Dissecting Disney’s Deluxe Dining Plan

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Hopefully you were browsing the TouringPlans.com blog last week and caught my article on Disney’s Basic Dining Plan. That plan is sort of the mid-range plan that most families opt to use. There were a few responses to that blog post from readers who were curious about Disney’s Deluxe Dining Plan and if it is economical. Lucky for you, I enjoy crunching the numbers (minus the math enduced headache I sometimes get) and would like to show you my results.

First off, the Deluxe Dining Plan offers you much more food than the Basic Dining Plan and the Quick-Service Dining Plan. Per night of your stay, each person will receive three meal credits of your choice. That is right. You get to choose if you would like a counter-service meal or a fully loaded sit-down meal. Each meal credit is exactly the same and you have the freedom to mix and match what types of meals you would like to have throughout each day. On the Deluxe Dining Plan, you are given an appetizer at any table-service restaurant on top of your entree and dessert.  Each person also receives two snack credits and a refillable mug. All of this comes at a cost, however.  For 2013, the Deluxe Dining Plan costs adults $99.97 per night, and $26.84 for a child under 10 years of age per night.

A few people had mentioned that in my figures on the last article I wrote, I did not include the refillable mug into the overall total. I did that on purpose and here is why. Those mugs have very limited use. If you are not a guest that frequently travels through your resort’s food court, you will not be getting your monies worth. If you are not filling each and every mug in your party up at least twice a day, you are not fully receiving any savings by having the mug. Disney can pump out these mugs for just pennies yet raise the cost of the mug every year to make you believe you are getting some big perk when you are using the Disney Dining Plan. All of that being said, if you truly are a family that uses those mugs constantly, go ahead and figure that amount into your total when crunching the numbers for your family.

When figuring out how I should lay out this post, I had a hard time deciding how my prototype family would eat while using the Deluxe Dining Plan. I scoured Disney message boards and read some dining reports  to get a feel for how the average family utilizes the plan on vacation. I decided to give you three scenarios to compare. The first scenario is the super savvy, over-planner family. They want to maximize the plan and get the biggest bang for their buck. The second scenario is the family with the mind-set that their food is already paid for and they do not have to look at prices at all on a menu. They also are pretty active tourists and probably use this website’s super awesome touring plans to fit in the most attractions each day. Finally, the third scenario is what the average Deluxe Dining Plan family does based on what I have seen in my research. This family feels that three sit-down meals a day is too much so they use two of their three credits each day and dine at a signature restaurant for dinner. Their other meal credit is spent either on a character breakfast or table-service lunch.

Since this is oodles of math, I decided to keep the family simple, just two adults on the Deluxe Dining Plan. The family is staying at Pop Century Resort and  they are spending their day at Epcot and not leaving to go to another park or resort for any of their meals. Later, I will add in a child and show you how that affects their savings.

Best Case Scenario

Akershus Character Breakfast
2 adults at $40.46 each = $80.92 (including tax)
+18% gratuity = $95.49

Tutto Italia
Person 1:  Appetizer – Prosciutto = $18, Entree - Pork Chop = $28, Dessert – Cannoli $12, Drink – Soda = $3. Total = $61.00
Person 2: Appetizer – Calamari = $16, Entree – Canaroli and Seafood = $28, Dessert – Copetta Sotta Bosco = $14, Drink – Soda = $3. Total = $61.00

Total + tax = $129.93
+ 18% gratuity = $153.32

Chefs de France
Person 1: Appetizer – Crab Meat Salad = $14.99, Entree – Duck = $31.99, Dessert – Creme Brulee = $7.25, Drink – Soda = $2.95. Total = $57.18
Person 2: Appetizer - Cheese Board = $14.50, Entree – Beef Tenderloin = $34.99, Dessert – Crepes = $7.25, Drink – Soda = $2.95. Total = $59.69

Total + tax = $124.47
+ 18% gratuity = $146.87

Snacks
2 Kringla Pretzels = $4.29 each
2 cupcakes from Sunshine Seasons = $3.99 each

Total + tax = $17.64

  •  Disney Dining Plan covered $352.96 worth of food
  • The family paid $60.36 in gratuity
  • The family paid $260.30 total (price of the plan and gratuity) to use the plan
  • If the family purchased the same food off of the Disney Dining Plan, they would have paid $413.32
  • By using the Deluxe Disney Dinig plan, the family saved $153.02

In this situtation, the family saved a ton of money by doing three sit-down meals for one day. They also opted for more expensive options in Epcot. If the family ate the exact same way and opted to use the Tables in Wonderland discount card and get 20% off, they would not have saved as much money as they would on the Disney Dining Plan. The Deluxe Dining Plan would save them $68.32 over Tables in Wonderland. Next up is the worst case scenario for this family spending a day in Epcot on the Deluxe Dining Plan.

Pop Century Food Court
Person 1: French Toast Platter – $5.29, Water – $2.50 = $7.79
Person 2: Breakfast Pizza – $5.49, Water – $2.50 = $7.99

Total + tax = $16.81

Biergarten Lunch
2 adults at $23.42 each = $46.84 (including tax)
+ 18% gratuity = $55.27

Electric Umbrella
Person 1: Caesar Salad – $7.79, Cookie – $2.19, Water – $2.50 = $12.48
Person 2: Southwest Flatbread – $7.79, Fruit Cup – $3.39, Water - $2.50 =$13.68

Total + tax = $27.86

Snacks
2 pickles = $1.50 each
2 bottled sodas = $2.75 each

Total + tax = $9.05

  • Disney Dining Plan covered $100.56 worth of food
  • The family paid $8.43 in gratuity
  • The family paid $208.37 (cost of Deluxe Disney Dining Plan plus gratuity) to use the plan
  • If the family purchased the same food off of the Disney Dining Plan, they would have paid $108.99
  • The family lost $110.18 in savings by using the Deluxe Dining Plan

When you look at these numbers, you’re going to be one of two people. You’re either going to be unsurprised by the results or you’re going to be shocked that the family lost that much money in the end. What the family did wrong here is wreckless spending. Countless times I have heard guests say that they do not look at the prices when they are on the Disney Dining Plan because it is all pre-paid and they like how carefree it feels. That is all great and wonderful until you start crunching numbers and you realize that because you picked the French Toast Platter over the Bounty Platter at breakfast, it resulted in a loss of savings. This family also made the mistake of not getting their Advanced Dining Reservations long before they left for their vacation. They were stuck with lunch at Biergarten instead of dinner, which would have been the more economical option because dinner costs more than lunch despite having virtually the same options on the buffet. In almost all situations where a family dines at only one table-service restaurant a day while using the Deluxe Dining Plan, there is a loss of savings. You can see that the family also purchased soda for a snack option, a poor decision to maximize the plan. If you look at what this family ate and believe that it is about what your family might order, the Deluxe Dining Plan is definitely not for you.

Next I want to show you what the vast majority of Deluxe Dining Plan users opt to do when on the plan. For their three credits, they spend two of them on one signature dinner. This family is a little bit caucious of the way they order off of menus, but overall they are not concerned with prices. They also chose to use their snack credits for breakfast, a popular decision of many families.

Pop Century Food Court
Person 1: Cinnamon Roll – $3.19, Water – $2.50
Person 2: Danish – $2.69, Water – $2.50

Total + tax = $11.59

Biergarten Lunch
2 adults at $23.42 each = $46.84
+ 18% gratuity = $55.27

Le Cellier
Person 1: Appetizer – Selection of Beets = $11, Entree – Salmon = $35, Dessert – Maple Creme Brulee = $7, Drink – Soda = $2.95. Total = $55.95
Person 2: Appetizer – Cheese Soup = $9, Entree = $43, Dessert – Cheesecake = $10, Drink – Soda = $2.95. Total = $64.95

Total + tax = $128.76
+ 18% gratuity = $151.94

  • Disney Dining Plan covered $187.19 worth of food
  • Family paid $31.61 in gratuity
  • The family paid $231.55 (cost of Deluxe Dining Plan plus gratuity) to use the plan
  • If the family purchased the same food off of the Disney Dining Plan, they would have paid $218.80
  • The family lost $12.75 in savings by using the Deluxe Dining Plan

I know that this is not the result that most of you wanted to hear. Everyone wants to believe that they make out like bandits on the Deluxe Dining Plan. However, most of the time, that is just not the case. Could the family have done some things differently on the plan in order to save money? Sure! They could have picked Akershus for breakfast or lunch instead of Biergarten for lunch. I crunched numbers using Akershus for breakfast and that would put them in the positive with a $21.33 savings. That would mean that they would have to use their snack credits to fill in the holes when they get hungry in between meals. Did anyone else notice that the families total at Le Cellier, a two credit signature meal, was about what lunch cost the family at Tutto Italia in the best case scenario? Tutto Italia is only one credit and a much better deal than Le Cellier. If the family used Tables in Wonderland instead of the Deluxe Dining Plan, they would have saved $37.44 instead of losing money.

I know many of you have children that asked about how a family might fare on the Deluxe Dining Plan. I decided to add one child under 10 years old to the “Signature Restaurant Scenario” that I just showed you.

Pop Century Food Court
Apple Turnover – $2.69
Danish – $2.69
Cinnamon Roll – $3.19
2 Waters – $5.00
Juice – $2.59

Total + tax = $17.22

Biergarten Lunch
2 adults at $23.42 each = $46.84
1 child = $12.77

Total + tax = $59.61
+ 18% gratutity = $70.34

Le Cellier
Person 1: Same as example above. Total = $55.95
Person 2: Same as example above. Total = $64.95
Child: Soup = $3, Grilled Sirloin = $9, Sundae  = $6. Total = $18 (drink included)

Total + tax = $147.93
+ 18% gratuity = $174.56

  • Disney Dining Plan covered $224.75 worth of food
  • Family paid $37.36 in gratuity
  • The family paid $226.78 (cost of Deluxe Dining Plan plus gratuity) to use the plan
  • If the family purchased the same food off of the Disney Dining Plan, they would have spent $262.11
  • The family saved $35.33 by using the Deluxe Dining Plan

The family with a child actually saved a little bit of money by using the Deluxe Dining Plan. It is worth thinking about the Deluxe Dining Plan if you have a child. However, if you and/or your child would not usually eat this much food, you are better off paying out of pocket and only ordering what you are truly hungry for. If this family used Tables in Wonderland instead of the Disney Dining Plan, they would have saved more. Their savings would then be $44.95.

After looking at all of these scenarios, it is pretty obvious that it cannot be too difficult to lose money on the Deluxe Dining Plan. Some people have very clearly stated that they do not care about the economics of the plan and will still use it no matter what the cost. However, if you are looking to make sure you get your monies worth, you are probably best not using a dining plan at all. It truly is the most economical option to pay for everything out of pocket with a Disney gift card that you have loaded up. That way you will not have to worry about extra uneaten desserts or ordering the “right thing” to save money. I simply cannot stress the importance of crunching the numbers for your specific family situation. On top of that, make sure you take your families eating habits into consideration before adding a dining plan of any sort.

How many of you have used Disney’s Deluxe Dining Plan before? Have you crunched the numbers for 2013 and will you use it again in the future? Let us know in the comment section! We would love to hear from you!

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Posted on October 9, 2012

29 Responses to “Dissecting Disney’s Deluxe Dining Plan”

  • Wonderful article! I just have one complaint about how you handle the cost savings of the Tables in Wonderland discount card. The savings is not truly 20%, its 20% minus the cost of the card spread out over the number of times you use the card over the year. If you use it 25 times a year, then the card cost is minimal at $3 a meal. However, if you are just using it for 5 meals a year, then the card cost is $15 a meal which means your real savings may be quite a bit less than what you might think based on just looking at your bill.

    • Absolutely! The more times you use the card, the more savings you accumulate. However, most people that can purchase the card (DVC members, Annual Passholders) visit restaurants on property more than just five times a year.

  • by Brandon Shurtz on October 9, 2012, at 2:32 pm EDT

    This is a great post. We just got back from a trip and we used the deluxe dining plan. I have to say we did “save” money. We had several character meals (kids loved them) and got the Canadian steakhouse for lunch. There is one thing I did not see mentioned on here that I think needs to be added in on the decision for this dining plan. For you to get the most out of the plan you have to eat all sit down meals. The buffet sit down meals you can get out in 45 mins to an hour. All the other sit down meals we had it was at least 80 mins to almost 2 hours in the restaurant!!!!! If you have kids everyone knows its hard to keep the kids sitting there for almost 2 hours just for a meal. This for us was the biggest issue we had with the plan.

    • In the “best case scenario” I showed, the family ate a buffet breakfast and two regular sit-down meals. They saved a bundle, obviously. That being said, they paid for it in time and if they had children with them, their patience would have been stretched very thin I am sure. In order to get the most out of the plan economically, you have to sacrifice time touring the parks.

      • Yeah going in I figured it would take about 75 mins for each sit down meal. I was just surprised how many times we were in the restaurant closer to the 2 hour mark. Just wanted to throw out to the people with kids looking at this plan. Its a pretty good deal money wise if done right, but just when doing your touring plans set aside at least 90 mins for any sit down meal that is not a buffet. I plan on sitting down tonight and see the total and just how much we saved. I am sure it was a good chunk of change.

        • When we used the plan in 2009 for part of our stay that is what we found. 2 hours everywhere it seemed. For adults no problem. But we had a 2 year old. Typically I stayed with him as he napped and they brought my food back….

        • I have used the deluxe dining plan both times we have gone and am using it again in January. We made out like bandits the fist two times as we went with parents who won’t eat counter service and kids who are relatively cheap on the plan. We eat all 4 in park Character breakfasts to get in the park early. One thing we discovered is that on a hot day the 60-90 minutes at lunch worked as well as a nap to rejuvinate the kids and adults and that we spent almost as much time at quick service between slow poke kid eaters and time spent in line.

  • We used the Deluxe Dining Plan last year for a family of three. We did every breakfast and dinner as a sit-down meal and lunch as counter service. This included 5 character meals, 1 dinner show and 1 signature dining experience. We used almost all of our snack credits before the end of the week and bought a few treats to bring home with the last few snack credits (Mickey Rice Krispie treats, Goofy Candy, etc.)
    When we got home we calculated that based on the cost of the food we ate and what we actually spent on the dining plan we got lunch every single day and all of our snacks for free. Free lunch and snacks every day for three people is a pretty significant cost savings. That said, if you do not plan ahead and ADR your sit-down meals you will probably not get your money’s worth from the plan.

  • by Patrick Watts on October 9, 2012, at 3:18 pm EDT

    I have one word to sum up the whole reason why I do not get the dining plan:

    Risk.

    I have gotten sick at WDW before, and luckily not been on the dining plan. If I had been on the plan, that $100 a day would have been used for $0 worth of food. Beyond the catastrophic “get sick” scenario, there are just so many steps to the process of transportation and lines at the World that it’s just too easy for you to get trapped in “we *have* to go to this sit down meal” instead of doing what you actually want to do (go to the fireworks show, back to the resort, etc.)

    I would advocate (like many have before) calculating the total cost of the dining plan and putting it onto a debit card or Disney gift card. Then use that to pay for all your meals. At the end of the trip, use whatever’s left over as “snack credits” or gas money or whatever you need.

  • Another great set of examples. This is pretty much what I found when I crunched the numbers for my upcoming birthday trip. I had to decide that as appealing as the idea of having a few meals at signature restaurants was, the savings wouldn’t be there if I didn’t order the steak every time. Throw in the volume of food being more than I generally eat, the number of trips I make to WDW in a year, plus the huge time commitment so many table-service meals involves and an annual Tables in Wonderland card becomes the clear winner for my preferences.
    As your data shows, the DDP or even the DxDDP works for some people. I’m just not that guy.

  • I think the thing that also may have been over-looked in this evaluation is that you must purchase your park tickets through Disney when you buy the meal plan. Buying them at Undercover Tourist can save you a good deal of money that you lose when you opt for the dining plan. For my family this will be about $60 for 4-day park-hopper tickets.

  • The one question I have is when comparing DxDDP vs TIW when it comes to savings is will you order the same items under both plans? For example, at Kona’s I would be more apt to order the prix fix meal (love their pan asian noodles) under TIW while under DxDDDP go for the gusto and get the crab cakes, teriyaki strip steak (wife’s fave), and chocolate fondue. So since I am ordering differently that changes how much I am “saving”.

    But one thing which was alluded to is if you are doing the DxDDP is choose where you use them to get your money’s worth. When we go down in the spring we are staying at the Boardwalk area so lots of character breakfasts between Akershus and Cape May Cafe. Epcot is great value while the worst may be Magic Kingdom.

    Oh well. Just my two snack credits worth.

    • I think everyone has their own personal definition of “saving.” I always encourage people to truly think about what they would like to order off of a menu if price were not an option. Then you will know if you are just satisfying your Disney Dining Plan spreadsheets or your appetite. My husband isa perfect example of someone who does not need the Dining Plan to feel fulfilled. Give him a veggie burger and french fries and he is happy.

  • The only thing I don’t like about this comparison is that you are using Biergarten which is one of the better deals in WDW. I feel if you used a character buffet or another sit down restaurant instead of Biergarten, the results would be about $10-$15 different per person. If you go Cali Grill or Citricos vs. Le Cellier, I am guessing the savings would change again.

    I think what people need to do is figure out where they want to eat, and then see what plan works best for them.

    • I used Epcot as an example because I felt the analysis should be fair to all guests, not just those that park hop. Also, in reality, you get extra time touring the parks by dining within the park and not having to travel.

      I did show that if the family chose Akershus breakfast (a character meal) over a lunch at Biergarten, their savings would change. The point of me showing Biergarten was, as I stated in the post, to show how easy it is to lose money on the Dining Plan if you are not careful. I get very worried when I hear that people do not pay attention to prices on menus when booking their Advanced Dining Reservations. I also get concerned when people choose to simply not book reservations ahead of time. That is the fastest way to get stuck with a lunch at Biergarten.

  • I’m in the crowd who prefer using the DxDP for one breakfast or lunch and one signature dinner per day (all of our meals are table service and we use snack credits for breakfast items on the days we do lunches).

    Prior to the 2013 price increase, we could pretty easily drive cost savings from this plan because we have two Disney children and do an average of 4 character breakfasts per trip. With the 2013 price increase, such cost savings have become substantially eroded (and when our oldest turns 10 and becomes a “Disney adult”, forget about it).

    I honestly believe the reason Disney jacked up the prices so much for 2013 is because, anymore, there are too many people like us. Ironically, I believe that, on average, Disney makes less money on parties like us than they do on parties that attempt to use the DxDP for three table service meals per day (while you can theoretically save the most by eating three table service meals per day, I personally believe that, as a practical matter, this is too much food for most people).

    Put another way, I believe attempting to eat three table service meals a day is a trap for the uninitated, who, more often than not, end up cancelling ADRs right and left. Previously, I believe Disney banked on enough people doing this that they could still make out like bandits selling the DxDP at a price that people like me could save money using it. The 2013 price increase has more or less ended this.

    Anymore, the Disney dining plans are not about saving money. To the contrary, they’re about paying a premium for the psychological benefit of experiencing an “all-inclusive” vacation, where all meals have been paid for in advance.

  • I love reading everyone’s comments and decided to leave a few of my own. We all would agree that we would never spend $100/day eating anywhere else, other than DISNEY. You would probably never eat an appetizer and dessert with an entree for days in a row either. Yet again, this is DISNEY. Sometimes we just need to live a little and eat ‘high on the hog’, literally, for a few days/week. My one problem is, Disney requires all guests of a villa to have same dining plan. I think this is unfair to extended families staying together for a special visit. My brother is a DVC member and is letting us stay with them out of the goodness of his heart. They always do Deluxe, henceforth we will. But others may not be able to afford it. This doesn’t seem right…

  • I know it’s been a while, but we used the Deluxe Dining Plan for our family’s trip in November of 2010. I think we made out. It was me, my husband and my 4-yr old daughter. We planned many character meals (mostly early breakfast before the parks opened and late dinners) and had a variety of lunches–some sit down and a few walk up. We had a LOT of snack credits left at the end of our trip, but used them on the last day to purchase rice crispy treats to take as souvenirs to neighbors, teachers, etc. We also drink a lot of water and found the tap water provided in most places pretty nasty tasting, so the snack credits came in handy for bottled water.

  • I just crunched the numbers for us and looked at what we would order. We are major foodies and our 4 year old is used to sit down dinners. Factoring in tips we will save over 300 dollars on our 10 day trip next year. I know that we are not the normal family. We are doing character meals every morning for breakfast and dinner sit down dinners in the parks 5 nights and resorts. I still have dinner credits that have not been factored into the savings.

  • We upgraded to DxDP for our trip that had free dining last fall. We calculated the full cost of the DxDP, not the discounted price for the upgrade and my husband and I saved $600+ on our 7 day trip. We also calculated this against the room only discount and it was still a better deal. We even ate a few 2 credit meals and still made out ahead! We really loved not arguing about the cost of food and whether or not we should get apps and desserts. Avoiding that crabby fight with my husband was well worth my money!

  • The standard DDP saves our family money, but I have never been interested in the Deluxe Plan. I feel lucky to make it through one table service meal with both parents and all 3 kids still happy. I can’t imagine how it would be with 3 table service meals in one day (after day, after day). That does not sound like my kind of vacation.
    My son will be a Disney adult for our next trip. I have debated what to do about him. He will not eat off the adult menu (mac and cheese all the way). At non-buffet meals, can I pay out of pocket for him a kids meal and then save his credits to go towards Hoop-dee-do?

    • Felicia, from what I have read on the Disney Mom’s board and other sites, all you have to do is tell the server how many meals you want to pay for on DDP and they will give you a bill for the remaining balance. So yes, absolutely. If your son will eat of the kids menu, you can save his credits to use toward “bigger” meals which take 2 credits. 3 meals off the kids menu and you will have enough credits for all three adults in your party for the two credit meal without sacrifiing anything!

  • After reading the last instalment of the dining plan, i worked out how much the plans add to the cost of our already pricey overseas trip to disney and worked out with the dining plan it was going to cost us over 4’000 dolars for food for 15 days (theres 4 adults and 2 kids) and that meant to make it worth that much money we had to eat at a restaurant every night for dinner and order the largest most expensive meals on the menu. also it only covered us for lunch and dinner or breakfast, so we also had to add 50 dollars a day for breakfast also and tips at every sit down meal. Over 4000 dollars n food just seems to be excessive??

  • I did the DxDP in 2011 for 8 nights. We did a TS breakfast or early lunch and a signature for dinner. We did not use our ‘points’ on CS at all and we did save a bit of money. I switched over to TiW this year because some days I want 2 appetizers and no dessert. The flexibility while still getting a discount really appealed to me.

  • We used the DxDP for our 2011 trip, and loved it (gained weight on the trip, too…) We found we prefer doing 1 or 2 Table Service meals per day; 3 is definitely too much food and too much time sitting in restaurants. I crunched the numbers for our upcoming 2013 trip, and, using the 2012 prices, the DxDP would have saved us a few hundred dollars. When the 2013 prices came out, the substantial increase erased our projected savings. Now we will use the regular DDP, and most days, we will spend the TS credit on a buffet or character meal, spend one CS credit, and pay for one other sit-down meal out of pocket, which enables us to order apps or desserts as we see fit.

  • I think it could be a great deal if used as part of a split stay where you wanted your more expensive meals and could have a couple days of that and then move to a different resort and pay OOP/TIW. Esp if the first days were at an Epcot area resort where a lot of restaurants are close….

  • there’s a mistake in the example in which you added the child, you say “The family paid $226.78 (cost of Deluxe Dining Plan plus gratuity) to use the plan” but you forgot to add the gratuity there, $226.78 is just the cost of the dining plan. so the family would not save, in fact they would lose about $2.

  • As the writer said, it really depends on the family and I think also, how long you are going to stay. For my family of two adults and one five year old boy who can do some eating, we generally find that we like the plans. Quick service isn’t enough for us, so DDP or DXDP is our flavor. We like to do the character dining with my son. We do a CS breakfast. My son likes Mickey waffles, eggs and bacon, so does my better half. I’m not a big breakfast eater but I’ll usually do an omelette. Lunch is our big meal of the day. I know it is less expensive, but we usually like to do our big character meal at lunch. We do Cinderella’s Castle, Tusker House, Hollywood and Vine, Akershus Banquet Hall, Garden Grill, Crystal Palace. We go all out for those meals. Its pretty possible we wouldn’t do as many or some of the nicer ones without the plan. I realize that to some extent we are paying for it either way, but there is a psychological thing when you pay one lump sum up front or watching it cost you $150.00 for a buffet. Dinner depends. Some days we will hit up Flame Tree BBQ, sometimes we want something nicer. I find that doing the character meals in the middle of the day, the hottest part, a sit down in the AC is just the break all of us need. And since there are characters, he loves it! My son os not. The norm I realize. We go to Olive Garden and all he wants is Zuppa Tuscona and breadsticks (to dip in the soup) and at Wendy’s he likes the spicy chicken sandwich. Not the chicken nuggets and spaghetti of most five year olds. That really does make a difference for us. At the nicer sit down places, they have healthier kids meals that he loves. He absolutely benifits from me not gawking at the price of a roasted chicken meal for a fove year old. Every family is unique, like Stacey said, so there really is no one right answer.