Dining Plan or Not

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by Nana2Callie, Jun 12, 2014.

  1. Nana2Callie

    Nana2Callie DIS Veteran

    Jan 6, 2011
    Surely there are multiple threads on the subject, but I'm not finding one - so this is our scenario.

    Trip July 20 thru July 26 - 2 adults and 1 child (who is now 10) so adult pricing.

    We would like to do 2-3 character meals, but otherwise CS is fine.

    We usually do a snack a day -

    So, I'm really on the fence about the dining plan or if we would be better to just plan so much daily for food. If so - how much?

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  3. stephm0188

    stephm0188 Mouseketeer

    Oct 25, 2011
    It really depends on you and your family.
    Some people find the dining plan saves them money. Some people just like the dining plan for the simplicity of not having to worry about costs on vacation. Others find that it's not a good value.

    We make a spreadsheet and compare what we expect to spend to the dining plan. We add up our receipts afterward and use that data for the next year, too. It's always been more affordable for us to pay out of pocket.
  4. mickeynut1

    mickeynut1 DIS Veteran

    Apr 16, 2007
    As the pp said, it really depends on your family and how you eat. The DDP works for some people, but doesn't work for others. I would look at the menus of the places you want to eat and price out what you think everyone would order and then compare that to the DDP cost. We have done both the DDP and DlxDDP, as well as paid OOP for meals, and all 3 ways have worked for us. With that said, if you are only wanting to do 2-3 TS meals, the DDP probably isn't a good idea as you would either be wasting those extra TS credits or eating places you really didn't want to eat.
  5. ssphillips

    ssphillips Disney Bound

    Oct 31, 2009
    When we bought dining plan, I felt like our vacation revolved around which sit down meal we had to be at next. Our kids also had to pay as adults, and never ate that much. Plus, at table service meals, tip is not included, so that brings price up. We prefer a few TS OOP, then the rest QS. At QS, I have ordered myself, and my children kids meals if we aren't very hungry. None of the CM's minded this at all.
  6. sharonabe

    sharonabe DIS Veteran

    May 22, 2009
    If you can do most of your character meals for breakfast and lunch, you'll do better OOP than with the DDP. If you really want to do them for dinner and you can add enough other TS to fill your days, then you MIGHT break even or save some money.
  7. mom to minnie&mickey

    mom to minnie&mickey DIS Veteran

    Oct 12, 2010
    We are planning a big Disney vacation Aug. 2015 for 14 nights. It will be me, dh, dd, ds so 4 Disney adults. I really wanted the qs plan so all our meals would be pre-paid and be done with it. The cost would be $168/day (and even more if they raise the price again) but around $75 of that amount would be for desserts, snacks and drinks. That is crazy but that is how the plan is designed.
    After playing around with the numbers I found that with the same $$$ we could buy the meals the qs plan gives you and add 3 character buffets simply by cutting out some desserts, drinks and snacks.
    So, I will budget the money for the plan but pay oop and do my own meal plan that works better for my family.
  8. Mikie

    Mikie DIS Veteran

    May 1, 2014
    When I did the math (a LOT of math) for adults on the dining plan, choosing mostly character meals and buffets (which are pricier and therefore the most "value" on the plan) IF you eat a QS, a TS and a snack per day AND you always get soft drinks (vs free water) to drink, then the Dining Plan comes out about equal in price to eating that same way but paying OOP.

    For everything you change - not ordering dessert at every meal, not ordering sort drinks, choosing menu locations vs buffet/character, ordering apps as a meal or sharing meals, doing TS for breakfast or lunch vs dinner, you would actually save $$ paying OOP.

    For my extended family, the adult-only group is getting DDP simply because they like the convenience/prepaid nature. My group saves money because my 2 kids are a big savings on DP with so many buffets/characters even though DH and I just break even. Another group of lighter eaters, water drinkers, is not getting the DP because they actually lose money on it.
  9. LovesTimone

    LovesTimone DIS Veteran

    Apr 29, 2009

    There is always a lot of conversation about the DDP - I would suggest that you go with it and try it once and see if it works for you and your family. You could do a few Character meals, then with the other TS you might want to combine and use 2 at a Signature restaurant ....or check out some other places, like Sci-Fi at DHS, LTT at MK, or something over in Epcot in the World Showcase, lots of choice in Epcot, Corral Reef is always great for kids, the aquarium is amazing, we have always had great service and meals here.

    Sometimes people forget that you can use TS entitlements for breakfast or lunch, Maybe use one for early breakfast at Crystal Palace or Tusker House.
  10. MakiraMarlena

    MakiraMarlena It's a big black fish to you

    Mar 28, 2005
    If you are only doing 2-3 TS meals in a week you do not need the dining plan. that is from a strictly monetary standpoint, without considering the "convenience."

    If you are gonig to do one every day (preferably for dinner because dinner is the most expensive), then it might be good for you.
  11. GillianP1301

    GillianP1301 DIS Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    If the 2 - 3 character meals are the only TS meals you plan for the entire trip, then I would not bother with the DDP, you won't come near getting your money out of it. If you expected to eat one TS a day, then I would go DDP.

    As for how much to allocate for OOP for each day, the best way to do that is to look at some menus and add it up based on how your family normally eats. As reference, I can tell you that last year on the 4 night portion of our onsite WDW stay, we (me, DH & DS 6yo) spent on average $180/day on food. That included one TS (mostly character meals) per day, 2 QS and a snack or two a day.
  12. ibela

    ibela DIS Veteran

    Dec 28, 2006
    Is CS "fine" because you don't want to deal with ADRs and such or because you're looking for ways to save money? If you want to save money, you're definitely better off paying OOP. Make a list of restaurants you want to try and see how much that'd be, then compare what the DDP would cost. If it's affordable and you save money, go for it. If not, stick with OOP. You can go through the menus to see how much you'd actually pay. There's a link I discovered on here that takes the average price of dishes if you don't want to peruse through menus now: http://www.distripplanner.com/

    You usually snack per day. Do you usually have dessert with your meal? Would you otherwise get a resort mug? For us personally, I always get the dining plan BUT I have 2 children under 10, we like the mug (although OOP, we'd get 3 not 4), we like dessert (OOP we'd probably get 2-3, not 4), we like to snack, and I like booking character meals (which are fixed price) so the dining plan makes sense for us.

    Some tips to keep in mind - you don't need to order cupcakes/brownie etc with your QS lunch, sometimes we get ice cream and ask to pick it up after we eat so it doesn't melt. We go in August so ice cream/ice pop is a must! Or if there's a bag of chips or fruit cup or something wrapped, we'll get that for later.

    When they're older, I'll revisit the plan because I do think it's fairly hard to save when it's all adults.
  13. quakechicago

    quakechicago ADR-making addict!

    Jun 19, 2014
    We were there in February and are going back in November. DH, DD3, and I had free dining and upgraded to the deluxe last time and liked it so much for all the character meals, we're doing it again.

    It IS a very strange thing that your whole trip revolves around your dining experiences--DH is still amazed by it all, but there's a lot of things in the parks we're skipping because DD doesn't like loud, dark, or scary rides. But meeting princesses and Pooh? Oh yes, she's in her glory. So for us, for now, it works.

    But it makes everything a totally different trip than I ever had as a kid!
  14. Parkerpirates

    Parkerpirates Mouseketeer

    Jan 17, 2014
    Thanks for sharing that link. I was just thinking I needed to find out if the dining plan would be worth purchasing for our two night stay before our cruise. It looks like we would either break even or pay a little less without the dining plan.
  15. jezebel73

    jezebel73 Mouseketeer

    Mar 10, 2014
    I think a big factor in your current scenario is how your 10 yo eats. If he/she would like to eat "adult" food - steaks, seafood, etc - at the TS locations, dining plan may work. It's naturally a better deal when people are ordering the most expensive items on the menu. If, however, the child would prefer items from the kids menu or eating an appetizer as a meal, OOP is the better choice.

    Like another poster said, there are a ton of choices out there if you went with the plan and wanted to add in more TS. My family actually gets the regular dining plan and pays extra OOP for more sit down credits since we really enjoy doing a couple of signature meals.

    Another site with some price comparison tools is http://seeyareelsoon.wix.com/seeyareelsoon#!dining-plan-calculator/cxc0
  16. magicwishes

    magicwishes Mouseketeer

    Feb 27, 2011

    This is awesome! It is so much better than doing it by hand and close enough for me. We have always done OOP. We always come out ahead with OOP, and we like the flexibility of ordering whatever we want and getting dessert or a snack whenever and wherever we want. We know it's budgeted, so we don't worry about the money. We eat breakfast in the room or walking and waiting for the bus. For breakfast we eat things brought from home or ordered for grocery delivery. We eat one table service meal a day (usually 3-4 with characters), one counter service per day, and have 2 extra snacks or items per person per day. We all have a reusable water bottle brought from home as well.

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