Mother, Son, Giraffe, Kilimanjaro Safaris, Animal Kingdom, Savannah
  • On Dec 27, 2010
    Becky from MS Asked Note: This answer was provided prior to the change to planDisney and may still contain references to Disney Parks Moms Panel.

    Experiences, policies, pricing and other offerings are subject to change and may have changed since the date of this answer.

    I was wondering if it is better to buy "kids eat free" meal passes and discounted gift cards to orlando area restaurants, or do the disney dining plan? I'm wondering if it is more hassle to eat off-site.


    Yes, you can save money if you eat at the restaurants that are everywhere outside the parks, but you should consider that time is money and leaving simply to eat may not be worth the effort if your traveling party is small, especially with two children. Additionally, to me, part of a Disney vacation is the dining.

    I don't always suggest the dining plan, but because you mentioned in a previous question that you are traveling with two children under the age of 10, I heartily encourage you to get the basic dining plan that gives you one table service, counter service, and snack per person per day. With children, you will get a lot of value in the plan because one Character Meal (say, dinner at Crystal Palace) for a child can cost upwards of $18--this will practically pay for the dining plan for a child for almost two days!

    The dining plan can help you erase budget concerns because everything but gratuity is paid up-front. You spend your time relaxing rather than worrying if your child will order the most expensive thing on the menu. (Maybe not a problem with the ages of your children right now, but we're starting to face that in our family...)

    Meals are where memories are made--and your children can have hassle-free time with their favorite characters. I recommend Chef Mickey's, 1900 Park Fare, Akershus, Garden Grill, and Crystal Palace. Although you won't get as big a value out of the breakfast meals, if you have children with short attention spans, keep in mind that children are typically on their best behavior for sit-down restaurants in the morning. You'll have lots of choices for breakfast, too.

    Build the dining plan into your budget if possible, and it will make your vacation with little ones.

    Wishing y'all a magical vacation!

thumbnail image for Whitney

Meet the Panelist: Whitney, Mississippi

My family of 6 appreciates Disney's value! Although Ft. Wilderness is our second home, we've enjoyed the resorts for business, reunions and romantic getaways. For me, Disney also means dining: last count, I'd eaten at 55 restaurants around the World! Learn More About Whitney

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