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!

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How does the new Parking fees effect your Walt Disney World budget

I’m sure you have realized by now that Walt Disney World will be charging their guests to park while staying at their resorts. If you are staying at a value resort you will be paying $13 a night to park at your resort, you will be paying $19 for a moderate Resort and $24 for the deluxe resorts. If staying for a week this could add up and eat up some of the money in your budget. I am going to look at how this can effect something things for the average customer and look at some of the thinking behind having these parking fees.

Now a large majority of the guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort do not bring a car to the resort. A large majority fly into Orlando International Airport, use the very convenient Magical Express to drive them to their resort they are staying at. This is a very good perk of staying on Disney Property. Disney also has an extensive transportation system whether it be by bus, boat or monorail, which makes he need for a car on property minimal if actually no need at all. But I do realize there is also a number of families that drive to DisneyWorld. My family used to drive from New Jersey every year, and this added expense can put a hurt of people. We all know he price of staying on property, it isn’t cheap, and now paying $91 to  $168 dollars to park for a 7 night stay just adds to it.

If you were driving and you have a family of four, would that increase in price be enough to make you look at flying more seriously? Probably not, I’d think the recent increase in the price of gas would be more of an issue. If you are a family who is going for the first time and driving or a family who goes once every now and then, is this additional expense going to stop you from visiting? Probably not, it may annoy you and inconvenience you, but in the grand scheme of it it’s a very small cost compared to the price of the resort accommodations, tickets, dining plan, etc. Lets say you stay at a moderate, $200 for a week plus tickets and Dining, $133 seems minute. But to some it may be a big deal. I’ve seen on message boards and social media the outrage of some on this issue. For me, I own DVC and for the most part most of my stays are booked through that, so paying for parking if I ever have a car won’t be an issue as of now for me since if staying at a DVC resort using points I will not be charged. But if I were charged and found having a car was a necessity I would have to find a way to save the parking fees in other ways. It may be one nights going to a quick service for dinner instead of going to a table service, or making lunch in our room rather than going out for lunch. There are many small ways to save big that you wouldn’t think would save you much. Granted some may say it won’t change what we spend and some may say they won’t change a thing. It’s all up to each individual, people will see things differently and to each their own.

Finally, in all honesty  if you fly into MCO  there really is little to no need for a rental car, and I will assume that any of those who do rent a car will think twice about doing so from now on. I used to rent a car mainly because we have been visiting that area for so long we know many good restaurants off site that we love to eat at. Also my mom, sister and the Wife like to go to some of the outlets around the area and do some shopping. But in recent years I’ve found that it’s more of a burden to have the car, especially with Uber and Lyft becoming so popular. For my trip in August, if I can find a great deal on a rental car I may book one, but I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t find one and end up not renting a car.

My next post will look at the ramifications of the parking fees and psychology on them from a Disney viewpoint.

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 6 quick service restaurants in Walt Disney World for food quality and value

Ok, my last post was about the best table service restaurants in terms of food quality in Walt Disney World. Now I will look at the same thing but for Quick Service restaurants but I’ll add in value also. These are some of my personal favorites throughout the parks and resorts, not including Disney Springs. One glaring omission from my top 6 is Be Our Guest. Remember what I said, this is about food quality and value. Be Our Guest is just an overpriced restaurant with overrated food. Now if this is about food and atmosphere things will change, I’ll go over that in another post in the near future. But the prices are high and quite frankly, the quality of food there has gone downhill. So BOG does not make the list. If you are on the meal plan it is worth it, but paying cash it isn’t, but again that’s for a later discussion. But here is my top 6:

 

6. Casey’s Corner: Personally, I love a good hot dog. I know some people will say that hot dogs are horrible for you, so many nitrates, blah blah blah. You are on vacation,at Walt Disney World and are in the Magic Kingdom, it’s ok to have a Hot dog. Also, some people with think what’s so special about a hot dog? Well you haven’t had a dog from Casey’s. Cannot go wrong with their all beef hot dog, plus an array of toppings. They also have my favorite, the pulled pork slaw dog. It’s an all beef hot dog covered with pulled pork, coleslaw and drizzled with bbq sauce. They also have the macaroni and cheese dog and the chili cheese dog. These are so good, and if you are really hungry, or want to split a meal with someone else, order the foot long for slightly extra. It will be more than enough for 2 to share. It’s just really nice to have good hot dog, with all the toppings every now and then. Only downside is if you go during the busy times it is very hard to get a seat.

5. Yak and Yetti: This is a great stop in Animal Kingdom, one I don’t eat at as much as I should mainly because of Flamteee bbq. The Kobe beef burger is good, if you want to go a little lighter, the chicken wrap is pretty good too,and so is the teriyaki beef bowl. There are some different offerings here that aren’t typical of most Quick Service locations in Disney. It’s good food and a little change of pace from some of the normal stuff throughout the parks.

4. Sunshine Seasons: I put this here because of the variety found here. You can find this downstairs in the Land pavilion. My favorite dish is the s Mongolian beef. That is extremely good and usually what I get here. The Rotisserie chicken is very good also, as is the Slow roasted pork loin. There are also a variety of other options like sandwiches and salads. Again, the menu here isalityle different from most other places, and is a good change of pace.

3. La Cantina de San Angel: I absolutely love Mexican food, so this is natural for me. I know some may not be as fond and thing I’m foolish For putting this up here. But for all you Mexican food lovers, this place is pretty good. My wife swears by the fish tacos, I like the empanadas or the beef tacos. My favorite thing on the menu are the nachos. The restaurant is located right on the lagoon so you can get some really good views. Best thing is you can end your meal with a nice churro.

2.  Peppermarket food court: horrible underrated mainly because of its location, this used to be a favorite of mine. But, for the very reason it’s underrated, that’s the same reason I do not get to eat at this gem. Located in the Coronado Springs Resort, there is so much to choose from here. From Pizzas, to burgers, to ribs and Mexican food. Sandwiches, salads and a wide array of other dishes are served here. This place is so good, and it is a great QS on the dining plan. I’m willing to bet most have never visited this great restaurant, and I think you need to find a way to get here next time at Walt Disney World.

1. Flametree BBQ: I love bbq, absolutely love it. I know I know, I love hot dogs, I loveMexicsn food, what do I not love? But I am telling you, bbq is my favorite. Whispering Canyon has some good bbq, you can pretty much find pulled pork sandwiches all over Walt Disney World. But Flametree is different. What I get is the chicken and ribs combo.. good tasty chicken, good ribs, decent sides. The pulled pork nachos are amazing and They have what seems like real bbq sauce, not the generic brand bbq sauces like Heinz. Personally I think the sauces are lacking a bit, but I am very particular about my bbq and sauce.If I go toAnimal Kingdom, I’m going here. Some have said it has tons down hill, I only started going to this restaurant within the last few years, but it’s a good bbq, and to me there is nothing better.

Is there really a best time to get cheapest Airfare?

Since my post yesterday about my hardship in finding cheap airfare, I was thinking about what really is the best times to find the cheapest airfare. The long standing theory is the best time to get that is 2 months out from your departure date. Well without getting too scientific and just going off my observations I’ll dig in further.

Now usually it does seem 2 months out or so is a good time…. usually. Other factors have to be taken into consideration. These can be the time of year, if it’s a holiday season, busy season for the location you are flying to, or if the airport is a popular business destination, such as New York or Chicago. If you are traveling to a large convention town, such as Orlando or Las Vegas, that will play into this also if there is a large convention in town. This will also effect Hotel prices.

But for 2 specific Airlines, Southwest and Jet Blue, I like to check air prices right when the dates come out for booking as long as I know when exactly we are going to be traveling. A lot of times the fares will start out low and work their way up. I am going away to Florida in August, checked Southwest and Jet Blue for fares when they became available. Jet Blue was a little high, but I was able to get Southwest for $180 pp rt, which is a great rate. United usually doesn’t start off cheap, but I’ll check. I’m in NJ so American and Delta don’t have direct flights out and the flights are normally high so inusually don’t even bother to check their rates. Spirit air is usually real cheap, but there are so many issues with them it’s just not worth it.

I realize I’m trying to predict what the airlines do, I’m trying to get a feel of past results and tendencies with them. It isn’t 100% perfect, but I have a pretty good track record trying to feel things out this way.

With the landscape now, rising price of oil may change things, but I personally think the price will stabilize and start coming down more. Some fares may be a little high now because of that, but I don’t think it will be a trend in the future.

Your best bet is to do what I said earlier, check Airlines right when they put the dates available for your date, if nothing just keep an eye on things, check every now and then for rates, check more frequently as you get closer. Keep an eye on the seat map, check to see what amount of seats are available. Granted that is 100% but a decently ok indicator. If there are a lot available, odds are there are still a lot of seats available. If there aren’t well prices will still be high… it’s supply and demand. If there aren’t a lot of seats, if you find an acceptable airfare jump on it. If it seems like there is a decent amount left, wait up. Prices will go down, be patient until you feel you get the right price. Be patient, don’t get nervous and panic. If you miss out, there is always Spirit Air!

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.