Promotions like Stay, Play and Dine (which was released to the general public on October 9, 2014) and Free Dining can make a trip to Walt Disney World an affordable reality for your family. At Disney children under 3 are free – they don’t pay park admission, and they are not counted toward room occupancy. However, it also means they are not eligible for a dining plan, even if you wanted to pay full price for it.
As a family of three, two adults and a two-year-old, we are very excited for our trip during the Stay, Play, and Dine promotion in early 2015. I wanted to make sure I fully researched how we could best stretch the dining plan to also accommodate our toddler. I came up with some great tips for keeping your child under 3 fed without spending a lot of extra money on food!
1. My number one piece of advice is to use your Table Service credits at buffets and all-you-care-to-enjoy (family-style) restaurants. Children under 3 can eat off of an adult’s plate at all of those places free of charge. And you don’t have to take that literally – you can get them their own plate of foods they would like, including those from the children’s items. A children’s drink is also included at no additional cost. There are so many wonderful options when selecting buffets or all-you-care-to-enjoy places. Some of my favorites include Garden Grill, Chef Mickey’s, Hollywood & Vine Play and Dine, and ‘Ohana.
2. For Quick Service options looking for meals that are big enough to share. As with Table Service resturants, children under 3 can share from your plate. Some meals at WDW are big enough for my husband and I to share, so sharing with a toddler is easy! Some of my favorites include the Ribs and Chicken Combo at Flame Tree BBQ (Animal Kingdom), the 1/2 Slab of Spare Ribs at Fairfax Fare (Disney’s Hollywood Studios), Oak-grilled Rotisserie Chicken at Sunshine Seasons (Epcot), and the Deluxe Cheeseburger, plus topping bar at Pecos Bill’s (Magic Kindgom).
3. At Quick Service restaurants ask if you can have a yogurt for dessert instead of something sweet. 9 times out of 10 the Cast Member will accommodate your request. Now I know that yogurt probably isn’t enough to fill your child but it can help stretch a meal that you’re sharing. Please keep in mind if it is not considered a dessert the Cast Member does not have to make the substitution for you but asking doesn’t hurt.
4. Opt for heartier snack options for the whole family. I’m not saying to always pass on a Dole Whip or Mickey Bar but there are several snack options that can serve as a light meal for an adult so they should be more than enough for you toddler. Favorites include: Chicken Fried Rice at Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe (Animal Kingdom) and Croissant Jambon Fromage at Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles (Epcot).
5. Pack extra snacks. Now I know this isn’t exactly using your meal plan, but keeping granola bars, cheese sticks or crackers on hand is a cheap was to keep your little one’s satisfied during your days at the Parks.
6. If you do decided to purchase a meal for your child out of pocket, the Power Pack option (yogurt, crackers, cereal bar, fruit and veggies plus a drink) at select Quick Service locations is a really great value! Plus if your little one doesn’t finish the whole meal it’s easy to bring the leftovers with you!
Do you have a tip for making the most out of the dining plan for the youngest visitors to Walt Disney World? Share them with our readers in the comments below!
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