View Full Version : DDP vs QSDP vs OOP - more time spent eating than playing?

12-14-2010, 07:18 AM
I'm recently signed up for the regular DDP with our room reservation. As it turns out because we are splitting our stay at 2 different resorts over our 6 nights, I have the option of signing up for a different dining plan or not at all for the 2nd half of our stay.
So I've dug thru all the relevant threads in this area here and the general consensus seems to be that the dining plan is good and will save me money, especially if our eating habits line up with ordering deserts, appetizers and entrees.

Since this is our first trip to WDW I was wondering if our time would be better spent seeing attractions and enjoying the resorts as opposed to trying to use up all our dining credits or packing in sit down meals. It seems quite possible to spend more time eating than seeing the rest of the parks. Our general eating habits would be splitting QS food or doing TS w/o deserts and appetizers. Would it be easy enough to use up all the credits of the QSDP plan, it almost seems to make no financial sense not to sign up for QSDP for the second half of our stay, except we'll be staying way out at AKL. And one of our meals will be taken care of at Jiko during the Wanyama safari. First half of the trip will be at the Yacht Club and with the reservations I've made thus far it seems hard to see the parks with 3 sit down commitments over 2 days.

Any insight or tips into deciding whether to go with QSDP, OOP or even DDP for the second 3 day stay at AKL?

OOP provides more flexibility in choosing TS vs QS where as it seems with QSDP we're pretty much committed to only QS meals. I get varying discounts, but I'm not too concerned with cost at this point

12-14-2010, 07:49 AM
On the regular ddp you get an entree and dessert: no appetizer. Just wanted to clarify that. If you want an appetizer you have to pay OOP or upgrade further.

Because it is your first time, you probably are right that you will be hyped to spend a lot of time doing attractions (or standing in line) so you are probably right that you should go with the minimum planning option of QS.

However, WDW is exhausting. Its huge. You walk constantly. Often you just need to sit for one meal a day and just relax. If you go in the summer its going to be HOT too which takes it out of you.

"OOP provides more flexibility in choosing TS vs QS" : Make some TS reservations in advance, please, that's my advice.

12-14-2010, 08:17 AM
We have done the regular dining plan and the QSDP plan. My Dh did not like the the regular dining plan because we had to stick to our reservations. If we were in the middle of something fun we had to leave to go eat. We both loved the QSDP because we could eat at whatever time we wanted. You can get steak, salmon, etc ... not just sandwiches on the QSDP.

Have fun deciding what to do because whatever you decide it will be great!!

12-14-2010, 09:37 AM
If you do the DDP (reg plan with 1 TS) you will appreciate the "down" time it will bring.
WDW is overwhelming, exhausting and fun but you will be so tired if you don't rest and relax from the go go go you will burn out in just a couple days.

What we do is schedule our TS meal for early evening. It is a welcome break from the morning and afternoon of riding, walking and taking it all in. It gives the family a chance to talk about have much fun they are having, rest (this is huge I can't stress it enough) and reset to finish the night going from attraction to attraction.

So don't worry about spending too much time "sitting and eating", believe me you won't sit enough!!! ;)

12-14-2010, 09:47 AM
You indicated you would normally skip desserts. If you're skipping desserts anyway, then the meal plans would hardly provide any savings at all. Possibly, it would cost you more to get the meal plan, then to just pay OOP.

I wouldn't obsess about the time committment of eating TS meals. If you plan well, they can make a good break in your day. There are enough hours in the day to enjoy a 60-90 minute sit down meal.

But to the extent that your plans do not "line up" with any of the meal plans, you are probably best off going OOP. It might cost you slightly more than paying for a meal plan, but it will maximize your flexibility, and give you exactly what you want to eat. (In 2 days, if you wanted 3 TS meals and 1 QS meal... there is no meal plan that really makes sense with).

12-14-2010, 09:57 AM
We prefer the QSDP if we do a plan at all. (I can usually come out cheaper just paying OOP because we usually split meals) We paid for the QSDP once and are getting it with the free dining in May. We do not like to be tied to dining ressies as we would rather be on the rides and shows. Having a daily sit down meal (especially with our 3 yr old) is just too much. DD doesnt eat much at all and its hard to have her sit for long periods of time at a table (since she isnt intrested in food----I know, its weird). We found that the time we paid for the dining plan, that we could get the QSDP and pay oop for 2 table service meals and we were still cheaper than getting the regular plan. We scheduled Ohana and Boma and the rest were CS meals. We really dont think the food at WDW is all that great--CS or TS --so the meals arent a big to do for us.

12-14-2010, 01:01 PM
If you do the DDP (reg plan with 1 TS) you will appreciate the "down" time it will bring.
WDW is overwhelming, exhausting and fun but you will be so tired if you don't rest and relax from the go go go you will burn out in just a couple days.

What we do is schedule our TS meal for early evening. It is a welcome break from the morning and afternoon of riding, walking and taking it all in. It gives the family a chance to talk about have much fun they are having, rest (this is huge I can't stress it enough) and reset to finish the night going from attraction to attraction.

So don't worry about spending too much time "sitting and eating", believe me you won't sit enough!!! ;)

I totally agree with this!!

I read many posts from people saying it takes "90 minutes for a TS meal", "too much time away from fun", "miss rope drop", etc, etc. But honestly - to us the meals *were* part of the fun and scheduled in accordingly! We quite looked forward to the restaurants as part of the Disney experience. The kids have never been to so many restaurants in their lives!

We had 4 TS character breakfasts and only one threw us off schedule. In fact, I don't think it should count as it was our first morning and naturally I goofed and made us arrive 1/2 an hour late. :rotfl: But at least we were still walking down Main Street before the park opened.

We also had 5 TS dinners, most scheduled between 4-5pm. The only one that messed us was (again) our first TS dinner. I had talked myself into believing the kids would be fine for an 8pm Aloha dinner. Thankfully the rest were early and it was so wonderful to sit down, enjoy a good meal and relax after spending all day in the park at Rope Drop. After our meal, we were ready to go again!

For our next trip (just hubby & I), we are upgrading to the free DDP AND paying some OOP to schedule 2 TS meals some days (early/pre-rope drop breakfast & late dinner). Lunch? Now for lunch we'll be too busy having fun to want to stop!! A couple of snacks will keep us going until dinner!

I can hardly wait to return to a couple of favorite restaurants and try some new ones!

12-14-2010, 02:13 PM
wow, thanks for all the tips!
Thanks for clarifying CoolPool, I don't think we could all eat an appetizer in any case so that's good to know.

I am partially worried about having my group get overwhelmed/exhausted from long days in the parks and I was afraid that the sit down meals would exacerbate that (as the day would be even longer), but it's true that relaxing and not having to worry about the cost of the items you are ordering off the menu should be very relaxing I would think.

So far I've made reservations for all our TS credits - Akershus for breakfast (my group has expressed interest in character dining), Les Chefs de France for lunch and Biergarten for dinner or lunch, I forget, across 2 days due to half of our party arriving on day 2 of our first 3 night stay.

The math has been tough to calculate since I get a CM discount on food, but that's different from the larger discount on dining plans which I would probably save more on if the same number of meals were eaten. But since we'd order less food/drink w/o a plan, cost-wise I'm guessing it might end up as a wash. But the thought of not having to think about food costs while at the parks is tempting.

Is there a thread w/ info about non-DP QS/TS places that are highly rated? Maybe that would be a good option to save money and beat the crowds too!

12-14-2010, 02:55 PM
In reality I think, some it really depends on your family. As one of the previous poster mentioned how her 3 year old wouldn't like a sitdown so, they don't do them. My family is use to dining for 60 to 90 minutes a day since they were babies. My family hates the table wars at counter service places. Hence, we mostly visit during peak holiday times so, I think some of it will depend on the time of year you are visiting. For example, I love Sunshine Seasons in the Land at Epcot but I hate looking for a table. It is always crowded there and you have deal with people who save a table while the other person goes in line and doesn't come back for 30 minutes because the lines are so long. So, really depends on your style of dining and what you normally do at home. My kids have been on tons of cruises so they are use to the 60 to 90 minute dinners especially since on a cruise they are longer.

While the dining is to us is part of the whole Disney experience it is secondary in our planning. When I plan for WDW trips, I first pick which parks I want to visit and what things I want to do at those parks. I look at entertainment schedules, etc.. and then, I plan my meals around them. Also, we now do TiW or OOP because this way if we don't show up to a meal it is no big deal. There are only a couple table places that require a credit card to hold so, at those places we show up for sure.

Alot of our dining preferences have to do with atmosphere like we love Biergarten for the music, character breakfasts, Coral Reef for the tank, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, Fantasmic Dinner package, etc... We love eating at World Showcase because all the CMs are from the respective countries and it is fun to learn about their culture. Also, it gives our kids a chance to taste new foods.

My favorite counter services are:

Wolfgang Puck express (down town disney-Marketplace)
Earl of Sandwich
Sunshine Seasons
Yorkshire County Fish Shop
Tangierine Cafe
Flame Tree BBQ
Columbia Harbor House

I do not like any counter service at DHS so, I always do sit down here.

Anyways, alot of this depends on your family. One thing I would recommend that you don't plan a day at MK and then, schedule dinner at Animal Kingdom. I always plan for where we are at. But we are flexible as usually towards the end of the trip we get tired or bored of eating out and may want to skip dinner or lunch that day.

12-14-2010, 04:08 PM
I think it helps to do the math, the best you can.

For our trip coming up in January, DH and I were choosing between sticking with the free QSDP or upgrading to DDP. We like to eat one sit down meal each day at WDW, so you might think it would be a no brainer for us to make the upgrade.

We sat down with the online menus and took our best guess at what we would probably
order from the restaurants we wanted to eat at. We are vegetarians, and sometimes we prefer appetizers to entrees. We rarely order dessert (although I have to admit having the excuse that it's included on the dining plan is sort of fun). Sometimes we like to share one entree.

Once we priced it out, we found that we would probably save about $100 over the course of the week by using the free QSDP and paying OoP for roughly one table service per day. This is not an exact science, of course, because menus can change at any time, and because there's no guarantee we will order exactly what we guessed we will, but doing the math made it pretty clear that upgrading didn't make sense for us.

12-15-2010, 06:14 AM
This is a difficult decision, one I certainly struggle with even after countless trips. We have recently been doing the QSDP with a few TS meals added ( but more for the experience than the food as there's plenty of food with the QSDP) We take a break in the middle of the day and head back to the resort for naps or pool time. It is not fun to have to be rushing to an ADR and to also feel like our "break time" is limilted. I definitely would not schedule mostly TS dinners for a first time trip. Some are very long, you just never know. We had two over 3 hour dinners recently, one at Rose and Crown and one at Raglan Road. :confused3

12-15-2010, 06:18 AM
Juat re-read your post. In my opinion, AKL has one of the best QS restaurants on property. Plenty of variety, convenient, large( for a deluxe) with indoor and outdoor seating....

12-15-2010, 10:52 AM
I would do a dining plan the first 3 days and then OOP the next 3. This way, you can use any leftover meals/snacks the entire last day of the 1st reservation (vs having to get things to go for your trip home on the last day of your 2nd reservation).

You also don't have to worry about taking home snacks; you can use up any remaining snacks the last day of your 1st reservation and use them for the second part of your trip.

12-16-2010, 09:37 AM
I didn't realize how easy the site allears made it to do the math. Also it seems WDW isn't very discount friendly so the OOP costs are pretty straight forward using allears. There's a wealth of good info that I'll have to go through.

So it looks like after doing some rough numbers that as long as each person has one entree+drink and 2 snacks/day the QSDP plan makes sense for us. I didn't realize the resort CS locations and variety were so limited. But I'll be looking forward to not having second thoughts purchasing overpriced fruit !

It seems like from allears, Mara is the only available CS location in AKL?

12-16-2010, 01:49 PM
It seems like from allears, Mara is the only available CS location in AKL?

Yes, that's true.

12-16-2010, 10:14 PM
I would say that quick service meals for the most part are nothing to write home about. I loved the table service the meals were delicious. I schedule them at times that were convienent for us. once we were in the middle of something so I called and they were able to change my reservations. But if they couldn't then I would had just called and asked the operator where would be a good place to eat that could get me in on my time. Most table services are really good.

Get the table service I don't think you will regret it. We did QS for lunch and had dinner at the TS. Sometimes I would take my dessert back to the hotel and eat it for breakfast. Like my apple cobbler I was on vacation so it is ok to do that. Make sure to ask your server for a fork. They are all very helpful

Enjoy your trip!!!

12-18-2010, 08:26 AM
We stayed at AKL last month and I just finished a trip report comparing the DDP to OOP. We loved the Mara QS restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge! Good luck in your decision


12-18-2010, 04:45 PM
It's good to hear that everyone thinks highly of Mara. I did not realize AKL was quite a distance from everything else in the park.

And that trip report was quite insightful, I had been following it and am glad you found the time to finish it.

In the end I signed my group up for DDP the first 3 days and QSDP the second 3 days. It will be our first trip to WDW and I think the flexibility of QSDP should work well for us. Having been to DL quite a bit, there seems to be a lot of overlap with MK And HS parks so we'll probably hop around quite a bit.

I don't know that I would have signed up for QSDP at the regular cost though, I think for us it would make much more sense to pay OOP in that case. But I think if we want to try any of the TS restaurants we almost have to sign up for DDP even at full price because paying OOP almost doesn't make sense at the prices Disney charges.