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Old 02-01-2013, 03:16 AM   #1
Earning My Ears
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Albany, NY
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Disney Dining Plan?

hey everyone, I was wondering what you thought about the dining plans at Disney. is it worth it? do you actually save money? i wanted to get the opinion of you guys and not what disney is trying to sell me over the phone. Also if I were to get it which would be best for me based on the restaurants i have made reservations for

Monday: Epcot
Lunch: Biergarten
Dinner: San Angel Inn Dinner

Tuesday: Magic Kingdom
Lunch: no plans
Dinner: Be Our Guest

Wednesday: Animal Kingdom
Lunch: no plans
Dinner: Yachtsman Steakhouse Dinner

Thursday: Hollywood Studios
Lunch: 50's Prime Time Cafe
Dinner: Sci FI Dine-in Theater

Breakfast: Beach Club Breakfast Buffet at Cape May Cafe

Saturday: NO Plans but thinking of Spirit of Aloha for dinner

I would love to hear your thoughts!
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:48 AM   #2
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You will get so many people on each side of this debate. With the meals you have planned you would need the deluxe plan, which is a serious expense. However, the prepay aspect of the plan makes the budgeting much easier. Honestly, I like the basic dining plan. However, I would not do the deluxe because it looks like you will spend more times in restaurants than in the park.
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Old 02-01-2013, 06:18 AM   #3
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Look at the menu's of your restaurants and get the cost of what you will most likely order, drink, entree, and dessert. Compare that to the daily DP rate.

Personally, I don't think it saves any money at all. We don't often eat dessert and would not order it if not on the DP.

What I prefer to do is put money in an envelope and use that to pay for our meals. Some like using gift cards. I don't as you are limited to spending it only at Disney. But, you need to do what is best for you.
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Old 02-01-2013, 06:29 AM   #4
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Depending on what you order, it can save you $$. Our last trip I saved every single food/snack/drink receipt because I wanted to know just what you are asking. When we got home I added up the cost of all the items we used Dining/Snack credits for and then subtracted what the DP cost us. During our 8 night stay we saved $378 for 3 of us. We love deserts and would order them whether on the DP or not.

Even if we would have broke even or been $100 or so in the hole, we would still do the DP. I really like that it's paid for up front. If we were paying OOP, I know my DW would be looking at the prices first then deciding what to order. When we're on the DP, she just orders what she wants. I like that better.

DS is not a picky eater and has a bottomless pit. If you have any picky or light eaters, it won't work very well.

I freely admit that it's not for everyone. It just works for our family.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:03 AM   #5
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We do the deluxe plan because we love character dining, sometimes more than once a day so for us, it is great. Also, I love the idea of "pre-paying" for our meals. I just try to guess at about what our tips will be based on the menus and buy gift cards all year long and apply them to our room charge to cover the tips.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:11 AM   #6
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We went through the menus of the restaurants we'll be eating at and added up the cost of what we would likely order. It came out to be more expensive to have the dining plan for us. For one we don't normally eat dessert at our meals because I like to eat my sweets throughout the day as we are walking around the parks. And this trip being my first gluten free I don't expect them to have many desserts I would care for anyhow.

If you eat at a lot of character meals or buffets it may be more beneficial for you as they can get very pricey.

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Old 02-01-2013, 09:52 AM   #7
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You might check the Dining Plan Forum for more info. There is a calculator offered on one thread that will help you plan and know if the DP is for you.

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Old 02-01-2013, 09:52 AM   #8
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As mentioned by previous psoters, it all depends on your family's eating habits, so far as the dollar value benefit of such plans. But to some the idea of having meals already paid for is "priceless"!
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:04 AM   #9
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Just for us, the pre-scheduling of meals 160 days out is the turn off... We don't want our vacation to be run by a clock or eating...

Most TS restaurants and their meals are awful.... We rather graze our way around, free to do whatever... Be it some sleazy, greasy CS so be it... We don't eat fancy at home, no sense pretending in WDW...

We never used the dining plans and see no cost savings in it... As for paying up front, what's the difference, now or later, it's still your money....

Disney meals , CS etc are huge and can easily be shared, heck we'll split a hamburger and fry, not because we're cheap but because of the size and walking around a park in 90+ weather overfull... No thank you, dessert, again no thank you....

We've seen too many guests order a meal for each person ( especially children) and everyone leave half, what a waste of food and money..... So easy to share but the dining plans force you to gorge yourself to get your money's worth...
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Last edited by pepe of ohio; 02-01-2013 at 07:12 PM.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:08 AM   #10
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Agree with PPs.... check on the price you'd pay OOP versus the DP.

The DXDP saves my family money and generally, most people aren't able to save using that plan.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:37 AM   #11
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It depends on how you like to eat. We did it once and didn't like it. We're not really big eaters and were usually too full to have dessert right after our meal. We ordered them anyways and then barely ate them...but we did have to tip for it!

Table service meals at Disney also takes a lot of time out of your day. It takes a LOT more time at Disney than a typical sit down restaurant someplace else. We felt too tied to having a sit down meal everyday and didn't always want to stop what we were doing to get to our reservation.

Now we do OOP and just have a TS meal about once a day or once every other day, depending on the plans for that day. When you do the math on allears.net, you may find that you'll about break even with the dining plan.

The pro for us was that we had already paid for the meals so we didn't worry about how expensive something was when we ordered it. That was the only pro for us though, so we do OOP now. Some people just love it though...you just need to think about what your eating habits are and if it fits with your family.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:51 AM   #12
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It depends too on if you have kids and on how old they are. When we went last time, we purchased the dining plan. It worked out well for us because both children were under 10 yrs old and they wanted to do a lot of the character meals. It was cheaper this way. Now, if my kids were 10 or older, it probably wouldn't have made sense because it would have cost more than what we spent as the kids would have been charged adult prices. HTH.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:53 AM   #13
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I would also add it depends on the make-up of your group. We have 3 kids and for us the dining plan makes sense now. For how my family eats the cost for an adult is at best break even, but we come out ahead on the kids making the plan overall a good value for us.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:56 AM   #14
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As others have said, it's really a case-by-case basis. It used to be easy to get your money's worth on the Dining Plan, but it's not anymore.
We did it a few years ago on our honeymoon, and it garnered us almost a 20% discount, which was basically equivalent to our desserts for the trip. However, I found it didn't cover our eating style.
For example, DH needs a fairly large breakfast every morning. Since, more often than not, this occurs at our hotel, it's not the best value to use either a counter or table service credit. If I tried to make him wait, until we got to the parks and had taken advantage of Rope Drop, he got really hungry. The desserts and snacks were nice, but we didn't need a dessert with every meal, and ended up making a large purchase of snacks at the end of the trip. The resort mugs are kind of a joke to me on the dining plan, because every meal includes a flavored beverage, and I'm satisfied with water otherwise. We got them on our last trip, and used them mostly for hot chocolate (it was November so it got cold at night) but it wasn't necessary.

If we do the Quick Service plan, we'd end up adding in a few TS meals. If we do the Standard plan, we'd end up adding a few CS meals. If we do the Deluxe plan, we'd end up with too much of everything.

For our trip in April, I expect we'll spend right around $1000 for food for 3 adults. (the regular plan would cost us $1167.39+ the applicable tips & a handful of out of pocket counter service meals = around $1400)
That includes 2-3 CS meals a day per person, 5 TS meals + tips and a handful of snacks for everyone. If we're not hungry for a meal, we can adjust what we order accordingly, or cancel a reservation altogether.

Once DS is over 3, the tables might turn slightly, because we'll have to start paying for him at buffets.
I price it out for every trip, because the prepay option is nice, but I can accomplish the same thing by purchasing a Disney gift card.
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:56 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by pepe of ohio View Post
No thank you, dessert
I'm with you. Would rather go enjoy the park after a nice meal (which I do think most TS restaurants do serve), and then see if some ice cream or other tasty treat is in the cards a bit later.
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