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.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I'm Back!

My busy time is over (for now) so I'm excited to be getting back to a regular posting schedule.  I have a lot of thoughts on the new Fantasyland expansion (that might not be), discounts, resorts, rides and I also need to answer your emails.  Thanks to all of you who sent me emails and checked up on the blog while I was out. It's greatly appreciated. 

I'll be posting some of my posts over on Chip and Co as well, so I apologize for the double posting.

Can't wait to get started!