Dining During Pirate Night: Dinner Review on the Disney Dream


Argh Matey! One night on select Disney Cruise Line sailings there is a special Pirate Night! This celebration ends with the highly-anticipated Fireworks at Sea and the “Pirates in the Caribbean” Deck Party. Before all that, Disney encourages guests to “Eat Like a Scalawag” at their nightly rotational dining locations. During this family fun dining experience, guests are encouraged to wear their best pirate attire.



For Pirate Night, there were disappointingly very few pirate-themed decorations in the restaurant. There were special pirate-themed menus, but a couple decorations scattered throughout the restaurant would have been a nice touch. We dined in the Royal Palace that night, so it basically looked like it does any other night. This wasn’t that big of a deal though, and honestly wasn’t something I even thought of until writing this review.


The Experience

Pirate Night seems to be the most laid-back night, which makes it feel like a more casual atmosphere, but the quality of the food wasn’t sacrificed just because it was a themed night.


For my appetizer, I had the Davy Jones’ Locker Rock Crab Cake, which was served with chili-Cajun spiced coleslaw and lime. It was a good crab cake, but not exceptional. I certainly enjoyed it, but if I must be critical the crab was shredded into very small pieces, so there weren’t any nice chunks in there. Considering this had to be made for a mass amount of people, I thought it was good and I’d order it again.


Next, I had the Carrot and Cilantro Soup. This was easily the worst thing I tasted on the entire cruise. This should not be on the menu. I like carrots and I like cilantro, but the combination of the two in this particular dish was just downright repulsive. There very well could be better carrot and cilantro soups out there, but there is a slim chance I’ll be willing to give them a try after tasting this.


I chose King George’s Roasted Privateer Strip Loin for my main course, which is served with thyme-roasted potatoes, buttered Savoy cabbage, Yorkshire pudding and a rosemary wine sauce. It was delicious. The Strip Loin was a large cut of meat and was cooked perfectly. The piece I had was very tender, and while the Yorkshire pudding wasn’t the best I’d ever had, it still tasted very good. The meat was very juicy, and the rosemary wine sauce also gave the meat an additional boost of flavor. This was easily the best thing I’d had outside of the Premium Dining Experiences (Palo and Remy).

There were a few desserts that looked appealing, like the Rum-Soaked Chocolate Cake, but our entire table was fairly full at this point and wanted to ensure that we got a good viewing location for the fireworks, so we actually skipped out on dessert this night.


For Pirate Night, your server will also be dressed in pirate garb, which does add some fun to the dining experience. Our servers were nice, friendly, and accommodating. You can sense that the servers enjoy Pirate Night because while they still take their jobs seriously, the fun atmosphere does seem to take some weight off their shoulders. At least that was what I interpreted.

We had been at either Remy or Palo the previous two nights, and our server from the first night got sick. So considering we were new faces, they did a great job with any questions, concerns, or allergies we might have. This isn’t the level of service you get when dining at the premium locations, but I never expected that from them. I thought — considering this was part of the rotational dining structure — that they did a great job.

Overall Impression

Pirate Night is a lot of fun. This is what Disney Cruises are all about. While not every dish was perfect (I’m looking at you Carrot and Cilantro Soup) it was largely a good meal, and the entertaining feel of Pirate Night gave the experience a little boost of excitement. There are a couple of small adjustments I think Disney can improve on, like the addition of a few pirate decorations in the restaurant, but other than that I think this was one of my favorite nights at the rotational dining locations.

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From Character to Costume: 20 MNSSHP Group and Solo Costume Ideas


Welcome, foolish mortals. For those of you unaware, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is right around the corner. This means it’s time for all of you ghouls and gals to find a great costume!

Now whether you’re going with your family, friends, or even solo, finding a costume idea can sometimes be a hard decision to make. Just think of all the pictures you’ll be taking! So I decided to reach out to my fellow Disney community and ask them to share some photos of their past Disney Halloween party costumes. To my amazement, I received a tremendous amount of responses, each with different unique costume ideas. Every single submission was equally magical, but with the permission of the photos’ owners, I decided to feature 20 amazing costume ideas to help you be ready for the spookiest event of the year.

20. Rare Pins Anyone?

We all know that one person that LOVES to collect Disney pins. We also know that everyone has that one pin they treasure over the rest. Check out this couple’s take on the classic Disney Pin Trader and his Prized Pin!

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19. The Greek Games

I don’t know about you, but this looks like one scary crew I would not want to mess with!


18. An Enchanted Night Out

Whether you feel like skipping down Main Street singing “Be Our Guest,” or maybe hang about Gaston’s Tavern, costumes from this well-known Disney classic are sure to “light-up” peoples’ night!


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17. On a Blustery Day

If you’re lucky, this party may just fall on a “Winds-day”! So gather all your friends and head on over to the Hundred Acre Wood to meet your favorite pals!



16. Race Ya to the Castle!

Race from the parking lot to the castle in record time! I sure hope Magic Kingdom has car insurance. Just remember, no tractor tipping allowed!


15. This Is What Dreams Are Made Of

Meeting an Italian Pop Star? Getting to live your dream on the big stage for one night only? No, I’m not talking about Hannah Montana, I’m talking about Lizzie McGuire and her stage partner Isabella! This dynamic duo’s costumes are dedicated to their show stopping performance!


14. May The Force Be With You

Looking to showcase your inner Jedi? Or maybe it’s finally time to let your dark side show? Check out these amazing costumes from a galaxy far far away!


13. The Park’s New Groove

Looks like Emperor Kuzco decided Florida would be a better place for his vacation home over a hill with a view. But if you decide to take inspiration from this fabulous crowd, make sure you stay away from any llama potions, wrong levers, and PLEASE don’t burn your spinach puffs!

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12. Who Let the Dogs Out?

Hey, who let those dogs loose in the park? Better find them before Cruella does! I heard she plans on turning them into coats!

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11. Being Part of the Halloween World

Turn your fins into legs and walk on down Main Street for a swimming good time! These girls certainly know how to be part of the Halloween world, let’s just hope that they haven’t made any deals with the Sea Witch!

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10. A New Apprentice

Has anyone seen the sorcerer’s hat? I sure hope an apprentice didn’t take it and enchant the brooms again! Look out for this magical trio with their unique take on the Fantasia classic.

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9. Just Add Pixie Dust!

Disney is place where adults can become kids again and no one really has to grow up. It looks like these groups decided to add a little extra Pixie Dust to their vacation and fly away!

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8. Where’s Dopey?

“Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, it’s off to the parks we go!” These adventuresome mining crews really know how to have a good time. Just make sure you stay away from the candy apples, I hear they’re poisonous!

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7. As Mad as a Hatter

Just in time for tea! Make sure you don’t go mad when you see these amazing renditions of this whimsical Disney film. Watch out for any hidden rabbit holes or else you may just lose your head!


6. We Know the Way

If you’re looking to make quite a shiny appearance, then check out these stunning costumes! They may call to everyone’s liking so much, that you’ll be saying “You’re Welcome” to everyone you pass.

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5. Toy Story of Terror

Feel like showing your love for the new Toy Story Land at this terrifying time of year? Well round up your rootin’ tootin’ posse and take a look at these imaginative groups!

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4. Become Part of the Magic

Want to show your favorite ride or attraction some good old Disney love? Then get creative like these groups did!

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3. Show Your Wicked Side

Halloween just got a whole lot more evil. If I were you, I’d be making a path down Main Street to let these evil bands of villains through. I sure wouldn’t want to get in their way!


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2. The Spookiest Of Them All

I think everyone can agree that Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror may be two of the spookiest rides in Disney World. So why not become the 1,000th happy haunt or even a bellhop for the evening? Hopefully the mortals won’t get too spooked by your eerie attire!

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1. Light Up the Night!

Take inspiration from this creative duo and make your own fireworks spectacular. Make a booming entrance and show your true love for the Magic Kingdom!

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Thank you again to everyone that submitted and allowed me to use their photos! Everyone’s submissions were equally magical and I hope this post gives everyone out there a little Disney inspiration for the upcoming holiday season. Enjoy!

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Disney’s New Streaming Service Gives Ricky Strauss Creative Oversight


As many know, Disney is rolling out a new streaming service similar to Netflix that is making waves in the entertainment industry. Following that pattern, Disney has surprised Hollywood once again by assigning Ricky Strauss creative oversight of programming as President of Content and Marketing for Disney’s streaming service.

Rising through the ranks at Disney, Strauss now has the authority to develop the service’s strategic content vision and greenlight new TV shows and movies. Strauss, President of Marketing for Walt Disney Studios for the last 6 years, has a strong background in promotions with past advertising experience at TriStar Pictures and Columbia Pictures.

During his time at Disney, Strauss has helped develop films into box office smashes such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Black Panther, Beauty and the Beast, and Inside Out.

The surprise comes as a result of his past production history — which has also overseen box office misses like Go and Fair Game —especially since the streaming service is deemed a make-or-break plan to solve Disney’s television viewership problems.

Although most of Hollywood is shocked by the decision, Kevin Feige has endorsed Strauss as “hugely supportive of storytellers” and displaying “creative instincts and expertise.” Strauss will be responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars in production and have to navigate original content in addition to Disney mainstays Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar.

For instance, Strauss will oversee the upcoming live-action Star Wars series directed by John Favreau. The streaming service-specific show will cost roughly $100 million for 10 episodes, raising the stakes for Strauss and the service’s performance. Other original content includes Timmy Failure, a best-selling book series-inspired boy detective movie. Directed by Oscar-winning Tom McCarthy, this film has a budget of $45 million.

So far, Strauss has recruited top directors and producers for the service’s original content at a time when Apple, Amazon and Netflix are stealing the best talent from traditional TV. However, he will also need to ensure the service’s programs appeal to a wide audience and position it as an entertainment leader in an increasingly crowded market.

Source/Image: New York Times

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Disney’s Opening V.I.PASSHOLDER Night at the Magic Kingdom Fails to Feel Special


Last month Walt Disney World announced they were introducing V.I.PASSHOLDER Nights, which would give Gold, Platinum, Platinum Plus, and Premier Annual Passholders the opportunity to experience a theme park for two additional hours after the normal closing time. This event comes at no additional charge, and registration invitations were sent via email.


Maybe I had unrealistic expectations, but the opening night of V.I.PASSHOLDER Nights at the Magic Kingdom felt like a flop. It is difficult to complain about a free event, and I do appreciate that Disney is starting to make an effort at showing appreciation for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders, but something billed as a V.I.P. experience should probably feel somewhat special.



Walt Disney World cast members began handing out wristbands long before the event started. I got in line to get mine around six o’clock, and the line was about 15 minutes long. It felt like the cast members were a little overwhelmed. They were pleading that guests come back later as the line would get shorter as it approached the beginning of the event. I would have followed this suggestion, but I had a reservation at the Plaza Restaurant before it started and I was worried about the timing of everything, so I didn’t really have a choice but to just wait it out.



I was expecting attendance to be similar to Extra Magic Hours, but that was not the case. While guests weren’t shoulder to shoulder, there seemed to be a decent amount of foot traffic in the park. Many of the rides had 20-minute waits or more. My wife and I decided to take advantage of as many of the walk-on attractions as we could, but there wasn’t a whole lot of those to choose from. While a 45-minute wait for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train sounds great compared to its normal wait time, that would have been almost half of the two-hour event. Probably the best part of the night was that Peter Pan’s Flight had a wait time listed at 35 minutes, when in all actuality, it was closer to 15 minutes. This was the first time my wife had seen the stand-by queue, as we typically use a FastPass for this ride, so that was a gratifying and enjoyable experience.

The biggest problem with the crowds was that normal guests can get in an hour-long line for an attraction at 9:59 p.m., which meant the lines for the event really didn’t start to go down until 10:45 p.m. With the event ending only a little more than an hour after that, it sent guests rushing to do as much as they could with the time they had left.

Lack of Special Meet-and-Greets

Disney never promised special meet-and-greets, but everyone in attendance was an Annual Passholder, meaning they all have met Mickey Mouse and the Disney Princesses more than a handful of times. It would have been nice if there were some unique meet-and-greet experiences. Instead of employing the characters that are in the parks every single day, for the last two hours of the night it would have been exciting if Disney brought out somewhat rare characters like Jiminy Cricket, Robin Hood, and Terk. This would have been extremely popular, and wouldn’t have really been at much of an additional cost to Disney.



My wife and I had a good time because we made the best of it. Again, this was a completely free event so no harm, no foul. It did feel like the name of the event was slightly misleading. It probably shouldn’t be advertised as a V.I.P. experience because it wasn’t one. This was the first of three scheduled V.I.PASSHOLDER Nights, so hopefully they’ll learn from this experience for the next two. It would only take a small handful of changes to make this into an extraordinary event. I wasn’t expecting a special parade or fireworks, but handing out a free button or having a few unique meet-and-greet locations would have gone a long way. They also need to limit the number of people invited to each night.

If you are considering attending one of the upcoming V.I.PASSHOLDER Nights, I highly suggest scheduling a couple FastPass selections and visiting the park for a few hours before the event begins; the two hours by itself is just not enough time. Fortunately, I had a couple FastPass selections and a dinner reservation before the event started, so that made it worthwhile.

I personally wasn’t too upset by the shortcomings of this event because I live 15 minutes away, and so hopping over to the Magic Kingdom for a few hours on a Sunday night with my wife was a fun experience regardless of the event, but not all Annual Passholders live a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Magic Kingdom. Guests that flew into town expressly for this event thinking they were getting some V.I.P. experience for free were probably very disappointed. I know I would have been.

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Target and Disney Teaming Up for New Disney Princess Collection


Disney is working with Target to release an exclusive line of Disney Princess hardcover graphic novels, figures, and apparel that will appeal to both children and adult fans of the company’s leading ladies. This new line of merchandise was inspired by the Disney Princess Comics from publisher Joe Books.

The comics, illustrated by Amy Mebberson, showcase the daily lives of the iconic Disney Princesses in their fairytale kingdoms. The graphic novels promise to share stories of Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel “as they face the hilarious day-to-day situations of their worlds.” Mebberson is known for having a distinctive artistic style.


Disney Publishing Worldwide Senior Vice President and Global Publisher Tonya Agurto said, “With the growth of the kids’ comics category, we felt this is the perfect opportunity to portray our beloved Princesses through visual storytelling.”

Hasbro developed the figurines, which include small sets of Belle, Pocahontas, and Rapunzel, and larger sets of Ariel, Ursula, and Eric. The apparel was created by Hybrid Promotions, and include three shirts that “feature the speech bubble wit alongside our Princesses reimagined in this cool art style.”

Credit/Image: Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media

Featured Image: Target

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shopDisney Launches New ‘Disney Store’s Sleep Shop Hotline’

Disney Sleep Shop

Parents agree that putting kids to bed can be stressful, and a recent study showed that 77 percent of parents are exhausted by the process of getting their children to bed. Beginning today, families and fans can add a little Disney magic into the bedtime routine with the new Disney store’s Sleep Shop Hotline*. The toll-free number, 1 (877) 7-MICKEY, has five special messages from Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Goofy to give kids something to look forward to at bedtime. The phone number will run from today through August 31 and is available throughout the United States and Canada.

In an effort to help improve the bedtime battle, Disney store and shopDisney have launched a new “Sleep Shop” assortment of children’s sleep items and have teamed up with Lauren Olson, a certified pediatric sleep coach and founder of Sleep and the City to give her top tips to help parents troubleshoot common sleep challenges.

Lauren commented,

“As a mom of two extremely busy toddlers, I know keeping consistent napping schedules and bedtime routines can be a major production – from stall tactics to short naps and pre-dawn wake-ups, it can be hard on everyone in the household. I love that Disney store is providing families with some easy, fun tools, like a sleep rewards chart and light up plush toy, to try and alleviate some of the stresses associated with sleep!”

Take a look at Lauren’s top tips for common sleep challenges in the infographic below.

The “Sleep Shop” is home to a new assortment of kids sleep items across Disney, Disney∙Pixar, Star Wars, and Marvel including sleep rewards charts, light up drinkware and plush, slippers, and new pajama sets ranging from $14.95 – $29.95. To check out the full array of sleep shop offerings and see Lauren’s full tips, visit www.shopDisney.com/sleep-shop.

*Limit 1 message per call. If calling using a mobile phone, standard mobile charges may apply.

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4 Rivers Food Truck Coming to Disney Springs


According to the Disney Parks Blog, the popular barbeque joint, 4 Rivers will soon have a food truck coming to Disney Springs. The new establishment will be called the 4R Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck and will be located at the Disney Springs Marketplace beginning in late August.

The 4R Cantina Barbacoa Food Truck will serve a barbacoa-style menu derived from the “culinary culture of Mexico City.” Guests will be able to find Taco Cones, Burrito Bowls, and even “vegetarian options like the Squash Blossom Burrito.”

4 Rivers is a popular family-owned smokehouse barbecue chain in Florida. This food truck will serve as another locally founded establishment making its way to Disney Springs. 4r

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

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Record Breaking ‘Black Panther’ Now the Third Film Ever to Cross $700 Million Domestically


Yesterday, the 2018 Marvel blockbuster Black Panther reached the $700 million milestone at the domestic box office, joining Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Avatar as the only movies to ever do so.

After its February 16th debut at $242.1 million and historic second weekend gross of $111.7 million, Black Panther has impressively sustained popularity at the box office for 25 straight weekends.

Celebrated by fans and critics alike, Black Panther is the biggest superhero movie of all time in North America. While the film is a smash hit at home, it still trails Avengers: Infinity War as the second biggest release this year internationally, grossing $646.7 million.

With no stop in sight, Black Panther seems set to cross more and more milestones as one of Disney’s most lucrative films in the company’s history.

Source: The Walt Disney Company

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Walt Disney World, Disneyland Share Best Bites for August 2018


It’s a new month and time once again for the Disney Parks Blog to share some of the “best bites” on both coasts for the month of August.

Starting at the Disneyland Resort, last month we told you that breakfast has returned to the River Belle Terrace at Disneyland Park and now we have some photos to share of the new menu items.

The Monkey Bread, which the restaurant is serving up all day long, features warm and buttery sweet bread topped with pecan butter and candied pecans.


Breakfast entrees include Country Biscuits & Gravy, Becky Thatcher’s Fried Green Tomato, or the Short Rib Skillet, which is served with eggs, signature potatoes and Texas toast.


Of course, breakfast at River Belle wouldn’t be complete without Mickey Pancakes.


Crossing the esplanade to Disney California Adventure, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill has recently added a Fish Taco Plate to their menu. The tacos are made with corn tortillas and topped with citrus cabbage slaw and habanero sauce, with cilantro-lime rice and black beans on the side.


Moving across the country to Walt Disney World, some of the quick-serve locations at the Magic Kingdom have their August item of the month. Pinocchio Village House has their Flatbread of the Month and for August it’s a Bacon Mac and Cheese Flatbread. At Casey’s Corner, the Hot Diggity Dog of the Month this time around is the Cheesy Dog, which is made with an all-beef hot dog, topped with queso, cheddar, and seasoned cheese puffs.


The Friar’s Nook is making some special Pub Tots, topped with beer cheese, bacon, and chives. They also have the Brat & Tots, where they top a bratwurst with sauerkraut and tots.


In Epcot, there’s a new drink at Refreshment Port. The Stow Away Mary takes a classic Bloody Mary and tops it with pimento-stuffed olives, a cherry tomato, celery, jumbo shrimp, and smokehouse jerky.


Across at the American Adventure, the Liberty Inn has a Macaroni and Cheese All-Beef Foot Long Hot Dog.


Finally at Epcot, the Pretzel Cart near Test Track has warm Cream Cheese, Jalapeno Cheese, or Salted Caramel Stuffed Pretzels.


Also worth mentioning is that over at Disney Springs, STK Orlando is now serving lunch during the week and brunch on the weekends.

The special menu includes Heirloom Tomato & Burrata Salad, Tuna Tartare, and Crispy Rock Shrimp. The raw bar will also be open with Oysters, Shrimp Cocktails, Ceviche, and Alaskan Crab.

Steaks, sandwiches, and burgers are also on the menu, including the Linz Angus Burger made with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and chips.

Visit STK for lunch Monday through Friday 11:00am to 2:30pm, or brunch Saturday and Sunday 11:00am to 3:00pm.


Wherever you decide to eat at Walt Disney World or Disneyland in August, with all of these choices, you’re sure to leave satisfied.

Source: Disney Parks Blog

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When the Disney Dining Plan Makes Sense


When you’re planning a Walt Disney World vacation there are four major areas of cost that you always have to consider: Travel, Resort, Park Tickets and Food. While there are many opinions on what resorts are the best, when and how to get to Orlando and how many days of park tickets are best for your vacation; rarely do any of these topics elicit such a hard stance from people on any social media platform as the Disney Dining Plan. It was even a topic of discussion on the Dreams Unlimited Travel show last year. Almost any thread on the Disboards where the topic is broached, you’ll get strong stances on how it’s a waste of money. Travel agents will strongly suggest that room discounts will save you money, especially for those who are on a budget. Still though, Free Dining is one of Disney’s most sought after offerings.

But does it make sense financially? It’s different for everyone, but let’s take a look for when it does make sense.

There are some aspects of the Disney Dining Plan that you can’t measure in actual value, like having the peace of mind that your food is already paid for, not having to anguish over menu items or running a tally of your daily expenses. These aspects hold different values for people and we can’t measure them. The point of this exercise is to discuss the monetary value that you can actually measure with your wallet. So let’s set them aside.

So when does the Disney Dining Plan make sense? There is a sweet spot when you are a family with young children and you’re not heading to Walt Disney World on a tight budget. It’s best to analyze these things when you can break it down to cost per day. So let’s do that.

disney dining plan cost

Here are the costs for the 2018 Disney Dining Plan. For the sake of this article we’re going to use the cost of the Regular Dining Plan and a family of four with two adults and two children. Your cost per day is $202.48.

Free Dining vs. Discounted Room Rate

Our first analysis will be comparing this dollar amount to the room discounts you may find with various Disney Vacation Packages. If you didn’t know, when you purchase a free dining package you are paying rack rate for your room. (Rack rate is the non-discounted cost of the room.) Room discounts range anywhere from 10% to 30% off the rack rate. It’s incredibly difficult to actually nail down a comparative number because discounts fluctuate season to season. Not only that, they vary within the Value, Moderate and Deluxe tiers. So we’re going to have to do some estimating when coming up with a number to compare to the dining plan cost. If you’re using this article to decide between free dining or a room discount make sure you use exact numbers from the resort you’re considering! We’re going to use current summer discount offerings with standard rooms. Room rates vary a lot, for 2018 you’ll see rates that can be $40-60 higher than listed below during holidays or other events.

  • For value resorts you’re typically looking at around $145 per night. With a 15% discount you’ll save $21.75 per night.
  • For moderate resorts you’re typically looking at around $260 per night. With a 10% discount you’ll save $26.00 per night.
  • For a deluxe resort like Animal Kingdom Lodge you’re typically looking at around $450 per night. With a 20% discount you’ll save $90.00 per night.
  • For a deluxe resort like the Polynesian you’re typically looking at around $600 per night. With a 10% discount you’ll save $60.00 per night.

These savings numbers are very rough, but they are just to get an idea. Let’s compare the monetary value of the two deals: If you’re booking at a value or moderate resort you’re getting a Quick Service Plan which is $148.48; you can upgrade to the Regular Dining Plan at the cost of $54.00. This means you’re getting $94.48 per day in value from Disney. If you’re booking a deluxe resort you’re getting the Regular Dining Plan so consider the value at the full cost of $202.48.

Comparing the two, you’re looking at two or three times the value from Disney going with a Regular Dining Plan.

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Cost of Food vs. the Regular Dining Plan

The second analysis is really the crux of the argument. Does your family really need all that food? If you’re asking that question, the answer is probably not. You can certainly get by every day with a significantly smaller food bill. There are a myriad of ways to save on the cost of food, from getting groceries delivered to your room, eating at Cosmic Rays or just budgeting out your meals ahead of time. The point of this article, however, is to maximize your entertainment for the dollars you’re spending. Whether it’s visiting parks, swimming in the pools or having a great dining experience, you’ll want to have the most fun possible.

Let’s discuss costs of dining out of pocket and the list price of the dining plan.

If you’re planning your trip well in advance, it’s a great exercise to actually see what you might spend if you do all your dining on Disney property. Head over to WDWInfo’s Dining page and you’ll find all the pricing on food items you would need. Put together an imaginary meal and total up the costs. Quick service meals may run you $8-18 per adult and $6-14 per child depending on snacks, sharing, and drinks.

For the family of four, you can easily spend only $40-60 for lunch or dinner. Please note we’re talking children here, not teenagers that consume all the food in front of them. With a light breakfast you’re looking at half the cost of the Regular Dining Plan. Even adding in a special breakfast at Be Our Guest or a sit down meal one night during your stay, you’re still saving significant money by not doing the dining plan. This is what everyone will tell you — you’re better off taking the room discount and budgeting your own meals.

Not so fast. Disney World is about shared experiences with friends and family. Remember that sweet spot where the dining plan makes sense? It makes sense when you start considering the fun and cost of character meals — breakfast at the Tusker House is $108.00, Chef Mickey’s costs this family of four $128.00 for lunch, dinner at The Crystal Palace costs $150.00. If you’re booking a character meal for the majority of your days at Walt Disney World, the dining plan begins to make a lot more sense.

The character dining experience is amazing for young children. Your kids will get one-on-one time with their favorite characters and they will go crazy for them. You’ll have access to an all-you-can-eat buffet, so worrying about quantity isn’t an issue (though quality may be at some locations). When coming up with your daily plan of attack for each park, it’s highly recommended to plan downtime, a time where you can get off your feet, relax, catch your breath, and get out of the heat. Character meals are some of the best ways to do this. If you want to get the most value out of your time, character meals offer both fun experiences and food.

Let’s just analyze the scenario of dining plan vs. out of pocket for lunch at Chef Mickey’s. After that meal, you’re looking at spending $72.54 to break even with the dining plan costs. Can you make it work? If you eat at Cosmic Rays, sure you can do it. Are you buying an ice cream for the family? Starbucks from Main Street? It’s getting harder. Remember we’re assuming you are not at the Magic Kingdom on a tight budget.


If you are taking advantage of the dining plan and availing yourself of the different experiences you can have with things like character meals, the first analysis is pretty clear. You’re gaining either $94.48 or $202.48 per day in value from Disney. You will never make up those kind of savings from room discounts alone. The key to this is maximizing what the dining plan has to offer, and that doesn’t mean just ordering the most expensive thing on the menu. That’s where we have to consider the second analysis

The second analysis is the trickier and depends on people’s appetites, eating habits and whether or not their kids love meeting Mickey and Minnie and watching them while they’re eating. Paying out of pocket, you can easily spend $130 on lunch at Chef Mickey’s, $50 for dinner at Pecos Bill’sand end up spending $30-40 throughout the day on coffee, ice cream and other snacks. With the dining plan, that’s all covered. If you can (or want to) replicate this nearly every day with some kind of character dining experience, you’re in that sweet spot where the Disney Dining Plan makes sense for you and your family financially. How to plan it out so you can do this is a subject for another article.

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