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5 Best “One-Credit” Disney Dining Values

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*.

Le Cellier Poutine, with gravy on the side

Le Cellier

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?

Chef Mickey’s

Yep, one of the most popular character meals on property is also a great value with the Dining Plan.

Chef Mickey's

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!

‘Ohana

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.

'Ohana Bread Pudding

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!)

Boma

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.

Boma's Zebra Domes

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.

Coral Reef -- Image (c) Disney

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!

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75 Comments

  1. Heather says:

    I would add whispering canyon cafe to that list. you can get a bottomles shake for your “drink” on the dining plan and still get a dessert!

  2. Tina says:

    You lost me when you recommended the Coral Reef! Expensive or no, the food should be more than just barely edible to make a “best of…” list. Especially if you have to actually pay for it!

  3. Laurin says:

    AJ – First, I love your blog!

    I agree with most of your best “one credit” TS choices, but I have not been to Chef Mickey’s or Coral Reef so I can’t comment on those. I have Le Cellier, Boma and Ohana booked for our upcoming trip, as these are “must do” in my family when we visit The World.

    I would add Cape May Cafe’s Clambake dinner to this list. It has a fantastic buffet with lots of seafood (crab legs!) and non-seafood options, tons of sides and outstanding dessert selections. If you love crab legs, its an especially good value.

  4. Marsha says:

    This will be our 12th yr. to WDW and we love the dining plan. Of course we have our favorite restaurants we eat at every year, but we stay longer each year so we need to pick out a few new ones each year. We love the Crystal Palace, California Grill, Biergarten, Coral Reef, Sanaa, but two yrs. ago ate at Ohana’s and were very disappointed. Just because one person didn’t like it doesn’t make it a bad restaurant. Everyones taste is different.Have a great vacation and enjoy the MAGIC.

  5. Chris says:

    Great tips. So happy that I’ve gotten 2 out of the 5 booked for our upcoming trip. No problem booking Coral Reef for dinner and Chef Mickey for a character breakfast. Of course no Le Cellier. I only booked my vacation a month ago!

  6. Ken says:

    Disney Vacation Club member here, and go to Disney about twice a year. Have our favorite places to eat, but would have to say that Kona Cafe’ is a great option. The Ginger New York Strip is haven. Once you finish your meal I would head out to the pool area and grab a drink and walk out to the beach area to get a clser look at the firworks display.

  7. AJ says:

    Heather — Great point!

    Tina — Thanks for your feedback! I thought Coral Reef was OK (I think you’re paying for the atmosphere there, but that’s just my opinion :D), but I’ll admit that this list does take into consideration how much you’re actually saving as well as food quality.

    Laurin — Thanks for the compliment! I love Cape May Cafe in any shape or form! Thanks for the suggestion on the list.

    Marsha — Thanks for the recommendations!

    Chris — Wow — last minute vacations are the best! Hope it was a good one!

    Ken — Thanks for the recommendation. I love Kona — have a review coming up soon!

  8. Bob says:

    All are very good choices, but do not forget the Whispering Canyon. We always start or vacation with this one. All you can BBQ and milk shakes. Also the largest ice tea there is. If your kids like ketchup go here. It is just a all around fun time. ( bring your camera for the kids) We also make a point to eat one time at the Grand Floridian Cafe. The best steaks ever, the desserts are wonderful and this resturant is still a single on the dinning plan where Le Celliar is now a double(because of its popularity) we never had any problems with any of the resturants listed.

  9. Amanda says:

    How do I get to do the animal night vision and fire stories stuff at AK lodge? There’s no info on their website. I am staying at Pop Century (which I am glad you like, from what I read of your posts, I have many similar preferences). Are there other cool events like this at other resorts? If so, how do I get the info for them? All help is appreciated!

  10. AJ says:

    Amanda — Check this blog post for more info on night vision goggle viewing: http://www.aklresort.com/content/animal-kingdom-lodge-night. Check http://www.PopCenturySite.com for Pop Century activities. Other great resort info can be found at these links.

  11. Mary Beth says:

    Great recommendations! Just an update that I didn’t see noted is that Le Cellier is now signature dining for dinner (2 credits) but still one credit for lunch. We have a reservation for 2:50 – super late lunch/early dinner. It is a must for my husband and we get the basic dining plan.

    Great blog…love it!

  12. I certainly agree that OHana’s is a great way to use a table service credit. Soooo much food. (I’ve never had room for a Dole Whip after leaving). Boma’s is one of our favorite restaurants to eat at for breakfast on the Dining Plan.

  13. Kristen says:

    I think 1900 Park Fare is another one! The food is fantastic, it’s a character meal, and it’s a 1 TS!!!

  14. Kristen says:

    Also, Cape May should be on that list too. :)

  15. JaySquaredTX says:

    Don’t forget Kouzzina is one credit.

  16. Jessica says:

    Ugh, The Coral Reef is sure to be a dissapointment. I prefer to waste my one credit at Akershus where the food is still at about the same level of Coral Reef but atleast Disney princesses are involved.

  17. Jym says:

    I agree that all the places listed are great values for one credit (though for one credit you’re stuck with lunch at Le Cellier)

    For food quality, atmosphere, and cost, I think Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Kidani Village) has to be in the conversation when talking value.

  18. Beth says:

    Isn’t Chef Mickey’s 2 credits?

  19. AJ says:

    Beth — Chef Mickey’s is currently one credit.

  20. Rachel says:

    I’ve eaten at all of these places. Our favorite, by far is Ohana! Like 50′s, Ohana is a must do every trip. LeCellier is now 2 credits; correct? We ate there, but were not really impressed, and didn’t think it warranted a signature dining option. Just me, I know.

  21. Jerry S says:

    I read your “5 Best “One-Credit” Disney Dining Values”. However, I think your wrong about one (1) of your top 5. That is you mentioned Le Cellier we were on the meal plan in late April early May and the reservations for dinner at Le Cellier was two (2) credits not one as you mentioned! Please recehck to be sure.

  22. AJ says:

    Jerry S — Yes; this is an older post from when Le Cellier dinner was still 1 credit. It has been 2 credits since March 2011 and will go to 2 credits for lunch as well in January 2013.

  23. John says:

    Considering that this link was recently sent out in an email, you really should update the content. Le Cellier has been 2 credits for some time now.

    On a side note, Coral Reef is not good if you have a large group (i.e. 6 or more), especially with kids. They will more than likely try to cram you into a small table and service is sloooooowwwwwww. Food is average.

  24. Essie says:

    Wow, am I glad that we are eating lunch at Le Cellier this coming trip. Next year’s trip we will probably skip that restaurant. We are also doing Chef Mickey again and ‘trying’ Cape May Cafe for the first time this year and are very excited about it.

  25. Donna says:

    I don’t know why the Coral Reef gets such a bad reputation. My family ate there and had an amazing meal. Maybe they were having a “on” day!

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