So...how does it work?
To get the dining plan, you must stay at a Disney resort. You also need to purchase at least a one day ticket (unless you are an annual passholder, and then you don't have to purchase additional tickets). There are several levels of the Dining plan: Quick serve plan, the regular dining plan, and the deluxe dining plan. Today we are going to focus on the Quick serve plan
Quick serve? What does that mean??
With this plan (for 2012) - for each night of your stay, everyone in your party receives: 1 snack and 2 quick serve meals per night.
What is a quick serve meal? Think of it like a fast food option. What's included is either a combo meal, drink and dessert or an entree, side, drink and dessert. Here are some quick serve options you might enjoy:
1. At Cosmic Rays in the Magic Kingdom: for a quick serve credit, you can have: 1/2 a rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, a large diet coke and a piece of chocolate cake.
2. At Pizza Planet in Hollywood Studios: for a quick serve credit, you can have: a veggie pizza, a side Caesar salad, a cookie and a bottle of water.
3. At the Flame Tree BBQ in Animal Kingdom: for a quick serve credit, you can have: a pork sandwich, coleslaw, chocolate mousse and a large Sprite.
4. At the Tangerine Cafe in Morocco at Epcot: for a quick serve credit, you can have: a chicken and lamb combo Sharwarma platter with a side of Hummus, Tabouleh and a Tangierine Couscous Salad and fresh Moroccan bread, Baklava, and a large iced tea.
You can still get the ubiquitous burgers, chicken nuggets and fries - but your dining plan does not have to start and end with that! There is much variety to be found - including veggies. Even if you want those burgers, you can always substitute grapes or carrots for the fries.
So...what about snacks? Typically, snacks are items that cost $3.99 or less (though there are lots of exceptions) - like a bottle of soda or water, a Mickey head ice cream bar, popcorn, a soft pretzel, etc. The way you will know if it counts as a snack is if see this emblem on the menu:
Some exceptions that I have seen are the infamous Disney cupcakes - they are priced at $4.99 but most do have this emblem, which means they count as a snack. Something to keep in mind with snacks: not all are created equal! This means, that at $2.50 for a bottle of water - you are better off bringing your own water into the park - and spending your snack credits on things like cupcakes (not a hard plan to get behind!). Also, if you are fortunate enough to be at Disney during the Food and Wine festival (Sept 28- November 11, 2012) -you can use your snack credits at all the kiosks and get wonderful things like lamb, fisherman pie, lobster rolls and shrimp on the barbie - all for a snack credit each!
Now you may be saying - but that doesn't get me three meals a day. Well, you could use a snack for breakfast and your other quick serves for lunch and dinner. Or you can do what we like to do - split meals. As you can see from my description of the meals you could get at each park - it's a lot of food - even for my bottomless pit of a husband - and could easily be shared between two people. Sharing will really stretch your credits.
Also, your quick serve credits are pooled. That means that if you check in for a 5 night stay with 2 adults and 2 children in your room - you have 4x2x5 credits (four people, 2 per day, 5 nights) which equals to 40 total quick serve meals. You can use them how ever you like (except for sharing with your aunt and 5 cousins who decide to meet you at the Magic Kingdom one day) - you can eat 5 meals one day and 3 the next and none the next and so on (you can also do the same with your snack credits - you can even use them all in one day if you choose!). Just be sure that at the end of your trip you've used all your credits - no one wants to leave leftovers for the mouse!
I hope that helps you to understand the quick serve plan. Next week, look for my post on the regular dining plan (it's the one that I recommend)!
What about you? Do you like the dining plan? Do you prefer the all inclusive option? Did you know that you could get this plan for free if you are planning a trip in September? Email me for details - firstname.lastname@example.org
Other posts in this series: Regular dining plan explained and Deluxe dining explained.