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Old 05-27-2013, 09:39 AM   #1
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How cost effective is the Dining Plan without free Dining. is it worth it?

Just wondering do you really save money paying for the dining plan without free dining? Trying to figure this out for upcoming trip?
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:41 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Romamom444 View Post
Just wondering do you really save money paying for the dining plan without free dining? Trying to figure this out for upcoming trip?
You would have to do the math for your specific situation. Oftentimes, the answer is it's not worth it.
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:45 AM   #3
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For us no - we don't eat table service (TS) everyday.

Some days we do a counter service (CS) breakfast and snack all the rest of the day.

Alot of people like it because it's convenient - your food is already paid for and you can use snack credits for breakfast, a CS for lunch and a TS for dinner.

Because I have an annual pass, I also got the Tables in Wonderland card so I use that discount.

I did do the calculations once for my family and for the Quick Service Dining plan we would have only broke even. And for the Table Service dining plan, we would have lost money if we followed our normal eating schedule which is why it wouldn't work for us.

You can look up the menus and the costs on www.wdwinfo.com. and figure out if it would work for you based on where you want to eat.

Happy planning!
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:56 AM   #4
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You need to sitdown and figure it out for you and your family.For us it is worth it.We eat at least a CS and TS meal everyday .
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Old 05-27-2013, 09:57 AM   #5
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Agree, the only way it is worth it is if you DO the math. Unfortunately because Disney continues to raise the price on it. You need to plan the dining and figure out if it adds up. You also need to look at your specific family situation....as an example of mine, we have 12 year old daughter and 6 year old boy. We would have to pay for my daughter as an adult even thought eh 6 year old eats more then her. At sit down meals and counter service she orders from the kids menu still. It does not pay to pay for us to pay for the dining plan anymore.

One side note: If you do a lot of character meals, it usually make sense to get the dining plans, since they are so expensive and you can usually come out ahead on the dining plan with them. You just have to make sure to get your ressies.

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Old 05-27-2013, 09:57 AM   #6
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It really all depends on how you eat. The only way to know for sure is cost it out. A little research of the dining menus and costing out a room only with the OOP food vs. package deal.

We used "free dining" on our vacation last summer, first time for me, and it saved us a little (maybe $100 on the entire vacation). But, it encouraged me to try some TS restaurants that I may not have otherwise, so that was a good thing. We also took advantage of lots of character meals, which I doubt I would've done OOP.

I looked at it for our upcoming vacation and based on how I predicted we would eat, my room discount and paying OOP is going to save me about $200, assuming "free dining" would've been an option for when I'm going.
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:02 AM   #7
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If you tend to order sodas and dessert anyway, it might be a good deal.

If you tend to eat at all the most expensive character meals, it might be a good deal.

If you always have to argue with your kids because they want the most expensive items on the menu, it might be a good deal.

If having the cost of meals invade your magic bubble several times a day, it might be a good deal.

If dad gets cranky every time the bill comes, it might be a good deal.

But if it saves you money, it probably a lot less than it used to be.

For us, traveling during free dining is a good deal. I'm not sure if I'd pay OOP though. Especially since our youngest turned 10 but still mostly prefers choices off the kids menu.
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:11 AM   #8
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Agree with the PPs that say you need to do the math yourself. Figure out what you would order off of the menus and then compare.

My family has done the DDP many times, but, always knew we weren't getting our monies worth.

On our last trip, we decided to not do DDP and use TiW instead and boy were we right!! We spent $1080 over 11 days on food vs. the just under $1500 it would have cost for the DDP.

Last year, over the course of 11 days we had the DDP and ended up with 8 QS meal credits and 20+ snack credits left over....such a waste

From now on, we are definitely OOP/TiW peeps, and we love the freedom it affords (I.e. I am able to get an appetizer for dinner if I want, which is normal for me)
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:22 AM   #9
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We chose to try the dining plan one year b/c we wanted to try the food and atmosphere of all the highly recommended restaurants Disney had to offer. Because it was not cheap, we felt we had to get our money's worth and used every CS, TS, and snack credit we had. We felt disgusting every day with the amount of food we received and either ate (physically ill feeling) or wasted (emotianally ill).

Also, we felt our trip was consumed with making our reservation time which, since they have to be booked so far in advance, was very often inconvenient considering our current activities or appetite at that time or on that day.

The next year, I decided to keep our food and snack receipts and compare them to what a dining plan would've cost us. Doing our own thing saved us money. It was not a tremendous amount of savings, but it was much more convenient to tour and eat OUR way on OUR terms.

Our preference in eating is mostly CS and snacks and the occasional TS to our favorite restaurant, Le Cellier (that was the only restaurant out of all we've tried that we felt was worth the money; if DD was still young enough, I would also do the Akershus Princess breakfast). Granted, we did not eat at fanch shmancy TS's all week (just once or twice), but that's not how we want to spend our park time anyway--worrying about when our next reservation is, wasting an hour to hour and a half eating, feeling guilty about not using up all credits or feeling guilty wasting food we were just to full to eat another bite of.

From now on, we will stick with our own dining plan--eating whenever, wherever, and whatever we want. The planning aspect and the overwhelming amount of food is just not worth it for us. And, quite honestly in our opinion, very few of the Disney restaurants live up to the hype so if there are any others we'd like to try in the future (like O'hana), we will be paying out of pocket for them.

Good luck with your decision, I know it's a tough one to make the first time!
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:51 AM   #10
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You have to figure in the loss of any room discount you might get if you don't take free dining. And a lot of it depends on how many people are with you. I've found that traveling solo or with one other person, the room discount is greater than the amount I'll actually save on the dining plan, since the food I actually eat will cost a lot less than the amount I'll pay for the plan. But if it was a mom, dad, and three kids, two of which are older than child age, it could be worth it!

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Old 05-27-2013, 10:57 AM   #11
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It depends on what you want to pay for. I'm going to get it for the peace of mind of alone. Our last trip was very stressful over just the cost of food alone. It really became an issue between hubby and me.

There are folks out there who go thru all the menus, add up what the meal would cost, add up all their meals and them compare. That is WAY to much planning for me, personally.

Give me pre-paid and peace of mind, thank you. But to directly answer your question - no, the general answer is it's not worth it....
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Old 05-27-2013, 12:21 PM   #12
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As others have said, you need to estimate what you would likely spend on meals and compare it to the DDP cost.

For us, it varies from trip to trip, when we stayed in a value resort and got "free" dining, it was a much better deal than the room discount. We actually saved a lot of money on that particular trip.

On other trips, we have paid for DDP sometimes and paid OOP others. It all depends on which restaurants we will be eating at (and also if we staying moderate or deluxe with a discount). When we paid for DDP, we enjoyed a modest to moderate savings. The savings was only about $25 when comparing our actual meals. But then I factored in the snacks and mugs that were included. So we got about $125-150 additional "value" from the plan. I didn't consider that to be "savings" per se, because we probably would not have gotten all those snacks OOP. But since we were already saving some on the DDP, that was basically $150 worth of additional free stuff.

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Old 05-27-2013, 01:06 PM   #13
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I did the math on our first trip (we had the deluxe dining plan) and we technically "saved" money. I use the term loosely. While we did save money if we calculated the cost of what we ate vs. what we paid, under normal circumstances we would have never ordered an appetizer, entree and dessert with every meal. I enjoyed the convenience factor of being able to have everything pre-paid for, and also the ability to branch out and try some restaurants we wouldn't have normally tried.
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Old 05-27-2013, 03:13 PM   #14
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For my family it will pay for itself or come really close depending on which counter service we go to and what is ordered off the menus at cs/ts. Hard to plan it out to the penny. I have gotten it where I was ahead a couple hundred to where I lost a hundred. Sounds like a lot but when you are talking about a 5k trip its not bad.

Looking at going to the world next year and will have me(DH), DW, DD15, DS9, DD9 since I have 2 kids under 10 it pencils out. My oldest was still eating kids meals/portions till 12 or so and I see the youngest doing the same.

Also this will be the second trip to the world for us, first was when the oldest was 5. That trip was 4 days and pre DIS so it was planned but not like this one will be.

As for ADR's we plan on doing a lot of character meals as that's part of the magic. We normally don't do lots of dessert but this is a once in a lifetime vacation so lets splurge a bit.

In the end even if I lose $100 on this I will take that as a convenience fee. Knowing everything is paid for before leave home is worth it to me.
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Old 05-27-2013, 03:37 PM   #15
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In my case is not only about being cost effective. I spread my payments throughout the year, making small payments each month. By the time we're reaching the home stretch and thinking about how much money we'll really need, it's nice not to be concerned about spending money to eat. So yes, for me it's worth it.
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