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-   -   Help me choose an approach to dining- thank you!!! (http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3030716)

jude&jonah 12-07-2012 10:33 PM

Help me choose an approach to dining- thank you!!!
 
Okay I promise I will not make one more thread today- have not been on the boards in over a year and then I make 4 threads in one day- I promise no more!!! :) This one will be long though since I have a ton of thoughts and need some expert advice- and you guys are totally the experts.

Okay so I've done Disney a bunch of times all different ways (some with just regular dining, once with deluxe, sometimes without, etc.) and I've always enjoyed it- just trying to figure out the right set up for this trip! One of my best friends and I booked 7 nights in February/March at the CBR and we are really torn between two directions dining wise. I would love love some advice:

OPTION ONE: Regular Dining Plan + Frugal Out Of Pocket
(The plan costs us about 350.00 each and then we would have to spent another 40.00 per person or so to make this plan work for us not including drinks and tips. This would cost about 390.00)

For our 7 TS credits we would use them like this:
Artist Point- 2 credits
Jiko- 2 credits
Bistro de Paris- 2 credits
Random Other Epcot Restaurant- 1 credit

For our other meals we would do some of the better QS places (BOG, Earl of Sandwich, WGPE, Flame Tree, Sunshine Seasons, Fish & Chips Stand, etc.) and then also probably pay 2 or so restaurants out of pocket- and we would choose the cheaper restaurants (like The Plaza and Beaches And Cream).

Drawbacks to this plan:
1. We might feel we have to move around too much just to avoid too much typical fast food. Unique food is something we're passionate about so we would have a hard time wanting to settle for hot dogs- but might feel annoyed to have to always travel to better spots.
2. The savings are not that immense. The main perk would be a little more freedom in our schedule and not feeling guilty about not maximizing a deluxe plan.
3. No appetizers included- which IMO are usually the most creative. We could pay OOP for a few at the nice restaurants?

OPTION TWO: Regular Dining Plan + Less Frugal Out Of Pocket
(This plan would cost us about 500.00 or so each and would be almost identical to the above plan- but we would give ourselves a little more leeway with our of pocket spending for restaurants a little nicer than The Plaza and Beaches and Cream. What might be neat would be being able to do a few DTD restaurants not on the dining plan. Bongos? Paradiso 57? At this point though- does it seem stupid to be at 500.00 and not just doing the deluxe plan?)

OPTION THREE: Deluxe Dining Plan

(This plan would cost us about 623.00)

Here's where I struggle with this plan. I love the peace of mind of knowing it's all paid and you can just relax, enjoy, and order what you'd like- regardless of price. I love sitting down mid day for a nice meal on an adults only trip and relaxing. I love having waiters and waitressing amongst all the hubbub of the parks. Finally, I love that sit down restaurants usually have less junky options. We're not huge huge health nuts- but I know when I travel I prefer fresher, better prepared food. Here's the drawbacks though:

1. We would end up not using all the points. I know because I did it in 2011 and it's really hard to use all the points. I'm afraid we would feel a lot of guilt about this.
2. Would we end up eating more than we really should or could? Just to get money's worth?
3. Would it make the schedule too restricting?
4. More expensive- not a ton- but definitely more expensive. We're not super frugal but are mindful of spending when it makes sense to spend less.
5. Way more expensive tip wise.
6. Finally would we never get a chance to enjoy some great QS and 1 credit TS options because we would feel compelled to do all signature restaurants at night to use the 2 points? (We could never eat three meals a day). I did 7 signature restaurants in 2011 so I'm just worried it will be too much of repeats- and I don't want my best friend to feel like I've "been there, done that".

I know this is a super super crazy loaded question and probably most personal preference for what I want our touring to be like- but I guess I would really like a few more perspectives on what you would do in my situation.

I know I'm an over thinker and complete nut for the above analysis. Please forgive me- haha!! Thank you in advance!!! :grouphug:

Marthasor 12-08-2012 06:55 AM

I am EXACTLY like you. I overanalyze everything and, when purchasing something like a dining plan, I want to make sure I get the best value, get the best bang for my buck and not waste anything. I also like freedom when I dine - order two appetizers instead of an entree, just get salad and dessert, etc. This may not be the answer you are looking for, but I resolved my dilemma by simply not buying the dining plan. If the dining plan appeals to you because you can pre-pay and not worry about it, I would recommend taking what you would like to budget for dining and either buying a Disney gift card or a Visa or Mastercard gift card (you can usually buy these for no fee at your local AAA if you are a member).

Say you put the $623 you would spend on the Dlx DDP on a gift card (perhaps a little more to cover drinks and tips). There is your dining budget and you now have the freedom to go to any TS OR QS restaurant you want and not worry about wasting credits on a QS. You can order whatever you want. AND, if you have $$ left over, you can use it for souvenirs, save it for a future trip, use it at a Disney Store, or, in the case of the Visa or MC gift card, use it for ANYTHING.

When I'm on vacation, I want to be on vacation. I don't want to be restricted on what I can order, don't want to worry that eating QS might be a waste of credits, etc. This is why we never choose the dining plan for our family.

disneydreamkate 12-08-2012 08:15 AM

We have always done the DP because we either a.) felt it was more convenient or b.) free dining was offered. I have done the math and for us, it hasn't saved us any money, it has been the convenience factor and it is nice to not have to sorry about paying for meals...the down side to that (for me) is that then I am always worrying about "getting our money's worth." For example, telling my husband that he should use a snack credit for a banana every day, or fretting about not getting a more expensive entree...I like the idea the PP mentioned of setting aside the $ you would spend on the plan, and having a dining allowance. I think it offers more freedom and less stress. I guess I will find out if that is true or not in 48 days!

sharonabe 12-08-2012 08:21 AM

I'm with Martasor....go with OOP.

The 2TS places are rarely a good value on the regular DDP. You need to "spend" around $70 ($35 per TS credit) to even come close to breaking even with what you paid for the plan. The highest priced item at Jiko and Artist is the steak at $43, add $11 dessert and a $5 drink and you're only at $59. Add the 6.5% tax and you're only at $64 or so. You've just "lost" $6, and if you order anything less than the steak, you lose more.

allstonsmommy 12-08-2012 08:28 AM

We always get the Regular Dining Plan but I am definitely second guessing myself for our trip in May. I still need to do the math now that our ADRs are made. I love the idea the PP mentioned about putting the money on a gift card, I may try that.

jude&jonah 12-08-2012 09:20 AM

You guys are so awesome- this really helped me! The more I think about it- the more it totally makes sense to just do a prepaid credit card and then pick where we want to eat just based on where we want to eat. I love that. I think the only thing I don't like about that is I will feel like a gluten ordering dessert when it's not automatically included- LOL. But I guess that's a minor concern.

Thank you!!! I will probably go forward with that option.

jude&jonah 12-08-2012 09:21 AM

And Sharonabe- that break down really helped. Thank you!!!


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