Dining without the Disney Dining Plan

I’ve done the Disney Dining Plan twice, once for free and once where I paid $37.99 per day, per person. While I liked the opportunity to try many of Disney’s fine restaurants, this trip we’re dining on our own without the dining plan. There’s two reasons for this. Disney changed the dining plan this year and gratuity is no longer included. That costs me more money, making the plan more expensive. Also, since many people use the dining plan, you almost have to make reservations for your table service restaurants. How can I be sure we’ll all be hungry at a specified time? Or even in the park where the restaurant is located? We did 10 days of the dining plan in June 2007. While I feel I definitely got my money’s worth, I didn’t like having a reservation time and restaurant etched in stone. And now that gratuity is not included, I just keep thinking of the $40 tip I’d have to shell out if my family racked up another $200 dining tab at Spoodles on the boardwalk.
So this trip we’re dining on our own. And just know that if you don’t choose the dining plan, you don’t have to eat hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries for a week!
Disney has a lot of options for counter-service and food court meals. Salads are available almost everywhere. Sandwiches are not your run-of-the-mill type (I definitely recommend the Cuban sandwich with plantation chips at the ABC Commissary in Disney Studios!).
You can get a good dinner meal such as spaghetti and meatballs or chicken with mashed potatoes, at the food court of the Disney resorts. Pizza is readily available at the resorts also. While I’ve never ordered pizza at a Disney resort, my 17-year-old daughter who stayed at All Star Movies with her school chorus last December, raved over the pizza they had delivered from the food court.
If you still want to do a restaurant meal or two and can’t get a reservation for dinner at a time you want, try eating there at lunch. In some restaurants the menus are the same or similar.
But no matter where you eat, save room for a snack! Mickey pops, fresh popcorn and Dole Whips (only in the Magic Kingdom) are on my must-have list every trip.

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