Posts Tagged With: disney dining plan

Top Five Ways We Will Be Cutting Costs On Our Next WDW Trip


My husband and I are expecting a baby in October – which is SUPER exciting and amazing – and we can’t wait to be able to take the little guy to Disney in hopes that he loves it as much as we do! However – since that is likely several years away, we have been talking about a vacation he and I might take just the two of us in a year or so – we are hoping to go to Disney (again, of course, what did you expect?!), but we know that money will be MUCH tighter with a baby to take care of, so I have been brainstorming and have come up with these top five money saving tips that we will be using on our next trip:

Pack Our Own Supplies: You can buy almost everything you could need at Walt Disney World – but it comes at a price, and I don’t know about you, but spending $18 on a bottle of sunscreen (that costs $8 at home) – doesn’t exactly thrill me – its not the best souvenir ever, that’s for sure. So we like to make sure we think ahead and pack stuff we know we will need: sunscreen (in small TSA approved bottles since we don’t like to check luggage!), ponchos, extra camera batteries and phone/tablet chargers, and another big one is medicine – I like to travel with a little mobile medicine cabinet – advil, tylenol, tums, NyQuil, and band-aids/neosporin are some things you might want to consider including in your “take to the Parks” bag – you’ll be glad you did, trust me!

Bring Food From Home: We like to pack snacks to help keep us tided over between meals – things that are easy to eat on the go work best – like granola bars, small packages of nuts/pretzels/trail mix, dried fruit, gum (not really a snack, but you won’t find it for sale at any WDW stores so best to pack your own!), water bottles – which we like to fill and freeze using our room fridge (perfect for those long hot days at the Parks), and most important of all – breakfast! It might seem strange to pack breakfast in your suitcase for the whole vacation, but its such a money and time saver – apples, bagels, peanut butter, fruit cups, cereal – these are items we have found to work the best over the years – you can usually purchase some small variety of these and some perishable items like milk, fruit, etc at your WDW Resort gift shop to supplement what you brought – and while the prices are high, they are still cheaper than a Disney breakfast (which can cost around $8-$15 a person – yikes!)

Share Meals: Being that we are a party of 2 adult travelers (for now, until our son is old enough to come with us!), we are lucky in that it’s easy for us to split meals – and many Disney meals and snacks are large enough to allow for this. Most meals include an entrée and a side, and then sharing a drink helps save money too – check out this article for more sharing ideas

Skip The Dining Plan: This might seem like a strange one – as the dining plan is hugely convenient, being that you pay for it before you even arrive and then just swipe your Magic Band when it comes time to pay, and you’re done! But – it isn’t always cost effective, especially if you have people in your party who aren’t big eaters or who can share most larger meals. This time around, we will be skipping the upfront cost (which is a BIG savings), and bringing our own breakfast, sharing lunch, and then splurging on 1 or 2 nicer sit down dinners – which will save us a lot in the long run (and still allow us to sneak in a few character meals too, which is imperative!)

Souvenirs: Disney souvenirs are pricey. Amazing, but pricey. I usually make myself a budget before I leave for any WDW trip regarding what souvenirs I want and how much they are and which ones I really want versus which ones aren’t really necessary. I do this by using the website to estimate prices and see what items might be available for me to buy at Disney. I mean – in reality, no one needs more than 1 or 2 souvenirs, and I always have loved trip photos so much that they end up being my favorite souvenir each and every time – a great way to relive the memories for years to come. So stick to 1 or 2 small things per person (and make that clear to the kids before you leave!) and then make sure you take tons of pictures – those are the most cherished souvenir anyway (in my opinion that is!)

You might have noticed that the majority of these money saving tips involve FOOD – and it’s not because we want to deprive ourselves of all the amazing Disney Dining options – but rather because the cost of dining at Disney is HIGH – meals are expensive, and yes the food is amazing – but it adds up quickly, especially if you are paying out of pocket for your whole party for every meal

Check out more money saving ideas here, and hopefully you will be able to make a WDW trip an affordable reality soon for your family!

Categories: Adult Walt Disney World, Disney Dining Plan, Disney Food, Disney Restaurants, Disney Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

T.G.I.F. Pic Of The Week – Free Food? Yes PLEASE!

There are few things that excite the avid Walt Disney World fan as much as the offer of FREE DISNEY FOOD! Disney announced last week that they will be running their popular “Free dining” promotion this fall, which means that if you book a vacation package during the specified dates (September-December), you can add on a Disney Dining Plan for FREE!

Which gets me to thinking…there are so many amazing Disney foods, but there are definitely a few that I absolutely cannot live without:

WaffleMickey Waffles – crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside – I could (and have!) eat 10 of these!

cupcakeThe Butterfinger Cupcake can be found around Hollywood Studios, and it is HUGE – but more than that, it is amazing- moist chocolate cake, whipped fluffy frosting topped with a chocolate shell and butterfinger bits, and a fudge-y surprise center – this is the ultimate snack!

MickeybarOh, and of course – the Mickey Bar – classic, simple, and still delicious and perfect on a hot day (better eat it fast though…nothing worse than a melted Mickey!


These are just a few of the amazing foods you could try while enjoying your WDW vacation, complete with free dining plan!

Don’t forget to check out all the Official Details on the free dining promotion – it’s too good to pass up!


Categories: Disney Dining Plan, Disney Food, Disney in Pictures, Disney News, Disney Restaurants, Disney Vacation Planning, Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

T.G.I.F. Pic Of The Week – Mingling With Royalty At WDW

One of the best parts of WDW is the character interaction – you have a chance to meet so many different characters, and it’s always fun to get a hug and a picture with your favorite! One of my favorite ways to meet characters is by going to character meals – there are usually 4 or 5 characters that mingle around while you’re eating to interact with you – and the best part is they come right to you! No waiting in line necessary!

CRT sign

One of more coveted (aka harder to get a reservation for) is Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom – where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served in a royal fashion inside Cinderella’s Castle!

CRT CinderellaWhen you arrive, you are greeted downstairs by Cinderella and you have your picture taken with her (the photos are then brought to your table, and the price is included in the meal!)

CRT INsideOnce your name is called, you head upstairs to your table. Personally, I loved getting to see the inside of the Castle – it’s beautiful, and not something that everyone gets to see, so that makes it all the more special!CRT RibThe food here is amazing – my husband especially enjoyed the Prime Rib!


Why Adults will love it – The food really is amazing, plus guys will like the princesses (they are usually not too hard on the eyes!) and the experience is fun and unique, and makes you feel like real royalty!

Why Kids will love it – getting to meet their favorite princesses and pretend they are little princes and princesses will brighten any little one’s day! Plus, what a perfect excuse to dress up like your favorite Disney Princess!


Categories: Adult Walt Disney World, Disney Food, Disney in Pictures, Disney Restaurants, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Disney Dining Plan: Why I Love It


There is a LOT of work that goes into Planning a Walt Disney World vacation, and I personally love every minute of it, but then again I make lists in my sleep, so for those of you who aren’t quite as super freakishly organized as me, the planning might seem like a daunting task

The Disney Dining Plan is something that can help make your vacation planning easier, not to mention it can help it run smoothly when you actually arrive at WDW. It’s basically a way to pre-pay for some or all of your vacation meals, and I love it

WHY do I love it? Well here are just a few reasons:

Pre Pay Saves On Out Of Pocket Costs: I like that I can add the Dining Plan while I am booking my Resort and Park tickets, and that means once I am in the Parks I am spending less money because I have already prepaid for a lot of my meals, so this helps me when I am putting together my vacation budget (always a tricky thing to do!)

Restaurant Selection: Almost all the restaurants in WDW accept the Disney Dining Plan, there are a few exceptions, but for the most part all the faves and classics are dining plan eligible (click here for a full list)

Mug Included: As of 2012, each guest using the Dining Plan received a free refillable mug, which means at counter service meals at your Resort, you not only get to pick up a drink of your choice, but you can also fill your mug seperately (coffee AND juice for breakfast anyone?). Oh, and it makes an adorable souvenir too

Different Plans fit Everyone’s Tastes: The “regular” or “standard” Dining Plan includes one sit down meal, one counter service meal, and one snack per person for each night of your stay. Think that’s too much food for you, or would you rather spend time at the Parks then at a sit down restaurant? Well then try the Quick Service dining plan which replaces the sit down with another counter service meal option. Does your party have big appetites? Then you may want to consider the Deluxe dining plan, which allows for more sit down meals and makes sure your family is full and fueled up!

Makes My Life Easy: When I arrive at Walt Disney World, one of the first things I want to do is eat – not only because WDW has AMAZING food, but also because I am likely starving from traveling all day and avoiding the crappy $12 sandwiches that seem adundant at most airports. So upon arrival, I want to head to the closest counter service eatery and get my grub on – with the Dining Plan, all I have to do is pick my meal, drink, and dessert and with one easy swipe of my room key at the register I am done, no cash or credit card needed. It really is that easy, and I am grateful for one less thing I have to worry about while on vacation


Check out the official Dining Plan information on WDW’s website, and see if it’s right for you!

Categories: Disney Dining Plan, Disney Food, Disney Restaurants, Disney Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Disney Dining Selections – Where To Begin?


One of the best – and most challenging things about planning a Walt Disney World vacation is deciding where you want to eat while you’re there. Disney allows you to make ADR’s (advance dining reservations) 180 days prior to your vacation, which is great, but daunting at the same time

As an all adult party, we want to try and get a good mix of places, some that are more “adult friendly” (ie – ones that have good wine and beer lists and fine dining options!) as well as a few that feature characters (because deep down aren’t we all just big kids?). Also, we knew there were some places we had to revisit, but wanted to make sure we were trying new things too

So where do we begin? Well, for us, we know there are a few “must do’s”, which include:
Chef Mickey’s – A chracter meal where you get to meet Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and
Donald while enjoying a range of buffet options. Often overlooked by ‘food snobs’ as being sub-par in the buffet department, but
I have always loved it – especially the soft serve ice cream sundae bar!

Crystal Palace – Another character meal – this time Winnie The Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and
Piglet roam the dining room for hugs and pictures while you enjoy a delicious buffet that serves up 3 meals a day. The food is
a lot better than at Chef Mickey’s, and the location of this restaurant is great – its right on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom

Raglan Road Irish Pub – We’ve been to this Downtown Disney twice now, and can’t get enough of its huge bar
menu (with a big beer selection), amazing Irish dishes, and live entertainment. A must do, for sure

And of course we will want to try some new things, including Be Our Guest in the New Fantasyland, and some Italian at Via Napoli over in Epcot would be a great new experience for us too!


We will be using the Disney Dining Plan, which entitles each of us to 1 Table Service (sit down), 1 Counter service (fast food type) and 1 snack per person, per day, so this means that we will be planning 1 meal per day in advance. One thing that kind of throws a wrench in things is that we will be there at Christmas time, which means the Parks will be crowded, and that everyone will want to have a “special” meal booked for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Of course the Parks do some special meals to help people celebrate, which means that it will be even tougher to get a restaurant reservation for those days.

I guess at the end of the day, I will plan it out as best I can, and if we end up eating Butterfinger cupcakes and Turkey Legs for our family Christmas Dinner, who cares? At least I will still be with the people I love most at the place I love most!

So the best advice I can give to someone who is trying to plan their Disney meals is to use the Walt Disney World website to do some research and try something new – you’re on vacation after all, so step our of your comfort zone and try some African food, or Chinese or Japanese to mix it up!

Categories: Adult Walt Disney World, Disney Dining Plan, Disney Food, Disney Restaurants, Disney Vacation Planning, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

So How Much Does A Disney Trip REALLY Cost?

Statue Castle

I talk a LOT about how amazing Walt Disney World is, how it’s a vacation you will never forget that is worth every penny, and I truly believe this.

But you may be wondering….exactly how many pennies will it take to get there? I have mentioned before that it’s not a cheap vacation, and that you will want to plan ahead and save up for it. How much saving, you ask? Well, for 2 adult travelers it goes something like this:

Lodging – You can expect to pay around $100 per night for a room at a WDW Value Resort, for a total of around $750 for 7 nights. The Value Resorts are the cheapest on property, and are nothing amazing, but we love them – they are fun, playful, and more than adequate for a place to rest your head. If you are looking for something a little more luxurious, Disney has PLENTY more options in their Moderate and Deluxe Resort Categories

Park Tickets – Adding a 6 day Park Hopper Ticket to your Disney Resort Stay as a “Package” will cost around $60 per person, per day (this is one easy way to save money, by purchasing a 6 day ticket instead of a 7 day ticket- as you probably won’t have time to enjoy 7 full days in the Parks due to travel times etc), for a total of $720

Dining – approx $56 per day, per person, for a total of $780 for the week. This Disney Dining Plan includes one Counter service meal (similar to a fast food restaurant), one snack, and one table service meal per day, per person – which is more than enough for us! Portions tend to be large, and a table service could be a buffet if you choose, so you certainly won’t go hungry!

Transportation – This one is tricky, because it all depennds on where you live and how you plan on getting to Disney. Since we live in New York, we fly into Orlando, which usually ends up costing about $260 per person, for a total of $520 for the two of us. I like to include airport parking in this too, so I usually budget around $600 for transportation. Once we arrive in Orlando, we take the free Disney Magical Express shuttle to our Disney Resort, and from there on out we use all Disney Transportation for the whole week, which is also free! If you want to rent a car to get around Disney and the surrounding attractions more easily, then that is something additional you would want to think about budgeting for

Souvenirs/Miscellanous – This category includes anything and everything from tipping your waiters to airport snacks and souvenirs and sunscreen and a million bottles of water….yeah, it all adds up, and you will want to be prepared for it! We usually average around $100 a day for all incidentals, some days it may be more some less, but around $700 seems to be a good amount for us

So….$750 Lodging + $720 Park Tickets + $780 Dining Plan + $600 Transportation + $700 Souvenirs = A Grand Total of $3550 for a 7 night, 6 day stay at Walt Disney World for 2 Adult Travelers

Does this dollar amount shock you? I don’t blame you – it’s not a small number. BUT – think about this – most other trips would cost just as much (a cruise, a trip to an all inclusive resort, etc), and there ARE ways to make your trip more cost effective. Check out the Walt Disney World website, and play around with their vacation planning tool, and while you’re there check out the current deals and promotions they are offering to see if any of them can work for you! Plus you really are getting a lot of bang for your buck – you will never be bored at Disney, there is always something to do or see or experience, and that is worth the price to me!

We book our Disney trips through AAA, and they can’t always get you a better deal, but they will try, and they know a lot about Disney so if you’re planning your first Disney trip they can be a great resource!

Now I would like to place a HUGE disclaimer on all of this – this is simply our experience, as 2 adults traveling to WDW, and we don’t take full advantage of all the discounts/promotions that Disney offers, mostly because we like to plan our trips a year or more ahead of time and those deals don’t always come out far enough in advance for us to be able to utilize them. So you may have a VERY different experience when it comes to pricing your trip – but I find that this is what works for us, and it’s a good example of what you can expect to pay to enjoy the Happiest Place On Earth!

Categories: Adult Walt Disney World, Disney Dining Plan, Disney Food, Disney Vacation Planning, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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