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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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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.
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, 12:30 PM   #9
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There has always been some sort of Dining plan at WDW. We have used nearly all of them in some form since the 70's. We love the food, love trying a wide variety of restaurants, and believe that the dining plan will continue to evolve over the years as peoples (and Disney's) needs change. Use it if it saves you money (We love it, try lots of things we might not usually), don't use it if it doesn't. We have yet to have a bad meal anywhere in WDW.
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Old 09-29-2012, 12:37 PM   #10
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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, 12:59 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by minnie mum View Post
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.
I agree with everything you said.

Where is anyone seeing a $40 breakfast buffet? Most character bkfst buffets are more around $25 which is high, but you are paying for the entertainment and you are at Disney. Non character buffets (Boma comes to mind) are generally closer to $20 I believe. Now you can go outside WDW and eat at Ponderosa for around $7 but to me eating at Ponderosa vs eating at the AKL or inside a theme park is barely an apples to oranges comparison.

Bottom line, as the poster I quoted wisely said, it will work for some, not for all.

I am sorry that locals or very frequent visitors don't like it. Lucky for them, they go enough and generally have a car with them so they can venture offsite and eat at places that don't have "plans" and menus that reflect standarized choices (although I still find plenty of variety, I just know where to go and where not to go).

I am going in 26 days, I just got on and tweaked some ADR's and I had no trouble whatsoever getting anything I wanted. Lots of availablity for a family of four during a fairly busy time that encompasses free dining and the Food and Wine Festival.

We got a bit burnt out on full service dining at WDW so for a couple of years so we'd generallly do the QSDP and then pay OOP for one meal (usually RFC since we are Safari card members and didn't have to plan that in advance). Fast forward to when we went in March (again on Free Dining) and we had excellent meals, excellent service, made changes while we were there with still plenty of choices. The restaurants were full but not overbearingly so and we never waited longer than ten minutes to be seated. It was spring break and free dining and again, I had a lot of flexibility over 11 nights and some of the best food we have had at WDW in years. Taking a break from table service at WDW served us well and it felt sort of new and fresh over the last time we had done the DDP back in 2009.

My experience is merely my own, and I do get that prices are going up but I don't agree that the food is on par with Chili's (I just ate at Chili's and it was nothing compared to the food we had at WDW). I'll add that Chili's like many other chains has found their own little version of a Dining Plan with their "two for $20" which has a very limited selection and its mostly the cheap stuff and if you aren't careful you might end up paying more than if you ordered the same thing OOP. So Disney isn't the only one trying to appeal to the masses and balance a good deal with "you better do the math".

I can't help but notice that nobody posts a thread about how AP holder discounts, Florida Resident rates, DVC discounts, TIW and other discounts are "ruining" Disney. Guess what, just like Disney lures folks in with that "save 20% on your meals when you purchase a Dining Plan" or all that "free" free food when Free Dining is offered, they lure people into taking mulitple trips on those AP's to get "their money's worth". I know, I have done that too! Just like I have ordered more in the way of appetizers, drinks and full serve meals in general to get my awesome TIW discount back when we had that.

There is for sure a cheaper way to eat at Disney than a Dining Plan just like there is a cheaper way to sleep at Disney than staying onsite. You just have to balance out what works. But as to the question of is the DDP killing Disney? I think not. The economy is down, unemployment is very real for a huge section of the population but try getting a last minute room at Disney or walking up to a restaurant and asking to be seated and its apparent Disney is live and well and not being killed by AMY of its discounts and options.
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Old 09-29-2012, 01:12 PM   #12
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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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Old 09-29-2012, 01:26 PM   #13
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We have been to the World many times but this last trip was our first with the Dining plan (it was free in September). My DH is a penny-pincher (which is great in real life but not so great on vacation ). The DDP for us was SO nice because we could eat whatever we wanted AND have treats and DH did not feel like we were nickle and dimed to death. He would have had a hard time buying all of us Mickey bars but as a snack credit it was "sure kids, have one!" In fact, he loved it so much that we are paying for it out of pocket we when take our anniversary trip in December. It was his idea to "splurge" a little and be able to enjoy eating instead of ordering the cheapest thing on the menu/always getting water/bringing tons of food from home. Is it really a value? Probably not. But for our family it is a nice treat to take a break from pinching pennies (which we did to get to WDW) and really enjoy our vacation. Just my two cents
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Old 09-29-2012, 01:28 PM   #14
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The DDP works better for some than for others. Count us in the "some" group.
We usually do at least one character meal per day, and with those prices-and a family of five- it saves us a lot of money. Now, no doubt it is usually more food than we need-want-would normally purchase, but it does help us keep a budget on these trip. As most will admit, it is sooooo easy to blow your bank roll at The World! Before our trips, I make purchase Disney Gift Cards in various amounts, to use specifically for tips...I've never had a waitstaffer complain about them, contrary to what I've heard.
Regarding the DDP, I for one Feel that Disney is very confident in the basic structure they have now-and they have had the profits to show, even in a "down" economy. (but that's a topic for another thread!)
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Old 09-29-2012, 04:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fireman17
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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