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Old 02-03-2013, 06:19 PM   #16
davedmaine
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You're right, it's a bad deal. At today's plan prices it's almost impossible to get any bang for the buck with the dining plan. You're much better off to pay OOP.
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:22 PM   #17
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And don't forget that with the plan, you're going to be paying a much larger gratuity (most likely) than by paying OOP. This is due to most people trying to maximize the value of the plan and therefore having to order the most expensive things on the menu.
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Old 02-03-2013, 06:38 PM   #18
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We do the dining plan - works for us.

Last August for the 1st time in probably ten years, we didn't do the Dining Plan and I stressed out at every meal. We've done all plans except the QS. We usually always come out ahead because my DD and DH are total carnivores so our meals are very meat - mostly steak - oriented. My DH is a big eater so we make out well. We use snack credits usually all at EPCOT in France and get a bunch of pastries. Our DD is 12 and now an adult but mostly wants stuff off the kids menu still so we are saving her credits and we will be using them.

The dining plan - either regular or deluxe - is not for everyone, but it works for us. I loke the idea of not having to worry about what we are ordering, even with paying OOP for some of her meals, but it comes in handy when we go to the Yachtsman and our bill is well over $250.00 and all I need to worry about is the tip.

Like I said, not for everyone but the dining plan and eating at the restaurants is part of our vacation.

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Old 02-03-2013, 07:02 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by ilovediznee View Post
Last August for the 1st time in probably ten years, we didn't do the Dining Plan and I stressed out at every meal. We've done all plans except the QS. We usually always come out ahead because my DD and DH are total carnivores so our meals are very meat - mostly steak - oriented. My DH is a big eater so we make out well. We use snack credits usually all at EPCOT in France and get a bunch of pastries. Our DD is 12 and now an adult but mostly wants stuff off the kids menu still so we are saving her credits and we will be using them.

The dining plan - either regular or deluxe - is not for everyone, but it works for us. I loke the idea of not having to worry about what we are ordering, even with paying OOP for some of her meals, but it comes in handy when we go to the Yachtsman and our bill is well over $250.00 and all I need to worry about is the tip.

Like I said, not for everyone but the dining plan and eating at the restaurants is part of our vacation.

This sounds almost like us! DxDP is the way we go. Some of the days we had 3 sit downs.
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:32 PM   #20
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I loke the idea of not having to worry about what we are ordering, even with paying OOP for some of her meals, but it comes in handy when we go to the Yachtsman and our bill is well over $250.00 and all I need to worry about is the tip.
The menu restrictions are the single worst thing about the DDP in my opinion.

We just returned from a DDP-less 8 day stay and I tracked just about every dollar of our spending and didn't try and cut any corners. We ate and drank what we want when we wanted, and I wanted to see how that compared to the dining plan.

I compared every dollar we spent on food to what the meal plan would have cost us. I think the only way you can judge the value of the dining plan is after you dine without it because it is too hard to know what you would have ordered if you weren't on the meal plan. Alot of people see their receipts and think, "wow, look how expensive that is, good thing we're on the meal plan", but would you really have ordered a dessert for everyone at the table? Would you really need a counter service, a snack and a table service meal each day? Do you really want the dessert on the menu or wouldn't you rather a dole whip or a mickey ice cream bar for dessert?

Anyway, for us the meal plan for 2013 is $55 per day. That comes out to $880 for both of us for eight nights.

In total we spent $1,058 on food and dining by going OOP. Now, maybe you're asking how could I come out better not on the dining plan when I spent more. Well, this is why. That $1,058 included all of our groceries from Publix, which included a case of beer and two bottle of wine, plus other non food items for the room. That $1,058 also included alcohol that we ordered with our meals, AND gratuity we spent, both of which you have to pay extra for with the meal plan. Most importantly, it allowed us to order what we want when we wanted it. It isn't like we ate cheap.

We ate at Ohana, California Grill, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review, Be Our Guest, Wishes Dessert Party (also not included on the dining plan), Mama Melrose, Big River Grill and did the Dine with Shamu experience at Sea World. Another benefit of not having the meal plan is it doesn't cost you any more money to dine at any of the Swan and Dolphin restaurants (Blue Zoo, Kimonos, Shulas, etc). At the California Grill, the night before the marathon, we ordered an app, two sushi rolls and a salad and it was MORE THAN ENOUGH food....thats impossible on the meal plan, no matter how full you are.

And regarding the "free dining"; what you save on the dining plan, you pay more for in your resort reservation more times than not. Free dining is anything but free.
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Old 02-04-2013, 03:56 PM   #21
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You're right, it's a bad deal. At today's plan prices it's almost impossible to get any bang for the buck with the dining plan. You're much better off to pay OOP.
Not necessarily. If your family likes to do a lot of character meals, you will almost always come out ahead using the Dining Plan.

In truth, the only time we use the dining plan is when we do a lot of character meals, or when it is free. Otherwise we can eat cheaper than what it costs. But some people do like the idea of having everything prepaid, and then not having to worry about having $3 for a pop or $2 for popcorn.

We decide how we are going to dine, and then I run the numbers.
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:10 PM   #22
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This is our first trip not doing the dining plan, and it's because like the OP, we have found it's just not cost effective for us anymore. This trip will just be DH and I, and we don't need, nor will we eat, two desserts. Instead, we'd prefer to get an appetizer and maybe a dessert, or maybe not. Often I like some time between my dinner and my dessert, and I don't with a lunch at all. The price has really increased, and the value has decreased. I'm looking forward to tallying the receipts when I get home to determine the actual numbers.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:04 AM   #23
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If you are doing an adult only trip, or have kids that are now considered an adults, the plan isn't going to be a money saver at all. If, however, you have kids between the ages of 3-9 there is a savings, especially if you have any character meals scheduled.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:14 AM   #24
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I actually beat the DxDP last Dec. Burned through every meal point. But I had help. I had a couple of dinner/show combos (Candlelight Processional and Fantasmic!) and ate a signature (Le Cellier). Each one of those meals cost 2 meal points against the plan. So if you have something similar to this planned, it is possible to get value out of the dining plans.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:32 AM   #25
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I'm not much of an expert on the regular plan but am a pretty experienced user of the deluxe plan.

Last year, when it was about $85 per day per adult, it was still pretty easy to drive value out of it, provided your eating style matched the plan.

For example, we typically do either a character breakfast or TS lunch + a signature dinner every day (in that regard, I enjoy a 3 course dinner and usually order one of the most expensive entrees, not because I feel forced to, but because that's what I would want to order anyway).

An average charcter breakfast adult price is, say, $25, and an average 3 course TS lunch (with beverage and tax) is, say, $35. So the first meal averages to about $30 a day per adult.

An average signature dinner is in the $70-$75 range (with beverage and tax). So this adds up to about $100-$105 per day. Throw in two snacks and you're up to at least around $110.

So under the old prices, adults could still save at least $25 per day. Now it's closer to $10, which leaves very little margin for savings (you're doing well just to get the snacks for "free").

Kids, between 3 and 9, however, are still a relatively good deal on the DxDP. Assume a kid's first meal of the day (breakfast or lunch) averages about $15 and a kid's signature dinner averages in the range of $25-$30. You're already up to at least $40 even before getting to the two snacks.

In contrast, kids between 10 and 12 (or older) are an incredibly lousy deal on the plan (unless they are unusually good/voracious eaters). But this has always been the case.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:52 AM   #26
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I did some research and I can't see how the dining plan really saves any money. Our family is 2 adults, a 12 year old and an 8 year old, and our 18 month old.

Cost per day for the dining plan is 183.93.

If we have breakfast at Tusker House it would be $95.96 plus tax and tip. That leaves us $95 to spend on food just to break even with the amount we spent for the dining plan for that day. And with the dining plan tips are not included. We wouldn't spend that much on Counter Service lunch and dinner and with the dining plan there is only one counter service meal allotted per day.

We could get 2 counter service meals for $95 easily because we wouldn't buy desserts. On previous trips we have ended up with several cookies and cakes from those meals in our room at the end of the week.
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Old 02-05-2013, 02:35 PM   #27
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I remember the good old days when it was about $30.00 per person per day and the TS included the app. Now its almost double without the app.. ha!
Amen!! It was so worth it then, also my kids were smaller and we did alot of character meals. If they do not offer FD this year I will be paying OOP!!
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Old 02-11-2013, 10:35 PM   #28
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We had the dining plan on our trip a couple of years ago and I have been pricing our trip this year with it as well. Glad I read this thread. To be honest I fully understand the math and I also know that we're not huge dessert eaters so having that is not even really a plus. I'd rather have a beer than a piece of cake! We can usually get by sharing a QS meal too. To be honest I feel like we sometimes just ordered our QS and snacks last trip just so they wouldn't go to waste. And even then we were just ordering what we wanted to eat at our TS meals and not trying to find the most expensive item on the menu.

The more I think about it the only reason I can think of to get this, for us (2 adults), would be to avoid number crunching at the park. Not sure if that's really worth it.

One question though, if you're not on the dining plan can you still make dining reservations 6 months out?
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Old 02-12-2013, 01:10 AM   #29
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After much number crunching, I decided to not get the DDP. We might break even, but sounds like too much food for us. Instead, I plan to get the TiW card for 20% off most table serve locations. I did the DDP before when it was less, and enjoyed restaurant hopping. Still love to eat, just only want to eat less.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:13 AM   #30
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After much number crunching, I decided to not get the DDP. We might break even, but sounds like too much food for us. Instead, I plan to get the TiW card for 20% off most table serve locations. I did the DDP before when it was less, and enjoyed restaurant hopping. Still love to eat, just only want to eat less.
TiW card?
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