Walt Disney World & World Travels

Posts Tagged ‘Disney Dining Plan

Thinking it’s time to take the kids to Disney World?  Easy right?  Of course, but this isn’t just your run of the mill trip, it’s Disney World.  There’s a lot of planning to do.    You have to research the resorts….and the different types of resorts: Deluxe, Moderate, Value and Deluxe Villas.  What time of year should you go, and how much of a difference does that make in price?  What about crowds?  If I go at a lower priced season, should I upgrade my resort?   Then once you pick your resort or at least resort type; you think about when & how long of a trip.  What kind of tickets (Magic Your Way Base Tickets or Park Hoppers) and do you add the water parks or not?  Oh and then someone at work mentioned that their cousin just got back from Disney and had some special dining thing.

That’s about the point that many people decide their kid doesn’t really need to go to Disney World and they’ll  just go back to the beach for their annual family vacation.

Don’t give up on the idea of that magical Disney vacation!  It’s a special trip, and deserves to be planned carefully but it doesn’t have to drive you crazy.  There are tons of books available at book stores & at libraries.  Of course there are roughly a gazillion Disney fan sites with information.  My recommendation with the fan sites is that like all things in life, moderation is the key.  A little bit of info is good, but too much can make you insane.   Of course, I always recommend finding a travel agent that specializes in Disney travel.  Check around, you’re not likely to find a difference in price (Disney trips cost the same booked direct through Disney or through an Authorized Disney Travel Planner) but you want someone that is a graduate of the Disney College of Knowledge and has a lot of experience planning Disney trips and personally traveling to Disney.

With my clients, I like to start with the vacation planner that Disney sends out.  I show them the different type resorts, and the individual resorts in the categories.  If they love to fish, want a calm but pretty resort, not too expensive; I might focus on Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside.  This Moderate Resort even has a good old fashioned fishin’ hole.  The client that wants queen size beds, nice restaurants, maybe a fitness center and wants to be close to the parks would be a perfect fit for a Deluxe resort.  Now we just find the one that appeals the most.  It really comes down to personal preferences, a great resort for 1 person may not be the right fit for another.  This is your vacation, pick the resort that fits you (not your cousin, or next door neighbor).

Next we’ll work on when to travel.  Most of the time, you’re going to have a specific time of year in mind because that is what works best for your schedule.  As a Disney travel planner, I’m going to help find the best deals available at that time and the least crowds for you.  If you’re interested in certain events, I’ll make sure that you don’t miss out on Star Wars weekends or the International Food & Wine festival by a day or week.  If you’re considering several different times, I’ll be able to identify the pluses & minuses of each for you.  For young children, going in the early/mid fall (after school has started) or early/mid-spring (before school gets out) are great times to go.  The crowds (and prices) are lower, and the weather is very comfortable.  Teenagers generally can’t miss as much school due to exams and High School athletics, so you may have to go at a busier time of year.   You may think that going in July will be awful, but it can be a great time to take teenagers.  Teens love to sleep in, we all know it so it’s easier to work around it.  The parks will be packed with small children during the day and it will get hot.  The parks tend to empty in the evening (especially after a rain storm) and the parks are generally open late (sometimes until 2 or 3am), the perfect time of day for teens.  My point is, even if you’re going during the busiest week of the year (Christmas), there are ways to plan your days so that you can enjoy your vacation, not be miserable.

Once the resort and dates are picked, the real fun begins.  This is when you start looking at park schedules and making your dining reservations.  I know what you’re thinking, “we don’t know what we’re having for dinner tonight, how do I know what I’m going to want in 180 days?!”   One of the the things that helps me with that, is the idea that this is a special meal; not just Tuesday night dinner.  Knowing that you’re going somewhere where you’ll be eating with Cinderella or at an African Lodge makes a big difference; at least for my family.  I like to look at the park hours and start planning which day(s) I want to go to each park.  Then based on that, I start making the advanced dining reservations.  I  know that if I do want to eat with Cinderella or have dinner at LeCellier in Canada at Epcot; I need to make those reservations 180 days out.  These are popular places, and with the popularity of the dining plan you can’t just walk up to most restaurants and expect to get a table at all, let alone without a 2 hour wait.   There’s that Dining Plan again, the one your cousin mentioned after their trip.  Disney offers several dining plan options.  These dining plans allow you to pre-pay for your meals while you’re at Disney World.  It’s a great way to budget your trip, and it’s convenient.  I’ll write about the dining plan details in a seperate post.  Once I get the “most important” reservations made, I fill in the rest of the schedule making adjustments as needed.

Having someone that has been to Disney World multiple times and knows the parks & resorts to help you plan your trip will make it much easier.  Just remember, this is a vacation, not work!   Do the proper planning before you go and then relax & enjoy your magical vacation.

This is the deal that people wait for all year: FREE Dining.  What is FREE Dining?  Quite simply it’s a great way to take the family to Disney World, eat well and save money.  Put another way; it’s a really good deal!

With the FREE Dining promotion, a family of 4 can the the Disney Dining Plan free.  Book a 5 night 6 day Magic Your Way Package (including tickets, and hotel accomodations) in a standard room at select Disney Moderate Resorts for only $1843.  That comes out to about $77 per person per day.  This promotion is also available for Deluxe Resorts and Deluxe Villa Resorts.

If you would prefer to stay at a Disney Value Resort, good news!  The Quick Service dining plan is FREE with stays at Disney’s Value Resorts between August 15th and October 2nd.

Other length of stays and packages are available.  This is a great way to take the family to Disney World and save money and is a very popular promotion!  Don’t wait too long to book or your dates may disappear!   Booking begins today and goes through August 14, 2010.   Contact your Second Star Travels agent today for a no-obligation quote!

The Wishes Dessert Party has returned for most nights until May 31st.

What is a Wishes Dessert Party?  It’s a yummy way to watch the fireworks at the Magic Kingdom.   Arrive at the Tomorrow Land Terrace Noodle Station an hour before the fireworks and enjoy a variety of sweet treats, coffee, tea & lemonade.  Then enjoy a great view of Wishes.  Prices for the all you care to eat dessert buffet are $25.99 & $13.99 for 3-9.

Reservations are strongly recommended, but walkups may be able to get in.  The Disney Dining Plan is NOT accepted for this event.

Let me start by saying this trip was almost cancelled the week before it started (variety of reasons), debate on whether to add the Disney Dining Plan or not until the day we checked in (yes, I know it’s 48 hours prior to check in but they’ve offered it to us every other trip when we checked in ) and a 6 car pile up on I-95 on the way down  (we’re fine and my big ol’ truck is pretty good)
Planned restaurants:

offsite Saturday night: Toojays post
Hollywood Brown Derby Sunday 11/30
Sunshine Seasons CS
LeCellier Candlelight Processional Package 12/1
Grey Goose & Grand Marnier slushies
Les Chefs de France 12/2
Flame Tree BBQ 12/3
Olivia’s Cafe post
Columbia Harbor House
DD’s reviews of Electric Umbrella, Main Street Bakery & Pecos Bill’s

Jiko 12/4
Spoodles 12/5

We’ll see how the plans go, and throw in any other Counter Service  or snacks–Titles in Blue are late/last minute changes/additions

I can’t believe it’s over, final thoughts

Some random thoughts:

How is it that it takes forever to get to your trip, but then it’s over before you know it?

Dining Plan ’07 was great. It was a lot of food, but it opened up so many opportunities to try things that we otherwise wouldn’t have.   DD is still salivating over that pork chop at Brown Derby and when I ask DS what he wants to eat, his answer is Filet & Creme Brulee. 

I worried at the beginning about running out of snack credits, and Counter Service and tried to “save” them.  So learn from my mistakes, if you’re hungry or 1 person is hungry, let them eat.  You will not run out of credits and you won’t have to spend hours on your last day trying to figure out how to use them up.

Meeting other DISers and the tree swap were great moments of the trip. 

Surving the week with my dad thoughts:

I really tried to prepare Dad & Jackie for the trip, gave them all sorts of stuff to read, links to the Dis, allears (for menus) and the time/date of Samantha Brown’s new holiday special to watch before going. It may have helped a little, but they were still overwhelmed. They loved Samantha’s special but couldn’t believe how much “bigger” everything was in person.

I really am glad we took them with us.  It was great for them to have time with their grandkids, in such a special place and the kids loved being able to show them around and all of their favorite things. It was so much better than the few days they normally spend at our house each summer, when they go to the mall for awhile, and maybe a park and then they’re gone.  Dad is still talking about the trip and says they had a wonderful time and are so glad that they did it!   He is spoiled now though, he says he can’t imagine not going at Christmas time.   He loved the decorations and all of the special Christmas stuff, especially Candlelight Processional!

For those planning on taking parents/extra family with you, my advice is to plan, plan, plan and educate.
-We originally had a dinner planned in Norway, but after showing them the menu, Dad & Jackie said that it didn’t really appeal to them. Ok, we’ll go another time.
-Dad & Jackie have taken a few trips to Vegas and Jackie always gets blisters and throws her back out.  She listened when I told her we would be walking several miles a day and she needed good comfortable walking shoes, and she had no problems.
-ADHD Dad’s are still going to wander off and do what they want to do, tell yourself that’s fine take a deep breath and get a drink with a little umbrella.  It helps!

Thanks to all for reading and commenting. It was a really good trip and I loved sharing it with you!

check out and spend our last day in the world

We really should have gone to bed earlier! It’s after 8am and no one is moving. We still need to pack, undecorate the tree, and breakfast might be good – I’m hungry. After all of the obsessive planning with the Disney Dining Plan, DH & I have realized that we didn’t add it up right and we still have 3 Table Service credits left (2 of us, counting multiple times  and we came up with the same wrong # every time)  We also have 5 Counter Service credits and a whopping 13 snack credits left!!! Our thought last night was get a couple of Counter Service breakfasts from the bakery and then we’ll have lunch at DTD with the TS credits. Goofys Snack Co. will be a good place to “blow” our snack credits with stuff to take home.  But first people need to get up and get moving!

Ok so that plan doesn’t seem to be working.  We’re up, packed and manage to call Bell Services just before 11am (check out time). Breakfast is not going to happen.  New plan, lunch with Table Service and Counter Service at Earl of Sandwich to take on the road with us. That could work .  While DH loads/packs the truck, I take our tree to Bell Services to leave for the next family on the tree exchange.  Hope they enjoy it as much as we did!

We head to Downtown Disney and it looks pretty busy. Lot 1 is closed already.  We decided to park by Pleasure Island.  We can have lunch at Planet Hollywood, walk to the Market Place and back to the car.  Sounds like a plan! We walk into Planet Hollywood and are seated immediately.   Allright, last big meal of the trip.  We order the potato skins, Texas Tostados & the Spinach dip for our appetizers. We shared amongst the 4 of us.  All were very good and easily big enough to have eaten as entrees.  Our waitress told us there was only 1 item on the menu that wasn’t included on the DDP (I don’t remember what it was, but the price made it obvious-I think it was something for 2 people)  Since DD had tried so many other foods during the week, she was ready for the Roasted Half Chicken w/mashed potatoes. DH had the LA Lasagna that he tried & loved in June. I figured what the heck, I had the 14 oz Ribeye. Mmmmm!  It was perfectly cooked and delicious, but I couldn’t finish it.  Not after the appetizers, and there was still dessert to order.  DS had enjoyed our appetizers, and the kids pizza and didn’t have much room for dessert.  Until he heard that there was a creme brulee on the menu.  DH was pretty full, so he & DS shared the Banana Split Creme Brulee (they loved it, and ate every last bite!) DD & I both ordered the Double Chocolate Brownie sundae.  Wow, so rich, so delicious!  Ok, good thing we planned to walk to Market Place and shop. There’s no way I can get in the truck for a 8 hour drive right now! 

Time to shop. DS still hasn’t figured out what to buy with the money my Dad gave him. He doesn’t want a new hat, he’s not into charater shirts, ok what? Maybe a coffee mug for cocoa? Nope, the only ones he likes are the super huge ones that he can barely pick up, so we keep looking.  And looking!  DS isn’t very good at making decisions (especially when it comes to spending his money) so we talk. Dad had wanted to buy him some pins, because he watched DS pin trade all week, but since Dad didn’t know anything about pins he thought money would be better. DH & I tell DS that we can probably order a bulk set of pins online, for a lot less money per pin and then he’d have lot’s of “traders”.   That’s what we’ll do. Good, now I just grab a Baby Pooh Bear for my niece’s 1st Christmas present.

Now to kill off the food credits. We look at Earl of Sandwich, but we’re so full nothing is looking good or looking like it will travel well. We’ve heard some people say you can get a couple of snacks (like we really need more of those ) for 1 Counter Service, but Goofy’s Candy Co. says no.  Each kid gets to pick out 1 snack, special for them. After a lot of thought (and time) they each decide on cotton candy. We ordered 4 create your own snacks (2 Mickey Rice Krispie treats & 2 fudge covered cookies) that’s 6 snacks, 7 more to go.  We grab 3 boxes of cookies, 3 packages of lollipops and a chunk of fudge. That was a lot of work! We might have used more snack credits at the beginning of the trip, but I was afraid we’d run out of them. Boy was I wrong about that!   What do we do with the Counter Servuce credits?  I really don’t want to let them go to waste, so we decide to get out of the craziness of DTD and go to Artist Palette at Saratoga Springs Resort.   It’s right around the corner from DTD, very convenient and they have great food.  We end up getting 2 Turkey & Brie sandwiche combos, which come with chips, drink & dessert (really need more desserts ) 2 fruit plates, with all of the above & they let us make a “meal” out of a bagel, piece of fruit (got an orange), drink and of course, dessert.  DH was very happy when he found out he could get his special Saratoga water as the drink, so we got 5 bottles of Saratoga water.  We got 2 brownies & 3 cookies from the bakery section as the desserts.

Food gets loaded into the cooler, everyone gets buckled up and we leave Disney for our drive home (at 4pm yikes! we’ve spent 5 hours eating and shopping -mostly for food)

Next up, odds & ends and final thoughts

Tuesday is MVMCP day!

I had told Dad and Jackie to get 4 day passes. We got them tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as a Christmas gift.   That took care of them for their 5 day trip.

The morning was spent fairly quiet and seperate. Everyone needed a little downtime and space. Dad & Jackie were going to Downtown Disney and maybe the pool at SSR.  DH & DS went to play golf at Disney’s Oak Trail. –It’s the family walking course, we played there last year. It’s nice, but not on the same level as the “real” courses on site. — DD surprised us and was up early.  Don’t see that often! I really just wanted to rest and relax, so I’d be ready for the party. She wanted to go ride Test Track  again.  So, I took a deep breath and let her go to Epcot by herself.   She’s gone in by herself and met us, but never went by herself for the whole time, so I was a little nervous, but she did fine. I kept getting text messages, “single rider line, no wait” “Here now….” She’s actually pretty good about keeping in touch, and she was having a blast!  I drank my coffee and then wandered thru the shops at the Boardwalk. Around 11ish, I met up with DD on her way back from Epcot. –Now, before our trip, I had been reading/posting on other trip reports & pre-trippies on the Disboards.   Apriateslife4evr was going to be at Boardwalk Villas some of the same dates, and going to some of the same places, so I had kept an eye out for her & her parents all week. –DD and I are walking down the boardwalk and I see a lime green tag on a bag. The girl has a “katie holmes/posh spice” haircut & 2 older people are sitting on a bench with her. Only in Disney World can this happen, but I walk up and ask “Are you Donna?” she says yes and I tell her who I am. I’m now getting a hug from a “friend” that I’ve only just now met in person.  We talk for a little bit, she’s actually getting ready to go home  but it was really neat to catch up. So here’s my shout out to the disboards, this place is so cool!  DH & DS are back now, so we meet up back in the room. They’re tired but had fun. Time to relax for a little while, then off to Saratoga Springs Resort to meet Dad & Jackie. We have a late lunch Advanced Dining Reservation at Turf Club (2:45pm) and then we’ll go check out the Grand Floridian before going to the Christmas Party.

Sometimes Disney transportation can drive you nuts. Give yourself lot’s of extra time, and you get where you’re going way to early; cut it a little close and the bus you need will have just pulled away  We caught a bus to DTD and thought we’d save our feet and catch a bus to SSR. As our DTD bus pulled in, we saw the SSR bus leave, so we walked quickly over to Dad & Jackies room. Met them outside and walked over to Turf Club for lunch just a little late.  No problem, we were seated within minutes and for the longest time I think we were the only people there. We had several good meals here in June, so we were looking forward to this one as well. We started by treating DS to the Pirate Punch w/Captain Hook clip on light so he could have something special   Jackie and I had the crab cakes, Dad had the onion rings, DH had the calamari and DD had the buffalo chicken strips. All of them were very good, and large! DD ended up sharing with DS who decided to try them. He liked them, but I’m guessing they were pretty “hot”, he was getting pretty sniffly. Sinuses were definitely clearing!  Really those appetizers could have been a meal, but now it was time to order our entrees. Dad had the angus chuck cheeseburger, DH had the ribeye steak sandwich, DD had the reuben and Jackie & I had the same thing again, the penne pasta with shrimp. All were very good, although DD said the reuben wasn’t as good as it had been this summer. It may have had something to do with the appetizer filling her up, but who knows  Everyone is full and I mention that we still get dessert. Gotta love the Disney Dining Plan!  While we wait, Dad & DS go shoot pool and have a little fun. Dad had the individual apple pie, DH decided that the mixed berries would be good after such a filling meal, DD got the cheesecake and gave her daddy the berries that came with (she doesn’t do veggies or fruit) Jackie & I finished ordering the same meal with the chocolate lava cake. Yummy Yummy Yummy! If you like chocolate, you have to try this!  Did I mention this was Yummy!

We rolled out of the Turf Club, and made our way to the bus stop. Next stop, Magic Kingdom.

Next up: Party Time


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