We went to Disney World for our first ever big vacation the week before Christmas 2012. We came home on the 23rd, just in time to avoid the crazy peak time. Although, the amount of people there while we were there, one would think it was already peak time.
Before recording our fun times, I want to keep some records of what I need to remember for next time. There are a lot! I will start with the Dining plan. We had a Magic Your Way Package Plus Dining, which includes 1 snack, 1 quick-service meal, and 1 table-service meal for all of us (except for kids under age 3). Everyone (except under 3) also get refillable mugs - you can get these in the resort. They will have a plastic seal that the cashier must cut when you get it. Children must order from the children's menu. The meals can be used however you want until it runs out (multiple snacks, quick service, table service a day).
Snack is any single serve drinks/juices or snacks like popcorn, chips, etc. The drinks will be the taller ones for adults, the children must get the children-sized drinks.
We stayed at the Art of Animation resort and everything there is considered quick-service. It can be the crab cake burger, the stir-fry, breakfast-platter, etc. A quick service meal includes a drink and a dessert (some restaurants say you can't have deserts, but it's best to ask).
If you are staying in the resort, and you have your refillable mug it's easy to forget to grab a bottled drink with your quick service meal. If you forget to get one, you forfeit it. SO DON'T FORGET! You can grab a bottled drink, do not open it, and you can take it to the park. Or you can take it back to your resort for when you get thirsty in the middle of the night. The same goes with the dessert. If you don't get it, you forfeit it. I believe the kids don't get desert, I'm not sure on that.
You can get unlimited refills on this at the resort anytime their open. There are even wash stations near the drink fountains so you can rinse your mugs. These mugs are not refillable anywhere else.
A table service is anything at the restaurant where you are seated and served. All the character dinings take 1 table service credit, except Cinderella's Royal table where it takes 2 table service credit. So if you have a table service dining plan, look at all the available character dining and book one for every evening! Just remember to book in advance; for Cinderella we were urged to book 6 months in advance.
Some of the table-service meals are buffets. We went to Chef Mickey at the Contemporary Resort and they had great food! In my opinion, much better than Cinderella's. But with Cinderella, you are paying for the chance to meet all the princesses, which in itself is worth it when you have young girls.
Should you forget to make dinner reservations, call the reservation line as soon as you remember and they will tell you which restaurants have openings, no matter what resort or parks the restaurant is.
Also, we ate Epcot one evening and found out that for the more expensive meals they charge 2 table service credits. This worked for us because due to my lack of know-how, we ended up with more than 1 table service meal on our last evening. So hubby and I just went ahead and ordered the most expensive meals.
Refillable mug is not counted as part of the meal plan. You can refill it whenever you want at the resort.
If you run out of dining and choose to pay for one meal out of pocket, choose breakfast to pay for. They are a little bit cheaper than lunch or dinner.
To find out how much you have left, look at your receipt. The receipt counts down, so in our vacation of 5 days, we had 25 in our receipt and it counts down every time we redeem the meals.