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Old 04-29-2013, 05:23 AM   #16
ArmyVet80
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My wife and I always do the Deluxe Dining plan. We are foodies though.

It is about $99 per person per day or around $1200 extra that we pay on for our trip but I have saved all of the receipts from our meals and snacks and on average if we were to spend o.o.p. we would spend around $1350-$1400 per trip. Sure if we paid o.o.p. we would not get an appetizer and dessert at every lunch and dinner but that's the point of a vacation. Splurge a little and just pay for the tips at the end of the meal.

The thing we also like about the Deluxe plan is that if we want to do signature dining or a dinner show it's 2 meals per person. We do not eat breakfast most of the days we are at WDW so we can do Spirit of Aloha, Mickey's Backyard BBQ, and/or Hoop Dee Doo Revue and still eat at all of the other eateries that we want. With the exception of Japan and China (next on our list of places to eat) we have eaten at every eatery at Epcot. We just have to eat at Be Our Guest to knock out every eatery at MK. I'm not saying that you couldn't do that without a dining plan but it's nice only having to carry around tip cash.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:17 AM   #17
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I tend to disagree w/ the common consensus on these boards that the DDP is great. I find the DDP to not be worth it at all. Generally, we like to do two TS meals (w/ one being at a "less popular" and cheaper location) and one QS lunch each day. Last year, I priced out the standard DDP for 5 nights and it would be $1,100. I was able to to do as I mentioned (2 TS and 1 QS a day) for about $1,000, so not only did I save money but I got more meals out of it.

Then there's flexibility. You are forced to either pay out of pocket for breakfast (or whatever meal you don't use your credits on) or eat your own in the room. Since I'm generally a bit of a clean freak, the idea of eating in my room kind of disturbs me. Not to mention, I'm on vacation: I can go downstairs to the QS location and get a large breakfast for $10 each. And let's say that come one night in your trip and you really don't feel like showing up for those ADRs for the Plaza, since you've already paid for it, you need to go.

I generally can't say it's worth it. It's too restricting for vacation.
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Old 04-29-2013, 07:55 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lroger01 View Post
Get the dining plan if:
[*]You look at the menu, freak out at the prices, and end up ordering the cheaper things.[*]Members of your family (teenage boys) tend to inhale food[*]You like to get dessert but hate to pay for it[*]You want to have your meals paid for before you leave (note, tips are not included for table service meals so you'll still need to pay $10 to $20 at the end of the meal).

Skip the plan if:
[*]You feel like you'll need to get your money's worth and will feel compelled to order the most expensive thing on the menu, even if that isn't what you really want.
[*]You price out some sample meals, and realize it's cheaper to pay out of pocket. And not having your meals paid in advance won't bother you.
[*]You never eat dessert.

If paying out all those tips is a deal breaker, consider the Quick-Service Dining Plan. There are plenty of places to get "knife & fork" dinner food. You won't be eating hamburgers for a week. You can still plan a few table-service meals at your favorite places with the money you save. And not having to rush to an ADR can be kinda nice.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pixie Princess View Post

For my money no, not any more. It used to be nice value, but not so much now. In my estimation, I have to think more than I want to think about what I'm ordering to make it worth it. In most cases the things I would choose to eat are not going to get me to the break even point. I also do not like that I still have to pay tips when I get there. It used to be tips were included in the purchase price, but now I have to budget for tips as well. I know I pay them if I pay for my meals as I go, but I can budget "x" dollars for meal and know that's what it is tips and all. I also don't like that at some restaurants I am limited as to what I can order from the menu. And specific to me, my DD is 13 and is a picky eater, so unless I want to do a bunch of b'fast buffets, there is a good shot she will try something and simply not like it. Money wasted. Also specific to me, I find that the desserts at most restaurants have a dairy component, and I can't have them. Again, money wasted. For me, an appetizer would be better, but those are no longer included on the regular DDP. The DDP is a lot of food, that I normally wouldn't eat, so for us, it simply isn't a good value.

However, the question of "is the DDP for me" is a pretty individual one, and in terms of savings, I think you really need to run the numbers is you want to determine if you are going to be saving by purchasing it. The best calculator I've found was created by the SeeYaReelSoon folks. Here's a link to their You Tube video explaining their calculator. It is pretty involved, but worth it if you take the time to fill it out. I've done that for me and my DD just to verify that the DDP is not a savings vehicle for us. I suggest you watch the video, and if you want to put the work into using it, download the calculator from the link provided in the description section of the video.

I will say this, it is nice to pay for everything up front and not have the sticker shock of the bill being brought to you. When you pay $60 bucks for a b'fast buffet, it is a tough pill to swallow in the moment.
Both of these. We seriously considered not doing the dining plan this year, however I know no matter how I budget I will look at the menu and say "I would like the 9.99....errr plain burger please". However the spreadsheet (posted in second quote) was amazing. I plugged in all our restaurants (found on Allears.net) and I calculated would be purchase low, middle, high prices. I like that I can pick do we want desserts or apps XX% of time. Plus it calculated for me how much we might spend on tips. For me I looked at bottom line using mid-range price entrees but upped to expensive entrees with 20% to budget for tips. Dining plan works for us!!
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:02 AM   #19
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I agree with the others, only you can decide if it is right for your family. You have to look at menus and prices, do the math and then decide.
For us it works - we love it. And we save a bit - not enough to be a factor either way.
We eat a family sit down evening meal at home and we want to do that on vacation. I do not feel burdened by planning and then making ADR's. I first choose which park which day based on crowd projections and then plan an evening ADR in or near that park. I love the convenience of having it all paid in advance too.
I know it is a big decision, but you need to do the research for your family.
Good Luck
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:19 AM   #20
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Of course we do free dining but here's my thought...

Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkpenny58 View Post
My family and I have gone to Disney tons of times but have always stayed at our time share, this is the first time that we will be staying on property. We are going Aug 24-31. We have two kids 11& 14. We are trying to decide if we should buy the dining plan or not. Can you please give us your opinions and reason on whether or not to buy or not to buy the dining plan. Thanks so much!
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Okay here is the bottom line. Both of your children are considered adult so there are no "cheap" meals. It's a crazy policy if your 11 year old is like mine and eats like a bird. However, we have gone to WDW for the past 6 years on the free dining deal so for us, it is certainly worth it But what I will tell you is that with a family of four who has eaten at a huge number of the restaurants, (on of which was eating off the kids menu), our bill would average about $90 to $120. Then for lunches, we were averaging about $40. Of course you get the snack as well.

I saw someone post that you didn't get all meals (meaning in most cases, a breakfast isn't part of it). But here is what we quickly learned with the dining plan. There is SO MUCH food!! The first year, we brought snack bars, choc. milk and box cereals for the mornings but after about a day, we never touched breakfast! You are so full on the dining plan. Portions are huge; dessert is included. After the first day, we were barely hungry for lunch. In fact one of the challenges is planning meals spaced out far enough so you are hungry. As we like to sleep in, we mosey into the parks at about 10:30 and by 11:45 we are heading to eat lunch so that we can be hungry by dinner. My point is, with as much food as you have and with the snacks, you most likely do not need a breakfast.

I don't know the cost of the plan (as we have been lucky enough to get on the free dining plan) but you have to weigh this all out. How big of eaters are you? And when you figure in snacks, meals, dessert, will you come out ahead? You have to figure that with the plan, you will average about $20. a day for tips. If you can get in on the free dining deal (which has yet to pop up for this year and whose dates normally include August to September) then jump on it.

One last thought. The free dining has allowed us to try all the restuarants we ever wanted to try-many of which are hugely overpriced. It has been a great way to expereince all the restaurants you want without worrying about the cost (i.e. Cinderella's castle was about $186. and was not worth it food wise but worth the experience).

Good luck. Let me know if there is any thing else I can answer.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:20 AM   #21
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Keep in mind that regular dining plan is a lot of food -- a quick service meal with a (often not good) dessert could be a burger, substantial order of fries, drink and a brownie. Then for table service you could have steak, vegetable, drink and cheesecake (plus many places bring out bread). Alternatively, you could go to one of several all-you-can-eat buffets, including the character meals, 'Ohana, etc. If you eat all character meals or higher priced buffets for your table service meal you'll probably save money. If you don't you probably won't unless you order the highest priced foods. It is nice to have food prepaid. And keep in mind your snack credit could be something fairly substantial for breakfast.

I think the price though is closer to $55 a person. There's a good post at easywdw.com discussing if the dining plan is "worth it."
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:32 AM   #22
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The dining plan works well for us but we do a lot of character meals. For me I found that basically the snacks end up being "free". I do not use my dining credits on meals in the $18-20 range but pay OOP for those if I want to go there. The character meals I go to are around $35-49 a person. Do not forget the refillable mug in there as well which is convenient. We like having it prepaid as well.
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:17 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lroger01 View Post
Get the dining plan if:
  • You look at the menu, freak out at the prices, and end up ordering the cheaper things.
  • Members of your family (teenage boys) tend to inhale food
  • You like to get dessert but hate to pay for it
  • You want to have your meals paid for before you leave (note, tips are not included for table service meals so you'll still need to pay $10 to $20 at the end of the meal).
Skip the plan if:
  • You feel like you'll need to get your money's worth and will feel compelled to order the most expensive thing on the menu, even if that isn't what you really want.
  • You price out some sample meals, and realize it's cheaper to pay out of pocket. And not having your meals paid in advance won't bother you.
  • You never eat dessert.
If paying out all those tips is a deal breaker, consider the Quick-Service Dining Plan. There are plenty of places to get "knife & fork" dinner food. You won't be eating hamburgers for a week. You can still plan a few table-service meals at your favorite places with the money you save. And not having to rush to an ADR can be kinda nice.
Since WDW restaurants ask for an 18% tip and your kids are "disney" adults, you'll likely be looking at a $40-50 tip for each table service meal.
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Old 04-29-2013, 09:34 AM   #24
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I have spent a little time thinking about this myself. I am interested to see what the bouceback offer for my May trip is, if it is free dining I just might try it. I don't think it would be much better than a room only discount, since I have annual passes, but I'd like to try it sometime. My daughter is little and between us we don't each much food, we can share a counter service meal and both be full. It might be nice to commit to trying it once though.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:31 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lroger01 View Post
Get the dining plan if:
  • You look at the menu, freak out at the prices, and end up ordering the cheaper things.
  • Members of your family (teenage boys) tend to inhale food
  • You like to get dessert but hate to pay for it
  • You want to have your meals paid for before you leave (note, tips are not included for table service meals so you'll still need to pay $10 to $20 at the end of the meal).
Skip the plan if:
  • You feel like you'll need to get your money's worth and will feel compelled to order the most expensive thing on the menu, even if that isn't what you really want.
  • You price out some sample meals, and realize it's cheaper to pay out of pocket. And not having your meals paid in advance won't bother you.
  • You never eat dessert.
If paying out all those tips is a deal breaker, consider the Quick-Service Dining Plan. There are plenty of places to get "knife & fork" dinner food. You won't be eating hamburgers for a week. You can still plan a few table-service meals at your favorite places with the money you save. And not having to rush to an ADR can be kinda nice.
This is a great summary and as other posters have said, it's fairly specific to your situation. If you and your family are picky eaters it's likely not a good plan. If you guys are foodies and like to eat a lot then it's probably a good deal.

We did DxDP in 2010 and did Mickey's BBQ, CRT twice, Crystal Palace, 1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey's and most of the other character meals. We had gotten FD on that trip so we paid the upgrade from QSDP to DxDP and saved a ton of money. Even if we had paid full price for it we still would've saved a ton.

We did DDP in 2012 and had breakfast in our room most mornings (we brought cereal and milk from home) and hit up character meals and some of the higher end CS places. We still save quite a bit vs OOP but not nearly as much as the previous trip.

We are doing DDP on this upcoming trip and using the spreadsheet it looks like we're going to save a bit again. We had planned on doing QSDP originally but that would've pretty much been a break even. The convenience of having it pre-paid was nice for that, but otherwise there wasn't much saving.

The pre-paid aspect is very nice. You get to the trip and it's all paid in advance so you don't have your trip following you home on a credit card and you also don't have that voice in the back of your head saying "you should skip the dessert and save that money or spend it on something else."

Good luck whatever you decide!
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:32 PM   #26
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Quote:
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Since WDW restaurants ask for an 18% tip and your kids are "disney" adults, you'll likely be looking at a $40-50 tip for each table service meal.
This was us. We had the DDp and paid OOP every day for breakfast, used our CS credit for lunch then used our TS credit for dinner every night. The cost of almost every meal we had (5 Disney adults) was right around $200 give or take 2 or 3 dollars. That was a $40 tip EVERY NIGHT we were there for 9 nights. You have to keep that in mind when adding up what the plan actually ends up costing you.

Now you will have to pay that tip whether or not you have the DDP but if you didn't have the DDP you could eat more CS and save paying tips all together.

We would never pay out of pocket for the dining plan. We can always eat cheaper paying OOP because we don't normally eat desserts or snacks.

The 2 times we have had the dining plan (QSDP once and DDP once) we got the dining free and just paid to upgrade from QSDP to DDP at $20 per person per day. So the only cost to us for the dining plan was $100 a day plus tips. So we came out ahead financially. The food for the day including dining plan upgrade, breakfast OOP and tip added up to about $190 a day for food. And that is with FREE DINING.

Most buffets do not cost anywhere near $60. They average about $18 breakfast and $35 dinner. Even the all you can eat Crab legs buffet at Cape May is only $35. CRT cost a lot but it will also cost you TWO dining credits not one.

We are 3 meal a day kind of family so the only plan that would actually cover all 3 meals a day for us would be the deluxe dining plan. And there is no way I would pay $100 a day for food per person. I can eat 3 table service meals a day on my own for around $60-$65 plus tip. But we would not eat 3 TS meals a day. We would eat 2 CS and 1 TS so we would automatically lose a huge amount of value from the DlxDp. If you are staying in a mod and getting Free DDp and pay to upgrade from DDP to DlxDp it is only $45 a day to upgrade...THEN it is worth the money to have the deluxe dining plan because you only actually paid $45 per person per day for 3 TS meals. If I did that I would eat 1 CS breakfast and TS lunch and dinner. We aren't interested in any of the signatures.

SO my long answer is NO the dining plan is not worth the money.

If you have kids under the age of 10 and eat a lot of character breakfasts it can work in your favor.

You can even eat cheaper having 3 CS meals a day than what the QSDP gives you for 2 meals a day. The plan is $37 a day for QSDP and I can eat 3 CS meals a day easily for under $30. closer to $25 actually. So even the QSDP is not a good value for us unless it is free.

But it appears Disney has decided to severely cut back or completely eliminate free dining.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:43 PM   #27
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Our first trip it would have been 200 more to be on the dining plan. For this trip since we have more character meals plus a 2 credit meal...it evens out.

But even with it evening out and maybe a slight savings here are the reasons i won't get the dining plan:

1. On our first trip we never ate dessert and sometimes did have appetizers
2. On our first trip we shared a pizza at Via Napoli..had we been on the dining plan I would have ordered each of us one and threw away alot!
3. On lunch I just ate the salad that came with hubby's lunch so I spent nothing. Salad was enough as I just wasn't hungry.
4. My 11 year old (now 13) still eats off the kids menu. She will eat a grilled cheese, hot dog, pasta, pizza or chicken nuggets
4. I like the flexiblity of not having to make sure we use all of our credits. If I was on the dining plan I would worry about it all week and if we decided we just wanted to skip a meal I would be freaking out on using up the credits. Plus we have a car so if we decided to take a ride for something different, we can eat offsite if we are not on the dining plan.

I know what ADRs are CC held so we will make sure we get to those...but if I had say WCC reserved for dinner and we didn't feel like it...then we have the flexibility to just cancel it and do what we want.

As everyone has said...it is up to how you eat as a family and if you can get your money's worth.

Good luck in deciding but if you are already questioning whether it is going to save you money or not...you are probably better off not getting it. My kids and I sometimes share meals alot cause we are not big eaters.
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Old 04-29-2013, 12:44 PM   #28
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ITA that the TS plan is a lot of food. People think you have to starve until lunch, but it's pretty easy to work breakfast into the plan. First, did you know a side of scrambled eggs can be a snack credit? Also, you can order a breakfast platter at your resort and split it. At POFQ there's a platter that includes a biscuit and a Mickey waffle. We ask for 2 waffles instead, and believe me, it's plenty for the two of us.

As others have mentioned, you get dessert with each CS and TS meal. You can get something fruity or a muffin and ask them to box it up. Bingo- breakfast!

The dining plan really doesn't save you money any more. It used to include appetizers and tips and cost much less- THAT was a bargain! Now you will have to work hard to save anything. And if you are sick of desserts by Day 3 (like we get) then you really are throwing money away on the plan.

I am glad that we've had the dining plan several times. We got to try restaurants that we just would not have gone into, given the cost. So it was great in that way and now we know which restaurants are really worth the price for us (Teppan Edo, Biergarten come to mind) and focus our few TS meals on those we know we love.

Most people on the regular dining plan end up with extra snack credits at the end of the week - this should tell you something...

Edited to add: Don't forget that even "free dining" is not free- you have to pay rack rate for your room. The first time my AAA travel agent added Free Dining to our plan I had to go over there and give here a check for $250 MORE, since we lost our room discount. It turned out to be half-price dining, since there were only 2 of us in the room.

Last edited by MHSweb79; 04-29-2013 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:05 PM   #29
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We like the DP because it's convenient for us as food lovers, and since I have the cost of meals budgeted into my package price, I like the fact that I can "pay off" meals before we go.

What we do is eat our breakfast at the food court in our hotel, then use a snack credit for lunch (an ice cream cone or something), and then have an early TS dinner, around 5 pm. It works for us, as you get so much food at dinner we're usually not hungry for the rest of the night.

I would follow others' advice and do the spreadsheets and calculations, though. What's good for one may not be good for another.
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Old 04-29-2013, 01:28 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by GaBelle View Post
This!

Another factor to consider is the convenience factor. With the DDP, everything is paid for ahead of time.
Eveything? It's not all you can eat. Alcoholic drink? An extra snack? And what about tips?
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