One of the great things about being on vacation–any vacation, but more so your honeymoon–is not having to cook. The downside is that you then have to decide where to eat for each meal. That can get to be a little much. After all, we’re the type to sit down and plan a menu each week so we never have to face the ‘what’s for dinner’ dilemma.
Disney offers aÂ lot of dining options both in the parks as well as at each resort (you can hop over to a resort you’re not staying at just to have a meal in new surroundings). They basically break down into Carts & Kiosks for the snack and beverage carts strewn about; Counter or Quick Service places that are akin to fast food; and Table Service dining. Table Service includes both regular sit-down dining as well as various buffets and many of the character meals, too. There are also some dinner shows to choose from.
A few years ago Disney started offering Dining Plans that you could add to the Magic Your Way room & ticket packages. The definite upside is that you can pre-pay some or all of your meals (depends on the level of plan you choose) and not have to worry about it (much) once you’re on property. Some say that the most recent price increases have made the dining plans not as cost effective as they were when first introduced. I think it depends, though, on if you’re doing it for the savings or if you’re doing it so you don’t have to worry while in the parks.
In our case, it was a little bit of both. I haven’t discussed it much, yet (but I will, once we get around to menu tasting), but I’ve recently “discovered” a laundry list of food intolerances that, if not heeded, will make me anywhere to mildly uncomfortable to quite ill. Neither of which I want to feel on my honeymoon (or any given day, for that matter). Disney is amazing at dealing with special dietary requests, but it’s admittedly easier for the chefs at the table service places to accommodate than the managers of counter service shops. Hence, we’ll be doing aÂ lot of table service dining for my safety as much as anything else.
So we decided not only to go with a dining plan, but actually select the Deluxe Dining Plan which includes (among other things) 3 dining credits per person per night that can be used at either counter service or table service meals and 2 snack credits per person per night. That sounds like a lot (especially for snacks) but the other reason this works well for us is that our honeymoon falls on the last week of the Food & Wine Festival at EPCOT, and many of the items offered at each F&WF stand count as dining plan snack credits!
The downside to the popularity of the dining plans (and it’s only a slight downside at that) is that it’s had an (I’m sure) intended effect of packing the table service restaurants on a regular basis, so walk-up seating can mean a long wait.
Not that Disney is going to leave you hanging! At 180 days out (or about 6 months prior to your arrival) you can make ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) for any of the table service eateries on property. You don’t have to be on one of the Dining Plans to make an ADR (though they may require a credit card to hold certain reservations).
This is the main reason I started nudging Mr. Road Trip to make the final call on our honeymoon plans, because our Â ADR window opened on May 7th, and since we wanted some Character and Signature dining reservations, I was up at 6am to get online before work and get everything sorted.
To decide where we want to eat, we’re using a combination of the reviews in the PassPorter guide and the menus posted on allears.netÂ (a great resource in general, but definitely for the restaurant menus). And since we’ve already worked out which park(s) we’re doing each day, we can plan our meals to match our surroundings, therefore not having to criss-cross the entirety of Disney each day (unless we want to, of course).
Right now our plans are to have a nice dinner at Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge our first night on property. Tuesday will be spent eating/snacking our way around the World Showcase at EPCOT, using up a bunch of those snack credits, but will be back on Thursday for dinner in the World Showcase. Wednesday night we want to dine with the Hundred Acre Wood gang, so reserved our spots at the Crystal Palace and Friday will start with a late breakfast at Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary. While some seasoned Disney travelers view a lot of sit-down dining as a time waster, I’m looking forward to those planned breaks in the day to keep us from running ourselves ragged. Plus, we’ve tried to space everything out (late suppers, especially) to still get plenty of park time in.
It’s kinda like a jigsaw puzzle, in a way. A delicious jigsaw puzzle. But with the big pieces in place (the corners, if you will), we can now get back to wedding details, knowing that the broad strokes of the honeymoon are all taken care of.
Would you ever be able to decide where you wanted to eat 6 months in advance?