This year we decided NOT to get the Disney Dining Plan. For months we went back and forth on if it would save us money, or if we would spend more, or if would simply be a hassle handing over a gift card. I almost wore out the Disney Dining Plan Calculator, I used it so much!
The three reasons we chose not to get the dining plan, were:
1. Now that our oldest is now considered a Disney adult, truthfully hes not an adventurous eater, and always wanted a kids meal, instead of an adult, unless it was pizza.
2. Now that food allergies are in our house, getting desserts are a lot more complicated at Disney. While Mr. Disney and the oldest can get anything they want, since the youngest can't have any baked good really, and was limited to churros, sort serve and slushies, I sure as anything wasn't going to be eating cupcakes without him!
3. The final reason was that we ALWAYS have loads of snack credits left, that get used on candy and treats to bring home, that often don't get eaten, or were a last minuite got to spend them unwise bang for the buck choice.
With those reasons, and hours of menu research and number crunching ahead of us, we put the balance that we would have spent on the Disney Dining Plan onto a gift card, (bought discounted!!) and decided to experiment.
The rules were:
1. Order whatever you want
2. Rapid Refill Mugs are a must
3. Bring home a few treats
4. No cringing at prices allowed
Doesn't sound so bad, does it?
Here's what happened. We swiped a gift card almost every time. Even places at Disney Springs like Wolf Gang Puck Express took out Disney gift card! I did have to use cash twice, at Epcot, when their system was down, so I was grateful I had a few emergency dollars with me.
What did we spend though?The numbers are exciting!
For 8 nights, 9 days, the Disney Dining Plan would have cost $1450.24
For 64 meals and a ton of snacks, including ones to bring home we spend $1068.59
That means, we saved $381.65
That's a loooot of money. There were a few times Mr. Disney wanted water with a meal, once I shared a meal with the youngest of chicken nuggets and fries and we did bring drinks inside the park, but even if he bought a drink each time, and we had chosen more take home snacks, we would still have come out ahead.
Things change, appetites are sure to grow as my boys do, but this trip, we saved enough to cover most of the souvenirs we wanted! There's a good chance if your kids are now Disney Adults, you might save a bundle, too!
Disney Value Resorts are well, a great value. Not only are there great meals that the whole family would love, but Chef's are easily accessible too to ask questions about food allergies. For example, I ordered a pot roast, mashed potatoes and mushroom risotto at Pop Century a few days ago, my husband went for a giant sandwich, our oldest for Mickey Waffles, and the youngest cheese pizza. Before we ordered the pizza though, I needed to know if it was safe for our son's allergies.
Finding a chef to ask the necessary questions is quite easy, just let someone at the station you wish to order at know you have a food allergy question, and they will get a chef right away.
A note on this. We ate multiple times at Pop Century, and even though it's just a short walk over the bridge of Art of Animation, I like Pop's food court better than AoA. We didn't have a good interaction with the chef at Art of Animation, for something as simple as pizza, and the food court there was much more chaotic, so we actually left, and went back to Pop.
If you have never ordered with a food allergy at a Value Resort, let me assure you, our experience was fantastic. The chef took a lot of time to answer my questions about particular foods. Never once did I feel rushed, or that it was a bother. He even pulled out his cell phone, which was filled with pictures of ingredients, and scrolled through to help me find the information I was looking for. He was knowledgeable, patient, and made sure he asked if I had any more questions, before we parted ways. He offered that a chef could make my son's pizza, but said it would be the same as everyone else could order regularly, so we opted to just order from the counter, and not wait.
There were multiple others I saw over our trip at Pop with food allergies, in fact one evening, while waiting to find out if the ingredients for a particular food had been found out yet, a young woman struck up a conversation saying she only vacations at Disney, because they take her Celiac's seriously, and she knows they will always take good care of her.
While most meals can be easily adapted, or perhaps are already safe for you or your child, you probably already know that desserts are a little different. Our chef pointed out the few allergy friendly options they had, (not many) and let me know the ice cream, and dole whips, and churros would be safe, but anything in the glass bakery cases would be subject to cross contamination. To be honest, I guess in an effort to be more eco friendly, or perhaps just to save money, very few treats now, including the cupcakes are packaged individually. I saw more children than I would care to see touching, touching, touching until they finally decided which one they wanted.
While I was disapointed in the snack offerings allergen wise in the gift shops, they did have prepackaged jumbo Hostess muffins and other treats, that, after a quick phone call to Hostess confirmed they would be safe for my son's allergies. It's worth a look in your own gift shop for a treat too.
For our first visit to Disney with food allergies, I felt like we were able to make confident choices, and ended our trip reaction free, and feeling normal, and isn't that the best thing anyone can hope for?
Stay turned (once I'm unpacked, and the photos unloaded from memory card to computer) there will be some reviews of the places we ate at, including their allergy menus. In the meantime, we are already planning next time...what's your favorite resort to grab a bite at?
Did you know that in just a few minute's time, you could be munching on Disney's Funnel Cakes? It's a copycat recipe, that takes almost no ingredients, and can be ready faster than you can sing most any Disney song! I love this because I know my son can eat it safely, even if he can't get one at Disney!
Let's get started! This will make 6 batches
You'll need oil, and either a large pot, or a fryer. Get your oil heating. If you don't have a fryer with a level to fill, just fill a few inches deep in a pot.
Gather your ingredients
1 1/2 TBSP baking
2 cups of all purpose flour
2 cups of milk
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all of your ingredients together. Stir until there are no lumps. Set our toppings off to the side.
Once your oil is hot, work is small batches. Either with a funnel, or a measuring cup, drizzle the batter into the hot oil. Be careful!
When the batter starts to turn golden, flip the funnel cake over, with a heat safe sppon or spatula or tongs. It doesn't take long. About a minute on the flipped side is all you need. Pull out, and set on a plate with a paper towel to drain off excess oil.
Smother in toppings, and enjoy!
Mr. Disney made his creation in the top picture, the oldest just wanted powdered sugar!
Dress it up as much or as little as you want...you can't go wrong! Try it, and let us know what toppings you used!
So my picture looks a little wonky, and my ride crispy treats were rushed because someone kept trying to devour them, but they were incredibly tasty, shaped like Mickey, and reminiscent (and better tasting) of the ones we got our last trip at Pop Century.
This next trip, we can't get those for our youngest, there could be cross contamination with his allergy, so once again, we are showing him we can make whatever he wants, at home!
If you've never made these, they are super easy. The hardest part is putting the treats into the pan, but I have a trick for that. These are super easy to customize! If we didn't have an allergy, we'd be using candy melts to really decorate these! For a quick and easy job though, it worked well!
The steps are easy! Gather supplies! You'll need cutters, butter, marshmallows, rice cereal, and wax paper, along with a pan. If you want to add chocolate, or sprinkles, you'll need that too!
Melt 3 TBS of butter in a pot, then add 10 oz package of marshmallows. Once melted, add in 6 cups of crisped rice cereal. Stir til combined, then press into a wax paper lined 9x13 pan. That's it! I usually spray cooking spray on my wax paper, and since I make double or triple batches, use that paper to press with my hands into the corners, and really compact it all so it won't fall apart. You could also just put it on a lined cookie sheet, fold the paper over and press that way.
Once you cut your shapes, decorate! I even put a few onto Popsicle sticks! If you don't want to cut shapes, just decorate your big rectangle, and cut into smaller pieces. Or really large pieces!! These are so yummy, in 3 days, we'd eaten 4 batches, I'm a little embarrassed to say!
Can't wait to see what you make!!
It's no secret that Disney's stopping the plastic straws is a trending conversation, one that leads to some heated points of view, but no matter which way you are thinking, there is somthing to be aware of in the new paper straws department.
Several Disney allergy groups, have comments saying in Disney LAND their servers told them the paper straws are corn based. In Walt Disney WORLD there are reports of soy being used in the ink, one person even saying that some of the straws had gluten.
If you, or someone you know has any of these allergies, stop and check on the straws, before you use them. Disney changes suppliers often, so what they have today, might be totally different next week. I can't confirm this myself just yet, but on our upcoming trip I plan to see for myself. (With yes, my plastic straws in my backpack.) I don't feel confident in vacation sterilizing my allergy kiddo's straws, so we are planning to bring a few plastic, until we can confirm that the paper are safe, for our allergies.