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Donald Duck and Julius Covington having fun at  the Tusker House  Restaurant in the Animal Kingdom Theme Park at Disney World

Disney For Adults
(We Have Fun Too)

Dining Plan Or NO Dining Plan

Disney World has so many restaurants, ranging from snack, and counter-service types, buffets, and full-service sit down.

If you're staying at any of the Disney resorts for at least a week, you need to consider whether or not you're going to spend cash or purchase one of the Disney Dining Plans.

There are snack stands in every theme park, as well as restaurants of every type. Every resort has at least one restaurant, so if you like to eat, or for those of you that just eat because (sigh) you have to, you can spend a pretty penny at Disney World just on food alone.

Now if you're staying at one of the resorts in a vacation home that has a full kitchen with refrigerator and stove, you can bring all your food, or go to a grocery store - but unless you're on a really tight budget, you're not going that route.

What fun is that?...

You're at Disney World to have fun, and part of the fun, at least in my 50+ year old eyes, is to eat at the restaurants. Plus, to get the type of groceries you need at reasonable prices, you'll probably have to go to one of the stores off of Disney property, and that means either driving down to Orlando, from in my case, West Virginia - OUCH! - Too long a drive for me, or flying in and renting a car... (A HUGE SIGH) Just the thought of these options is getting too stressful for me :-) ...

The way I see it, you really only have two options:

  1. Bring a ton of money (credit cards, etc.)
  2. Buy one of the Disney Dining Plans

There are great advantages to the Disney Dining Plans:

You save up to 30% on your food purchases, especially at the snack stands when you have the Disney Dining Plans versus paying cash

The Disney Dining Plan goes on your room key card, so you can basically travel thruout Disney World, eat and get in and out of your room with the one key card. You can also put the gratuities on the key card, but remember, you need to pay that bill before you depart Disney.

Once you decided that the Disney Dining Plan is the way to go, you have a choice to make there. There are several dining plans depending on whether you are going to run the theme parks and barely eat or go to enjoy the fine dining.

I've tried two of the Disney Dining Plans. Below is a brief description of both based on Disney's 2010 prices. The prices are based on the nights you stay and are per person. For example, if you have a family of four with a 5 and 7 year old, and you're staying for 5 nights, you'll pay for two adults (10 years old and up) and two children (3-9 years old) - for 5 nights each.

Regular Dining Plan - $41.99 a day per person (10 years old and up) and $11.99 a day per person (3-9 years old) - Each person gets each day:

  • One (1) Table-Service Meal - sit down at a table with a server. Reservations recommended.
  • One (1) Quick-Service Meal - get in line, get a tray, get your food and find a table to sit down and eat.
  • One (1) Snack - ice cream bar, cone, etc., popcorn, soft drink, bottled water, fruit cup, or something along those lines

Deluxe Dining Plan - $71.99 a day per person (10 years old and up) and $20.99 a day per person (3-9 years old) - Each person gets each day:

  • Three (3) Table-Service Meals - If you want to eat at a Quick-Service restaurant, you can use one of your Table-Service meals. Again, for all Table-Service restaurants, reservations are recommended.
  • Two (2) Snacks - ice cream bar, cone, etc., popcorn, soft drink, bottled water, fruitcup, or something along those lines
  • One (1) Resort Refillable Drink Mug - gives you unlimited refills on soft drinks at your resort... Really handy on those hot days!

Again, I've tried both and I prefer the Deluxe Dining Plan - Not because I like spending the extra money, but because one of the main reasons I go to Disney World is eat at the restaurants.

Now, using my experiences with the Disney Dining Plans as examples...

In June of 2008, Cindy, my daughter Luvenia, my granddaughter Fernan and I were at Disney World for a week. We had the Regular Dining Plan. It was nice, but there were a couple restaurants, like Le Cellier, that I paid extra because the Regular Dining Plan didn't cover everything. For instance, you couldn't get the appetizer and the dessert - one or the other... HEY! What's up with that! :-)

We also went to Cinderella's Royal Table and I ended up paying cash for the entire meal because we needed 2 Table-Services for each of us, and had we used them, we would have run out before our stay was up - Would not have been good!

Cindy and I visited Disney World again in December of 2009 (this time as Disney Vacation Club members), to honor our dear friends, Karl and Terri Rosenhan as they renewed their wedding vows for their 10th anniversary. After the ceremony, the four of us and dear friends Mike and Sondra Branson, and their son Hayden, went to the California Grill, and again I paid extra because we were on the Regular Dining Plan.

Later in the week, we ended up at Le Cellier with the Rosenhans, and yep, you guessed it - I had to pay extra again...

I probably won't purchase the Regular Dining Plan as long as I go to Disney World.

On the other hand, in December of 2008, Cindy and I stayed another week at Disney (yes, twice in one year), and had the Deluxe Dining Plan...

A.W.E.S.O.M.E!!!

We probably gained 20 pounds between us, but it was GREAT! On the day we were to depart, we were literally spending our snack options while waiting on the Magical Express to come. Seriously, Cindy went to spend some while I waited to make sure the Magical Express didn't come. When she came back, I went to finish them off. We came back with a bunch of snacks. We were so full from our meals most days, we didn't use them.

Now, I'm not advocating that you purchase the Deluxe Dining Plan, or that you use any of the dining plans. The choice is up to you, but I just wanted to give you some real life examples in case you haven't been to Disney World before.

If you like really nice restaurants, keep in mind that while some of the restaurants at Disney World take two (2) Table Services from the Disney Dining Plan, some of the really expensive restaurants don't accept the Disney Dining Plan at all... I think someone needs to tell Mickey!

Do some serious planning ahead of time, and make the choice that's right for you...

Enjoy your dining experience at Disney World!

Julius Covington, Sr. of AllThingsDisney.com
Julius Covington, Sr.
Julius@AllThingsDisney.com



My Disney For Adults Articles
Dining Plan Or NO Dining Plan
Should You Become A Disney Vacation Club Member?
Plan Your Disney World Vacation
Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa - The Affordable Disney World Deluxe Resort
Have You Been Disney-fied?
What Age Is Too Old For Disney World?
Disney World's Animal Kingdom Lodge - The Jambo House
Disney's Magical Express - A Real Convenient Service



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