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Old 07-31-2014, 02:10 PM   #1
100acreHiker
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Food Quality during FD period

Forgive me if this has been asked before, but I'm wondering if anyone has ever experienced whether the food quality overall goes down a bit during the FD period. We went in 2012 just after FD ended, and one server commented how happy she was that FD was over--meals weren't as rushed and the chef and servers could take their time to pay closer attention to things. The comment stuck out in my memory. This year, we'll be at Disney in November and we'll be taking advantage of the FD offer. I can see that TS reservations are mostly snatched up, so I anticipate the restaurants to be more crowded than usual, but I'm curious if anyone has found that the meals themselves go a bit downhill?
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Old 07-31-2014, 02:47 PM   #2
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This is the first time we're doing FD, but honestly I can't imagine the food quality would be any different. Although the kitchens may be busier because of the free dining promotions, I cant imagine Free Dining period is busier than Easter Break/Thanksgiving Week/Christmas Week/and New Years Week.
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Old 07-31-2014, 03:02 PM   #3
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You'll see a good number of complaints here on the Disboard that the overall quality of food at WDW has drastically declined since the start of the dining plans and that free dining can be a cause of worsened dining experience quality at WDW. I've been both during FD and non-FD periods of time and I haven't noticed any difference in terms of food quality or service. Overall, I think both are dependent upon the chefs and servers, respectively, you get that day. You can have an outstanding chef during FD and a less than stellar on during non-FD and vice-a-versa.
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Old 07-31-2014, 07:38 PM   #4
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Did you ever wonder why the servers ask if you are on the dining plan before you order?
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Old 07-31-2014, 07:46 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Jadyreen1282 View Post
Did you ever wonder why the servers ask if you are on the dining plan before you order?
I thought it was to explain what was included before. To avoid any arguments or hassles once they get the bill and find out an appetizer's not included, or that the kitchen sink isn't included as a dessert, etc.
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Old 07-31-2014, 08:23 PM   #6
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We have been using the DDP during free dining for years and have never noticed any decline in the food quality. I can't even say we've ever had a horrible meal experience. I've read some awful dining stories but I guess we have just been lucky.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:18 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by momof2gr8kids View Post
I thought it was to explain what was included before. To avoid any arguments or hassles once they get the bill and find out an appetizer's not included, or that the kitchen sink isn't included as a dessert, etc.
I don't know this, but if you were waiting on tables who would you wait on.

1) someone got a big discount to come to disney all food included and that's why they came "free" food in their mind
2) someone willing to sit down and pay $30/40/50 per person to eat

Who do you think would likely get you a better tip?

I was never a waiter at Disney but this was my first thought the first time I was asked this at Artist Point last year and then pretty much every meal after that. I know they have to explain things but I felt a relief from the waiter at least once that we weren't on the dining plan.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sethschroeder View Post
I don't know this, but if you were waiting on tables who would you wait on.

1) someone got a big discount to come to disney all food included and that's why they came "free" food in their mind
2) someone willing to sit down and pay $30/40/50 per person to eat

Who do you think would likely get you a better tip?
I would hope that's not the reason since it would imply that if they are dealing with free dining folks the service would suffer since they don't think they'd get a big tip anyway.

When I've had FD in the past I've always left the same tip I would have left and I'm sure most others do as well. People who don't tip on FD are probably the same people who wouldn't tip anyway.

Anyway, I think the reason they are asking is because they are required to make sure you know what FD entails at that meal. Also so they know to take the credits from the magic bands. It seemed like at all my TS meals on FD, they liked to get paying with the bands out of the way which was nice since we could leave as soon as we were done and get to the rides.
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Old 08-01-2014, 07:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sethschroeder View Post
I don't know this, but if you were waiting on tables who would you wait on.

1) someone got a big discount to come to disney all food included and that's why they came "free" food in their mind
2) someone willing to sit down and pay $30/40/50 per person to eat

Who do you think would likely get you a better tip?

I was never a waiter at Disney but this was my first thought the first time I was asked this at Artist Point last year and then pretty much every meal after that. I know they have to explain things but I felt a relief from the waiter at least once that we weren't on the dining plan.
Why would it matter for tip if the person is on the DDP? You still tip for the food prices of what you order either way. If they are treating DDP diners differently and worse, then they do deserve a worse tip.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sethschroeder View Post
I don't know this, but if you were waiting on tables who would you wait on.

1) someone got a big discount to come to disney all food included and that's why they came "free" food in their mind
2) someone willing to sit down and pay $30/40/50 per person to eat

Who do you think would likely get you a better tip?

I was never a waiter at Disney but this was my first thought the first time I was asked this at Artist Point last year and then pretty much every meal after that. I know they have to explain things but I felt a relief from the waiter at least once that we weren't on the dining plan.
It's debatable whether those on "free" dining are getting a big discount, so I disagree with this premise. Many people may break even when compared with the ability to get some other discount. They are on the dining plan for convenience, not necessarily to save money, so if it's offered when they are going they take it. So to imply that they are "cheap" tippers assumes you know why they chose "free" dining.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:13 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sethschroeder View Post
I don't know this, but if you were waiting on tables who would you wait on.
1) someone got a big discount to come to disney all food included and that's why they came "free" food in their mind
2) someone willing to sit down and pay $30/40/50 per person to eat
Who do you think would likely get you a better tip?
The better tip would be (1) because you're not spending $30/$40/$50 per person to eat, so you have more $$ to tip. With that said, I tip based on the waiter and service, not whether the meal was free or paid for OOP.
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Old 08-01-2014, 08:26 AM   #12
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I agree that you are still obligated to tip even with free dining. It's not like the tip is included with the dining plan so I'm not sure why a server would care. Like stated, I think the servers ask so people are aware of what is included and what is not. And, the word free dining is misleading just like when people refer to the food and beverage on club level as free or complimentary. You are paying a hefty price for those snacks and drinks. If you get "free" dining you are paying a higher resort rate and if you get the discount on the room rate, you are paying full rate for the dining plan.

I suppose its better than paying full rate for both (LOL)
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:14 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jadyreen1282 View Post
Did you ever wonder why the servers ask if you are on the dining plan before you order?
For several reasons:

So they can talk to you about what is included and what is not included (because believe it or not a lot of guests purchase the plan and don't have any real idea what is included); and

So they can ring up the order properly.

Despite some allegations I have seen on the boards, it is NOT so they can make sure that DDP guests get sub-par food or service or altered menus.

Also, tipping discussion and debate will get the thread closed and referred to the Tipping Information Thread.

Quote:
I know they have to explain things but I felt a relief from the waiter at least once that we weren't on the dining plan.
This has been explained by actual servers as the fact that guests do not like being told "no" when they request something that is not included on the dining plan (like they want an appetizer instead of dessert or they don't understand that a beer is not covered, or they didn't realize that a certain restaurant would cost them 2 credits.) A guest who is not on the dining plan doesn't have to be explained to that they cannot get the item they have requested.

The other thing to consider is that "free dining" is NOT a restaurant discount. The restaurant is being reimbursed for the free diner exactly as they would be reimbursed for anyone who paid for the DDP. Free dining is a resort discount.
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:20 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jadyreen1282 View Post
Did you ever wonder why the servers ask if you are on the dining plan before you order?
:lma o:


Yes, because they need to know how to instruct you to order so they don't have to correct something and so the customer can't go to a manager and say, "I didn't know that's how many points it would use!", "I didn't know I could order a dessert."

Being on free dining dictates the course of the dining, they HAVE to ask...Asking has NOTHING to do with ANYTHING besides explaining the dining plan, etc.
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Old 08-01-2014, 09:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sethschroeder View Post
I don't know this, but if you were waiting on tables who would you wait on.

1) someone got a big discount to come to disney all food included and that's why they came "free" food in their mind
2) someone willing to sit down and pay $30/40/50 per person to eat

Who do you think would likely get you a better tip?

I was never a waiter at Disney but this was my first thought the first time I was asked this at Artist Point last year and then pretty much every meal after that. I know they have to explain things but I felt a relief from the waiter at least once that we weren't on the dining plan.



The opposite of what you'd think.

I would assume the free dining party would tip better. Why? Because many Disney-goers tend to not think about the meal cost after paying for their trip. Especially on free dining, they tend to really think they got a massive deal, so they're even more generous with the tipping. "He was pretty good, I can leave him more than 20% since we're on free dining anyway!"

As for the OP, no, quality doesn't go down during free dining. They need to maintain quality reviews and you're forgetting a lot of AP holders, locals and off-site visitors will be dining during the same timeframe.
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