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Think about trying the Disney Dining Plan

Planning your next trip to the Walt Disney World Resort involves a lot of different choices and decisions. There are decisions concerning when you are going, how you are going to get there, where are you staying, what kind of tickets do you need, and where are you going to eat.

Today I am going to focus on helping you understand the benefits of a feature called the “Disney Dining Plan”. I’ll give you some keys to determine if it is a good idea for you and your family on your next trip and how to take full advantage of the plan if you decide to purchase it.

What is the Disney Dining Plan?
This is a prepaid meal plan that Disney World offers as an option for many packages it offers or a stand alone option available to DVC members staying on points during their vacation.

The Basics
In simple terms the Dining Plan provides each person per day:
One table service meal including entrée, desert, and non-alcoholic beverage. (Gratuity not included)
One counter service meal including entrée or combo meal, desert, and non-alcoholic beverage
One snack item – typically food items under $4.00 such as single service beverages, ice cream, and other snack items found throughout the parks with a special designation on the menu to show that they are a snack item.
The plan is for the length of the resort stay and everyone staying in the room must participate in the plan. You may consume the allotted credits in any fashion that you wish (you do not have to use only one item in each category per person each day), but once they’re gone, they are gone. At the table service meals children must order off of the children’s menu.

The fee for 2008 is:
Adult (10+): $37.99 per day
Child (3-9): $9.99 per day

Why Do It?
The plan takes the worry out of watching the prices closely on the menu. You generally may choose any entrée and any desert on the menu. This allows you to try items that you may not normally feel comfortable trying if you had to pay the menu price for them. It is also a nice feeling to know ahead of time what your food cost will be for your trip, so you can just relax and enjoy.

Is it a Good Deal?
Unfortunately this is the typical “It depends” answer. It depends upon whether you would typically eat at a sit down restaurant each day. It depends upon if you would ever order desert. It depends if you like the more expensive items on the menus.

I have found that the best deal is the price for the Children. If you have children, especially in the 7-9 year old range, this can be a great deal. The table service meal alone is often more than their daily rate, so the counter service meal and their snack are free.

If you don’t have children then you really have to look at the types of restaurants that you will be dining in and the types of entrees that you will choose to decide if you come out ahead. As a pure stress reliever it is often worth it.

This is especially a great deal with larger groups with multiple families eating together. You don’t have to worry about who is picking up the check, you can just relax and enjoy your meal.

As you can imagine the nicer table service restaurants are a better value than the buffets.

Should I do it?
I have used it with my family and I would definitely recommend it for families. It is a great way to be able to enjoy the many great restaurants that Walt Disney World has to offer. It is certainly worthy of further consideration to determine if it makes sense for your next trip. If this plan sounds interesting, but not quite right for you, there are other Dining Plans offered in addition to the standard plan.

Special Tip
If you do decide to use the Disney Dining Plan, make sure that you make your dinner reservations far ahead of time (up to 180 days) in order to guarantee that you get to eat in the restaurant of your choice on the day of your choice.

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