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Old 12-30-2008, 08:39 AM   #106
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We have used the dining plan twice. This past Sept we had the free dining and upgraded to the deluxe. The only downfall to the dining plan is the planning. If there is a table service restaurant you want to eat at, you need a reservation and it may be at a time that is not the most convenient, plus it dictates your day. I don't think I would buy the deluxe outright because in the end when I totalled the bills there was no big savings. As an upgrade however it was well worth it.
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Old 12-30-2008, 12:03 PM   #107
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How late a park is open can makes the decision easier

I think the one other issue that one of the PP stated was about the time of year - meaning how late the parks are open.

We typically go in August (before free dining) when the parks, except AK, are open from 9am-11pm. With that amount of time per day it's no big deal to us to spend 1-1/2 to 2 hours at a TS. We go from rope drop to around 2-3pm, spending 5-6 hours in the morning at a park. Then take a nap/shower back in the hotel, have dinner around 5-6pm, and then go back into the parks for another 3-4 hours.

It gives us plenty of time in the parks, plus since we're coming from our room anyway, the extra transportation 'time cost' is a non-issue. We either plan our ADR to be in the park we're going back to or at one of the monorail resorts if we're going back to MK. With a child, the basic DDP works very well for us with this type of schedule.

That being said, if we were to go at a time of year when the parks closed at 6 or 7pm, there's no way we would use the DDP. I'd feel it was either too much time not spent at the parks, plus it would allow us to be cheaper and go offsite for dinner after the parks closed.
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Old 12-30-2008, 12:12 PM   #108
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Originally Posted by tigergirl View Post
That being said, if we were to go at a time of year when the parks closed at 6 or 7pm, there's no way we would use the DDP. I'd feel it was either too much time not spent at the parks...
That can work fine too. We almost always go during non-crowded times when the parks (except Epcot) close earlier. The difference is that you don't schedule your TS dinners during park hours, or if you do, you make them for Epcot restaurants.


Day 1: Animal Kingdom. Open 9 AM to 5 PM. Dinner at Boma at 6 PM.
Day 2: Magic Kingdom. Open 9 AM to 8 PM. Dinner at Crystal Palace at 8 PM.
Day 3: Hollywood Studios. Open 9 AM to 7 PM. Dinner at Le Cellier, 8 PM.

Besides, you can get a lot more done in 8 hours at a park during a low crowd season than you can in 10 or 11 hours at the same park during the peak seasons.

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Old 12-30-2008, 03:54 PM   #109
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Originally Posted by tigergirl View Post
That being said, if we were to go at a time of year when the parks closed at 6 or 7pm, there's no way we would use the DDP. I'd feel it was either too much time not spent at the parks, plus it would allow us to be cheaper and go offsite for dinner after the parks closed.
It can work just as well in the short-hours season. You just schedule those leisurely signature dinners for after park closing. We used the deluxe plan for 11 nights in January and didn't feel the loss of park time at all. We didn't go back to the resort during the day, used a TS lunch as our break instead, and had most of our dinners after park closing.
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Old 12-30-2008, 04:05 PM   #110
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Originally Posted by tricia View Post
Dealing with CS with children in tow is just as bad as making the meal myself. KWIM..
No kidding! That's why I really loved the deluxe plan from the moment I heard about it (and had written/e-mailed Disney and posted on the boards about wanting just such a plan since we first used the standard DDP) - NO COUNTER SERVICE! We had maybe 3 counter service meals in 12 days, only one in the parks (Sunshine Seasons; I'm a sucker for their key lime pie despite the chaos there).
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Old 12-30-2008, 06:26 PM   #111
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We have done the DDP twice now. Once in 2007 and one in 2008. I was never one of those people that complained about to much food in 2007. We did eat to much food but I never thought it was something to complain about. We really enjoyed 2007. 2008 was not so much so we are not doing the DDP this year when we go down. One of the reasons we didn't like it last year is the missing apps. I enjoyed apps the most at dinner. We know we could order them but it just doesn't seem right when we already have a full dinner coming. We didn't really enjoy many of the dessert because after 12 days of dining they all seemed the same. So if you decline the dessert you are left with the entree. Doesn't seem like much fun right. You sit down and get an entree and thats it. I enjoy the the different courses that comes with a dinner. My husband and I went out last week and we each had salads and split 2 apps and it was a wonderful dinner. Also, we are going to be down there this March for 14 days and I think that is way to many days in a row of eating TS every night. Any way we loved it once and maybe we will love it again sometime.
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Old 12-30-2008, 06:28 PM   #112
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I can't say for sure whether or not we would ALWAYS do the DDP. I do know that we plan to go to WDW every other summer for 10-night trips at BWV using our DVC points. What I also know is that for now, the DDP works very well for us. My youngest son is nearing 20 months old, and my big one is turning 4 next week. They are little, love character meals and that works out very well for us on the basic DDP. It only cost us $10 this past July for our older son to be on the plan. Those character dinners alone are around $13-15 each for a child that age when paying OOP. As for DH and myself, the plan works out well for us too. We are at those character meals anyway, and if we paid OOP we would have been between $25 and $30 for each one. Add in the CS lunch we would normally have anyway, and a snack each day which we would normally have, and it saved even DH and myself some money.

Some people do not like to have to rely on ADRs for their dining. DH and I (well, mostly I) are planners when it comes to vacation. I like to know that I have a spot in a restaurant. This is also why I prefer traditional dining on cruiseships, because I know I have a table in the dining room each night, as opposed to cruises that do not offer traditional dining anymore. Same concept for us. We also like to make sure to stick to our children's schedules as far as eating and sleeping go, or at least as much as we can. So we have breakfast early in the morning (in the room or the occasional character one), lunch between 11 & 12 and dinner ADR between 5 & 6PM. That keeps my kids on their normal eating schedule. We also love going to a TS restaurant to treat ourselves at dinnertime.

So what I did when I was planning our trip for this past July was look at the menus and prices online. DH and I discussed the restaurants we would like to take the boys to, and we also discussed how CS would be perfect in our touring plan each day. So we did the math according to what we would do if paying OOP, and the DDP was actually much cheaper. And that was even before factoring in snack credits.

I bring bottled water into the parks. I buy it here and home and take it on the trip down (we drive). We prefer to be able to snack around WDW so we make sure not to use snack credits on drinks. We use them on food.

Is the DDP a lot of food? Yes, there is no doubt about it. But we enjoy eating while on vacation. We are very health-conscious regularly and like to splurge while on vacation.

In July I didn't want to subject my kids (or myself or DH) to the heat at the hottest point of the day (2-3PM). So we got to the parks well before rope drop and left by 2PM. We saw everything on our list and even things I did not think we would have time to see. In fact, we did not even go back to DHS after napping at the hotel because we had seen everything and we relaxed with the kids. Same thing with AK. We left at around 1:30, and there were tons of people just coming in to the park. We were walking against the crowd!! At MK we had no problem getting back to the park on time for a 6PM ADR at Crystal Palace. We got there early and got seated early too!

DH and I are going to use the DDP again on our next trip as long as they still offer it in 2010. After that we will play it by ear but I can see us getting it at least until my kids are the adult price and even then it will depend on their eating habits. DH jokes around with me when I tell him I am not sure the DDP will be a good value once the boys are each 10 or older. He laughs and says, "you think a 10-year-old buy can't eat $40 worth of food in one day"? He swears they will be eating machines! Time will tell! Who knows? Maybe the deluxe plan will be a better idea if they still offer it when they are teenagers, so they an snack and eat all day!!!

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Old 12-30-2008, 10:52 PM   #113
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The Dining Plan, why I'll never/always do it.

I always do it when it is free!! Had 3 trips with free DDP. Our other trips we go OOP.

I never do it otherwise. My family does not really eat a lot of TS meals. We come out a lot cheaper when we do OOP. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the DDP but I think it would lose some of its luster if we did it every trip. It has also allowed us to try some places we normally would not.

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Old 12-31-2008, 07:56 AM   #114
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We love the dining plan. It is ALOT of food, but we manage to utilize every credit and for our family we need that hour and a half of downtime for our TS meal every day to recharge. It's been a value every time I've crunched the numbers for how I think we'd eat during our trip.
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Old 12-31-2008, 01:11 PM   #115
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When it's free, it's a "no-brainer" for me. We did the FDDP in 2006 with a party of 6, and it was perfect! We loved that we could order what sounded good, and never look at the price. We enjoyed having one TS each day, to sit down and feel a bit pampered and spoiled. It was easy to use, also.

This year, we may skip it if we cannot get the free offer. (I have the Disney Visa, and hope for the best) We can get by with mostly CS's, but it wouldn't be as magical as having a TS in a new place/resort each night/or character breakfast, etc. I was dissapointed, also to see that the gratuity was dropped. I think I would rather they raised the price of the dining plan, since the whole idea is to not think about the cost, but to just enjoy the meals.
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Old 12-31-2008, 04:17 PM   #116
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We went to WDW in Feb. We stayed for 5 nights at The Wilderness Lodge, and then moved to the Dolphin for 4 nights. (really great deal at the Dolphin, but could only get it for 3 nights-that's why the split stay.)

We had the dining plan, and it ended on the day we checked out of the Lodge. We had our stuff moved to the Dolphin and spent the day in Epcot. We had at least 6 or 8 counter-service credits left. After spending the day touring the World Showcase, we visited Norway and France, and loaded up on take-out meals. My husband and I each had bags of food to carry back to the Dolphin!

The next day, we visited Epcot again, and just walked back to our room for meals. Yes, our sandwiches were a day old, but we toughed it out. We also had used our snack credits and had plenty to choose from during our "non-dining plan" part of the stay.
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Old 01-01-2009, 08:41 AM   #117
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We have never used the disney dinning plan but we are going to use it this next time.The trip we took in september has not a fun as usally. I worried the whole time if we had enough money for food(yes I worry too much).I was also caught a little off guard at to how much my kids were eating. I the first time we went they were 3,6,7. This time they were 6,9,10. I think if your kids are little don't do the plan.Once they get bigger it's worth the money. I personally like the idea that it's already paid for.

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Old 01-01-2009, 10:36 AM   #118
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We used the DDP for our Christmas trip and it worked out well. We are a family of 5 ( 2 teenagers and 1 U9). I added the DDP mainly to give the teenagers some breathing room to go where and when they want to without me worrying about their meals. I added all our receipts when we got home and we came out ahead, basically getting all our CS meals for free. That is not necessarily ordering the most expensive items on the menu, but ordering what we liked. I guess it helps that we all have a sweet tooth. Would I do it again for our next trip? Maybe. I'm leaning towards the TIW card at this time though since we'll be there for 2 weeks and that is a lot of food (calories). It was sort of a Christmas treat and it worked out. We used all our credits and I only had to pay OOP for one TS meal, T-Rex.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:21 AM   #119
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I have never used it because the last time I was there was in 2002 and it was not created yet. My family has gone and they used it and loved it...I plan to use the Deluxe Dining for my honeymoon.....6 signature restaurants to me makes this plan a gold mine, I would not go to them other wise, or I would pick one per trip. This way we are not eating all the time, but when we are we are eating good.
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Old 01-02-2009, 11:23 AM   #120
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We do it because it makes the trip feel "all inclusive."
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