You Think You Know…But You Have No Idea: Dish on the Dining Plan

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Have you ever had one of those, “huh?” moments?  You know the ones I’m talking about?  It’s a moment of enlightenment.  A moment where you learn something that will change your life FOREVER.  Okay, so that is a bit dramatic… but in my defense, these moments of revelation will forever change the way I vacation at Disney World!  Today we are taking a look at the Dining Plan (the free dining plan that is) because, friends, you think you know…but you have no idea.  Let’s dish on the dining!

Timing is EVERYTHING

So, if you have booked with free dining lately, you’ll know that there are only certain dates that qualify as free.  Did you know that there is a little (teeny) bit of wiggle room?  I had NO clue.  That was until a few months ago when I set to task making reservations.  After a few frustrating hours of finding NO open slots in reservations, I began to think that maybe we picked the wrong week.  No problem, I’ll just switch our dates.  But then a big problem hit me…part of the appeal of going when we did was that we could get free dining and still be in the parks for the Tower of Terror 10 Miler (which I am running!  YAY!).  So, with hope to find a solution to our reservation woes, I came across the BEST piece of information!  I found out that as long as you book to stay within the time frame that free dining is offered (meeting requirements) then you still get free dining. So, that meant that even though we check in on the last day of free dining because we are staying for a week we are covered!  Hooray!  So we changed our date and guess what…the reservations opened up!  Maybe other guests were in the dark on this delicious detail…maybe it was just a popular week.  Either way, I’ll take it!  Here I thought the dates meant the deal was over and I learned something new!  I thought I knew, but I had no idea!

Can I get an Upgrade?

If you have taken advantage of the free dining promotion, you’ll know that the dining offered to you is dependent upon your resort.  Value resorts get free quick service (2 counter service meals, 1 snack per day of stay, and a refillable resort mug) and if you stay in a moderate or deluxe resort you get the standard dining plan (1 counter service, 1 table service, 1 snack, and a resort refillable mug).  Did you know that you can upgrade to the next level plan by just paying the difference per day.  And, when that takes you from 2 quick service meals to a quick service and a table service per day that is a pretty good deal!  I remember learning this a few years ago.  My time in the world has not been the same since.  I thought I knew, but I had no idea!

Stay Requirements for Free Dining

Okay, so hold on to your keyboard.  Do you really  know how many nights/days are required to get free dining? For the longest time I thought it was 5 nights and 6 days (or more).  Okay, so here you go, did you know that the actual minimum requirement to qualify for free dining is 3 nights (maximum 14) and a minimum of 2 days/person Magic Your Way Base Ticket.  What?  All along, the site has had that 5 night/6 day thing…wait…that’s not the requirement?  That would have been nice to know.  I guess it is my own fault!  Learn my lesson now, read the fine print!  It was there for me all along! I thought I knew, but I had no idea!

Double up y’all

Did you know you can double up your table service credits to get special dining experiences.  For example, Cinderella’s Royal Table!  I love this kind of exchange because, I probably wouldn’t have tried it “out-of-pocket”.  While I found this one out on my first round with the free dining plan, I sure am glad I did!  The food was delicious and the experience was amazing!  I’m glad I found this out when I did…I thought I knew, but I had no idea!

No Credits Left Behind

So, if you have ever had the dining plan (especially the Disney Dining Plan or fancier) then your stomach knows the challenge you accept when earning free dining.  You are left to eat and eat and eat.  And, I’ll be the first to admit that after the first two meals, I sort of gave up.  Then I discovered the smart thing to do is to use those snack credits to purchase pastries (The Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom has yummy cinnamon rolls, brownies, and cupcakes!) and other goodies that could make the trek home with me!  What a great way to squeeze every last morsel out of free dining!  My stomach has decided that this is a much better route!  I thought I knew, but I had no idea!

I love these moments of epiphany!  I hope you might have discovered something new here today!  I will be back with more “ah-ha!” moments focusing on different Disney experiences!  All of this talking about food has me hungry.  Let’s have a little fun in the comment section!  Here is some food for thought:

If I was stranded in the parks, the first thing I would eat would be…

For more tips and ideas, check out my blog: Disney: Done Right!

See ya real soon!

Ashley


Chip and Co Past Writers and Friends
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