- 1 Table-Service meal including entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage or one full buffet
- 1 Quick Service meal of either a complete Combo Meal or one entree with one dessert (Lunch or Dinner) or one juice (Breakfast)
- 1 Snack choice of a frozen novelty ice cream, popsicle or fruit bar, single serving grab bag of Frito Lay's chips, one 20 oz. bottle of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite or Dansani Water, single piece of whole fruit, medium fountain soft drink or apple juice
So basically, that's 5 courses of food per day, per person. And herein lies the problem: It is physically impossible - and downright unhealthy - for one person to eat that much food in a day.
We tried. We really, really tried. And perhaps its a testament to the generous portions at WDW, but all 3 of us (all adults) can split ONE quick service meal and be tied over for the afternoon. I mean, it's hot, it's muggy - do you really want to cram down 6 chicken tenders and a forklift of fries (plus a dessert!), as if you don't feel greasy and gross enough from all the sweat and crowds? And nothing slows you down like all those extra calories in your system - while you're rushing to get to Splash Mountain, your body is trying to process all the fast food you've just ingested, and the next thing you know, you've yakked up your turkey leg all over Liberty Square.
But that's just lunchtime - you've got a 3 course dinner ahead of you! (Note: when we did the dining plan, an appetizer was included in the Table Service meals) And as a group of normal, healthy-weight, incapable-of-dieting-even-if-we-wanted-to ladies - we can split an appetizer and a dessert and still enjoy our entrees and feel great afterwards. Nothing ruins a meal like hours of "I'm so stuffed" indigestion that persists through the fireworks. Having 9 courses between us every night became so daunting that we actively sought out the restaurants that count as two dinner meals (like Jiko and many of the fancier places) - just so that we could use up all the extra Quick Service meals we were accumulating and eat those for dinner.
The Cast Members don't make it any easier. Witness this exhange at a Liberty Square kiosk:
Me: Just this bottle of water. We're on the Dining Plan.
Betsy Ross: You're using this as your snack portion for the day?
Betsy Ross: Well, that's kind of a waste. The snack option is valued at up to
$4, and this water only costs $2.50. Wouldn't you rather get something else, like a baked potato?
Me: No, not really. I'd just like the water.
Betsy Ross: Okay, but you're throwing money down the drain.
What. the. hell. Mmm, nothing polishes off that 2 course fast food lunch you just had like a baked potato - the perfect treat when it's 98 degrees and sunny out (which it was). Is WDW secretly fattening its guests for Thanksgiving? It's ironic that the same company that released Wall-E is dooming its theme park patrons to the same kind of overindulging, crippling obesity the film rallies against.
I guess the saddest part is the sheer amount of waste that occurs - half-finished appetizers, packaged brownies that never get eaten - it becomes difficult to get past the mentality of "we paid for this, I guess we should eat it." And so many of our days became dictated by needing to be at X restaurant in time for our reservation, instead of being able to mosey along and just eat when we felt hungry.
At the end of our 6-day stay, we ended up with about 7 leftover snack credits between the 3 of us. After eating our final breakfast (and last Quick Service credit) in Saratoga Springs before heading to the airport, we used them all at the little gift shop and picked up bags of pretzels, cookies, rice krispie treats, etc. "This must be your first day - stocking up for the week, are we?" asked the Cast Member. Uh, no - we're on our way to the airport, just thought we'd do a little looting before we left.
Instead of forcing guests to buy meals they won't eat, wouldn't it be better to offer a system where guests could choose how many Table Meals, Quick Service, and Snacks they want to buy? Everyone enjoys eating well on vacation, but no one likes being forced to eat. And while you're popping Mylanta from your afternoon baked potato, I'll be powerwalking my way to Big Thunder Mountain, hydrated and happy - even if I did lose $1.50 in the process.
*For more blog posts about Disney food (and everything else), check out DisMarks Disney Blog Carnival.