Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Top 10 Disney Dining Tips

As someone who has tried every dining plan and gone with no dining plan, here's my top 10 tips and secrets. In no particular order...

1) Not all snacks are created equal.
When using the dining plan it is a waste to burn a snack credit on a $2 soda or a $1 piece of fruit. Save those credits for a almost $4 pretzel or giant cinnamon bun.

2) If you're not a fan of Orlando's finest tap water-then stick to bottled beverages. Any fountain drinks AND the ice in them will have the lovely smell of sulfur. Remember that when you ask for a cup of ice to pour your bottle of diet Coke over :)

3) Not a fan of desserts (or more specifically the dessert options served at the quick service restaurants)? Then ask if you can take apples or grapes instead. Some places will even let you take a small bottle water in place of the dessert. Also a lot of sit-down restaurants will have a cheese plate option instead of sweets.

4) Want to try the Deluxe dining plan but not sure you have the time or stomach space for (3) 3 course meals a day, plus snacks? Then try this-book a late breakfast (preferably a buffet) and a late dinner at a Signature dining restaurant. You can also, of course, book both early-we're just not early risers on vacation. You are still using 3 credits a day, but only eating 2 sit down meals a day. Then use your snack credits to fill the gaps.

5) During free dining promotions, you can pay to upgrade your dining plan. So for instance if you're staying at a Value or Moderate resort and are getting the Quick Service plan for free, but shudder at the thought of counter service meals. you can pay the difference in price to upgrade to the Base (Plus) or Deluxe plan.

6) Coordinate your dining with park events & going ons. Don't schedule your dinner during the middle of Illuminations, unless you want the wee ones to spring from their chair, mouths full of food and head for the nearest exit so they can see it. Do allow yourself time to finish your meal and find a good viewing area OR book in a restaurant like California Grill and watch Wishes as you dine.

7) Booking character meals beats standing on a line any day of the week in my opinion. Especially with kids. Disney has done you the favor of putting all your favorite characters in one place-take advantage of it.

8) If you have the Base (Plus) or Deluxe dining plans, Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) are your friend. Imagine spending money on a dining plan only to be told every place you want to eat at is full. Yes it can happen and no I'm not kidding. Book 'em early and don't take any chances.

9) Don't be afraid to make a meal out of appetizers & dessert. In fact-I encourage it.

10) This one is for John. For the beer drinkers in your family, save money on adult beverages by buying them at the Hess Station at Downtown Disney. When you plan to visit Downtown Disney, bring your rolling carry-on piece of luggage and right across from the bus stops at the Westside, is a Hess gas station. You can purchase beer & soda (as well as other snack -and if you smoke cigarettes) a lot cheaper than on property, put them in your rolling carry-on and hop a bus back to your resort. You can do this at the beginning or end of your DTD visit.

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