You're visiting your favorite theme park, and you gotta eat, but the selections offered are often lackluster and high priced. According to theme park expert Arthur Levine, food tops the Top 10 Worst Things About Theme Parks. Actually, there has been an effort by some parks to serve healthier fare, but complaints of high prices still exist.
Enter Theme Park Meal Deals.
The Disney Dining Plan offers a variety of dining options for resort visitors.
It is limited, however, to those purchasing a Disney vacation package that also includes staying at a Disney resort hotel and buying theme park tickets. While it gets a thumbs up for variety of plans, food and dining locations, it is often criticized for its overall cost (it's still pretty expensive), although it provides a discount of up to 10, 20 or 30 percent or more on adult dining, depending on the plan selected.
The Disney Dining Plan is flexible. It can also include breakfast and snacks, depending on the plan purchased. The Disney dining plan can be used any day of your visit and in a number of meal combinations.
Other Florida theme parks have jumped on the meal deal bandwagon and are now offering a variety of food choices that can be purchased in advance of your park visit. Of course, all require general park admission that is not included in the price of the meal; and, with most, you trade your meal ticket for a good-for-only-the-day wrist band.
Don't think you can share meals with these often portion-heavy options, so light and picky eaters may not get their money's worth. Let's take a look:
- Universal Orlando offers its Universal Dining Plan, an all-you-can-eat meal ticket. The one-day quick-service lunch and dinner options are available at participating restaurants in each park — Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure — if you fork over $21.99, plus tax; or, purchase the Dining Plan plus the refillable Coca-Cola souvenir cup for $27.99.
- Are you booking a Universal Resort Vacation Package? The Universal Dining Plan is available only to resort guests. The selection of dining locations increase and includes one table service meal, one quick-service meal and one snack per day.
- There is also a one-day Coca-Cola souvenir cup that offers free refills throughout your day at either park's meal deal locations for just $12.99, plus tax.
Your Universal Meal Deal ticket must be exchanged for a wrist band at any participating restaurant. Meal deals include one entrée platter and one dessert per trip through the food service line. Sharing of food is NOT permitted and children must order from the Kid's Menu.
- The Busch Gardens Tampa Bay All-Day Dining Deal is one of the most expensive at an online advance price of $33.99 for adults or $16.99 for children, ages 3-9 (children under 3 may share with an adult). With this all-you-can-eat deal, each time through the line a meal deal participant may choose one entrée platter, one side item OR one dessert and one fountain beverage, iced tea or 20 oz. Desani water.
Of course, general admission is required (over $90 per day unless you are an annual pass holder). The all-day dining deal ticket must be exchanged for a wristband at the Zagora Patio Bar just inside the main entrance. NO sharing is permitted and children must order from the Kids' Menu only. The Busch Gardens All-Day Dining Deal excludes baby back ribs. No takeout is allowed.
- The SeaWorld Orlando All-Day Dining Deal is also one of the most expensive from $34.99 for adults and from $19.99 for children, ages 3-9 (children under 3 may share with an adult). This all-you-can-eat meal deal allows the participant the choice of one entrée platter, one side item OR one dessert and one fountain drink, iced tea or 20 oz. Desani water each time through the line.
The all-day dining deal ticket must be exchanged for a wristband. NO sharing is permitted and no takeout is allowed. Children must order from the Kids' Menu only. The SeaWorld Orlando All-Day Dining Deal excludes baby back ribs.