Disney's Dining Plan:
I was convinced by our neighbor Mark (and lover of all things Disney) that we should add the Disney Dining Plan to our trip. I was hesitant as it was around a $900 adder, but as I've already said, we decided to go all-out...
We added the dining plan that allowed us 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal and 1 snack per person per night of our stay. As we had already paid for the food that we were going to eat, it was in our best interest to try and find the most expensive meals and snacks that we could, right?
All of us got to pick one snack per day. They generally allowed snacks to be anything up to about $5 in price, although we did find some at $5.50. We had cupcakes, popcorn, chocolate dipped Mickey Mouse ice cream, Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwiches, a carrot cake cookie (see photo above), cinnamon roasted almonds, frozen lemonade, cinnamon rolls, LeFou's brew, chocolate dipped Mickey Mouse Rice Krispies treats and probably others. It was nice to be able to acquiesce to our kids when they were begging for a treat as we normally wouldn't buy these sorts of things at a theme park.
I think that we spent around $105 in total on snacks.
Quick Service Meals:
The quick service meals are the typical meals that you would purchase at a theme park or for breakfast. The meals always included drinks and for lunch or dinner they also included dessert (two items that we normally wouldn't buy with our meals). Even though the dining plan only allowed for 2 meals/day, we tried to make those meals last for us rather than eating 3 meals/day. We ate macaroni and cheese, hamburgers, breakfast, chicken sandwiches, etc. Alison and I would usually share our desserts with our girls who only got kids' meals.
We spent about $305 on quick service meals.
Table Service Meals:
Table service meals are all restaurants with waiters or waitresses and they all require reservations. We were pretty pleased with the places that we dined, but it was difficult (more like impossible) to get reservations for the places that we wanted to eat most. We ended up dining with characters 4 different times as these places are usually pretty expensive, and then once we dined at the Kona Cafe for dinner at the Polynesian Resort.
We ate at:
1900 Park Fare (breakfast) - with Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, Winnie the Pooh and Tigger
The Garden Grill (dinner) - Chip & Dale, Mickey & Pluto
Kona Cafe (dinner)
Ohana (brunch) - with Lilo & Stitch, Mickey & Pluto
The Tusker House Restaurant (lunch) - with Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Mickey
We only added the dining plan to our resort reservations about 60 days before our trip, which was too late to make reservations at the restaurants that we most wanted to visit. To eat in Cinderella's Castle with the princesses or at the new Be our Guest restaurant you've got to make your reservations as close to 6 months in advance as possible.
The other thing that was a pain was that even though we had reservations at these places, we waited anywhere from about 10 minutes to 30 minutes at each place. They were always running a little behind...
We spent $643.45 on table service meals (plus about $107 in tips that were not included in the dining plan).
In total our meals cost around $1,053, we spent around $900, not including drink mugs with free refills for our stay (that we hardly used).
I don't think that I would go so far as to call the dining plan a good deal as we most certainly would have eaten much more economically had we not used the plan. I did enjoy the variety, trying new places and not worrying about how much everything cost, including the snacks and desserts.
I give dining and the dining plan 4 out of 5 stars.