Walt Disney World introduced prepaid dining plans several years ago, which means ever since Disney experts have been trying to figure out whether they’re worth the price, where to eat to maximize the value, and when you should take the room discount rather than the free dining promotion. To make things even more complicated, Disney changes the plans up every year or so. I’m not going to weigh in on if a dining plan is right for you; my best advice is to do the math and consider how the plan fits your travel style. My family often opts for the plan, and one reason is that it makes splitting the bill in a large group much easier, and we don’t have to worry as much about who’s paying for whose meal.
Let’s say you decide to get the Quick-Service Dining Plan. In the 2012 version, that means you get two quick-service meals and one snack per night of your stay, plus a refillable mug (for refills only at your hotel). If you use a quick-service meal credit at breakfast, you get one entree and one beverage. If you use it at lunch or dinner, you get an entree, a beverage, and a dessert. (For more details on the plan, see this PDF.)
Now, if you’re like me, you don’t usually order dessert with every meal, but it’s included with the plan. At first, that’s fantastic, and then you realize that many dining locations have the same three or four desserts: carrot cake, chocolate cake, strawberry yogurt, and sometimes a no-sugar-added brownie. That gets pretty boring after a few days.
You don’t have to resign yourself to that fate, however. You can get some more interesting things with the Quick-Service Dining Plan than you might realize. For example, last October, during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, my roommate and I used all of our snack credits at the festival kiosks, but we still had some quick-service meals to use up. I went to Boulangerie Patisserie in France and got a ham-and-cheese sandwich for my entree and, more importantly, a strawberry tart for dessert. That was much better than a little chocolate cake!
But here is the score that I am most proud of:
We got everything on this tray for two quick-service meal credits from Main Street Bakery. We got iced coffees for our beverages and deli sandwiches for our entrees. But the most amazing part is our desserts. They counted an ice cream cookie sandwich as one dessert! Can you believe it? That means for our other dessert we got a frosted sugar cookie for later. Now, maybe they weren’t supposed to do that, so your experience may vary, but it’s worth a shot!
So, when you’re sick of carrot cake, try eating somewhere (like a bakery) that’s known for desserts. You may have a cold sandwich instead of a hot one, but after a while it’s nice to have a break from hamburgers anyway.
Does anyone else have tips for avoiding boredom on the Quick-Service Dining Plan?