Walt Disney World Magic- The Disney Dining Plan

Here’s my Disney blog post disclaimer: I want to make a public announcement. I am no Disney expert. We have taken our kids to Disney four times in the past eight years, ranging from just one day in the park to this past trip when we were on the property for nine days. There are loads of people who have been to Disney a hundred times more than I have, and who know a lot more than I do. I’m just here to pass on what I have learned and what has worked for us. We just returned from our Disney trip a few weeks ago, and while there I posted a lot of images on my instagram and facebook feeds–I had so many people send me private messages asking me questions that I decided there are a ton of people who want to know more about Disney and how to make their trip better, coming from someone they actually know. Let’s face it. . . Disney is no joke. It’s incredibly expensive. It’s exhausting. It causes even the best behaved children to melt down at times. It’s crowded. It’s overwhelming. And most people don’t even know where to begin while planning their trip.

Today’s Topic? FOOD! If anyone was following my social media feed while we were on our trip, you’ll know that we really planned our food and snacks. And by that, I mean that Brayden did hours of research and watched videos galore to know where to find the very best snacks in the parks. If we’re going to do this dining plan thing, we’re going to do it right, right!?  We did end up booking our vacation with the free dining offer. This included two quick service meals a day plus two snacks a day. We knew we wanted to do some sit down dining and character meals, so we did upgrade to the next level up which was an additional cost. It was amazing that it was mostly free, and honestly, even if we had to pay out of pocket for the dining plan and it wasn’t included in our trip, I would definitely consider. The fact that we didn’t have to worry about that part of our trip while we were there was amazing and freeing. Our entire trip was paid for before we went, including food (except for tips at the sit down restaurants, which still did add up to about $250 during the week). It was fun not to have to say no to the kids when they wanted to try something that we normally wouldn’t buy. Drinks were included in all meals, and normally we would just get water to save the money. Overall, it was a lot of fun to eat whatever we wanted the entire week. Isn’t that part of the fun of vacation?

Knowing what our mission was, we wrote out all of our ideas and that started Brayden’s Disney Snack Challenge. His goal was to find all of the most epic and expensive eats on the designated snack list. And boy, did he have a ball. He tried sweet and savory and everything in between. Carter and Sawyer opted for snacks that didn’t go too far beyond their comfort zone. James finished everyone else’s snacks that were too big for one person. And I did a little of everything. And we all had so much fun.

We successfully ate 70 snacks in eight days. Winning.

The dining plan that we got as part of our package would have normally cost us $1987.00 for the week if you do the math. Of course, my curiosity is always high in these types of things, so I did keep track of how much everything would have cost us had we paid out of pocket with no dining plan. The total was well over $2400, and I’m sure I missed a few things and forgot to write them down. The biggest costs were the character meals. A few of those cost upwards of $300 for our family of five. We would never ever be able to do that amount of character meals without the dining plan. Getting the bill at the end of the meal always made us smile. $297.00. Total cost: $0.  That’s just the best. We saw Mickey Mouse three times in three different outfits, and plenty of his friends. We didn’t have to stand in any long lines to see them, and we got great pictures.

Some of our favorite snacks from the week:

Cookies & Cream fried dough from Epic Eats in Hollywood Studios

Giant Mickey Cinnamon Buns from any Starbucks

Sweet Chili Shrimp Mac and Cheese from Eight Spoon Cafe in Animal Kingdom

The Monster Brownie Sundae from the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in Magic Kingdom

Raspberry & Pineapple Dole Whip from Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom

Churro Ice Cream Sandwich from Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom

Beignets and Ice Cream Sandwiches from our Port Orleans resort

Giant donuts from Joffrey’s in all parks

and my favorite of course were the giant frappuccinos from Starbucks in any of the parks. Nothing too Disney about it, but still delicious and made me happy

Our favorite table service meals:

-Garden Grill in Epcot

-Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom

-Hollywood & Vines (with VIP fantasmic seating) in Hollywood Studios

-Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

-Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge

Our favorite quick service meals:

The Columbia Harbour House in Magic Kingdom

ABC Commissary in Hollywood Studios

Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn in Magic Kingdom

I’m so looking forward to sharing more of our trip with you. Please comment if there is something specific you’d like for me to talk about!






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newborn, child and family photographer

rochester new york