Disney World Meal Plans

Updated on May 16, 2012
D.H. asks from Canton, OH
14 answers

My family is going to Disney World this year! We've planned it for a LONG time. My question is whether the meal plan is worth it? I have 2 kids. (6 and 4) One is a picky eater. Is the meal plan a good value? I've read about it in travel books and some say it's more food than anyone could ever eat. Therefore it wasn't a good value because they never would have ordered that much to begin with. Others say it's great. Would you get the meal plan again? Which plan and why? Thanks for your help.

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answers from Cleveland on

If you do not have a car or a kitchen and use everyhing it is worth it. We did the plan that was a meal, a snack and a counter meal. It was a lot of food for me. If you have a place with a kitchen and a car it may be cheaper to make food at the place and eat off property. And do a few places at Disney.

The biggest thing i would say if you are going and thinking about the plan is you should make table service reservations immediately. I would eat only where it costs one credit. Do not do any fancy dinners that cost two credits. Usually it's better to pay. But reservations open 180 days before. You can do those online. It can stink to plan so far in advance but it's better to have a reservation than not bc you don't want to be tired an walking around looking for food bc everthing has long lines or you can't get in.

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answers from Champaign on

We stayed off property and did not have a meal plan so I'm not sure how much I can help, but this is what we did.

We had a simple breakfast each day in the condo. Sometimes we made eggs or pancakes. We also had cereal. We packed a bag full of sandwiches, fruit, chips, cookies, bottled water. We too that into the park and just munched on something when we were hungry. I was happy with pbj, but my SIL had a cooler/bag that we put in one of the strollers that had cold cuts. She packed sandwiches, fruit, etc, and fruit snacks, other kid friendly snacks, juice boxes, etc.

Each night we went out to dinner. We did a princess dinner, but the other dinners were just at a restaurant. I really enjoyed eating out at the end of the day, because we were pretty tired. It was nice to have a relaxing dinner and then head back to the condo.

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answers from Houston on

Worth every penny, and honestly, more food than WE could eat. We had the 3 meals/2 snacks per person per day. 2 adults, 10yrold and 4 yr old. It was the convenience for us. You don't have to carry any extra 'food' bag or worry it you packed the right snack for the right kid.
The snack options range from healthy to cotton candy. So you can make good choices if that is a concern. It's all tied to your room card as well.
For example, the first place we ate at (it's like eating at a drive-in movie) the bill was around $130 for the four of us....
When we left the resort for the airport we had about 6 snacks left on our plan. We cashed those in took them to the airport with us, saved a little money there. Have fun!

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answers from Los Angeles on

It all depends on how economically well off you are. Bill Gates wouldn't think twice about spending the price of the meal plans.

On the other hand, if you are watching what you spend and this Disney trip is a BIG EXPENSE (!!!), then you can save a lot of money by bringing your own food to the park. You say you have one child that is a picky eater. The more you cater to the picky eater, the more expensive it is going to be.

We ate off the 99 cent menus at the local hamburger joints and taco joints. I got the sale ads from the local newspaper and asked the locals where to get the best deals. I bought fried chicken at the grocery stores and rotisserie chicken at Sam's. We took it to the park. We bought potato chips and dorito type chips at Walmart and where it was on sale. (Walmart matched prices too.) I bought souvineers at Walmart at their HUGE souvineer section. Walmart sold Disney souvineers for about half what Disney sold them for inside the park. We refilled water bottles and bought soda in cans at grocery stores.

As an example, we had a hamburger, a can of soda, a bottle of water, and chips for less than $2 a meal. In the park that was $8 plus tax.

Its your choice. We too our family of 10 (8 kids) and had a wonderful time, but didn't spend a bank's worth of money to go to Disney.

Good luck to you and yours.

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answers from Charlotte on

Having done this, D., the answer is not to use the meal plan. The worker's union made it so that you cannot put the tip onto the meal tab, so you end up feeling like you have to tip. The hardest part about it is that the evening meal includes all the extras - non-alcoholic drinks, appetizer, entre and dessert. And they will bring them even if you can't eat them! That jacks the final meal price up bigtime and that's even more of a 15% tip that you pay out of your pocket. If you had gone to a less expensive restaurant, you could have saved a lot of money and paid less tip.

With little kids, you will never get the value out of this anyway. Have a refrigerator in your hotel room and buy cereal and fruit and milk and eat breakfast in the room. (Little cartons of milk are very expensive at Disney - let them get their milk early in the morning in the hotel room.) Buy peanut butter and jelly and bread, make sandwiches and carry them in a cooler with water bottles, and more fruit. Granola bars are great for snacks too. Eat these at lunch. Then eat a decent dinner. You'll save a lot of money this way.

Have fun!


answers from Dallas on

Yes! Totally worth it! The character meals are one of my favorite parts of the trip. We just got back last week and I did a write up on my blog about the different meals. It might help you if you haven't been before.



answers from Miami on

The 4 year old eats free and the 6 year old has his own price which is less than yours. Are you driving down where you can stop at the grocery store? If yes then you do not need the meal plan just get a cooler some breakfast items and lunch meats. If you are flying yes get a version of the meal plan. You are not stuck with just one. One version gives one sit down meal, one commisery meal and one snack a day. The sit down mean does not need be dinner. Also you can double up the sitdown places for a fancier restuarant. There is a awesome buffet at the Cape May but its worth two sit down meals. So we usually take that one. Then a character breakfast. The snack is perfect for when at the park and you need an ice cream or a soda. Also remember you can eat at other resorts just take the bus to one park and switch for another. Your kids will probably like the dinner at the Timberland lodge they get the kids involved and they get to run around the room. They will love the big water thing. And you can eat there whether your staying at that resort or not. Just take the bus to Magic Kingdom and then the water taxi to the resort. The kids will love the water ride and the whole experience. Lots of rocks and water features. Also Chef Mickey. So its not a lot when you consider you can double up and make the most out of the plan



answers from Chicago on

We had the food plan that gives you one quick-service meal a day, one snack and one sit-down dinner. The sit-down dinner is a lot of food, but it's your main meal of the day. All the restaurants have a kid menu and they're really good about catering to kids' desires. For example, if the menu offers spaghetti, they'd give you plain noodles if you want.

I think I enjoyed having the dining plan because you didn't have to pay in the restaurant. The prices are high. I believe the bill for every sit-down meal we ate (family of five) was over $200. Whether it's a good value, I'm not sure, but it was nice not to have to be watching the prices while we on vacation.



answers from Chicago on

It is worth it. You can book character meals so it will not only save time on waiting in lines to see the characters but it is a nice break from the heat and the crowds.Do you have boys ,girls , one of each ? I would recommend Chef Mickeys with the 'fab five " Mickey,minnie,pluto ,goofy, and donald. Akershus at Epcot has a great princess breakfast.The Crystal Palace has Pooh,Tigger,Piglet and Eeyore.The Grand Floridian Has 1900 park fare Dinner with Cinderella and the wicked stepmother,stepsisters (it's one of our favorites).All of these are buffets so your "picky eater" will have lots to choose from . Go to allears.com Deb's unoffical guide to Disney and look at "the menus" . You will see what each restaurant offers.It lists the restaurants at the parks , hotels and downtown disney. It will help you decide the quick service restaurants to go to also.
By the way, when you get a mug to drink at your resort ( unlimited coffee,pop,tea,lemonade etc) make sure you don't use that as your drink at the resort quick service places. You can get a bottled water or juice to use for later . Also at quick service restaurants i ask for a glass of water (free) and order a pop or lemonade with my meal . Then you can fill up your water bottle .At Restaurantasuarus in Animal Kingdom, you can refill your drink so you have one to take with you . Also, the shrimp poorboy was delicious. Those are a couple of tricks to save from buying bottled water as your snack option . We save ours for Mickey mouse ice cream sandwiches and Aloha Isle pineapple ice cream =0) So, the dining plan is definitely worth it .It is part of the whole experience . Have a Magical Trip =0)



answers from Kansas City on

If you are wanting to go to the sit down places (which require reservations) then it really is a good deal. My boys are pretty picky and most places offered something they would eat. (You can check the menu on-line before making reservations.)

If you do go with the plan you can substitute an additional bottled water instead of a dessert at the counter resturants. You can use your snack credits for certain items at the gift shop of your Disney hotel if you like.

We went with the 1 sit down, 1 counter and 1 snack each day. PLENTY of food!!!

Have Fun.




answers from Elkhart on

Hi, my answer would be a big nope, this was just our experience ok, we went there about two years ago, I wondered the same, my daughter was and still is a picky eater.I did do the plan and in our case it was a big waste of money, first of all when you are there,you get so wrapped up in everything that time and schedual's are out the window,so to expect to sit and eat like you planned is not always an option,then you have places that you consider going to that seem really neat and when you get there they are so busy,unless you make reservations,then when you do they can be either forgotten or you can be running really late and they can't always hold your spot,we did do the meal plan like I said, but by the time shows were done and whatever else we did, by the end of the day we would always end up at a mcdonald's or something,the only up side to us doing that which really was not,was we were able to get into the dinner at cinderella's castle easier,and we had already basically paid for that through the plan, but in the long run when we came home,I felt like a big dummy, we could have saved fifteen hundred dollars and ate mcdonalds, also if you guys stay out late the restraunts close early some of them, so you should really think about it,sometimes it works for people and sometimes not it just depends on your situation hope this help's a little,by the way disney is so fun you at least will not regret going there, you might also want to consider Seaworld and maybe a side trip to the ocean that's what we did. LOVED IT!!!!!! have a fun and safe trip.



answers from Cleveland on

YES, I would get the meal plan every time. The food is very expensive (you can see the price of the meals as they ring up the items, and they then take the meal credits when they swipe your card). Usually, the cashiers would ring up a few things into one person's meal, so that did give us extra meals at the end. We ended up buying drinks and snacks for the flight home. I remember each meal ringing up to $40 or more (even breakfast) for two adults and two children. I couldn't imagine forking out that money every day, which was nice becuase the meal plan was paid for before the trip. ENJOY!!! Having the meals paid for before the trip is one thing off of your mind as you enjoy the magical adventure. We LOVE Disney.



answers from Cleveland on

We went last summer ~ a bunch of us ~ we ended up with 4 or 5 cabins at Fort Wilderness. Some got the meal plan, some didn't. I can say that the ones who did had WAY too much food. They took those of us who didn't get a meal plan out to dinner & still had tons of food, so some of us went out to breakfast the next morning. When they left, they still had food on their plan, money they couldn't get back. I know you're only allowed to eat at certain places & get certain types of food. I personally wouldn't get a meal plan. Although, we were lucky enough to stay at Fort Wilderness & were able to stop at a store (my sister & her family drove, the rest of us flew). She picked up a bunch of breakfast food, snacks, we ate some dinners in, etc. & split the bill. We have friends that went down a few years ago & bought a bunch of food (i.e. cereal, crackers, other dry foods) & shipped it down for when they were going. When they checked in, their package was waiting for them. Both ideas are a lot cheaper! Have fun!!



answers from Phoenix on

It all depends....

Do you want to have scheduled meals..somewhere to have to be at a certain time? Because sit down meals must be planned in advance.

Will your kids sit through at least an hour at every meal?

Do you plan on meeting a lot of characters? If so..then getting the dining plan with a sit down mean his totally worth it when you do lots of character dining.

Are you flying or driving? Staying on site? If flying and staying on site...it's so worth not having to bring any food with you or ordering from a grocier.

It was way worth it for us since it was free dining at the time....we flew...had a 2 year old that ate for free....we wanted to get all of our character meeting at meals and never had to wait in a line.

I would not ever pay for any plan but the one with quick service and sit down. And then you have to your meals accordingly to get the best deal.

Have fun!

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