We waited until the perfect time to make a trip to Disney. Our oldest was nine and our youngest was five. We were determined to go in the ideal-time-window while all three kids could enjoy the Disney magic to its fullest on our once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
Since our goal was to pay cash for the entire trip, budgeting was essential. We were excited when we learned about the meal plans. The ability to know exactly what we would spend on food took a lot of guesswork out of our budget.
But even with meal-plans, there are LOTS of choices! Most people we knew had chosen to go with the standard Dining Plan which includes one table-service meal per day. I was hesitant to use this plan because when our kids dreamed of Disney World, they weren’t dreaming of fancy dinners. They wanted to see Mickey and Belle and ride the rides. I also didn’t want to be stuck with dinner reservations determining our daily schedule. Besides, our kids would choose chicken nuggets over Mahi-mahi anyway, so I started looking into the Quick Service Plan.
On the 2011 plan, each day you receive two counter-service meals and two snacks. I researched the dining options for this plan, and decided that it was the best choice for the play-as-hard-as-you-can trip we wanted.
We were so glad we did. Here are a few of our favorite things about the Quick Service Dining Plan:
- We got to play the part of the Indulgent Parent. Being frugal, budget-minded people, our kids are used to hearing the word, “No.” When we were able to get them ice-cream (or a popsicle or a soft-pretzel) every . . . single . . . day while at Disney, our kids thought they were living the high-life!
- If you plan well, you can most definitely have variety. I made a mental list of the top Counter Service restaurants in each park, and we ate at whichever one was closest to where we were at lunchtime!
- We were able to be spontaneous. Once we had visited each park, we went back to our favorites again and again. Other than one Disney Character Breakfast at Chef Mickey’s that we reserved and paid for separately, our days were never ruled by reservations.
- We had plenty of food! We even took snacks like candied popcorn and pretzels on our trip back home, all paid for with the last of our unused snack credits.
- No math. Knowing how my frugal brain works, I didn’t want to spend each meal-time calculating whether it was more cost-effective to have the kids split an adult meal or get their own kids’ meals. I didn’t want to add up the cost of five coke-floats and dig around in a cash envelope to see if we could swing it. As long as it had the little purple snack symbol, the kids could choose it, and I could vacation calculator-free!
- This plan . . . is stress free. You can eat whenever you want, there’s always a counter restaurant nearby, and since it was all paid for ahead of time . . . going over-budget on food is not an issue!
Nony is a full-time mom who’s passionate about her job as mama-bird. She was paranoid that her family would be eating chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers for every meal! She decided to provide for others what she wished she could have found when planning her trip, and created the website What We Ate With Mickey. I