In years past Disney has offered many perks to get guests into their resorts. The last time Mrs Grumpy and I went it was buy four days get three days free plus we got a $200 gift card. One of the most popular promotions, however, is the free dining program. This was a mainstay of the Disney incentive program for some time but then it went away for a while. Well it’s back now for a very limited time and only to guests who use a Disney Visa card to pay their deposit. Reservations must be made by May 18th, 2012.
So what is free dining? I am glad you asked! Free dining means that Disney will give you one of their Dining Plans for free. As you might imagine this can save you quite a bit of money.
Unfortunately the number of rooms available and the dates that are open are limited. The dates are limited to check-in between August 25-September 29, 2012. Three resorts are not included, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s All Star Music Family Suites, and the campsites at Fort Wilderness.
Disney offers a variety of dining plans from the very basic to the very extravagant. For those who are staying at the value resorts the dining plan is the Quick Service variety which includes: Two quick-service meals per person, per night (ages 3+); one snack per person, per night (ages 3+); and one Resort-refillable drink mug. For those staying at a moderate resort or better the plan is the Dining Plan which includes: One table-service meal per person, per night (ages 3+); one quick-service meal per person, per night (ages 3+); one snack per person, per night (ages 3+); and one Resort-refillable drink mug.
As you can imagine this can save quite a bit of money and you can get some great food at the same time, especially if you are staying at a Moderate or Deluxe Resort.
Disney is going to start charging you if you fail to cancel your reservation 24 hours in advance and don’t show up. The charge is $10 per person. While I don’t like the idea of the charge I do understand it. When my wife and I took our last Disney trip there were some places we just couldn’t get a reservation for, like Boma. Who knows how many people, if any, had reservations there but decided not to eat there. Could have been a table for us!
Food may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Disney World. It is not number one on my list either but hey you have to eat and if you have to eat why not at Disney World!
There are a lot of options for eating in the various parks at Disney World, the resorts and Downtown Disney. Some of them are relatively inexpensive and some of them come with a royal price tag, like Cinderella’s Royal Table.
Your eating options are broken down into three main categories: snack, counter service and table service. Snacks range from popcorn to fresh fruit with my personal favorite funnel cakes thrown in. Then there are the favorites Mickey shaped ice cream and dole whips. Counter service is mostly typical fast food fare but in the Animal Kingdom also includes bbq chicken and ribs that are very tasty. Table service means everything from buffets to the aforementioned Cinderella’s Table. Table service may also include opportunities to meet different Disney characters including the Big Cheese himself.
To help keep costs down Disney offers dining plans. Those plans go from very basic burger and fries plans to the very luxurious. The prices, as you might expect, correspond. The plans are listed below for your convenience:
My wife I took a trip in 2009. At the time we had no children and decent jobs. It was also off peak season so we got very good rates on our hotel and perks like extra days on our theme tickets and a gift card. Since it was our anniversary gift to each other we decided to splurge and get the 2012 Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining package as well. That meant we got one snack, one counter service and one table service meal per day for each of us. We kept track and we really did save money this way. The only down side was we had to have reservations for all the table service meals and though we did save money on what it would have cost had we paid separately, we would have saved even more if we had skipped some of the table service meals and ate at counter service instead. That being said, we did have some great meals we probably would not have splurged on if we were paying for each of them individually. So before you go all out with a dining package, I recommend really weighing the pros and cons. If you have any questions, be sure to ask. I will be glad to give my opinion.
Now that we have looked at what types of meals are offered as well as an option to pay for them lets talk about the food itself.
I have eaten at a lot of Disney establishments but by no means all of them. There’s just too many places to eat and to be honest I am not the adventurous type, when I find something I like I go back again and again.
At the Magic Kingdom I recommend Peco’s Bills Cafe. Its just standard burgers and fries but they have a fixings bar that includes sauteed onions and mushrooms. Maybe it’s just me but that makes all the difference. My niece’s birthday is very close to mine and on more than one occasion when asked what we want for our big day, we have both answered Peco’s Bills! I am not sure how much the food has to do with it as opposed being in the Magic Kingdom. (Note: We have never gotten what we wanted!) If you are looking for something more sit down I recommend the Liberty Tree Inn for those families who are not interested in characters. The food is typical American with roasted beef, pork and ham for entrees and stuffing, mashed potatoes and mac and cheese for sides. A salad and dessert are included. The food is served family style and brought out till you can’t stuff any more in! If you do want characters, Crystal Palace is hard to beat. The characters are Pooh and his friends. The food is great, several carved meats and all the sides you can imagine. The food here is served buffet style but its much better than the typical buffet you might find in the real world. The characters come right to your table and will pose for pictures as well sign autograph books.
To be continued!by grumpymickey