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Old 04-08-2013, 08:46 AM   #1
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Paying for group of 20--DDP or gift cards?

My mother is dying of triple negative breast cancer. She always wanted to take her family to WDW. If she recovers some strength, she plans to do this but I would be planning everything for her. If that never happens, I would like to fulfill her wish with an annuity she is leaving me. I have already determined that four AoA suites would work for us comfortably, but I'm unsure what to do about food.

Option 1: Buy DDP for everyone (enough to pay for 3 meals)
--No effort on their part to budget for more expensive meals (character)
--Will relatives not understand DDP as newbies and end up spending their pocket money to make up the deficit that I'd rather they save for souvenirs?

Option 2: Determine a reasonable amount for 3 meals per person at WDW and buy giftcards/prepaid visas for each family
--Have to trust that relatives will use money for food and spend wisely to last the week

What would you do and what is a reasonable amount per person for 7 nights/6 days at WDW? We never buy DDP because we can eat cheaper even with 2-3 character meals. I plan to purchase Unofficial Guides for each family and "educate" them on many things before we go, like DDP if I purchase.
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:03 AM   #2
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Gift cards. Just make it clear: "this is your food money; when it's gone, you'll need to pay for your food out of your own pocket."
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:06 AM   #3
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I'd say it depends on how you're going to actually "do" the trip.

If you plan a lot of group time - meals can be a great way to get everyone together and if you plan character meals or all you care to eat dining (or have a lot of steak eaters), the DDP can make sense.

You could just set a rule like, "use your counter service meals and snacks as you like; here's the plan for the sit down meals".

If you plan on basically only meeting up once or twice or meeting up in smaller groups, the gift card would probably work better.

The other option might be the quick service plan - basically the food is paid for, there's no need for dining reservations and then you could pay for 1 or 2 sit down group meals (out of pocket - not on the plan) like a character breakfast or Ohana or something that the group would enjoy.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:46 PM   #4
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Gift cards, with clarity that it's meant for food. About $70 a day per adult would be sufficient, I say. That should cover a $10 breakfast, $15 lunch and $45 dinner.
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:34 AM   #5
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I disagree with the others. We have done several family trips like this. I believe in one case there were 32 of us on the Disney cruise. The thing is: people are different and some are not responsible. And in our case, we had a couple members/ families who blew all their food money on drinks and junk in the shops, then stuck the payer with another big bill in the end.

I would do the DDP. It is not at all difficult to understand, even for newbies. It is enough for 2 meals/ day plus a snack. They could do a character meal every day if they wanted. Then any goodies they bought in the shops, etc would actually be out of their own pockets. I wouldn't do the Deluxe Dining plan unless all the family are really big eaters.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:01 AM   #6
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I would do the DDP or the QS suggestion and then plan on having a few group meals. I tried the gift card option and I held the gc because it was a group of 4 mom's and 10 kids, I told them all they had a budget for CS of $25 a day and we would get dessert elsewhere. After a day I realized that some of the adults were telling their own kids to get the cheaper kids meals when they didn't need to. I felt bad that there were some kids eating a bid burger and some walking away with one cup of M&C and hungry.
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Old 04-10-2013, 11:58 AM   #7
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The problem you are going to have with either is that everyone is going to use what they've got in the way they themselves see fit, not necessarily in the way you see fit. I am not sure I'd put a large group like this on the deluxe dining plan, but the regular, while it does not cover three meals a day, should be easy to follow for everyone, especially if the group will not be eating all meals together. Then if any of the party wants to skip some meals in favor of rides, or decides that they prefer to grab quick service, they're not losing so much of the value.

All you can do is explain the plan to them and equip them with the DDP brochure. If they then don't use the plan the way it's meant to be used and wind up spending their souvenir money on food, there's not much you can do about it.

Last edited by TDC Nala; 04-10-2013 at 12:08 PM.
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Old 04-10-2013, 02:58 PM   #8
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Similar Situation

We have a group of 12 - 10 adults, 1 child, and 1 infant. We already have reservations at Chef Mickey's, Hollywood & Vine, Be Our Guest, The Crystal Palace, and Biergarten. I think it will probably be worth it to buy the regular DP for everyone but my first thought was to use gift cards. $25 per day for each person and then we would pick up the tab at the group meals. I tried to do the math with estimates for the group meals and it may be a little cheaper without DP but then we don't have the convenience. We normally don't get the DP when we go with smaller groups but I really am having a hard time deciding for this one.

Starsweeper, I am sorry about your mom. It is lovely that you are going to carry out her wishes no matter what.
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Old 04-13-2013, 07:26 PM   #9
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I agree with a PP, put them on the regular dining plan and print out enough pdfs of the dining plan for all the adults and explain how it works. Making sure that they know that what is not used will go to waste. Snack credits left over can be used to buy items like bagged candy, or other treats that can travel back with them.

Adults are about $55/day for the regular dining plan. Covers their main 2 meals, QS for lunch, TS for dinner and a snack. Some folks will just do whatever, like spend food money on other stuff, with the DP, they will at least get 2 meals a day without any drama.

Breakfast is usually cheaper and they can cover this OOP if needed. Or you may want to buy some communal groceries for the family, bagels, cream cheese, cereal, milk, eggs, bacon, etc. to keep in the kitchen.

I'm sorry about your mom, I hope she gets well enough to travel.
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Old 05-24-2013, 02:32 PM   #10
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I wanted to thank everyone for their replies. Lots of good ideas. My mom passed away about a week after my first post, but my father and I are planning the trip for summer 2014. With his help, we can afford to take everyone next year.

Personally, I would like to buy QDP and pay OOP for a character breakfast most mornings, Fantasmic dinner one night. Since this will be a once in a lifetime trip for most, I'm not sure they will want to spend dinner or lunch in a TS restaurant versus more time for rides and shows.

I think I'll have everyone look over guidebooks I'm giving to them this weekend and get back to me on restaurants they want to try in a few months. Then we can have a discussion about everyone's park interests and dining wishes, which should let me know if we need DDP or QDP with OOP breakfast by me.
Me(39) DH(43) DS(8) DD(8) DS(3) DD(2)

Disney Vacations:
Aug79 - PR, Apr85 - Golf Resort, Apr88/Apr91 - Offsite, Jun97 - Offsite (Mom & me), Nov06 - CBR (DH & me - F&W), Feb09 - PCR (1st w/kids), May10 - Mariott OWC (Mom & Kids - F&GF), Oct13 - PR (1st w/4 kids - MNSSHP), Oct15 - Extended family trip?

Other Family Vacations:
Jun13 - Outer Banks NC, Oct14 - Sleeping Bear Dunes/Leelanau County MI, Jun15 - Black Hills/Badlands SD & Yellowstone/Grand Teton WY
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Old 05-27-2013, 08:47 PM   #11
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Sorry about your mom...while you are there next summer sit on a bench, take a deep breath and look up and smile. Your mom is with you and is enjoying your trip!
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