Everything you need to know about Disney Dining Plans in 2017

dining2017

Disney’s dining plans can be a confusing, but it’s meant to simplify your your trip. Adding the dining plan to your package reservation essential makes it an all inclusive stay! So what do you need to know about it and is it for you?

Adding the dining plan to your reservation

In order to add a Dining plan to your reservation, you must be an on site guest and booking as a package ($200 deposit required and final payment due 30 days prior to your arrival). Disney does allow room + dining packages with no tickets and full packages with room, tickets, and dining coupled together. Military families can only book room + dining packages (tickets must be purchased separately from their local ticket office. If you elect to add the dining plan to your package reservation, each guest in your room MUST be included and it must be for your entire length of stay (there are some ways around this policy including booking a “split stay” reservation).

What about free dining?

The free dining promotional offer has been available over the last several years. Disney used to offer the same discount for January and February, but that seems like it is going by the wayside with other similar promotions (discounted but not free). During the fall months, Disney has offered this promotional offer for select dates but I think we’re all waiting for the year when it does go away. These big package promotions are used to help fill unbooked rooms but with overall park attendance up, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them go.

Dining credits?

All of Disney’s dining plans provide you with dining credits to be used during your stay. Your credits are broken down into credit categories – quick service, table service, and snack. All of your credits will be given to you upon your arrival at your Disney World resort to be used any way you choose during your stay. Depending on the plan you choose, you’ll receive credits for each NIGHT you stay.

Who gets credits?

Anyone on the dining plan age 3+ will receive credits. Children under age 3 are free at Disney and therefore will not need their own credits. This means they must share with a sibling or another adult at any plated table service meal and quick service locations. Credits are broken down to child credits (ages 3-9) and adult credits (ages 10+). This is important for table service and buffet restaurants. Child quick service credits can be used for adult meals (SHHH! Little known fact – helpful if you stretch your dollar and share more meals during your stay).

Dining Plan Options

Disney has 3 dining plans for 2017: Quick Service, Plus Dining, and Deluxe Dining. Regardless of your choice, each member of your traveling party will receive a refillable mug to be used at your resort. It can actually be refilled at any resort during your stay. No refills at the parks though!

The quick service dining plan provides you with 2 quick service credits and 2 snacks for each night stayed.

  • Each quick service credit comes with an entree and non-alcoholic beverage whether you use it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner

PLUS dining (or the Disney dining plan) provides you with 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit, and TWO snacks for each night stayed.

  • Quick service credit comes with an entree and non-alcoholic beverage whether you use it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
  • Table service credits come with an entree, non-alcoholic beverage and dessert. No dessert will be offered if you choose to use a credit at breakfast.
  • Table service credits can also exchanged for a buffet or family style meal.

The Deluxe Dining Plan provides you with 3 credits which can be used for either table service or quick service and 2 snacks for each night stayed.

  •  Quick service credits come with an entree and non-alcoholic beverage. 
  • Table service credits come with an appetizer, entree, non-alcoholic beverage, and dessert. No appetizer or dessert will be offered if you choose to use a credit at breakfast. (This is an appetizer per person – not for your entire group so if you have a group of 4 you will receive 4 appetizers)
  • Table service credits can also be exchanged for buffet or family style meals. 

What is a snack?

Disney suggests a piece of fruit or box of popcorn as a snack. I suggest any drink at Starbucks (yes my venti raspberry white chocolate mocha was covered!), a cupcake, Mickey premium bar, giant pretzel, etc. There are so many great snack options available at Disney, so don’t limit yourself! In years past, there used to be a correlation to a dollar value for snack credits but I’ve seen snacks that are anywhere from $5-8!

What about two credit dining options?

Several Disney table service restaurants require 2 credits on Disney’s Dining Plan. These are listed as “dinner shows” or “signature dining” when searching for dining options. These include:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table

    Cinderella's Royal Table is one of Disney's most popular restaurants

    Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of Disney’s most popular restaurants

  • Le Cellier
  • Monsieur Paul
  • Hollywood Brown Derby
  • Jiko
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse
  • California Grill
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
  • Mickey’s Backyard BBQ
  • Citricos
  • Narcoosee’s
  • Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
  • Artist Point
  • Fulton’s Crab House (becoming Paddlefish in Late 2016)
  • Flying Fish
  • The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe

As always, this is subject to change and up to Disney’s discretion!

What about tipping?

All table service restaurants do require gratuity. This includes buffet restaurants. This is NOT optional as your servers are providing you a service. The exception are the dinner shows and Cinderella’s Table which have gratuity included in the price of the experience.

Should I add the dining plan to my package reservation?

Generally yes! Most families benefit from one of Disney’s dining plans. You have a lot of food but it doesn’t limit your options/choice in terms of menu items.  Disney says you can save up to 15% on your food by choosing the dining plan. Out of pure curiosity, I kept all of my receipts from a recent trip and we came out ahead after we used all of our dining credits!

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2017 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!w!

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Planning your September 2016 Disney World vacation

 

Are you looking to travel to Disney World in September of 2016? This guide is specifically designed for you! It’s all about the month of September and what you need to know!

The rest of the year is coming soon. (See already completed January 2016, February 2016, March 2016. April 2016, May 2016, June 2016, July 2016, August 2016)

September brings the return of value season at Disney. Crowds are the lowest at any point of the year at the beginning of September and then slowly begin to build throughout the month. Looking specifically at crowds, this is the absolutely best month to go to Disney World as rarely do crowds get over a 3 or 4 out of 10 each day. In 2015, there was a bit of a shift and increase in crowd over previous years trends. Many experts believe that this was a fluke year. Toward the end of the month, you may see an increase in crowds with many school systems going to a week long fall break (and with all school breaks come guests flocking to WDW!)

September  weather in Disney World

According to Weather.com the average high in the month of September is 90 and the low is 72/  Be sure to check your favorite weather app prior to your departure to confirm actual temperatures before you pack. Stay hydrated during hot days! Make sure you pack your sunscreen, take frequent breaks, and take advantage of your resort’s pool. This is also the beginning of fall hurricane season. If you are planning on traveling, adding the optional travel insurance might be a good option! Plan on rain during your stay. It’s often a welcomed feeling given the high temps.

Choosing Your Travel Dates

Below is the predicted crowd calendar for September 2016. Not bad in comparison to many other months. The most green you will see in any month throughout the year.

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

Disney World Special offers for September

Early fall offers are typically released on mid or late Spring (think late April or early May!) I’ll be back to update as more information becomes available!

Free dining is something on everyone’s mind. To get my take if free dining will happen and to be notified of any future promotional offer, visit Free Dining 2016!

Refurbishment

  • Wilderness Lodge & Villas at Wilderness Lodge refurbishment (large scale changes similar to 2014-2016 Polynesian refurbishment)
  • Flying Fish Cafe (through Sept 30)

When to book dining

Disney allows their resort guests to book dining reservations for their entire trip 180 days from their arrival, a benefit that will give you a leg up to get some of those hard to make reservations. If you don’t have a reservation or are staying off site, you can make any dining reservation 180 days prior to your arrival, but don’t expect some of the best places to have prime time offerings! Click the chart below to enlarge to see what your magic number is.

(Click to Enlarge)

(Click to Enlarge)

Cost

So how much will it cost a family of 4 to travel to Disney World in September 2016?

The Smith family wants a fun an inexpensive vacation and are planning 7 days and 6 nights at a value resort. I suggested Pop Century since it’s most centrally located among the value resorts. They are taking mom, dad, Susie – 13 and Jenny – 9 on their first vacation! They have decided on 5 days of base tickets to really focus on one park each day and to save a little bit of money and will pay for meals out of pocket and bring some snacks with as well, so no dining plan. $2081.10

The Jones family wants a moderately priced vacation and are also planning 7 days and 6 nights, but they want to stay at a moderate resort. Their two daughters love Disney princesses so they are considering an upgrade to a royal guest room. They are also going to do 5 days of base tickets but are considering the upgrade to park hoppers to see more with their time. If the Jones family chooses the least expensive package options, their moderate vacation would cost them $2692.00. If they added park hoppers to their tickets, their vacation would cost them $2964.64. And if they wanted to upgrade to a royal room, their vacation would cost them $4203.52

The Howell family wants to go all out for their two children’s first Disney World vacation and stay in a deluxe resort for 7 days and 6 nights. They definitely want park hoppers to see everything and they are considering the dining plan. Their preferred resort is Wilderness Lodge but with the construction scheduled for all of 2016 (and through part of 2017), they want to try out the newly renovated Polynesian resort to have access to Magic Kingdom and Epcot. With 5 days of park hoppers, their vacation would cost them $4680.24 If they did elect to add the dining plan, their vacation would cost them $5919.12.

Remember, these are all non-discounted prices, so there is some potential to fit in more magic at a lower cost!

The bottom line

September is some of the most off peak time you can travel to Disney World!  A family of 4  can have very reasonably priced vacation and enjoy some of the summer-like activities like Water Parks, Disney’s Pools, and clear skies!

Start planning your September 2016 vacation

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free cruise opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Disney’s Dining Plan for First Timers

Disney's dining plan for first timers

Disney’s dining plan – something that I think is useful in some way, shape, or form to nearly every family who travels to Disney. There are a few exceptions to every rule, but truly without any of Disney’s dining plans, how are you going to eat? 

What are these exceptions? Family members with extremely limited diets due to medical restrictions (i.e. need to cook my own meals or else…) and potentially those that are staying in a 1 or 2 bedroom villas and have the ability to truly cook their own food. Disney fits the mold of everything else. Have picky eaters? No problem – Disney totally understands picky kids and adults, so there’s something for everyone if you know where to look (and we can plan together to find the best option for your crew). I think I’ve truly dealt with it all. Food allergies? Again, no problem! Disney has equipped kitchens (even with buffet style meals) to help accommodate all sorts of allergies. Even if there are multiple allergies or truly limited options, a chef will come to your table and get a sense of what you or your family member can eat and make sure it’s prepared in a safe, allergy free manner. I’ve been truly impressed with all Disney has done for guests with allergies (going beyond the simple gluten and peanuts!)

First, how does the dining plan work?

Each guest receives credits for their length of stay (breakdown below) – you cannot pick and choose dates or people in a room to have a dining plan. It’s all or nothing.  Guests age 3-9 will receive child credits while guests 10+ will receive adult credits. Your tiny guests under age 3 will be free, but will have to share from another guest’s plate. If you are choosing a buffet style meal, he or she may have a plate of food at no cost (because truly that’s what sharing is at a buffet!)

Your credits are issued to you at the time of check in and can be used in any way, shape, or form you wish. If you’d like to use all of your snack credits in one day (say during Food & Wine Festival in the fall), you may do so. If you choose to add 2 table service dining credits together to use toward a dinner show or Cinderella’s Table and then just eat quick service the following day, that’s perfectly ok as well! There’s no “per day” usage requirements, so the plan truly is flexible. The only “rule”, I have is USE ALL OF  YOUR CREDITS!!

In addition to your credits, each of your guests age 3+ will receive a refillable mug which can be used at any of Disney’s resorts (not inside the theme parks – but still useful to bring 1 to split soft drinks or use as a water cup). The refill stations at the resort include Coca Cola products, blue PowerAde, Coffee, Iced Tea, water, and hot chocolate. There’s a mug rinse sink as well but we bring a small container of dish soap because coffee followed by diet coke does not taste very good!

Next, what Disney dining plan is for you (since we’ve established, that it’s for almost everybody!)

  • Quick Service Dining Plan – This plan offers guests 2 quick service credits plus 1 snack credit per person per night of pecosbillstay. This is a good option for families that aren’t interested in sitting down to meals or those with extremely picky palates (especially if the picky palates are over age 10 as there are less options to choose at sit down meals for the “big” kids). While you receive 2 meals per day, there are ways to stretch your credits to feed yourselves for a full day – sharing a breakfast and lunch quick service is a good start (or using your snack at breakfast time and bringing a few snacks from home at the park). There are several options inside the theme parks that have very large portion sizes which can be shared between 2 adults.
  • Disney Dining Plan – This plan offers guests with 1 table service credit, 1 quick service credit, and 1 snack credit per person per night of stay. This plan is best for those that want a taste of some of the 80+ table service restaurants but don’t want to sit down to most (or every) meal. You have the option to couple your table service credits together for dinner shows or signature dining (the best of the best in steak and seafood). You can also redeem your table service credits for character dining. For families with at least 1 child under the age of 10 and interested in at least 2 character dining experiences, this is truly worth its while. I know it seems like a bit out of pocket expense, but it’s difficult to only spend $20 per day on a child’s food in the absence of a dining plan. Plus, a dinner at Chef Mickey’s is over $40 per adult and a dinner at Ohana (which is one of our favorites) is just under $100 for a party of 2 adults. Knowing WHERE to dine is how to make this well worth its while, and doing the math on paper with what is included in your plan, makes true dollars and cents!
  • Deluxe Dining Plan – If you need 3 meals each day, or you are a family that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, this is the plan for you! If you’ve got any “foodies”, this is also the plan for you. This plan offers 3 meal credits per day (and can be used in a mix of quick service and table service at your preference). You also receive 2 snack credits per person per night of stay. Those that feel most successful with this plan often plan 2 table service meals and use snack and quick service meals to “fill in”. Lunch and dinner on this plan come with an appetizer, entree, and dessert per person so it’s a lot of food but a great way to try new things and great for the adventurous people (or great for those that want a ton of character dining)! I’d never shy anyone away from deluxe dining, but would hesitate to schedule every single dining credit ahead of time (as many people end up cancelling a few along the way because they are just too full to eat 3 full meals per day – at least in my family that’s how it goes!)
  • Platinum Dining Plan – This plan is for families who want to PLAY and DINE! You receive all of the accompaniments of the deluxe dining plan plus additional water sports and activities. This plan is less about the park time and more about everything else and is most geared toward adults and older children. You cannot use this dining plan under any promotional rates, but it’s a great way to do some of the lesser known Disney experiences if you’re not a “theme park” person! 

What do my credits include? 

Disney’s dining credits are not just an entree, it’s much more!

Under the quick service plan & the Disney dining plan, your table service and quick service meals include an entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage per person. At some locations, you can get an “upgraded” beverage besides lemonade, iced tea, or coke products. If you choose breakfast for any of your credits, you will not receive a dessert (just entree and beverage). 

Under the deluxe and platinum dining plans, you receive an appetizer, entree, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage per person at lunch and dinner. Breakfast again does not include a dessert and on this plan; no appetizer either!

Any table service credit can be exchanged for a buffet meal which includes “all you can eat” and at least one beverage (as big fans of a few breakfast locations, you can get coffee and their delightful POG juice) which are both included. If you want coffee with your dessert, ask your sever if you can do coffee as your beverage and just order water with your meal or if the restaurant will allow both. 

Quick service credits are much more than just burgers and fries. You can find BBQ ribs, lobster roll, fish and chips, tacos, stir IMG_4418fry, and much more if you know where to look! For the picky eaters, you are able to find the basics, but try to go beyond it if you can because there are truly some unique and tasty options around Walt Disney World!

Snack credits are a really relative term. A snack can be a piece of fresh fruit, a pre-packaged drink like juice, milk or bottled water, but can also be used for caramel apples, gourmet cookies and cupcakes, pastries, and sometimes real “food” during Flower & Garden and Food & Wine Festival in Epcot. We can make a day out of snack credits and be completely full without every touching a quick service or table service credits during these events. You can receive sampler platters of tacos, sandwiches, and more under the “cost” of a snack credit. It’s truly a great value with some items holding an out of pocket cost of $6 or more!

But we’re not dessert eaters…

For the non-dessert eaters of the world like my brother in law (seriously, I don’t get it), there is an option for you. You can exchange your dessert portion of quick service or table service credits for something that is a snack credit. These are easy to ascertain at quick service dining locations as they are labeled, but please ask your cast member if you can sub in a cup of soup or a salad at your table service meals in lieu of dessert. This is NEW for 2016, and something I’m really excited about so the non-dessert eaters of the world are not just stocking up on bottled water!

How do I keep track of all of this?

Disney makes it easy and you have a few ways to track your dining credits – after you use a credit, the bottom of your receipt will show your remaining credits in that category (and the cashier will often verbally tell you the amount as well). If you are trying to get an overall view of the details, stop by your resort’s concierge desk and ask for a printout. It will give you an up to the moment review of all of your remaining credits for your trip and if you feel like something is incorrect, you may ask for a more detailed review of what has been used where!

I truly hope this makes you more comfortable with Disney’s dining plan. It’s a money saver and advantageous for about 99% of families! I hope it’s something you’ll consider for your next vacation.

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Interested in experiencing either a Disney World vacation in 2016?  Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

 

40 of the Best Walt Disney World Dining tips!

wdwdiningtips

There is so much available for your Disney World vacation and even so many information on my blog alone! Today, I’m dedicating information to Disney dining tips. These are tips that can be seen in the 200+ posts both Dawn and I have compiled over the last 2+ years. This is the most up to date information I have available to you and I’m confident these tips will help you on your Disney World adventure!

In no particular order…
1. Research, research, research! The more you know, the better your trip!

2. If cost is an issue, know when the best deals are and try and find a set of travel dates that have dining or package promotions to help you save a few dollars. Be flexible in resorts to be included in the promotional rates!

3. STAY ON PROPERTY! It’s the only way you can a dining plan which can save you up to 15% on food costs!

4. Think about using a travel agent. We know how to get the best discounts, when discounts come out, and are actively looking to save you time and money! Plus, we are FREE to work with!!!

5. Think about your budget. Now think about adding about 20% more to it to make it a more reasonable number for Disney. You can definitely do Disney on the cheap, but if you’re thinking about cost the whole time, it makes it less fun for the adults!

6. Look into the dining plan and what it includes. See if it’s for you (or how you can get it for free!)

7. Make sure Disney knows about any celebrations during your stay! You’ll get a few freebies and some recognition as well. At dining locations, you may receive a free dessert to celebrate!

8. Children under 3 are free in Disney. If you’re thinking about a vacation before or after your child turns 3, you’ll likely save at least $300 if you go when they’re 2! This includes dining! It’s HUGE in terms of cost savings, especially if you are thinking about dining at any character locations!

9. Similarly, Disney considers 10 year olds Disney adults. That means there’s a price break between 9 and 10. Park tickets don’t make a huge difference, but dining does!

10. Plan for a day off. Disney can get exhausting. Make sure you take a break during your trip. It’s a great day to get in a long meal outside of a park like a dinner show, signature dining, or a leisurely character breakfast!

11. Plan at least one table service dinner. Even if you’re not on the dining plan, it’s a good experience!

12. Try new food! You’re on vacation. Don’t be afraid to book a unique restaurant or menu item (especially on the dining plan!)

13. Ask your server for suggestions. They’ll give you a good opinion or at least tell you the most popular menu items.

14. Save room for dessert! There’s some awesome options on all the menus.

15. Don’t be afraid to book dining at a resort. While it takes a bit longer in terms of transportation,
some of the best dining locations are outside of the theme parks! PLUS, you don’t need a park ticket!

16. Bring snacks to the park. You can also bring your own water bottles. Anything except glass and alcohol is allowed into the parks! If you have a place to store it or are fine carrying it, you’ll save a ton of money!

17. Share meals. Share meals! Seriously. For quick service/counter service meals, start with one meal for every 2 people. You can always go back and get another or one or get a snack to share. Don’t throw away the expensive food!!! Look at appetizers and meals to share for table service meals. If you made a reservation and you’re not that hungry, don’t be afraid to share a meal. The only place you can’t share are buffet meals. Via Napoli does not allow sharing on the dining plan, but you can share if paying out of pocket.

18. Even if you’re not using a dining plan, purchase at last one refillable mug. You  may share (just be aware that with the chips inside the mugs, you can only refill every few minutes). It’s still a worthwhile way to save money for soda and coffee drinkers!

19. Bring your refillable mugs to the parks! While you can’t officially refill them, it’s a great way to share one of the large fountain drinks from counter service meals. You can also fill them with water from the water fountains or ask for some free ice water at any counter service (a word of warning that Orlando water doesn’t taste the greatest!)

20. Download the My Disney Experience app to your smart phone. If you’re looking for a last minute dining reservation, keep checking while you’re in line for attractions. People tend to cancel some big ticket items 1-2 days before the experience so they don’t get charged the cancellation/no show fee. We’ve gotten some great reservations on short notice!

21. Use pre-park opening reservations to your advantage! Most character breakfasts inside the park allow you to enter the park up to an hour early so you can enjoy your character time without missing the best park time (as the first 3 hours before the park opens are the best in terms of crowds)

22. Take a break for lunch outside the park! Whether it’s quick service or a sit down meal, it’s nice to be out of the hustle and  bustle for an hour or two!

23. Be aware of Extra Magic Hours. Late hours at Epcot offer you additional dining options and early hours will take away your pre-park opening dining reservations! 

24. Fall brings some early park closures to the general public for special events. Check the park hours on Disney’s website for days that close early due to special events. Disney did offer the opportunity to book dining during these special events with a party ticket in 2015!

25. Make your dining reservations as soon as possible. This has become extremely competitive in the last 2-3 years. Resort guests can make reservations 180 days in advance (this is for your entire vacation, not just one day). If you don’t have a resort reservation, you can make reservations 180 days in advance (but you’ll have to do it each day).

 

26. If you’re booking inside 180 days from your arrival, consider adding park hopper tickets to your package – it will allow you to flexibility to come and go as you please and open up additional options to find dining reservations you may not have been able to grab!

27. Explore the new dining options in Disney Springs. It seems like new options open up every IMG_8759couple of weeks. There are some amazing signature dining options and more on the way! I can’t wait to try them!

28. Don’t try and do too much. Don’t plan every second of every day. 3 Dining reservations every single day of a 6-7 day trip is probably too much!

29. Really enjoy each country of World Showcase in Epcot. They are really interesting and intricate. Try snacking around the world and sharing different things from each country!

30. Watch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from different vantage points while dining – California Grill, Ohana, Narcoosees!

31. Be cautious before booking a dining reservation the night you arrive. Flights get delayed, things happen.

32. Try a character meal! Even if you are dining as adults, it’s fun to watch kids faces light up.

33. Eat at off peak times. You’ll definitely be able to tell peak lunch and dinner times by the amount the crowds dwindle. If you can take advantage of that, you’ll get more for your time.

34. Stop and enjoy the cupcakes.

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35. Disney buses run until the last guest is out of the parks. You won’t get left behind! So if you book the last dining reservation before the park closes, you’ll still be allowed to dine and have a way to to get back home!

36. Eat a decent breakfast. Even if you plan on enjoying some food at the parks, don’t go on an empty stomach and then get lost in running from ride to ride. Whether that’s a scheduled meal inside the park or grabbing food at your resort, fill your belly!

37. Pack some simple breakfast foods in your luggage. Pop Tarts and granola bars are easy grab and go things to get you to the parks early!

38. Think about club level service. Breakfast, snacks, hot and cold appetizers, happy hour drinks for adults, desserts, and after dinner cordials. It won’t be all of your meals, but we were able to keep full throughout our stay. They will fill your water bottles for free too. We LOVE club level service!!

39. Enjoy Club Cool in Epcot. Get a free beverage and try the different flavors of Coke around the world!

40. Think about a dinner show! Disney has 3 on property and they’ll all really fun! Two credits on the dining plan or a decent out of pocket charge, but it’s a great way to take a nice long break!

Whew! Did I forget anything important?

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!

Disney Springs New Boathouse Restaurant


IMG_8759The old Downtown Disney is slowly turning into Disney Springs.  As a veteran of West Side and the Marketplace, I must admit that I was a little sad with all the changes. (I still long for the Adventure’s and Comedy clubs) However, I do like the new additions with the smart tech parking decks (see last post) to the great new dining options.

IMG_8762One new options is the new Boathouse Restaurant which offers upscale, waterfront dining.  The atmosphere is nicely nautical from regattas trophies, boat motors everywhere, and phenomenal artwork throughout.  Disney always has that attention to detail so make sure you walk around to soak it all in.  Hopefully you will be lucky enough to get to dine in one of the “boats” – how fun!!  If not, then no worries since every seat has a great view of the water.  I personally like the outside, dining area- if the weather will cooperate.IMG_8763 2

The menu made it hard to choose from all the great choices and a bit pricey however, the meals are good size so you are able to share many dishes.  My sister and I halved the Stuffed Crab BLT sandwich which was a special for the day and it was incredible.  It got two thumbs up from her as well who knows her crabs being from Annapolis!  I can’t wait to go back for the surf n turf!IMG_8761 2

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The best “show” is outside of the restaurant which is the new Amphicar which is a car AND a boat!  You can experience your own cruise experience with a guided captain for a 25 minute boat tour of Downtown Disney as it floats on the water.  The aqua-car has seating for four with the price tag of $125 and you can purchase the tickets in the gift shop.  We stood for a while and watched the Captain drive a family into the lake with a splash.  It was fun to cheer them on from the shore as they floated away from the dock.  I believe that this is the only place in the world to ride in these great vintage vehicles so don’t miss seeing it while around Disney Springs!

Lastly, do not forget the gift shop. I have to mention the ducks.  Yes, I said ducks.  They are in every “theme” you can think of and only $20.  My kids LOVED the ducks and they were fun to see all the many different ones to choose from.

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If you are ready to eat at the new Downtown Disney/Disney Springs restaurants or float away in the Amphicar then: Please contact me at any time for a free quote or use the form below. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, please feel free to use the contact form below.

Friday Five: 5 Restaurants in Epcot that are worth your money!

For today’s Friday 5, we’re going to Epcot! It’s a park that families with young children often overlook and adults love. When many people think of Epcot they think of World Showcase and not about everything the park has to offer (perhaps a topic for another Friday 5 in the future). Both inside and outside World Showcase there are some fantastic culinary delights. Today, we explore 5 of my favorites that are worth your money whether using a dining plan or paying out of pocket.

1. Via Napoli. Anyone that knows me or anyone that has booked a vacation with me knows that this is my favorite Epcot restaurant, so no surprise it’s on the top of my list. Pizza, pasta, what’s not to love? This Italian girl hasn’t found anything on the menu she doesn’t like! Both on and off the dining plan, this location offers a great value. When using dining plan credits, you may not share pizzas from the menu, off, you may. We often go here and have an appetizer, share a pizza, and get some delightful sangria. It often has leftovers available for breakfast the following morning (don’t judge – I’m on vacation

2. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Of any restaurant throughout Disney World, this is the best value for dining credits (at dinner). Breakfast and lunch value is also in the top 10. The biggest draw isn’t the food, it’s the princesses! The experience is similar to Cinderella’s Royal Table without the added expense, pre-payment, or the 2 credits on the dining plan. You’ll see a similar set of princesses here but the experience is a bit more unique at Cindy’s. The menu here is a bit unique. There are some authentic Norwegian dishes available for all 3 meals of the day. If you want your princess fix but have picky kids (or adults), try breakfast. Be aware that it’s a hike from the main entrance of Epcot!

3. Garden Grill. This location gets a nod because it is unique! Located in the land pavilion, you sit in a rotating dining area as servers bring your family style meal to you. The food is good, the characters (Chip n Dale) are fun and  some of the food is locally sourced from Epcot’s gardens. Cool, right? Disney agrees with me as they just expanded service from dinner only to breakfast, lunch, and dinner beginning in early November! This means you can potentially grab a reservation before the park opens to have a character meal and still enjoy low lines. It’s a great way to enjoy Soarin’ standby after your meal and still have a FastPass for Test Track (hint, hint!)

4. Coral Reef. This is a great location for the visual aspect. Many say the food can be hit or miss and I agree. Built around the world’s largest inland salt water aquarium/tank, it’s a great place for families with kids who like to stay busy. There is all sorts of visual stimulation without having too much noise inside the restaurant. Again, check the menu! Lots of seafood options here but some good non-seafood choices as well. Portions are large enough to share here. Sharing is allowed between adult and child, child and child, and adult and adult depending on your level of hunger! Stretch those dining credits!

5. San Angel Inn. The last choice is hard! I thought Le Cellier, Teppan Edo, Chefs de France, but I’m only allowed 5, so Mexican wins the race for now. San Angel Inn is another great “Share a meal” destination. We typically share an appetizer and entree here and skip the dessert. The chips and salsa they bring out is a great filler. I personally prefer the lunch menu over dinner (and the cost fits a little nicer as well). On the dining plan, consider the prix fixe menu to stretch your credit a bit further – you’ll get an appetizer, entree, and dessert (so the appetizer is a bit of a bonus). Enjoy the surroundings here as well while boats go by from the Grand Fiesta tour attraction. Ask nicely to sit by the water when you arrive.

What are your favorite Epcot restaurants? Did I miss something you truly enjoy? I’d love to hear about your favorites in Epcot!

Friday Five: 5 things you should know about bouceback offers

So your bags are packed and you’re ready to head to Disney World. Any last minute words of advice? YES! If you know you’re headed back for another Disney World vacation in the next year-ish, think about a bouceback offer! These offers are especially for guests already staying in Disney World resorts (hey, that’s not fair to us off site guests? Too bad. Stay on site – you lose a lot by staying off site already!)

1. Bounceback offers are for certain dates and vary by season. There is a FREE Dining bouceback offer for guests traveling through October 31st (post date: July 31, 2015). There are a few spring travel dates and early fall (late August – October 1 2016). This year’s stipulation is that you must have park hopper tickets. Most recently, the bouceback offer has been a room discount.

2. Bounceback offers are typically better than general public offers. Cost savings on room rates is often 35% on deluxe resorts vs. the standard 25-30% offered to the general public.

3. Bounceback offers must be booked before your departure/check out of your resort by calling an extension from your room.

4. Bounceback offers require a $200 deposit. You may change your party size, travel dates, and other pieces of the puzzle as time goes on (based on room availability). This is similar to any Disney package.

5. Bounceback offers CAN be transferred to your favorite authorized Disney travel planner, so if you have one you love (we thank you), just ask! We can steer you to the proper paperwork to get things completed and transferred so you don’t have to worry about making your own dining reservations or FastPass selections (or organizing your trip at all).

The offers can be found in the BE OUR GUESTBOOK in your room. If someone snagged one from your room and you don’t see it, ask how to get offer details!

Have a great time on your Disney World vacation and remember that a lot of advanced planning can get you a lot of money saved!!