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notsogoofy 12-21-2008 11:39 AM

The Dining Plan, why I'll never/always do it.
We have been to the world twice this year. The first time with 6 and then 4 of us just went. While at the pool, a lady was talking about all the money she saved, and just how great the dining plan is. She talked about how they ALWAYS have credits left over, and that its just soo much food. This didnt sit well with me.
First off, Ive tried to figure out how much we spend on food, how many times we eat, and what types of meals we do. For one, a lot of the times, the meals have too much food,and often, we are able to buy one meal to split between the younger two. Having credits for each of them would be silly. Secondly, we dont do ADR's..ever. Im not scheduling my day around a meal reservation, only to wait in line to eat. Seems like its a real inconvenience. We rarely eat 3 meals, and snacks, and all that. Its easier to grab something quick and easy, buy a few meals, split em up and eat. Even then, food gets tossed.
Financially, its cheaper for us to just buy when the mood hits us, compared to purchasing a plan. If I want, I can charge to the room, which eliminates carrying cash. I just dont see how someone can say 'we always have food left over, and cant eat everything on the plan' and think theyre shopping wisely. I know it works for some, but not for us..

eliza61 12-21-2008 11:45 AM

Like every thing at Disney, what is great for some folks is poison for others.

I try to encourage vacationers to not just look at the bottom line ( a bargain is really not a bargain if you're unhappy with it). We tried the DDP the 1st year it was offered and it just didn't suit our life style or the way we like to tour, so we never went back. For us, changing the way we tour just to save 200 bucks is really not worth it.

I have a DDE card that gives me 20% off on my meals and alcohol and gives me more flexibility on how I tour and tip so I use that instead.
Works for us but I'm glad other vacationers can get more out of it.

tinkbyday 12-21-2008 11:45 AM

We tried the DDP this past trip - it was the basic one - one counter, one sitdown and a snack - in order for us to get the value out of it, we did have to have an ADR each evening at a fairly expensive place.

What we found is if you want a sit down nice meal each evening, it could make sense - for us, I think we found we just about broke even, so we paid in advance for our meals.

This time we are not doing the DDP because we really don't feel the need to sit down and eat a formal meal every night nor do we want to be tied down to a reservation every night. We did book ADR's for 4 of the 6 nights and the others we will wing it.

Lynne M 12-21-2008 11:49 AM


Originally Posted by notsogoofy (Post 29258140)
I just dont see how someone can say 'we always have food left over, and cant eat everything on the plan' and think theyre shopping wisely. I know it works for some, but not for us..

As long as she's eating more than $38.99 per day of food, then she's saving money and has shopped wisely, regardless of what credits are unused. That's not hard to do if you're ordering expensive entrees, or eating at a lot of buffets and/or character meals.

That said, for some, the DDP (TiW) is a better fit.

delmar411 12-21-2008 11:53 AM

I can't see us doing the basic plan again. I was already hesitant but this past trip really sealed the deal. We were left w/ 5 CS, 2 snacks and TEN TS with 2hrs to go before they expired. We were able to order CS to use and then management was able to turn our TS credits into 2snacks each but seriously...2 snacks??? Should have been a CS and 2 snacks IMO. So now I own the most expensive rice krispie treats ever! :headache:

Anyway it was way too much food for the way we eat in the parks...actually the way we don't eat in the parks!

I'm considering the quick service one as that might actually work for us. We drink a lot of bottled drinks so at least the snacks would get used up pretty quickly.

CharacterFan 12-21-2008 11:58 AM

I never thought the dining plan would work for me. I'm a small person who doesn't eat a lot at one meal. While the deluxe plan is a bit more then the base, it gives me the chance to eat at places I'd never pay oop for. I wouldn't pay for a buffet because I don't eat enough to make the $18-$30 worth it, but with the plan I can eat there and be happy. I enjoy sitting down for at least 1 meal a day, and my trip next week I'm sitting down for at least 2 a day.

Yes, the dining plan isn't for everyone. You need to figure out your vacation style and if it saves you money.

notsogoofy 12-21-2008 11:58 AM

Glad to see im not the only one. Nice stats on the 38.99/day. I wouldnt even come near that. As for the water issue, I think I paid about 5 bucks for a case of aquafina from GGrocer, and left half of it in the room when we left..;)

TDC Nala 12-21-2008 12:01 PM


talked about how they ALWAYS have credits left over, and that its just soo much food.
If you have credits left over, I fail to see how you're saving money. The value of the plan depends on using ALL your credits. Maximizing the value of the plan would mean you use the credits on the most expensive meals and snacks possible - i.e. using all TS for one-credit dinners, and purchasing the most expensive menu items.

The plan works for a lot of visitors, especially those with several children under age 10. Book a few buffets, everyone eats all they want, and the kids practically get the counter service and snacks free.

I can see how there is a water issue, but I never purchase water. Ever. At any WDW counter service location you can ask to be served a free cup of ice water.

finallygoingtoWDW 12-21-2008 12:07 PM

Nice to hear your thoughts. We just booked our first trip for April and I declined the dining plan. I certainly don't intend to eat TS dinner every night. I also don't want to be tied down to ADRs. I don't even know where I would make them. :laughing:

RMulieri 12-21-2008 12:12 PM

You need to figure out what works for your family.I love the dining plan and it works out great for my family and we never have a problem using all the credits.But my sil is the opposite.She hates Ts dining and rarely utilizes all her credits.Different strokes for different folks.

Happy99 12-21-2008 12:13 PM

If you spend less then $40 per day on meals for anyone age 10 & over then the dining plan is not worth it for you

When I travel with just my children we don't do the dining plan because we usually only eat one or two TS places during our stay. The rest of the time we just get something quick.

When my DH is along we do get the dining plan because he likes to have a sit down meal for dinner each evening and it does end up saving us money. We like to take time out and sit for a while and relax. We never do sit down breakfasts or lunches but we enjoy it at dinner

The one snack credit a day is used up very quickly and daily with either getting water and / or ice cream. Even if we get two bottles of water and two ice creams that is our 4 snack credits per day. I do find that we don't drink as much water if we go in the winter months but in the summer we go through a lot of it

We always have a quick meal for breakfast or lunch so that uses our CS credit

As others have said what works for one doesn't work for another. It all depends on your style of eating while at Disney

Whether you have the dining plan or not you should make ADR's if you plan on dining at TS restaurants and don't want to wait or turned away. If you are more of the type of person to just wander around until you find a place that can accomodate you then that is fine not to make ADR's.

koolaidmoms 12-21-2008 12:14 PM

We used the DDP in the past but are not for this trip not for the reasons you all stated but for us it was the amount of time we felt we lost. By the time we traveled to our restaurant, got to check-in 10 minutes early, waited for our ADR's sometime 10-15 minutes or more after the stated time, got in, ate dinner, dessert and checked out we were our 2 1/2 to 3 hours each TS meal! If we had two in one day we felt like we barely got to enjoy the parks and were still stuffed after the first meal.

We are going to try the 2CS meals this trip and see if that works any better for us and just schedule 2 or 3 ADRs.

scottish mum 12-21-2008 12:16 PM

We had the ddp plan this year for the 1st time and only because it was free. We were left with credits but I hadn't paid for them so it was fine. We did enjoy it as we wnet to lots of character meals and some dinner shows but also found it to be very restrictive in that you were constantly looking to see if it was time for you adr. We had never had any adrs booked on previous trips so it felt very strange.
Would we do it again? only if it was free but certainly wouldn't purchase it as we feel we don't get our money worth from it

rt2dz 12-21-2008 12:45 PM

I have found, even during free dining, the dining plan is never a good value.

OK, for those of you who canít figure out why free dining is a bad valueóbecause I can buy tickets cheaper (actually we have APs, but even if we didnítÖ) and then I have to pay rack rate for the room. When free dining is offered (so far) there has always been a great room only discount rate available.

Anyhow, in evaluating the dining plans, I use All Ears menus to decide where we want to eat. We do TS every day, sometimes more than once. I have one child with food allergies and none of us can stand fast food everyday for 10 days. We eat it only occasionally and Disney kills us on it. AnyhowÖ

After I choose where we eat, I figure out a roundabout cost on what we will (most likely) eat. I then subtract 20% from my Tables in Wonderland card, where applicable, or my 10% AP discount, where applicable. I now have a rough idea of our OOP costs. Then for kicks I check out the dining plans. I see how the restaurants we choose fits and how the credits will go. Some of the places we eat are not on the dining plans and many require two credits. Then I have to figure out if DS7 will eat anything off the kids menu since many of those choices donít appeal to him. Not only do the credits not fit our dining style well, the OOP costs are almost always less than the dining plan costs. Even the snacks donít fit us. My kids LOVE popcorn, but we get buckets not boxes. We donít really snack on much else and we bring in our own bottles of water. It just wouldnít make sense to use a snack credit for a bottle of water.

The way I figure it, Disney only offers it because they make a profit on it. Duh. Itís only a discount if you happen to eat very carefully and maximize the plan, which very few people do. Thatís how Disney makes their profit. Not to mention, I donít want to plan my vacation around eating; Iíd rather fit eating into my vacation.

Iím sure for some people it is a good value and a money saver. Just not for us, and Iím sure not for a lot of people who do get the dining plan if they evaluate it carefully. I think for some, they just like the convenience and *feel* they are spending less. Or feel less badly about what they are spending.

CowboyJeff 12-21-2008 12:57 PM

We use the dining experience now to receive the 20% discount. This way we dont overindulge on foods we're forced to eat. We eat only what we want and still receive the discount.

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