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Old 04-27-2013, 11:41 AM   #1
figment5
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DDP..looking back after a trip

Ok, I have always been a big supporter of the DDP for my family because we typically LOVE to eat on vacation and when I look at the prices ahead of time it seems reasonable.

My issue is that I have never come back from a trip and actually checked to see if it was worth it.

Here is the situation:

This year I got the DDP and had convinced myself it was the best but I have been having doubts recently. Someone brought up in another thread that you never know if you will really eat exactly what you plan before a trip and this got me thinking. We do love to eat and my DH and DD 10 can and will eat the most expensive thing on the menu every time plus dessert, but me and my DD 8 go through phases, sometimes we are really hungry, other times not so much. I have read many posts about people saying the DDP is or is not worth it but have wondered if anyone has actually come back from a trip and checked their receipts to see if they saved or lost money on it.

I am not looking for debates on the DDP just actual facts as to whether or not it did save the money.

Any help would be appreciated!
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Old 04-27-2013, 11:53 AM   #2
jenbelles
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For years my DH and I always purchased the deluxe dining plan because we love to eat at Signature Restaurants. I would always keep my receipts so I could add them up at the end. Which by the way, drives the DH crazy!
I always found that the price of all of our receipts (including meals, snacks and mugs) was well above the price we paid for the meal plan. At least one time in excess of $500.

Prior to our deluxe plan days we did the same thing with the regular plan and also felt that our receipts were more than the cost of the plan, but we always had a lot of out of pocket costs too for extra snacks and appetizers.

However, in January we purchased the TIW. We have been suprisingly pleased with this dining option. We no longer feel like we have to plan our whole day around our meals. If I want to stay at the pool and have a quick service meal or just a snack, I do not feel like I am "wasting" a deluxe credit. Plus the DH no longer feels like he is pressured to order the most expensive item on the menu.

Our most recent trip was for 7 nights and with TIW we spent about half of the price of Deluxe and only ate what we wanted and when we wanted. This included meals at two signature restaurants.

You just have to remember, that the dining plan is a personal preference and will not work out the same for everyone.
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Old 04-27-2013, 11:58 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenbelles View Post
For years my DH and I always purchased the deluxe dining plan because we love to eat at Signature Restaurants. I would always keep my receipts so I could add them up at the end. Which by the way, drives the DH crazy!
I always found that the price of all of our receipts (including meals, snacks and mugs) was well above the price we paid for the meal plan. At least one time in excess of $500.

Prior to our deluxe plan days we did the same thing with the regular plan and also felt that our receipts were more than the cost of the plan, but we always had a lot of out of pocket costs too for extra snacks and appetizers.

However, in January we purchased the TIW. We have been suprisingly pleased with this dining option. We no longer feel like we have to plan our whole day around our meals. If I want to stay at the pool and have a quick service meal or just a snack, I do not feel like I am "wasting" a deluxe credit. Plus the DH no longer feels like he is pressured to order the most expensive item on the menu.

Our most recent trip was for 7 nights and with TIW we spent about half of the price of Deluxe and only ate what we wanted and when we wanted. This included meals at two signature restaurants.

You just have to remember, that the dining plan is a personal preference and will not work out the same for everyone.
I've never considered the dining plans before because they seemed like too much of a hassle. Like you said, you al,out have to plan your vacation around meals and that doesn't always work well with little ones.

What is TIW? Is it something new or am I just out of the loop?
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Old 04-27-2013, 12:10 PM   #4
figment5
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TIW is the Tables in Wonderland card that gives you a 20% discount at many restaurants.

Thank you for your idea, I will have to look into the TIW card, I have an annual pass so it would be $25 less as well!
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Old 04-27-2013, 12:35 PM   #5
Jonathan Swift
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Most of the time, the dining plans don't save money, but they can if...
  • You use all the credits,
  • Always order the most expensive items (No Cobb Salad at the Brown Derby for you!),
  • Have lots of kids on the plan,
  • Pick lots of character meals instead of non-character meals even if you don't want them (e.g., Ohana vs. Kona),
  • Always eat dessert (and appetizer in the case of the DDDP) whether you want it or not
Even if you do all those things, your savings may only be in the order of $40 total! Of all the dinning plans, the DDDP and QSDP are usually worse. Check out this extreme example:

Two adults, five nights, three 2 credit TS, assuming they will always order the most expensive menu items, will always order appetizer and dessert, get every snack, etc.


Click to enlarge

Here's how it plays out: DDP: $985, DDDP: $1,021, OOP: $1,039

The DDP is cheaper than them all! Let's say we change one assumption. Let's say this couple doesn't want to order the most expensive items on the menu all the time and instead ends up ordering the average cost items.

DDP: $958, DDDP: $1,028, OOP: $931

Now, the OOP cost is the cheapest.

Considering that you're going to have to plan your dining anyway, run the numbers using the spreadsheet in my signature. That way you can make an intelligent decision whether or not the dining plans make sense for you.
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Old 04-27-2013, 01:40 PM   #6
figment5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonathan Swift View Post
Most of the time, the dining plans don't save money, but they can if...
  • You use all the credits,
  • Always order the most expensive items (No Cobb Salad at the Brown Derby for you!),
  • Have lots of kids on the plan,
  • Pick lots of character meals instead of non-character meals even if you don't want them (e.g., Ohana vs. Kona),
  • Always eat dessert (and appetizer in the case of the DDDP) whether you want it or not
Even if you do all those things, your savings may only be in the order of $40 total! Of all the dinning plans, the DDDP and QSDP are usually worse. Check out this extreme example:

Two adults, five nights, three 2 credit TS, assuming they will always order the most expensive menu items, will always order appetizer and dessert, get every snack, etc.


Click to enlarge

Here's how it plays out: DDP: $985, DDDP: $1,021, OOP: $1,039

The DDP is cheaper than them all! Let's say we change one assumption. Let's say this couple doesn't want to order the most expensive items on the menu all the time and instead ends up ordering the average cost items.

DDP: $958, DDDP: $1,028, OOP: $931

Now, the OOP cost is the cheapest.

Considering that you're going to have to plan your dining anyway, run the numbers using the spreadsheet in my signature. That way you can make an intelligent decision whether or not the dining plans make sense for you.
Thank you, actually you are the reason I started doubting the plan, on another thread people were discussing it and I thought saving my $40 over the trip would be worth it but you brought up several good points, what if one day I am just not in the mood to eat that big meal and opt for an appetizer instead, there goes my $40 unless my DH plans to throw in a TS meal alone somewhere to make up for it. It's not that I want to play the "what-if" game but just realistically know that some things may change. The best laid plans of mice and men.......

That is why I have been looking for people who have checked when they got back as to whether they truly saved money or not.

I will try out that spreadsheet and see how it looks! Thank you!
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Old 04-27-2013, 02:32 PM   #7
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We rented DVC points in December and purchased the DDP for our 14 night stay. We are 2 ad and 1 child. We did lots of character meals as it was DD's first trip and she is only 4!
At the end of our stay we had 15CS credits left between us, and I too kept all the receipts! I worked out that we had just about broke even - what we paid for the DDP is what we would have paid OOP as we went along. If we had used all of our CS credits then we would have definitely been "quids in"!!
I am just about to start crunching the numbers for a split stay next year. We are booked to stay off site, but I am considering to switch to on site for a week and possibly have the DDP.

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Old 04-27-2013, 07:12 PM   #8
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One of the problems with adding up after the fact for me is, without the plan, we wouldn't eat all the food the plan gives you. So is it really a savings? We prefer water over sodas, but if we're on the plan, we'll get soda/tea/bottled water because we've paid for it. Only two of us really like desserts, but if we're on the plan all four of us we'll get dessert every meal (and have lots of prepackaged desserts in our refrigerator on our check-out day). So if I add in all the things we wouldn't have ordered if paying OOP, we'll still at least break even if not save some money. But if I look at what we really WANT to eat/drink, OOP wins EVERY time for us.

I've played with the menus enough to know that my family of four (all Disney adults) can eat a TS every day (some buffets too), eat B, L, and D for right at $50 per person per day and that includes all taxes AND tip. That's $5.50 less than the DDP and our tips are already figured in. So unless it is free, and there are no other discounts (we are blessed to be able to use the military tickets and room discounts), we will pay OOP.
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Old 04-27-2013, 10:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by figment5 View Post
Ok, I have always been a big supporter of the DDP for my family because we typically LOVE to eat on vacation and when I look at the prices ahead of time it seems reasonable.

My issue is that I have never come back from a trip and actually checked to see if it was worth it.

Here is the situation:

This year I got the DDP and had convinced myself it was the best but I have been having doubts recently. Someone brought up in another thread that you never know if you will really eat exactly what you plan before a trip and this got me thinking. We do love to eat and my DH and DD 10 can and will eat the most expensive thing on the menu every time plus dessert, but me and my DD 8 go through phases, sometimes we are really hungry, other times not so much. I have read many posts about people saying the DDP is or is not worth it but have wondered if anyone has actually come back from a trip and checked their receipts to see if they saved or lost money on it.

I am not looking for debates on the DDP just actual facts as to whether or not it did save the money.

Any help would be appreciated!
We decided to use the DDP for the first time ever on our trip last February. We've been going to WDW since the late 1970's and always paid out of pocket. So this was an experiment. We were traveling with our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren ages 3 and 5. In order to get our money's worth, I booked Ohana, Cape May Dinner, 1900 Park Fare dinner, Coral Reef dinner, and Tusker House breakfast. I saved as many receipts as I could and added it up to see if it was worth it. By eating at those expensive restaurants we were able to come out at least $100 ahead,
.
But ------- we always felt like we had to order desserts that we didn't want or the most expensive item. We ate better than we ever ate on a trip, but it really was too much food and too much time getting to restaurants and eating. And I found myself giving away my snack credits to my sisters who were not on the dining plan because I just couldn't eat that much food. In reality, if I subtracted the cost of the items I gave away and subtracted the beverages and desserts I really didn't want, we probably broke even.

The thing that bothered me the most was that I wasn't able to eat my way. I like salads and appetizers and usually never the most expensive entree. i like to have dessert only when I feel like it, not twice a day.

So no more dining plan for us. We are going back in December and are planning on eating only a few TS dinners, a couple TS lunches, and appetizers for dinner if that is what we want. It will be great and we'll save a lot more money than if we paid for the DDP.

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Old 04-27-2013, 10:51 PM   #10
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When we went in 2008 we had two adults and two kids and did the deluxe plan. We went to I think just two signatures but did several character mealsI looked at receipts when we came back and we definitely saved money but by now I have forgotten how much. Several hundred dollars though. We went again in 2011, did the deluxe again and one of the kids was now a Disney adult. We did four signatures that time and saved a tiny bit with the dining plan but not as much as the first trip. We are going this summer, both kids are Disney adults now and we have decided to forgo the dining plan this time. We are also done with character meals, are not planning on doing any buffets, and still plan to eat 2 TS daily. We think that with all adults, it would be cheaper to just pay, plus we do not normally order four appetizers, and the kids might want dessert bur DH and I won't order it at every meal. The one thing I will miss though is the snack credits. Much easier for me to justify paying $3 for a drink if I don't have to actually hand money over, lol. During our first trip we tried bringing water bottles and found they just got warm/hot too quickly, so now we buy (and usually share) fresh, cold drinks when we need them.
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:03 AM   #11
Jonathan Swift
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There was a thread that I can't find where someone was trying to dig up the dining plan rules throughout the years. The dining plans were great back in the day, but their price has gone up and there are too many restrictions, exceptions, and weighting for more expensive places that make it unattractive now.
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