For most families heading to Disney World, adding on one of Disney’s pre-paid Dining Plans just makes sense. Not only is there great savings to be had for families that eat most of their meals at the parks but the extras that come with the plan like snack credits and refillable resort mugs can really make it worth your while. Regardless of whether you’re planning your first Disney trip and are having a dining plan debate, are veterans that have used the plans many a time, or are bargain hunters holding out for Disney’s FREE Dining discount, you’ll want to jot down some of these lesser known Dining Plan perks and maximize your family’s meal plan next time your at Walt Disney World.
Convert Dining Credits into Snack Credits – If you’re coming to the end of your Walt Disney World stay and find that you have lots of Quick Service dining credits still left over, don’t worry, you don’t have to sit down for countless meals all in one day to get your money’s worth. Disney will actually let you convert your Quick Service Dining Credits into Snack Credits. Each Quick Service meal can be turned into 3 Snack Credits so that visitors can enjoy a last round of dole whips before hitting the road! For more information on his this works check out this article.
Use your Snack Credits to buy souvenirs – I cry a little bit inside each time I hear someone say that they just got back from Disney and had tons of snack credits left over that they never had a chance to use. No!! What a lot of visitors don’t release is that many of the gift shops at the Walt Disney World resorts as well as places like the Candy Cauldron, Goofy’s Candy Company not to mention various shops around property will sell non-perishable food items that cost a Snack Credit that you can actually take home with you. My last stop before I check out is always to my resort Gift Shop where I stock up on lollipops, cookies, rice krispie treats, chocolates, pretzels etc. Snacks like this are great for munching in the car and make nice little surprise souvenirs for friends, families, house-sitters and dog walkers when you get home. I’ve also been known to save a Goofy’ Candy Company bag of treats and pull them out months after our vacation when everyone has the Disney blues. Slip some of these into school lunches or hand them out during family movie night and see those smiles!.
Rapid Refill Mugs can be used at any resort – A lot of guests think that just because the Rapid Refill mugs can only be used at the resort that they may as well leave them in their rooms before heading down to breakfast and off to the parks. However, they can actually be filled at any resort on Walt Disney World property. Going to see Chip and Dale’s Campfire Sing-along? Want to check out the Savannas over at Animal Kingdom Lodge, visit all the resorts on the monorail loop or take a stroll down the Boardwalk? Having a mug or two handy means that you can easily fill these up at any of the above locations for FREE! Another tip for those with the bag room, I usually fill mine with coffee every morning before I head to the parks. It means I am fueled up and ready to go before getting to the theme parks and don’t have to dish out the extra cash or snack credits for a Starbucks or Joffrey’s run.
Take a bottle of water into the parks with you each day without using a snack credit – Since we are on the topic of beverages on the Disney Dining Plan, another good reason to bring your resort mug which you each morning is that having it essentially allows you to get an extra beverage using you dining credits that you can take with you to the parks each day. If you are having breakfast at your resort food court each morning than your meal automatically comes with an entrée and a drink. You can use your resort mug to fill up on coffee, tea, soft drinks and then use the drink credit that comes with the quick service meal to grab a bottled beverage to take with you into the parks that day.
Stretch out your plan by picking sharable items – Disney World is filled with items that can be shared for 1 dining credit or 1 snack credit. Avoid using snack credits for items like a banana or bottle of water, instead save them for much larger items like ice cream sundaes, Venti Frapuccino’s from Starbucks or hefty helpings of popcorn. By purchasing sharable snacks like popcorn, churros or dole whip floats, not only are you getting the better value for money but it means that you and your family can enjoy several tasty treats a day rather than over-doing it on just one. The same applies for quick service meals. If you have two light eaters than items like the 1/2 chicken and ribs at Cosmic Rays will easy tide at least two people over. The cured meats and cheese at Be Our Guest Restaurant for breakfast is another option that could comfortably feed two. With a little bit of planning you can find that several mini meals might tide your family over a bit better than one large meal and with the dining plan Disney lets you do this. Guests should note however that stricter rules apply when it comes to table service meals and sharing portions in these instances is not allowed.
Pizza delivery! – We all have those moments (usually a day or two into a Disney vacation) where the feet ache, the back aches, the blisters are hurting and you want nothing more than to just stay close to your resort room and relax. Should the moment strikes, here’s a dining plan perk to see your through – Pizza delivery. The following resorts will delivery these tasty Italian treats right to your door:
- Disney’s All Star Movies Resort – from 6pm – 1am
- Disney’s All Star Music Resort – from 6pm – 1am
- Disney’s All Star Sports Resort – from 6pm – 1am
- Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – from 4pm – 12am
- Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – from 4pm -12am
- Disney’s Pop Century Resort – from 4pm – 12am
- Disney’s Old Key West Resort – from 4pm – midnight
- Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa – from 4pm – midnight.
But a word of caution before you get overzealous with the Pizza delivery. Though it will comfortably feed a family, it does take up two dining credits. Order a pie too many times and you may find yourself paying out-of-pocket when it comes to some of those advanced dining reservations you’ve made for later in your trip.
When FREE dining hits, it pays to upgrade –What a lot of first time FREE-diners don’t know is that the dining plan offered as part of the FREE Dining Discount depends on the resort category that book in to. The Value Resorts, will always only be offered the Quick Service Dining plan whereas the Moderate and Deluxe Resorts will automatically be offered the Disney Plus Dining Plan. However, what a lot of people don’t realize is that you don’t have to “think big” and upgrade your resort just to get the better dining offer. To the contrary, Disney allows you to upgrade the dining plan itself, meaning that if you were staying at All Star Music and managed to get the FREE dining offer, you could stay with the Quick Service Dining Plan which would be complimentary or pay the difference and upgrade to the regular Disney Dining plan.
These are just a few additional ways that you can make the Disney Dining Plan work for you. For information about FREE Dining or to sign up and be notified when FREE dining discounts go on sale, please check out this article.
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