Do you love the idea of the dining plan? I do! What I don’t like is that it costs $69.35 per adult (technically kids ages 10 and up) and $24.95 per kid for one table service (AKA sit down meal), one quick service meal (AKA fast food), 2 snacks, and a refillable mug. I have a 15, 12, 9, and 3 year old. According to Disney that is 4 adults. If I would of gotten the dining plan it would of cost me $1,636.50 for 5 days.
I knew there was no way we would eat all of that food or use all of the credits. This was my first Disney trip. I had heard from several people the portion sizes are huge. We usually share meals when we go out to eat, as well as one or two sodas. Most of us usually order water. I knew at Disney it would be no different. We are the kind of people that eat small meals and snack throughout the day.
Ideally I wanted one table service meal per day. However, table service meals are pricey to begin with, then when you add in the tip for 6 it becomes very expensive. I decided to go with Be Our Guest dinner (so that we could meet the Beast), T-REX, and Yak & Yeti. I knew I wanted to take my boys to a character meal. At first I had planned on us all going. But, I just couldn’t stomach $200.00 for breakfast. My girls are 15 and 12 and they could careless at this point about meeting characters. My husband came up with the idea of taking just them to eat another special meal that day. My boys are huge fans of anything farm related. I knew farmer Mickey would be perfect. I took the boys to eat breakfast at Garden Grill. My husband and the girls decided on Nine Dragons for lunch.
I wanted as much as possible to be paid for before my trip. In order to make that happen when it came to my food budget, I got on Disney’s website and looked at the menus for those 5 restaurants. I guessed what each person would order, and added in 3 drinks. The kids meals already came with drinks. I knew I would order water. I added my pretend total up and included 18% for my tip amount. That came out to around $500.00 for the 3 meals we would eat together. For Garden Grill and Nine dragons I budgeted $200.00. I looked at a few quick service meals and figured that we would all eat for $60.00 each meal. I budgeted for eating one meal a day out and the other meal we would eat in the room. That added an additional $300.00 to my projected food costs. I wanted everyone to have the chance to pick one snack a day to share. I budgeted $5.00 per snack for a total of $30.00 per day. Over the course of our 5 day trip, that is $150.00. I put the $1,150.00 for my food budget on Disney gift cards. I left $100.00 in Paypal to use towards groceries being delivered. That way it was paid for already and if I didn’t use all the money I could roll it into my next trip.
I ordered groceries from Garden Grocer. I had bottled water, yogurt, cheese sticks, fruit, milk, juice boxes, ham, and bread delivered to use for our one meal in the room a day. It costs me $110.00. I will say I over did it. I should of ordered half of that. We actually left 2 full cases of water. I packed granola bars, cereal, almonds, dried fruit, and gummies. We took snacks and bottled water in the parks with us daily. I put the bottled water in a backpack we brought in with us. It was really heavy until we got to the parks. After we got to the park for the day we put all the bottled water in the basket of the stroller. It was kind of a pain but saved us money and time by not having to purchase bottled water or wait in line to ask for free water. We will be doing this again!
Here is the breakdown of where we ate and how much we spent.
5/21 – $291.89
Animation food court – $32.10
Auntie Gravity’s ice cream float – $5.32
Pinocchio’s Village Haus – $57.00
Starbucks – $25.94
Main Street Confectionary – $15.30
Be Our Guest – $156.23
5/22 – $198.62
In the room- cereal and fruit
Garden Grill – $80.00, I scheduled breakfast at 10:20 it was an early lunch for us that day.
Nine Dragons – $80.00
Sunshine Season – $3.19, I bought my 3 year old a cookie while the others where on Soarin.
Kringla Bakeri – $4.25
China Food and Garden booth – $12.25
Karamell Kuche – $18.93
In the room- sandwich and fruit
5/23 – $129.85
In the room- yogurt, fruit, and granola bars
Popcorn – $10.00
Popcorn refill – $1.50
Art of Animation food court – $78.85
Popcorn – $10.00, We left the bucket in the room.
Soda – $7.50
4, Mickey Pretzels with 2, cheeses – $22.00
We weren’t hungry
5/24 – $277.36
Toast and strawberries in the room
Frozen lemonade – $4.57
3, Popcorn refills – $4.50
Starbucks – $41.25
TREX – $146.00
Ghirardelli – $25.41
Art of Animation food court – $55.63
5/25 – $215.07
Cereal in the room
Popcorn refill – $1.50
Carmel popcorn – $7.50
Yak & Yeti – $160.00
Art of Animation food court – $46.07
We did buy one refillable mug on our first day. Every time we ate at Landscape of Flavor we asked for water cups. I put ice in each of the water cups. Used the refillable mug to add just soda then poured the soda over the ice in the water cups. This did take about 2 trips to the drink station to get everyone’s drink. At around $3.00 for a fountain drink, the added time was worth it.
Including the groceries, I had delivered it cost me $1,222.79 for all 6 of us to eat for 5 days. I came very close to my projected food budget, but I didn’t go over. That comes out to around $40.00 per person per day. A savings of $413.71 verses using the dining plan!
Even though I was technically on a budget we ate and drank whatever we wanted. I knew that it was already paid for on my Disney gift cards. Knowing that took all the stress away from each purchase. I know the dining plan is worth it if you plan on doing a lot of character meals. For my family that isn’t something we are interested in. We would rather be in the parks riding rides, watching shows, and soaking up the magic of the most MAGICAL place on earth. If the dining plan works for your family great! Every family is different there is no right or wrong way to pay for food while at Disney.