There are three dining plans at Walt Disney World for guests who are staying at a Disney resort. These plans can save you great deal of money on your vacation if you work the program to your advantage. Previously on the blog we’ve discussed how dining at as many buffets as possible gives you great bang for your buck. And ordering alcoholic beverages with all your meals, where applicable. Today’s post is going to give you another tip to make sure you’re walking away having consumed more than you spent on your dining. Today we’re talking about why planning your meals ahead of time will make sure you recoup your dining plan investment.
You want to plan your meals ahead of time because you’ll make sure you are dining at restaurants that actually have cuisine you enjoy. Not every restaurant is the same, even in the quick-service category. When you don’t figure where you want to eat ahead of time you could spend a lot of time wandering around the park looking for a restaurant that suits your needs. Or you’ll end up settling for a restaurant and then not enjoying your food as much and maybe even wasting some of it. Which doesn’t help with making sure you’re getting your moneys worth.
You want to plan ahead because you’re going to want a reservation ahead of time for those table service restaurant. This isn’t a concern if you’re on the quick-service dining plan but is key if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan or the Deluxe Dining Plan. This can be as simple as checking the day before to book a table at a restaurant that’s available or going up to the restaurant when you arrive at the park to grab a table for later in the day or booking months in advanced. If you don’t get to dine at these table service restaurants then you won’t be able to use up your table service meal credits. Now you can use table service meal credits at quick-service restaurants but this is going to make you fall short on your initial dining plan spend. Most entrees at a quick-service restaurant are going to range between $12-20 as opposed to $20-40. If you do this for too many meals you’ll end up having spent more money on the dining plan than what you actually ate.
If you don’t plan ahead you may find yourself missing meals. Before we started using the dining plan we would eat at very random times during the day, especially if we wanted to eat at a location that was hard to get a reservation at. If you’re not careful you may find yourself skipping lunch to get an odd time reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table or Chef Mickey’s. If you don’t use your meal credit for breakfast or on another day you could finish your vacation without having used some of your meal credits.
When you plan ahead you can make sure your dining at the best restaurants for your investment. The best restaurants to dine at are buffet restaurants and these 5 restaurants listed in this previous post. By planning ahead you can also make sure that you DON’T eat at the 5 worst restaurants.
By planning ahead you won’t run out of credits before your vacation is over. If you’re dining on either the quick-service or Disney dining plan, you’re only given 2 meal credits per day, presumably you’ll want to eat three meals a day. Now you can use your snack credits for meal replacement or bring bread to make sandwiches and in room breakfast. But if you start spending credits on meals without putting much thought into it you could end up with no credits left before your vacation is over.
By planning ahead of time you’ll ensure you get the best use of the dining plan. Since beginning this blog we’ve kept track of our use of the dining plan and found we’ve saved each time. But this has been after very intentional planning and the same can happen for you. So do yourself a favour and plan your meals to ensure you don’t lose money on an already very expensive vacation. Check out these previous posts on dining at Disney World: