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Old 05-06-2013, 10:19 PM   #1
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current Reservations Vs Free dining

I have current reservations for Sept. at AAA rate. With free dining it would cost us $400 dollars more. Is it worth the 400 for free dining or leave it as is and buy our meals.
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:21 PM   #2
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How many people? Adults? Kids? Ages of the kids? How many days?
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Old 05-06-2013, 10:27 PM   #3
Earning my Ears
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two adults 5 nights 4 days
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:01 PM   #4
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What is your current food budget?
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:06 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Nitewarrior View Post
I have current reservations for Sept. at AAA rate. With free dining it would cost us $400 dollars more. Is it worth the 400 for free dining or leave it as is and buy our meals.
Really does depend on a few factors...Are you planning to do any ADR's? Do you normally eat the way the DP is set up (1QS/1TS/1 snack)? You really need to do your math to see if it's worth it.
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:27 PM   #6
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Disney regular dining plan will cost about $560.00 for the 2 of you. We have always done a dining plan but the last 2 visits we have found that the soft drink that comes with each meal is not what we want to drink and we do not always want a dessert. So we have concluded that the dining plan is not something we will pay for. Free on the other hand is always good for me. But it sounds like you got a really good deal through AAA.

Like the other poster stated. The decision depends on if you are going to use all of the dining credits. And the week you are going is past the 180 day mark. Do you already have reservations for the places you want to eat. I would make reservations and then check out the menus and see what the cost of the meals would be to determine if the free dining is a better deal.
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Old 05-06-2013, 11:42 PM   #7
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With two adults who are "us" it does not pay to use "free dining". I can use Disney Gift cards purchased at Target at a 5-10% discount using my Red Card and Pharmacy rewards and my pre-trip savings (which pays off my credit card dining and shopping charges with airline miles). We are not big eaters and only eat one large meal per day with no desserts ever. If we get a "sweet tooth" a bakery snack or late night fireworks treat is adequate. We are cool with a yogurt and or pastry for breakfast...CS or TS lunch then the opposite for Dinner. Would never pay off.
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Old 05-07-2013, 12:25 AM   #8
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I really can't imagine a scenario in which your AAA discount would be better then FD. You can always run the numbers, but I'm almost certain you will save a good amount more with FD as oppose to the AAA discount.
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Old 05-07-2013, 12:34 AM   #9
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Won't the new room only discounts open up to the general public soon? (I haven't been looking personally, but they usually are offered to Disney Visa holders a few days first.) Have you looked at those offers to see if they would be better than your AAA discount? I would think the price would be better for most of the hotels, and for many people, the room only discounts work out better than FD in the long run.
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Old 05-07-2013, 02:09 AM   #10
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Basically, you have to weigh your current food budget and plans vs the budget for the dining plan and how it would affect your ...well...dining plans. (And then the monkey wrench of the room discounts too!)

For instance, what are you receiving for that extra $400? If it's going to be close to what you're already planning, with a few additional meals that you aren't excited about thrown in, then it's certainly not worth it. If you'd be getting several more meals that you are excited about (or interested in), then it may be worth it.

As a couple examples (not really pertaining to free dining, but dining plans in general, they still illustrate this balance of cost vs experience).

My 2012 trip was on the DxDDP (Deluxe Disney Dining Plan). For this trip, I had estimated that I'd be spending roughly $450 more using the plan than I would if I were to go OOP (out of pocket.) However, for that $450, I'd be getting roughly $700 in value and doing meals that I really wanted to do. In this situation, it was worth it for me to "invest" in the plan.

For 2013, my estimations are showing roughly $500 increased cost for DxDDP, however, due to different desires for this trip, I'd be getting roughly $505 worth of value for that $500, and that was after adding in a few meals and items that I was only picking up for the plan. In this case, it was better for me to go OOP and eliminate those excess meals/items that I wasn't really wanting in the first place, since the cost vs experience value was shifted the other way.

Now, for my estimations, I did do a lot of math (or rather, let Excel do a lot of math ) to figure it out. But in general, if you're looking to dine in that manner, and looking at the top half of the menus in the top third or so of the restaurants (price-wise), the chances are, it'll be a decent deal. However, if not, then you'll likely be better with the room discount. (Also, if staying Deluxe with 2 adults, you'll be better off with a room discount even if you purchase a dining plan!)
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Old 05-07-2013, 05:58 AM   #11
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I agree with Cafeen - you just have to do the math to see which is a better "deal" - because when you boil it all down, it's a discount on a package.

For us, it turns out that Free Dining is a great deal, because 2 of our 3 kids now fall into the "adult" pricing category at ages 10 and 12, so between just the two of them, that is a realized discount of $110 per night....add my husband and I and youngest child and it is up to about $240 per night, and it's hard to come close to that with a room discount - we stay in a Mod. 5 person room.

But, I still wasn't convinced, when they were all "child" pricing, it was a no brainer, because they loved all of the character meals, and nearly all of them charged more per child than the cost of the plan! So, now that some of our kids are adults, and certainly won't eat like adults, the "cost" of the dining plan is much steeper than what our OOP cost would be. I went through the menus's of every restaurant we have ADRs at and had each person select what they would want to eat....did the same for a variety of CS places and added all of the math up. In the end, even though IF we were to pay OOP for each meal, that "cost" would be less than the cost of the "plan", when you take the actual cost of the plan off of our package price, the total is LESS than the total of a room only discount coupled with tickets and the "guestimate" price of our OOP dining. So....in the end I went with the Free Dining Option, which is MORE food then we would want and certainly need, but in taking the plan we are not missing out on anything we would have done OOP, and it yields a better bottom line.

So - I guess you will need to go through and see what you would pay out of pocket for your meals.....for the number of people, and length of your stay, would you pay MORE than $400? If the answer is yes, then basically you will in the end spend less by taking the free dining. Just remember to add in the tips and such too . . . you will be paying the tips in BOTH scenarios, but make sure you include the tips, particularly in the OOP calculations to be sure which one is the better deal.

hope that makes sense!! Happy figuring!
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Old 05-07-2013, 06:26 AM   #12

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Old 05-07-2013, 08:08 AM   #13
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It's not that complicated. Can the 2 of you eat for $400 or less?

Do compare the 2 styles of eating and the cost though. It could add value for you to get to eat a table service every day with FD. But don't forget to compute what the tips will add to your cost.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:54 AM   #14
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for $400 more it is so worth it for free dining
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Old 05-07-2013, 11:17 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Nitewarrior View Post
two adults 5 nights 4 days
I'm confused. Is it 5 nights 6 days or 5 days 4 nights. If it's 4 nights the dp would give you 4 ts and 4 cs meals and if 5 nights you would get 5 ts and 5 cs meals. I figure, on average the dp is worth around $50 per day per person. You can fudge the math to make it a better savings, but without the plan a normal person would not eat a dessert with every meal. The snack credits are nice, but with all the meals and desserts, you really don't need them. I would figure a $100 per day for food oop plus tip. If you don't want or need sit down meals, $80 per day should be more than enough and tip is not needed.
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