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Arthur Levine

A Different Kind of Disney Dining Plan

By April 4, 2011

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A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about Magical Meals, a new book about dining at Disney World. It does a good job helping readers discover ways to find value and stick to their budgets when they plan their meals at the Mouse. Another new book, The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, covers cost-conscious and practical issues such as budgets and restaurant reservations as well, but it also focuses on the dining experience with plenty of recommendations about where and what to eat at the vast resort.

Author AJ Wolfe writes with great authority when she makes her recommendations. She is the person behind the Disney Food Blog, a unique online cornucopia of reviews, photos, recipes, news, and other info about chowing down at the Disney parks and resorts. The DFB Guide is presented as an e-book and is packed with handy links to content within the book, to the DFB site, and to third-party resources. It also includes interactive worksheets to help readers make their Disney World dining plans (although the PDF-based budget forms didn't tally items as I anticipated they would).

The 256-page book is loaded with charts such as Disney World's top five underrated table-service restaurants (I couldn't agree more with the top pick, Sanaa) and intriguing tips. I've been covering Disney World for a long time, and I never knew about Epcot's World Showcase Wine Walk ($20 for a sampling of six wines) until I read Wolfe's book. Wolfe deconstructs the "Disney Dining Plan," Disney World's somewhat convoluted dining packages, to help readers determine whether any of the options might make sense (and save cents) for them. She also offers a restaurant-by-restaurant overview of the many places to eat at the parks, hotels, and throughout the resort.

The book is easy to navigate, fun to read, and incites Pavlovian responses with its mouth-watering descriptions and images of Disney dishes. If you're heading to Disney World, you really should make a dining plan as part of your preparations. The DFB Guide is a comprehensive, invaluable plan-making resource.

March 8, 2014 at 7:59 pm
(1) Laura Botka says:

I visited Universal Studios and Disney World in early November of 2013. There is never anything to complain about Disney and their meal plan is unbelievable. Universal, on the other hand, was another story. We paid approx. $410 for a three day meal plan. We arrived 1:00 p.m. on 11/3/13. We checked in, picked up our information packets and meal plan cards, etc. We were then given a tour of the Porto Fino Hotel and shown the restaurants in the hotel. Having not eaten yet that day, we were starving. We immediately went to the sandwich shop only to be told they don’t accept the meal plan. It is only accepted at the theme parks! We got on the boat and went to one of the theme parks with the thought of eating first and then going on the rides. Not so easy. Every restaurant we went to didn’t accept the meal plan. We finally found a cafeteria style restaurant and the only thing they had left to eat was pizza that had been under hot lights all day and meat loaf that looked like dog food sitting in a puddle of watery gravy. We finally found a lovely restaurant with great food. The searching for food took away so much time that we could have been on rides. The next morning we discovered that if you want breakfast on the meal plan you once again must hop on the boat. The rides at the parks were great but the hunting for food was so ridiculous (and for the money we paid!). We stayed at the parks as late as we could and planned to eat at City Walk. Once again not one single place took the meal plan. We ended up eating dinner at Starbuck’s. We each bought a muffin. We ate half and took the other half home for breakfast! The next day was a little better we found out they only implemented the new meal plan on our first day! The employees in the restaurants were sympathetic and helped us. When we returned home I complained to AAA who took it up with their Universal rep. Universal only refunded me $140 out of $410 because they deducted the food we did eat!!

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