g. How to Eat at Walt Disney World

By Dave Shute

How to Eat      Where to Eat   The Dining Plan   Guide to Disney Dining

OVERVIEW: HOW TO EAT AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

When you make your Walt Disney World hotel and ticket reservations, also sign up for the package “Magic Your Way Plus Dining,”  and request a refrigerator for your room.*

Assuming you eat where this site’s itineraries suggest you do (see Where to Eat), this can save you a some money.

If you can’t, see What if You Can’t do the Dining Plan?

THE DINING PACKAGE

The “Magic Your Way Plus Dining” package, usually called the “Dining Plan” or “Dining Package” for simplicity, gives you 3 credits per person per night of your stay, to be used any day of your trip.

  • One credit can be used for a snack (think bottled water or an ice cream cone),
  • One credit for a meal at a “counter service” restaurant (think cafeteria), and
  • One credit for a meal at a “table service” restaurant (think waiters).

The plan costs during most of the year ~$51 per day per person 10 and older (including tax; add another $6/day for tips), and ~$13 per day including tax for people younger than ten (add $3 per day for tips).  Prices are slightly higher during the busy seasons–see this for more on Dining Plan price seasons.

Only hotel guests of Walt Disney World Resorts can buy the dining plan–so the Swan, Dolphin, Shades of Green, etc, are all excluded.

If you analyze the menus of the restaurants this site recommends, you will discover that taking this approach can save money. The budget (see What to Budget) assumes you sign up for this dining plan.

COMPLEXITIES SOLVED FOR YOU

There are a couple of complexities to this, all reflected in the budget and the To-Do List.

  • One is that several of the table service meals on the basic and many other itineraries actually take two table service credits each, as they are high-demand, expensive,  signature events
  • Second, partly as a result, you won’t have enough table service credits to cover all your table service meals
  • Third, some of your meals are outside the Disney parks and resorts system and not eligible for credits

Your To-Do List, budget, and itineraries assume that you will use your credits for your most expensive eligible meals, that you will pay cash for the remainder, and instruct you on which meal is which.

Note that when you make your advance reservations (on your To-Do List), some special meals for which demand is high will require a credit card to make the reservation, even though you intend ultimately to use table service credits to pay.

This is simply Disney’s way of making sure that you attend the event you have reserved.  You will be able to use your table service credit on actual arrival–just make sure you tell your waiter!

For more on the Disney Dining Plan at Walt Disney World, see this.

*The refrigerator is free at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, and until the spring of 2012, was $10/day at Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Starting in the spring of 2102, the Pop refrigerator is no additional charge, and you don’t need to request it any more.

It permits you to keep milk, water, OJ, fruits, vodka, etc., in your room to use on the days when you will be eating breakfast in your room. Each resort has such items available for purchase in its gift shop and/or counter service restaurant.

You are eating breakfast in your room these days for two reasons: first, these are the days you need an early start (see  your itinerary), and eating in your room speeds things up–letting you sleep later!

Second, because the dining plan only gives you two full meals a day, you don’t have enough credits to cover all of your meals.  An in-room breakfast is the least expensive meal to pay cash for.

MORE ON WALT DISNEY WORLD DINING



173 comments

1 anon { 08.05.08 at 1:53 am }

I didn’t agree with you at first, but the last paragraph makes sense to me…

2 mary { 10.25.10 at 5:30 pm }

can you explain which tickets to buy,i was thinking of water park and base also my friends birthday is may 2nd, is it safe to go from apr 29 to may 5? or should i change it to may 1 to 7. thnks your site is great

3 Dave { 10.25.10 at 6:23 pm }

Mary the 29th to May 5 will be great. No need to move to May 1.

Here’s my advice on tickets. Buy the base tix, with no add-ons. If you later want an add-on, like water parks or park hopper, you can add it when you know you need it.

For more on Disney World tickets, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/02/14/walt-disney-world-admission-ticket-prices-2010/

4 Jennifer { 03.30.11 at 2:50 pm }

Dave – We are staying at the Polynesian (family of 5, our first trip with the kids) this September. Why don’t you recommend Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Show? Seems convenient for us. Thanks!

5 Dave { 03.30.11 at 3:45 pm }

Hi Jennifer! Compared to Hoop Dee Doo, Spirt of Aloha is dull and not fun. If you can do just one, do Hoop. It’s easy to get to from the Poly–monorail to MK, boat to Fort Wilderness. And it’s not worth doing two dinner shows…there’s lots of more family fun dining options than Spirt of Aloha…

6 Vanessa { 04.05.11 at 5:41 pm }

we are booked for November and I know my daughter will want to do a character princess breakfast (is it only breakfast or do they do lunch or dinner?) how do I reserve this and how far in advance do I reserve the princess meal?

7 Dave { 04.06.11 at 9:08 am }

Hi Vanessa, there’s breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner used to be a different set of charatcers, but is now princesses as well.

You book 180 days ahead. If you are staying at a WDW resort, you can book ten days out starting the date of your arrival. Eg, if you arrive 11/10, 180 days befroe 11/10 you can book out to 11/20, even tho 11/20 is 190 days ahead…

For hoe to book, see any of the To-Do Lists you can find here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/to-do-list/to-do-lists-for-alternative-itineraries/

8 Travis { 09.20.11 at 12:16 pm }

I enjoy the Deluxe Dining Plan. I came home from a 7 day 6 night trip, this Deluxe Dining Plan allows for us to eat at: Cinderella’s Royal Table, The Brown Derby twice, Sci-Fi Drive In, Le Cellier, The Garden Grill, and the California Grill. Plus still have plenty of entitlements for use of dining in our room for one night, along with all other meals. For breakfast we brought breakfast bars with us to get us until lunch. We only had 1 entitlement left at the end, tons of food, the top places.

9 Dave { 09.20.11 at 12:33 pm }

Travis that sounds great!

To me the best thing about the deluxe dining plan is you don’t have to fuss so much in your planning…if you can book it, you probably have credits for it!

I don’t recommend it to first time visitors who may never return partly because of cost but mostly because I try to limit the number of sit down meals to give more time in the parks…see for example the meals in the image on this page: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/itineraries-for-the-rest-of-the-year/v2-of-2009-autumn-winter-spring-itinerary/

10 Carol { 10.27.11 at 2:54 pm }

Hi,
Your site is invaluable for me right now as I plan our march 3-10th trip. I am still a little overwhelmed as some restaurants have been removed from the dining plan for 2012. We are staying at the Polynesian, and have two kids, our son is 9, our daughter is 6.

So, here’s a few questions, based on your 7 night autumn-winter-spring itinerary.

1) We are arriving very early on Saturday morning. To start our trip, would you suggest having late Breakfast at Ohana and keep the Akershus for an earlier dinner (we’ve been awake since 4am, so I worry about my daughter not able to truly enjoy the dinner with travel fatigue). Or do quick service lunch when we arrive, have dinner at Ohana on our first Saturday, and move Akershus to Friday dinner when we’re at Epcot again. (San Angel is no longer on the meal plan)
2) In order to see a princess earlier in the week if we do Akershus on Friday, I was thinking of switching Cinderella’s Royal Table to Tuesday. Is there a particular reason to go on a Wednesday instead of Tuesday?

Thank you so much in advance…this site is a miracle for me!

11 Dave { 10.27.11 at 3:19 pm }

Hi again Carol–I had not heard that San Angel is not on the DP next year. Thanks for the heads up!! It’s one of the Epcot restaurants owned by non-Disney folk, and such often negotiate wiith Disney til the last minute before agreeing to sign on. So they may well come back to the plan by 1/1/2012…

That said I like your plan to go easy Saturday and do Akershus on Friday. No problem doing Cindy on Tuesday either!

12 Karen { 11.09.11 at 7:37 pm }

We are planning on staying at the value movie resort and not having a car for our upcoming week-long trip. Any recommendations for a best way to get to a real grocery store for a few bags of snacks, drinks, and sandwich fixings? I love to walk, but have no idea what kind of distances we might be talking about. Thanks.

13 Dave { 11.09.11 at 10:03 pm }

Hi Karen, nothing is within walking distsance. For delivery to your room options, plus others, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/08/30/the-tightwads-guide-to-how-to-eat-at-walt-disney-world/

14 Katie { 12.13.11 at 8:49 am }

Dave, we just returned from our family’s first visit and we followed most of your advice regarding meals (but skipped all the princess themed dinners bc we have boys) and made some changes that may be useful to other parents:
1. I ordered groceries from Garden Grocer which were delivered to our resort before we arrived and stored for us (in fridge) by Bell Services until we were ready for them to be delivered to our room. I highly recommend this service because our resort gift shop did not carry any breakfast or healthy snack foods (milk, bagels, bag of apples, bottles of water, etc). We ate 7 out of 8 breakfasts in our room and that enabled us to start our day in the parks MUCH earlier than other families who were stuck in breakfast buffets.
2. Do bring bowls & utensils because again, our resort store didn’t carry much in that department.
3. If you have a child under age 10, they qualify as a “child” on the Disney Dining Plan and we found the meal choices on the Kids Menu to be universally the following: cheeseburger, hamburger, processed chicken nuggets & “other” – usually a limp turkey sandwich or something specific to that restaurant/park like Tacos in Epcot’s Mexico. Our son ate more bad chicken nuggets last week than he’s had in five years: every lunch and dinner. By Day 3, he was so upset with his food choices, he revolted and stopped eating. So I gave him my meal and ate his and I can report that the majority of Kids Meals are terrible. Sure, they include apple sauce and carrot sticks but the main entree is just really bad fast food. I’ve even written a letter to Disney complaining about this it was that bad. We ended up having to plan carefully so we would end up in a park/resort that had decent meals for our son. Not magical at all.
4. Counter Service: we found that most counter service meals in the parks, with the exception of the World Showcase in Epcot, were all bad fast food. The best counter service meals we ate: at Morocco and Coronado Springs Resort.
5. For families watching their waistlines: be aware that your meal plan include desert for every counter service and table service – of course you can decline these deserts (as we did most of the time) but it caused a major argument with our kids every meal – NOT magical. I’ve written Disney to ask why they don’t give eaters the choice of a desert or a side salad where available.
6. Refillable Mug: we did not buy this because our family doesn’t drink soda. We do drink coffee but not enough to want mugs of it daily. I am disappointed that Disney doesn’t offer bottled/filtered water at these dispensers. Yes there are water bubblers at the parks but our kids balked at the taste of Florida tap water so I was glad I had bought a case of bottled water for us.

Overall, we found the Disney Dining Plan to be a good value but it required us to be creative about using our counter service credits as it was hard to find good food at counters. Overall, Disney needs to work harder to offer healthier choices for it’s diners.

One last recommendation: Dave, you don’t include this but this was our family’s favorite meal after the Hoop: Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge – outstanding!

15 Dave { 12.13.11 at 9:05 am }

Katie, lots of good “food for thought” here. :)

As the dining plan has become less of a bargain over the years I’ve struggled with whether or not to include it for many of the reasons you note. All in, are you glad you went with it, or would a la carte have made for a better trip, even if it cost a couple of hundred more?

And re Whispering Canyon–I’m with you, it’s a hoot. I used to have it in, but retired it from the itinerary in 2009 as I was trying to reduce scheduling and costs–it used to be Tuesday or Thursday lunch, I don’t recall which…would adding it back as another scheduled meal and trip lead to schedule overload, or would you suggest replacing one of the meals in the itnerary with it?

Thanks again for the thoughtful feedback! Dave

16 Sheena { 01.15.12 at 7:41 pm }

Hi Dave,
I am planning my family’s first trip to Disney. Sadly, I feel very naive and ignorant when it comes to this planning! I am overwhelmed already and I have just finished planning 2 weddings (one a destination and one an all out bells and whistles wedding) and the stress seems to not compare to this at all! I was reading the comments on your site and reading your information (wonderful by the way but for some reason still leaves me feeling very uncertain and my insides in a knot). I’ll just get to my concerns, questions, and points of confusion in hopes that you can help.
1. I plan to hopefully go the around Oct. 18th. Does that shake?
2. What do we do!? I know we want to do MK, Epcot, Sea World, and Universal, Cirque du Soliel for the adults, but what about other recommendations?
3. What extra shows, firework displays, parades do you recommend for the kids?
4. Are there lunch/dinner shows we should try to see?
5. Breakfast with characters?
6. Eating at Cinderella’s Castle?
7. What is Akershuhs?
8. The meal plans thoroughly confuse me….
Thank you for all your help. Please help!

17 Dave { 01.15.12 at 9:44 pm }

Hi Sheena! First, your date is great, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/10/20/2012-weeks-to-visit-walt-disney-world-ranked-in-order/

For what to do what to see etc (your questions 3-7), see one of my itineraries. The October ones won’t be out until Disney releases its October calendar in late March, but for an example see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/basic-itinerary/alternative-itineraries/itineraries-for-the-rest-of-the-year/v2-of-2009-autumn-winter-spring-itinerary/ You can’t use it as is–I’ll post revisions to it in late March–but it gives you an idea.

In general…start with my home page http://yourfirstvisit.net and work your way down its topics…

Hope this helps! Dave

The dining plan is a way to pre-pay for meals. It makes sense if you would have spent more in cash for dining otherwise. Given what you are considering–breakfast, Cinderalla–it likely will for you.

18 Julia { 03.11.12 at 9:27 pm }

Dave,
This is a good and thoughtful site. You do, however, need to update the dining plan prices and tips, and refrigerator rental prices. (Probably other pirces I haven’t gotten to reading yet, too.)

19 Dave { 03.12.12 at 1:18 pm }

Thanks Julia, and you are right!

20 Joanne { 03.29.12 at 2:22 pm }

I am sharing something I learned from my recent planning…we are heading to the World 9/22-9/29, normally not a high traffic time but made plans before free dining was announced. I was surprised to easily get ADR for CRT but was not prepared to have no chance at lunch at Le Cellier for that week. Please let folks know that since it is a signature restaurant for DINNER but not lunch it seems to be pretty popular, especially since it is close to FOOD & WINE festival held at Epcot. I am hoping for a cancellation at 45 days or will risk going in as a walk-up. All the other advise I found on various websites, including this one, were SUPER helpful. I think I amazed the castmember with my plans since I was a first time visitor and hit all the best places on the right days (Fantasmic Dining, California Grill to watch Wishes, etc.). Enjoy the magic!

21 Dave { 03.29.12 at 3:07 pm }

Thanks Joanne!

22 Joanne { 04.09.12 at 3:41 pm }

Strangely enough at 170 days 9/27 opened up for reservations for lunch at Le Cellier. Actually the whole week was pretty much blocked out up until that day and then, voila! reservations were available…very odd but WONDERFUL! If you did something to facilitate this magic – THANK YOU so much! Can’t wait for the first trip to begin…but then again I am having a great time planning thanks to your site and a couple others (allears!).

23 Dave { 04.09.12 at 4:37 pm }

That’s great, Joanne! And I had nothing to do with it! The only entities that think I’m important are my dogs…

24 Sarah { 04.17.12 at 1:00 pm }

I promise, Dave, this is my last question (maybe)! I am booking my room at the GF and buying tickets separately. I am getting a better deal this way, through a family friend, than if I booked through the website and bundled it all together. So, I’m paying for our dining out of pocket. Should a free dining plan come available for my week (12/15-12/20), can I take advantage of that? Or is it only for those who go through WDW package deals? Or can I purchase a dining plan separately to add on to our room? Does that make sense? I really like the idea of the dining plan, because I feel like we’d budget better.

25 Dave { 04.17.12 at 1:17 pm }

Hi Sarah! Ask as many questions as you like! Most of the “free dining” deals that I can recall had a minimum ticket buy associated with them–with exceptions for passholders. See, e.g., this http://bookwdw.reservations.disney.go.com/ibcwdw/en_US/specialOfferDetails?name=Promo&promotionCode=fy12q3dine&market=fy12q3dine If a deal comes out for your dates, and GF is eligible, you may have to buy tix to get in to it… Is your “other” way of getting tix refundable?

26 Sarah { 04.18.12 at 8:44 am }

Well, I was just planning on buying tickets through Undercover Tourist. I haven’t bought them yet. So, if I understand you correctly, I can buy tickets through WDW and still be eligible for the dining plan (free or not) since we’re staying at the GF?

27 Dave { 04.18.12 at 3:38 pm }

Sarah–since you are at GF, you can do unfree dining and still do undercover tourist, but you may have to buy tix from WDW to get the free dining. My advice is to book GF room only. You can then convert to a WDW package with tix if free dining comes out, or get your tix from UT later once it becomes clear it isn’t…and add unfree dining then if you want. Waiting, however will cost another 3-5% on the tix, as WDW will increase ticket prices sometime this summer…

28 Whit { 06.04.12 at 9:50 pm }

You’ve put together such great content! I am bookmarking your site as I plan our first trip to Disney.

It would be interesting to see itineraries based on age and gender. What would your dinner/show/tour recommendations be for a family with a 4 year old boy who loves dancing, dinosaurs, animals and pirates? It seems he’s either too young or too boy’ish for most of the special dinners and tours.

29 Dave { 06.05.12 at 7:28 am }
30 Mark { 06.13.12 at 4:10 pm }

Dave – I am a timeshare owner, and I recently discovered that I can exchange my timeshare for a Disney Vacation Club resort. If I do exchange to a Disney Resort, do you know if I can still add a dining plan? Also, do I have to have a dining plan set up before booking reservations, or are the reservations and how you pay completely separate? Just wondering because I may not have my lodging set up until about 2 months out (Disney availablility to exchange is driven by cancellations), but I want to book the character/restaurant meals as far out as possible.

31 Dave { 06.13.12 at 5:03 pm }

Hi Mark,in an attempt to fake being helpful, I’m gonna answer the last question first. Once the 180 day window hits, anyone can make a dining reservation, so you do not need a hotel reservation to make a dining reservation.

Your other questions are beyond my ken, I’m afraid. Disboards has a DVC area where you could post them….see this: http://disboards.com/forumdisplay.php?f=119

32 Mark { 06.14.12 at 1:33 pm }

Dave – Thanks, disboards did have the answer.

If you get the question from someone else, the answer is yes, you can add a dining plan to a Vacation club resort reservation not booked through Disney, but have to call and add it at least 48 hours prior to arrival.

33 Dave { 06.14.12 at 5:52 pm }

Mark, I’m glad, and thanks for passing along the answer!

34 Jessica { 06.20.12 at 10:27 am }

Hi Dave, hope you’re doing well :) Want to get your thought on tap water/ice from Disney World – read lots of comments complaining about the taste. What’s your experience? Do you always bring /buy bottle water while visiting Disney? Thanks!

35 Jessica { 06.20.12 at 10:32 am }

Also have question on dining plan – is it more for convenience since its prepaid, or does it really save lots of money? Also notice the Turkey Legs & Waffle sandwich at Sleepy Hallow in MK weren’t covered by dining plan. Have you tried those ? Wonder if they are worth paying out of pocket in case we get the dining plan. Thanks!

36 Dave { 06.20.12 at 12:38 pm }

Hi Jessica! I always buy water just because–for Disney–it’s not over-priced, and it’s more convenient. Lotsa people do hate the tap water there, but I’m not picky and myself find it fine…or maybe in my 40 or so visits I’ve just gotten used to it!

37 Dave { 06.20.12 at 12:39 pm }

Jessica I haven’t tried that sandwich! Over time the dining plan has become less and less of a money saver, and more of a convenience. I need to re-run all the numbers once 2013 prices come out, as some of the language on this site–“you’ll save a ton of money” is probably over-stated…

38 Jessica { 06.20.12 at 3:45 pm }

Thanks Dave! When do you expect 2013 dining plan price come out? Look forward to see your take on it as you always provide great advise! Regarding water – do you know if resort shop charge same price for water as the stores/restaurants inside MK? Wonder if there’s any place we can get gallon water bottle inside Disney as we drink a lot of water! We will not have a car and I checked Garden Grocers but their minimum is $40 purchase…. Appreciate your money saving advise for big water drinker! Thanks!

39 Dave { 06.21.12 at 7:03 am }

Hey Jessica, 2013 prices could come out any day now, and for sure this summer.

The hotel shops charge the same as the parks, and I’m sorry that I don’t remember if they have gallon jugs…

Also take a look at this for how to get to a couple of convenience stores on property: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/08/30/the-tightwads-guide-to-how-to-eat-at-walt-disney-world/

40 DisneyDiningAgent { 08.15.12 at 6:39 am }

The 2013 DDP plan can be found at http://www.disneyworld.com/dineplan.

HOWEVER: guests need to be aware that the restaurants have until 1-1-13 to commit to the plan. You’ll find that many restaurants are missing from the brochure, so it essentially useless at this point. As the year goes on it will be finalized, but there will be two major changes that I know of right now: Be Our Guest will be 1 table service for dinner and 1 quick service for lunch and no characters; and Le Cellier will go to 2 table services for lunch.

41 Dave { 08.15.12 at 11:34 am }

Thanks! This issue has thrown people in the past…e.g for San Angel Inn, which always seems to sign on at the last minute!

42 Amanda from Destinations in Florida { 08.19.12 at 10:05 am }

Guests visiting during the Holiday Season should also be aware that ‘Be Our Guest’, Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant will be opening on November 19th and reservations can be made for dinner (table service for dinner, counter service for lunch) starting August 20th at 7am. Very excited to be trying out this new restaurant!

43 Dave { 08.19.12 at 11:51 am }

Me too, Amanda–and thanks for the heads up!

44 JJ { 08.22.12 at 6:38 pm }

Dave- Arriving on 2/23 (2 adults, 2 kids (7 and 4)). Flying in around noon. Staying at Bay Lake Tower. Considering trying to do Chef Mickey’s for an early (maybe 5:00) dinner and then trying to make it to the Magic Kingdom for Electrical Parade and Wishes. Thought this would be a great start to the trip…
What do you think?

45 JJ { 08.22.12 at 6:41 pm }

I guess my question is whether there is time enough for this dinner to make it to the park for those events…

46 Dave { 08.23.12 at 7:38 am }

Hi JJ! You’ll be fine for Wishes, and most likely fine for the parade. The parade is at 7 (Wishes at 8) that day and it’s a ten minute walk to MK from Chef Mickey’s, so a 5ish dinner should work. You’ll want to leave about 6.15 to give you half an hour in the park to find and camp on a good parade and fireworks viewing spot…

47 JJ { 08.24.12 at 5:54 pm }

Dave,

Dave–
Is breakfast at Akershus at 8:00 on a day that Epcot opens at 9:00 a good idea? At first, I thought– great, we will get in the park early. But, I am worried that by the time we get out of breakfast, the lines will already be long. But maybe not? I don’t know how long these breakfasts take? What do you think? Is another time more ideal (in relation to lines, etc.)?

48 JJ { 08.24.12 at 10:19 pm }

I guess I have the same question for CRT and MK…

49 Dave { 08.25.12 at 3:11 pm }

JJ–I can’t recommend it, especially since Akershus is a ten or fifteen minute walk from Soarin. A skt-down breakfast, unless pushed until 10.30 or later, is almost always a mistake except on off days when you don’t plan to get on any rides!

50 Daniel { 09.09.12 at 11:18 pm }

Dave – We are newbies and looking to travel to WDW next summer. There will be 4 Adults (Grandparents) and 3 Kids (9, 6, 2). We are debating Meal Plans… Plus Dining vs Plus Deluxe Dining. The plus dining is much less expensive but doesnt seem to keep you in Restaurants the entire time, however the Deluxe gives you Special Meal options.

Looking at staying at the Bay Lake in a 2Br Villa.

Any advice on this? Should we plan on Breakfast in the room to make up the difference on the Plus Dining?

51 Dave { 09.10.12 at 7:44 am }

Hi Daniel! You don’t want, on average, much more than one sit-down meal a day, as it leads to too many fixed points in your schedule (since you have to reserve them months in advance) which will drive you mad. Because of that, the regular dining plan is fine, and just supplement it with cash for what it doesn’t cover…

52 soapbubbble { 10.03.12 at 10:54 am }

Hi Dave,

I just booked my disney world trip for oct 14-20 2012 yesturday. I bought the disney dining plus plan but am clueless on how to use it. I plan to be at the magic kingdom on monday so my question is: do i have the option to go to any restaurant or do I stay within the same park. Also with such a last minute booking I am having a hard time finding any reservation for dining. Please help!!!!

53 Dave { 10.03.12 at 12:32 pm }

Hey, for how the dining plan works see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/02/11/the-disney-dining-plan-at-walt-disney-world/ The fun restaurants often book out months in advance…it may be really hard…

I just checked the availability of dining reservations for your AK date. In “location” I clicked Disney Animal Kingdom Park from the drop-down, and in “Time” I clicked “dinner”. I set party size as 4, not knowing how big your family is. It gave me a couple of options…so its not completely unavailable! The site is here: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/reservations/dining/

54 Jane { 10.05.12 at 3:16 pm }

We are going to Disney World from 12/26 thru 1/3 and staying at Coronado Springs. We have been to Disney every two years but usually in October. I know it’s going to be crazy busy, are we crazy for choosing this time of year? Any hints on staying calm, cool and smiling with 2 adults and 2 (12, 14) girls? We are not getting the dining plan as the cost was prohibitive. I’m guessing we’ll be doing mostly counter service. Thanks

55 Dave { 10.05.12 at 4:30 pm }

Umm, Jane…yes you are! You can still have a blast though, but only because you’ve already been a couple of times, know your way aorund and don’t have to do everything in a once-in-a-lifetime trip. Just have your expectations set that you won’t see as many rides as during your prior visits. See this for some more advice (about 2011 year but still generally true) http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/12/19/holiday-crowds-at-walt-disney-world/

56 erica { 10.09.12 at 12:06 am }

Hi!
I’m not certain of my dining plans yet and I’m a tad stressed…we have family that work at the park, so while there may be a chance of getting a reduced rate for the DDP, we won’t know until December. I need to know how much to realistically budget for my trip for a family of 4…2A/2C (3 & 5) . I would love to treat the girls to Cinderella’s RT, but if not I’ll be equally happy with Akerhursh. Do they charge your card fully to maket the reservation or do they just hold the info for confirmation?
If we aren’t able to get the DDP, what do I do? Where should I eat? How much should I budget for us daily? Also, as for meal portions, I’ve read that some are big. WOuld it be reasonable to just order to adult meal and share with the girls? I’m not big on junk food, so pre-processed nuggets and fried chicken don’t appeal to me.
We’ll be there Feb 6-12 .
Thanks!!!

57 Dave { 10.09.12 at 6:55 am }

Hey Erica, for a few meals they charge your CC at the reservation–on your list, Cindy would apply. The simplest way to set a food budget is to peg it at the cost of the dining plan, which you can figure out by going thru the reservation process on the WDW website, but not completing it…

Note also that deals for early 2013 are expected to come out tomorrow!! See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/10/05/disney-visa-offers-say-new-disney-world-discounts-early-2013-will-out-october-10/

58 Thanksgiving day meal { 12.25.12 at 2:39 am }

First off, thanks for all of the helpful info! Your site is awesome! Secondly, I have a question. We are planning a trip for the family (3 family-groups ages 5- 65) to Disney World for Thanksgiving in 2013. Where would you recommend we eat our Thanksgiving Day meal? I know Disneyland like the back of my hand, but this will be our first trip to Disney World in 18 years and the first with our kids. Any suggestions would be grand. Maybe a suggestion with characters and one without? Thanks in advance,

Wendy

59 Dave { 12.25.12 at 8:53 am }

Hi Wendy, and thanks!

Well, first Merry Christmas, and second, I recommend eating your Thanksgiving meal at home since that’s such a wildly busy week at Walt Disney World!

Failing that, in the parks Liberty Tree Tavern at MK is a great spot–as it’s themed around Colonial America. On the other hand that means you are in MK, which is the worst place to be on Thanksgiving.

Outside the parks a couple of places come to mind–Artist Point at the Wilderness Lodge (because of the Lodge’s frontier theming and spectacular Xmas decorations) or, for something a little more off beat, The Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness (See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/04/24/review-the-hoop-dee-doo-musical-revue/ )

None of these is a character meal–tho Hoop is a dinner show. No character meal lends itself particularly specially to Thanksgiving, so if a character meal is the goal, I’d just pick base don the merits–see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/where-to-eat/dining-alternatives/character-meals-and-dinner-shows-ranked-in-order/

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60 dining plan { 12.25.12 at 1:49 pm }

A quick question – can you get a character meal with the dining plan? Thanks!

61 Dave { 12.26.12 at 8:22 am }

Hi, you can use your dining plan table service credits to pay for any eligible meal you have reserved, including almost all the character meals. Some of them cost more than one credit…

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62 Tom { 12.26.12 at 11:13 am }

To the previous user, I exchanged my credits for meals with Winnie the Pooh, Mickey and other characters. You just got to keep in mind that reservation, especially at Chef Mickey’s, is a MUST HAVE. Cheers!

63 Jenny { 01.01.13 at 1:18 pm }

Dave,
My mom is planning on all four of us kids and our kids to go to WDW in Feb. 2014. She is taking care of flights and lodging so not sure where that will be just yet. My questions are as follows: 1) How can we plan for meals this way? 2) My daughter will be 7 when we go. She is disabled and has troubles walking any sort of long distance and tires very quickly, so, at the very least, would probably have to use a stroller. Is there any recommendations or provision for this? This probably will be the one and only time we will go but still want to make this a so called “magical” experience and I know we won’t be able to fit in as much as most others would.

64 Dave { 01.02.13 at 6:07 am }

Hi Jenny!

I don’t quite understand your first question about planning meals–Can you re-ask it?

For help in thinking through how to make things work for your daughter–and what help Disney can provide–I’d advise buying and reviewing the relevant chapters of this book: PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line: Easy Access Vacations for Travelers with Extra Challenges

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65 Wendy { 01.03.13 at 1:21 am }

Hope your 2013 is going well so far! Another question…my in-laws own a home in Florida. I think that means they can buy Tables in Wonderland for 125.00. Would that be a better deal than the dining plan? There are 6 adults and 4 kids traveling over Thanksgiving break. It seems that they can get 20% off for up to 10 people…do you know much about this program?

Thanks again,

Wendy

66 Dave { 01.03.13 at 7:24 am }

Wendy I don’t pay a ton of attention to it as it applies to so few of my users. The dining plan itself doesn’t save much anymore, so on the face of it it looks like a great idea!

67 Wendy { 01.05.13 at 3:06 am }

If we do it, I will report back!

Thanks,

Wendy

68 Dave { 01.05.13 at 7:44 am }

Thanks, Wendy!

69 Sarah { 01.05.13 at 8:26 pm }

I found One day Disney tickets from about 12 years ago. Does Disney still honor them? And why won’t Disney match Expedia room prices? I called reservations twice to no avail.

70 Dave { 01.06.13 at 10:16 am }

Hi Sarah, not much help here. On the first point, they may honor them, but I can’t say they will for for sure, and on the second, I don’t know…

71 Lee { 01.24.13 at 6:12 am }

We have booked our first trip to florida for 15 days from 29th march 2013. my wife works at a school so we thought this was a better bet than the summer. Now it looks like we are going to hit the end of springbreak,the planner looks like very busy first week les so the second what would you recommend to do . we were thinking of MK in the mornings of the first week but what would be less busy in the afternoons. We will be in a villa with a car by the way.

72 Dave { 01.24.13 at 10:49 am }

Hi Lee, the afternoons are the busiest time, so targeting mornings and taking afternoons off the first week is likely the best play…

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73 Albert { 02.07.13 at 7:55 am }

Hi Dave. We are planning to stay at a Family Suite at the Art of Animation in April. It will be 2 Adults and 2 Children(9 and 2). We were thinking about getting the Dining Plan. Do you think it will be worth it for us? Thanks for your help!

74 Dave { 02.07.13 at 8:27 am }

Hi Albert! The best table service venues book up 5-6 months in advance, so the dining plan may well not be worth it for you…See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-your-plans-need-to-be-firm/

75 Jennifer M { 02.08.13 at 11:11 am }

For the San Angel Inn, I was looking at the menus, and it has a spot that says Disney dining Plan special. Is this the only food you can choose to eat? Or can you pick any entre if you have the Dining Plan?

76 Dave { 02.09.13 at 1:43 pm }

Hi Jennifer, you can pick anything!

77 jen { 02.11.13 at 10:06 am }

which meal plan do you recommend with kids? we would like to do character dining.
How do the free meal plans (if/when offered) differ when staying in value hotels vs moderate or deluxe? I heard the Value offer quick service and the others offer the Disney dining plan. Is there a way to upgrade the free dining plan to a better one by paying the difference?

78 Dave { 02.11.13 at 2:46 pm }

Jen, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/how-to-eat/

Over the past few years, when free dining has been offered, it’s been quick service at the values and the regular plan at the other resort classes, and yes, by paying the difference, you can “buy up” to the regular dining plan.

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79 Carol-Ann { 02.12.13 at 5:23 pm }

Hi, and thanks for a fantastic site! My son will be 10 when we visit (actually he’ll turn 11 whilst we’re there). He’s not a big eater and prefers chicken nuggets and chips to adult food. Can I buy the child (up to 9yrs) dining plan for him even though he’s “too old”? Thank-you.

80 Dave { 02.12.13 at 5:42 pm }

Hi Carol-Ann and thanks for the kind words! The short answer is no…With price increases over the past two years, the dining plan hardly saves much money any more, and particularly probably won’t in your case. So you may wish to just skip it and pay cash…

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81 Lisa { 02.16.13 at 9:43 am }

Hi Dave – just came back from a great trip and really appreciated your comprehensive site. A few places I didn’t initially agree, when I got there I saw you were right!, (e.g. best age to go). Couple things I wanted to mention that might help others. We stayed at Animal Kingdom Lodge and their gift shop had a very good selection of food items for breakfast lunch and dinner, even paper plates, cutlery and beer. No need to go to Hess or order from Garden Grocer (like I did) for breakfast items.

And now I totally agree with you – at 5 years old, it was a lot of walking for my son and he was quite scared of many of the rides/attractions. He also didn’t understand the context of most of the themes, like “Frontierland”. If it was up to him, he would have spent half a day on Tom Sawyer Island. If you only go once – wait til 8 or 9!

While I understand why you would recommend Epcot first, we actually had a great time there. The rides are gentler but still exciting (e.g. Test Track) and he loved the Agent P hunt. But he got so worn out from a long day, he was too tired to do another park the next day, putting a big kink in our plans. Yes, definitely schedule breaks, or even restrain yourself to half days for the youngest kids.

Thanks again for all the advance planning help – it really made the trip much more enjoyable!!

Lisa

82 Dave { 02.16.13 at 9:58 am }

Lisa, thanks so much for letting me know how it went!

And good point on the food available at AKL. In general, places with DVC resorts (like AKL) have pretty good food and eating supply selections–because of the full kitchens in the Villas.

Epcot for younger folk is a mixed bag. Some love it, and others find it dull…The other parks don’t yield such a bifurcated set of responses…

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83 Terri { 02.17.13 at 10:50 am }

Hi Dave– your site is invaluable! We are traveling the 1st of June with our kids 16, 13 & 10. We have been to Disney a couple of times and in the past have chosen the DDP but with the price increases and now 5 adults I just don’t see how we will come out ahead. I have decided not to do the DDP but second guessing myself after reading your article. Does it ever make sense financially to just pay out of pocket? Thank you!

84 Dave { 02.17.13 at 11:15 am }

Hi Terri, and thanks!!

The short version is that with all the DDP price increases in the past few years, it’s barely a deal anymore and particularly tough to justify in circumstances like yours–when you’ve got a ten year old who won’t be eating at the level you have to pay. So I think cash is a reasonable way to go…you just have to be more careful than you are used to in your food budgeting and ordering…

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85 Mike { 02.27.13 at 6:08 am }

Hello Dave, if you book a vacation package with room,tickets, and pay for the ddp then its offered free later, can the ddp be changed in your package with no penalty to you plus get your money back that you paid for the ddp? If and when do you get this money back? Thank You

86 Dave { 02.27.13 at 8:38 am }

Mike, I don’t know exactly “when you get the money back” but in general the answer is yes with one caveat. If any prices–like tickets–have increased between the two transaction dates, when you re-book into the deal, you’ll have to pay the new price.

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87 Jaynee { 03.12.13 at 7:54 pm }

Do you know if Art of Animation will let you rent a fridge during the stay? Or is it just Poly Resort and Pop Century?

88 Dave { 03.13.13 at 6:36 am }

Jaynee, as of mid-2012, all WDW resort hotel rooms inlcude a mini-fridge (or better!) in the room at no extra cost. So you are set!

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89 Mike { 03.30.13 at 4:08 pm }

With a 18 month old going g with us, what kind of snacks for her can we bring I to the park? What kind of snacks are not allowed in the park? Thanks Dave

90 Dave { 03.31.13 at 9:42 am }

Mike, there’s no formal list of what you can or can’t bring in. Anything typical that fits in a backpack or in the stroller will be fine!

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91 Sharon { 04.03.13 at 5:12 pm }

Do Disney dining reservations open up a week at a time? Or a day at a time? If I’m booking for October 5-12, will I have to call in at 6 a.m. EST every day of the week of April 8?

92 Dave { 04.03.13 at 5:49 pm }

Sharon, if you are not staying at a WDW resort hotel, yes, you need to call every day. If you are staying at a WDW resort, then when 180 days hits for your check-in day, you can book it and the next ten days at once…

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93 Mike Szlosek { 04.06.13 at 11:08 am }

I have to disagree with you about the dining plan. It used to be fantastic deal, then a great deal, then just a good deal. Now, not so much. They have taken too much away and increased the price too much.
Disney says you can save 20%. Perhaps, but you have to eat on property at the most expensive restaurants to do so, you have to order the most expensive entrees, and you have to order dessert, whether you want it or not.
Get tables in wonderland instead. Yes it costs $100, but you can buy as much or little as you want at WDW and still save your 20%. You can also eat off property one day, say if you go to Seaworld, and not waste credits that you have paid for. TIW also gives a discount on adult beverages.

94 Dave { 04.06.13 at 5:40 pm }

Mike you are right! I’ve changed a lot of other pages to reflect that it’s not so great a deal anymore, but not this one! Thanks for the reminder, I’ve cleaned it up a bit to make it more accurate.

See also this where I do in fact violently agree with the broader point! http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/08/07/prices-value-disney-world-2013/

TIW is a fascinating alternative for DVC members, AP holders and Florida residents. Since this site is meant for first time visitors who may never return, I’m gonna need to do the math to see if the incremental cost of an AP and the $100 will yield good savings for the itineraries outlined here…the two together will cost about $400 more than the typically-recommended 7 or 8 day non-hopper tickets for the itineraries, so that to break even, you’d need something around a $2k food spend…that’s very close to the 1875 budgeted on the site for a family of four doing one of the itineraries…

Thanks for the idea!

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95 KEITH { 04.18.13 at 11:12 pm }

Great, practical, useful site!
Is the Royal Table covered by basic dining plan? Does it use 1 or 2 credits?
Also which meal is best there?
thanks

96 Dave { 04.19.13 at 7:49 am }

Hi Keith and thanks!!

Yes, the Royal Table is a two-credit meal on the dining plan. The program is the same at all meals, but the best value is dinner, breakfast is the least good value, and if you do do breakfast, schedule it for as late as you can–e.g. 10.30a or later. For why, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2011/03/09/the-comprehensive-guide-to-walt-disney-world-rides-and-attractions/#comment-380159

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97 KEITH { 04.20.13 at 1:03 am }

ok thanks.
Just trying to figure if it’s worth the $$$ for the basic dining plan for 2 adults, 3 kids, staying 6 days/5 nights. We do want to hit a few character meals.

98 Dave { 04.20.13 at 7:15 am }

Keith, it’s often close enough that it’s hard to tell. The more your kids are under 10 at the time of your arrival, the better the odds that the dining plan will save you money, as dining plan prices are much lower for kids under 10…

99 Sara M { 04.21.13 at 2:22 pm }

Dave
Your info on this page is the best I’ve seen so far! I have a few questions regarding our trip. First off, this will be our first trip and it will be with a 6 year old and almost three year old. We were considering doing Magic Kingdom only for three nights and four days. I know that the Contemporary is the closet but the Value resort is more price friendly. Basically, we want to go with the best that we can but being full aware we won’t be able to do everything. I was wondering your thoughts on this plan? I feel like if we keep waiting until we have just the right amount of money, we will never go. I want to go, to go and pray that next time will be even better (hence they will be a bit older, our pockets will be a fit fuller). I was hoping to stay somewhat close to the Magic Kingdom so that we don’t miss anything with such a short time frame. I see that AOA is almost a $600 increase (with the dining plan) versus the POP. Can you give me an estimate of time travel differences from the POP to MK? From AOA to MK? Are we talking hours? Minutes? Even an example say, we leave our hotel room at 9 a.m and go to the bus stop, how much time until we get off at the magic kingdom?

Thank YOU!!! I admire and appreciate your honesty so don’t hold back ;)

100 Dave { 04.22.13 at 8:13 am }

Hi Sara, and thanks!!!

First based on the price difference you are quoting, you are comparing AofA family suites with Pop standard rooms. AofA also has standard rooms, which are only a little more expensive than those at Pop. See this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2012/09/23/review-standard-little-mermaid-rooms-disneys-art-animation-resort/

Second, these two resorts are right next to each other, so there’s no travel time difference between them. It’s about 15 minutes rolling time was the bus is moving.

Third you need to be at the MK turnstiles by 30 minutes before the park opens. This will profoundly improve your day, as lines are lowest in the first hour the park is open! That implies being at the bus stop a little more than an hour before opening (in case you just miss a bus)–around 7.50a on days the aprks opens at 9, a sit most commonly does.

You’ll be fine at a value–don;t worry about that!!

101 Sara M { 04.22.13 at 9:08 am }

What are turnstiles? Where are they located?

102 Sara M { 04.22.13 at 9:13 am }

Also, do you think 3 nights is enough? Or should we shoot for 4?
Thanks again!

103 Dave { 04.22.13 at 9:55 am }

Sara the turnstiles are just outside the park, and they are where you, with your ticket, are allowed entry.

104 Dave { 04.22.13 at 9:56 am }

With kids that age, Sara, you want three mornings, an afternoon, and an evening, so three nights is fine!

105 Sara M { 04.22.13 at 1:51 pm }

Thank You so much!

106 Sherrie Oliver { 05.01.13 at 5:22 pm }

Hello,

My question is my family of 6 are going to Disney in Orlanda the week of May 20th 2013 and our hotel All Star Movies Resort has been paid for and our park hopper tickets were paid for but I just found out that we don’t a dining package. Is there a way to purchase one now or how would we eat for 5 days without going broke. Any suggestions you have would be welcomed. I have read lots of the info here and you seem to be very knowledgeable and helpful to everyone. Thank you for any help or advice you can offer.
Sherrie

107 Dave { 05.02.13 at 6:57 am }

Sherrie, the dining plan saves only a little money. Moreover, the best places to eat book up months in advance (see http://yourfirstvisit.net/planning-your-first-family-trip/when-your-plans-need-to-be-firm/ ), so you’d be unlikely to be able to get the bets use out of your table service credits. You can still add it, I think, if you call them right away, but I don’t particularly encourage it…

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108 Linda Anderson { 05.11.13 at 9:08 am }

What a wonderful site!! I am taking my family total of 13 ( 9A 4C) to WDW for Thanksgiving. We are staying at the Dolphin. Do we qualify for the 10 extra days before for booking?? Is it even possible to get a group this large to sit together at the hoop, aloha, and bbq??

109 Dave { 05.13.13 at 7:08 am }

Hi Linda, and thanks! I’m not certain, but I don’t think you can do the 10 days ahead–see this, where it’s not listed: http://www.swandolphin.com/aboutus/benefits.html But still try–and see what happens, then come back and let me know for sure!

I know Hoop et al can seat 12…so I’d think they can seat 13!

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110 Lina Anderson { 05.27.13 at 4:12 pm }

NO! You cannot book earlier than 180 day of 13.s and I had no trouble with a party

111 Dave { 05.27.13 at 5:53 pm }

Thanks Lina!

112 Diann { 06.06.13 at 8:38 pm }

Hi! Thanks so much for all of your tips! We are taking our first trip family of 4, 2 girls age 6,8. We arrive on October 22-October 27th. So far we have ADR for Cindy’s Wednesday @1:20, Friday Crystal Palace @ 6:10. Saturday we have Tusker house @ noon & Akershus for dinner. What should we do Thursday in Epcot?? And, should we just pick one for Saturday? We can’t quite swing The Polynesean unless they have free dining or room discounts. We are staying at Port Orleans. Where is the best spots for Wishes & Illuminations??

113 Dave { 06.07.13 at 7:47 am }

Hi Diann!

On your last question, see the links to Wishes and Illuminations here: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2010/10/26/fireworks-at-walt-disney-world/

On your Saturday question…on such a short trip I would definitely not do two table service meals in a day…and I’m assuming you know that to do two parks in a day–as your Saturday ADRs imply–you’ll need a park hopper add on, which will cost an extra $60/person. See http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/06/02/walt-disney-world-ticket-prices-summer-2013-to-summer-2014/

On Thursday, I wouldn’t go to Epcot at all. Disney’s Hollywood Studios tends to have much more appeal to kids the ages of yours than Epcot…

Hope this helps!

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114 Diann { 06.07.13 at 2:28 pm }

Dave! Thank you so much for your help!!! I will cancel one of our ADR’s on Saturday. I will also consider your advice on skipping Epcot. I will look into not park hopping…that would save us some money! Thanks!

115 Dave { 06.09.13 at 7:26 am }

Great Diann…and let me know how it goes!

116 Lisa { 08.06.13 at 3:49 am }

Hi Dave,
Dumb question…Are the dining plan credits per night or per day…do
6 nights/7 days = 7 table service credits or 6?
Thanks!

117 Dave { 08.06.13 at 8:47 am }

Hi Lisa, it’s a great question, especially since many–including me–use sloppy language about this.

It’s per night, so in your example, 6 credits. They become available as soon as you check in, and can be used up unitl midnight on your check-out day.

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118 Tina { 08.13.13 at 4:52 pm }

Do you need a theme ticket to enter MK for the Princess lunch? We have reservations there on our last day but didn’t know if we need to save one of our base tickets for this day? I hope not. Thanks!!

119 Dave { 08.14.13 at 6:49 am }

Tina, yes you do.

120 Mike H { 11.05.13 at 12:35 pm }

Hi Dave. If we are going directly to the resort from the airport, where is the best place to pick up breakfast and store it in the fridge for the week? We can bring cereal in our suitcase, but where would we find milk on the resort? Is there a place to buy bread and other groceries? Seems like Disney would want to prevent this cheaper eating…

121 Dave { 11.06.13 at 6:53 am }

Mike you can get milk in the resorts’s shop, food court, or both…Other groceries vary. Some resorts are nicely stocked, others basically have just candy chips and donuts…lemme know which you are staying in!

122 Mike H { 11.07.13 at 12:15 am }

Hi Dave, we are staying at POFQ for the honeymoon. We eat homemade cereal and will be looking for milk in that area!

123 Dave { 11.07.13 at 8:06 am }

OK Mike. Sadly I don’t remember how well POFQ is stocked! If you have a car, you are very close to Old Key West, whose shop is really well stocked.

124 Wendy { 11.13.13 at 9:49 pm }

10 days! How do you keep track of the chits with the dining plan? Is it all on the MagicBand?

Thanks and sounds like you are having fun!

Wendy

125 Dave { 11.14.13 at 10:39 am }

Oh Wendy this trip has really worn me out! But you have fun on yours! I return 12/3–I think you’ll be gone by then?

Your MagicBand contains no data other than a coded identifier. That identifier is what is read by the various doohickeys, and then matched up “off-wrist” to Disney’s databases.

You actually view and manage your reservations via the MyDinseyExperience website or app. I use the app on my phone. I also print out everything from MDE before I leave…Disney will also send you reminder emails about the ressies…

126 Wendy { 11.15.13 at 1:42 am }

Thanks! We are leaving on the 29th – too bad, we would like to meet you! We are excited, but I am sure we will need a vacation after the vacation!
Good to know about the app…did not know that the dining plan would show on there. It does not show now…but maybe once it has started?

6 more days of school and then we are off…11 months have passed so quickly. Crazy!

Wendy

127 Dave { 11.15.13 at 7:44 am }

Wendy, the dining plan isn’t on the app, but your dining reservations should be–and if not, you can link them by reservation number!

128 Wendy { 11.15.13 at 7:10 pm }

Thanks!

129 Wendy { 11.21.13 at 1:32 am }

A question about the dining plan – can we use our credits for other people? We are going with the whole group (we are the only 4 with a dining plan) – can we “pay” for others with ours? My son will not be using his – he is 11 and they call him an adult, but he will order out of pocket from the kids menu if he can. That means, we will have many of his credits left.

Thanks, Dave…

Wendy

130 Dave { 11.21.13 at 7:28 am }

My bud Carl reports here that 1. you both you can’t and shouldn’t , but that 2. it happens… http://www.dadsguidetowdw.com/can-i-my-disney-dining-plan-credits-to-pay-for-someone-elses-meal.html

131 Wendy { 11.21.13 at 9:10 pm }

He has an interesting take. It is funny, I do not see it as cheating or stealing (I am sure he has a reason to feel the way he does)…but I am a rule-follower. I will ask and see what they say at each place…

Thanks,

Wendy

132 jenn { 01.07.14 at 10:39 am }

Another question Dave…if we purchase a 4 day MYW ticket for each of us in advance, can we then add park hopper if we change our minds? Not sure if park hopping is of any benefit with kids 4 & 7. Also can we add water park days individually upon arrival as we only want two waterpark passes each…what is the cost if we can do that? We are thinking about staying in a hotel off disney property…and if we need an extra day in the parks in the end what does it cost to add another park day…

133 Dave { 01.08.14 at 9:52 am }

Jenn, you can add the hopper up until the last day of ticket use. Ditto on the water parks option.

If you are sure you will be doing two water parks–most would add a theme park day rather than a second water park day–then the “water parks and more” option will be cheaper.

For the cost of extra ticket days, see this: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2013/06/02/walt-disney-world-ticket-prices-summer-2013-to-summer-2014/

134 Michelle { 01.16.14 at 12:02 pm }

I hate to use 2 dining credits for CRT – for my daughter (Age 5) eats VERY little, and my son (18 months) even less! If i paid cash at Cindy’s – Could i Just order my husband and I plates and share with my daughter? My son is free anyway… Not sure if this will help me in the credits department since i can’t use my child’s dining credit for us anywhere else? I will have to pay Cash for atleast 1 sit down meal, maybe even two….. whats the best way to do it with kids who eat so little?

135 Dave { 01.16.14 at 6:38 pm }

Michelle, you can’t share with the 5 year old… in general, it’s better to pay cash for two credit meals (especially for adults–matters less at prices for little kids), if you would otherwise be paying cash for two other one credit table service meals…

136 Simon { 01.29.14 at 5:03 pm }

Hi, Some very interesting points on here. We are stopping at Old Key West with the DDP, I have booked all the restaurants for our table services but I was wondering what we should do for breakfast, should we get a Quick Service, (where’s my best option) or a snack, or can we bring in our own groceries?
Cheers
Simon

137 Dave { 01.30.14 at 9:10 am }

Simon, there’s huge value to being at the parks before they open. This complicates breakfast. The easiest solution is to have some fruit, milk, juice and cereal in your room, which most resorts sell in either their gift shop or food court. Next best is a late breakfast in the parks–e.g. 10.30 or later. Counter service at OKW works, if you start early so that you can be at the bus stop ~60 minutes before park open…

138 Simon { 01.30.14 at 9:51 am }

Thanks, can we bring in items from walmart etc

139 Michelle { 01.30.14 at 12:40 pm }

What are you recommended/favorite counter service places at each park? (outside the regular itinerary) I know this info may be somewhere but i can’t find it… i do have sunshine seasons written down….

thanks dave.

140 Dave { 01.31.14 at 6:54 am }
141 Dave { 01.31.14 at 7:15 am }

Michelle, I don’t think I have a complete list anywhere. Here’s my personal faves:

HS: none
MK: Pecos Bills. Columbia Harbor House has lotsa fans too. Menu there is less appealing to me…
Epcot–besides Sunshine Season, the quick service in Morocco
AK: Flame Tree Barbecue, and Anandapur Local Food Cafes (also known as Yak and Yeti Counter Service)

142 Simon { 02.01.14 at 9:13 am }

Hi, this is not about food but with your knowledge was hoping you could help. Are there any petrol go karts in Disney and do you have to pay extra for the NASCAR experience

143 Dave { 02.01.14 at 10:19 am }

Simon, no to the first, unless you count the horribly boring Tomorrowland Speedway in the Magic Kingdom, suitable only for those younger than 7. And yes the Richard Petty Experience is very expensive and needs to be scheduled. See https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/speedway/richard-petty-driving-experience/

144 Simon { 02.10.14 at 8:23 pm }

Hi Dave, could you give me a little info on Golf in Disney, booking, prices, club hire etc?

145 Dave { 02.11.14 at 7:56 am }

Hey Simon, I don’t track it so don’t have a lot to say…see this though: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/golf/

146 CHRIS { 02.11.14 at 3:47 pm }

We are traveling with two toddlers (first trip) can we rent strollers at the Port Orleans Riverside? I know they are available in the parks, thought it would be easier to have one available all week without interruption. Also, are puddle jumpers available to rent?

147 Dave { 02.12.14 at 8:12 am }

Chris, you can’t rent strollers at the hotels. There are non-Disney companies you can rent from who will deliver a stroller for your use of your vacation to your hotel, but you have to arrange that yourself–not through the hotel.

148 Melody { 03.26.14 at 2:56 pm }

Do you know if there are any promotions yet for free dining plan for October 2014? Or when it might be announced?

149 Dave { 03.27.14 at 9:19 am }

Hi Melody! If anything such comes out–and I doubt it will, but hope I am wrong–I’d expect to see the announcement om the summer.

150 Elanie { 04.03.14 at 9:35 am }

Hallo Dave.
My husband and myself will be travelling from South Africa to Orlando in September. We will be staying at Holiday Inn Lake Beuna Vista. We only have 2 full days in Orlando. When buying tickets do you think we should ad park hopper to maybe see all the parks in 2 days? Thank you in advance.

151 Dave { 04.04.14 at 1:58 pm }

Hi Elanie, no I wouldn’t. There’s 6 days worth of things to see and do across the four parks, and hoppers just absorb travel time…I’d just pick two parks–probably MK and Epcot–and spend a full day in each!

152 simon { 04.23.14 at 9:02 am }

Hi Dave, can we watch baseball or football etc at espn

153 Disney World Free Dining for Military Families | { 05.03.14 at 7:02 am }

[…] Dining Plan (For more info on the DDP See YourFirstVisit.net and the Disney Food […]

154 Dee { 05.09.14 at 11:03 am }

Hi Dave, We recently (two adults, two teenagers) decided to go to WDW this July and are contemplating staying at the Yatch Club. Have usually stayed off property, about a mile from the resort, to save money on meals (great rate on car rental), and have plenty of room to stretch out. Wanted to experience the convenience of staying on property, but am afraid of what food may cost. Any advice is greatly appreciated! Thank You!

155 Dave { 05.10.14 at 7:41 am }

Dee, the problem with the Epcot resorts is lousy availability of counter service food–which tends to drive your costs up. Honestly, if you are worried about food costs, I’d suggest Wilderness Lodge. First it’s less expensive than the Yacht Club to start with, and second it has great counter service. You can also take a boat form it to Fort WIlderness, where the Trail’s End buffet is one of the least expensive table service options on property…

156 Melissa { 05.12.14 at 4:09 pm }

Hi Dave.
I have a question for you. Again, thanks for your help.
If we are going to disney with several people, but different rooms, and 1/2 of us decide on the food plan, and the other 1/2 doesnt, are we still able to sit at the same table at restaurants or would we have to be seated separately?

157 Dave { 05.13.14 at 12:12 pm }

Melissa, yes, you can have a mix of payment!

158 Simon { 06.02.14 at 4:08 pm }

Hi Dave, Can I bill the dining tips (gratuities) to my room or do they need to be paid before leaving the restaurants.
Also would you advise on booking fast passes for the preferred seating for fireworks or is there anywhere else to get a better view.
By the way your insight into all things Disney is immense. But how about outside Disney? Can you advise on anything to do that would entertain 3 young boys in the Orlando area or even out to the coast, would be willing to drive about an hour?

159 Dave { 06.03.14 at 6:47 am }

Hi Simon and thanks!

On your last question, I can barely keep up with DIsney…but depending on how young your young-uns are, Legoland has been a real hit with the preschooler crowd.

Yes you can bill tips to your room…

FP+ for fireworks. The short answer is it depends on the ages of the guys and how many days you are spending in each park, but in general no.

At Hollywood Studios, with one day you want to use your Tier One FP+ for Toy Story Mania. With two days at HS, if they are old enough you’d use it for Rock n Roller Coaster, otherwise Fantasmic would be an OK use.

Epcot is similar–a maybe on a two day visit if test Track is not in the cards because of age, a no on a one day.

At MK, on a three day visit MSEP is a better FP+, as it positions you well for that parade, for the Celebrate the Magic show that immediately follows, and also (after you back away from the Castle a bit) for the fireworks that follow that…

160 Tink from SA { 06.22.14 at 3:28 pm }

Hi Dave, Thanks for a super awesome site! I am on it almost every day and very soon you can accredit me with a degree! LOL!
We are from SA,(kids11yrs & 3yrs) going to be travelling during 2nd week in Dec. We r on the DDP and we were lucky enough to get most of the charactor meals booked! My question is, is the base ticket sufficient for attending Chef Mickeys, 1900 PF, Ohanas etc (resort restaurants) Thank you….

161 Dave { 06.23.14 at 8:45 am }

Hi Tink and thanks! Dining at the resort hotels does not require any ticket so you don’t need any add-ons to do so…

162 Simon { 07.17.14 at 7:45 am }

Hi Dave, all of your help has been invaluable. We are leaving for Disney on Tuesday and I would like to ask a couple more questions. Firstly is there WiFi available at OKW and secondly how much is it to swim with the Dolphins at Disney and is it worth it.
Thank you

163 Dave { 07.17.14 at 7:49 am }

Simon, have a great trip!! On WIFI, yes. The dolphins is a Sea World thing, and I stick to Disney because that’s all I have time to keep up with…sorry to be no help on it…

164 Jess { 07.17.14 at 11:55 am }

Actually, Epcot does have a dolphins tour: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/epcot/dolphins-in-depth/

Looks like the Disney website says it’s $199. No clue on if it’s worth it.

165 Dave { 07.18.14 at 7:12 am }

Jess, of course you are right! I had that mentally bookmarked as a tour, in contrast to the SeaWorld thingy. But you do get “30 minutes with the dolphins” as your link notes so I am so wrong!! The value of these tours are highly personal, so it’s really hard for another person to say it’s worth it.

166 Simon { 07.19.14 at 5:27 pm }

Thats great thank you

167 Jane { 08.04.14 at 10:16 pm }

Hi Dave, we are a military family and have currently booked a “room only,” as we are planning to purchase the military salute 4 day park hopper tickets when they become available in late August. We have not decided whether to do the dining plan. We are told it saves 30%, but your website says you don’t save $. We will have 3 adults and 3 very small kids. What do you recommend? We will be doing some of the expensive table service restaurants.

168 Dave { 08.05.14 at 9:14 am }

Jane, first I think that to do the dining plan you need to buy tickets at the straight Disney price. I’ll check with Steve, the military moderator here, to be sure.

Second, while the DP did save some money years ago, now it’s either a wash or a money loser except for families with kids between 3 and 9 who are doing many one credit character buffets. The details are in the second half of this post (after the Q&A, begins “What’s the Disney Dining Plan, anyway?): http://yourfirstvisit.net/2014/04/16/the-best-ever-free-dining-faq-in-the-history-of-the-world/

169 Steve From MilitaryDisneyTips.com - YourFirstVisit.net Military Moderator { 08.05.14 at 1:01 pm }

Hi Jane and Dave,

You do not need to add any (full price) WDW tickets to your Disney Armed Forces Salute room reservation in order to add any paid meal plan. They allow this as they still want you to be able to realize the Salute ticket savings.

I’ve never used one myself, I’m either there for the Epcot Food and Wine fest, when it wouldn’t make sense, or on my own and moving fast from task to task.

We did have an officer in our squadron who was a DVC member and swore by the meal plan. He said he always came out ahead.

What I recommend is to take a look at the menus with prices on allears and price out those table service meals, then add in what you think your family would eat for other meals and snacks then compare to the various meal plans.

170 Roxanne { 10.01.14 at 11:32 am }

Hi Dave,

We are considering the 2015 dining plan and we want to order room service for breakfast some mornings. Do we have to use our dining credits or can we pay seperately (ie not use the dining plan) for those meals?

171 Dave { 10.03.14 at 6:47 am }

Roxanne, it is always completely up to you whether for any meal you use cash or the dining plan.

172 Amanda { 11.05.14 at 3:30 pm }

Hi Dave!

I am trying to decide what days to book our reservations on since our 180 day window is approaching (we are visiting May 17, 2014-May 24). How soon will Disney post the schedule for Wishes, Illuminations and Fantasmic so we can make dinner plans around them? Thanks!

173 Dave { 11.06.14 at 10:43 am }

Amanda, the preliminary schedule for May has been out for several weeks. See, for example, this: http://media.disneywebcontent.com/StaticFiles/ParkHours/WDWTravelAgent_May.pdf

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