New year, new Disney Dining Plan!! There have been a few changes, and it’s up to YOU to decide if the Disney Dining Plan is still the best for your family or not.
The price has gone up compared to in 2018, however the price only went up for children's dining plans! Could this be because of the dramatic price hikes for beverages and snacks, this past fall? Keep reading to see the new prices!
Disney Dining Plans can be a little bit confusing if you've never used one before. If used wisely, the Dining Plans are a fantastic way to save a little or a lot on your trip, depending on what you eat or how much you drink, letting you add even more magic to your vacation!
Here's a basic overview about the Disney Dining Plan for 2019 to help you decide if the plan is right for you.
Disney World offers three dining plans for guests staying on property. The Quick Service Dining Plan, the Dining Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan. Each plan comes with a refillable souvenir mug that can be used at any resort during the length of your stay. Each restaurant will have a different theme, so it's often fun to try a new place each time.
The Quick Service Dining Plan is our favorite right now since we have small kids who don't want to sit still at a sit down restaurant for very long. This plan includes 2 meals per day, consisting of an entree and it's included side(s) (think half chicken, green beans and mashed potatoes, or sandwich and fries) and new in 2018, those under the age of 21 can choose to have soda, tea or coffee, a milkshake, smoothie or other specialty non alcoholic beverage. Those over the age of 21 with valid ID can choose to have a beer, cider, mixed drink or wine if available. This plan also includes 2 snack credits which can be used on a variety of things from soups or salads, drinks, desserts or packaged snacks. My favorite thing to use a snack credit on are the themed cupcakes. Gigantic works of art and delicious! We have never felt like we've sacrificed food choices with this plan. Quick Service doesn't mean you are stuck with just burgers and fries. There are yummy salads, seafood, fajitas, and so much more. Mr. Disney Magic loves going to Animal Kingdom and having lunch at Flame Tree BBQ so he can order the Ribs, chicken and pulled pork plate that includes baked beans, coleslaw and jalapeno cornbread. With Quick Service meals, no gratuities are charged and you do not need reservations.
The Dining Plan is the standard meal plan with Disney World and it includes 1 Quick Service meal, 1 Table Service meal and 2 snacks. You get everything as above with the Quick Service plan, but the Table Service meal can be a buffet or a sit down restaurant, and includes a dessert. This is a popular plan because it's the best of both worlds. You can have a quick lunch if you want and a leisurely dinner to unwind after a day at the Parks. There are a few Table Service restaurants that even offer special seating for nighttime shows, or Character Meals including breakfasts, however some of those might require the use of two meal credits. Gratuity will be added on additionally for Table Service restaurants just like if you went to a sit down restaurant at home. Reservations are usually required, and may be reserved up to 180 days before your trip.
The Deluxe Dining Plan is the most expensive plan because you get a lot more. This plan includes 3 meals, your choice of Quick Service or Table Service. If you choose the Table Service, in addition to the above entitlements, you also get to choose an appetizer. Gratuity will be added on additionally for Table Service restaurants just like if you went to a sit down restaurant at home. Reservations are usually required, and may be reserved up to 180 days before your trip.
The prices for the 2019 Disney Dining Plans are as follows:
Quick Service - Per night Ages 10 and up $52.50 Ages 9 and under $23.78
Dining Plan – Per night Ages 10 and up $75.49 Ages 9 and under $27.98
Deluxe Dining Plan – Per night Ages 10 and up $116.25 Ages 9 and under $43.49
There are some legitimate reasons as to why, or why not this plan might be good for you. If you love the idea of having all meals paid for in advance and if you like to have Table Service meals and don't mind planning in advance this plan may be perfect for you. If you just like to snack in the park, or want to bring in part of your own food and just eat one meal in the park, you might not get as much benefit from this.
An incredibly easy way to see if you will come out ahead or not if you buy this plan is to use this fabulous dining plan calculator. DisTripPlanner.com has put a lot of work into making your decision as easy as can be. Just make sure that you do add in the refillable mug in step 2, in order to get the most accurate result. Just click here to see the calculator.
A few things to remember.
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With a growing number of families having conflicting work schedules and everything going up, but paychecks, vacation time is even more precious than before.
If you fly or take a train to get to your trip, this isn't really going to apply to you, but if you drive, keep reading! Please!
When going a distance of more than a few hours, there are surprisingly large numbers of people who leave in the middle of the night, or, drive through the night to make the most of their trip. The reasoning for many is less traffic, kids sleep through, and you don't waste any precious time. If you are one of those people that do that, or if you are considering doing that, I would urge you to be careful, or even reconsider.
The National Safety Council has some alarming statistics! Did you know that most of the crashes that occur from midnight to 4am are from fatigue? And being short just two hours of sleep has the same effect on your driving as having three beers would!
If you really feel like there is no other way to travel, then please follow these tips!
Above all else, always wear your seatbelt, and PULL OVER if you start to doze off! Don’t risk your life, those in the car with you, or others on the road. You'll arrive refreshed, and energized, ready to start your day.
While there is no bad time at all to visit a Disney Park, without a doubt one of the most popular times to visit is a holiday. There’s something special about holiday decorations, whether it’s for a Patriotic holiday, Halloween of Christmas. It adds a little extra Pixie Dust to that already magical experience.
If you are one of those planning out your visit to the Magic Kingdom or any other park for an upcoming holiday, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind.
Going to Disney during a holiday does mean more magic, but it also means higher crowds. In order to get the most magic, and the least frustration out of your trip, there’s a few things you’ll want to take into consideration!
If you are driving your own car, be prepared for a much longer walk to and from your parking space. Arrive as early as you can for the best parking space possible. There will also be longer lines or wait times to take the parking tram.
Because holidays, New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas especially, are such popular times to visit, Magic Kingdom can reach capacity. What does this mean? A holiday at capacity happens in stages, so knowing those stages can make sure YOU get inside. Disney can change the way they do things at any time, but this is generally how it happens when it starts getting closer to capacity. Usually you’ll only need to worry about this a few days before, and after Christmas.
Guests with one day, single park tickets or those using cast member passes will not be allowed to park, they will be turned away at the toll plazas.
Any guest staying at a Disney Resort, even if they drive themselves, is allowed in. Also, anyone with a multi day ticket, or park hopper tickets, annual passholders, someone hopping in from another park, anyone arriving by Disney transportation or anyone with an existing in park reservation.
When the second stage occurs, the only ones allowed into the parking lots, or through the ticket turnstiles are:
Those staying at a Disney resort, annual passholders, those re-entering the park from earlier that day, those hopping from another park, those with in park reservations or those coming by Disney transportation.
Once it reaches the third stage (which isn’t too often, the second stage it the most common) the only ones allowed into the turnstiles, or the parking lot are:
Those staying at a Disney Resort, annual passholders, those with in park reservations.
The fourth stage, the park is entirely shut down, to all visitors. This has only happened once though, so it’s unlikely you will need to worry about it.
If you are visiting during a holiday, and NOT staying on property, you need to arrive at least an hour and a half early in order to make sure you get into the park. Remember, with the new opening procedure for the park, the hub is open an hour, sometimes earlier, than actual park opening. Once that is filled, and it will fill on a holiday, people will be stuck between the gates and the turnsiles, backing up to to the arrival areas and it will take much much longer to get inside of the park and get where you want to go. Holiday are NOT a time to get there late.
There will be crowds, but like any Disney crowd, common sense will see you through. If you’ve small children, keep them in the stroller or tightly hold their hands so they don’t get lost, or knocked over. It only takes the blink of an eye for your group to be separated when another group pushes past you, so something like matching hats or shirts can go a long way towards spotting each others.
First-timers- please note! You will NOT be able to hear your cell phone ringing, and the person you are trying to call will not be able to hear theirs! Even on a regular park day, it’s just too loud in the park to hear it, so plan to take frequent breaks to look to see if you’ve missed a call or text from another in your group.
If there was a sit down place you wanted to eat, or if your little princess wanted a makeover, I hope you’ve already got reservations. You can start booking your preferred restaurant 6 months in advance. Didn’t do that yet? It’s okay, and you might still be able to get a reservation, but the sooner you start checking, the better. As time draws closer to your trip, if you haven't been able to score a table, don’t give up. Things happen sometimes with the others who hold those reservations, and it’s not unlikely, or impossible to get the restaurant you’ve been longing for, a few days before your trip. The trick is to keep trying, and not stop. Check the odd times too. It doesn’t matter if it’s quick service or not, tables are filled more from 11:30am-1pm.
This really goes along with the crowds, but you know there will already be some longer crowds. While it’s a little harder to beat the crowds on a holiday, it’s not impossible to minimize your wait time if you have a plan. If you don’t know what you want to do, where you want to go and where you want to eat, the lines are going to get longer and longer and you are going to start feeling frustrated. Disney is such a great place to visit, don’t let your magical trip be ruined by something so small like an hour per park that you’ve made at least a general outline of what order you are going to do things.
Take advantage of the great service Disney offers that’s totally free! Have the shop send your purchases to the front of the park for pickup on your way out, or even better, back to your resort! Keep in mind though, if you are sending back to your resort, don’t send anything back in the last 24 hours of your trip because it might not get to you in time.
Holidays at Disney have some extra special photo opportunities, so be sure to take advantage! You’ll find Mickey and his friends in seasonal costumes, as well as characters you might not get to see during the rest of the year. There will be special parades, music, shows and of course, lot sof special treats to sample that you can only get during these special occasions.
Disney also offers special seasonal events, such as the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, and the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These have special things like trick or treating, or cookie and cocoa stations throughout the park as well as other fun surprises.
Keep in mind that if you are visiting the park on a day where one of these parties is held, the park does close early to those who do not have tickets for these events. Tickets can sell out quickly, so it’s best to get yours the moment you know you will be there during a holiday. It is very unlikely that you will be able to buy a ticket the day of the event.
Patience, patience, patience
While this is a top tip, other than planning, for any Disney vacation, it’s needed more than ever during a Disney holiday. Have patience. Patience with the family who just cut in front of you, patience with that REALLY annoying family remember who keeps slowing you down, patience with your kid who had to stop for the 11th bathroom/pretzel/pin trading moment in the last hour and a half. Don’t forget to have patience with yourself, too. You might not get to do everything you want. That’s okay. Enjoy what you can!
Remember, a little prep, a little planning will go a long way towards making the most out of your vacation. It can be a little overwhelming to plan a Disney trip, but it’s far worse to be standing there in a panic as the lines get longer and longer and you’ve no idea what anyone wants to ride! Like the old adage, an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.
Stay sane, and have fun during your Disney holiday!
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When I originally wrote this article back in 2017, we were saving a lot by bringing in our own drinks. Now that Disney has changed the price of bottled and fountain drinks by around a dollar each, you'll be saving even bigger by packing a few bottles of water, tea or soda in your suitcase. I've updated this article to reflect the current prices. Bottled sodas have gone up from $3.50 to $4.50, regular fountain drinks from $3.29 to $3.99 and bottles of water from $3.00 to $3.50. A Powerade is $5.00
How much can you save? I've broken it down for you! You'll be surprised!
I am not exaggerating when I say how easily you can save HUNDREDS when you go to Disney Park. Bring along a few bottled drinks or a refillable water bottle. It's easy, cheap and takes almost no effort to save hundreds!
If you like to go bag free, bring along a refillable bottle that collapses and hangs from a clip because at any counter, you can ask for a cup of ice water, for free.
What if you are like us though, and just don't like to taste of Florida water? Can you still save? Yes. Keep reading and get ready for a surprise.
How much does it save you? Is it enough to make it worth the hassle? I'm going to use my own family as an example and do the math for you!
Because it seems like no one is ever thirsty at the same time and we don't want to stop and stand in line repeatedly, we bring our own drinks for much of the day. The first few visits, we used a soft sided cooler, but now that our youngest may not need a stroller as much and Mr. Disney Magic would prefer to carry as little as possible, we bought a cooler backpack, and worked the numbers.
There are 2 adults and 2 kids in our party. The adults each typically drink 2 waters in the pre lunch hours, and 2 in the afternoon/evening. We do buy drinks at lunch and dinner, plus on afternoon breaks and during the evening at our resort, fill up our mugs. We make sure to drink a lot, because in Florida’s heat, not drinking is a recipe for disaster. That comes to bringing in to the park 4 drinks per adult, per park day.
The little people, we plan on 3-4 juice boxes or pouches for in the pre lunch hours, and 3-4 for the afternoon/evening. Of course, they take some of our water, get drinks at lunch and dinner, and the resort on breaks. That equals 8 juice boxes per kid, per park day. (Now when I say juice boxes, I don't specifically mean there is juice in them. Some are, but some are those mostly flavored water things, but for simplicity's sake, I'm calling them all "Juice" and using those numbers for our math.)
The last few weeks, our grocery store has had 24 packs of spring water regular priced for $3.99. That means it's approximately 16.6 cents per bottle of water. With sales, 8 packs of the larger Juicy Juice boxes were $3.00, making each juice box 37 cents per juice. To get a bottle of filtered, not spring water at Disney, it's going to be $3.50, and a bottle of juice is $3.29.
A full day for our family costs less than $7 for drinks, when we do this hybrid way of buying some, and bringing some, whereas if we stopped and bought 16 kids drinks, and 8 adult drinks, be it water, juice or whatever, it would be around $96. Five days in the parks equals a savings of $480 just for bringing in our own drinks. That's a LOT of Disney magic we could spend elsewhere. Our kids love flavored water too, so if we skipped the juice, and just some some water flavoring packets we would save even more! Seeing as a 6 pack of bottled soda is often on sale for $3.00 in our area, I'd say 50 cents for a bottled soda is a LOT fairer of a price that $4.50.
Yes, it can be a hassle sometimes to bring your own in the regard that you have to take a few minutes to plan ahead of time, but its not really too bad. We grab a few drinks in the backpack in the morning, restock in the afternoon, and save a lot of money! The good thing about carrying drinks in a backpack, is it's heaviest in the mornings when you have the most energy, and gets lighter as the day goes on. For us, having cold drinks any time we want it without having to wait in a line is worth it!
But how to bring the drinks with you?
There are three easy ways!
If you drive, load up the car before hand. We froze our waters beforehand, and they lasted for a week with just the occasional bucket of ice tossed in a cooler since the mini fridge never quite gets it cold enough.
If you drive but just don't have the room to make the haul with your drinks in tow, you can stop off at a nearby grocery or drug store before arriving at your resort.
If you fly, or even if you drive if you don't want to spend a second of time or space worrying about picking up the water, you can use a Grocery Delivery service, like Amazon Now, Amazon Prime, or Garden Grocer. They will take all of the worry out of it and bring your order right to you, (in Amazon Now's case, within 2 hours!) This is great not only for drinks, but also snacks or other food for your trip!
Does Disney mind you bringing in your own sodas, juice or water?
Not at all! Disney is very generous letting you bring in your own snacks but also your own non alcoholic beverages. It's perfect for you Pepsi or Dr. Pepper fans too, because with Disney's long time affiliation with Coca Cola, you won't be able to find Pepsi or Dr. pepper brand drinks in the parks or resorts.
While bringing in drinks may not work for everyone, it works pretty well for our family. Have you ever brought your own drinks or water bottles in? Does that work for your family?
Even though Disney upped the price to park at their parks back in February, they did it again in October, along with a slew of other increases. If you didn't know already, it's going to cost a little more to park on your next visit to Magic Kingdom, or any of the other House of Mouse residences.
While the nightly parking fee if you stay on property still covers the parking fee if you visit a theme park, anyone staying off property, will pay a little more.
Standard automobile $25 (Up from $22)
Oversized parking $30 (Up from $27)
Preferred parking $50 (Up from $45)
Keep in mind, that you only have to pay once per DAY to park. If you leave and come back, as long as you have your receipt from earlier, you won't have to pay again.
Does the increase in parking mean that there's going to be a higher resort parking fee? Will this make you more likely to stay on property? Or off?