Announcing New Changes to the Disney Dining Plan!

Disney Dining Plan changes

Back in May of 2015, changes were made to the current Disney Dining Plan. While many people hold out for the free dining announcement, the recent disappointment with the free offer has left many people planning to pay out-of-pocket for each meal or just outright purchase the dining plan. Paying for the Disney Dining Plan ensures all your meals are paid for in advance, and many people feel it saves them some money in the long run.

Should You Bring Your Own Snacks to Disney World to Save Money?

Free or paying for it yourself, what do these changes mean for anyone with the dining plan?

should you order the Disney Dining Plan

Table Service

Mix Up Adult/Child Credits

If you are using the Deluxe, Premium, or Platinum Dining Plans, you can mix your adult and child credits. If you are traveling with two adults and two children, you can now choose to select four adult entrée options. If you are using the regular Disney Dining Plan, this is not an option, so your child credit must still be used for a childs’ meal.

Dessert Substitutions

You can now substitute that dessert choice for either a side salad, a cup of soup, or a fruit plate. You have to specifically request this option and substitutions may be limited. You will still not be able to select an appetizer option in place of dessert.

No Restrictions on Meal Entitlements

You will no longer be restricted on the number of meal credits you use in one dining experience. So if your family of four (have dining plan) meet up with friends or grandparents at dinner (do not have dining plan), feel free to use your extra credits to buy their meal. I’m sure they will love you for this!

To Save Money on Disney World Food, Eat Breakfast Here!

changes to the Disney Dining plan

Quick Service

Swap for a Snack

You can now substitute any dessert or non-alcoholic beverage choice for an eligible snack, as long as you do this within the same transaction. Eligible snacks are listed below.

Swap Child to Adults Credits

Quick Service restaurants will not be enforcing the mixture of adult and child credits. Sometimes kids need more food while adults could desire less food. Two adult and two child meals can now be ordered as four adult meals.

Swap a Meal for 3 Snacks

You can substitute one Quick Service meal for up to three snack options within the same transaction. Swapping your lunch credit for three snack options might sound good if you just ate a huge buffet breakfast.

Can You Bring Your Own Food into a Disney World Theme Park?

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Everybody loves ice cream!

Snacks

Changes to the dining plan rules now mean a snack is anything that is a single serving size, so the price of the item no longer matters. This is great news for many Disney snackers. Larger snacks like funnel cakes and Mickey cookies will be considered a snack option from now on.

These items are now considered as snacks:

  • All items on Quick Service menus listed under the Sides option
  • All single-serve non-alcoholic beverages not served in a souvenir container
  • All soups served in Quick Service locations
  • All ice cream novelties and all hand-scooped ice cream including sundaes, which cannot exceed two scoops or be served in a souvenir container
  • All items that were considered snacks but offered additional options at a separate price, like toppings, sauces, etc. (think funnel cake with ice cream or a pretzel with cheese sauce)

With changes to the existing dining plan, there are Quick Service restaurant breakfast items that can now be considered part of an entrée and also offered as a side.

These breakfast items may now be included as snacks:

  • Cereal with milk
  • Side of sausage
  • French toast sticks
  • Side of eggs
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Oatmeal or quinoa
  • Side of potatoes
  • Grits
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Side of bacon

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new Disney Dining Plan

So if you missed out on the free dining offer, would these changes make you want to purchase the Disney Dining Plan? If we hear of any additions to this information, we’ll be sure to  update what we have heard so far.

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you looking over the menus…

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

10 Tips to Save Money on Food at Walt Disney World

save lots of money on Disney World food

Updated for 2016!

Through the years, I have found a lot of cheapskating ways to save money on Disney World trips, but food is one area where we struggle. Anything nicer than a counter service meal is going to cost a pretty penny, not to say that the meal won’t be worth that price. Driving off property for meals is often time consuming. We have tips to help you save some cash on your next vacation, because a little savings here and there can eventually add up to a character meal when you really want a vacation extravagance.

Don’t Eat Too Much of This at Disney World

1. Eat breakfast in your room

While this may not be all that exciting, eating breakfast in the room has saved my family a lot of money through the years. Many people are not big breakfast eaters, so they simply fix a bowl of cereal, some fruit, Pop Tarts, or some oatmeal in their hotel room. Boo-coodles of companies these days offer high energy breakfast bars.

So even if it’s not as magical, eating a bar on a bus headed for a theme park is faster and way cheaper than “eating out.” This gets you to rope drop faster as well.

where to eat breakfast at Disney World

2. Travel, thus eat, in the “off-season”

I have a good friend that is like a walking Disney-price encyclopedia. She rattles off prices of meals and ticket prices like I can quote Disney Dooney & Bourke handbag prices. Heather told me she noticed that Disney raised the price of meals at two character meal restaurants and a buffet when they went for Christmas last year. I checked with a couple of Travel Agent friends at Destinations in Florida, and they confirmed this often occurs during the peak travel times. You know when this is – when school is out and everybody is having a stroke to get to Orlando. They said you can pay $2 to $4 more for the exact same meal during these busy times, so go off-season to save a little cash.

Apparently this will not affect those of you on a Disney Dining Plan, whether you paid for it or got it for free.

3. Speaking of character meals… go during breakfast

Character meals are very expensive. I could feed my entire family of five at McDonald’s almost TWICE for the cost of one adult dinner buffet at Chef Mickey’s. But unlike Mickey D’s or eating cereal in the hotel room, character meals are a Disney experience, so go enjoy that character meal during breakfast rather than lunch. Prices are lower in the morning, even if the menu is different from lunch or dinner.

Are you eating for specific foods on the menu or for the seeing-characters experience? If the answer is characters, then I see waffles, eggs, and bacon in your future. And if you wake up early enough for a reservation before 8 a.m., think of the head start you’ll get to the parks.

Should You Purchase the Disney Dining Plan?

4. Character meal and then skip lunch

Anyone that has eaten at an all-you-care-to-eat meal knows how full you will be when you finish. If you make your reservations for “brunch time,” like somewhere between 10 and 11 a.m., you may eat enough to skip lunch all together. Lots of families I know do this – hey, including mine!

If the kids get hungry, pick up a counter service kids’ meal, or plan ahead and bring a sandwich if you know they’ll be hungry even after the buffet.

How to save money on Disney World food and drinks

5. Bring in your own snacks

Cast Members do bag checks to make sure there are no weapons or glass containers going into the theme parks. They are not checking to see if you smuggled in food. It’s 100% A.O.K. to bring your own snacks with you into Disney them parks.

There are some restrictions about glass containers, cooler sizes, etc. Check it out here:

What Items Can You NOT Bring to Walt Disney World Theme Parks?

6. Bring in your own meal

If you have ever walked the back trails of the Disney parks, the little pathways off the crowded sidewalks, you will frequently see many families having picnics on the park benches. Coolers open, sandwiches in plastic bags, juice boxes, and packs of animal crackers are consumed by group after group. I nod my head to them in cheapskate agreement. A picnic may not be as glamorous and fun as a character meal, but it’s WAY less expensive. The kids will not be scarred for life if they don’t eat every meal in a restaurant – ask me how I know! And eating meals you bring yourself can save you enough to splurge for a character meal later on.

See the link above for restrictions on containers and ice chests, etc.

7. Bring in your own water.

I don’t have many negative Disney issues, although I am not a fan of these new Fastpass+ changes, but one of my huge complaints with Walt Disney World is the taste of the water. Bleh!! I frequently joke that their fountain water is spiked with yukiness so I will have to pay retail for their bottled water. I think you get somewhat used to it after several days, sort of, but it really tastes awful to most people.

Bring your own bottles of water to the parks with you, no matter how you have to get them there. Refill them frequently, or bring reusable, BPA-free water bottles, which cuts down on garbage when you throw away those plastic bottles.

Walt Disney World’s Giant Turkey Leg; Gotta Have It or Skip it?

why bring water into Disney World

8. Bring a water filter or enhancer

More eco-friendly than throwing away 64 bottles of water in a week’s stay? Get one of those reusable bottles that filters your water. A company called Berkey makes a water filter that removes bacteria and parasites, heavy metals like lead and mercury, VOCs and toxic chemicals like benzene, chlorine and chromium-6 to levels higher than 99.99%.

Still taste yucky? Bring along those small bottles or flavoring. Mio, Dasani, Propel, Skinny Girl, Aquafina, Crystal Light, and Nestea all make water enhancers.

9. Freeze it

Have you ever tried this? We freeze our bottles of water in the summer. Perhaps it’s all in our heads, but we think the water tastes better while it’s melting, and I can always put that cold water bottle on my neck or in the crook of my arm when it reaches 107 degrees outside at noon. I like to wrap this frozen bottle up with a wash cloth, which we occasionally use throughout the day to keep our travel backpack dry.

If a rain shower pops up, you now have a cool drink as well as a wash cloth to wipe your face. That’s a cheapskate win-win.

Where Can You Find FREE Disney World Snack and Drink Samples?

10. Two people split an entree

Food is really pricey at Disney World, but most people will readily admit you get what you pay for. You might pay a lot, but you most likely will not walk away hungry. Not a big eater? Then you should consider splitting an entrée.

Don’t think that will be enough food? Order an appetizer or an extra side to share, because the price of an appetizer is still less than ordering a full meal. Just ask for an extra plate.

Why bring your own snacks to Disney World

These ideas sound too familiar? Then you must be a regular in Orlando, been there and done that. Most of our readers are new to Disney trip planning, so leave a comment and tell us some of your other tips to save money on Disney food. We’re already working on “Saving Money on Food” part two, so maybe we’ll add your quote in using just your first name, to protect the cheapskates!

Thanks for stopping by, and we’ll see you in the water isle at Wal-mart, looking for flavoring to take the sting out of that free Florida water.

 

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

.

Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

.

Now let our vacation planner help you plan your trip, totally for FREE!

Earn $20 Rewards for Vacation Referrals!

Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from Mike Ellis, our Disney Vacation Planner with Pixie Vacations.

Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Disney World Food Tip #9: Why You Should Share Dessert

Everywhere you look at Disney World, you will be surrounded by incredible sweet snacks and desserts. They are inescapable on Main Street, U.S.A, restaurants, Goofy’s Candy Co. at Downtown Disney, and now there are even dessert cases in the resort gift shops. I joke that you cannot walk more than about 100 feet without running into something with sugar as a main ingredient.

But man oh man, you have to see those desserts. Chocolate-covered caramel apples, brownies, ice cream sundaes, Dole Whips, tropical icees, pastries, turnovers… the list just never ends. [Read more…]

Bringing Food into Disney World Theme Parks: A Cheapskate Princess Guide

yummy snacks to bring to Disney World

Updated for 2017!

If you ever tried to sneak food into some sort of establishment, you just might be a Cheapskate Princess! Most Walt Disney World visitors are aware that you no longer have to sneak your food into the theme parks, because the rules have changed from years past. I have a mini-anxiety attack every time we go through Security, because my dad snuck food during every trip we made to Disney as kids. I call it “Post Traumatic Cheapskate Syndrome.” Even the most well-traveled Disney visitors could use a refresher on just what you can bring with you and what to transport your food in. [Read more…]