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Old 09-06-2012, 10:42 AM   #16
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Nice blog - I especially like the main truth behind it...even someone very familiar with the Disney Parks can make mistakes that cause frustration on a trip.

Many people don't like the the DDP for the reasons you state. However, for us, we take advantage of "free dining" every chance we get and plan our trips around the dates. I think it is very hard to argue to "free dining" is not at least a good discount if not a great discount. While the DDP prices have skyrocketed making the actual DDP cost not a value, the "free dining" can still be well worth it. (We especially like it to take advantage of all those available snack credits with F&W festival.)

Last trip we spent 8 days with free dining, and with 3 Adults, 1 child got $1477.70 worht of food for "free". We also spent about $270 on additional food/drinks/tips outside the "free" portion of the plan - but to eat for 8 days at WDW for $270 is pretty dern cheap.

The room charges for those days at CBR were $1668, so we would've had to have gotten an 80 % room discount give us the equivalent value. The total trip cost (including flights and everything) was around $4000, so a savings of $1478 on the food was HUGE, even if you consider that we might have eaten differently without the meal plan. And we never feel tied down to the dining plan...part of our enjoyment of the trip is to have that one sit-down meal per day.

One way to ease the burden on using the DDP - we try to choose our meal locations based on our schedule rather than the other way around. (Sure, I'd like to eat 5 meals in Epcot each trip, but we spend two days in Epcot, so only get 2 dinners there. Two days spent in AK means one meal at Tusker House, a second at Sanaa.)

Anyways, that's my 2 cents.

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Old 09-06-2012, 11:03 AM   #17

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Originally Posted by skier_pete View Post
Last trip we spent 8 days with free dining, and with 3 Adults, 1 child got $1477.70 worht of food for "free". We also spent about $270 on additional food/drinks/tips outside the "free" portion of the plan - but to eat for 8 days at WDW for $270 is pretty dern cheap.
That's one of the keys to computing if it works for you...the number of people, especially adults, in the room. The more there are, the better the discount works, since free dining works per person, but a room discount is for the entire room.

Disney doesn't seem to advertise the actual price of the plan in their documents, but I see for 2013 the DVC member cost for an adult is now $55.59/night for the standard plan. Even if there was just one person in a room costing a rack rate of $300, you'd need better than an 18% discount on the room rate to make it better to take the room. With the dining plan getting so expensive, the free dining does appear to be the best discount available for 2 or more people - if, of course, you'd utilize the dining plan optimally, and you aren't talking the most expensive rooms.

Similarly, on a QSDP and a $200 room (just trying to compare roughly class vs. offered free dining plan, I don't know how exactly it breaks down), the percentage is roughly the same.
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