Monday, April 23, 2012

What is the Disney Dining Plan? Part II: Regular Dining Plan explained

Did you know that in addition to your resort and your theme park tickets, Disney also offers a dining plan?  This is a great thing because it makes your vacation all inclusive.  It's so nice to have it taken care of ahead of time - and not have to worry about the menu prices when you get there.

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 (part I), the regular dining plan, and the deluxe dining plan.  Today we are going to focus on the one that I recommend – the regular dining plan. 

Regular plan?  What does that mean??

With this plan (for 2012) - for each night of your stay, everyone in your party receives:  1 refillable mug per person and then 1 snack, 1 quick serve meal, and 1 table service meal per person per night.
What is a refillable mug?  When you are all checked in, go to your resort food court and pick up a cute, lidded plastic mug.  They come in several colors (we have a teal, hot pink and a black) so that you will know whose is whose.  And then you have unlimited soft drinks at your resort (they are not refillable in the parks) for the length of your stay.

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 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

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 to bring your own water into the park - and spend you 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!

How do you know if it's a snack?  Just look for this emblem, and you are golden:

 
And now, finally, what on earth is a table service?  Think of this as your nice sit down meal where you will have a server and where you MUST have a reservation (and this is part of my service to you - I'll make all those reservations for you!).

At a table service meal, what is included is either an entrée, dessert, and a drink OR a drink and a buffet meal.  (If you have a child in your room – and Disney says a child is someone 9 or younger – they must order off of the children’s menu)  You can order anything off of the menu.  If you want the most expensive item on the menu – by all means, order it!  What is not included?  Gratuity, alcohol, and appetizers.  Those expenses can just be charged back to your room.

Here are some examples of table service meals you might enjoy:

Lunch at the Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom:  New England pot roast, Sprite, and Ooey gooey toffee cake.

Dinner at Teppan Edo in Japan/Epcot:  Hibachi style dinner with a combination steak and shrimp, rice, noodles and veggies, a Coke, and chocolate ginger cake.

Lunch at the 50’s Prime Time Café in Hollywood Studios: Grandma’s Chicken pot pie, a peanut butter and jelly milkshake, and then Dad’s brownie sundae for dessert.

Dinner at Yak and Yeti at Animal Kingdom:  Seafood curry with Jasmine rice, tea, and mango pie for dessert.

If you'd like to see menus for all the restaurants in Disney - this is a great resource.

Also, your 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 20 snack credits, 20 table service credits, and 20 quick serve credits (four people, 1 each per day, 5 nights).  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!

One more note about credits.  Most table services "cost" one credit each.  But there are some that will count as 2 credits - like a meal at Cinderella's Royal Table in the castle, the Spirit of Aloha Dinner show at the Polynesian resort, or an amazing dinner at the Flying Fish Cafe on Disney's Boardwalk. 

I hope that helps you to understand the regular dining plan.  Next week, look for my post on the deluxe dining plan!

What about you?  Do you prefer the all inclusive option?  Do you have a favorite Disney restaurant?  Did you know that you could get this plan for FREE if you are planning a trip in September?  Email me for details - disneykatrina@gmail.com

Other posts in this series:  Quick serve dining plan explained and Deluxe dining plan explained



Katrina

2 comments:

  1. What a helpful blog for people planning on going to Disney. I'm going to forward the url to my daughter-in-law.

    I just stopped by from SITS to say hello; hope you do the same.

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  2. Hello Hello! I think I actually found your page because it was linked on my SIL's facebook a while back. How funny! I am still looking through, but you were already in my Disney bookmark tab! HAHA!!

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Thanks so much for saying "hello!" I like to know that I am not talking to myself :-)