The Disney Dining Plan (DDP for short, saves my fingers) is a pre-paid dining option which guests of WDW properties can add to their vacation. How it works? There are seemingly endless combinations of prices and options all of which can be found on www.wdw.com. The way I see it, its an expense that can be prepaid, planned for, and doesn’t pop up to surprise you at the end with a “holy *&^%” bill. Thus, you get to enjoy Disney dining without thinking twice about ordering the steak (medium rare of course). Nate and I take full advantage of the DDP. We did try a short vacation once without the DDP and quickly found ourselves spending more money (like $300 more over 4 days for 2 people and I was at a conference during the day with meals provided) than we thought we would, and we were ending up fairly hungry because let’s face it, who wants to spend $5 on an extra yogurt at breakfast? Having DDP takes the guesswork out of it, one less thing to plan for in a vacation which can be overrun with plans.
We generally like to do a signature restaurant at least once (that’s a “2 meal” requirement) and we often use a meal for a big late lunch and just do a quick serve for dinner. You get the best bang for your “buck” in my opinion at the following: Le Cellier, Yachtsman Steakhouse, Jiko, and Artist Point. If you don’t get regular seafood where you live, Citricos and Narcoosee’s may be worth it, though for us New Englanders, save your cash and get it fresh off the boat. 😉 We have dined at almost every signature restaurant (except for Tiffin’s, Monsieur Paul’s and the new Be Our Guest 2 meal option). All of the others, I don’t think you will spend more than $100 per person (which is the approximate dinner value of 2 meals on the standard dining plan). What about California Grill you say? Well, sushi won’t run you $100 dollars per person, and if you want steak, go to a steakhouse instead. You may be better off hitting the bar for a nice martini around firework time (or anytime) and taking in the surroundings. My personal favorite is a toss-up between Jiko and The Yachtsman. Jiko has earthy African flavors and the wine list is outstanding (red wine lovers rejoice – impressive South African collection). The Yachtsman is outstanding quality steak, well cooked, excellent service, great approachable wines and just an all-around solid standby. Nate and I have even been known to pop into their lounge, Crew’s Cup, for a stiff drink and to split a burger (yes, it’s made from all the steak trimmings from the steakhouse). As an added bonus, the Yacht Club hotel is a beautiful place to take a crowd break. Their gift shop has some real treasures (down the hall to the left away from Ale & Compass). And you can refill your resort mugs in their fancy market (also down the hall to the left).
In summary, we’ve done all sorts of math and eaten all sorts of delicious food and our vote is, dining plan for the win my Disney friends!