When we first began this planning session for Disneyland, Jas and I decided early-on that we would do dining inside the parks when we could. We wanted to soak it all in and not have to leave every time we got hungry.
So after some calculations, I decided to add the Disney Dining to our resort stay.
We chose The Goofy Meal Plan which came with:
3 Character Meals
3 Snack Vouchers
3 Meal Vouchers
for each of us, which broke down to Character breakfast buffets, lunch and a snack everyday. We would figure out if either dinner or lunch would be off the dining plan.
This meal plan seem ideal since we wanted to do some Character Meals and everyday we ate with Characters. Then all we would have to do is give them these vouchers instead of cash or charge.
After we used the first one for a 3.50 popcorn at Star Tours (later on that) and then Jas used a $15 meal voucher for a cheeseburger, fries, Coke and a banana.
I know what you are thinking… What’s that healthy banana doing in there?!?
That is when we learned the secret of vouchers: In order to get your money’s worth you have to MAX them out.
What does MAX it out mean?
You get a snack voucher, its cash value is $5. So you can spend it up to that amount. We essentially GAVE Disneyland an extra $1.50 on the first purchase when we got the popcorn. What we should have done is bought a popcorn and a water which puts us at $5.50 but we pay the extra 50 cents out-of-pocket.
Once we learned about the max out, we quickly got overloaded with food because we had 27 vouchers to use!
I didn’t eat lunch that afternoon because I was still stuffed with the buffet breakfast but I did use a snack voucher on ice cream for $4.50 and a soda for $3.00. So we paid $2.50 out of pocket there. Izzy wouldn’t eat much since it was all too exciting.
I can see how the voucher game works now! In the future, I would not do Disney Dining because you end up paying either way, you lose money by not Maxing out and you lose money by paying out-of-pocket. SNEAKY DISNEY!
I’m not too upset though because our food was pretty much all pre-paid and we didn’t have to worry about budgeting for anything other than our “spending money”.
I see how quickly a family who has not budgeted food into a vacation can go bust in the first few meals.
If you are going to eat in the park, be conservative and budget anywhere from $20-$15 per adult per meal. Expect Character Meals to hit close to or over $100 bucks for a family of 3-4
If you have a pre-schooler, buy them a drink and have them share your meal because they never really eat everything you buy just for them and it’s wasted money. Bring ALL kid drinks into the park. They are WAY overpriced here. Up to $2 bucks for a regular sized juice box and $1.75 for a milk carton.
You will see later how this voucher game didn’t end well for us.