You can save money on the dining plan, but you have to be smart about how you use your credits. One of the easiest ways to mess up is with your snack credits. Snack credits give you the most value when you buy the most expensive snack. In fact, that’s really how all the credits work. Here’s how you can easily mess up when purchasing snacks.
It’s a hot day and the kids want drinks. What’s the easiest thing to do? Pay for it with your dining plan snack credits. But those drinks cost maybe $2.59 at the most. Later in the trip when they’re at Starring Rolls and asking for cupcakes and you’ve run out of snack credits, you end up paying nearly $4 a per cupcake. It’s not a huge amount of money, that’s true, but if you bought the dining plan to save money, mistakes like this can add up and work against you.
The truth is, you can buy a $4 pretzel at a cart in the Magic Kingdom or some veggies and light dip in Hollywood Studios for $3.69. That’s a good deal. So is the $3.29 side of chili at Casey’s Corner or the $4.59 funnel cake. But the $2 fries? Pay out of pocket for that. My advice is to use your snack credits for anything over $3. This gives you a lot of choices, anything from pastries for breakfast to Dole Whip Floats.
Drinks will get you into a lot of trouble. It’s hot most of the year in Orlando, so you’re probably going to drink a lot. You could easily use all your snack credits buying drinks here and there the first couple of days. If you have young children, know that milk is a horrible bargain on the dining plan, coming in at around $2.19. For most drinks, either pay out of pocket or, if you have access to a refrigerator, think about bringing some of your own drinks with you into the parks or to keep in your room. Buying bottles of water or shelf stable milks will save you a lot of money and free up your snack credits for more expensive items.
Don’t forget that certain items in candy shops like Karamel Kuche and Goofy’s Candy Kitchen can be purchased with snack credits. Depending on how far you have to travel (and how hot it is outside), these snacks can make nice gifts for friends back home. If you’re going to Disney World during the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, you can use your snack credits for many of the (non-alcoholic) items being sold at the kiosks.
Make sure you keep track of your credits and allot them over a period of days. You can don’t want to end up with too many on the last day. If you do find you have too many left, you can do what a lot of guests to and buy snacks for the ride home.
Looking for more information on approved snacks on the dining plan? Check out this thread on Disboards.