By Bethany Adams, MyRecipes contributor
It was seven months ago that I walked down the aisle with my best friend. A picturesque autumn wedding that I had dreamed about since playing dress-up as a little girl. There was my handsome groom looking dapper in his tailored tuxedo, a beautiful stone church, delicious food, a rather impressive candy bar (thanks Mom), but most importantly--it was a day celebrated by an overwhelming surrounding of friends and family who wanted to lovingly share in the happiest day of our lives.
Now, being the happiest day of our lives, it was only fitting that we spend our honeymoon at, you guessed it, the happiest place on earth. I mean, “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast was the soundtrack to which the waiters delivered a family-style assortment to our tables for the wedding. Honestly, there was no other place we seriously considered honeymooning. Sitting for a week on a beach may be relaxing, but after two days I’m bored, I’m burnt, and I have sand in places…well, you get the picture. We got plenty of reactions along the lines of, “Oh, you should go to Rome or Greece,” or “Don’t you want to go some place a little more romantic or exotic?” But hey, my new husband and I went to Epcot for an afternoon, visited every country suggested to us (plus numerous others) and enjoyed romantic dinners in Canada, France, and right in the middle of the jungle… I think we chose wisely.
However, upon returning from our honeymoon, there was one question we invariably were asked by friends and family. “Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?”
My response: “IS THE DISNEY DINING PLAN WORTH IT?? A MILLION TIMES, YES!”
Now, I understand some may disagree with me posing the argument that Disney can be done cheaper. If that’s your mission, by all means, pack those PB&J sandwiches. But this was our marital celebratory vacation, folks! If there is ever a time when ought to be able to splurge on what you eat and how much it costs, I'd say it’s while spending quality time with the person you just promised to love forever. To me, it was the absolute best decision of the entire trip.
That said, there are a few things you should know when it comes to springing for the Disney Dining Plan--both from a professional Disney magic-maker and yours truly (a highly satisfied customer), of course.
First off, I highly recommend getting a travel agent who specializes in Disney honeymoons. Darlene Mitchell, an Academy Travel Affiliate who specializes in Disney destinations, was my go-to lady for our honeymoon plans. And just throwing this out there--she was amazing. Planning a Disney honeymoon can be a little overwhelming, but she walked me through every step, answered all of my crazy questions, and actually made the entire process a lot of fun. I asked Darlene what the advantage was in utilizing a Disney Travel Consultant and she replied, “Our services are 100% free for you to use and we help you save money. We search for discounts and will apply that discount when it becomes available. We help you book your dining and FastPass selections for rides and shows and we take the stress out of your vacation or honeymoon. If you encounter a problem while on your vacation, we handle it for you while you just relax and enjoy your trip!”Preach on sister, preach on.
Initially, I wasn’t too sure about this whole Disney Dining Plan situation myself, so I inquired about the following:
What is the advantage of using the Disney Dining Plan when vacationing in Disney World?
- When you include the dining plan in your Walt Disney World vacation package, you don’t have to think about the cost as the meals are already paid for in advance! That is what makes it so appealing to families and to couples who want to concentrate on having fun and not worrying about the price of meals.
What is the best advice you could give someone planning their honeymoon with regards to the Disney Dining Plan?
- Your honeymoon is a very special trip and having a wonderful dinner each night reserved at one of the fantastic restaurants only adds to the excitement of being at Walt Disney World. And don't forget, you aren't worrying about the cost!
Are there any secrets or insider’s tips honeymooners should know about when using the Disney Dining Plan?
- The cast members at each restaurant always make sure couples are taken care of in a special way. And who doesn't love a special dessert or special seating?
*I can personally attest to this. When my husband and I arrived, we were so tired from the journey that we spent the first night ordering room service. The most amazing box of (complimentary) chocolate truffles showed up with our dinner… oh, P.S. the box the truffles came in was also made of chocolate. After months of pre-wedding dieting, this was like manna straight from heaven.
I know Disney offers a free Dining Plan specific weeks of the year. Is this something that is available if honeymooners book through a Disney Travel Consultant like yourself?
- Yes, certain weeks of the year Disney offers free dining options that are included with the vacation packages. As a Disney Travel Consultant, I will look for discounts like this and make sure that if your travel is within these time frames, I will adjust your reservation to get you this discount.
Are there any other important aspects of the Dining Plan honeymooners should know?
- Reservations can be made 180 days prior to arrival. Just give me your choices and let me do all the work for you!
Real talk folks, and this is serious. You mark that 180 days out in your calendar and you make your lunch and dinner reservations on that day. Excuse my bossy pants for a moment, but this is a detail that you definitely don’t want to wait until the last minute to address, or else you're probably not going to get reservations at the spots you really want to eat. I actually scheduled our own reservations, and even 180 days out, I wasn’t able to get reservations at some of the places we wanted to go. There may or may not have even been a color-coded spreadsheet involved in this reservation process (there was). And no, I’m not even slightly ashamed of it.
Being 100% transparent, I was a little overwhelmed by the Disney Dining Plan Brochure. But after carefully reading, researching, and considering what we wanted out of our honeymoon, I came up with the best way to utilize the dining plan for our trip. Here is where you whip out your trusty, wedding stationary to take notes, nearly-weds.
In my opinion, the best plan to use is the Deluxe Dining Plan. Each person is allowed 3 meals a day and 2 snacks. Believe me, this is plenty of food. But here is my little secret--bring your own breakfast. Traveling to the parks in the morning takes time so have breakfast in your hotel before heading out, then use one of your meals to have a good lunch at the parks. This still leaves you two snacks to use throughout the day and two meal credits to use at dinner. These two meals can be redeemed for dinner at Disney’s fancier restaurants like Le Cellier, Yachtsman Steakhouse, Narcoossee’s, and Jiko, as well as some of their dinner shows. Here, each person will be served their own appetizer, entrée, and dessert (just because you're sharing the rest of your lives together doesn't mean you should have to share dessert). For serious though, after walking approximately twelve miles in the parks each day (if you are hardcore like we were), you've well earned indulging a little.
All in all, yes the Disney Dining Plan is 1000% worth it. My honeymoon was the best vacation I have ever been on. And while I attribute most of that to spending it with the love of my life, the parade of filet mignon, lobster, and intricate desserts at every Mickey turn for sure added a little somethin’ special to the magical time we had. My advice: Eat your way to happily ever after at the happiest place on earth… you won’t regret it.