Eating at Disneyland pt. 1

Like most other things at Disneyland Paris, eating is expensive in relation to what you get for your money. I was surprised at how costly it actually was to purchase food at the restaurants when I went there and others I’ve spoken to has expressed the same opinion. Food at the food places at the parks are over the top and the guests are forced to pay up, since you’ve got to eat. As an example, I had to pay at least 10€ for a meal consisting of a hot dog, chips (French fries for you who are unfamiliar with British terms) and a soft drink, which is ridiculous. Food will, inevitably, be a costly story, especially if you’re part of a family. There are, as always, ways to save and be smart with your money without skimping on quality and your overall experience. After all, you’re at Disneyland Paris for the experience and to have a magical time – food should not be the reason you feel disappointed when leaving. In this post I’ll discuss the advantages of getting a meal plan for your stay at Disneyland Paris, a choice that is well worth the money if you can’t get it for free as part of a holiday package.

A meal plan is simply put a plan where you prepay for a set amount of meal, either half board (breakfast and either lunch or dinner) or full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner) with a different number of restaurants available, depending on what plan you choose (standard, plus or premium).

Meal plans

At the moment Disneyland Paris offers 3 types of meal plans:

  1. Standard meal plan
  • Either as half board or full board
  1. Plus meal plan
  • Half or full board
  1. Premium
  • Half or full board

The basic difference between the three are the amount of restaurants that you’ve got to choose from when you eat your lunch and/or dinner. If you book the half board of either plan you will get breakfast and either lunch or dinner for each of the days you’ve purchased, and full board includes three square meals per day – breakfast, lunch and dinner. Meal plans are a fantastic way of saving money on food, I highly recommend having one when you visit the parks. The costs add up really quickly and when you’re on a plan, you know what you’ll be spending on the meals that are included in your plan. When I went to Disneyland I had a free half board plan included in the price that included breakfast and either dinner or lunch and it was fantastic. I had breakfast before entering the park in the morning, ate lunch in the park and used my other voucher for dinner after a full day at the park, before taking the bus back to the hotel. It worked like a charm and was well worth it. During your check-in at the Disneyland hotel you’ll be given all of the vouchers in an envelope along with a letter telling you how they work and where you can redeem your vouchers. The receptionist will also explain them to you very clearly and answer any questions you may have about how the plan works.

It’s worth noting that breakfast isn’t included in the price of a standard room as a standard, which has spawn a fourth option in regards to dining plans – the breakfast meal plan. Like its name suggests it only contains breakfast at your hotel’s breakfast room and is not a character meet and greet breakfast, those have to be booked in advance and cost extra. When I stayed at Disneyland I only had the option of going to counter services for my breakfast and didn’t even have hotel breakfast. Counter service equals restaurants that have over the counter services, like fast food place (e.g. McDonald’s and the likes of it). I found it limiting, but it worked out – breakfast isn’t my thing anyway. Breakfast is included in the price when you book a suite or a premium room at any of the official Disneyland Paris hotels. Disneyland doesn’t offer any plans for snacks and none of their meal plans have any included, so you’ll need to bring your own, or purchase them in the different snack shops inside the parks. Most of the snack shacks and ice cream parlours are closed at the moment for refurbishment, so if you’re heading over there in the near future – check the Disneyland website (www.disneylandparis.co.uk) for what’s open and what’s not.

The Standard meal plan is the cheapest option that’s on offer and is available in either half or full board. This is also where your alternatives for dining are the most limited – only a small list of buffets. No matter if you choose the half or the full board, you’re only going to be able to alternate between a series of buffets. So, if you don’t mind eating buffets for every meal then this is definitely for you. Each meal (lunch and dinner) includes a soft drink too. There’s no reason to feel bored when eating buffets at Disneyland, they have a few different kitchens represented at the parks and hotels – for example, at the Agrabah Café you’ll find a middle-eastern buffet. The cost, per person and night booked is 27£ for adults (half board), 19£ for children (half board), 42£ for adults (full board) and 28£ for children (full board).

For those who’re looking for a few more options, and don’t want to limit themselves to buffets during their stay, there’s the Plus meal plan. The list of available restaurants goes up to over 15 here and includes table service restaurants. Cast members working at the restaurant will tell you what dishes are yours to choose from, since the meal plan operates on a set menu premise. À la carte is not included in the price. I had the half board Plus Meal Plan when I visited and I enjoyed it, it was a perfect mix of restaurants and I even managed to reserve a place at Mickey’s Café, where Mickey and his friends does meet and greets during dinner service. In my opinion, this meal plan is perfect, especially the half board, for the reason I explained earlier in this blog post. It was very enjoyable to have plans for the morning and evening meal and then just go where I fancied for lunch, without being bound to a particular restaurant reservation. As with the standard meal plan one soft drink is included in the price (one per person and meal plan), any additional drinks must be paid for directly to your server (cast member). Prices are a bit higher for this plan: 38£ for adults (half board), 25£ for children (half board), 53£ for adults (full board) and 34£ for children on full board.

Should you want the full food experience while you’re in the parks, go for the Premium meal plan! Here you can pick and choose from the full range of restaurants and even the ones with Disney character interactions and the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West dinner show. Just like the others you can pick either half board or full board and one soft drink is included in every meal plan, for each meal (lunch and dinner). Prices are 62£ per adult (half board), 42£ per child (half board), 88£ per adult (full board) and 56£ per child on full board.

The best way to enjoy the food on offer at the parks on a meal plan is planning, planning, planning and then plan some more. Breakfast and dinner are the best meals to plan in advance and book any restaurants you most wish to visit during your stay. During lunchtime you’re generally in the park in the middle of having fun and might not want to be tied up to a place which might be at the other side of where you’re at. Whether or not you’re on a full board or half board plan – get yourself to a restaurant that’s close by, and that you’d like to eat at and is part of any meal plan (for those of you who’re on the full plan) and have a meal. Or plan ahead to make sure you’re close to the lunch restaurant you’d like to eat lunch at when you’re hungry. Like I’ve stated before, the popular restaurant who accept advance bookings will fill up quickly – book them if you’re sure that you’d like to eat there!

Tips & recommendations

  • Be on the look for free meal plans on Disneyland Paris website, it’s a very common offer to receive free half board for your stay. It can be worth a good amount of money, I saved close to 200€ on food by opting for a free half board. Be sure to read any terms and conditions to see if you qualify – it’s a great offer, should you be eligible!
  • Always, always, always reserve a table at popular restaurants well in advance, or at the places you really don’t want to miss. Tables at places like Mickey’s Café are extremely attractive, due to the character interactions going on there and forgetting to reserve can lead to a full restaurant and tears from your young ones (or yourself). Reserve as early as you can to, hopefully, guarantee your spot at your first hand options.
  • You can call the dining reservations up to 60 days before your arrival to book a table. Call +33 1 60 30 40 50 to make a reservations, or go straight to your receptionist or concierge at your arrival to book a table.
  • Disneyland Paris official website is disneylandparis.co.uk and they always list what restaurants, snack bars and bars that are undergoing refurbishment at the moment – check it regularly before your trip to avoid disappointment onsite.
  • One soft drink (nonalcoholic beverage such as soda, still or sparkling water and fruit juice) is included at lunch and/or dinner, per meal plan. Any more drinks you wish to drink must be purchased and paid for to your server or cashier. Choose the largest size allowed if you’re thirsty!
  • Always use the plans to the max and eat all your meals. Otherwise you’re going to lose money since you’re paying twice for a meal.
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