I am so excited to have a guest post from Becky from Disney In You Day! She has tons of awesome Disney advice on her blog!
How to get the most bang for your buck on the Dining Plan
There is some debate between Disney fans about whether or not the dining plan is a “good value.” I’ve always really liked the dining plan because I think if you use it right you can save a lot of money – as well as have the convenience of budgeting for your food ahead of time and knowing just how much money you’ll spend on meals.
I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of budgeting for food. Like many theme parks, Disney food prices are usually a bit higher than you would expect to pay for something out in the “real world,” and it can add up quickly. With the dining plan you pay one set price and you pay it ahead of time, so you know how much of your vacation money will go towards eating.
Whether you’ve chosen to pay for the dining plan or you happened to get in on it when they were offering free dining, you can still make sure you’re getting your money’s worth by eating at the restaurants where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Here’s my take on which places offer the best value:
Be Our Guest (Lunch or Breakfast) Quick service breakfast at Be Our Guest has a variety of options, all available for a whopping $24 including drink. A majority of the lunch entrees cost around $15.99 or $16.99, plus around $3 for a beverage.
Columbia Harbour House Here you’ll find a $14 Lobster Roll and a $14 grilled salmon entrée.
Cosmic Ray’s A BBQ pork bacon cheeseburger is up to $15, as well as a ½ chicken and pulled pork combo for $16. Even a basic chicken nuggets meal will cost you $11 (before drink).
Electric Umbrella The French Dip Burger Combo (which comes with the burger, 2 sides, and a drink all included in the price) is around $20.
Fairfax Fare If you’re a fan of ribs this is a great option. You can get a ½ rack of ribs for $13.50, or you can even get the chicken and ribs for $17.
Flame Tree Barbecue Go for the ribs, chicken, and pulled pork sampler for $20 and you’ve got yourself a great deal. Any of the meals or combos here that include ribs will be a great savings.
Boma – Flavors of Africa With the buffet now at around $43 per adult, your table service credit will go pretty far here.
Ohana An all you can eat family style meal here is $42 per adult, so you’ll see similar savings to the meal at Boma.
Be Our Guest Several entrees are over $30, desserts are $5, and by the time you add in a drink you could be looking at spending around $43.
Chef Mickey’s The breakfast buffet is around $40 per adult, but dinner comes in at $50 and is still only 1 table service credit – that’s a great value!
Akershus If you’re looking for a meal where you can meet the princesses it’s going to be pricey, but Akershus is an amazing value. It’s only 1 table service credit (compared to the 2 credits you’d have to spend to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table). Out of pocket breakfast is $45, lunch is $50, and dinner is $58.
While you can get things like a soda, coffee, or ice cream bar on the dining plan, you’ll find your best value if you go for more of the specialty items. Things in the bakeries like large cupcakes, which can cost $5-6 each!
Let’s take a look at an example to see the savings! The Disney Dining plan includes 1 quick service meal, 1 table service meal, and 2 snacks per person per night and it costs $67 per adult (in 2017) including tax.
Lunch at Be Our Guest – $20 plus tax Dinner at Akershus – $58 plus tax 2 snacks @ $5 each – $10 plus tax
Total: Approximately $95 Savings from using Dining plan: $28 per adult
Lunch at Flame Tree Barbecue: $23 plus tax Dinner at Boma – $42 plus tax 2 snacks @ $5 each – $10 plus tax
Total: Approximately $80 Savings from using dining plan: $17 per adult
I find that the dining plan is a great way to save money, but if you plan on doing character meals or some of the more expensive places (or if you like the more expensive entrees like steak and ribs!) then you can really save a ton of money by hitting up these places!
Find more resources to help you plan a Disney trip, as well as other fun Disney posts, over at Disneyinyourday.com!