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Old 09-29-2012, 05:16 AM   #1
fireman17
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Dining plan killing Disney?

What are your thoughts? As I've been reading about the dining plan I wonder how it will affect Disney in the future. In all of our trips we have used it once and it was the quick service plan and we had to much food left. We are a family of seven and even with growing children we didn't need the extra items. I have seen changes in menus which are causing guest to either change or cancel reservations not being able to get ADR's, food quality changing and CM service changing and not for the better. We are headed to the world in November and next June and my wife who is very frugal has done the numbers and for us a family of seven it will be less expensive to pay out of pocket for qiuck service. We had plan to do some sit down dinners and character meals but can not justify the price of some of the restaurants are charging and the choices you are left with.
To me charging almost $40.00 for a breakfast buffet is insane as the choices are all the same for buffet breakfast no matter where you go. I'm not sure we'll ever see the dining plan or "free dining" disappear but I think at this point many, many of the die hard Disney fans are seeing changes within Disney when it comes to food service and are hoping like me to see it go back to the way it was before the dining plan...
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Old 09-29-2012, 08:17 AM   #2
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We go to WDW an average of twice a year and have never used the dining plans. (I do not think they are a good value, even if you have a big enough appetite to eat everything.). We have never had any problems with the food or the service. On our most recent trip we ate at Sanaa, Via Napoli, the Garden View Tearoom, The Plaza, Kona Cafė, Boma, The San Angel Inn and Flame Tree Barbecue. The food was fresh, delicious and served in above-average portions.

I do agree that the prices can be high, but they are no higher than eating out in a big city. The buffets/all-you-care-to-eat places are pricey, but when you figure out what an appetizer, entree, dessert and drink would cost a la carte it comes close to the buffet/AYCTE price.

We now buy a Tables in Wonderland card and that helps with the cost. Is that something you would be eligible for(DVC member, AP holder)?
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:44 AM   #3
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I don't think the Dining Plan is "killing Disney" because if it were, it wouldn't be offered anymore. I think a lot of people think it's a good value (especially during the free periods - even if they are paying rack rate for the resort) for their family. I also think a lot of people who don't really understand the dining plan get it because it sounds good to them.

That being said, it doesn't work for everyone. It doesn't work for my husband and myself because, like the OP's family, there's just too much food for us. We'd much rather pay out of pocket and get what we want. And I don't want to have to think about how many credits we have and how we are going to use them before we leave.

But the dining plan does work for others and I think Disney is happy with it so I don't think it's going to be a thing of the past any time soon.
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:04 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by MouseMomx2 View Post
We go to WDW an average of twice a year and have never used the dining plans. (I do not think they are a good value, even if you have a big enough appetite to eat everything.). We have never had any problems with the food or the service. On our most recent trip we ate at Sanaa, Via Napoli, the Garden View Tearoom, The Plaza, Kona Cafė, Boma, The San Angel Inn and Flame Tree Barbecue. The food was fresh, delicious and served in above-average portions.

I do agree that the prices can be high, but they are no higher than eating out in a big city. The buffets/all-you-care-to-eat places are pricey, but when you figure out what an appetizer, entree, dessert and drink would cost a la carte it comes close to the buffet/AYCTE price.

We now buy a Tables in Wonderland card and that helps with the cost. Is that something you would be eligible for(DVC member, AP holder)?
I agree. I don't find the Dining Plan to be a very good value, and none of the plans are a good fit for us and how we dine. I also agree that the prices are comparable to any major metropolitan city in the USA. Certainly they're reasonable when compared with other theme parks or "captive audience" type resorts and entertainment situations.

I do think that the Dining Plan has had some negative effects. I think that menus are more streamlined because of it, and that many restaurants have had to sacrifice uniqueness to make the lower reimbursements they get from the plan profitable. Service is not an area that I feel has been affected by the Dining Plans, however. I can really only think of two restaurant CMs ever that I thought were ... off their game.
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:19 AM   #5
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I think Disney has raised the prices at table service restaurants to give Free Dining more value. It also discourages non-dining plan people from making ADRs, which in turn leaves more availability for dining plan people. The credit card guarantees just make sense. Too many people would double book through the online system and then be a no-show. That takes ADRs away from other people.

I don't know where y'all eat, but I don't think the prices are near what you pay at a restaurant. I would consider most of Disney's table service restaurants to be equivalent to Chili's, Rainforest Cafe, or a chain steak house. There is no way that those cost $40 per person like a Disney table service restaurant.

I do think the food prices are comparable to other theme parks.

Is it ruining Disney? Nah. I go to Disney for the attractions not the food.
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Old 09-29-2012, 10:51 AM   #6
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I don't think the dining plan has ruined disney. I like being able to pay ahead of time. Of course I always make sure the prices still balance out for our needs. If the plan outwieghed what we wanted then we'd go back OOP. As for prices for meals....do I like that the cost of the meals keep rising of course not but do they do it becuase the cost of the plan keeps rising, yep! If we were totally an OOP family then I would be more on top of the spending and wouldn't go to half the places we do, but that's how we live our lives everyday...being aware and frugal. Do I want to do that on vacation my one break from reality, no. I pay the plan, make sure to get my money's worth so I at least break even and then don't stress about who's getting a $30 steak or a$40 buffet. As for the service, I think overall CM's are attentive. Is every CM the best employee, no that's not reality. Now this trip we will be a table of 7 so tip is automatically added, this will be something I will be able to compare after- if the tip is included is service equal to when it's not..... but from our experiences with the dining plan thus far our service has been wonderful looking at the big picture. Whether paying OOP or on DP we're eating in the parks and that's not hurting disney!
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:29 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Texashokies View Post
I don't know where y'all eat, but I don't think the prices are near what you pay at a restaurant. I would consider most of Disney's table service restaurants to be equivalent to Chili's, Rainforest Cafe, or a chain steak house. There is no way that those cost $40 per person like a Disney table service restaurant.
I disagree. First, most Disney table-service restaurants do not cost $40. Perhaps if you get an appetizer, entree, dessert and drink they do, but you'd be coming close to that even in a Chili's. We just got back and paid an average of $15-25 per person for an entree in the full-service places we went to. That is definitely comparable to most chain restaurants that serve comparable dishes.

Also, I think the food is definitely a cut above Chili's/RC/etc. at most Disney restaurants. Sanaa, Via Napoli and Kona Cafe, among others, are all outstanding restaurants, both in terms of food quality and service. The food is far superior to any chain restaurant I have ever been to. In addition, most full-service restaurants offer bread service...something that most chain restaurants do not offer or have done away with.
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Old 09-29-2012, 11:59 AM   #8
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Is the DDP killing Disney? Do you see a lot of deserted restaurants when you are there? Do you find that most people are choosing to eat offsite? If and when that happens, then you can be worried that the DDP is killing Disney.

I don't think they are in any danger whatsoever.

And my 2 cents: the QSDP and the DDP save money and suit the eating habits of some guests. They don't work financially or suit the eating habits of other guests. You have the choice of getting it or paying OOP.

The prices at restaurants inside WDW are expensive. But they are certainly comparable to other theme parks, tourist resorts, and restaurants in many, many cities in the US and internationally. If anyone finds that they are not affordable for their family, then they can always choose to eat offsite. Disney is under no obligation to provide "cheap eats", and frankly won't do so as long as the majority of its guests will pay the going rate.
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Old 09-29-2012, 05:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Texashokies View Post
I don't know where y'all eat, but I don't think the prices are near what you pay at a restaurant. I would consider most of Disney's table service restaurants to be equivalent to Chili's, Rainforest Cafe, or a chain steak house. There is no way that those cost $40 per person like a Disney table service restaurant.
True, but those places also don't let your kids eat with their favorite princesses and characters. Reminds me of somebody who after eating at CRT once said "I can't believe I just spent 40 bucks for my kids to eat a couple of chicken nuggets" to which the reply was "No, you just spent 40 bucks so your daughter could meet, talk with, and get pictures with princesses that she always dreamed of meeting, creating what quite possibly was the most amazing, magical experience for her in her life to date. The chicken nuggets? They were free."
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Old 09-30-2012, 12:54 PM   #10
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True, but those places also don't let your kids eat with their favorite princesses and characters. Reminds me of somebody who after eating at CRT once said "I can't believe I just spent 40 bucks for my kids to eat a couple of chicken nuggets" to which the reply was "No, you just spent 40 bucks so your daughter could meet, talk with, and get pictures with princesses that she always dreamed of meeting, creating what quite possibly was the most amazing, magical experience for her in her life to date. The chicken nuggets? They were free."

we have done the free ddp before, this is our 3rd attempt and i have to agree with the above esp CM... we have 3 children (disney adults) who after long days in parks and pools, and 14 days on the ddp couldnt eat anything else, we spent $200 (plus tip) for all three to eat cheese cubes and apple slices... dh and i had jacket potatoes and salad... we could have eaten that off site for what- $20?? BUT we saw the characters and had our pictures taken on a very special last night in wdw....
for all, esp people coming from a distance, this is an expensive holiday, for us too telling the kids to go fetch a ice cream/cake/smoothie/pretzel/drink makes a huge difference to the quality of our holiday. we have yet to use all the food, and often bring home SC treats for family but one day we ll brak even until then i ll continue to enjoy the fact that everything is prepaid and THAT works for me!!!!!!
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Old 09-30-2012, 05:32 PM   #11
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I think the complaints about the dining plan are overblown. Menus are streamlined, yes, but so are bar menus and merchandise offerings which suggests to me that is a consequence of corporate philosophy rather than of the plan.

The most valid complaint I see about the dining plan is that it has made ADRs unfortunately essential and increasingly rigid, but even that is a mixed bag. I'd rather have to make ADRs at whichever of the hundred or so restaurants I want to dine at than see the variety of restaurants decline in an effort to "right size" dining capacity to customer demand in a purely OOP environment. And make no mistake... The same management approach that came up with "Disney parks" merchandise so they don't even need to have separate items for the CA and FL parks isn't going to sit back and accept running dozens of restaurants at a fraction of their capacity like in the "good old days" before the current DDPs.
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Old 09-30-2012, 06:35 PM   #12
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I often read that the Dining Plan has caused WDW to "dumb down" the menus at many of the table service restaurants. Could anyone explain to me what this means or give me some examples? Were there more unique or unusual meals/foods served in most of the restaurants before the Dining Plan became ubiquitous? Thanks, guys!
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Old 09-30-2012, 07:46 PM   #13
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The dining plan is not the cause of war, famine or Disney crumbling into a legendary lost kingdom.

A "dining" type plan has been around for a very long time. We used to purchse the"Gold' plan which included dining and recreation...similar to the Platinum plan. It wasn't being given away "free" so no one had anything to say about it.

Since they use Free Dining as way to draw people in ...now everyone knows about it and uses it at the reason for the decline of Disney. They're not losing money by offering free dining. If you don't get free dining, you usually get a percent off offer. It's just like any business! You go to a clothing store and one week it may be a bogo offer with the first item at full price. The next week ...maybe they'll offer 40% off all items. No one is complaining about that.

I don't think it has anything to do with the dining plan. I think it has to do with the management of Disney. Management decided remove resort specific mdse. ( which has nothing to do with the dining plan) . Management decided to order plain napkins ( again..nothing to do with dining plan). Management decided to have the same specialty type drinks at every bar and restaurant in wdw. It's cost cutting measures by disney management so they can order larger quantities of the same items to receive a bulk discount.

Now..in saying all that. I see a change in the near future. Resort specific mdse is coming back...so I'm hoping it's a step in the right direction!!
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:37 PM   #14
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Killing Disney? No. Genius? Yes.

Regardless of whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to the plans themselves I think the key here is something that OP mentioned actually...ADR are hard to get and almost all table service restaurants are booked to capacity. Disney is at the point where they need to open MORE restaurants to accommodate their guests.

I don't work in the restaurant industry but I would guess than full restaurant seatings every day is GREAT for business. IF there is/has been a drop in the quality of the food, the service, etc then it clearly isn't enough to drive away the business at this point because table service restaurants with walk up availability are few and far between at Disney World.

Prices are high, in my opinion, but not higher than I would expect to pay in a theme park and every meal I have had there has been better than what I have had at Chilis, Applebees, and other similar chains. That, of course, is sort of beside the point though. The prices are what they are and people pay them. From a business perspective, why WOULDN'T you charge what people are willing to pay so long as you have your restaurants booked to capacity every day? At the end of the day...Disney is a business and for all the things we want (new rides, park experiences, rehabs, etc) they have to pay for these things some how while still making a profit.

Will some people (and have some people) boycott the table service restaurants because of the prices, quality of food, and quality of service? Sure...but there are hundreds of people waiting behind them to take their ADRs. So while Disney in those situations might be losing customers they are not losing business because restuarants are still booked up.

If Disney can open more restaurants to accommodate all the guests looking for ADRs without opening TOO many (where they can't FILL those restaurants) then they will continue to make more and more money off the dining plans. Whether guests pay OOP or pay with the dining plan...it's still money in their pockets. And with the system they have they are booking most restaurants to capacity every day. It may be frustrating as a guest to have to plan so far in advance, to not be able to walk up to a sit down restaurant without a reservation and eat a meal, etc but from a business perspective on Disney's end...it's not a frustration that has cost them any business. And I personally think that if they can open several new restaurants to accommodate their guests in the parks (and it sounds like from rumors that they are planning to) it won't cost them any business in the future either.

And for the QS dining plan...I also think this is genius for Disney. Those become guaranteed meals that guests eat on property instead of them bringing in extra food or eating offsite. There are more than enough places to accommodate all the guests who want to eat QS meals and I don't think offering a QS dining plan really COSTS them anything and the profit comes from that guaranteed income on those sales.

Also an added bonus with the dining plans in general is that people don't have to leave the property and because they have already paid for the dining plans they spend more time in the parks...often spending more money. So you've got the onsite MEALS these guests have and are spending money on PLUS the added time for them to stay in the parks and buy more things. I'm sure Disney has people that analyze all of these things and know exactly how the dining plans impact their bottom line.

My guess is that dining plans will be around for a VERY long time, as will free dining promotions. They have definitely changed the way people vacation at Disney, and I would guess the impact was more than even Disney realized when they first rolled out the original Disney Dining plan. But it's all been good for business...of that I am pretty sure.
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:13 PM   #15
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You all have very valid points which is why I asked my question. And yes, I was incorrect in saying $40.00 for the breakfast buffets. It was more towards the dinner buffets I was speaking of. As for us we'll keep looking it over but it's tough because with our large family we are paying adult prices for five out of the seven in our family but our daughter who is 11 is not a big eater and is no way a picky eater but we will decide on our choice later. Like most people it all comes down to how it suits each family. My wife thinks I'm nuts because I am definitely a Disney food groupie...



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