View Full Version : Why Do You Pay For The Dining Plan?

10-01-2011, 07:38 PM
Could someone explain to me why you would purchase a dining plan? I'm in the beginning stages of my research and I'm just curious why you would purchase a dining plan vs just purchasing your meals independently? I hope that makes sense. Thanks!

10-01-2011, 08:13 PM
I'm looking at getting the DDP for our next vacation since DH usually gets a steak (most often the most expensive item on the menu) at each restaurant we go to. This will actually save us money, especially for a longer trip.

During our vacation in August we paid out of pocket, and some meals were over $50 for the two of us. And that was just dinner.

Now, if you are not a big eater, or if you don't usually order the expensive items on the menu, it is probably not worth it.

10-01-2011, 09:02 PM
I'm looking at getting the DDP for our next vacation since DH usually gets a steak (most often the most expensive item on the menu) at each restaurant we go to. This will actually save us money, especially for a longer trip.

During our vacation in August we paid out of pocket, and some meals were over $50 for the two of us. And that was just dinner.

Now, if you are not a big eater, or if you don't usually order the expensive items on the menu, it is probably not worth it.

Actually, if dinner for 2 costs $50, then you are better off skipping the plan. The break even point, is about $30 per person in 2011.

To op, the 2 most frequently cited reasons for getting the plan-

1- convenience of pre-payment.

2- the potential to save money. You are not guaranteed to save money, but depending on your eating habits, you could save a fair amount.

10-01-2011, 10:23 PM
We just purchased the DxDP (deluxe dining plan) for the third time. We like the Signature restaurants and enjoy trying different things on the menu (not just the entrees but apps too). The cost of a Signature 3-course dinner (roughly $65-$70 pp) is almost the cost of the DxDP per day (roughly $80), and then we get an extra credit for a TS breakfast or lunch and 2 snacks. Since dining is an important part of all of our vacations (not just WDW), we've opted to purchase the DxDP. For kids, the cost of the DxDP is not much more than the cost of one character meal, so there's savings there as well.

Also, our kids are fairly young. It's nice to have set meal times for them that roughly resemble when we eat at home. It's also nice to sit down and be served, instead of standing in a line and getting a table, etc., with the kids. Many TS restaurants provide better eating choices than the CS restaurants and we often share our meals with them as well, so it's nice to have the apps included.

10-01-2011, 10:42 PM
It was purely a numbers game for us. I went through all the menus of where we'd be eating and priced out what the meals would cost. The regular dining plan would have cost us more than paying OOP. But the DxDP actually saved us quite a bit of money.

The best way for you to figure it out is to price out the meals you think you want and see which is the better deal for you!

Good luck. :goodvibes

10-01-2011, 11:04 PM
We purchase the Dining plan so that we don't have to worry about budgeting for meals. This allows us to pay for our meals before we go on vacation. But having the dining plan gives us the ability to have a sit down meal during the day and not worry about the cost. For us it works because we like having sit down meal while we are there. It really is an individual decision and I agree that you should check out some websites to look at resataurants you may want to eat at to determine if you would benefit from the Dining plan.

10-01-2011, 11:14 PM
We buy the dining plan because it's convenient, we like that it's prepaid, and it allows us to go places and order things we normally wouldn't if we were looking at all the prices.

10-01-2011, 11:33 PM
There are a couple of reasons we buy the DxDDP on our trips.

First and foremost is the all inclusive feeling. As a family that seldom eats out, living in the low-cost rural midwest, Disney dining is an exercise in sticker shock. It doesn't matter how generous the dining budget is on paper, DH & I will always have a hard time paying $30 for chicken or $25 for a sushi appetizer. The DxDDP lets us eat the way we want on vacation - lots of sit down meals featuring a variety of foods and dining styles we don't have in our small town - without any need to look at prices.

Second but still important as an incentive to tie up the money in advance is the savings factor. The DxDDP still has quite a bit of potential for savings, particularly for the way we use it (almost no counter service meals).

10-01-2011, 11:35 PM
We buy the dining plan because it's convenient, we like that it's prepaid, and it allows us to go places and order things we normally wouldn't if we were looking at all the prices.

We love the dining plan & are going our second time with deluxe dining.


First we got "free" dining & then we upgraded to deluxe because we love having all our food paid for in advance.

Without it all paid in advance we wouldn't eat at as many restaurants.

We would pick restaurants by price & not eat at any signatures.

We wouldn't order desserts at each meal...& I love desserts!

We would rarely order an appitizer.

We'd order by price & not by want we want...like hmmm...I really want a steak...but the burger is way cheaper so I'll get it.

I also like having the extra snacks which we use as gifts to bring back.

We come out way ahead on price as we do enjoy a great steak...but the reason we really love the dining plan is the freedom to dine as we wish where we wish...all prepaid.

10-02-2011, 01:47 AM
There are a few reasons why I am a huge fan of the Disney Dining plan.

1. It is nice having dining budgeted out before you leave. You don't have to worry about searching around for reasonably priced food in the park, or spending more then you planned.

2. As the dining plan has become so popular Disney restaurants are more crowded then ever. People start booking reservations far in advance, making it difficult to get seating in a restaurant. Of course you can make reservations even if you are not on the plan, and restaurants still accept (although it usually involves a long wait) walk-ins. I find it somewhat intimidating to make these choices unless I have a set budget.

3. Most importantly (for me anyway) the food. On the Deluxe plan (which is the only one I go with) you get 3 meals, 2 snacks, and a refillable resort mug. Each meal (aside from breakfast) has an appetizer, entree, dessert, and a non-alcoholic drink for each meal. Ordinarily I never order so much food, and I almost never allow myself to get the most expensive entree. Yet I love the decadence of being able to do so on vacation. I usually combine my meal points so that I can go to one Signature dining event a night and enjoy gourmet food that I almost never get to eat. You can also use two meal points for character dining which allows you much faster access and often more time spent with each character then you get in the parks, or a dinner show.

When you are given so much food at each meal you can easily use your snack points to cover a small breakfast or lunch. If you really want to be thrifty about it you can use leftovers from large meals to use for smaller meals the next day, and save some of your snack points to take home as gifts. Last time I checked 1 snack credit was still good for the giant lolly pops, mickey shaped rice crispy treats with chocolate dipped ears, and a few other Disney themed candy items.

I think it just makes the vacation that much more enjoyable being able to order anything you want without worrying about the cost.

10-02-2011, 01:55 AM
I took a friend with me the time I got the dining plan. It was our first trip to WDW but we've been going to Disneyland together for years. Since I was taking her, my treat, I didn't want her to worry about how much the food was costing. We also were eating at a lot of sit down restaurants, including a few Signatures.

So, I got the dining plan (deluxe) so we didn't have to worry, and so we could both order whatever we wanted without thinking about cost. It was purely a convenience for us.

10-02-2011, 02:10 AM
dont think I would do it full price but during free dining we upgraded to Dxddp and when I tryed to plan out tips based on what we were most likely going to order and worked out the numbers we are saving alot of money doing the plan,we would never do all those resturants OOP and it will give my 10 yr old a chance to experiment I would never pay oop for her to get a $40 steak but she can on the plan

10-02-2011, 08:39 AM
Like others have said..my main reasons are:

Convenience--less stressful, everything is prepaid and the kids can pretty much get whatever they ask for (instead of me saying "PUT THAT BACK--I'M NOT PAYING ?$$ FOR THAT!)

Savings--Okay, this is a personal thing, but for us and the foods we like the dining plan is a great savings. We like getting the DDP (don't know if I'd pay full price for it next year though with the increase, plus we don't use the resort mugs) but as it is now we like having a nice sit down meal for dinner. When some of the entrees or buffets can be $30+ it can be a big savings.

If you are not the type to eat dessert at every meal, don't mind fast food for every meal, and don't mind bringing in your own bottled waters then you might be able to save money without it, but everything quickly adds up and food is a big part of our disney vacation, so to us it's worth it.

I always questioned the value of the Quick Service Dining plan, but since the price has remained the same (minus a snack credit) I may consider it next time. If you use it well I see how you can get value out of it. For example, if you have a car you could go to DTD and eat at WPE and have a "sit-down" meal for only a quick service credit and the food is pricier than most QS places and really good. Although we didn't have the QSDP, we used many of our counter service credits here, just because we really love to eat at WPE. But, this did make the plan even more of a value to us. :thumbsup2

10-02-2011, 09:15 AM
We did the plan in 2004 but would not now. We prefer to eat smaller meals, often opting for a couple appetizers between us rather than entrees. We don't eat dessert all the time, only drink water (other than the husband's occasional beer) and like table service restaurants. If it works for your family that's great, but for us we'd be wasting lots of food and having to pay out of pocket for many of the things we'd like to eat that aren't included. I rather not be tied down.

10-02-2011, 10:02 AM
We didn't pay for it we got it free. If we had not of gotten it free we wouldn't have paid for it because we don't usually eat dessert every meal so that is a waste and counter service meals run around $12 per person. I can eat 3 of those a day for what the QSDP costs per person. It doesn't really save you money unless you plan on using the entitlements for all they are worth and you eat a lot of desserts. If you get the DDP free and upgrade to Deluxe then it will save you a lot of money for sure. But that's the only way I figured to save any money. For us eating OOp would have been cheaper. The dining plan for the 5 of us would be around $200 a day. Eating breakfast in our room we can eat out of pocket for around $120 a day for lunch & dinner, saving about $80 a day over what we would have paid for the QSDP. We wouldn't eat 2 snacks a day either if we weren't on the QSDP and we probably wouldn't buy the resort refillable mug either. But we will use it since it is free with the QSDP.

10-02-2011, 10:25 AM
If you have children 9 and under, the savings could really add up. One character meal can run you about $18-20 for dinner. The cost of the DDP for children 9 and under this year was $11.99 or $12.99, depending on the season. So, your one sit down brings you out ahead of the game. If you went with the deluxe plan, your cost this year for a child under 9 would be $21.99, so if you did even one dinner character meal at about $18-20 and you bought one snack, you would already be ahead. Plus, you could potentially do two more sit downs or one signature restaurant and get an additional snack for basically no additional cost. The adult prices are a little more complicated. You could check menus online to see what you would normally order and see how it compares; but if you have children under 9, even if the adult meals break even, you are still making out with the children's costs. Have fun with your research.

10-04-2011, 10:47 PM
1) Conveince. I like that everything is prepaid except tips. Its easier to pay tips during vacation than the entire meal.

2) Flexibility. We go DDxP now. This allows DH and DD their large breakfasts every morning and myself a TS every evening. DH likes the apps, I like the desserts, DD9 likes it all!

3) Enjoyabilty factor. If we did not use the plan, and paid as we went, I'd end up choosing cheap resturants, or the cheapest entree. By nature I can be a cheapskate, especaily when traveling because I worry about the "just in case" factor. By using the plan, everyone gets what they really want, and I forget about the prices; because well, it's already paid for. :cloud9:

4) Savings. This summer if we ate OOP the way we ate on the plan, we would have spent $400+ more on food than we actually did. Now if I had not been on the plan would we have eaten the way we did? No, because DH would have skipped his apps and I would have skipped my desserts. DD would have been begging for dessert every time and NOT gotten it, to save money. How did I know it was worth it before I left? I printed out the menus for the places we wanted to eat at, and did a guess of what I thought we''d likely order and ran the numbers. This showed me on entrees and character buffets alone I saved money. When we got home I ran actual prices, and saw my savings.:woohoo:

5) Better food choices. By using the plan, we ate in better resturants, thus giving DD9 better choices than mac and cheese, nuggets, or meaty pasta. While she loves "kids food", I don't let her eat that way as often as she would during a week vacation @ WDW. However, when presented with better choices, she usually will choose fish, grilled chicken, steak and even sushi! (I guess she's does that because wherever/whatever we eat, she eats! I don't fix seperate meals for her at home, or take a mickey d's into what my friends call "adult" resturants.):cutie:

6) Memories. By using the plan, we tried new resturants. This gave us new experiences, and new favorites. We didn't stick to the tried and true because if we didn't like it, it was okay we had extra snack credits for later on when hunger hit. (BTW we liked every where we tried this summer. Some better than others, but really no bad meal).

IMHO the DDxP is the way to go if it fits your budget. :thumbsup2
Personally I'd never do the quick service plan, because that is my least favorite type of meal. :snooty: We've done the reg. DDP prior to this summer (in Jan was the last time) and I ended up frustrated trying to get DH a good breakfast, while preserving the TS for a good resturant. The counter services got old by the 3rd day. Even DH, who likes sandwhich type meals said enough of that by the time we went home. In addition, we spent more money OOP on the regular plan.

10-05-2011, 05:37 AM
I've always been a big fan of the DDP or DxDDP just for the convenience factor and the feeling of having everything prepaid. I go to WDW several times year and have used the DDP or DxDDP every single trip (until my recent Sept 10th-18th trip).

I refuse to skimp on vacation and will eat at pretty much the same restaurants regardless if I'm on a DDP or not. I noticed that on my trip last May, there were several times I wanted a couple of appetizers instead of an entree. With the DDP I could not do that. There were also alot of times I really didn't want dessert, but felt like I needed to order it, because it was already paid for. We are also not big fans of most CS restaurants, nor do we usually snack down there, yet the basic DDP is one TS, one CS, and one snack/day, so we were always having to pay for a TS meal or two OOP, then had CS and snacks left over to use up that last day. I decided that for my Sept trip I'd get the TiW card to get 20% off my meals and then bought several Disney gift cards which I used to pay for meal, gratutities, souvineers, etc. I found I really liked using the TiW card in conjunction with Disney gift cards. Everything was still prepaid, I got a guaranteed 20% off my meals and didn't have to worry if I was getting the value out of a DDP, plus I was able to eat at restaurants that don't even accept the DDP and still got 20% off. I didn't worry about skipping an ADR, (then having to find a way to use the credit), if I didn't feel like going and in fact did so several times. I loved the flexibility. It was the best of both worlds. Even though I've always been a big proponent of the DDPs, I doubt if I'll ever use them again.

10-05-2011, 06:06 AM
1. DxDP always saves us money
2. Allows us to order whatever we want (except alcohol, which I never drink anyway)
3. Easier to pre-budget the trip (only adding in tips)
4. We love table service meals
5. It is nice to get dessert at every non-breakfast meal on vacation (would not order if not on plan most likely)
6. You can book certain meals at the 180 day mark without paying up front, like CRT, MBYBBQ, HDD, etc. You pay at 45 days when you buy the plan instead.
7. Lots of snacks to take home
8. I would never buy the refillable mug if it was not in the DxDP (will not buy the QSplan), but I like collecting them.
9. We always stay on site, so adding it is no big deal
10. We eat at places we otherwise would not without the plan. There is no way I would eat two or three table service meals a day without the plan. Knowing that I can do that for $78.99 or whatever price it inflates to next year, makes me feel better about it.

10-05-2011, 06:14 AM
We do it for a number of reasons. We do the reg DDP, by the way. They are the following:

1. First is that the last 3 and our up coming trip it has been FREE. My favorit 4 letter word!!! :lmao:

2. It is prepaid-all we have to come up with is tips or app if we get them.

3. We get to eat anywhere we want. If we were paying OOP we would most likely be doing QS for most meals.

4. Price-Free is best, but the year (2006) we did pay for the DDP it was a little of a shock, but then when you look at what it is per person per day it is not that bad...its just shell shock when they say DDP it 1500.00 or what ever it is. The next year (2007) we got free DDP, we priced it out for for 4 people (2 adults, 1-13 year old then, 1-12 year old then (2007)) and if we would have paid OOP for TS, QS, and snack each day we would have paid over 2,000.00 OOP, but even if we would have paid for DDP ($1,500.00 in 2007) we would have saved over $500.00.

We would pay for it either way...free or not. We are use to paying 200.00 for one meal because of where we live anyway so paying that is not bad at Disney for us. But because we can save with the DDP that is why we get it. There have been times that we have not used all the QS but for us money wise it is a better deal. I foresee that this year we are not going during the F&WF so the snack credits will be used to bring things home with us.

10-05-2011, 05:10 PM
Our reasons:

1) We have 4 children (always a great value)
2) We did mostly AYCE meals (buffets, family style, etc) because my oldest was still a child and my youngest eats a lot but is under 3.
3) It saved us at least $250 in our week we had it.

10-13-2011, 03:08 PM
We've gotten the dining plan in the past (deluxe plan) because it has saved us money on the way we like to eat: all TS restaurants (with one being a signature and another one TS a day), app at dinner and sometimes for lunch & bottled water as our snack credit. Its just saved us money.

Now that we are AP holders, we have the TIW card so we haven't gotten the dining plan as the TIW card saves us money and the AP card has the discounts for the stores (water, souveneirs, etc). This plan works better for us now.

10-14-2011, 02:45 PM
im a newbie and aint got a clue..i cant decide what to do about this dining plan? where can you eat with this dinig plan where is a list of resturants? helppp lol

10-14-2011, 03:24 PM
im a newbie and aint got a clue..i cant decide what to do about this dining plan? where can you eat with this dinig plan where is a list of resturants? helppp lol

You can eat at most restaurants on Disney property. The Quick SErvice Dining plan gives you 2 counter service meals a day and 2 snacks (on the 2011 plan...the 2012 plan is 2 counter service and one snack per day.) The regular Dining Plan gives you one counter service meal, one table service (sit-down place with waiters/menu or buffet place including character buffets) and one snack per day. (Disney calls this plan "Room Plus Dine", people on here call it the DDP for Disney Dining Plan) And then there's the Deluxe Dining Plan, which people on here call the DxDDP or DxDP) The Deluxe plan gives you 3 meal credits per day (you can use them at counter service or table service or any combination you choose) as well as 2 snacks per day.

Quick Service ONLY covers the counter service restaurants--there's no way to use those credits at table service places. On the counter service meals and the regular DDP table-service meals, you get one entree (or combo platter), one non-alcoholic beverage and one dessert. Breakfast is entree & non-alcohol beverage only (no"dessert" on breakfast.) If you want appetizers or extra side dishes, or alcoholic beverage you have to pay cash for these...not covered on regular dining plan. Snack credits can be used on many types of snacks including pastry items from bakeries, frozen treats, bottled water, soda, popcorn, hot pretzels, etc. The general rule of thumb is snack item has to be a single-serve item usually under $4 or so...but there are some items under $4 which are not allowed...and there are some items over $4 which are allowed. The menus at the counter service food places & snack counters usually have a purple DP (dining plan) logo with the items that are allowed.

If you're on the Deluxe dining plan...eating at a table service restaurant...you get an appetizer, entree, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage for lunch and dinner meals. If you're eating breakfast, there's no "appetizer" or "dessert" on breakfast...just the entree & beverage.

In 2011, you get a resort refillable mug with the Quick SErvice plan and with the Deluxe plan. In 2012, all plans will get the mug.
Here's the link to the brochure for the 2011 plan:


10-14-2011, 05:32 PM
Before we started doing Disney vacations, we did all inclusive and cruise vacations where all meals are included. We loved not having to budget for food ahead of time and not having to carry cash or cards with us while at the resort or on the ship. Because of this convenience, we always opt to do the dining plan. It's how we're used to vacationing and it makes it more relaxing for us to have our costs paid for up front. I don't even care, at this point, if we are truly getting our money's worth with the plan. I think the DDP price is reasonable so I do it.

10-14-2011, 10:20 PM
I actually did a cost analysis two years back on the dining plan. I do this for work pretty regularly, so it only made sense that I do it for personal reasons. I took the high/low costs of meals at EVERY restaurant. Averaged each at each individual restaurant, times two (for me and DH) plus the cost of two kids meals. I did that for every restaurant on site using the menus and meal prices on allears. I was able to come up with a high, low and and average for each meal/restaurant. Then I went through each individual menu again, taking guesses on what we would order if NOT on the dining plan (never fails, DH always picks the most expensive entree, and I'll pick the cheapest just because I'm frugal)... again just using averages but also not including desserts because we would not normally order those if not on the DDP. Based on that, I could decide if the cost of the meal plan would be right for us, versus paying out of pocket. It came out to be about $20 +/- less per day *NOT* using the dining plan.

So long story short, we would save money if we didn't do the dining plan - but I enjoy the convenience. I like not having to choose the cheapest thing on the menu because I feel I should. And I like not having to tell my family something is too expensive, go cheaper. If I was paying out of pocket, I would force us to eat at more CS as well, just to save money. We have always traveled to all-inclusive resorts (prior to disney) and one of the most enjoyable things to me about vacationing as a mom and a wife is not worrying about the next meal, making it or paying for it. I don't even see the money (other than for tipping, which I pre-allocate as well). So I do it because it's more enjoyable to me, and for that, it's worth the extra cost. Yeah, I could just suck it up and budget well and do all that... but where's the fun in that?? lol

Cookie Princess
10-15-2011, 07:31 AM
We have done both the DDP and the DXDDP. I love the DX plan as we eat out a lot at home. With either plan we like to:

-order whatever we want and not worry about the price. DS will be 17 and is a big steak eater!

-have fun spending all those snack credits. :love:

-eat at a variety of different spots, including signature meals.

-have the majority of it pre-paid.

-skip most of the counter service dining. We like to sit and enjoy a good meal.

10-15-2011, 05:25 PM
We've done the DDP on several trips and did the Dlx DDP on 1/2 of a split stay trip. We found the Deluxe to be too much eating...too much wasted time sitting in restaurants and probably won't get it again...it's a bit costly anyway. The regular DDP used to be a good deal. The first time we got it- apps and tips were included, but they have since taken them off. And they keep jacking the cost up. I've calculated many times what we'd spend paying OOP and we'd spend less than the $46-48/day. You essentially have to spend $30-33 on TS, $12-15 on CS and $3 on snack. If you book a lot of AYCE (buffets/family style) places, then yes you will save a little bit because they are now charging $34-38 ish for those places. With the menu places...you'd have to get the higher priced entres and dessert to be in the $30-33 range. And the convience thing...well you still have to pay for the tip and any extras...so I don't see where being on the DDP helps make anything easier in that respect. As far as 'free' DDP...well nothing is free. We've done the research and you are paying higher room rates to get that 'free' DDP.

EDIT: Oh my...just saw the increase in costs for the dining plans for 2012. WOW!!! Where have I been that I was not aware they were going up that much. No more DDP for us.

10-16-2011, 07:04 PM
We have used the Dining Plan the past 6 trips...Could we save money without it???..maybe.
But I am a penny counter all year long..so I am guilty of buying into the Disney Marketing Strategy that there is a value in pre-paying for our food.
Without the Dining Plan I would have no problem with what DH or my 2 kiddos choose to order...but I KNOW myself and I would be ordering the least expensive thing on the menu, even if it wasn't what I really wanted, (in spite of myself) to save a little $$$.
But I work hard and when I go on vacation I deserve the steak...with the Dining Plan I am guilt free. Twisted, I know. :blush:

10-16-2011, 08:06 PM
My trip coming up is the first time I have got a dinning plan. For me why I decided to get the dinning plan was for few reasons

Convenience, not having to worry about carrying cash with me all the time, which is a great thing some times.

Flexibility, we are able to enjoy a larger selection of food, because we donít have to worry about budget. Instead of having a budget for food every day and trying to stay with in it we are able to just enjoy ourselves. I donít want come to dinner and have to eat something small and quick only because I had a large lunch. When traveling with big groups food budgets always come in to play and some times you find yourself penny pinching at every meal because you are thinking about your next.

Having the ability to choose different places to eat is great. One day for lunch you can just grab a burger combo some where in a park and the next day you can seat down to a large spread.

I can see how someone may thing that it was not worth the money to buy a dinning plan if you are just use to eating at some of the quick service places in the parks but you have to taking in the fact that there is much more to eat then just burgers and hotdogs.

And of course like any prepaid thing you may not always save money but you also have the change to save quite a bit too, it is all about how you decide to use the plan. For me I have made 9 reservations so for, for my trip in feb and I have a wide rage of restaurants to eat at, and yes some days I can see what I will not save any money but others I know just by looking at the menus and the prices I will save a lot.