Monday, July 4, 2011

Munching on a Meal Plan

There's been some big buzz over the last few years about the Disney dining plans. They've been around for a long time but it's really only been recently that I've heard such a huge emphasis being put on them. Seeing as V and I used the plan when we went, I thought I'd take the time and do the math on it to see if the hype really does match the product.

Let's go with the standard Disney Dining Plan ($46 per day for adults as of 2011). That means one quick service meal, one table service meal, and one snack per person per day. With each service meal, you'll get a non-alcoholic drink, an entree, and a dessert. In the majority of cases, no menu item is out of bounds for your entree (some places, like Teppan Edo, will have sections of their menu that are a la carte so you can't use your plan but I've found these cases are rare) and many restaurants will let you substitute an appetizer for your entree if you ask (I had the calamari basket at Raglan Road instead of an entree).

A Model Day of Food and WDW:
Breakfast - $6.70
The foodcourt in your resort will offer a variety of breakfast foods that are pretty much standard across the Disney property.
Let's say you go with the traditional favourite and order a Mickey Waffle with bacon.

Lunch - $6.60 + $2.40
You start your day at Magic Kingdom and tackle the famous Casey's Corner for lunch. You grab a hot dog meal (with the toppings of your choice) and french fries. For dessert you pick a brownie.

Snack - $3.50
We're going to go for another classic with this one and get a premium Mickey ice cream bar for a mid-afternoon snack.

Dinner - $28 + $8.00
You've headed over to EPCOT for dinner at Restaurant Marrakesh and it looks like you have your eye on the roast lamb meshoui and a bastilla for dessert. Yum!

Just taking in your three basic meals and a little something sweet to get you through the afternoon, you're looking at spending around $55 per person per day. This is not including drinks (the average bottle of water in the parks will cost you $2.50). You'll just about break even if we substitute drinks throughout the day and at meals for the second quick service meal) by saving $10.

(Tip: While $10 doesn't seem like all that much difference, keep in mind this is for your whole vacation. Assuming you stay for a week, that's at least $70 you'll be saving.)

So, do I think the dining plan is worth it? Heck yes. When V and I used it, our receipts for food added up to much more than this (lived a little high on the hog for the week) and there's no way we could have afforded it if we hadn't had the meal plan. Not having to look at prices or saying byebye dessert because I wanted the more expensive entree was absolute bliss. With a plan, you can get the $15 meal or the $40 meal without having to pay out-of-pocket. It makes meal time far less stressful when you're trying to stay within a budget.

Of course, if you don't think you'll eat three meals per day, or even a huge breakfast/lunch and then a full dinner, it may not be for you. But if you plan to eat and eat well, I'd really suggest looking into it.

To find a meal plan that's right for you and for a full list of restaurants participating in the Dining Plan, check out the Disney website pdf.

If there's anything else you'd like to know about the Disney Dining Plan, feel free to ask in the comments. I'd love to answer any questions!

♥ Rhys


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