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Dining Plan or not? Help needed please!

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by need2travel, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. need2travel

    need2travel Member

    Hi All,
    I hope this is the place to post this, if not feel free to move it.

    Two weeks ago we had our plans all figured out, husband & I April 10-18, 2014, BWI w/ the Deluxe Dining Plan (stayed there before, had the Deluxe Plan before *loved it*-all perfect, all good to go.) Right? Right!

    Then, I read a tip in the Passporter Newsletter that I get that said something to the effect of: instead of getting the Dining Plan (or in our case the Deluxe Dining Plan) take the cost of that and put it on a Disney Gift Card.

    That would give us a bit more flexiblility with our dining, we can have an all appetizer dinner, we don't need to do 3 courses at lunch, we could do a "lounge crawl" for dinner one night.....it was like a lightbulb went off!

    Then we thought even further, instead of staying at the BWI (which we truly love) we could stay at the Swan (where my husband has always wanted to stay but we never have because they don't have the Dining Plan and which is quite a bit cheaper that the BWI but in the same area and really really nice as well).

    SOOO, do we go with the tried and true that we would be perfectly happy with or do we try something different (even though I'm afraid of change:) that might work out even better for us?????

    Any and all opinions please! I really can't figure out what to do:confused3

    So this post is so long! Thanks for your help!
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  3. Whether the DDP is right depends on how you guys plan to eat while you're in the parks. All I can offer is my own family's experience and practice, but you'll have to decide to what extent (if any) it applies to you.

    My family has always been an OOP, pay-as-you-go crew. We eat light breakfasts in-room nearly every morning, and schedule no more than two or three ADR's over the course of a week's stay. ON the days we have ADR's, we eat light lunches if any at all, and on the non ADR days, we usually hit counter-service options for sandwiches, burgers, or just snacks.

    When we did the math on the DDP for us, it was staggeringly more expensive, and at least IMO put you on a notion of feeling like you had to eat three full meals a day (whether TS or CS) to get your money's worth. I knew there was no way on earth we'd eat three full meals a day every day in the parks, so that scratched the DDP off the list for us.

    You do get a bit of sticker shock at some sit-down restaurants paying OOP, but it still, for us, works out cheaper than adding the plan to the vacation.

    All standard disclaimers apply :)
  4. need2travel

    need2travel Member

    We are early risers, 3 meals a day, ressies 1-2 times a day, Signature dining for several dinners over our trip so we get our moneys worth our of the Dining Plan, in fact, day by day we come out ahead by far:) but we would like to do all appetizers for dinner sometimes (like we do when we go out at home) or maybe get away from the 3 course thing 2 meals a day.

  5. buckeev

    buckeev RedNeck Mouseketeer

    FOR SURE!!!

    But, we feel the DDP works best for us because we do numerous Character meals, and those puppies ain't cheap!

    When Free Dining fits our schedule, it saves us a ton, even when giving up a room discount.
    I'm still trying to decide about this December's trip, FD won't be offered when we'll be there, but a $400 Chef Mickey's would seriously dampen the Christmas spirit!!! :sad:
  6. sharonabe

    sharonabe Mouseketeer

    Why not go for it? Try it this time and see if you like it. That's really the only way you'll know. If it doesn't work out, you can always go back to BWI and DxDDP on the next trip, and chalk it up to a lesson learned. BUT, I predict you'll like this way better.
  7. Wood Nymph

    Wood Nymph DIS Veteran

    I vote for getting rid of the dining plan and paying out of pocket. We did the DDP for the first time last trip and really hated not being able to do the "pub crawl". We ended up eating so many desserts with our meals, since they were included, that we really weren't hungry enough to eat our favorite snacks. I think you will find yourself spending less money OOP and enjoying your meals more, knowing that you have total freedom. :goodvibes

    Now you are free to decide if you want BWI or the Dolphin. There are supposed to be great restaurants at the S/D, so that is something to consider. I have no opinion on the resort.
  8. need2travel

    need2travel Member

    I fell like we would like buying a Disney gift card and putting what would amount to the cost of the Dining Plan on that so there would be no OOP cost or big credit card bill after we got home and we would really like the freedom to order/eat wherever we want. It's just that "afraid of change" thing, I get very set in my ways:)

    I just feel like there is a hole in this theory that I'm not seeing........
  9. Wood Nymph

    Wood Nymph DIS Veteran

    I know. :goodvibes I'm kind of a "don't fix it if it ain't broke" kind of person. But one thing about putting the dollars on the gift card is then you will really know what your food costs. Plus with the gift card you can use it to pay for items that are not covered on the plan, like taxes and tip. I'm debating whether or not to get a gift card, too. It would be nice to have everything paid ahead of time, especially with our December trip. The credit card bill from that trip will be due on December 24th. :scared1:
  10. LisaTC

    LisaTC Mouseketeer

    I'd be inclined to say "YES" try the gift card route. You may find you'll save a lot more than what you've placed on the card. You may not get dessert many times. DO you sit down 2x/day? Do a lot of signatures??? Like you said, you may just want an few appetizers and a glass of wine. I think it will be just as easy for you to do, plus it is a very valuable experiment! Just make sure you take a photo of the back of your gift card or split the amounts between 2 cards, 1 for you and one for your spouse. I don't see how you could be spending more, especially if you could get a resort discount!

    We like the DP, too, so I get your hesitation. However, there were times when I thought, I'm not very hungry. I don't want dessert. Deluxe is a lot of dining.
  11. need2travel

    need2travel Member

    Hey Wood Nymph,

    That's what I was thinking, it could cover tax, tip, alcohol, etc...if it looked like we had some $ left we could get some souvenirs with it as well.

    Hi LisaTC,

    Good tip on splitting it between 2 cards, didn't think of that one!
  12. DJFan88

    DJFan88 Mouseketeer

    Love this gift card idea!!!

    We like a few sit downs, but also like to eat sporadically as we see fit. We've done both and have come out ahead by OOP (esp. when we are at POR with that awesome food court).

    So, we can just prepay on gift cards and use them at any food site???? (not talking snacks at kiosks). How long in advance can you start buying them, do they not expire?
  13. mom2AidanAndEli

    mom2AidanAndEli Mouseketeer

    And when you're figuring out how much the OOP cost will be, don't forget to include how much you're saving on the hotel!

    We've only gone when we got the free dining, which saves our family a TON! But if we had to pay for the plan, we'd skip it. My 11-year-old "adult" doesn't eat much, so he might just get a kids' meal. We might just have a couple appetizers for dinner. We'd probably skip dessert or at least just split a couple instead of everyone having their own.

    And don't forget this, too. For instance, you don't both want dessert. Instead you'll split one. But on the DP, you probably get both because they're "included." You're now forced to pay tax and tip on that extra dessert that you didn't want in the first place! Same with the dessert on any QS meals you may have. We'd never get dessert at our QS lunch paying OOP, but since it's included we do. Again, we're paying tax and tip on that!

    I think there's a lot of hidden costs to the DP that we don't even think about. I think it would be a very interesting experiment to try OOP!
  14. We're doing something similar, but instead, we've been putting what I think we'll spend on food away each week, into our savings account. I used that spreadsheet (the one that helps you figure out if the DDP is worth it financially) that has been posted on this board recently.

    When we're there, I'll charge everything back to our room, which in turn will be tied to a credit card, which earns frequent flyer miles. When the bill comes in, I'll just pay it off. I thought about going the gift card route, but then realized that if I didn't spend everything on the cards, I was stuck having to, or having to use it at some point on Disney merchandise.

    When I played around with that spreadsheet, I was very generous with what restaurants I chose and was realistic about alcohol, apps, etc., so I think I've got a good idea of what we're looking at.
  15. PrincessShea

    PrincessShea Always planning...

    Staying at the Swan/Dolphin is a major reason DH and I have never done the dining plan. We love being in a "Deluxe" area for a moderate price. S&D is A LOT cheaper than Boardwalk/Beach Club/Yacht Club but you are still in that area. They also offer AAA, Gov't employee, and sometimes teacher discounts. We always end up getting some sort of discount.

    In the times we have stayed on Disney property at Beach Club and Poly, we still opted out of the dining plan. I think it really comes down to how much you eat and what you like to eat. I never have anything but water with my meals. We almost never order dessert. Sometimes we just want an appetizer as our entree, and so on. In our last 7 day trip, the only snacks we got were 2 dole whips and 2 drinks from Starbucks. For us, the dining plan makes no sense as it would be forcing us to eat food we don't want.
  16. martinezmom3

    martinezmom3 Member

    We are doing DxDP for our upcoming trip, with gird cards to pay for tax/tip/alcohol/extras, so that we don't have any debt to pay often our trip. We have 3DDs with 9 days of character meals and signature meals planned, and for us this way works. But, I do think that every once in a while you should try out something new and see how it suits you. Times change, people change, prices at Disney certainly change! You may do this and decide it was your best trip so far!! And if it's not, you know exactly what you can go back to! :)
  17. mom2of2

    mom2of2 <font color=blue>Let the good times strolllllll!<b

    On the DP you only pay tip and whatever isn't covered under your plan. Tax is included in the DP
  18. martinezmom3

    martinezmom3 Member

    Just tax for our adult drinks ;)
  19. GetGlowing

    GetGlowing Mouseketeer

    Don't forget to factor in the Swan's resort fee and daily parking fee, plus any airport transportation fee if you don't have a car, because they don't participate in Magical Express. If you're doing a full-on comparison of savings you have to include those things.

    I went this March and had the dining plan.
    I went this May without a dining plan paying OOP.
    I enjoyed my March trip a lot more from a food perspective. Even knowing that I had budgeted for food, the sticker shock was considerable. It's nice to have those credits and you just order what you want to eat. I did take a few desserts back to the fridge for breakfast and we brought home a bag full of snacks on the last day, but we got our money's worth on the plan (QSDP).
  20. Bete

    Bete Mouseketeer

    There may be another option.

    Stay on Disney Property and do the regular dining plan, not the deluxe. The money you save from the deluxe plan can be used towards those appetizers and that glass of wine. It's like getting the best of both worlds. You will have to do one meal as counter service which may not be to your fancy. Take a look at the CS menus and see if you can do it.

    You will be on Disney property this way and getting all the benefits like Magical Express.

    We have stayed at the Swan and I'm just okay with the resort.
  21. scribega

    scribega Where's Perry??

    I think the hole might be cost or the thoughts of the cost.
    If you are on the dining plan and you go to a restaurant the cost is the same no matter if you buy the $40 steak or the $17 salad. So you might lean at getting the steak. But if you do the gift cards then you are more apt to choose the $17 salad instead of the $40 steak to save money.

    That is one reason we like the dining plan is so when I am on vacation that I don't have to think/stress about money especially during meals.

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