What is it? Should I? Is it worth it? Will I save money? I can only give you my opinion on this subject. Things you’ll need to consider are
(1) How many meals do I want paid ahead of time so I don’t have to think about the cost once I’m there? All three meals or just lunch and dinner/supper? Snack costs?
(2) Do I have younger children (too young for fancy sit down meals) or teenagers (able to sit and enjoy a 5 star restaurant?)
(3) Does having to be at a certain part of the park or resort, at a certain time bother me? Or do I want the freedom to go where I wish when I wish with no reservations to go to (in case the kids are too tired to eat or to irritable to sit at a fancy restaurant? And I’ve opted to pay the extra for the standard plan verses quick service plan...and lose money)(quick service plan= 2 quick service meals)
(4) Am I on a budget?(park meal costs add up quickly and can be pricey)
(5) Is the dining plan free on the dates I plan to go (typically mid Aug-early Oct but can sometimes be extended like this year till mid Dec prior to the holiday season)( all prices go up at holiday seasons but your dining plan cost stays same/day so you save even more than anyother time )
If you have younger children and fancy restaurants are not the best plan I’d advise getting the quick service plan...it’ll meet your needs and save you money.
If you have teenagers ( my son was 14 the first yr we went ) who can sit and behave well in a nice restaurant then you will definitely get a deal with the standard (i snack-1 quick and 1 table service)or deluxe dining plans( 3 meals included but costs much more)...some of the nicer restaurants can run into $100 plus tip for each adult( kids over 10yrs)..But the meals are to die for....
(So you’ve paid aprox $49Can/day for the standard meal plan...getting you a snack (anything under $4..great for water in the parks or a quick item like grapes/muffins to eat on the go or for a light breakfast) plus your lunch meal($15-25) plus a fancier sit down restaurant that might cost over $ 100 (you can plan fancy at noon and quick later as well)
.... Sound like a deal??? Well it is don’t you think ...Epcot has wonderful ones like Les Chef du France...resorts like Contemporary have the private dining room with full window views of the castle ( uses 2 meal credits for this but so worth it if you plan your Res time about 30-45 mins before the fireworks...they have a private roof top viewing area and the music from the fireworks is piped in from the wishes fireworks in Magic kingdom so you can hear and watch it(check out videos on YouTube)and we were on the dining plan and got window side seat(all seats have decent view)(dress code for this one..Most don’t) ....I will be letting you know my opinions on the ones we’ve been to as we go along
.... (Food pics/restaurant pics/scrap layouts like my Chef Mickey’s one to follow)
...please let me know if you have any questions I might be able to answer for you
... (We buy our plan as an add on cost from our travel agent...We choose where we are eating...I’m not sure what other pkgs deals offer on their plans ... so choose wisely and ask lots of questions on what you are getting)......
Now as for making your dining reservations...get up early on the 90th day before your trip(you'll have to check but at times you can book at 180 days ahead)... (use a countdown gadget or calendar to keep tract...also fun for kids) and start calling or booking online( I found it to slow)phone was actually easier....they book up fast ..In mins sometimes...so CALL on the 90th day( or sooner if allowed).....if you can’t get a certain time or restaurant book another spot (have a list made out ready to go when you call (http://www.intercot.com/ has a dining reservation sheet to plan your days/times) of 1st, 2nd choices...including name of place,preferred time ,alternate time choices..wanted lunch but switch to dinner in order to get in etc..)( it helps to know the park hours and which park you’ll be going to on which day, when you book..Park hours come out 3 months ahead of time...if you don’t plan ahead you maybe at one park and have to travel to get to your planned restuant..If you plan, you can be in the park or near that spot so you’ll save time...give yourself plenty of time to get to the restaurant and be there 15-20 mins before your res time) then call back and try again to see if anyone has cancelled...change the old res to your new time.....if you wanted a character meal and its booked up solid..Go to the restaurant the day of and try sometimes people don’t show up (kids tired cranky or leave for another park, run late etc) and you might if you are lucky still get in....
Well that’s all for today..more to come later on this subject..I hope this is helpful to you...This is only my point of view ...you’ll have to judge for yourself...choose carefully..have fun..
***ps: the dining goes by nights stayed at resort not days....ex 8 night stay equals 8 days of meals...but usuall works out as 1/2 of arrrival day and departure days are lost and make up for that 9th day missed..