We have discussed the Disney Dining Plan a few times already; first Tips for Meal Plans and Reservations, then in Secrets to Free Disney Dining Plan. These are an overview of what they are and what to look for in making the decision to buy or not.
So you’ve decided to purchase the Disney Dining Plan…
Once you have looked over the menus of the various restaurants that you want to visit and decided how many sit down vs counter service meals you plan on having during the course of your stay, how do you make the reservation?
Lack of useful information
At the time of booking (June 2017 reservation), this was our 3rd visit to Disneyland Paris and only our first time using the Disney dining plan. It was a free promotional offer during our scheduled arrival time, why not. Booking online requires full payment at the time the reservation is made. This was a tough lesson to learn two weeks before a planned vacation to Italy.
I booked the hotel, with 25% off the hotel room and tickets, with free half board plus. Because I am an avid researcher, I checked into the upgrade for the Disney Dining Plan. It said I can only upgrade from Half board plus to Full Board plus. Essentially goes from one meal a day to two meals a day, but the restaurant choices are still the same.
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show
We wanted Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show but I know I need to call for that because I want an extra seat for Baby Girl. Last time we went, Munchkin sat on my lap and I did not want that to happen again. I called, asked if I can just book a seat, no meal. They said no. Balls! So I bit it and booked her a seat and meal; Hubby really wants to do this show again! Since the Half Board plus does not cover Buffalo Bill in full, I call the number on the Disney website. + 33 1 60 45 71 00
Wrong! Don’t do that! This is the direct line to the Buffalo Bill people only. They make you pay in full, again! If I had called the general Disney reservation desk or my hotel, I could have added it to my reservation and paid when I checked out in 2 months. Better yet; they would have told me to use one of my vouchers to get the face value taken off the entrance price for Buffalo Bill and just paid the difference. But no, the direct line didn’t feel the need to volunteer information so I paid it all. No discount or reduction.
Contact the restaurant booking service on +33 (0)1 60 30 40 50 (international call rates apply). You can also book at the hotel reception.
Check out our full review; Buffalo Bills Wild West Show
Face value of meal plan vouchers
Based on math and other Disney related calculations, Google believes these are the approximate values of each meal plan voucher. Therefore, if guests wish to use their voucher for an upgrade to a ‘better’ restaurant or meal, this roughly what you can expect to see as a rate reduction.
Standard: 28€ adult, 16€ child
Plus: 36€ adult, 18€ child
Premium: 60€ adult, 31€ child
The lowdown on Half Board Plus
First – The “new” Disney Dining Plan (DDP), effective late March 2017, means hotels are no longer serving breakfast included in the price of the room. My DDP category (free with the package) gave us a voucher to use at the Café Hyperion in Discoveryland. Only guests that have paid for their Disney Dining Plan are able to have breakfast in the hotel (for free). I can get face value reduction of my meal with the voucher, however, if I wanted to eat at the hotel instead.
Second- I could use my breakfast voucher to reduce the cost of a character breakfast as well. Since the remodelling of Cafe Mickey, they have moved the characters to Plaza Gardens, permanently. But the first reservation isn’t until 8:15 am. That is at the start of EMH.
Third – Counter service restaurants are not included in the voucher program. I get to pay out of pocket to eat a burger and fries, or sit and have a steak dinner for free. While this sounds like a no brainer. If the kid is asleep or really just wants burgers and fries, what then? I don’t like wasting perfectly good touring time for a sit-down lunch, so dinner it is. I don’t mind sit down dinners, we are all pretty tired by then and we need a break. But wait; I just booked a nonrefundable dinner on our first night.
Fourth – Just because I only get 2 meals (we are staying two nights = 1 meal per night staying, plus breakfast), doesn’t mean I need to use them on my two full days. We still have valid tickets on check out day.
Fifth – The dates that I booked were chosen for a very specific reason; they are blue on the crowd calendar. Disney is rarely blue; this is the time of year that they are at the lowest crowd level. Add that to the meal plan, discounted tickets and discounted room, I wanted these dates…but because they were expecting lower crowds, restaurants were compensating by moving around their open/close hours.
That week, Bistrot Chez Remy is not offering dinners and Auberge de Cendrillon never offers character breakfast. Well, that just sucks, considering what I just said about lunchtime sit-downs.
But I did ask, “When are the lunch times for Remy”…”oh, 12:30 until 5 pm”. What? 5 pm is lunch? Done! I booked Remy for 5 pm on our second night, and this is covered by the voucher. One down, one to go.
Auberge de Cendrillon has lunch starting at 12:30 pm with characters, so I booked that for our leaving day. Tour in the morning, try to keep the kids awake, have lunch, then leave right after. Sleep in the car the whole way home ( they will nap at 9 am and talk loudly the whole drive, just watch). The second voucher, done!
Now, Cinderella uses up more than the value of the voucher I am holding so I will have to pay the difference of the face value of the voucher.
I learned that I should really just call to make all reservations that include more than just a hotel and tickets. This Dining Plan add-on was a little too much for me to handle, considering I can’t view the time slots or voucher worth like I would at Walt Disney World through My Disney Experience. I needed to call to book the restaurants, why not have them book the hotel too.
Edit – I called to book everything on our 4th visit, November 2017, and the process was much easier. Over the phone, guests are only required to place a deposit, vs online they are forced to pay for the entire booking upfront. Also, the agent was able to book all of my dining reservations for me at the same time and add a few extras like hotel room decorations. I wouldn’t have known about this if I booked online.
2018 Update –Disneyland Paris launched its online restaurant reservations recently. This means guests can book their restaurant reservations directly online, viewing dates and times available. There doesn’t appear to be a section for the dining plan or hotel reservation information, so it is safe to assume that your dining reservation will be connected to your name and not your hotel booking.
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