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As convenient as the Disney Dining Plan is meant to be, some aspects can be a bit confusing, especially if it’s your first time to use a dining plan.
For a quick primer, check out these previous posts on Dining Plans:
Disney Dining: Is the Dining Plan Worth the Expense?
Disney Dining: How to Use the Disney Dining Plan
Disney Dining: How the Quick Service Dining Plan (QSDP) Worked for Us
In my post about the Quick Service Dining Plan, you may have noticed that we had snack credits left over at the end of our trip. What? Yes. It’s not that we didn’t eat. I promise, we ate! Disney tries to help you out by not forcing you to use a certain number of credits each day, and gives you until midnight on your check-out day to use them.
After checking in and getting your dining credits activated, you feel rich! You’ve got literally tens of meal and snack credits to just spend on nothing but food. You’re going to eat well on this trip! But hold on. You will eat well. You just have to have a plan! If you wanted to, you could walk into a restaurant and spend all of your dining credits at once. But then you’d have no credits left for the rest of your trip, and any dining costs would have to come out of your pocket. Not exactly the best use of your dining credits. So, how do you plan meals with a Dining Plan?
Real Mom’s Disney has created a Dining Credit Planner to help you determine the best use of your dining credits. Let’s try it with a sample trip.
In our scenario, I’ve decided to take a four-day trip and spend two and a half park days at Magic Kingdom. We have a Disney Dining Plan, which includes a Quick Service meal, a Table Service meal, and one snack per person, per day. It’s me, my husband, and a child over age 3. For a four day trip, we’ll have twelve of each type of dining credit.
I’ve printed my Dining Credit Planner, dining credit tokens, and have labeled the days on the planner. I’m ready to start!
Day 1: We’re checking in today, so we won’t arrive until afternoon. We will not need breakfast or lunch on the Disney property, so I go ahead and cross those out.
We decide to spend the evening at Downtown Disney, and want to eat there. We’ll each use one QS credit for dinner – maybe at Earl of Sandwich. (Remember to use one token per person for each meal.)
And just for kicks, we’ll throw in a snack – maybe we’ll stop at Goofy’s Candy Co.
Day 2: We want to have breakfast at Chef Mickey’s, which uses one TS credit per person. (We’ll get an ADR for this after we make the rest of our plans and make sure this works out for us.)
We’ll be having a big breakfast (it’s a buffet!), so we’ve decided to use a snack credit for lunch. Don’t worry – you can get some good food with a snack credit. Things like the Hummus and Chips at Gaston’s Tavern, Bread Sticks with pizza sauce at Pinocchio Village Haus, Onion Rings or Chili Cheese Fries at Pecos Bill’s (with a free toppings bar), a baked potato or baked sweet potato at Liberty Square Market, or a giant Mickey pretzel are all great options. And don’t forget about the Real Moms’ favorite snacks!
Then, we’ll grab a QS dinner before leaving the park or when we arrive back at our resort.
Day 3: We’ve been able to secure an ADR for Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner on this day. So we start by placing our TS credits for dinner.
Remember that CRT requires two TS credits per person, which means six TS credits instead of the regular three for this meal. But since we didn’t utilize TS credits on our check-in day, we have some to spare.
We’ll have a QS lunch and breakfast; perhaps an early breakfast at our resort before heading to the park, and then decide where we want to eat for lunch. There are so many great QS options in Magic Kingdom.
Day 4: We’re leaving today, and will not need to eat dinner on the Disney property, so I’ll cross that out. We’ll utilize a snack credit for breakfast and grab a cinnamon roll at Gaston’s Tavern or a pastry at Main Street Bakery.
Then, we’ll have a TS lunch before hitting the road. We’ll make an ADR at Crystal Palace.
On our way out of the park, we’ll grab an extra snack for the road.
As an alternative, we can try for breakfast at Crystal Palace or even ‘Ohana, then use two snack credits each for lunch.
We’ve utilized all our dining credits – and we’ve had great food during our entire trip!
For a longer trip with more park options, things can get tricky. So take your time and decide what will work best for your family. Our Disney Dining Credit Planner will allow you to easily see where you are using your credits and change things around before making your dining reservations.
You can download our Real Mom’s Disney Dining Credit Planner with instructions for FREE. Please let us know if you have any questions and how this tool helps you plan your trip!
Would you like to see more planning samples? Let us know!