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Old 01-24-2005, 02:22 PM   #1
ehagerty
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MYW Dining Plan - Thoughts & Questions

I've been reading other threads and the official Disney documentation on this topic. I've been using the vouchers for the last 4 years (to great benefit, even with Connections high fees). I have a collection of thoughts and questions - any one of which could be spun off into its own thread. Still creativity theory suggest that (a) the best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas and (b) the best idea is usually somewhere between idea #40 and idea #60. I also look forward to hearing from real life practical experience with this plan.

Context: Evaluate the MYW Dining Plan as standalone feature - that is, can I get my money's worth independent of room/ticket prices built into the package?

First - establish approximate "value" to the meal plan components to use as a baseline. My estimates would have been:
Snack = $2.50
Counter = $9.00
Meal = $23.50
Total = $35.00

However, I elected to simplify:
Snack = $2
Counter = $9
Meal = $24

Using these numbers, you can then sign on to the allearsnet.com menus and begin to see whether there are enough suppliers (restaurants) available in the context of your touring / park plan to consume your meal options to these minimal dollar levels.

Initially, I was preparing to give an unequivocal "YES" to this question, until I took a closer look at some of the limitations:

Snack - I don't foresee any problem with finding snacks to use the options.

Counter - here was the biggest surprise - the 3 suppliers I have consistently rates as our "top 3" choices for the Quick & Convenient (Q&C) vouchers (of which this is intended to be the equivalent) were the Sand Trap, Beach & Cream and the Pepper Market. Only B&C is listed - but not as a "counter" restaurant, but as a "Table Service Meal." The remaining choices are truly fast food experiences. There is still value to be had at the resort food courts, but I would probably wouldn't realize that much savings, because they are not as likely to be conveniently located to my touring plan - in other words, I don't want to be constrained by geography (having to be at the resort food court vs. a theme park fast food restaurant).

Table Service - I might use this as a chance to try the signature restaurants. If you think of 2 meal options as 2*$24 = $48, then you can see from the menus whether it adds up to a good savings (presuming you want the signature meal). This would not be hard to do (Narcoosie's has a $54 whole lobser - so the entree alone would be a savings) - provided there isn't some hidden limitation (I did not spot it in a cursory review of Disney's online pdf) against any category of entree (say, lobster!).

Of the single usage meals, you can still do well at the Concourse, but not too many others.

Buffets = typically run about $22-$24 before tip/tax - so you might save a little, but not much.

--------------------------------------

Here is another consideration, aside from flat-out percent-savings.

With meal options set to expire on day of check-out:

Is there any latitude for "day of check out" to be the last day of your Disney hotel reservations? For those of us who resort hop, it would be nice to have the duration of our stay by the LOS (length of stay) for the meal options rather than just the end of the package stay. I realize this is not likely, but then, when I wrote one of my favorite letters 7 years ago about how Disney should act like one company and not independent silos and leverage their customer for max spending across resorts, restaurants, gift shops, etc (specifiically, recommending DVC owners get AP discounts and DDE access), I didn't think any of those things would come to pass - and they ALL came to pass - this month!!!! I even thought about providing guests with free transporation from the airport to minimize them leaving the grounds with a car - but I thought that one was too farfetched. I know I am hardly the only one with the ideas, but the cumulative impact of customer feedback always pays off at Disney (with some patience). I wish I could say the same for my employer!!!

So, as soon as someone tries these things and knows:
Are there any menu limitations, such as lobster? (Didn't find any stated in the official brochure)

Next question - as far as our voucher experience goes, meals were one-to-one with vouchers, not the head count at the table. We almost always had 4 people at the table and only used 3 vouchers. My reading of the brochure would lead me to believe that I could take my family of 4 to the California Grill and only order 3 meals, thus consuming 6 meal points - presuming we share meals - which as we all know, one "meal" is almost always more than one person can eat. Has anyone else run across any documentation or experience that would suggest that this not be allowed? I am presuming this would be OK - it always has been with the vouchers.

So, if I do this at all, it would unfold something like this for 2 adults, 2 teens, staying 3 nights (Counter = 3 nights * 4 people = 12 counter meal points; Table = 3*4 = 12 meal table points):
Day #1 - arrive from airport - use 3 counter at resort food court
Day #2 - use 3 counter in park (Cosmic Ray); use 6 table at Narcoosie
Day #3 - use 3 counter in park; use 6 table at California Grill or Yatchman
Day #4 - use 3 counter at resort

or something like that.

We usually stay at DVC weekday nights (Sun-Thu) and moderates on the weekends (Fri-Sat). I was thinking of trying the MYW package for the first weekend.

Alternative - I plan to get DDE anyway - will use for buffets and may just skip the dining package.....

I plan to have PAP's

Must go attend to family.

More later.
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Last edited by ehagerty; 01-31-2005 at 02:16 PM.
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Old 01-24-2005, 02:41 PM   #2
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I don't know if I'm reading your post right, but it sounds like you're getting annual passes. You can only get the dining plan as part of a package (room plus MYW tickets). Just an FYI...

Don't forget with the dining plan, the counter service meals include dessert. So if you bought a cheeseburger combo for approx. $6.50, drink for $2, and dessert for $2 (at least), you're looking at $10.50 at least. Plus tax is included.

As for table service meals, they include tax and tip. Most of the ones I've calculated are $5 for appetizer, $22 for entree, $4 for dessert, $2 for drink come out to at least $33 per meal before tax and tip, so that pays for the dining right there.

Of course, some people might not eat that much food, or would pick cheaper items. So it is definitely not for everyone.

My plan is to take any leftovers back to the room for any late night snacking!

You can use any combination of meals/snacks up until midnight the day you check out.
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Old 01-24-2005, 04:59 PM   #3
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I have hemmed and hawed over this relentlessly. What I have come up with is this:

We were at WDW from Jan. 12-16. we left before dawn on the 16th so it doesn't count for anything.

We did NOT have the dining plan because we thought it would pop our room to rack rate. Maybe yes, maybe no, should have asked but didn't and now it is too late!

We ate what we wanted, when we wanted, did our PS's, etc.

EVERYTHING we ate would have been on MYW dining. Over the course of four days we would have saved $150. There were a couple of times we would have paid out of pocket (like for some pastries mid-morning at Epcot) but we paid for them anyway! We still would have saved $150.

If we go for 8 nights in October then I imagine we could save about $300 with the plan. Works for me!

What I am still unclear on is this:

At Pizza Planet there aren't kids meals. If we order two pizza combos would they click off one of DS's credits or would they insist on using 2 adult counter credits? THAT is the big question for me. Because DS and I can share a counter service meal pretty easily, but if places without kid menus are always going to make us use adult meal credits then we will have a bunch of kid counter service credits left over. FYI, there is conflicting info on the Disney site about kids. It says in one place that kids must ALWAYS order from the kid menu, in another place it says they have to order from the kid menu at TABLE SERVICE. So I am thinking there will be some wiggle room depending entirely on the CM running the register at the counter places with no kid menus!

I can't wait to hear more experiences!
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:32 PM   #4
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It is my understanding when reading the info that a child must order from a children's menu if one is offered - if not, their selection can be from the regular menu and is deducted as a child's meal. So if you and your child select 2 pizza combos from the menu, the CM will deduct 1 adult and 1 child meal.
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Old 01-24-2005, 09:33 PM   #5
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One thing from how I understand it. They just combine all the the snacks, counter service meals & Table dinners into one big pool anyway, and there really isn't any difference with the # pool. But if a child orders where there is a kids meal they should order that. But sharing is fine as well. Also when your done ordering the reciept at the end of the meal will have how many left over dining meals you have left for the rest of the trip. I don't think they divide it up into kids meals or adult meals. I could be wrong but thid is how I understand it.

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Still hope they make some more changes. to the program they just now changed it so we could order

Does anyone else know if get the 10 MYW passes and order dining with it.
Since the passes have to be used within 14 days can the meals be used in the same 14 day time frame or only for the first 10 days??
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Old 01-24-2005, 09:50 PM   #6
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The way I understood it was that the dining is linked to your resort - NOT your tickets. You have the plan for each person in your party for each night of your stay. You can buy 1-day park passes if you like, but your hotel nights and your dining plan have to match. You pay for the dining with the key to your room - not your park pass.

I don't know for sure how they designate the meals on your receipt, but I would think they would HAVE to separate kid meals from adult meals. They wouldn't just say "24 Counter Meals" for me, DH, and DS when DS's 8 meals are mandated for kid meals only (if there is a kid menu). I won't be able to keep track of which are kid meal credits if they aren't separated somehow! And I suspect at the end of the week we will have a bunch of kid meals left over, so we will all be eating peanut butter and fluff if we can't find some places without kid menus!
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Old 01-25-2005, 05:22 AM   #7
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We have been tring to get dining for our entire trip for awhile now. We are staying on property for 14 days, as of last week we could not book longer than an 8 night/ 7 day package with dining , as of today, it has been upgraded to 10 days with MYW passes and you can add the dining.

** However the MYW passes say you have 14 days to use them
***Not so with the dining all meals must be eaten with in the first 10 days ( or haw many nights you book) it you had to go over to another reservation you have to start all over and don't save a dime

Currently we have to book hotel rooms for the other 6 nights seperate. We could add meals to that reservation for the lenghth of stay , but we would have to buy another MYW pas for at least 1 day, then could add on 4 dining options. Belive me it will change soon. the system is still being changed daily I believe and will run smooth My guess within the next month or so.

It's all complicated, we have talked to the CM's over and over and was told not to change reservations as of yet, they are having lots of complaints and to check back in a couple of weeks, the CM we talked with is sure they will change the system to allow you to book a longer vacations ( past 10 night with dining) as all one package and not make you book to seperate vacations.


Also I found this link check it out elsewhere on the board. It tells all about how the points are pooled for your entire group, shows the restraunts you can eat at. and has great photo's too! PDF. Dining Option I hope it helps, best dining information I have found yet!
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Old 01-25-2005, 11:01 AM   #8
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I understand that you don't have to order for everyone in your party, thereby saving the points for another meal. I was wondering if you could take it a step further and pay cash for one member of your party to save the points for something more expensive, for example a dinner show or a signature restaurant.

I believe I read that you were able to do this on the silver plan if the server cooperated. I really hope it is still allowed. Has anyone tried this?
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Old 01-25-2005, 11:35 AM   #9
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I'd love to know if you can pay for a child and save the points for a signature meal! We did that with the Silver Plan and just loved it.
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:15 PM   #10
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Do you mean add on a child's meal and not bring a child, I would have had never thought of that, but they may make you add on child tickets to the park. ?? I wouldn't do that, but it would give you the results you might want.
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:55 PM   #11
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I just went back and read the Disney brochure again. It does SOUND like they are NOT differentiating between child and adult meals when they create your "bank" of credits. So if I go up and order three counter service meals while DH and DS are in the restroom then how would they know DS should be ordering from the kids menu? I can see at table service where the server would be looking right at him, but for counter service where one person goes to get food for the group I would think it would be a nightmare to enforce. DS and I could easily share an adult counter service meal for lunch every day, which would save one third of our counter service credits. We could then use them for breakfast or get a counter service meal to share for a late night snack.

I do think you could pay for your child's food and save your dining plan credits. You might have to order on two separate tickets, but if you said you didn't want to use dining plan for your child's meal they can't MAKE you. If DS and I were sharing a lunch I would use a snack credit to get him a drink and then pay for a drink later on if we wanted another one. They can't FORCE you to use the plan credits if you want to pay cash, I don't think. That's the point of pooling the meal credits into a bank shared by everyone on the reservation - if one person wants to eat table service at every meal and someone else wants counter service at every meal they can do that as long as there are still credits on the account. You could eat six meals per day if you wanted to, but your account would be empty before your stay was over.

I will be VERY interested to see how this goes over the next few months. I kind of feel like they will either up the price for kids OR they will start showing separate totals for kid vs. adult meals. Either that or they will just give up and let kids order from the adult menu at counter service, which is what it says in one place on the Disney website (not in the dining brochure).
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:50 PM   #12
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The potential for abuse via pooling + no child/adult differentiation gets even worse when you start thinking about families split across two value rooms...
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Old 01-25-2005, 04:31 PM   #13
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Unhappy So Confused!

I haven't really looked into the Disney dining experience to know much about it but I am getting so confused reading the posts. I guess I will have to look into it further. Question -- Do you have to have a package deal to book this? Can you book it on your own?

Another question -- the way it says for example: you have 5 counter service meals and 2 table service, etc. What if you would rather have more table service or whatever, can you change it around??...

Sorry for all the questions....
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Old 01-25-2005, 04:44 PM   #14
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i was under the impression that each person's "pool" was separate from the other person's in the party... so i cannot "swim" in dh/dd/ds's pools and they cannot "swim" in mine... each pool of meals is on each individual keycard w/name and age category... and everyone appearing at a meal had to deduct that meal from his/her pool... so at the end of the trip, you're swimming in an empty pool!

also, as far as one family, two value rooms... what we did last year and found it saved us money on the 5+2 package was book me/dd in one room and dh/ds in the other... i was pleasantly surprised at the $250 we saved over 4 people on package in one room and room only for the other... so that may work for this package as well...
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Old 01-25-2005, 04:47 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tanya
I haven't really looked into the Disney dining experience to know much about it but I am getting so confused reading the posts. I guess I will have to look into it further. Question -- Do you have to have a package deal to book this? Can you book it on your own?

Another question -- the way it says for example: you have 5 counter service meals and 2 table service, etc. What if you would rather have more table service or whatever, can you change it around??...

Sorry for all the questions....
yes you have to have a package; yes, you can book it on your own (meaning no travel agent) thru cro or wdw.com; no you cannot exchange counter for table service or vice versa; you receive one counter, one table service and one snack for each night of your package, so you cannot get 5 counter/2 table svc as your example states...

hope that helps...
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