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What’s Your Ideal “Disney Dining Plan”?

So, yesterday there’s a bit of a to-do about the Disney Dining Plan. Apparently there’s a typo in Disney’s official PDF describing the Standard Disney Dining Plan, indicating that an appetizer is available with all table-service meals.

Incorrect Info in DDP PDF

Based on calls to Disney Dining (speaking to supervisors and managers), Erin heard that this is, indeed, just a typo and not a change in policy. But if it WAS true, that’d be awesome!

And this got me thinking… what if we could design our very own Disney Dining Plan based on the way we and our families eat in Disney World!?

What Would YOUR Ideal Disney Dining Plan Look Like?

So what if they introduced a “Magic Your Way Dining Plan,” where guests could build their own individualized plan off of a base plan? Let’s dream a little, shall we?

Snack-tastic

Customize your counter service : table service : snack ratio!
One thing that we keep hearing: the Standard Dining Plan is too little, the Deluxe Dining Plan is too much (and yup, we know…it TOTALLY works just fine for some folks.) So, what if you could change things up a bit?

Not a big fan of sit-down breakfast? You could add more counter service meals or snacks in to make for a light first meal o’ the day. What if your little ones have no interest in sitting still for table service? Not a problem! Which brings us to another pie in the sky option…

Different people in your party could have different dining plans!
Maybe your 3-9 year old eats like a linebacker and doesn’t order off of the children’s menu. Or maybe he or she eats like a bird, and you’d rather choose a different level for him or her. Or maybe you have a wife who’s always eating kids’ meals — wouldn’t it be great to only have to pay for kid-sized meals in table-service restaurants?

Customize what you get on your individual dining plan! You’re on vacation, right? So, why not eat two appetizers and a dessert for dinner? Or maybe you aren’t a sweets person, or three courses are way too many for park hopping in your world.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could have that flexibility in your dining plan to tailor the meal just the way you’d like it to be? Yes, we think so, too.

What about an All-Salad, All-the-Time Dining Plan?

Mine? How Kind of You to Ask?

Well, you guys know how I eat in Disney World, so I think my ideal plan would probably include four table-service meals, 10 snacks, and 2 counter-service meals each day!

(Heh heh…no, I don’t really eat that much…well…not all the time anyway… ;-D)

Would a “do it your way” Dining Plan make you want to purchase it? What would YOUR perfect dining plan look like?

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55 Comments

  1. BJ Wanlund says:

    For me, my ideal Disney Dining Plan would go like this:

    #1: I’d like to buy said dining plan separately from my ticket. Ya know, just in case I buy an Annual Pass or something.

    #2: My daily TS/CS/Snack ratio would go like this: 2/5/7 (that way, if I wanted to go to CA Grill one day, I could afford it).

    BJ

  2. Michael says:

    I’m a big fan of the Disney Deluxe Dining plan and have used it on my family’s past 4 trips. I see the value and enjoy the convenience of it. The one thing I think would be nice to add is the option to purchase additional meal or snack credits to dining plans.

  3. Ann t says:

    My plan would be 1 TS with entree & the choice of app or dessert, 1 CS, and 6 snacks. One set for breakfast, a set of mid afternoon, and one before leaving the parks at night.

  4. My ideal Disney dining plan would be available to everyone (not just resort customers). It would consist of 2 TS, 1QS and 2 Snacks (ages 1+). Children would be able to order either adult or child meals. Dinners would include your choice of an appetizer or a dessert. Most importantly, the meal plan would last the number of days instead of nights.
    $80pa/$40pc per day tip included.

  5. Becca says:

    For me, it would be all about buying as many or as few credits as you need for your trip. I honestly couldn’t tell you exactly how many without sitting down and figuring out where I want to eat!

    Oh, and for Signature dining to be a separate kind of credit, not just two standard credits!

  6. Pudge the Fish says:

    I understand that Disney needs to offer consistancy in what is included. Individual meal credit customization would be a nightmare for servers and the front desk. For better or worse I think the current levels are probably the best scenario possible.

    Having said all that, I fully believe that you should have a choice of appetizer or dessert. One of my pet peeves is Disney’s claim of a healthy dining policy like wheat rolls and mixed meat hotdogs, yet they are paired with outrageous, not-so-healthy toppings. If they were serious about their claim they would allow you to order a salad, soup, etc. instead of chocolate cake and ice cream. I am far from a healthy eater, I just find their claim half-hearted to fit their needs.

  7. marcellina says:

    what a great topic because on our February trip my family was discussing this very thing! We all agreed there should be a “snack dining plan” where the only thing included is around 6 or 7 snacks for each day … we realized we are a snacking family!

    so my personal ideal dining plan (for me, not thinking about my 15 month old baby! lol) would be one table service meal a day (that could be any restaurant, even signature locations or victoria and alberts – hey, this is an exercise in imagination right?) and then something like 6 or 7 snacks each day. Some of those “snacks” in the park are big enough to be a meal or if you grab two then it’s enough food to count as “lunch” or “dinner”.

    I think we like to snack so much because there is so many different things to try at WDW and we want to try them all!

  8. Deb Tee says:

    Personally, I would love to see the option of either a small garden salad or small ceasar salad OR dessert! NOT both, just one.
    Being in the restaurant business for many years, I know it would be less expensive for Disney to offer a small plated salad with a meal than a dessert.
    Just a thought, but would love to see the option as many of my clients are not allowed to have sweets!!

  9. TraciLeigh says:

    Such a great post…and I love the idea of customizing your dining plan. I would like to see a combo of the QS plan and the standard DP. I’d like 2 CS per day, 1 TS per day and 3 snacks (morning, afternoon, evening). That would be ideal for my family who likes to have one “big” meal each day – usually lunch or breakfast – and then do CS for other meals.

  10. Jenn says:

    I would like to see a dining plan with 2 TS credits a day and 2-3 SC a day. Just because I love doing a sit down breakfast/brunch/early lunch followed by a much later sit down dinner. Id like the choice between ordering an app OR dessert, that way one member of a party could order an app and another a dessert and you could split both. I dunno about you but I never eat an entire app or dessert (or usually even entree) by myself. Only in DW do I eat a dessert with every meal.

    I think the Deluxe is too much food (especially with it consisting of an app, entree AND dessert per person). I would waste most of the food and would probably not use any SC. I think 3 TS credits is overkill unless you’re planning to eat mostly signatures. I wish they had a cheaper deluxe option with the app OR dessert option.

    Also a dining plan that included alcohol beverages (specifically cocktails and beer) would be amazzzzing.

  11. marcellina says:

    Ooooh! I’m with Jenn… alcohol dining plan please! ;)

  12. Craig says:

    My ideal dining plan would be simply:

    1 Table Service
    1 Counter Service
    2 Snacks
    ALL GRATUITIES INCLUDED

    I hated when they removed the gratuities from the old diing plan. The servers get shafted enough by guests!

  13. Alan says:

    Two dream wishes. I’d like to be able to purchase fewer meal “days” than stay days. For example if we stay eight days we, we could purchase a five day meal plan. This would allow us to visit restaurants off property. (Orlando has so many great places to try). The other wish would be the ability to delay desserts. We’re often too full for sweets right after a meal, especially an early TS time. Then later, maybe in the evening, you could stop in France’s pastry shop or the Norway bakery and have a nice late night sweet.

    Of course, we all know why none of this will ever happen except In Dreams.

  14. Carolyn says:

    If I could design a plan, it would be two TS credits, one CS credit, and two snacks per night, with appetizers and tips included. And you would also have the option of getting two appetizers in place of an entree, (so three appetizers total with each meal.)

    So basically the deluxe plan, but priced a little cheaper, and making one credit only good for CS. My problem is whenever I use the deluxe plan now, I always feel like I have to use all credits for TS to get the best value, so I never want to “waste” a credit on CS.

  15. Kristina says:

    OK since I’m totally imagining here, the perfect option for my and my family’s style of eating at Disney World would be 2 TS and 3 SC per day – but you have the option for TS and CS to be interchangeable (because sometimes you just don’t have time to sit down for a full TS meal)
    With the current standard dining plan we always have 3 or 4 CS credits left to be used up at the end of our trip and waste them by “cashing” them in for a whole lotta rice krispie treats to take home just so that they don’t go completely unused.
    I love the TS breakfast buffets, but feel like it’s a total waste of my TS credits. Some CS meals are so big, it’s worth more than a TS breakfast – so I think that would be a fair trade off.

  16. Steph says:

    I think the standard dining plan has more than enough credits, but I REALLY hate that we are forced to have dessert with every meal. It’s way too much. Giving us the option of an appetizer or dessert would be so much better.

    That said, what if Disney switched to a point system instead? Every item could be assigned a point value and you would be given a certain number of points based on your stay. Then you could mix it up any way you want.

  17. Bill White says:

    I would like it if everybody in your room didn’t have to be on the plan. I realize, though, that this would eliminate the whole point of the Dining Plan (getting everyone to eat all their meals on Disney property), so this is just crazy talk on my part

    I do think that it would be feasible to let each member of a party have a different version of the Dining Plan, though.

  18. Becca says:

    @Steph, that’s perfect! The Disney Vacation Dining Club Plan. I think they could definitely still benefit from profits and planning capabilities, especially if you had to elect how you would spend your points a few weeks before travelling.

  19. Hillary Waldroop says:

    I would like a mini-Deluxe plan with 2 TS and 2 SC per day. That way, I could use the credits for lunch and dinner or use the 2 credits at a signature restaurant. I would still want each meal to include an appetizer, entree, and dessert. My family would be happy with using the 2 snack credits for breakfast and lunch, then using the TS credits for a signature dinner.

    We typically use TIW, so that we can eat the way I described; however, I would love to see just a snack plan that could be added to complement TIW since it doesn’t provide discounts on snacks. I would like to pay about $3 per snack credit, that way I could save money when choosing snacks that are closer to $5. For examples, a $10 per person per day plan would give 3 SC. Another good plan to complement TIW would be 2 SC, 1 CS, and mugs for about $20 per person per day.

  20. Christa M. says:

    I’m going to need about 5-8 snacks per day. Oh, and I need alcohol to be counted as a snack. There you go!

  21. Gary says:

    Honestly, I just wish the premium is more affordable. I would love the option to have one meal per period and two snacks. I also wish the refillable mug would be able to be refilled anywhere. My July/August Honeymoon trip we got the Deluxe and i wish it was one credit per table no matter where but of course we want to do some 2 credit places.

    However, this is my first time a) paying for Disney World and b) going since I was in 1st grade. I do feel its a good values.

    We’ll see how our honeymoon goes and I’ll evaluate next time :)

  22. Aubrey says:

    I’m pretty satisfied with the standard dining plan, but I would love (as so any others have mentioned) to have the choice of appetizer or dessert at ts locations. I would also add a snack credit so I could use one for breakfast and one for a real snack. So it wold be 2 snacks, 1 cs, and 1 ts.

  23. Steph says:

    @Steph (nice name :-) ) That is an awesome idea! That was essentially my dining plan in college and it worked great. If I wasn’t that hungry and wanted a small salad, I could get it. If I wanted to go all out and go to one of the all-you-can-eat dining halls, I could do that, too. It just cost me more points. It wouldn’t be that hard for servers either. They just swipe your card and the points get deducted, kind of like a pre-paid gift card or something. You should suggest that to Disney!

  24. Anna K. says:

    I agree that the Dining plan should become a point system:
    1 Snack = 1 point,
    1 Child CS meal = 1 point,
    1 Refillable Mug = 2 points,
    1 Adult CS meal = 2 points,
    1 Child TS meal = 2 points,
    1 Adult TS meal = 3 points (choice of appetizer or dessert),
    1 signature dining meal = 4 points (appetizer and dessert).
    Each person gets 8 points per day, but the points are all grouped to the reservation, so meals (and ages) can mix and match. Gratuitity included on all – paying for tips separately completely defeats the purpose of the convenient, pre-paid plan! Also, the plan should be a separate add-on (like the water park fun & more option) so that non-resort or room-only reservation guests could take part. A point boost could also be purchased for those who would have bought the Deluxe plan.

    Just my thoughts!

  25. Bryan Irrera says:

    I’d just want the standard Dining plan…but the way it USED to be: including 1 snack credit per person per day (we actually never used it everyday with enough food in us from the counter service and table service, but if we have any at the end of the trip, we cash them in for candy at the Main St. Candy store (not really the BEST use of the money, true, but we can take the bagged stuff HOME with us)), one counter service that includes a (non-alcoholic) beverage, a main course and side (or a “value menu combo”…in the case of Sunshine Seasons, where two sides are included, it should include both) plus a dessert. One sit down dinner that includes a (non-alcoholic) beverage, an appetizer (though you should be able to choose an alcoholic beverage in place of an appetizer from a few of the “signature drinks”), a full main course and a dessert. This should include tax. I don’t think that this should include tip as I feel bad for the servers. In fact, even when tip was included, we STILL tipped our servers out of pocket as well. No more than $40 a day per adult. That’s equal to about $25.00 for a sit down, plus $15.00 for a counter service and a free snack. If you play your cards right and choose wisely, you really are saving more. Signature dining (two credits) isn’t really a bad thing if you plan properly and don’t mind paying out of pocket for an extra counter service a day or two for dinner to save those credits (though, that’s best done at Food and Wine when you’re eating enough extra throughout the day anyway).

  26. michelle says:

    Drop the dessert at the counter service and add a extra snack credit that you could use for that CS dessert or for a snack later on. You don’t get the dessert if you use the CS for breakfast anyway.

    Allow the option to pick Child or adult dining plan for children over 9 but under 18. My 10 year old does not eat an adult amount of food and wants the kids meal anyway.

    TS should be entree and your choice of salad, small appetizer or dessert. Husband is not a dessert eater and most of the time we pay it forward to the people next to us!!

  27. Sandra says:

    We really liked the QSDP with two meals, two snacks and the refillable mug. However, I would enjoy being able to buy extra meal/snack credits. If they don’t want to raise the cost too much, how about just having meals with one/two sides (fries, chips, veggies, etc.) and let us choose to spend a snack credit for dessert or for an addtional side, like a small salad or fruit. Also, wouldn’t it be great to have a pool of “meal credits” that could be spent like tickets at a fair? That is, CS meals would be one credit, TS meals two or three credits. Very flexible in deciding if you want all CS or a mix, without having to commit to as many TS reservations as you have nights, but you could still decide to spring for one meal at Boma or Liberty Tree Tavern.

    So for example, per day/night, you would have 3 meal credits and 3 snack credits per person, plus a refillable mug. Then you could do a CS breakfast, a TS lunch, and use your 3 snack credits for soup, salad and ice cream for a lighter dinner. Or spend one for dessert at lunch. Or Mickey bars in the parks. Just like now, but more flexible.

    Just had lunch, but now I’m definitely dreaming of Disney Dining!

  28. Tammy says:

    I’m fine with the standard plan (it is more than plenty of food for everyone I travel with), but as many have mentioned, I would LOVE to forgo dessert for an appetizer most of the time. In the days when each person got an app AND a dessert, it was too much, but I don’t see the problem with offering a choice of one or the other. Even CS meals have a dessert! We tend to use snack credits for breakfast items, CS for lunch, and TS for dinner to maximize the plan, money-wise, but we’re attending Food and Wine for the first time this year, and will probably save our snack credits for that and just bring simple things from home for breakfasts. The option to add on additional snack credits to the plan would be awesome for situations like this. People could add a bundle of extra snack credits to any meal plan for a specified price. I also preferred the plan when the tip was already included.

  29. Joanne says:

    That explains why I couldn’t bring up the dining plan pdf yesterday! We are going for the first time in September and I didn’t realize that you got a dessert with TS instead of the choice of an appetizer, salad or dessert. I wasn’t as concerned with the CS meals since we could likely get an item we could eat for snack or breakfast. It should be interesting finding suitable choices for dessert with hubby being Celiac (no gluten)…lots of ice cream or creme brulee I guess. I like the points suggestion – I guess like Weight Watchers, it allows guests to choose how to use them. It would help out with the child/adult issue also for children over 9 that don’t eat an adult portion. Disney are you listening?

  30. kirsty says:

    We get the deluxe dining and most of the apps at signature restaurants are not huge things like a plate of nachos they are pretty small and just meant for one person. That being said I wish they still included the tips like they used too!

  31. C. Evans says:

    I have to agree with the option of a choice of appetizer (soup, salad or whatever) or dessert. The concept of healthy dining goes out the window when eating two disserts a day and a snack. I often end up ordering a salad with a meal out of pocket just so I have something healthy looking in front of me. By the end of my stay, I often find myself passing on the dissert at the Counter Services…I’ve had my fill of those little chocolate cakes.

  32. Maren says:

    I would use a half-step option betweent QSDP and DDP. The DDP is too many table service meals when we go for long ten day stays. A half-step option could be table service + counter service + snack for five days and counter service + counter service + snack for the other five days. Priced halfway between QSDP and DDP.

  33. Maren says:

    Another idea we’d use: if there were a snacks-only plan (2 snacks per person per day) and it could be added in addition to one of the regular plans.

    Then you could do a QSDP (2 counter service + one snack per person per day) and add on the snacks-only plan. And you’d have 2 counter service + three snacks per person per day.

  34. Katie says:

    I had the same thought as Anna…points instead of credits but with a bit more flexibility like

    1 point = snacks, non-alcoholic drinks, CS sides and desserts
    2 points = alcoholic drinks, CS entrees, TS appetizers and desserts
    3 points = TS entrees
    4 points = signature TS entrees

    That way you can customize each meal to your tastes. I would need about 15 points/day!

  35. Julia says:

    After experiencing both the deluxe and regular plans, my thoughts are…

    1) Deluxe was great for a treat and for signatures, but not every time. It was perfect for our anniversary trip last summer. It was a LOT of food and we often had allow a great deal of time to go back and dress up at the resort (especially in hot, sweaty weather.) This took a lot of time out of our day and sometimes guessing a reservation time months in advance doesn’t end up being what you need that day. However… occasionally, I think it’s a wonderful treat and a FABULOUS deal to eat at some of the best restaurants anywhere at an amazing price!

    2) Regular (standard?) dining plan was a better amount of food. Especially with the option of buffet restaurants and refillable milkshakes (LOL), you still couldn’t go hungry. My only disappointment is having a dessert instead of an appetizer. When I take the time to eat at restaurants, I’d much prefer a salad or unique appetizer plus my meal. I don’t always want a heavy dessert and the other thing is… sometimes I prefer getting dessert later on after the meal. On Main Street USA, on the Boardwalk, at Starring Rolls, etc., getting delicious ice cream, sundaes, cupcakes, rice crispie ears, etc., is part of the experience and better than only getting dessert, no appetizer, with the meal plan. And some of those treats are available as snack credits! I don’t find desserts very expensive in the World, so the appetizer is a better deal.

  36. Galloping Gourmand says:

    I like flexibilit so the DDP will never be for me. The thing that would get me to consider it is if I could get a portion of my money back for unused credits or add credits. I don’t want to worry about running out of credits or wasting money by leaving unused credits. While I always plan sit-down meals, there are some days I happily call and cancel my dinner reservation around noon because I know I won’t be hungry enough, or have a hankerin for Earl of Sandwich instead.

  37. Sarah says:

    2 Table Service with 2 Snack Credits per day – plus id pay a little more to have the tip included so truly it would all be covered before we even get there!

  38. Pam says:

    We love the Deluxe Dining Plan!!!! Getting 3 table service meals per day per person + 2 snack credits per day per person! It gives us the opportunity to try different restaurants every time we go to Disney World. I say though, I agree with Sarah who would like for the tips to be included. By the way, the tips used to be included in that plan back in 2000. It was perfect!

  39. anonymous says:

    I’d like to see the counter service meals not include desert and instead replace it with a snack credit–giving you the flexibility to order dessert or save it for later.

  40. I do personalize my dining plan–I don’t buy the dining plan! Ha!

    But seriously–what if they made it like DVC? Where you bought a certain number of points and could use them however? That way it could be totally personizable but still save you money (assuming each point cost, say, eighty cents but was worth a dollar.) The price for each menu item could be listed in dollars AND points. And you’d just spend your points. Easy.

    Obviously there’s some math in there that I don’t understand–but Disney business people are geniuses. I’m sure they could figure out something!

  41. Amy says:

    My brother (who is spending his honeymoon at WDW in a little over a month!) and I have joked that we could probably survive on a snack dining plan and live off of cupcakes, Dole Whips, nachos, and more. In reality, I wish they would either let kids order off of the adult menu or offer more variety in their children’s menus. My almost-three-year old has a pretty adventurous palate (doesn’t like anything remotely spicy, but loves fish, shellfish, gumbo, and just about every fruit and vegetable she’s tried) and I would love it if she had more options that suited her taste. I love when we go out and there are new things for her to try and not the same old pizza, chicken fingers, mac and cheese, hot dog, etc.

  42. Zoe says:

    We’re using the standard DDP for the first time this year – The one thing I wished I could change is that with the table-service, I would rather have the choice of an Appetizer OR a Dessert – I don’t always want something sweet.
    I would happily give up a dessert at lunch for the option!

  43. Tammy Campbell says:

    I loved the old dining plan that included gratuity and also included appetizer with your TS (even though I’ll admit it was too much food)! I would like the basic DP as is now but add another snack per day (not that we don’t get enough to eat but there are so many things we want to try!) and let you choose either a dessert or appetizer with your TS meals and add gratuity back into the plan. Alcohol included would be great too!

  44. Beth says:

    Tracy I think your idea is genius!

  45. Megan says:

    My ideal dining plan is simple 2 Snacks, 1 QS & 1 TS meal with appetizer or dessert option plus gratuity included.

  46. JoAnn says:

    I did think the ideal plan would be two quick service, one table service and a snack. This year I’m on a quest to try new restaurants so I now think the ideal would be two TS and one QS and a snack. I do like the idea of having the option of an appetizer or a dessert.

  47. jdhwsp4me says:

    whatever plan that one would choose, gratuities should be included. I love not having to figure up every meal cost and would love not having to estimate “in advance” gratuities. My ideal would be l table service with choice of appetizer or dessert, l counter service with the ability to substitute a snack later, for the dessert. Also, we do not usually use the snacks and those could be omitted for a few less dollars in cost.

  48. Lisa says:

    My ideal plan would be somewhere in between the regular deluxe. I would want 2 cs and 1 ts meals per day. I would also like to be able to choose app or desert. I would keep the 2 snacks per day.

  49. joe says:

    cash. the DP is barely better than breakeven in ANY iteration. so just put it together yourself by NOT buying it.

  50. Meghan says:

    I love the Dining Plan for convenience, but it’s honestly too much food!! I wish that you could choose to get an appetizer instead of them forcing a dessert on you every day. I don’t want a cookie, cupcake, etc after every meal when it’s 97 degrees outside!! I also wish there was an option for more snacks – I go through those like crazy between water, diet coke and ice cream!

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