PDA

View Full Version : "Free" Dining Plan Has Ruined Value Season


lieutjenn
12-18-2010, 02:27 PM
Just returned from Disney and we conclude that the "free" dining (and you know it's not really free) has caused the value season to be just as crowded as other times. Parks were packed, restaurants were packed - certainly not the experience we had 5 years ago between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I don't think we will do the dining plan again - felt to locked in to our ADRs since it was impossible to do any spontaneous walk-in dining.

Also really stunned by the number of kids there - surprised these parents feel that visiting Disney is a higher priority than attending school. No wonder we are so far behind other countries ...

Disney as always was a wonderful experience but we were not expecting so many people and such long lines.

princess-rn
12-18-2010, 02:38 PM
We were there the first week of December (a black out for the free dining) and it wasn't crowded at all. It was GREAT. However, our last day there was the first day of the "free dining" and you could see the difference in the crowd. Magic Kingdom was SO packed we ended up leaving much earlier than we had planned. (which is very unlike us) We love the dining plan though. Yes, it does lock you into a dinner...BUT if you plan it out carefully it's just a brief stop in your touring plans and you can pick right up where you left off after dinner. We usually went to whatever EMH park was open that day if we ate dinner at one of the resorts.
Incidently, we did take our son (2nd grader) our of school for a week. We talked about it with his teacher and she was fine with it. He did school work every day before we went to the parks and read every evening when we returned. He took the spelling test he missed when we got back and made 100%. So I felt fine about taking him out. With that said 2nd grade will most likely be the last time we will take him out for Disney though. School is much more important...but yet again..if you plan correctly and do the necessary work, a little vacation is always nice too. :)

3Minnies1Mickey
12-18-2010, 02:40 PM
Ugh! :sad2:

lieutjenn
12-18-2010, 02:46 PM
Ugh! :sad2:

Meaning? :confused3

lieutjenn
12-18-2010, 02:52 PM
We were there the first week of December (a black out for the free dining) and it wasn't crowded at all. It was GREAT. However, our last day there was the first day of the "free dining" and you could see the difference in the crowd.

With that said 2nd grade will most likely be the last time we will take him out for Disney though. School is much more important...but yet again..if you plan correctly and do the necessary work, a little vacation is always nice too. :)

We were so very surprised at the number of people there - went Dec 11-17.

Glad to hear 2nd grade is your cutoff - lots of kids of all ages were there this past week. So close to Christmas break, was just surprising. It is certainly each parents' prerogative, don't get me wrong. Several other couples with whom we spoke mentioned the same thing.

TDC Nala
12-18-2010, 02:57 PM
Taking kids out of school is not a relevant topic on the restaurant boards - and this time of year, as of 2011, is no longer value season. It's going to be called "fall season." Disney has been doing whatever it can to draw guests in, and it's working.

3Minnies1Mickey
12-18-2010, 03:02 PM
Meaning? :confused3

It's just a double whammy thread: "Free Dining is ruining the world" and "taking kids out of school" issue.

1) I'm sorry your trip was more crowded then you expected.

2) My kids are actually off track right now but if we did take them out of school for a trip they'd go on Independent study to keep up on their studies. So you have no idea what those kids' school schedules are or what their school policies are about taking family vacations during school time.

3) Disney parks are becoming increasingly more crowded the last few years. Some think that because of the economy people would not be able to take these vacations, but as a person that has been hit hard by the housing market these "get aways" have gotten up through some low times. If I'm going to Disney I hope for the best, but am prepared to deal with crowds.

3Minnies1Mickey
12-18-2010, 03:04 PM
Taking kids out of school is not a relevant topic on the restaurant boards

I saw this after I posted above and apologize for including that in my response.

Zeebs
12-18-2010, 03:05 PM
I always surprised at the amount of people who get annoyed when a business makes a decision to increase their profits.

I hate crowds as much as the next person, but I think it is silly to expect a business not to look at ways to increase their turnover.

Disney has found a way to do this and unless you are prepared to spend a whole lot more money to compensate the loss of income if they stopped doing it you just have to deal with it.

Kirsten

lieutjenn
12-18-2010, 03:19 PM
I always surprised at the amount of people who get annoyed when a business makes a decision to increase their profits.

I hate crowds as much as the next person, but I think it is silly to expect a business not to look at ways to increase their turnover.

Disney has found a way to do this and unless you are prepared to spend a whole lot more money to compensate the loss of income if they stopped doing it you just have to deal with it.

Kirsten

We last went in 2003. All of our past trips felt as though Disney was more interested in it's guests having a great experience. This time, it felt much more that they were interested in making money. It's just a change for which we were not prepared. I don't begrudge them a successful business plan but I think things have gone a bit askew. Would Walt approve?

lieutjenn
12-18-2010, 03:25 PM
It's just a double whammy thread: "Free Dining is ruining the world" and "taking kids out of school" issue.

Oh, didn't know this was not allowed .... I was multitasking!

lieutjenn
12-18-2010, 03:34 PM
and this time of year, as of 2011, is no longer value season. It's going to be called "fall season." Disney has been doing whatever it can to draw guests in, and it's working.

This year, it was called value season. Understand it is changing for next year ....

Disney has become sadly too greedy, IMHO.

2Tiggies
12-18-2010, 04:47 PM
Disney has become sadly too greedy, IMHO.

Disney is a business trying, like anyone else, to survive and make a profit in an economic slump. With any business, it's ALWAYS about the money.

Personally, I would rather they raise attendance through promotions than resort to more cutbacks. It isn't just free dining though. There are other promotions that run alongside the free dining offer and often there is an opportunity for you to pick the discount that saves you the most.

Not intending to knock your opinion :goodvibes - just offering mine. :)

LilyWDW
12-18-2010, 05:37 PM
Disney is a business trying, like anyone else, to survive and make a profit in an economic slump. With any business, it's ALWAYS about the money.

Personally, I would rather they raise attendance through promotions than resort to more cutbacks. It isn't just free dining though. There are other promotions that run alongside the free dining offer and often there is an opportunity for you to pick the discount that saves you the most.

Not intending to knock your opinion :goodvibes - just offering mine. :)

:thumbsup2

It happens all the time on these boards. Disney makes a business decision, but people complain about how it changes things. What most people don't seem to grasp is that if Disney doesn't make some changes, then they will lose money. If they lose money, then they have to make even bigger cuts. Then more people complain... ect.

Behind all the pixie dust and magic is a publicly traded business. As such, they have to make decisions like a publicly traded business. Sometimes this means a bit of magic has to change. They don't do it because they are moving away from the magic, they do it because it makes business sense.

Disney needs to increase revenues at their parks and resorts. They can do this by offering promotions or doing cutbacks (I am sure there are more options, but lets keep this easy). I would prefer the promotions personally.

TDC Nala
12-18-2010, 05:42 PM
Walt's been dead over 40 years so there's no knowing if he'd approve or not. Like it or not the new business model is pack 'em in and move 'em along.

umieesa
12-18-2010, 06:47 PM
I really hope this is not the case for January!! The whole reason I love going in January is the lack of crowds, and although we booked before knowing about "free dining", we just happened to be arriving the day before free dining starts! Still getting the DDP mind you, but we're paying OOP for it since we're staying on points, so luckily all my reservations were made once the window opened!

Just hate crowds though :sad1:, but it's true...we can't really knock Disney since they are a business and businesses need to make money (otherwise we'd be hearing about Disney layoffs and that's never a good thing).

catne
12-18-2010, 06:53 PM
we've been at Disney World during September free dining a couple of years running now...don't think the free dining "ruined" anything. Once we got past Labor Day holiday weekend, we enjoyed low crowds and nice meals at the restaurants.

We'll be there in January during free dining, too (and we arrive just before it starts, so we're paying for our dining. Did get discounted rooms, though.) It'll be interesting to see if free dining "ruins" January, too.

My guess is no, it won't be a whole lot different than last couple of years.

Colleen27
12-18-2010, 07:22 PM
This time of year has been getting steadily more popular for at least the 5 years I've been on the DIS, and probably even before that. It isn't just the free dining - the whole holiday season is a big draw. Add to that the fact that Pop Warner's bad reputation on all the big planning sites makes one week of this high-demand season less desirable than the rest and you've got a recipe for this week in particular - after PW has ended but before the peak holiday pricing begins - to be increasingly popular.

And not everyone has the luxury of time off when the kids are out of school. The week before Christmas is usually light-duty classwork because the teachers know the kids are all so distracted anyway, so it is an easier week to miss than most.

Allison
12-19-2010, 10:24 AM
Good for Disney for coming up with a way to have people in the parks year-round.

hsmamato2
12-20-2010, 04:37 AM
I don't know....we just got back too..... have never been there in December,(usually January) and I noticed crowds,just not too near me!:rotfl2: seriously, we didn't have any problems, b/c we purposely went in the opposite direction of 'the crowds'- taking along our kids and everything:teacher:popcorn::
we used EMH nite hours (late) to go on lots of rides....Park hopping 2-3 times a day on buses....it was a total blast! EMH hours at nite are great,IF you plan on staying later than the average family....one freezing MK nite, we rode everything with no lines.....a few days later,mid-day,it was too busy for us and we headed elsewhere.....dining wasn't a problem,just planned to be at a certain place by a certain time:confused3

JustCallMeMommy
12-20-2010, 06:01 AM
Over 5 years though, I would wonder if you aren't seeing the outcome of a million and one web sites telling everyone that December (barring the end of the month) and January are the best times to go.

clanmcculloch
12-20-2010, 08:39 AM
I'll never understand why people who have experiences like this say free dining ruined some aspect of Disney. What you really mean is that you're bitter that Disney's figured out how to fill the parks when you like to vacation. This is what businesses do; they try to sell out of their products and/or services and maximize profits. Personally, I prefer crowds and cheaper prices to lower attendance and higher prices.

NMW
12-20-2010, 11:14 AM
Over 5 years though, I would wonder if you aren't seeing the outcome of a million and one web sites telling everyone that December (barring the end of the month) and January are the best times to go.

Exactly this! When we first started taking our kids to WDW in 2002, I bought guide books because I knew that it would be a much different trip than just DH and I, and my kids were pretty little. I figured I would need advice!

Anyway, every guide book (Unofficial, WDW with Kids, Passporters, etc.) ALL reccomended early Dec as the absolute best time to go. We actually changed our original plans to go in early November because of these reccomendations. For the next 4 years we did early Dec trips (2002-2005). I can tell you that from our point of view the crowds got bigger and bigger every year, or at least it seemed that way to us. WE even talked to people who said that they chose this time because of the guide books. There was no free dining any of these trips in December.

Anyway, in 2006 we went in mid-October and the crowds were so much smaller it was amazing. I mean, a lot smaller! I would go back to WDW that time of the year in a second!

We started going mid to late May because of my sons football season. We could just no longer do October. Also, because our school year ends in mid June, the kids were missing very little learning in May. DH and I both felt the crowds were smaller in May than the 1st 2 weeks of December.

This year we are going late May into early June because of my sons lacrosse schedule. It just so happens to be a free dining period and I'm a little worried about the crowds, but it's the only time we can go. Just have to hope for the best, I guess.

I still miss the Christmas decorations, lights, extras that come along with the Christmas season. Maybe someday we'll go back in early December.

NewsiesGoil
12-20-2010, 03:51 PM
I don't think free dining has ruined the value season -- not in September/early October, anyway. I was there the last week of September this year with free dining and had absolutely no problem getting on rides whenever I wanted (with the exceptions of Soarin' and TSM). The parks weren't ghost towns by any means, but it was never a chore being there!

threvester
12-20-2010, 05:23 PM
I don't think free dining has ruined the value season -- not in September/early October, anyway. I was there the last week of September this year with free dining and had absolutely no problem getting on rides whenever I wanted (with the exceptions of Soarin' and TSM). The parks weren't ghost towns by any means, but it was never a chore being there!

:thumbsup2 we go every year for the last week of sept.-first week of october..get free dining and the parks are not crowded at all