Ready, Set…180 Days to Go!

I’m pretty certain that my daughter is avoiding me this week.  I’d like to think that it has something to do with her being a teenager, but I think it has more to do with the fact that every time she sees me, I try to engage her in a conversation about which Disney restaurants she wants to try out this year.

I know she thinks that I’m a little obsessed with this subject, and to be fair she’s right; I really look forward to trying new dining experiences each year. But what she doesn’t realize is that if you don’t nail those dining reservations down as soon as you can, you are going to miss out.

Disney allows guests to start making dining reservations up to 180 days in advance; our 180 mark was at the beginning of this week.  I know that 180 days seems like more than enough time to make these reservations, but I have learned the hard way that there is no time to waste.

For example, I tried to make a breakfast reservation this morning – not even 7 full days since our 180 day window opened – at Cape May Café at the Beach Club Resort.  Do you know what was available? Nothing. Nada. Not a single time slot was available for breakfast at any day during our vacation week, which, I will state again for effect, is in AUGUST.

There are some experiences that fill up faster than others, of course; character breakfasts especially seem to get booked up right away, as does the Be Our Guest restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.  Basically, if you shudder at the thought of your little ones missing out on a specific character dining experience, there are about a million and one other parents shuddering along with you.  Get on it right away and beat those other parents to the punch.

While we can’t speak for all of the restaurants as we are still working our way through them all, we’ve had the hardest times with O’Hana (breakfast) in the Polynesian, Be Our Guest (lunch) in the Magic Kingdom, Chef Mickey’s (breakfast) in the Contemporary Resort and, just added to the list is Cape May Café (breakfast) in the Beach Club Resort.

Of course, the difficulty in getting the reservation that you want depends on the time of year during which you are visiting; school vacations and summer time are certainly going to be more challenging than visits during the “off” season, but it’s still a good idea to make your reservations at the more popular (and if Mickey’s going to be there, you can be sure it’s popular!) restaurants right away.



If this is your first visit, I highly recommend downloading the My Disney Experience app on your phone; this app links to your hotel reservation and you can make, change and cancel dining plans quickly and easily.  It is also pretty intuitive; I had booked two dining experiences at the same time for the same day and not only did the app recognize the discrepancy, it canceled the unwanted reservation when I confirmed the experience that we wanted.   If you are looking for a way to access all of your plans and reservations in one place, this app is worth every byte of space that it takes up on your phone.


Two Big Changes to the Disney Dining Plan in 2017

I have a confession to make:  other than riding the Tower of Terror, eating in Disney World is probably the best part of the trip for me.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the rides, the shows and just about everything that has to do with Disney, but I really look forward to trying out new foods and restaurants during each visit.

I like to use the basic Disney Dining Plan which includes one Quick Service meal, one Table Service  meal, and, until now, one snack per person per day.  The cost is usually about $67 per person per day for this plan, and the convenience of having meals prepaid is worth every penny, if you ask me.

I took a quick peek at the dining plan information for 2017, and I was surprised to see two pretty significant changes.  The plans have stayed basically the same for some time now, and the closest thing to a real change was when Disney officially noted that desserts could be swapped for other items that qualify as a snack in 2016.

If this isn’t your first Disney rodeo, you may also know that Disney provides dessert in excess; in fact, one of the things that I remember vividly from my first ever visit to Disney World is the over abundance of cheesecake (it seems as though the cheesecake has been replaced with cupcakes since then). We seriously had a mini-fridge full of cheesecake that we just couldn’t possibly eat because, well, we are human and incapable of consuming that much cheesecake in a week. During a recent trip, I negotiated with (read: begged) a cast member to substitute ANYTHING for the dessert…I was so fed up with desserts that I probably would have taken a stack of napkins as an acceptable trade at that point.  Needless to say, I was very happy to see that Disney finally got the picture and started to openly offer the choice to substitute dessert for something else.

In 2017 however, it looks like the Disney Dining Plan is taking things one step further; the dessert that has hither-to been included with Quick Service meals has been taken away all together.  In its place, they have added another snack option so that each person gets two snack credits per day instead of one.  Getting your hands on an actual list of items that you can use snack credits for is next to impossible, but the basic guideline seems to be that a snack is any single-serving item that is not an entree; examples include items such as a muffin, a bottle of water, or of course, one of those iconic Mickey ice cream bars.  Anything that has this icon is worth one snack credit:


To this I say…It’s about freaking time! OK, before you get your Mickey ears in a twist, hear me out.

I can definitely see how this might seem like bad news for those who use the Quick Service dining plan; before you had two desserts per day, and now it looks like you have none.  But Disney has offered you a sort of “loophole” by giving you an extra snack credit.

If you’re a seasoned Disney-goer, I’m sure it’s old news to point out that a snack can actually work effectively as a small meal; a muffin or a bagel from your hotel dining court is a perfect quick breakfast and it will only cost you one snack credit.  You also get one of those wonderful refillable drink mugs that you can use for coffee, tea, cocoa or a soft drink to accompany your breakfast, but be warned, juice or milk is going to cost you another snack credit. If you can either bank your snack points to allow for a non-mug beverage or forgo it altogether, you’re still ahead with two Quick Service credits and one snack credit to get you through the rest of the day.

And do not despair if you look forward to that sugar rush as the end of your Quick Service meal; in previous years, you were able to redeem a snack credit for a dessert at a Quick Service restaurant, and as far as I have been able to determine, you still have this option.  However, if the thought of another sickeningly sweet cupcake has your stomach turning, you now have the option to grab some popcorn or even a bottle of water instead.

These changes have far less impact on those using the Disney Dining Plan or the Deluxe Dining Plan, as these include Table Service meals that still include dessert as long as the credit is used for lunch or dinner.  People on these dining plans also have the option to use a snack credit for Quick Service dessert, so there is far less to lose when using these dining plans.

While I know that there will be mixed feelings on the change to the 2017 dining plan, I believe that the change is a good one that offers more flexibility, especially for the more restrictive Quick Service dining plan.

The best part is that you will now have the choice to…. wait for it….

Have (or not have) your cake and eat (or not eat) it too!