Dining in Disney is one of my favorite things! Eating there is more than just filling your belly, it's an attraction...it's part of the experience! The restaurants are so beautifully themed and the food, oh so good! Each trip I look forward to fabulous sit down meals and fun character meals, and I even look forward to counter meals, since they're so much more than burgers and fries!

Before the Disney Dining Plan, I had only been to Disney World once. Hubby and I took a cheapy trip in 2000 and stayed off property. I know we ate at fast food joints off property. We had two sit-down meals on property: Sci-Fi Dine In Theater and Hollywood and Vine, which was a character dinner buffet at the time with Minnie and Mickey in vintage Hollywood garb. It was my first ever character meal and it was so fun!

So when we came back in 2005, and read about the dining plan, we had to do it.The answers below are for the basic plan. I will talk about the Deluxe and Quick Service plans later on.

What is the Disney Dining Plan?

The Disney Dining Plan is a fixed price plan based on a system of credits. You pay per person, per night of your trip. Every person on your reservation must have the plan.

What does "credits" mean?

For each night of your trip, you receive 1 table service credit, 1 counter service credit and 1 snack credit. So, for a weeklong trip, 6 nights, each member of your traveling party would have 6 table service credits, 6 counter service credits, and 6 snack credits. You use them however you wish. We usually use the table credits for dinner, counters for lunch. The snacks we use whenever the mood strikes us. Last trip, the kids got popcorn a few times. Hubby and me indulged in some smoothies and floats.

Your entire party's credits will be lumped together on your reservation. So, if you are a party of 4, you will have 24 of each credit.

If there's only 6 of each credit, but I am there seven days, how does that work?

Well, travel days are usually only half days. Most people arrive mid-afternoon and have already had lunch. So only one meal is needed on property that day. Then on departure day, most people leave by mid-afternoon, only needing breakfast or lunch that day.

How do I use the credits?

Your dining plan credits are linked to your Key to the World card, which is a credit card type of thing you get when you check in to your resort. It's your room key, park pass, and dining card. At table service restaurants, when the bill is brought, you simply present the card to your server. Usually they already know you are on the dining plan. Often they ask before seating you. The credits are taken off your tally and a receipt is brought, showing you how many are left. Don't forget, your entire party will be lumped together. So if you started with 24 table service credits with 4 people, after one meal, you'd be down to 20.

With counter service meals, you order at the podium, and right away hand over your card. You'll receive a receipt listing your remaining credits.

What exactly do I get with a credit?

For a table service meal, each person gets an entree, a dessert, and a non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. At buffet and table service restaurants, you can eat all you care to enjoy. For a counter meal, each person gets an entree or combo meal, a dessert, and a non-alcoholic beverage. Snack credits are good on a wide range of things, usually with a $4 maximum price. Some of our favorite uses of snack credits are popcorn, soft pretzels, smoothies, floats, ice cream bars, cupcakes, and breakfast items at the resort's food court. In the past, we've been allowed to use snack credits at the International Food and Wine Festival booths. Yum!

To be continued....