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Old 01-19-2013, 10:11 AM   #16
jenfromjersey
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My last trip, in May, I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of a CM discount when booking my trip, which meant that we got a room discount AND a discount on the dining plan. $29.99 is a price that we couldn't pass up for dining. It was most definitely a good deal for us, and we made sure to maximize our value by eating at expensive places.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:34 AM   #17
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Free Dining usually ends up being the best discount for us if we stay at a moderate. It isn't how we would typically eat as my vegetarian dd sometimes doesn't like the vegetarian choice and would prefer a main course of an appetizer or two. We also almost always drink water with meals because that is what we prefer and often the desserts get one or two bites and then we're done. But we do eat at one TS a day no matter what, and when we go with free dining we drop down to the two day tickets for the promo because we are AP holders. So I budgeted 200 per day for food this trip plus the cost of Tables In Wonderland and it came in a few hundred cheaper to do free dining over a room discount no matter how I ran it.

However, if we want to rent points next trip or use a room discount at a Deluxe I will be happy to give up the ddp. It's not how we want to eat all the time. This trip was about keeping the cost low.

It is one of those scenarios where you have to run the math, but from the sounds of things you would be much better off with a room discount and paying as you go for food.. especially because you are staying Deluxe.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:39 AM   #18
DisneyFive
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I know that a lot of people are very negative on the meal plan, but we love it. Folks say that it's caused a decline in food quality since it's been introduced, but we don't know any different since it's been available since we've been going (2010) and we've had many fantastic meals every year. (maybe we just pick the right places )

However, we've only done the "free" dining plan (one TS, one QS, and one Snack per day). As other's have said, it is the best discount we can get being that we stay at Mod and Value resorts. The room discounts don't save us near as much.

That being said, I would not pay outright for the dining plan, and would rather pay out of pocket if the free dining wasn't offered. It's for the same reason that other's have mentioned. We wouldn't order as much food; we would share deserts, drink more water rather than pop/juice, etc... We also probably wouldn't order so many entrees on the high end of the menu price (which the dining plan makes it very easy to do)

The only "bads" I can think of:
Thinking back to our first ever trip to WDW (with free dining), ordering the QS meals was very confusing. I remember standing in line with others behind us waiting, at first it was hard to figure out what was considered a "entrée" and what deserts we could choose from, what needed to be ordered(or not) on the child's menu... The TS meals were easy to order, no probs there.
After our third trip, we totally get it now

The other "bad" is that it does fill up the restaurants (even though we haven't' had problems with getting our seat on time), and can make it tough to get some reservations if you're not able to book 180 days out.

It also sets your park schedule once you've made your dining reservations. Being that the dining reservations can be hard to get, it really makes it a tough choice to change you park plan for fear of not finding another good TS reservation on the alternate park day.

However, I think a lot of this is due to the fact that we go when free dining is offered, so more folks are competing for the reservations.

Dan
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:58 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtstampz View Post
And don't get *sick* while you are there.
I've used the dining plan twice, and both times came down
with a nasty cold and had NO appetite. A few CS credits wasted...
Won't be doing the dining plan again.
You can't blame that on the dining plan. We've spent 23 full days total in Disney the last three years, each day using the dining plan. For our group of 7 the first two years, and 5 the last year, that totals 145 quick service meals and 145 table service meals and none of us have gotten sick at WDW.

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Old 01-19-2013, 11:12 AM   #20
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I know a lot of people don't like DDP, but, we love it! It is so easy to have everything paid for before you arrive and we just add the tip on to the room. For our family, that does a character meal just about everyday of our trip, it does save us money. For example, last year, we paid around $120 per day for dining. Our dinner, at Chef Mickey, ran about $120, not counting tip. In that one meal, our dining for the day was paid for. I do like that the tip is not included in the meal plan, not a popular opinion, I know. But, everyone knows their own family, OP, and if you think the dining plan will be a good fit for your family, go for it! Hope you stay cool this summer and have an amazing trip!!!!
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:16 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristineOH View Post
Do you have kids? How many and how old? Are you planning to do character meals? We found that when our kids were all "kids" on the DDP, and we had character meals, it was a good deal. Our next trip we decided we didn't want an ADR every day. But in July, you might like air conditioned breaks for meals! It all depends.
My son will be 6 at the time of travel. =)
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:35 AM   #22
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I love the dining plan. For me...Deluxe Dining Plan is the best option because I like a lot of sit down meals. Not just for the food itself mind you (though I have found dining in Disney World to be one of the best meal experiences in my life) but also because it gives me a chance to sit and take a break from the craziness of the parks without having to necessarily LEAVE the parks. I'm not a big pool person so I would rather take my afternoon "break" at a table service restaurant in the parks.

That being said...what I like best about the plan is the convenience of having everything prepaid. I don't worry about sticking with a particular meal budget and I don't have to worry about a large credit card bill when I get back...it's already pre paid on the card. I also don't worry about getting the most for the plan either. I get it and then just order what I want when I want regardless of price and that works best for me.

I got an annual pass in October and since we were staying offsite (not a fan of that BTW but when it's free I can't really complain too much) I got a tables in wonderland card which saves you 20% at all table service restaurants (including things like alcohol and whatever). It paid for itself by the time we were done with 2 meals (4 adults but no alcohol for us). So the rest of our meals that was straight savings. I will be using it for my trip in April and my trip in September too so all of that money will be straight savings as well. You don't have to order a certain way or a certain amount...so for many people just looking at the savings this will be a better way to go (but it only saves at table service places). That said...I don't really like it. It's better than nothing which was why I got it since we were staying offsite and I feel like I need to use it for my other trips this year...but I still greatly prefer the dining plan for the convenience which I don't feel like you can really put a price on. I probably save money on the dining plan...but even if I lost money on it I would still buy it because my vacation experience is so much better because of it.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:49 AM   #23
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My basic thought on the dining plan is that it's only for people who want to have their meals paid for in advance. For very few people will it actually be cheaper than you could do paying out of pocket. If you order the exact same thing on the dining plan that you would without it, yes absolutely it's going to be cheaper. But if you don't always buy dessert for every single and if you wouldn't buy a pop for every single person and if you wouldn't buy a snack every single day for each person....it can be done much cheaper.

But then again, it is a vacation and cheapest route isn't always going to be the goal. It's all about personal preference in that regard.
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Old 01-19-2013, 11:49 AM   #24
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We like the Disney Dining Plan and have always used it when it was free dining. What we have found is that we like the dining plan when it is summer time and need the break from the heat and want a fortifying meal. As a previous poster stated, we used the character meals as an opportunity to get autographs and essentially saved time by not waiting in lines to get photographs/autographs. When you have little ones the character meals are wonderful but expensive and for some reason I felt better knowing it was already paid for.
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:11 PM   #25
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A couple of things that work well for us -- we tend to stay at moderates, though not always, but if free dining is available we will use it but I use it in a little different way. For example if we have 7 nights and therefore 7 TS I will book 3 dinners at one of the 2TS places that I might normally skip and then use the last TS credit for a character meal, because, we're at Disney and I need at least one character meal.

We then use the snacks and CS credits as we like and pay OOP for what we need to from there. Since it's free I don't feel bad about using it in a way that enhances my trip and 3 very nice sit down meals is more memorable than one more mediocre table service a day for me.

I once paid for the Deluxe and didn't use the 2TS strategy and booked 2-3 TS a day and it seems we ran from heavy lunch to heavy dinner and were slaves to the ADR. Didn't love it.

One more thought -- at most QS you can get fresh fruit or yogurt as your dessert.

Just another perspective. Peace out.
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:30 PM   #26
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The only ugly I ever experienced was not paying attention to whether something was dining plan choice. We all ordered Acqua Fresca's for our beverage at Via Napoli. They are basically a little fruit juice mixed with seltzer. Lo and behold when the check comes it's $25 bucks more than expected. I was ticked off because the drink was nothing special. But I guess it was my own fault for not paying attention.
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:56 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuroraMeansDawn View Post
A couple of things that work well for us -- we tend to stay at moderates, though not always, but if free dining is available we will use it but I use it in a little different way. For example if we have 7 nights and therefore 7 TS I will book 3 dinners at one of the 2TS places that I might normally skip and then use the last TS credit for a character meal, because, we're at Disney and I need at least one character meal.
Yeah, last year we spent a day at SeaWorld so we banked a TS credit and combined it on one of our MK days. We used it to dine at Cinderella's Royal Table. Was a great way to use two TS credits.

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Old 01-19-2013, 01:54 PM   #28
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There is also another aspect to consider. The idea of breaking even on the plans would not be a positive as far as we are concerned because the cost of food at WDW is so vastly overpriced to begin with. The quality of the food is in no relation to the price.

For example, Chef Mickey's is currently $40-$45 per adult, which all of our party are considered adults. Honestly the last time we had dinner at Chef Mickey's it was so disappointing in terms of food quality that I totally regretted having that meal.

There are ways to do the math and make the plans cost effective for some groups, but you are still paying way more than the food served should cost.

We have found (over 30 trips, 28 days just in the last year ) that we book a few ADRs that we like, usually 3, and play it by ear for the rest of the meals. It ends up costing way less than any plan.

There are also several restaurants that we visit offsite every trip. You don't have to eat every meal on WDW property! While we are offsite we purchase plenty of water, beer, wine, food and snacks for the room. Everyone enjoys their meals and no one feels like they were robbed when the bill comes.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:58 PM   #29
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Thanks to everyone who posted in this thread. As someone who has previously added the dining plan as a no-brainer, I've got some thinking to do now. For our next trip we will really need to consider the cost more than we have previously.

That said, there are advantages to the dining program that I would hesitate to give up. First and foremost is the peace of mind of knowing that you've already paid for it and there's no obligation to order the cheapest thing on the menu. For me it's a mini-vacation in itself not to have to look at the prices!

If it is convenient to return to your room after meals, the fridge is your friend. With it you can manipulate the bits and pieces of dining plan goodies, particularly breakfast, to provide extra snacks and drinks through the day. We found that the CMs were eager to make sure we took everything that the dining plan allotted to us whether we wanted it or not. For example, assuming the standard plan hasn't changed since 2010, they make sure you take two drinks with breakfast with a QS credit. We use the refillable mugs for hot drinks and one of the DP drink credits for juice. That gives us an extra cold drink to stick in the fridge for later on (admittedly we left a fridge full of cold drinks at the end of our trip but many of the extras did come in handy). Extra desserts and leftovers, of which we had plenty, can also be stashed in the fridge to be used for quick meals and bedtime snacks. One of our DDs takes medication that must be taken with food at bedtime, so it was handy to have a little something in the fridge. And on days when you want to save QS for lunch, for breakfast you can use your refillable mug plus a snack credit for fruit or a bakery item, which might be stolen by a shameless swooping bird, but that's another story.

My point is that although you do get slammed with way too much food all at once, much of the excess can be stored for that stretch in the middle of the day when you only have a snack credit. Of course that won't work if you're eating in the middle of a hot park day, but if you're heading back to your room (NB: I am not a nighttime person!) you might as well take a doggie bag.

But on the other side of the equation, I have been known to run out of steam before dinner and not want to use a TS credit that we'd already paid for. Sometimes I'd rather grab a sandwich and eat it in front of the TV. We left a costly TS credit unused on our 2009 trip, and I have sat down to many a meal that I did not appreciate because I was done for the day. So again thank you to those who point out that the dining plan isn't always a no-brainer.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:02 PM   #30
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You can't blame that on the dining plan. We've spent 23 full days total in Disney the last three years, each day using the dining plan. For our group of 7 the first two years, and 5 the last year, that totals 145 quick service meals and 145 table service meals and none of us have gotten sick at WDW.

Dan
I hope it didn't sound like I was blaming the dining plan for being sick.
I just seem to have bad luck with colds at Disney--4 out of 6 trips. I had
every intention of getting my money's worth out of the dining plan, but
fate had other plans. I know the plan works great for some folks, and I'm
glad you've been able to use & enjoy it. Out of pocket seems to be the
best strategy for me.
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