How Do I Use A Dining Plan?

  Dining plans can save you money and enhance your Disney experience all in one by allowing you to eat at fancy restaurants you might otherwise not have afforded. Disney Dining Plan (DDP) credits can be used in so many different ways making it a highly customizable experience. They take the guess work out of budgeting for food during your trip and open the doors to fun, food, and entertainment.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My favorite Disney Dining Plan, the “Dining Plus Plan,” includes one counter service meal, one table service meal, and one snack per person per day. My family usually chooses to pay out of pocket for a quick breakfast at our hotel, because breakfast is typically the least expensive meal of the day. We usually choose to use our table service meal credits for a combination of character dining, like Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Hotel, and relaxed family dining at great spots in the parks, like Le Cellier Canadian Steakhouse, Via Napoli Pizzeria, or Teppan Edo Hibachi Tables in Epcot; or Mama Melroses Italian Ristorante and the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater in Hollywood Studios (A more comprehensive list of our favorite restaurants coming soon!)

The snack credits are available to use on hundreds, maybe thousands of items in the parks, candy shops, snack carts, and fast food eateries all throughout Disney. We usually choose to use them on higher priced or specialty items like a Dole Whip pineapple soft serve dessert in Magic Kingdom or creme brulee in the Patesserie in France, Epcot. Of course, the smell of freshly popped popcorn always gets someone in our party to fork over a snack credit for that salty crunchy goodness. We usually pay out of pocket for less pricey items like a soda or bottled water.

The number one thing you need to know about the Dining Plan is that you must make reservations to ensure a table at the best eateries. Although the restaurants may take walk-in, advanced dining reservations are strongly encouraged. The Disney Dining Plans have become quite popular, keeping the restaurants quite full! Advanced Dining Reservations may be booked up to 180 days prior to your arrival. You may book them online, by telephone, or better yet, by me! I specialize in creating dining itineraries for couples or families. Contact me and I’ll be sure to match you with the best restaurants for your budget and tastes!

5 Summertime Tips at Disney

Summertime is here and many families are anticipating a family vacation to Walt Disney World in Florida. PlanForDisney has a few tips to help out:

1.  Stay hydrated! FL is H-O-T but thankfully ice water is free. Stop by any permanent drink stand and request a cup of ice water.

2. Sunblock, Sunglasses, Swimsuits.  If you forget ’em, Disney sells ’em in the gift shops of all resorts.

Summertime is usually rainy in central Florida. The good news: Rain showers pass and the sun reappears.
Continue reading

Trip Planning: Choosing Your Travel Dates

A Disney Trip is always fun! Some families have the option to travel when ever they’d like to and others can only go when school is out. You may be able to score a better deal if you have flexible travel dates. Plan for Disney was able to help the Tolo family save a bunch of money by adjusting their trip by a few weeks to take advantage of lower rates. There are some really great times to visit that typically feature smaller crowds and lower prices.
Continue reading

Trip Planning: Where to Stay

Once you have settled on your dates of travel, you’ll need to make resort reservations. I always recommend staying at a Disney Resort. When you do, you get to experience the magic from your hotel room to the parks and in between. In addition to the great service and quality of the accommodations resort guests can also take advantage of some exclusive perks.

Disney Resorts offer free parking at the resort and theme parks, complimentary transportation all over Disney property, and complimentary transportation to and from the airport, courtesy of Disney’s Magical Express!

Resort guests can take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, when the theme parks are open exclusively to guests staying on Disney property. Additionally, when resort guests book a vacation package including park tickets and hotel room, they can also purchase the Disney Dining Plan, a prepaid meal plan that provides a significant savings and enhances your overall vacation experience.

Next: 20 + Disney Resorts!

What is a Vacation Package?

Disney Vacation Packages, currently called “Magic Your Way Vacation Package” can present some savings, especially if Disney World has a special deal.  Vacation packages include a hotel room, park admission tickets, and the option to add the Disney Dining Plan. They are highly customizable to meet your budget and vacation preferences.

When choosing the package to suit your needs, you start with selecting a resort. Next, you add park tickets for the number of days you would like to spend playing in the parks. Then you customize those tickets, adding the Park Hopper option, the Water Parks and More option, and the No Expiration Option. Last, you can add a Disney Dining Plan, which is also customizable, choosing from Quick Service, Dining Plus, Deluxe or Wine and Dine.

If you are a Florida resident or military family you may qualify for special discounts that could see more savings than the vacation package.

Keepsakes: Mickey Ears


Mickey Ears are classic, iconic, and fabulously fun. Men, women, and children of all ages wear them proudly throughout the Disney parks. You can purchase yours in the parks, at the hotels, or at Downtown Disney. But if you are looking for a way to surprise your family, order your Mickey Ears online. Disney will even personalize ’em for you and ship ’em to your door. What a fun way to reveal your trip to the House of the Mouse!

Planning: Reserve Spring Break Now!

If you think you might want to take a Disney trip during Spring Break 2012, you should start planning now! Walt Disney World takes reservations well in advance of your trip. In fact, you can make resort only reservations (without dining and tickets) up to 499 days in advance! Restaurant reservations can be booked 180 days in prior to your trip!

The most affordable and desirable reservations book up quickly. Be sure to get planning now!

See this post for a fantastic promotion that features FREE DINING for the length of your stay select dates from Oct 2011- March 2012! Hurry,  you must book by October 29th.

Disney Deal: Free Dining

A trip to Disney can be a significant investment. That is why its a great idea to take advantage of the latest promotion, which can save you a bunch. Walt Disney World is offering FREE DINING for the length of your stay when you purchase tickets and make a hotel reservation. Select dates only from October 2011 – March 2012.

2011 Dates: Oct. 2 -7, Oct. 23 – Nov 4, Nov. 13 -18, Nov. 27 – Dec.2, Dec 11 – 16.

2012 Dates: Jan. 8 -13, Jan. 22- Feb. 3, Feb. 12 – 17, Mar. 4 – 9, Mar. 25 – 30.

This deal ends October 29th. 

Disney World Resort Hotels

Walt Disney World has over 20 Resort Hotels on their property. They are classified and priced as Value, Moderate, and Deluxe. Each hotel is uniquely themed, from wilderness to victorian and everything in between. All of the resorts have pools, restaurants, gift shops, and complimentary transportation to the parks and Downtown Disney. Though most rooms sleep 4 people, there are accommodations available for families with 5 or more. 

The Value Resorts have classically sized guest rooms and family friendly amenities, including a food court and pool. They are bright and fun, featuring giant Disney icons. There are family suites available to sleep 6. Though we love the deluxe resorts, my family always chooses to stay at a value resort, of which POP Century is the favorite. The value resorts are:
POP Century (favorite)
All Star Music
All Star Movies
All Star Sports
The Art of Animation – due to open in the fall of 2012.
The Moderate Resorts offer rooms of a slightly larger size, and more amenities than the value resorts. They all feature themed swimming pools, in-room refrigerators, a moderately priced restaurant, and a food court. The Moderate Resorts are:
Caribbean Beach
Port Orleans Riverside
Port Orleans French Quarter
Coronado Springs
Cabins at Wilderness Lodge
The Deluxe Resorts offer deluxe rooms that open to an indoor cooridor. They feature  in-room refrigerators, a grand lobby, deluxe gift shops,  a themed swimming pool with a slide, and at least two table service restaurants. Some of these hotels are very close to the Magic Kingdom and have direct access to the monorail. The deluxe resorts are:
The Beach Club
Contemporary * monorail
The Grand Floridian * monorail
The Polynesian *monorail
Wilderness Lodge (favorite) *boat direct to Magic Kingdom
Animal Kingdom Lodge
The BoardWalk Inn
The Yacht Club
Fort Wilderness Campground offers campsites for tent-camping, RVs, and cabins that sleep 6.

Need a little more convincing? See this post on the Top 5 Reasons to Stay at a Disney Hotel.

Next: Which One Should I Choose?

Top 5 Tips Before Planning Your Disney Trip

1. Allow yourself several days to enjoy all 4 parks and your hotel, too! Disney is a big place with excitement waiting around every corner. In our experience, the most enjoyable trips have been when we have allowed ourselves enough vacation days we could slow the pace from run-and-conquer to stroll-and-savor.  Give yourself extra time. You deserve it.

2. Stay at the Walt Disney World Resort Hotels. There are so many benefits to staying on property, in addition to the close proximity to the parks. We love the extra perks like Extra Magic Hours and the Disney Dining Plan, which are available exclusively to guests staying on property. The quality and service at the Disney Hotels makes it a must do!

Disney's Pop Century Resort

Continue reading