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Old 01-09-2013, 12:44 PM   #1
minerva78
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Am I thinking about the dining plan wrong?

I'm planning a Disney trip in 2014 in which I decided we will spend about 6 nights in a rental house with extended family for the first part of our trip and stay onsite for 3 nights with just my DH and 2 DDs. Since I'm going to purchase tickets through Undercover Tourist, I calculated it would likely be cheaper to rent points to stay at a DVC villa and add the dining plan than to stay at AoA then add a one day ticket and the dining plan.

I'm trying to figure out whether or not it would be cheaper to pay OOP, but it's hard to do since I would probably do different things if I pay OOP versus having the dining plan! If I did the dining plan, I would try to do dinners at Akershus, Ohana, and Chef Mickey (I think) while if I paid OOP I would likely do breakfasts at Akershus and Chef Mickey and still dinner at Ohana. If I paid OOP I would probably like to try out the Earl of Sandwich in DTD, while if I did the dining plan I would love to try WPE. Based on the 2013 dining plan and menu prices, I would come out slightly ahead just with the 3 dinners, before I even calculate the costs of CS meals and snacks. But it gets harder to tell the value if I do the 2 breakfasts and cheaper CS meals. Before I decided to add an onsite stay, I was okay with doing breakfasts, even though that would cut into time in the parks in the early morning, simply because it was cheaper. But now I think I would prefer to do something small for breakfast, a CS lunch and TS dinners - it's hard to know what would be best since this will be my first Disney trip as an adult with children. I still have quite a while to decide, but I'm trying to wrap my mind around possible costs as early as possible since we're saving up for this trip.

So...I know a big debate of the dining plan is "is it worth it?" And I know people tell you to calculate based on how you would normally eat, but for frugal people like me, isn't the reality that your dining habits would probably change if you prepay your meals? Or is it just me? I'm starting to sound like a person who would try to maximize their meals on the dining plan to get the best value, and I don't know if that's a good or bad thing!
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Old 01-09-2013, 01:05 PM   #2
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I think you're doing exactly what you should do in trying to decide, especially since you're looking at buffets.

Just a couple thoughts:

Breakfast is pretty much breakfast, so do you want to do TWO of them?
On the other hand, if you can get pre-park opening ADRs for breakfast, it doesn't take away from touring time.

My family would not appreciate the food at Akershus for dinner, so we would not do that one for dinner. How about you?

With just the short 3-day stay, this looks like a good time to try the DDP without too much chance of overload.

Even doing Akershus for breakfast, and then Ohana and Chef Mickey for dinner would be a pretty good value on the DDP.

Would you spend less OOP? Probably. Can you save up for it and have a splurge? WHY NOT??? I say, go for it!
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Old 01-09-2013, 07:11 PM   #3
julie4423
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Let me just start by saying I am frugal to a sick extent. I am the coupon queen on a normal basis, and refuse to pay full price for anything. I took this approach for my first adult trip, and it was a big mistake. I know that there are many people on here that are totally ok with taking snacks, cooking in the room, dining and staying off site, etc. To each their own. I would much rather let the world be my one splurge area. I want to get on site and not leave until it's time to go home. Just part of the magic for me.

Anyway, it's all about weighing out what matters most to you. I would say plan how you would eat on the DDP, and plan on how you would eat without. See what the difference is and ask yourself if it's worth it to you. Have you looked into just staying on site the whole time during free dining? Unless there has been a huge change, the tickets on UT weren't that much cheaper.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:32 PM   #4
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Quote:
it would likely be cheaper to rent points to stay at a DVC villa and add the dining plan
Can you rent DVC points from someone and still purchase a dining plan? I'm brand new to this, but just in my short time reading and trying to figure things out...I thought that the dining plan could only be purchased if you buy a hotel package through Disney the "official" way.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:37 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by julie4423 View Post
Let me just start by saying I am frugal to a sick extent. I am the coupon queen on a normal basis, and refuse to pay full price for anything. I took this approach for my first adult trip, and it was a big mistake. I know that there are many people on here that are totally ok with taking snacks, cooking in the room, dining and staying off site, etc. To each their own. I would much rather let the world be my one splurge area. I want to get on site and not leave until it's time to go home. Just part of the magic for me.

Anyway, it's all about weighing out what matters most to you. I would say plan how you would eat on the DDP, and plan on how you would eat without. See what the difference is and ask yourself if it's worth it to you. Have you looked into just staying on site the whole time during free dining? Unless there has been a huge change, the tickets on UT weren't that much cheaper.
I'm pretty frugal too....which is part of the reason the dining plan seems like it would be a huge relief for my entire family! From past vacation experiences, I know that I spend way too much time thinking about how we can eat on the cheap instead of splurging and enjoying the moment. Even though the dining plan is several hundred dollars (WAY MORE than I would normally spend) it seems like it would be SO SO nice to just say, "Where do you want to eat?!" and let everyone pick out what they WANT instead of figuring out what's the cheapest, who can share, etc, etc. I would have a cow if I had to spend 100+ dollars for one meal paying out of pocket, but spending 2,000+ (or more) for a resort plan with all meals included seems like a bargain.
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:44 PM   #6
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Hmm, I might consider keeping Akershus for breakfast, I'll have to think about it. It would be worth it if I could get a really early time before the park opens. I looked at the dinner menu on allears and I felt like there was enough that our family would eat, so that would be fine too.

Unfortunately, I'm going to need to take this trip in June of next year, because we'll have quite a few kids coming with us and I don't want to take my kids out of school. I'm assuming free dining wouldn't happen towards the end of June. And we're going to be stuck doing the part with extended family offsite, because I agreed to pay for a rental house if my MIL paid for groceries. There is NO WAY I am paying for 10 of us to stay onsite. We'll have to spend the time with extended family eating at the rental house most of the time, because everyone will be on a tight budget, which is part of the reason I wanted to add a few days of not having to do such a frugal trip. It would be so nice to go during a free dining time though! But since I really don't want to take my kids out of school, even though my oldest will only be finishing kindergarten when we plan to go, I'm probably out of luck on ever experiencing free dining.

ETA: I do want to say that I have no problem with others taking their kids out of school for trips though. I think that's a decision that has to be made by individual families, everyone's situation is different. I just think it would be hard for me to do. Though I wish I didn't feel that way, that frugal part of me would love to visit during a less expensive time!
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Old 01-09-2013, 08:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by DisneyATlast View Post
I'm pretty frugal too....which is part of the reason the dining plan seems like it would be a huge relief for my entire family! From past vacation experiences, I know that I spend way too much time thinking about how we can eat on the cheap instead of splurging and enjoying the moment. Even though the dining plan is several hundred dollars (WAY MORE than I would normally spend) it seems like it would be SO SO nice to just say, "Where do you want to eat?!" and let everyone pick out what they WANT instead of figuring out what's the cheapest, who can share, etc, etc. I would have a cow if I had to spend 100+ dollars for one meal paying out of pocket, but spending 2,000+ (or more) for a resort plan with all meals included seems like a bargain.
That's a good point. It might actually be harder for me to have to pay out of pocket each time, because I have to be reminded of how much money I'm spending! But paying $430 upfront for 3 days of food would just get the torture out of the way in one swoop. At least once it's paid, I wouldn't have to think about it again. Which would be nice for my sanity.
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:12 PM   #8
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If you stay at a DVC Villa you will have a full kitchen or kitchenette based on the size of your room. You can have breakfast in the villa on the cheap--head to the parks, get a lot done in the morning, have maybe an early lunch at Plaza Restaurant (1TS credit) and then hot dogs at Casey's or back at the resort.

I priced the dinning plan for my parents for this comng Nov trip and for 9 nights it was $889. That is almost what we spent eating what we wanted using TIW. I told Daddy we would just use our TIW card and get a discount, let them eat what they wanted.

If you do the Villa you will have more options for coming back to the resort for a nice lunch and rest. You can have food delivered to the resort or call the gift shop and they can pull a few items for you.

If you will be in the parks commando style then the DDP is a descent option especially if you are going to obscess about the cost.
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Old 01-09-2013, 09:14 PM   #9
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So in a nut shell, if in a DVC villa I would not do the DDP. If in a regular room, sure, why not do the DDP. I hope that makes sense.
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Old 01-09-2013, 10:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ToddyLu View Post
So in a nut shell, if in a DVC villa I would not do the DDP. If in a regular room, sure, why not do the DDP. I hope that makes sense.
If I do a DVC villa it would be a studio, so I would have a small fridge and a microwave. Some of the villas don't seem to have many CS options, so that is something to consider if doing the DDP. We probably would still do breakfast in the room, but after six days in a rental house with extended family, I just wonder if I'll be tired of eating in our room by that point. Hard to know. I think the only reason I'm even considering the dining plan is because we want to do some character meals. From what I can tell, it seems like that's one of the only times it can really be value.

I've looked into some regular rooms with the dining plan, but what seems to making that more expensive is that I have to buy a one day ticket to make it a package in order to get the dining plan. Since the plan would be to do our offsite stay first and then the onsite stay, I'm assuming I wouldn't be able to buy tickets with the package, and pick up the tickets a week before check in? Then again...maybe I could look into doing our onsite first and then offsite, because I'd imagine I could still use the tickets during our offsite stay. So many options!
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Old 01-10-2013, 08:17 AM   #11
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Can you rent DVC points from someone and still purchase a dining plan? I'm brand new to this, but just in my short time reading and trying to figure things out...I thought that the dining plan could only be purchased if you buy a hotel package through Disney the "official" way.
Yes you can. It has to be added by the member no later than 48 hours prior to checkin and must be paid in full at the time it is added to the reservation. You are correct in thinking that DDP must be part of a package normally, but DVC is exempt from that.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:09 AM   #12
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I'm not really sure about picking up your tickets early. You could call and ask? The only reason you might not want to do the on site first is that it will spoil you. Other than that, sounds like a good idea. I'm planning my next trip over fall break. I don't know if everyone has that though. I'll only have to pull the kids out for a couple extra days so I don't feel too bad about it. There will probably be some kind of deal in June, but not free dining. We went in June one year, and it was so hot I spent most of the day finding the next little sprinkler to walk through. Don't get me wrong, I would totally go during June again if I had to though. There really isn't anything that could ruin a trip to wdw for me.
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Old 01-10-2013, 09:39 AM   #13
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You can pick up your tickets up to 3 days early. See the sticky on the TPAS board by Cheshire Figment, a ticketing CM. You likely won't get the correct info if you call.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:29 AM   #14
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You can pick up your tickets up to 3 days early. See the sticky on the TPAS board by Cheshire Figment, a ticketing CM. You likely won't get the correct info if you call.
Thanks for the info. I didn't think I would be able to pick up tickets quite so early.

And yes, doing an onsite visit first might spoil me too much, at least regarding the food. It would be hard to go from eating onsite most meals to suddenly cooking and preparing everything. But I am looking forward to staying in a house where we have separate rooms, a pool, game room and washer and dryer. The four of us sleeping in the same room doesn't appeal to me much, but I figure we can do it for a few nights to get the onsite experience. Because I don't plan to pay the money to rent a one bedroom villa or stay in an onsite suite. Maybe someday though.
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:56 AM   #15
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We do DVC and do DDP

We have 6 kids, so I cook a lot at home and I am also a "coupon queen". We had discussed the possibility of going OOP, but DH & I are so cost conscious, that we would be miserable the whole time thinking about how much each meal or snack cost that we would be constantly telling our kids no to just about everything. While DH said that he can take the initial hit of the DDP cost, he would be constantly stressed over paying cash, or even a gift card (seeing a $ amount decrease) for every meal and snack. And yes, we know that perhaps we could do dining for less OOP, but it would take away from the Disney magic
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