Which Disney Dining Plan is right for you?

If you have been or are planning to go on a DisneyWorld vacation I’m sure you have heard all about the Dining plan option. This may seem like a good idea when booking, it may even seem like a deal. But is it really a deal, and is the dining plan worth it for you and your family? And which Dining plan is the right one for your family. To start off let’s look at the basic dining plan options:(all prices listed are for 2017)

Quick service plan $48.19 per adult: With this plan you get 2 quick service credits and 2 snack credits. A quick service is a place such as Cosmic Ray’s or Casey’s corner in the Magic Kingdom. These are usually quicker Dining experiences with a  lower quality menu and usually not a sit down Dining. Usually order it at a kiosk type location and pick the food up yourself. You also receive 1 Resort refillable mug.

Regular Dining plan $69.35: With this plan you get 1 quick service credit, 1 table service credit, 2 snacks and 1 refillable resort mug. A table service credit is good for a meal at designated sit down style restaurants and buffets. Places such as Chef Mickey’s, Coral Reef on Epcot and O’hana’s in the Polynesian are valid table services.

Signature Dining Plan $106.68: this plan give you 3 table service credits, 2 snacks and a refillable resort mug. With this plan you can use 2 table service credits to use for the phenomenal signature restaurants throughout WDW such as Narcoosees and Citricos in the Grand Floridian or the California Grille atop the Contemporary. These are more formal Dining experiences than the normal table service restaurants. With those you just get an entree, non alcoholic drink and a dessert. At the signature restaurants you get an appetizer, entree, non alcoholic beverage and a dessert. The menus at the signature restaurants are amazing and the food is top notch. Then you can use the third table service on a regular TS for breakfast or dinner.

Ok, you are probably thinking which one of these is for you? Well I guess it depends on your family’s Disney style. If your family is always on the go and want to do as much in the parks as possible, the quick service plan is probably for you. If you like to take your time sand take breaks from the parks and try other experiences and have a nice sit down meal or character buffet, then maybe the regular plan is for you. Or maybe you are traveling alone as a couple, no children, and want to some of the best Dining experiences available at WaltDisneyWorld, then definitely do the signature plan. You will have access to some4 star restaurants and it is probably the best value of the 3 plans.

One thing to remember is that having the plan, no matter which plan it may be will be a lot of food. After a week of the plan I sometimes don’t want to even think of food, so take that into consideration. Also if you have a plan and need to make ADR’s for your restaurants, you will see that everyday rotates around your dining reservations, so if you plan to have dinner at O’hana’s in the Poly, don’t plan on spending the day at Epcot. It can take a lot of time traveling back and forth, it can take some smart planning, and some may not be bothered which then the quick service would be better.

There are so many things to look at in regards to the dining plans, which is one reason why some people decide to go to Disney vacation planners. But what those planners won’t tell you is that whether or not the Dining plan is worth it at all and if it’s economically the best decision. My post tomorrow will look st that question exactly… Have a magical day!


Top Buffets or family style restaurants at Walt Disney World for food quality

One of the things I look forward to the most on my Walt Disney World Vacation is the dining and the dining experiences. Admittedly not every Restaurant at Walt Disney World has the best tasting or quality food. Some have very good quality, and some you are just paying for the atmosphere and experience more so than the average quality food. In this post I am going to look at what I believe are the top 5 TABLE SERVICE buffet style or family style restaurants on property in terms of food quality. If you do not know what a table service is. It is a sit down Restaurant that is worth 1 table service credit if you were on the DDP.  Now this is just my opinion, and you may have different tastes than me, but if you disagree or agree, let me know and leave a comment or tell me on twitter @vacaasistant.

5. Whispering Canyon- I love BBQ, just love it, and Whispering Canyon does a pretty good job at it. They have a pretty good a la carte to choose from for breakfast, lunch or dinner. For lunch and dinner the smoked pulled pork sandwich and the St. Louis style ribs are very good and the Bison Burger was good also. But for lunch and dinner, what I usually get when I am with a group is the all you care to enjoy skillet. For lunch and dinner you get the pulled pork, ribs, roasted chicken with sides like Mashed Yukon Potatoes, corn on the Cobb and baked Beans, all served family style. With dinner you will be served a mixed green salad and corn bread. But best item on the skillet is the western style sausage, this is absolutely amazing and one of my favorite items at any Disney restaurant. Add all this in with the very unique atmosphere and this is a special restaurant, just wait until you need ketchup.

4. Boma(dinner)- This all you care to enjoy buffet located in the Animal Kingdom Lodge is a real hidden gem. Animal Kingdom Lodge is a little out of the way so some don’t bother trying this place out. Well, get on a shuttle or get in your car and head over to Boma.

Like I said I am a real big fan of BBQ, and Boma had very good BBQ ribs and chicken. The thing that really makes these items is the BBQ sauce they have at Boma. I’m not sure if it’s cinnamon or coriander or whatever it is in the sauce, but it was very good and nothing like I have tasted before.

Another unique quality about Boma is the vast array of salads and soups offered. These give you very unique mixture of flavors that you don’t see offered in regular restaurants.

There are other meats and vegetables offered on the buffet which are cooked and seasoned in conjunction with the flavors of Africa. This buffet will truly be a unique experience for your taste buds.

3. Cape May Cafe(Dinner)- Cape May Cafe is located in my home DVC Resort the Beach Club. Themed after a New England/Cape Cod style clam bake, this buffet is a must do for all seafood lovers. Now, I am not the biggest seafood lover out there, but one thing I do love is crab legs, and you can find steamed crab legs every night. You can also find peel and eat shrimp, mussels, clams, and fried shrimp. Also you have steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, fresh rolls and cornbread, a meat carving station, assorted pastas and salads and fresh fruit. Only on Wednesdays and Saturdays does the buffet have as a choice BBQ pork ribs which are good but not great, but many people I know seem to love them.

The buffet for me is worth it just with the crab legs,  but then add some of the other items and it’s well worth it. You just have to realize that with a buffet marketed around seafood you will have to pay a little bit higher than average price but it is not too expensive if you go by Disney standards. This is definitely someplace where I have to eat at each trip.

2. Crystal Palace(breakfast)- By far my favorite location for breakfast is Crystal Palace. The food is just absolutely great. Now if you go for dinner or lunch, the food is probably below average, but breakfast is amazing.

The Star of the buffet is the Pooh French Toast. This French toast needs no syrup whatsoever, and the best way I can describe it is that it is like eating a zeppole, it is amazingly good. Of course that’s not the only reason, you can find yogurt, fruit, lox, pastries, breakfast cereals and of course the usual things like sausage, bacon, eggs,  regular French toast, Mickey waffles, and my favorite, biscuits and sausage gravy. Also there is an omelet station where you can have eggs made any way you desire or have the chef whip up an omelet of your choosing.

This is another must do for my family each trip, it is 100% worth it just for the food, which seems to be getting better each time I go as other places seem to be getting lower in quality and higher in price(cough cough, Chef Mickey’s, cough cough).

1. O’hana(Dinner)- My top spot goes to this restaurant located inside the great ceremonial house inside the Polynesian Resort. My only issue with O’hana’s is the fact I wouldn’t go eat here for years. I figured I wouldn’t like the food so I never tried it. I decided a few years ago at the urging of my sister to try O’hana’s, and now it is by far my favorite table service location at WDW.

You start off with a salad with a mango dressing served family style, then the real fun begins. Your server then brings out a platter of Asian style sweet and sour noodles, pot stickers and chicken wings. Don’t worry when you finish all this you can ask for more. As you are choking down on these specialties, servers will be coming around with metal skewers filled with marinated shrimp, chicken and beef. I am not a big steak person but I even liked the beef. The  and shrimp were out of this world. They will be walking around waiting to fill your plate up again so bring your appetite.

After all this make sure you still save some room for dessert. Many people have told me the bread pudding with bananas and caramel sauce is the best dessert on property. Cannot disagree with them. Your server brings out the pudding and then drenches it with the caramel sauce right before your eyes. It looks as good as it tastes.

O’hana takes the cake as the top table service restaurant on Disney property. Again, if you disagree or feel I missed your favorite, let me know in the comments or check me out on twitter @vacaassistant


Are WaltDisneyWorld extra ticket Holiday events worth the extra price?

IMG_1163Two of the best events at WaltDisneyWorld each year are the Mickey’s Not So Scarey Halloween Party and the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Problem is admission to these events are not included in regular park ticket admission and you must buy tickets to these events.

The prices of these events are pretty high, and they seem to go up in price each year. Depending on the date the prices are higher than others, so prices are lower on days where they expect not as large of a crowd, so that is one way to keep the cost down. Also, Undercovertourist.com has discounted Party tickets for these events so you can save some that way too, and if you need other discounted park tickets this site is my go to place if I need a ticket. But, is the price of $70, $80 and income cases $90 worth it? Absolutely!

The price is admittedly high for these events, but the atmosphere at both parties is amazing. Crowds are lower so lines on attractions aren’t long, they have special character meet and greets that are not normally offered. At the Halloween party come dressed in your Halloween costume and there are appointed locations where people young and old can go trick or treating and get candy. For Christmas there are select locations that give out cookies and hot chocolate free of charge.

The 2 big showcases for each party are the holiday parades. These are a big hit and I suggest for either one to get a spot early because it definitely does get crowded for these fantastic parades. Usually there will be 2 parades each party night, and the early one is always more crowded than the late. Also, each have their own holiday Wishes fireworks spectacular. These are holiday themed fireworks and they are amazing, truly a can’t miss at these events.

At the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party there is something extra special that happens, walk down Main Street USA while it is….. snowing! That is right snowing! Get into the holiday spirit with the weather forecast of Main Street calling for Snow. This little added touch makes the night perfect and even though it may be warm, that won’t stop from the Magic of Disney doing its thing and providing snow flurries in the Magic Kingdom.

Finally the decorations throughout the Magic Kingdom are done perfectly for each season. No one does Holiday’s like Disney, and things real light up at the holiday events. WaltDisneyWorld is a great place to visit during the Holiday’s, They really make the atmosphere festive during both Halloween and Christmas. Even with the high price tag both events are 100% worth it, especially if you haven’t done the party before or you are with small children. It is worth the price, you will not be disappointed.

What to do when Airfare is so high?

I have a trip to Disney planned in April, 2 weeks after Easter, so the heavy crowds should be all heading for home or already there. But here is my Dilemma, I have my DVC resort booked for the Beach Club, but decent Airfare is incredibly hard to find.

Prices are sky high, both flying to MCO and flying back home. Luckily, thanks to my signing up for the Southwest Airlines credit card I received 60,000 rewards points, add in referring people for the card and getting an extra 10,000 points each, I had more than enough to purchase   A flight going out from Newark to Orlando for my 2 kids, my wife and myself and the Mother on Law. Problem is  coming home I am not having much luck. Points are high for southwest and United, and prices are high, I am looking at about $1200-$1400 for the 5 of us just for the flight home. I can get a somewhat decent price if we wanted to fly out at 530 or 6am. But that’s not happening.

So here is my other option. I am possibly going to rent a car (SUV) for the week in Disney. Pick it up in MCO and then drive it home to New Jersey and drop it off in Newark for a little over $200 which is a good price. Or I can pick up a minivan at MCO on the Friday before we leave, drive it to NJ, drop it off in Newark, for about $60. So I have options, just have to drive home from Florida to Nj. Not ideal but it can save me some money. Booked it through Priceline and Hotwire so I have free cancellation just in case I am able to find a decent price for a flight home, which is very possible. But, I have to have a backup plan just in case these insanely high air prices don’t go down.