Being a Disney Dining Plan veteran did not prepare me for the culinary experience that my family enjoyed when we tried the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan during a recent Disney World Vacation.
Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
For the uninitiated, the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan turns your Walt Disney World Vacation into a near all inclusive culinary experience. Each day you receive 3 Table Service credits and 2 snack credits in Dining Plan speak. This means that you can enjoy three different meals at a multitude of Disney World sit down restaurants savoring an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage for each. this process repeats for night of your stay. You also receive two Disney designated snack items per person per night of your stay. On top of that you also receive refillable Drink Mugs to use at your resort during your stay.
If you use your credits properly you should not need to purchase any additional food during your Disney stay.
The Deluxe Dining Plan with its 3 Table service credits per day (including appetizer) is a far departure for the original Disney Dining Plan that includes 1 Table Service Meal (entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage), 1 Quick Service Meal, and 1 snack per night of your stay. You also receive refillable Drink Mugs to use at your resort during your stay.
You will find that you will spend a larger portion of your vacation sitting in restaurants, so this is not necessarily the best option for first time visitors or those with young (impatient) children. If you are looking for a relaxing, leisurely paced vacation where fine dining is one of the keys, then this may be the option for you.
Veteran Disney Dining Plan Tricks
For frequent visitors of Disney World, including especially Disney Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members, there is an advantage to breaking up your vacation into 2 separate resort stays. This allows you to choose whether you would like to purchase one of the Disney Dining Plan options for one or both parts of your stay.
By splitting up your vacation you can use the Dining Plan to its fullest capability and still not feel "burnt out" with too much food. We have found that sometimes an entire week on the Dining Plan can be a bit much. For our Deluxe Disney Dining Plan test we spent one night at the Old Key West Resort where we purchased the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan and then followed that up with an additional 6 nights at Disney's Animal Kingdom Kidani Village without the Dining Plan.
Another important fact to note is that all Dining Plans are good until midnight of the day that you check out. In our case since we checked into the Old Key West Resort on a Saturday afternoon, it meant that we had from our check-in time until midnight on Sunday night to use our Deluxe Dining Plan Credits, thereby spreading it out over a day and a half. This allowed us to avoid feeling overwhelmed with food and to be able to maximum the value of the credits with our dining choices.
Dining at Disney World is never cheap, but there are certainly some dining experiences that are more expensive than others. It is in the guest's best interest to use the Disney Dining Plans when they wish to dine at the more expensive restaurants and either pay out of pocket or use other discounts (Disney Annual Passholder, Disney Vacation Club Member, or Tables In Wonderland)when dining at the others.
For our Deluxe Dining Plan Experience the 3 restaurants that we chose were: Kouzzina, Coral Reef, and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Each provided a combination of intriguing menu choices and prices that justify using the Disney Dining Plan. For each meal that included appetizer, entree, non alcoholic beverage,and dessert our check averaged over $50 per person. All told including the actual 3 Table Service meals, snacks, and refillable drink mug, it averages slightly over $170 per person. Considering that we paid $85.52 per person for our one night of being on the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan we saved 50%!
Choose Great Snacks!
Never settle for boring snack with your Disney Dining Plan Snack Credits. Although the Disney suggested representative snacks are: Soft drinks, coffee, and ice cream bars there are so many more options to enjoy. The snack choices vary widely and change frequently. You can obtain a variety of great breakfast items (danishes, muffins, warm giant cinnamon rolls, yogurt parfaits, fresh fruit cups, etc.). There are also an unbelievable selection of dessert and pastry items available at many of the bakeries throughout Disney World. Starring Rolls at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Boulangerie Patisserie in Epcot are 2 favorites.
There are even special treats in the candy shops and many different forms of ice cream and desserts at shops and stands everywhere. Explore and spend your credits well. We even used some snack credits during this trip to get some "Zebra Domes" at the Mara at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. They are one of Disney World's most talked about treats and deservedly so.
Enjoy the Food!
Often it's all about the food, so expand your horizons. Try foods that you have never tried before, and above all, enjoy the experience! During this trip we tried the Greek specialties at Kouzzina that we recommended by our server, tasted Norwegian cuisine in their unique salad/appetizer bar, and enjoyed the delightful creations at the Coral Reef.