So for those who have never been on the Disney Dining plan, let me tell you that it is the BEST add on to your Disney vacation. We had never done it before as a cost saving measure, but I think we will do it from now on. The reason? We were never hungry. The dining plan included 1 table service, 1 quick service, and 1 snack per person/per day. We never had to worry about our meals, our snacks. If we were thirsty, we picked up a drink. If the turkey leg stand looked inviting, then we made a stop. It kind of helped keep the magic of the vacation oddly enough. Each table service and quick service meal included a non alcoholic beverage, an entree, and a dessert! We didn’t have to “worry” about the cost of food. It probably cost an extra $500 or so (I’m totally guesstimating) for a family of 4. But if you want to eat more than quick service/fast food meals at the parks, this is the way to go. The character dining and practically all of the table service dining cost an average $25-$40 per entree only. The desserts probably averaged $5-$10 each. I was amazed at the receipts of all the meals we had. Disney is way overpriced for meals. But if you have the meal plan, you will totally find it worth it. Even if we weren’t hungry for a dessert, the wait staff would pack us up a dessert or pack us fresh fruit in lieu of the dessert so we can snack on it at the park. Every quick service and table restaurant had excellent service and were very accomodating with all of our requests, preferences, food allergies, etc. I found all of the wait staff very patient with our questions about what went on the meal plan, and even better…they were all had the ins and outs of the meal plan down to a T (even the young college student interns). What was even nicer was that wait stuff were very accomodating in figuring out how we could get the best bang for our buck if some of the kids in our party wanted a meal, but no dessert, and some wanted dessert, but no meal, etc…they really worked everything in so we didn’t have to pay anything extra outside our meal plan. If anything, they definitely made sure we maximized our meal plan.
One thing that I found a bit difficult with the meal plan, and going during the summer months, was that we definitely had to plan our days around our table service reservations. A perk is you get to make reservations months in advance, but during the summer months all the really cool restaurants book fast…and if you have a large party (ours was 12!), it is impossible!
Some of the more memorable table service moments:
We ate at Kouzzina by Cat Cora (yes…the Iron Chef) at the Boardwalk Resort. One of the highlights of our dinner was we bought a round of ouzo shots. You can’t tell by the picture, but there were nice sparkles within the shot (reminded me of Goldschlager..which eek…i have some college nightmares about) which I liked to refer as “some of that Disney magic”. Ouzo has an anise flavor to it, so if you don’t like black licorice, you probably don’t want to try it.
We also ate at Marakesh in Morocco of Epcot. This was our second time there and it is always a winner. The food is delicious. My husband devoured his lamb shank. I had Chicken cous cous. How can you not enjoy a meal when there is authentic Moroccan music and a belly dancer named Selena to entertain you? We loved it so much we sat through 2 shows. Selena would invite some of the children to come up and she’d teach some them some moves. Very nice. There is always seating at Marakesh, so it is a hidden gem if you are looking for easy table dining.
Some other notable spots I failed to take pictures of (I realize that I rarely took pics on this trip…so upsetting!):
Boma-buffet style restaurant at Animal Kingdom…very delicious breakfast that included African flavors as well as general American fare to please the most picky eaters (kids and adults alike!)
50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios-this is a must! The whole place is decorated so you feel like you are Marty McFly and traveled back to the 50’s. There are TVs circulating the restaurant so you can watch mini clips of all the old faves like Dennis the Menace, Ozzie and Harriett, Car 54 Where are You?, etc. The waitresses were 100% in character as “mom” and picked on you about putting your elbows on the table, eating all your vegetables, facing forward. I didn’t find it offensive, but if you have some guests with you that don’t have a thick skin, you may have to look elsewhere. The waitress didn’t pick on the kids, mainly the adults. At the end we all received stickers for finishing our plates. I have video of our time at this restaurant, but I don’t want to embarrass the involved parties =)
Princess character dining at Akershus in Norway of Epcot-this is a hidden gem as well. Everyone normally looks to go to Cinderella’s Royal Table (which counts as 2 table dining spots…yikes!). This place only counts as 1. The food is delicious (don’t be scared about its description of being a Norwegian feast for lunch and dinner…most of the people in my party had delicious chicken sandwiches!). Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Belle, Jasmine, and Snow White came to every table. The reservation also came with a complimentary professional photograph set with Belle.