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A lot of time is spent talking about Advanced Dining Reservations or how to maximize the value of your Disney Dining Plan, but the reality for most Disney World guests is that they’ll be eating mostly at one of the many counter service locations. So, I’ve put together a list of hits, misses, and some hidden gems for those dining on a budget or who just don’t want to take the time away from the attractions a sit down restaurant requires.

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It happens a lot: You’re hot and tired and without thinking, you grab your Key to the World Card and pay for a nice cold drink using your dining plan snack credits. What’s wrong with that, you wonder? Well, a drink costs around $2.59 and your credit is worth about $5. If you have extra credits to burn, it’s fine to use them on less expensive items like drinks, but if you’re like most people, you’ll want to save those credits for more expensive purchases. In our family, we’ve got a “no drinks” rule when it comes to snack credits. That’s probably the easiest way to make sure you don’t waste credits, but beyond that rule, there are even better ways to get your money’s worth.

You’ll get the most mileage out of your snack credits by buying cupcakes, Mickey bars, funnel cakes, and pretzels. Most candies in Epcot’s heavenly ode to all things caramel, Karamell Kuche, are one snack credit, and for that you get a treat that’s big enough to share. Nearly every elaborate cupcake, croissant, cinnamon roll, and brownie in Hollywood Studios Starring Rolls Bakery is also one credit. If you know you’re going to have a carrot cake cookie for a mid-afternoon snack and a funnel cake with ice cream later that day, you’ll want to find out which item costs more and use your credit for that. It may only be a small amount of money, but over multiple days with multiple people in your party, it can really tip the scale in your favor as far as savings go.

If deciding where to stay on Disney property were as simple as sticking to your budget, you’d book a value room and be done with it. After all, they’re clean, comfortable, and give you all the benefits of staying on Disney property while still being kind to your wallet. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Staying at a Disney resort is half the fun of visiting Walt Disney World, with each resort offering a unique feeling and experiences that make choosing downright difficult. Need a little help in deciding where to stay next time? Then try the following suggestions:

1. Set a budget within your comfort zone. Sure, you can probably swing $3500 for a week at the Grand Floridian, but how does that make you feel? If it makes you feel uncomfortable, it’s not the right resort for you even if you can afford it. The nice thing about staying within your budget is that it allows you to potentially say yes to a lot of other things, whether its tickets to a holiday party, a toy your child wants, or a big dinner at a signature restaurant.

Using the Disney dining plan isn’t as straight-forward as simply walking into a restaurant and handing over your Key to the World Card: While all credits are created equal, not everything you buy will be. While it’s obvious that missing meals is essentially throwing money away, so is using a snack credit for a soda. Fortunately, using the plan effectively is actually quite easy. Here are the top ten tricks that will help you get the most out of the plan:

10. Use your dining plan for character meals and other more expensive dining locations. Look at it this way: For guests 10-years old and up, the dining plan costs $56 per person per night: This gives you a table service, meal, a quick service meal, a snack, and a refillable mug. If you estimate $4 for a snack, and $14 for a quick-service meal, you still need to “spend” $38 on your table-service meal that day. That’s not difficult to do if you’re eating dinner at location like Boma or Ohana, but if you’re eating at Via Napoli or 50s Prime Time Café, your tab is going to come in at around $30 per person. Not only did you not break even that day, you actually lost money.

9. Pay out of pocket for less expensive meals and you avoid the scenario above. This only works if you plan on eating more table-service meals than you’re actually allotted on the plan.

8. Avoid using your snack credits for drinks. As noted above, the dining plan works best when you save your credits for more expensive items, so save your credits for items cupcakes or ice cream (both $4 or more) and pay out of pocket for your drinks (usually under $3).