Friday, July 30, 2010

A Definitive Answer, Kinda Sorta (Quick Service Dining Related).

A few months back I wrote this post about using Disney quick service meals on the dining plan. I intended it as a brief Q&A to answer the most common questions I hear about quick service meals. It generated a lot of hits, so I hope it helped some people. Unfortunately, it also generated some controversy on one of my favorite Disney message boards. Because of this, and because I didn't want to make the moderators' jobs any more difficult than they already are, I put up an explanation about my experience regarding the issue in question and explained what Disney told me and assumed the issue was over.

The other day however, someone was kind enough to link to my blog post on this subject again and unfortunately, this person got some flack for it. My first reaction was to take the post down. A Disney blog should be a happy place, right? I don't really like a lot of controversy.  But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted a more definitive answer for myself.   I don't want to cheat the system and I also don't want to be embarassed while making an honest mistake.  Can you imagine how mortifying that would be?

Confused? Let me explain.


When I was in Disney World this past December, my family and I used the dining plan for the first time. I must have looked like the dining plan newbie that I was because the cast member explained everything in depth to me before I even ordered.  One of the things she clearly told me was that there is no difference between the children’s counter service meal credits and adult credits. I didn’t even think to question what she said, because she seemed very competent. During that trip, we occasionally used children’s credits for adult meals, mostly where the kids couldn’t find anything they liked on the children’s menu. After all, you can only eat so many nuggets, right?

I wrote about my experience when I returned which unfortunately, cause some drama. Any blogger loves getting linked, especially by someone who shares her passion about the subject. I was flattered. But at the same time, I didn’t care for being referred to as trying to “cheat the system.” I mean, I literally won’t use a fastpass after it expires, a fact which my Disney friends find very amusing, so you can imagine how this made me feel.  Worse, I didn't like that someone who had read my blog found herself in the position of having to defend herself based on information I put out.  So I called Disney to find out what was going on. The first cast member told me that Disney doesn’t differentiate so you can order what you want.  Nonetheless, I was still a little unsure, so I called again. Same story.

I didn’t think any more about it until the other day when I started getting a lot of hits on that post. I followed the link and it went back to my favorite website again and it was the same old story: Someone linking to the post and getting some flack for it. So I set out today to get the final, absolutely super-dooper, extra definitive answer to this question: Can you use child’s quick service credits for adult meals?

Not even this former President knew the answer.

Now, I call Disney frequently, particularly when I’m writing for Chip and Co: We do a question and answer over there and many of the questions are complicated and can only be answered by talking to Disney directly. When you call Disney a lot with somewhat “unusual” questions, you amass a small stack of phone numbers that aren't normally published. Since you have to work hard for these numbers, you hold onto them  because they might be useful  in the future.  Unfortunately, none of them were of any help today, so I did what anyone would do and called Disney Dining and after verifying the information with a cast member who answered the phone, I asked to speak to a supervisor just to be extra-sure. I’m sure the cast member thought I was a bit loony, but I’m willing to look like a fool. Hey, I care. Long story short, an hour and fifteen minutes later, up the chain of command, I got the answer. Are you ready for this?

Disney doesn’t differentiate between the adult’s and children’s quick service meals! There. That’s as clear as I can make it. And yes, it’s still somewhat confusing when you consider that the dining plan brochure does say that children have to order children’s meals on the plan. So, take that with a grain of salt.  In fact, take it all with a grain of salt.

Call me a hero, if you must.

I’m not recommending that anyone cheat the system, but I also find it difficult to actually consider this cheating when no less than half a dozen cast members, at least one of whom who is a supervisor, told me it was okay.  If that doesn't help, look at it this way:  Disney is a very smart company. Any company that can make a grown-up believe, for just a minute, that Mickey is real and not some overheated college student in a costume, can do anything.  I really believe this.  If they wanted to differentiate between kids’ and adults’ meals, they could do it in the same way they do it with table service meals.  Trust me, try to pay for an adult meal with a kid’s table service credit and you will receive the Disney smack down of epic proportions! Okay, that might be an understatement. You’ll just have to pay out of pocket.  But you get the picture.

So what do you do?   Well, ultimately, this is a gray area and there are a lot of them in life. How you feel about it is your business.  Frankly, I don’t know what I’ll do the next time we go to Disney, since we rarely use the dining plan.  Probably double-check with the cast member first to make sure it's okay.  The last thing I would do is to suggest that someone cheat the system and I don't personally want to do it myself.  This is just relaying my experience, which now entails calling Disney and conducting a sort of Spanish Inquisition of Dining over there. So, let your conscience be your guide and if you hear anything, please let me know.

Do you have more Disney dining questions?  One of my favorite places to find answers is the dining board at Disboards.  There are boards for the dining plan, food reviews, questions, and reservations.  I also really like Passporter, which is has some of the friendliest posters on the web.  You'll often find information on these boards long before you hear it anywhere else.  For a blog devoted to all things Disney food, check out The Disney Food Blog

For more news on possible changes, please read here. Latest update (March 11, 2012) here.http://www.everythingwdisneyworld.com/2012/03/last-maybe-word-on-using-childrens.html

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

We had the same experience in May when a cast member told us the same thing.

Anonymous said...

In Jan, we ordered adult meals for our oldest son, especially for b-fast. Actually, some menus do not have any kids options. I think this is why the are not able to differentiate between the two. You are not cheating the system!

Sharon said...

Definitely hit or miss.. depending on where you are in Disney. We have literally ordered at one register.. and my oldest was sick of chicken nuggets and wanted a sandwich from adult menu- we got it. Then in another QS... the manager came over and started reprimanding my husband for his order as he wanted to do the same for my other son. So I guess it's just a situation where you have to see and always have a back up plan :) LOL!!

Anonymous said...

Don't let the small minded individuals, who simply don't understand that DISNEY themselves don't differentiate between the adult and kid credits, get to you. If they're so bothered, let their kids eat nuggets, mac 'n' cheese and burgers twice a day for every day of their holiday. I'm pretty sure their kids will soon sicken of their offerings.

My wife and I have used our son's credits as adults now and again whilst staying in various resorts, never had a problem in doing so and intend to do the same when we're out there this September. There's no way in hell I'm feeding my son 9 days worth of kids meals, even if he wanted them. There's o little variety on offer for little ones, it's almost a crime not to order an adult meal for them.

Kudos to you for posting this article and for those of you reading it and are unsure as whether or not to actually use a kid credit as an adult? Do it, it's not like Mickey sheds a tear every time it's done!

TheAncientBahu said...

I'm in agreement with you. Disney does not differentiate between adult and children counter service meals, and there is no reason to feel badly if you decide to order an "adult" meal for your children.

Why they don't differentiate, I can't say. What I can say is that Disney could certainly do a much better job of offering variety in meals for children, both at counter & table service restaurants. Would it be so hard for children's meal selections to be the same as adult meals but with a smaller portion?

everythingwdw said...

Everyone, thank you. I appreciate you input and experience. I don't think any of us wants to cheat the system and it doesn't seem like Disney really cares.

Thanks for reading. I really appreicate it.

Anonymous said...

I can see where some people are coming from... but as far as I'm concerned, if WDW is allowing it, I'm not going to get my knickers in a twist about it, either.I think if Disney thought it was a big deal, they'd put a stop to it. Am I encouraging everyone with children to flock to WDW to "cheat the system"? No, of course not. But if my son would prefer a turkey sandwich over those bizarre orange pucklets WDW is calling chicken nuggets, I think I'll let WDW cover the $3 difference.

kbken said...

Thanks for the extra effort Chris!! It appears you have the same type of "precise" personality I have. If my articles are questioned I would do exactly the same thing. Keep up the good work!!

Ken

Chris said...

Thanks everyone. I'll be checking on this when I go to WDW again. It's so odd!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great posting.
It will be my 1st time at WDW in about 2 weeks time and we're on DDP. Your investigation sure helps clarify the usage of my QS credits.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this information, it helps make sense of a very gray area. I have one question on these lines maybe someone can help answer. How does the CM even know if your child is on as an adult or a child? I have a 10 year old that is very small for his age, and most people think he is only 6 or seven! I do not want CM's thinking I should be getting him kid meals when I am paying for him as an adult. We also have a five year old that probably not feel like eating off of that very limited kids menu for two weeks!

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Check your receipts when you use the dining plan. Even when you order both adult meals and children's meals at a quick service restaurant, it does not distinguish how many of each you have left. Whereas for the table service meal credits, it does distinguish between adult and children's.

Anonymous said...

Excellent write up -- thank you for being so informative. I agree with the others -- if Disney considered this gray area a problem it would modify the program.