Tip #1 Use The Extra Day
No Matter which Disney Dining Plan you choose there is one important fact to remember: All Disney Dining Plan credits last until midnight of the day that you check out of your Disney World Resort.
This applies even if you check into another Disney World Resort on that day. This is a great tip for those who like to split their trip at two different resorts.
Many families realize that the Disney Dining Plans can almost be too much food. By budgeting your expenditures and occasionally sharing a Quick Service meal, you can actually stretch your Dining Plan credits to either last an extra day or at least cover one meal on that extra day.
This is also a nice feature if you decide to take a "day off" from Table Service meals and get something lighter one day instead. This way your valuable Dining Credits don't go to waste.
Tip #2 Epcot Restaurants Provide Best Table Service Value
If you are looking for the best use of your Disney Dining Plan Table Service Credits in terms of dollars spent if paying out of pocket, then Epcot is your best place to eat. Here you will find Le Cellier, Les Chefs de France, Coral Reef, Tutto Italia, Le Hacienda de San Angel, Restaurant Marrakesh, & San Angel Inn.
These seven Table Service restaurants all have entrees that range from $20 - $35. They are all available as options when you have the Dining Plan. So if you had your heart set on Filet Mignon, then by all means get the Dining Plan to avoid having to pay at Le Cellier (One Table Service Credit For Lunch, or Two for Dinner.)
Tip #3 Think Buffet For Older Children and Character Meals
If your children are in the 7 - 9 year old range and the normal children's meal isn't enough food for them, then you should consider one of the Disney World Buffet or Family Style Dining Options for Table Service meals. Even though they pay the children's Dining Plan rate, they are allowed to eat whatever they want at the buffet.
Many of the Buffets also have have Disney Characters. This means not only can your children eat all they want at the buffet, but you have the added special touch of getting to meet and interact with the characters. These make great memories for your family vacation.
Recommended Buffets (all for 1 Table Service Credit per person) include: 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort), Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom), Chef Mickey's (Contemporary Resort), Princess Storybook Dining (Norway in Epcot), Biergarten (Germany in Epcot - No Characters, but lively entertainment).
Tip #4 Use the Snack Credits
The snack credits provide some of the most fun for my family when we use one of the Disney Dining Plans. There is such a wide variety of options, there is no excuse to not use your snack credits.
Even if you do not "snack" or feel the need for extra treats, you can use the snack credits for many breakfast items ranging from: pastries, muffins, yogurt parfaits, & fruit bowls.
Children enjoy having the option to "spend" their snack credits on the items of their choice. They like the competition of finding the best use for their credit, whether it be a Butterfinger Cupcake from Starring Roles or warm Cinnamon Roll from the Main Street Bakery.
Tip #5 Quick Service Means More Than Burgers
Disney World provides a wide variety of Quick Service Dining options, so don't feel that you are forced to spend your Quick Service Credits on Burgers or Pizza, but you can if that is what you crave.
From Barbecue Ribs at Flame Tree Barbecue, Fried Shrimp at Columbia Harbour House, Moroccan Shawarma Platters at Tangierine Cafe to Salmon at Sunshine Seasons there are plenty of choices which to use your Quick Service credits.
The Quick Service Credits even allows you to choose entrees or combination meals that normally cost over $10 each.
Tip #6 Takes The Stress Out Of Vacation Dining
The Final Tip and one that doesn't credit enough publicity is the stress that the Disney Dining Plans take out of your vacation.
By allowing you to be able to order what ever you want off of the menu for the same price, you don't have to worry about your child who wants to try the $28 entree. You also don't feel guilty about getting the most expensive item on the menu yourself.
The Disney Dining Plans enable you to relax and enjoy your vacation without worrying about the prices on the menus. For families on a budget (and who isn't) it is also nice to know what your food expenditures will be ahead of time, so that you can budget accordingly.
Strongly Consider The Disney Dining Plan
The various Disney Dining Plans will never be the inexpensive way to visit Disney World for your vacation, but there are a number of advantages to choosing to add it to your vacation.
With minimal effort you can get your money's worth and the stress reduction definitely makes it all worthwhile. Take advantage of some or all of these Tips and have a great Disney World Vacation!