Best Rides at Disney World (2019)

Best Rides at Disney World (2019)

In thinking about the Best Rides at Disney World, I thought we should make it official and take a stand.  It’s been a while since we talked about our favorite rides and I thought we needed an update.  This is especially true since we have been to Toy Story Land, but have yet to experience Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, both in Hollywood Studios and Disneyland.  I’m anticipating a little movement on the results here once that happens.  But, we will see.  Also, if you’re a little more adventurous, check out our podcast over Disney World Thrill Rides!  So without further ado, here are our favorite rides in each park (with some runners up, of course).

Animal KingdomAnimal Kingdom Disney World

Favorite Ride – Avatar Flight of Passage

This is without a doubt the best ride that we have tried at Walt Disney World.  Disney’s Animal Kingdom has always had a few decent options (see below), but they really outdid themselves here.  This is technically classified as a thrill ride, so you need to be 44in or taller to ride.  That said, it is a screen-based motion simulator attraction.  You sit on a ride vehicle that is supposed to simulate sitting on a banshee, but is probably more akin to sitting on a motorcycle.  Using 3D glasses, you embark on a flight through Mo’ara while “riding on the back of a banshee” like the Na’vi do in the movie, Avatar.  As the lines for this one still remain relatively long, definitely try and get a fastpass for it.  As Jennings loves it (he is fairly risk adverse when it comes to trying thrill rides), I’m pretty confident in recommending it as the go-to attraction in Animal Kingdom for most Disney fans!

Runner Up #1 – Expedition Everest

Located in the Asia land of Animal Kingdom, Expedition Everest – Legend of the Forbidden Mountain is another thrill ride that more classically fits my definition of “thrill ride.”  Once again requiring guests to be 44in or taller to ride, this is a true roller coaster that takes you through Mount Everest.  Here you will get to see the legendary Yeti as you make your way through the ride.  Spoiler alert – you do go backward at one point.  The ride features some decent drops (on one your picture is taken for an in-ride photo) and a really neat stand-by queue, if you can’t get a fastpass or just have the time.

Runner Up #2 – Kilimanjaro Safaris

Located in the Africa Land, we love Kilimanjaro Safaris for many reasons.  First, you can be any age and any height to ride.  So, it is perfect for families with small children.  Second, your travel in a safari vehicle through actual animal habitat, home to “34 species living in 110 acres” of wetlands, forest, and plains.  This means that no two rides will ever be the same as you watch the animals do whatever animals do.  Finally, the drivers (your tour guides) are usually really entertaining and fun to interact with.  Just don’t stand up once the vehicle starts moving!  One thing for parents of small children – you will need to leave your stroller at a parking area about halfway through the queue and pick it up after the ride is over.

Hollywood Studios

Favorite Ride – Slinky Dog Dash

Slinky Dog Dash Ride Photo

Located in one of the newer sections of Hollywood Studios, Toy Story Land, this ride has it all.  Slinky Dog is a roller coaster that is more of a milder thrill ride.  Guests have to be 38in or taller to ride, so smaller kids can get on.  It does not have huge drops or go crazy fast, but it still remains more exciting than all of the other kiddie coasters (think Barnstormer in Magic Kingdom).  We rode this for the first time this past July and all four of us loved it.  When Jennings can put his mark of approval on a roller coaster that also entertains the rest of us, it is a winner!  The ride vehicle is really cool too as you are riding in a giant Slinky Dog!

Runner Up #1 – The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

Located at the end of Sunset Boulevard, The Tower of Terror is a little controversial for our family.  Aidan, Leslie, and I absolutely love it, while Jennings could do without.  Guests have to be 40in or taller to ride.  This is a thrill ride also due to the big drops.  The big drops is really all this ride is (think several straight vertical free falls that make your stomach flip).  That said, there is some really cool ambiance going on with creepy scene settings and theming.  If you can handle the drops, this one is a must-see.


Favorite Ride – Soarin’ Around the World

This one is a little more tame and isn’t considered a thrill ride.  Guests do need to be 40″ or taller, but it is relatively slow and there are only small drops.  This is a screen ride in which you sit in a row of chairs that is lifted off the ground and suspended in front of a giant screen.  The screen and ride then takes you through different scenes of landscapes from around the world as you feel like you’re hang gliding through them.  Scenes include places like the Great Wall of China, the Great Pyramids of Egypt, and the Taj Mahal in India.  As you soar, you will feel the breeze and smell the scents associated with the places from around the world.  This is a great ride and one that our family thoroughly enjoys.

Runner Up #1 – Test Track

Us on Test Track July 2019

While technically a thrill ride, there are no giant drops (just high speeds).  This is Jennings’ favorite ride by far.  Guests must be 40″ or taller to ride this one.  As this ride is currently sponsored by Chevrolet, you start out by designing a car on a screen and then test out the car on a track (get it? “test track”) in a six person vehicle.  You then receive a score at the end based on how your design performed.  We like to compete against each other to see whose car performs the best.  At the end, you’re dumped into a Chevrolet vehicle show room, displaying their newest models.  Sigh – it’s fun to dream the Corvette will be mine someday.

Runner Up #2 – Frozen Ever After

Located in the Norway pavilion, Frozen Ever After does not have an age or height requirement.  This is one reason we like it so much.  Frozen is a boat ride, in the dark, that takes you through all the scenes of the movie (complete with music).  You can see your favorite characters and relive the best songs while getting a break from the heat.  This is always a great option anytime there isn’t a huge wait!

Magic Kingdom Park

Favorite Ride – Haunted MansionAidan and Jennings in Haunted Mansion

Okay, in all fairness we are split on this one.  We’ve got lots of loves in the Magic Kingdom, but this is one that all four of us can agree on time and time again.  The Haunted Mansion is a slow, dark ride for any age guest, at any height.  It travels through a mansion, that appear to be haunted throughout several creepy scenes.  That said, it has never been too scary for either one of our kids.  The scariest part for most guests tends to be the pre-show, which you can ask to skip if you like.  Here is a quick tip – stand underneath the portrait of the young lady holding a parasol during the pre-show (inside the “stretching room”).  This is where the door will open to let you into the queue.

Honorable Mentions – Too Many to List

I know, but seriously!  We love so many rides in the Magic Kingdom.  Here are some of our many favorites:

    • Pirates of the Caribbean for the scenes and slow-moving boat
    • Splash Mountain for the length of ride and ultimate drop
    • Carousel of Progress for the nostalgia
    • TTA People Mover for the break from the heat
    • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for the easy roller coaster
    • Peter Pan’s Flight for the suspended ride vehicles
    • And many more….


So there you have it!  These are the best rides at Disney World, in our humble opinions of course.  What do you think, do you agree?  What are your favorites?

If you want to learn more about all of the rides Disney World has to offer, you can find them on the official site here.  Also, be sure to check out our other blog posts here!

5 Best Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World

5 Best Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World

Learn the 5 best Disney Resorts at Walt Disney World here!  After a lot of careful research (okay, that was the fun part), I’ve come to a conclusion.  These 5 resorts are tested and will not let you down.  Try one of these on your next vacation.  You will not regret it!

So, without further ado…

1. Animal Kingdom Lodge

Savannah View

View From our Room at AKL

Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of the best themed resorts at Disney World.  First, from its giant foyer with authentic African art, to the incredible savannah out back, complete with its own safari with giraffes, zebras, etc., AKL has something for everyone.  Second, Boma and Jiko are phenomenal restaurants in the Lodge.  Boma is an incredible buffet with an African flare.  Jiko is an upscale restaurant with an African-inspired menu.  They are both wonderful in their own right.  Third, the AKL pool is incredible, the African staff is amazing, and there is one of the best gift shops in all of Disney World right there in the lobby.  You will not be let down when it comes to Animal Kingdom Lodge.

2. Bay Lake Tower

BLT View

View from Bay Lake Tower

BLT is the DVC tower right next to the Contemporary.  First, with views of Bay Lake or Magic Kingdom, it is at an incredible location.  It is technically on the monorail as part of the Contemporary Resort, but the best part is – you can walk to Magic Kingdom!  Second, BLT has the Top of The World Lounge on top of it.  If you or one of your friends are DVC members (you have to be one to get in), definitely check this place out.  It has an incredible view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks every night. Third, you’re also a short stroll from two of our favorite restaurants over at the Contemporary: Chef Mickey’s and California Grill.  Both are amazing in their own right.

3. Polynesian Village Resort

boys in front of the poly

The Polynesian Beach & Bungalows

The Polynesian Village Resort is another very well-themed resort on the monorail loop.  First, this sits directly across the lake from the Magic Kingdom.  Second, they have one of the best restaurants on property with O’hana, which compliments one of the best bars on property with Trader Sam’s.  Visit both, you won’t regret it.  Third, the pool is incredible and well-themed for families.  If you’ve got enough money, the bungalows can be rented and you will be able to stay right on the lake and see some incredible views of the fireworks.  Don’t miss out on an opportunity to stay at the Poly.  Oh, and you can get Dole Whips here!!!!

4. Saratoga Springs

All of us at Saratoga

The Family in Front of Saratoga Springs

We absolutely LOVE Saratoga Springs.  To be fair, it is a very nice resort and has a great pool and gym.  First, it is huge.  So, there is a ton of trails to run or rent their surrey bikes.  Second, the best part about it is the fact that you can walk over to Disney Springs.  We absolutely love love love Disney Springs.  It is a great shopping district with incredible restaurants and our favorite place to hang out when we aren’t in the parks.  Third, it typically has availability, even if you have waited until the last minute.  Consider Saratoga Springs for your next stay.

5. Grand Floridian

kids in carriage

Kids in Carriage Outside of Grand Floridian

Ok, while this is not my favorite to spend a ton of time at just because of the theming (it’s a little stuffy for me), it is still awesome.  This is a great resort.  First, you have some of the best restaurants on property.  Second, it’s on the monorail in a tremendous location.  Third, the Christmas decorations are the best on property.  We’ve only stayed at this one once, but it was during Christmas.  Between the life-sized gingerbread house and the giant Christmas tree, it was truly breathtaking.  Therefore, I would suggest this one to anyone staying in the Christmas season for sure.

Have you heard our podcasts?  Here’s one we did specifically on Disney World Resorts.

Hopefully, a few of these have inspired you.  They are all truly breathtaking and wonderful places to stay for your vacation.  Let us know if you have any questions or would like more information about any of these or any others.  As always, we can be reached at  Enjoy!

Top 5 Places for Souvenirs in Disney World

Top 5 Places for Souvenirs in Disney World

Who doesn’t like to buy souvenirs in Disney World?  My family is obsessed with finding the best souvenirs.  Not just regular Mickey ears, but we need the best souvenirs.  We’ve spent countless hours combing all of the shops high and low and I’ve come up with these top 5 places for souvenirs in Disney World.

Number 1 – World of Disney

Found in Disney Springs, World of Disney is the largest Disney store in the world and they have everything.  I mean if you see something in one of the shops in the parks and think you might want it, there is a good change you can find it in World of Disney.  This is a great option for families that want to look and not buy.  We like to plan a trip to this mega-store toward the end of our vacation (if not multiple trips) and get any souvenirs we saw but couldn’t live without.  World of Disney has clothes, toys, jewelry, housewares, etc.  If you can’t find a great Disney souvenir here, you aren’t looking hard enough!

Number 2 – Keystone Clothiers

Found on Hollywood Blvd in Hollywood Studios, this shop is really cool.  It’s not huge, but they have some great clothes that are not found anywhere else.  The styles are definitely different from the typical Mickey souvenirs.  They also have some neat accessories too.  I highly recommend checking this store out when you go to Hollywood Studios.  You won’t be disappointed.

Number 3 – Mitsukoshi Department Store

Found in the Japan pavilion in Epcot, this store is really unique.  You might have thought I was going to recommend Mouse Gear for the best shop in Epcot, but no.  Everything in Mouse Gear you can get in World of Disney (and more).  Save your time and check out this awesome Japanese department store where you can choose oysters for their pearls, purchase samurai swords, and visit their sake bar.  Here are Leslie and the kids choosing a pearl in Mitsukoshi.choosing pearls

Number 4 – Mombasa Marketplace

Found in Africa in the Animal Kingdom, the Mombasa Marketplace is a great place to get Disney souvenirs with an African flare.  We’ve gotten authentically carved animals (the guy is carving them as you browse the inventory) and really neat African-themed clothes.  They also have other African art with Disney themes, toys, and wine.  They even have a great snack case where you can use your snack credits.  For us, this is a shop that we can never miss.  Check this one out!

Number 5 – The Lego Store

Okay, so I know I should’ve picked a shop in the Magic Kingdom for my last one here.  But really, I’m not that impressed with the shops in Magic Kingdom.  They’re okay, but you can get most of that stuff in World of Disney.  I have to go with The Lego Store here.  Our kids absolutely love this store.  They have giant sculptures made from Legos all around the store, you can buy bulk legos in any color they make, you can make your own Lego guys, and they have special Legos for sale that you can’t get anywhere else.  This place is awesome!  Here is Aidan with a Lego Hulk!

Aidan and Hulk

10 Easy Steps to DIY Disney-Inspired Ears

10 Easy Steps to DIY Disney-Inspired Ears

Do you ever look at those adorable Disney-Inspired Ears online and think “I wish I could make those?”  I did too until I finally decided that I would never know I could do it if I didn’t try! Today, I am providing you with the step-by-step guide (including pictures) of how to make your own Disney-Inspired Ears at a fraction of the cost that you can buy them online.  Let’s get into it!

Disney-Inspired Ears, Step-by-Step:

Step One: Head to the fabric store

Either find the inspiration online or walk through your local fabric store to find the material and accessories you want for your ears. Don’t forget to also pick up 1/4″ foam sheet, poly-fill, thread for your sewing machine, headbands (you might need to purchase these from Wal-Mart), glue gun, and glue sticks.

Step Two: Use the outlines to cut your fabric and foam

Use these outlines to help you cut out your fabric and foam: DIY Disney Ear Outline.  You will need two foam cutouts and four fabric cutouts (2 for the front and 2 for the back).

Step Three: Preparing to sew

Place the front and back pieces of fabric together with the outside of the fabric on the inside (meaning place the two sides of the fabric that you want to show together).  Then pin the sewing guidelines to each set of fabric cutouts.

Step Four: Sew them together

Use the sewing guidelines to sew right around the edge of the paper guide leaving the space at the bottom open.

Step 5: Turn the fabric inside out

Remove the sewing guideline and pins. Take each sewn fabric piece and turn them inside out through the section you left open.

Step 6: Insert foam

Take the foam cutouts and tightly roll them as shown below.

Then insert the rolled foam piece into the opening of the fabric (warning: this can be a little difficult and frustrating until you get the hang of it) and flatten it out.

Step Seven: Make the ears puffy

Put Poly-fill on either side of the foam cutouts to your desired puffiness.

Step Eight: Glue it all together

Using your glue gun, glue the opening closed.  Then glue your finished ears to the headband.

Step Nine: Accessorize

This is my favorite part, and it is when the ears start looking like what you have chosen to make! Since my example is Donald Duck Ears, I glued the sides of the fabric together and scrunched it in the middle to create a bow with added ribbon to incorporate all of the colors.

Step Ten: Enjoy!

Last but not least…..Enjoy your homemade Disney-Inspired Ears!  I would love to see your finished product! Please don’t hesitate to send me an email at if you need any help or advice while making your ears!

Join us every Wednesday as we take you to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, on Disney Cruise Line, and everywhere in between on our Addicted to the Mouse Podcast!

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What is Disney Vacation Club (DVC)?

What is Disney Vacation Club (DVC)?

So, you went on a Disney Vacation and fell in love with the magic.  Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.  You know you’re family is going to want to keep going, but Disney is expensive!  Then you remember seeing the DVC kiosks scattered around the parks and wondering what those were.  Maybe you remember tuning into the DVC channel in your room where they play the endless infomercial over and over.  To be fair, I actually really enjoy watching that infomercial and we are DVC members!  Disney Vacation Club (DVC) can be pretty complex, especially when you start talking about strategies on using points and use-years.  Today, I’m going to explain what Disney Vacation Club is and the basics on how it works.  As we continue to post about DVC, I will explain the more complex subjects and why you might want to understand them a little more before you buy.  Let’s get started.

DVC Explained

DVC is Disney’s version of a timeshare, but it works a little differently.  If you are familiar with a traditional timeshare, you know that you will typically purchase a guaranteed week at a given resort.  Then, you can trade that week for others if they are available.  With DVC, however, you purchase points.  The points are purchased in bulk in what is called a “contract” (usually round numbers like 25, 50, 100, 150, etc.).  Once you have your contract, you get that number of points every year until the contract expires (typically 50 years from when the resort originally opened).  The points are then traded in for resort stays (no, you do not have to use your points at the same resort you purchased them at – more on this later).  Think of the points like cash.  Just like each Disney resort room costs a set amount based on its size, location, time of year, and amenities (i.e., do you see the Magic Kingdom outside your window or a parking lot), DVC resort rooms costs a set number of points per night.  That’s it.  It really is that simple.  So, why is this so confusing?

DVC Costs

When you purchase a DVC contract, it will cost you in two ways.  First, you have to pay for the contract purchase.  This cost is a one-time fee and is charged per-point.  Currently, the newest DVC resorts cost $176 per point to purchase new contracts.  Are you starting to mentally do the math?  That’s right, if you want a 100-point contract at Copper Creek Villas & Cabins, it will cost you $17,600.  You can finance this through DVC or pay cash, your choice.  Second, you have to pay maintenance fees (also called “annual dues”).  That’s right, you are a partial owner in the property and must pay for its upkeep.  Every year, you will be responsible for paying another per-point fee for maintenance of the resort.  This fee is considerably smaller and varies by resort.  For instance at Copper Creek, the current annual dues are $7.3296 per point.  So, with that 100-point contract, you will be paying nearly $733 per year.  Oh, and they typically go up marginally every year.  You do have the option of paying annual dues monthly and spreading the cost out interest-free through DVC.

Point Charts

So now you might be wondering how do I use points and how many do I need?  Well, the answer here is not that simple.  Point requirements vary just like room prices do.  It will take considerably more points to stay in a three bedroom grand villa at Bay Lake Tower on New Year’s Eve than it will to stay in a studio three weeks later in the middle of the week.  Weekends cost more points than weekdays, park and lake views cost more points than parking lot views, and so on.  The easiest way to figure out how many points you need is to go to this link:

There you will find the point charts.  Do some digging and see when you would want to go, how many nights you would stay, what amenities you want, and how big of a room you need.

Home Resort Advantage

If you have ever heard a Disney Vacation Club member talk about their “home resort,” they are talking about the resort that their points are assigned to.  This is the resort where they have partial ownership and it’s the resort on their contract.  The home resort advantage means that DVC members are able to book rooms 11 months prior to their vacation at their home resort.  They are only able to book rooms at other resorts using their points 7-months prior.  DVC does not restrict you from using your points at any of the Disney Vacation Club resorts, but they want to make sure the members that own at each resort have first choice of availability.  In busy seasons, it can be quite challenging to get a good room at a popular resort unless you have the home resort advantage.  Like to go to Food & Wine?  You might want your home resort to be on the Boardwalk, close to Epcot.  Like walking to the Magic Kingdom on Christmas?  You need to consider Bay Lake Tower.  Did I mention that many DVC rooms include a full kitchen and living area?  Here is our 1-bedroom room in Bay Lake Tower.Bay Lake Towerbay lake tower kitchen

Banking and Borrowing

Here’s where it starts to get a little confusing with Disney Vacation Club.  So, for the purpose of this post I’m going to keep it high-level.  You are able to use up to a total of three years’ combined points for any one vacation.  You can bank you points from this year into next year and you are able to borrow points from next year into this year.  Let’s put this in an example and assume we went ahead and bought 100 points at Copper Creek in 2017.  If I bank all 100 points from 2017 into 2018 and then borrow 100 points from 2019 into 2018, I could book a vacation for 300 points in 2018 (100 points from 2017, 2018, and 2019).  That is the perfect way to not have to buy a ton of points and have a great vacation every few years.  I’ll save strategies for doing this for future posts.  For now, though, just know it is possible.

How to Book

This is one of the coolest parts.  Disney’s online resort availability tool is really neat.  You login, plug in your desired dates and room sizes and it will show you which resorts can accommodate you.  Then, you book from your computer, without ever having to talk to guest services. It’s awesome.

Is it Worth It?

Is Disney Vacation Club worth it?  It depends.  Yes, I know.  That is not a great answer, but let me explain.  First, you can save money.  Assuming you would take the same number of vacations as many times as you will after owning DVC, you will definitely save money.  Second, I’m not sure we will ever save money.  For us, we don’t space out our points in order to really “save” money.  We just get bigger rooms, invite family to come with us, and go more often.  And yes, we love it!  Finally, don’t think you’re going to use your points on the extras outlined in the next section.  It’s a horrible value and a bad use of points.

When people ask me if it’s worth it, I liken Disney Vacation Club to the dining plan.  If you were going to pay full price and get the same amount of food, then yes you will save money.  Looking back at DVC, if you are only going to use points for what you would have paid regular Disney prices for anyway (and don’t upgrade rooms, resorts, invite friends, etc.), then yes.  You will save money.  So, how do you plan to do Disney?


What are the extras?  First, I have to tell you that Disney recently changed their policies.  Extras are only available to customers who purchase from Disney directly.  They are not available to resale owners (more on this next).  Because these benefits change so often, I’m going to link to them here:  These include discounts, special events, and DVC merchandise.

In addition to these benefits, direct purchase DVC members can use their points for other vacations such as Disney Cruises and Adventures by Disney.  However, as I said earlier, this is not a good use of points.  So, I’m not going to elaborate on that here.  Finally, DVC members can use the DVC lounge in Epcot (a cool place to get free soft drinks and snacks!) and the Top of the World Lounge (a nice bar on top of Bay Lake Tower with a view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks).  These are really nice perks!  Here we are at Top of the World Lounge.Top of the World Lounge

Direct Purchase or Resale?

We have two Disney Vacation Club contracts and we bought them both resale.  Why?  Well, they were less than half the price!  Resale is an option that Disney does not like people to know about.  However, like with any real estate transaction, people can sell their ownership to other people.  Now, the good thing about DVC is that it tends to hold value much better than other timeshares and there is a resale market for it.  The bad thing for direct purchasers is that it doesn’t hold value that well.  I will go into resale purchase strategies in a future post, but just know it is an option.

That’s the high-level overview on what Disney Vacation Club is and how it works.  Are you DVC owners or do you want to be?  We would love to hear from you and how your experience has been!

Discovering Disney Dining Plans (2020 Update)

Discovering Disney Dining Plans (2020 Update)

Okay, so you’re going to Disney World.  You’ve decided when you’re going, how many days you’re going to the parks, and where you’re staying.  Now, you have to make the all-important dining plan decision.  Today, we are going to be discovering Disney dining plans.  I will give you our theory and strategies behind them and tell you what we’ve done in the past.  Disney World is so big and they have so many restaurants, this can get overwhelming, fast.  However, we’re going to make it easy to understand the differences, benefits, and drawbacks around the different dining plans at Walt Disney World.

kids with pluto

Before we get started, we love eating at Disney and we often get the Dining Plan.  We have recorded several podcasts about these topics.  Check out Disney Dining Plans Explained, Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It, and How We Saved Money with the Disney Dining Plan to learn more!

The Basics

There are three different dining plans at Disney World.  Before we get to them, you need to understand a few key terms.  

  • Quick-Service (or counter service) Meal – one where you order at a counter and pick it up before taking it to your table  
  • Table-Service Meal – a traditional meal where you sit at a table and are waited on with your meal being brought to you  (character meals are table service meals)
  • Snack – a drink or food item like popcorn, candy, bottled water, etc.  Typically the snack is anything that would cost you $4.99 or less at a Disney shop, cart, etc.  
  • Signature Meal –  meals that will cost you two table service credits per person.  
  • Here is a link to what restaurants at Disney World accept the dining plan and what category they fall under:

The Plans

The three different dining plans cost different amounts.  All, however, are based on a per-person, per-night stay.  It is important to remember that if you want to get the dining plan, all members of your party (everyone on your room reservation) must have the same plan and you have to purchase it for all nights of your stay.  So, if you have a spouse and two kids and are staying for five nights, you will have to purchase four dining plans and they will each have five nights.  Here is a quick chart of the dining plans for 2020 that Leslie put together to show the key differences of benefits and cost per day:

(adults are 10 years and older in Disney prices)
(children are 3-9 years old in Disney prices)

Quick-Service Dining Plan

  • 2 quick-service meals
  • 2 snacks
  • 1 refillable mug



Disney Dining Plan

  • 1 table-service meal
  • 1 quick-service meal
  • 2 snacks
  • 1 refillable mug



Deluxe Dining Plan

  • 3 meals (any combination of table-service and quick-service)
  • 2 snacks
  • 1 refillable mug



Here’s how this works.  In the above example, for a family of four staying five nights on a regular dining plan, they would have 20 table-service meals, 20 quick-service meals, 40 snacks, and 4 refillable mugs.  These credits can be used from the time you arrive until midnight on the night you check out. They can also be used in any configuration.  If you wanted to buy 40 snacks at once, you can.  If you want to buy 6 meals for 3 people, you can.  It’s up to you.  The mugs are plastic and can be used at the resort for soft drinks and coffee.  We like them, but since we don’t spend a ton of time hanging out at the resort, we don’t care if we don’t have them.

Leslie with oysters

Our Strategies

So, those are the basics, but that’s not why you’re here.  Full disclosure, we have done the deluxe plan twice, the regular plan multiple times (it’s our favorite by far), and never done the quick-service (we like table-service meals too much).  The other times we have paid cash.  Here are our thoughts and strategies for using these dining plans:

  • One recent change from the time I originally published this post – each meal comes with a specialty beverage.  If you’re over 21, this can be alcoholic (mixed drink, glass of wine, beer – price limits do apply).  If you’re younger, this might be a milkshake or smoothie, for example.
  • Another great change is you can use the dining plans with mobile ordering now.  This is an amazing feature!
  • Hands down, the best perk of the dining plan is the fact that it is prepaid.  You don’t have to come home worrying about a giant credit card bill.
  • You will save money by doing the dining plan, but only if you were going to buy everything that is included anyway.  We wouldn’t on the deluxe plan because it is just too much food.  For example, there are four of us.  On the deluxe plan, we got four appetizers, four entrees, and four desserts with every meal.  It is literally too much to eat.  If you don’t eat all of it, you don’t save money.  It’s as simple as that.
  • On the dining plan, I don’t always end up ordering what I want.  This is completely a mental thing.  On this plan, I find myself ordering the most expensive thing on the menu in order to save the most money.  I’m not ordering what I really want to eat.  (Update for 2020, I have mostly overcome this and and happy to order what sounds good now.  Mostly :))
  • Be sure to not save up your credits (especially snack credits).  We did this on our first vacation and ended up with about 10 snacks we were trying to use an hour before we left for the airport.  Can you say, “bags of gummy worms?”
  • Since our little one doesn’t eat a whole lot, he can easily share with the rest of us.  Therefore, we can get by with paying for three meals instead of four, which you can’t do if you prepay for the dining plan.  (Update for 2020 – this is still a good tip, but our little one isn’t so little anymore.  Sigh…)
  • We have used Tables in Wonderland in the past and it should be considered for anyone that qualifies.  This is a discount that DVC members, Annual Passholders, and Florida residents can purchase for $150 for DVC and AP holders and $175 for FL residents.  With it, you receive a 20% discount on food and drink (including alcohol) in over 100 restaurants.  Because it lasts for a year, you can save more money this way if you are going to Walt Disney World multiple times over the year.  It is also valid for parties of up to 10 guests! But be aware – there are blockout dates.
  • Dining plans DO NOT include tip.  Be sure to factor any gratuities in on top of the cost.

Disney’s dining plan rules change somewhat frequently.  Here is the official Disney Dining Page for Walt Disney World.  

So how do you do Disney dining?  We would love to hear from you.  If you have any questions about dining plans, send us an email and we will definitely get back to you.


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