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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Saving on a disney vacation series dining packages

This is part of an ongoing guest post series on Disney World Savings, written by a life long Disney lover.

Now we get to delve into what WDW has to offer in terms of food.  This is one of my favorite aspects of Disney.  Jim Gaffigan describes vacationing as just eating in different locations and I can relate to that.  WDW has tons to offer here and I thoroughly enjoy their food.  Don’t get me wrong, not everything at WDW is delicious, but the majority of my experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

Dining Plan

If you are on a tight budget, the dining plan is probably not the way to go.  You can easily pack lunches and dinners for a much cheaper cost (there is a bag check for each park, but they allow food and drink).  However, if you plan on eating on property (buying food from WDW), I highly recommend the dining plan.  We also love the luxury of not having to pack food and the experience of eating great food.  Again, this choice is up to you as there is definitely value in the dining plan, but it is certainly not the cheaper option.

There are two types of dining: Quick service and Table service.

To reserve or not to reserve?
Most of the Table service restaurants at WDW really require reservations to ensure seating.  Many of these establishments are fully booked several months in advance (it’s because the food is incredible!).  There are no reservations Quick service reservations – think of these eateries as fast casual dining.
Reservations are great and needed at the majority of the restaurants, but they do constrict your schedule.  You may want to plan your dining around parades, fireworks, and extra magic hours.  It’s crucial to think about your plans as you decide when and where to eat.  You can make reservations up to 180 days in advance, I strongly recommend you to book as soon as you can so that you may choose a time that allows you to see all you want to.  Call this number to make the reservations: (407) 939-3463.

Packages and Pricing:

  • Magic Your Way
  • Magic Your Way Plus Quick Service-Dining
  • Magic Your Way Plus Dining
  • Magic Your Way Plus Deluxe Dining
  • Magic Your Way Premium Package

I really like the Magic Your Way Plus dining package.  This package features one Quick service, one Table service, and one Snack per person PER NIGHT.  I really enjoy this package because it allows you flexibility while still enjoying the amazing cuisine Disney has to offer.  Breakfast is usually light and on the go, maybe a granola bar or some cereal on your own.  Quick service is great for lunch because it doesn’t take too long and still offers some great dining options.  Then dinner (when everyone is tired) is perfect for the nice sit down dinner.  Make sure to check the firework times prior to making reservations.  You don’t want to miss those!

The dining plan is great because it can help to save you money, up to 20% according to the Disney website.  To reiterate, you could eat at Disney for less money by packing food and not buying food from the park.  This is an example of weighing experience vs. cost.  Dining at Disney can really be special because the restaurants are themed, have wonderful customer service, and great food, but it really depends on what your priorities are going into the vacation.

The pricing per day changes depending on the number of days you stay, which season you go in, and week days versus weekends.  The Magic Your Way Plus Dining ranged from $36.79 to $45.99 per person per day when I did my calculations.  One table service meal can easily run $30+ per person without the dining plan, so you will want the dining plan if you plan on eating at Disney!

Do you have a favorite WDW restaurant? Come back tomorrow for tips on what to pack!

    • yimeius

      I have a quick question .. if you don’t want to stay at their resort and use their dining plan is there anyway you can save money on the park entrance fee? because they can cost a lot.

      • Google—Undercover tourist…they are highly reputable and offer discounts on park tickets :)

      • Goofy (guest post writer)

        Best bet is to go during Value season and keep a look out for their free dining plan offers. We just missed that promotion as they were offering free dining on select dates to those who booked prior to 9/29.

        • julia

          when is value season ? is it like now ?

          • Goofy (guest post writer)

            Take a look at the first post and it has all that information in it.

    • Lora

      I’m a die hard Disney fan and a die hard couponer so it breaks my heart that Disney doesn’t offer discount coupons to their parks. The only way to save on admission is to take a tour of a time share that offers you free tickets in exchange for the tour/pitch. Disney tickets do get cheaper per day if you buy a multie day pass but there aren’t any coupons/discounts that are available for Disney.

      • Just wanted to remind people that there are discounts for Military though. I am a couponer so i appreciate your position…..my husband is retired military so we do get a discount (at times) on admission. The couponer side of me would love to see everyone get discounts though!

        • Thom1977

          Thanks for that info. Do you know if it has to be someone in your immediate family that is in the military or retired? My father is retired military. Can he order the trip for us (us being me, the spouse and 1 child) and receive the discount? Would that mean that he has to accompany us?

    • Ksc

      We just got back from Disney Saturday and qualified for free dining. I WILL NOT go back unless we do fre dining. It was awesome! If you book a trip during the ‘expected’ times for free and are flexible with your dates, I think you can change your dates to the free dining.

    • soriso

      I took advantage of “free dining plan” in January. I personally didn’t like the dining plan and probably would not do it again. The advantage of dining plan is that your costs are covered up front, assuming you stick to dining plan. However, your kid’s meal choices are very limited (my kids actually like adult food) and the dining plan includes way too much sugar. I would have rather paid for the food and ordered what I wanted. I would do it again, however, if the economics worked out, if I planned on lots of character dining – I would not have been able to pay out of pocket for the mediocre food and poor service experience that is the trade-off of letting your kids dine with the characters.

    • We did the quick service plan when it was free with a 4+ night stay. We were there 7 days and nights. I found out 1 back yard BBQ was $300+ out of pocket for a family of 4 and to upgrade our dining plan was $300… So we upgraded our dining, we ended up going to 5 character dining experiences (1 cost 2 sit down tickets) and 1 nice place. We saved a ton of money. So always ask if you can upgrade a package.

    • When we went we took advantage of the free dining plus plan. It was great. Our dinner bills would be around 150-200 and we would just give them our cards :) This for my family is the way to go. We were able to stay 7 nights with the dining plan and park hopper for just under 1600$. We were able to get everything done. Also we got a Disney chase card to give us a bit of a discount and right now I am using it to rack up $ towards our next Disney vacation. Over 200$ right now.

      • Mandefaye

        I’ve been curious about the Disney Chase Card…the “legal” jargon confuses me! haha Could you break it down for me? Give me example of how you use it to your advantage?

        • Disney Lover

          We have had two different accounts since 2005 (one for personal and one for business). There are 2 different types of “Disney Rewards Visa Card from Chase”. Both cards offer 0% financing for 6 months for any vacation package booked by Disney directly (407) W-Disney. Also, both cards offer a “private” Meet-N-Greet at EPCOT. This means you and your party (up to 6 I think) get to go and meet two characters for autographs, hugs, and photos between certain hours (usually 1-4 from my experience) in the Innovations complex at Epcot. Then, you get a complimentary 5×7 photo that you pick at the Camera Center (located to the left of the “big ball” that is Epcot – Spaceship Earth ride). You also get advance opportunities to book your vacation under certain promotions. Disney announces the packages to Visa holders about 2-4 days ahead of the regular public. Now for the differences in the cards: The basic card earns 1% on all of your purchases. It has no annual fee. The Premier card earns 2% on gas, groceries, dining, and Disney related stores and theme parks. It has a $49 annual fee. From time to time, Chase will send bonus opportunities to earn up to 5 times the rewards during a promotional period. To use your points: Each point earned equals $1. When you are ready to redeem your points, you order a “Redemption Card”, transfer your points to the card, and use it just like a regular gift card, or credit card. If you transfer 237 points, then you have $237 to spend! You can redeem them on your vacation, at the Disney stores, or online with Disney. As long as you pay the balance at the end of each month, the card really works and the points add up! We are usually able to go to Disney each year, stay at a value resort for 8 days/7 nights, receive free dining, and get 6 day tickets for free each year. We love it! It is our best bet for going to Disney on a budget…who can beat free?!?!? :)

        • Disney Lover

          I posted a response, but don’t know where it went?!? There are several ways that it rewards you. Check out http://www.disneyrewards.com. It is the official site for disney reward visa card holders. It will show you the advantages. I listed them on here, but I think my response was too long. :( It removed my comment. Good luck!

          • Mandefaye

            Oh man! I’m sure I would’ve understood your post better! Thanks anyways!

            • Disney Lover

              I will try this again. I am splitting up my comment to shorten it. There are two different cards (the original and the Premier), but they have some of the same benefits. 1st, you have 0% financing for 6 months on any vacations that are charged to the card and booked through Disney directly (407) W-Disney. You get a free “Character Meet-N-Greet” at Epcot in Florida where you and your family get to interact with 2-3 of the characters without anyone from the crowd seeing you. They take your photos, and you get to choose one free 5×7 pic (that they can enhance with Disney magic) to take home (for free!). You save 10% on any purchase of $50 or more at Disney retail locations, or at select retail locations while at the theme parks. Finally, you get advance notice/booking opportunities when certain deals come out (like the free dining). This gives you the best possible options and choices of hotels for booking.

            • Disney Lover

              Now for the differences in the two cards. The original Disney Rewards Visa Card from Chase gives you 1% back on all your purchases. From time to time, you might receive promotions that offer 3% or up to 5% back on certain categories, but these are temporary bonuses (usually for a quarter – 3 months at at time). There is no annual fee with this card. The Disney Rewards Premiere Card offers you 2% back on all purchases made at gas stations, restaurants, Disney retail, and grocery stores. All other purchases earn the standard 1% back. This card has an annual fee of $49.

            • Disney Lover

              As long as you pay the balance off at the end of every month, it works great; however, if you don’t, the interest will far out-weigh the benefits. Now, for “cashing in” your rewards. Each point that you earn equals $1, so 978 points = $978! You transfer your points to a Rewards card that you use like any credit card – it has a full 16 digit # and expiration date like a visa gift card. You can use these points to pay for your vacation, dining at the parks, theme park tickets, at Disney Store retail stores, or at Disney’s online store. We have had two of these cards since 2005 – one for personal and one for business. We go to Disney at least once per year. We haven’t paid for a trip yet. We book in the fall with the free dining, stay in a value resort for 8 days/7 nights, and get 6 day base tickets. I love the card. Having 2 kids that love Disney, I have to find the cheapest way to travel. How can you beat free?!?!? I hope this helps you. Happy traveling! :)

    • Susie

      Check out Disneys website, they posted a new deal this morning that includes a great package price including dining for select dates in Jan & Feb.

      • Luci

        What were the dates in January?

        • Luci

          Found it on another site. “This discount package includes hotel accommodations at a select Disney World Resort hotel, theme park tickets, and Disney Dining. The Stay, Play, Dine & Save promotion is good for select nights…” “Must book these offers by December 31st of 2012 for travel Jan 4-Mar 1 of 2013”

    • CW

      If you want to run to a grocery store and pack lunches, have breakfast in your room, and carry in snacks, there is another option not mentioned here. My husband and I have the Tables in Wonderland card. I believe its $100, $75 if you are an annual passholder.
      You get a 20% discount at the sit-down restaurants (NOT the quick–to–go locations). So if you want to just save money on dinners and you are staying awhile, this may be your option. It does not work on holidays, however, and an 18% tip is automatically included. My husband and I have used this option for 8 yrs and every sit down restaurant on property…we’ve eaten at them all!
      So if its a restaurant that would normally run your family $300 to eat one dinner, you’d save $60 on that one dinner. If you are there at least two nights, you’ve saved more than what you paid for the card. The membership is good for one full year.

    • tarheelbaby1

      Do you have to stay on site at a Disney hotel in order to buy a meal plan? Or, can you buy a meal plan without staying on property? From the Disney site, it looks like meal plans are only available to hotel guests.

      • Goofy (guest post writer)

        The dining plan is only available to guests who are staying in a Disney owned resort.

    • E

      Personally we cannot stand the food at Disney – quick service/ table service it’s pretty dreadful. The wait times are terrible even in the value seasons. We stick with bringing our own Breakfast & Lunch meals, snacks, and refillable water bottles. Dinner we either eat with relatives in the area or take a chance on table service.

    • mlaurie406

      We also got free dining when we booked our room (well, actually already had booked our room and made reservations at the 180 day mark, then added free dining when the offer came up). Totally worth it with kids, imo. I am one to normally pack lunch/breakfast/dinner, but I wanted the kids to have the whole Disney experience (it isn’t a yearly thing for us…it’s a once or twice total thing). I loved it for the characters for them and the food wasn’t too bad either. We had the one TS, one QS and one snack package and what I did was plan one character/sit down meal a day (sometimes lunch, sometimes dinner), used the QS for the other meal and we ate breakfast at the hotel that I had packed in our luggage. Worked out great!

    • julie

      Offers for WDW such as when free dining if offered is under the “special offers” link at the bottom of the WDW website. It helps to use a travel agent b/c it costs you nothing at all. I am using a agent for my upcoming trip and she has done all the work for me to get free dining, etc!

    • momof3

      First of all, who on earth says Disney food is delicious? It is nasty, as a general rule, with a few exceptions. (We like Ohana’s and tolerate the Crystal Palace.) Also, I am saddened that folks don’t do the math on the “free” dining plan. It is a shell game. No matter what the “discount” you get, you will pay about the same, and all of them are more than we ever pay for food! By the way, I cannot tell you how many times we have been eating our sandwiches on croissants and had someone come up to us and ask where we got that because “it really looks good”. That, my friend, should tell you something…