At least according to statistics you are. If you are an American then chances are good that you can’t fit into those huge pants of yours and it’s all Disney’s fault.
Donald’s Lipitor prescription has not helped.
Disney is pushing the Disney Dining plan these days… hard. It’s not because they are generous types who want guests to save money and have more convenience (regardless of what the promotional materials might say), no it is because they make more money that way.
Kobayashi knows how to work the system.
It has become a game of sorts for visitors who are on the dining plan to see just how much value they can squeeze out of the daily allotment of meals they have pre-purchased. Can they order the most expensive item on the menu? Can they score a reservation at the most desired (i.e.: expensive) restaurants? Can they somehow consume enough each day to validate the money they have already spent on meals?
Feel like a muffin?
Although the media may overly simplify the situation by showing stock slow motion montages of bloated bellies and muffin tops on the nightly news the truth is we are a nation of fat people. Obesity rates are at an all time high and the United States is officially the fattest major nation in the world (a couple of tiny South Pacific island nations are even fatter, but they basically eat American diets now anyway).
Better get a bucket!
One might argue that creating a dining plan that rewards users for over consuming (and even challenges them to do so) is not very responsible, it is not really Disney’s fault. We are a country of Mr. Creosotes cramming as much as we can fit down our gullets, hopefully stopping just before we burst. Visit the Tokyo Disney Resort and you will find that “large” portions there (and in fact throughout Japan) would not pass for the smallest sizes we find here. A “large” soft drink might be 12 ounces, not the 64-ounce monstrosities we commonly find in convenience stores and fast food joints. You also will be hard pressed to find an obese person in Japan. Clearly this goes beyond the berms of Disney parks and is a cultural dilemma.
More is NEVER enough.
Take a trip to the local strip of fast food chains and you will see some pretty incredible things. KFC has the Double Down that does not even pretend to be anything more than it is: a fried chicken, mayo and bacon “sandwich” that might kill you before it hits your stomach. Friendly’s now has a hamburger that replaces the bun with two full sized grilled cheese sandwiches! What’s going on out there? Have we all lost our minds? Of course we have the right to eat what we want and as long as I don’t get any second hand lard coming my way I’m OK with it, but I’m just saying…
NOT a joke!
But what about that dining plan? Disney offers healthy alternatives… you could blow your dining credits on carrot sticks and apple slices, but you know you won’t. And Disney does not exactly make the process easy to understand or simple in any way either. Forget the idea of getting fat… your on vacation, but how do you know what is allowed and what is not?
Simple, easy and fun!
According to the current Disney Dining Plan you can choose either the regular “Dining Plan” or the more expensive and comprehensive “Deluxe Dining Plan” and then sweeten the deal with the “Wine and Dine” program if you choose.
Just follow these simple rules:
For the regular Dining Plan you’ll receive the following:
• 2 Meals Per Day: For the regular Dining Plan you’ll receive one table service meal and one quick service meal each day of your stay. (At select restaurants)
• 1 Snack Per Day: In addition to the 2 meals you’ll also receive 1 snack every day. A snack includes one of the following: frozen ice cream novelty, popsicle, fruit bar, popcorn scoop (single serving box), single serving grab bag of chips, single piece of whole fruit, 20-oz. bottle of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite or Dasani water, medium fountain soft drink or juice, 12-oz. coffee, hot chocolate or hot tea.
DELUXE Dining Plan: This is a more flexible (and more expensive) option for diners where you’ll receive the following:
• 3 Meals: On the Deluxe Dining Plan you’ll receive 3 meals each day of your stay. The 3 meals can be any combination of sit down or counter service so you have the choice of eating at any Disney restaurant on the list. If you choose a table service meal that will include one appetizer, one entree, one dessert (lunch and dinner only) and one non-alcoholic beverage OR one Full Buffet. If you choose a counter service meal that will include one entree (or complete combo meal), one dessert (lunch or dinner only), one juice (breakfast only) and one non-alcoholic beverage.
• 2 Snacks: In addition to the 3 meals you’ll also receive 2 snacks every day. A snack includes one of the following: frozen ice cream novelty, popsicle, fruit bar, popcorn scoop (single serving box), single serving grab bag of chips, single piece of whole fruit, 20-oz. bottle of Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite or Dasani water, medium fountain soft drink or juice, 12-oz. coffee, hot chocolate or hot tea.
Wine and Dine Option: For an extra $39.99/day you can add a daily bottle of wine to your package. You know… because alcohol always makes things healthier.
Nothing says fine dining experience like charts and graphs.
Simple right? Now remember a few simple restrictions:
• After 5:00 pm a snack is now considered a meal.
• Drinking from a water fountain between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm counts as your beverage for lunch.
• Leftovers taken with you roll over to count as the following days meals.
• If more than 4 adults are in your party and less then 3 children are present and one of those children is not under the age of 4 but over the age of 6 months and is either a Taurus, Leo or Gemini then additional “Goofy Giveaway” vouchers will be required in order to gain entrance to any Disney dining location.
• Bacon is always extra and is not included in any Disney Dining plan unless the optional ©Disney premium smoked meats package has been selected.
And so on.
Still not joking.
The Disney restaurants are under incredible pressure to keep costs per meal down. It is no longer about providing the best meal or the best guest experience, it is now about working the cost per meal down below the price of that paid on the dining plans. If you happen to stroll in and pay out of pocket you are in many ways getting taken advantage of, often receiving a watered down product tailor made to meet the price point of the dining plan.
Warren Buffett chooses the Platinum Plan of course, and that bar he is eating is pure gold.
On top of all that Disney now offers both “Premium” and “Platinum” packages. These include everything in the Deluxe Dining plan plus an assortment of recreational and luxury amenities that range from golf to spa treatments to backstage tours and horse back rides…. Oh I long for the days when you could just buy a meal where you wanted it and when you wanted it and did not need to be on any plan.
But lest you think that this type of plan is something new for Disney. In fact Disney has been offering all inclusive premium programs for decades though in the past it was like the Wild West, a no holds barred free for all of over consumption…
The sky’s the limit.
Witness the fabled Gold Key Card offered by the now defunct Magic Kingdom Club. Not unlike the mythical American Express Black card the Gold Key Card was something seldom seen, something few knew about and something that offered the holder exceptional status.
Black is the new gold.
Walt Disney World truly was your oyster with this card in your wallet. Throughout the 80’s, before the Eisner appointed MBAs weeded through a myriad of other issues they set their sights on, this small program represented a tremendous value and was a little known secret. The Gold Key card was literally your key to the kingdom.
In order to get one you had to be a member of the Magic Kingdom Club, which at that time was mainly available to employees of larger corporations. It was the deluxe plan, the fanciest and most all-inclusive plan they ever offered.
This meant that the program not only included your hotel room and unlimited park admission and transportation but also all meals, all snacks, all recreational facilities, all tours and all gratuities.
“I’m King of Disney World!”
Sure, there were some theoretical rules, printed right on the back of the card it says that it may not be used at arcades, the Empress Room (the most luxurious restaurant on the Empress Lily and therefore in all of Walt Disney World) or for alcoholic beverages. However these rules were rarely enforced, especially in the early 80’s when seemingly no one on property had ever seen one of these cards or had any idea what it did or did not come with.
Rules are for losers.
Presenting it would often be met with confusion and discussion among managers and staff before ultimately being accepted (often after a mysterious call was made). Once those gates opened you were royalty, King of Disney World. Feel like a lobster? How about 4 of them? Would you like dessert? Try one of everything on the menu. Want to rent a water sprite (back when they really were fast)? Just flash this card and take it for as long as you want… all day if you like. Unlimited Golf, admission to River Country or snacks from anyplace on property was all there for the taking. Nothing was out of bounds and nothing was off limits.
Would you like a Sebastian with that sir?
I vividly recall not only using this with my family at the Empress Room circa1983 but my father’s utter amazement when he ordered several bottles of wine which were all included. As we waddled out of the restaurant my entire family was amazed at how fast and loose Disney was playing with the rules.
“Ah yes, this Chateau d’Yquem will do just fine.
Now get it to Teevtee’s table, pronto!”
As the years went one the program became better known and by the late 80’s the rules were being more strictly enforced, even then few of the limitations or restrictions of today’s dining plans were in effect. Then sadly by the early 90’s Disney caught on. The MBAs finally worked their way down to this program and I am sure were shocked to see what they found. The door was slammed shut and the program terminated, of course eventually the entire Magic Kingdom Club was dismantled as well.
Disney was no longer a family run business or even an underdog go-getter of a company. No, it was now a huge mega conglomerate and had no tolerance for gluttony. You play by Disney’s rules now or you don’t play at all.
For those of us who were lucky enough to have held a Gold Key Card there was always room for one more mint, after all, it was wafer thin.