Before we dive into this topic I’d like to add a disclaimer…… I love food! There I said it….
We booked our Disney part of the holiday way back in June 2016 because there were some great deals to be had if you booked so far in advance. One of the deals was the inclusion of a dining plan package. We did a bit of research at the time but in the end just went for it.
There are several different dining plans but the one that was included in our price was the ‘quick serve’ plan. This includes two self-serve meals and two snacks. We decided to upgrade and paid about £200 to get a table service meal and a quick serve meal instead of the two quick serve ones.
The research I had done back in 2016 about eating at Disney basically said don’t bother with the dining plan if you were a vegetarian. However, as we were only paying £20 a day for both of us I felt it was well worth it.
When you look into the information that is out there on the web about these plans they focus on value for money. The reason those sites say don’t do the dining plan if you are a vegetarian is based on the fact that most veggie options in the parks and hotel restaurants are so much cheaper than meaty ones, therefore if you have paid for the dining plan you may end up out of pocket. I just did a check and for 2018 the quick serve plan is $52 a day and the regular dining plan is $75 a day. Based on those figures you would be out of pocket if you paid full price for the plan and ate vegetarian food.
But for us, because it came as part of the holiday package and we only paid for the upgrade it was absolutely worth it.
When you book the dining plan with table service meals you are able to book those meals 180 days in advance! Crazy. But even though it seemed crazy I decided that when the 180 day mark came around I was going to book most of the table serve meals and I’m so glad I did.
Here are a few points to remember.
- Research. Gav and I are seasoned researchers. I always tell the story of us living on croissants and water during a trip in France twenty years ago as the seed that started off our planning in relation to food. To be honest France is not geared up to Vegetarian foods, it’s not in their culture and I have to say that many, many parts the America are the same. So the answer is to plan and research. The way I did my Disney planning was to look at each restaurant’s menu to determine that they were part of the plan scheme and to check there were vegetarian options. I made a note of all the ones I liked the look of ready for when I could book them.
- Ask the waiter/waitress if they have other vegetarian options available when arrive at the restaurant. We ate at eight different table service restaurants during our ten day stay. All but one gave us an extra choice of vegetarian main course when we asked. Also check out the childrens menu as there may be a simple pasta option on it that can be made up into an adult meal.
- As I mentioned above I booked the table serve meals 180 days (more or less) in advance of our trip. Having those meals plans sorted means that yes, you have to be at a certain location at a certain time but also that you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to eat in a busy and, usually, very hot theme park. It also gives you a framework to plan other aspects of your trip around which I found helpful. There is so much to do it can be overwhelming therefore having a basic plan set down is good.
- Expect to be very full up! I didn’t believe this would happen but oh my it did. Really even now I don’t want to think of another Brownie Fudge Sundae……
- Use your snacks wisely. One of the reasons we got rather full was because we picked a larger sized snack (so our own fault that we gained weight!) For example you could have a piece of fruit which counts as a snack or a great big Brownie Fudge Sundae… I also recommend finding the Dole Whip locations. If you’ve not had one and like pineapple they are worth seeking out.
- We were able to swap a quick serve meal for three snacks. This came in very handy when we discovered that Starbucks, located in all the parks allows the redemption of you dining plan credits. Good job we didn’t find that out until our final three days.
- Take away pizza is available for two table serve credits at some hotels. As you know we love pizza so having that option was a bouns for us and I would stay at a hotel with the delivery service again. We stayed at Caribbean Beach.
- Don’t limit yourself to eating only at your hotel. We of course had the car but even on the Disney transport it’s worth seeking out other restaurants. We ate at the Contemporary hotel twice. Both for breakfast buffets and they were very good value. Chef Mickeys has character dining too so perfect for a photo op with Mickey et al. Other favourites at the parks include Tony’s Town Square Restaurant at Magic Kingdom, Mama Melrose Italian Diner at Hollywood Studios, Chip and Dales Harvest Lunch at the Garden at Grill Epcot and the quick serve Deluxe Burger at Disney Springs.
I feel like this post is never ending…. There are lots of things to consider and I’ve only scratched the surface, but I was glad I planned it out.
Just for fun here are two actual days worth of food for me….. (don’t judge we were on our holidays!)
- Breakfast – Cereal with milk, cinnamon roll, banana (swapped quick serve meal for three snacks) Available from the hotel ‘markets’
- Late lunch – Tony’s Town Square restaurant (table serve meal)
- Breakfast – Chef Mickeys – buffet style (table service meal)
- Snack – Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae (snack)
- Early Dinner – Veggie Burger at Deluxe Burger (Quick serve meal), Fries (snack)
You can get the picture that I loved planning and then eating my way through all our dining plan credits I would consider doing this again even as a vegetarian.