UPDATE: Please see our Best “One-Credit” Disney Dining Values for 2012 here! Please note that Le Cellier is 2 credits for dinner in 2012, and 2 credits for both lunch and dinner in 2013.
OK, you’ve booked this Fall’s free dining package and now you’re not so sure which table-service spots deserve the credit (pun intended!)? Below are my top picks for best value in the “one table-service credit” realm of Walt Disney World restaurants.
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, Disney World offers a vacation package add-on called the Disney Dining Plan. This works a lot like your meal plan when you were back in school — you pay a set price in exchange for a certain number of credits. Each table-service restaurant meal in Disney World is worth a certain number of credits, the vast majority of them being worth one credit. In this post, I’m describing my picks for one-credit table-service restaurants that offer the most bang for the Dining Plan buck*.
This one’s a no-brainer. Le Cellier Steakhouse is far and away one of the most popular Disney World restaurants at the moment, its reservations slots are full months in advance, and it offers some incredible food and service.
With dinner entrees running between $20 and $37, and desserts averaging around $6.50, one meal at Le Cellier has come very close to paying for the full day of the dining plan. Additionally, because money isn’t everything when it comes to value, dining at Walt Disney World resort’s “most wanted location” has to be worth something, right?
Yep, one of the most popular character meals on property is also a great value with the Dining Plan.
Chef Mickey’s, which offers your kiddos the opportunity to meet the entire fab five — Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, and Minnie (and sometimes Daisy!) — ranks at the top of the heap when it comes to character meal buffet pricing. Not to mention, the location is ideal: you’re just a monorail ride away from the Magic Kingdom.
By the way, both breakfast and dinner are overpriced here, so feel free to use your dining credit for either!
This is one of Disney World’s most popular restaurants, hands down, and its family style, Hawaiian-themed meals are only part of the reason. ‘Ohana also offers an incredible view of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from its perch atop the Great Ceremonial House at the Polynesian Resort.
Breakfast here features Mickey, Lilo, Stitch, and their friends in an all-you-can-eat Hawaiian masterpiece of a meal. Dinner has no characters, but does hold the hope for many guests for the chance to see those fireworks while digging into some incredible Bananas Foster Bread Pudding.
Price-wise, ‘Ohana is a bit more expensive than even Chef Mickey’s; coming in around $30 per adult, this is a great trade-in for a table-service credit.
(Tip: When you’re done with dinner, head down to Capt. Cook’s to trade in a snack credit for a Dole Whip!)
Another incredible buffet makes its way into our top five values list! Boma is located on the very bottom floor of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Jambo House, and serves up African-themed cuisine straight from an African “marketplace”-inspired restaurant.
While this place is pretty pricey for a buffet, it also offers the valuable asset of being located in one of Disney World’s most unique resort hotels — and you and your kids can benefit from that! By arriving a bit early for your meal, while there’s still daylight left, you’ll be able to headout side and gaze — up close — at the majestic animals of the savannas. Giraffe, zebra, Ankole cattle, flamingos, and more will be right there in front of you! And if you have questions, the Lodge has provided knowledgeable “interpreters,” who can help you to better understand not only the animals, but also the countries they’re from.
After dinner, head out to the African fire pit around 7:30pm for some authentic African storytelling as the sun goes down. Then, if you still haven’t had your fill, take part in the resort’s “night-vision goggle” experience, where you can watch the savanna animals up close to find out what they do once night falls!
Sounds like a pretty full evening to me — and all for the cost of one table-service credit.
Coral Reef Restaurant
Surprised by this one? Me, too. But, the bottom line is that Coral Reef Restaurant 1.) is expensive, and 2.) has a giant aquarium for a wall. Let’s face it, kids love watching the fish (and sometimes dolphins!) swim around in that floor-to-ceiling aquarium.
And while this restaurant might not be worth the money to pay out of pocket, it is worth your one dining plan credit — if only to watch them freak out about how cool it is to eat at a restaurant inside an aquarium. FYI: the food here isn’t usually anything to write home about, but I hear great things about the steak and the mushroom lasagna. The “chocolate wave” dessert is a specialty.
Price-wise, dinner entrees run between $20-$30, and desserts all cost $8 a piece, so you’re likely going to save some money by using the dining plan here.
What Do You Think?
Would love to hear your thoughts on the best value for a one-credit table-service meal. Have you stumbled across any deals lately? Looking forward to hearing from you in the comments section below!
*For purposes of comparison, the standard dining plan will cost adults $41.99 per night per adult and $11.99 per night per child during the following dates ranges: 1/01/10 – 2/11/10, 4/11/10 – 6/03/10, 8/15/10 -12/16/10. The same plan will cost adults $46.99 per night, and kids $12.99 per night during these date ranges: 2/12/10 – 4/10/10, 6/04/10 – 8/14/10, 12/17/10 – 12/31/10.
For more of our favorites, check out our Best Disney World Restaurants series!