out of the standard view rooms you normally stay in. So, you are forced to upgrade to a more expensive room just to get a discount.
  • Bypass other discounts – At Walt Disney Wold,  you are not allowed to use more than one discount. Even though Disney released two discounts the other day, the Disney Free Dining and the Late Summer discount, which overlap for many of the Disney Free Dining dates, you cannot use both discount. So, if you opt to take the Disney Free Dining discount, that means you exclude yourself from the Late Summer or any other discount that comes along.

I am not saying that the Disney Free Dining discount can’t be a great deal, but DO THE MATH! I have clients that can get a better deal with a different discount, they insist they still want free dining, because it was “free”, even though they end up paying more in the end. Sometimes it is hard to understand that free really isn’t free.

When booking your Disney vacation, I would strongly suggest to book your initial reservation at a price you are comfortable with, and do not expect to see any discounts. Then, if and when a discount does come along, consider that as a bonus and upgrade your resort or dining plan and have a better trip than what you were expecting.

best adult restaurant animal kingdom

Best Restaurant for Adults in Animal Kingdom

When Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in 1988, the restaurant choices were very, very limited, and there was only one sit down restaurant in the entire park (two if you count the Rainforest Cafe, but it is technically outside the park, located near the entrance). That really was not a big deal as the park typically closed around the time that the sun went down, so most people just went elsewhere for dinner. With the extension of the park hours in the last year, and the new night time show (Rivers of Light), there is an increased need for additional sit down restaurants in the park. Disney recently added Tiffins, a signature restaurant located near the Tree of Life. Unfortunately, Disney will not be adding another table service restaurant once the new Pandora (Avatar) section of the park opens. there will only be once new restaurant there, Satu’li Canteen, which will be a fast/casual restaurant. Hopefully at some point they will make dinner a table service restaurant at some point in the future.

Best Restaurant for Adults in Animal Kingdom

Best Restaurant for Adults in Animal Kingdom

  • Yak & Yeti Restaurant – Trust me, at this point, it isn’t even close. Yak & Yeti features asian inspired meals in a fantastic, beautiful setting. Some of my favorites are the Pork Pop Stickers, the Ahi Tuna Nachos, the Crispy Honey Chicken and the Seared Miso Salmon. Yum! Yak & Yeti serves both lunch and dinner as a table service meal, both meals offer the same menu and the same prices. Yak & Yeti is also on the dinning plan, and counts as one table service credit. Also, please do not be confused. In Animal Kingdom, there is also a quick service restaurant that goes by the name Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe, and while the food is quite good there, it isn’t the same thing.

While Yak & Yeti won’t make my top 10 list of Disney World restaurants, it is head and shoulders above the other Anima Kingdom options. Tiffins launched last year, and looked very promising, but to this point, the restaurant has had really poor reviews for both food and service. Maybe someday this will be a decent option for adults, but for now, just stop by the Nomad Lounge and enjoy a cool drink. Tusker House is a fun restaurant, but the food is served family/buffet style, and it tends to be pretty loud and busy, not relaxing at all. While the food is decent, it just isn’t on par with Yak & Yeti. Rainforest Cafe is Rainforest Cafe, you pay for the atmosphere and not the food. If you idea of a nice dinner includes gorillas and elephants along with a lot of thunder and lightening, the feel free to stop by.

Want to enjoy something outside the park, but close by? Animal Kingdom Lodge has three great restaurants, Boma, Jiko and Sanaa. Both Jiko and Saana are better than Yak & Yeti, and Boma is quite good, if you like buffets. Animal Kingdom is only a 5 minute bus ride away, and a nice break from the park.

What is your favorite restaurants for adults in the Animal Kingdom theme park?