Upgrade dining plan? Need help choosing meals!

I’m considering whether to upgrade our free quick service dining plan to the regular dining plan. And as part of that decision, I need help choosing our meals! I’m finding myself very indecisive. We’re a family of 4, with kids aged 7 and 9.

Background: We went to Disney 3 years ago, and treated that trip as a once in a lifetime experience. We stayed at the Poly, did lots of character meals and other TS meals, etc. Our strategy that year was to use PPO breakfasts to get into the park early (and not have to wait an hour before rope drop in the hot August sun). It worked well for us.

We’re planning this year to be all about the rides. We’re staying at Pop with free QS dining, but are tentatively planning on the following splurges: EMM mornings at both MK and Hollywood Studios, Hoop De Doo (it was a BIG hit last time), and Garden Grill PPO breakfast.

Given the two TS meals we’re planning to do no matter what (which would use 3 TS credits per person), if we upgrade to the regular dining plan, we’d get 3 more TS meals over the course of our 6 night trip, and I’d calculate it would only cost us around $100 more than we’d otherwise spend doing QS dining and paying out of pocket for those meals. That seems like a pretty good deal? I’m somewhat inclined to do it if we can make good use of those credits.

If we were to add more TS meals, my current thoughts are:

  1. On one of our MK days, do either Storybook Dining at Artist Point for dinner or Liberty Tree Tavern or Skippers Canteen. I need to find out about gluten free options at Artist Point. It otherwise looks fun. The Liberty Tree menu is good for my kids, but more boring. What would be your choice for a kid friendly TS meal in or near Magic Kingdom, with good food and good use of 1 TS credit? (My 7 year old is no longer really into princesses, so princess character meal is not essential) We loved BOG dinner last time, but it is 2 TS credits so not a good value for us with dining plan this trip.

  2. Our Epcot day is another good day for TS (although the QS options in Epcot are better than elsewhere too). Last time we had dinner at Biergarten which was fun but I didn’t love the food. Are there any other places with entertainment with dinner? Otherwise,I’m thinking La Hacienda because I like the menu. What else would you recommend that would be fun for kids with good food for adults (and make good use of TS credit)?

  3. Options for 3rd TS meal include:

—Animal kingdom lunch or dinner. My current top contender is lunch at Sanaa to see the animals. We love Indian food, and it looks to be gluten free friendly. Tusker House with a Rivers of Light package could be nice, but ROL is the nighttime event I’m considering most skippable (I don’t think we’ll make all 4). Going against using a TS credit on our AK day - it seems like Animal Kingdom has so many good QS and snack options that I’d almost rather take advantage of those things at that park.

-departure day. I’m going to try to get an early evening flight out so we have most of the day, which I’d like to keep flexible to allow kids to choose based on their favorites from the week. A TS meal would go against that flexibility, but one place I think I’d like is Raglan Road brunch (our last day is a Sunday) How appealing do you think that will be for kids?

—lunch at Hollywood Studios on our EMM day. A Fantasmic package would be nice, but I don’t think we’ll make it back to the park that evening. My current plans has this afternoon/evening blocked off for rest and an early bedtime. We likely will return to HS on another night for Fantasmic, but too late to make use of dining package times. Recommended use of a TS credit here? I’m not really that excited about any of the options, but also not really excited about the QS options in this park either.

Which would you choose?

Epcot Day:
Teppan Edo!

Lunch at DHS on EMM day. What time? You can (and should) stuff yourself silly with the EMM breakfast. My thought on EMM has always been to get to the restaurant around 9:30 - 9:40 (they don’t rush you out the door at 10am.) The Food at dhs emm was better than it needed to be both times I’ve done it.

We loved both La Hacienda (for the food) and Teppan Edo (for the whole experience) at Epcot. I don’t think you could go wrong with either choice. (Though the margaritas at La Hacienda might push it into the lead!)

On our last morning we did a breakfast at Kona Cafe, and it was a nice way to end the trip. If brunch at Raglan Road sounds good to you, that would be my recommendation for a third meal.

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