# Disney Dining - Can't Justify The Expense

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by Arsenal1982, Feb 2, 2013.

1. ### Arsenal1982DIS Veteran

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Maybe someone can persuade me but I just can't justify the fixed cost for the dining plan unless I'm missing something.

Basic Dining Plan = \$56.00 per person

1 Lunch = \$12.00 max

1 Dinner with Dessert = \$40.00 (This is the absolute most that it would cost and a lot of nights won't approach this number.. example if I do the buffet at Biergarten.. or get a pizza at Via Napoli)

1 Snack = \$3.00 to \$4.00... again this is the high end of costs.. some snacks will be less but I won't ever spend more than \$4.00 on a snack even though I know you can.. shake at Beaches and Cream for example.

So if I basically max out. max lunch, max dinner, max snack, it meets the dining plan expense. If I don't and its not reasonable to expect I would each night, then I'm better off just paying out of pocket.

I also investigated the deluxe dining plan which seems even more of a bad deal at \$100 a night. That just doesn't make any sense to me... If I eat a lunch, 2 snacks, and do a signature dining out of my pocket, I will pay less than \$100 guaranteed.

3. ### sharonabeDIS Veteran

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The dining plans don't work for us, but I'm not sure you've given it a fair calculation.

A QS entree is around \$10, large soda is \$3 and most desserts are \$4, so you're lunch (if you eat everything you're entitled to) is more like \$17 than \$12.

Your TS at \$40 is pretty close, although many places will be less. But if you can maximize most of your TS to the \$40, you're at \$57 with just TS and QS, so your snack is free and you also got the refillable mug for drinks at the resort or at least a souvenir.

You do have to use all your entitlements and you do have to do some homework to make sure you maximize your choices, but you can still save money on the DDP. A lot of people like it for the convenience factor and the "all-inclusive" prepaid feel.

4. ### Arsenal1982DIS Veteran

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Good point regarding the QS. We think the lunch desserts are terrible and don't touch them. I'd rather go buy an eclair at the French pastry place if I wanted a sweet.

And as you said.. many TS will be less than \$40 if you like variety.

Also sometimes we go to a restaurant which doesn't even have very good dessert options like Nine Dragons..

It just seems to me that OOP is the best option.

5. ### sharonabeDIS Veteran

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May 22, 2009
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It sounds like you've done your homework and come to the same conclusion as many others regarding the DDP.

My family of four Disney adults can eat 3 meals each day for \$50 per person, per day, including tax AND tip and still eat at least one TS per day and some buffets. That's \$6 less than the DDP would cost us and I've already included the tip. That's a no-brainer for us.

6. ### smiths02DIS Veteran

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If you have kids age 3-9 and want to hit character meals...that can boost your savings.

That being said...I probably won't ever get DDP again unless it is offered as a discount.

7. ### SrbrightMouseketeer

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Jul 4, 2012
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This is why it works for us. Between Cali Grill, Fultons and CRT we definitely see a savings. When you add in Tusker House, Akershus, and Crystal Palace we expect to save \$300-400 over 8 days, more over, 10 days.

Stacy

8. ### Arsenal1982DIS Veteran

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So you see savings with the DDP at Cali Grill? Can you explain how because I looked at it. If you ordered the most expensive app, entree, and dessert at Cali, that comes to \$77. Throw in a \$15 QS lunch. Then add in 2 snacks at \$3.00 each. Total comes to \$98.

Am I missing something here?

9. ### sharonabeDIS Veteran

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And on the regular DDP, you don't get the app, so your total is even less than that and you've used 2 of your TS credits.

10. ### aaarcher86DIS Veteran

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Lots of people don't see a savings unless they have a discounted or free dining plan. We save money using the DXDP where most people don't (it was discounted). I'd have to reevaluate if it was full price.

Lots have people make it pretty clear they wouldn't get the DP at the full cost because they could eat for less OOP or break even and order more things that interest them (apps instead of dessert). Some people don't really care about the minimal savings or not saving at all, but prefer the convenience.

11. ### MommaBarbMouseketeer

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I realize that the DDP isn't the greatest value, though we've always gotten at least a discount. For us, it's about budgeting. We'll do better if we have to pay \$XX amount to go to WDW. Also, with our young girls, they love the character dining. Otherwise, we'd probably just pack a lot more food and pay OOP for like QS or something.

12. ### sgrabinMouse Junkie

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Having the DDP is certainly a convenience, but it's definitely NOT worth the cost of paying the regular price for it. We got "free" dining last trip and that was a good value getting it that way. I'd never pay for it separately. You can get wonderful, higher quality meals outside the World and eat better while paying less.

13. ### Arsenal1982DIS Veteran

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I remember the good old days when it was about \$30.00 per person per day and the TS included the app. Now its almost double without the app.. ha!

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The plan is definitely worth the cost to us. Yes, we can eat cheaper but we enjoy using the plan. We go to places that we normally wouldn't because of the cost. So instead I eating QS we at nice restaurants like Ohana. We know which quick service restaurants we can get the best value at, and we get to try a lot of nice sitdown restaurants sometimes we can use two sit down credits and get a signature dining meal. The places we choose to eat with the Disney dining plan are definitely more expensive than what we would be willing to pay out-of-pocket so for us it is still a value and it makes it feel like a real vacation going to all these nice restaurants every night of our vacation. We see it as a value because the quick service meals can be expensive in this way instead of eating quick service meals two times a day we can a quick service ones and a nice sitdown restaurant once we definitely got her moneys worth out of it.

15. ### aaarcher86DIS Veteran

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Not everyone can get outside the world to eat during their stay, nor would they want to take the time to do so. Makes a big difference if you don't drive to WDW.

16. ### danceintherainDIS Veteran

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Yeah. It's definitely not as good of a deal as it used to be. We've only used it once, and banked almost exactly 20% savings (which I calculated to be basically the value of all the desserts we ordered just because we could). That was 4 year ago...

I've priced it for every trip since, and it just doesn't work. We do tend to plan a TS per night, but DH likes to have a full breakfast in the morning, so we end up buying a CS per day.
For our trip in April, I estimate we'll spend less than \$1200 for food for 3 adults and one infant.
The QS plan would be a little under \$800 for the three of us plus another \$450ish for our table service meals = \$1250
That's the closest, and would allow us to cancel any ADRs that we don't end up needing.

The Regular Plan would be around \$1150 plus around \$240 for any extra Counter Service meals. = \$1390 (it would include an extra 2 credits, but we don't need that)
Neither of those include any meals we may need to purchase OOP for our 2 year old and at Universal, while the \$1200 does.
I figure we'll probably drink water in most cases, only get dessert at select table service, and get a few snacks per person.

17. ### davedmaineDIS Veteran

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You're right, it's a bad deal. At today's plan prices it's almost impossible to get any bang for the buck with the dining plan. You're much better off to pay OOP.

18. ### davedmaineDIS Veteran

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And don't forget that with the plan, you're going to be paying a much larger gratuity (most likely) than by paying OOP. This is due to most people trying to maximize the value of the plan and therefore having to order the most expensive things on the menu.

19. ### ilovedizneeAlways planning our next trip home to Disney!!!

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Last August for the 1st time in probably ten years, we didn't do the Dining Plan and I stressed out at every meal. We've done all plans except the QS. We usually always come out ahead because my DD and DH are total carnivores so our meals are very meat - mostly steak - oriented. My DH is a big eater so we make out well. We use snack credits usually all at EPCOT in France and get a bunch of pastries. Our DD is 12 and now an adult but mostly wants stuff off the kids menu still so we are saving her credits and we will be using them.

The dining plan - either regular or deluxe - is not for everyone, but it works for us. I loke the idea of not having to worry about what we are ordering, even with paying OOP for some of her meals, but it comes in handy when we go to the Yachtsman and our bill is well over \$250.00 and all I need to worry about is the tip.

Like I said, not for everyone but the dining plan and eating at the restaurants is part of our vacation.

20. ### almburrDIS Veteran

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This sounds almost like us! DxDP is the way we go. Some of the days we had 3 sit downs.

21. ### LSUfan4444DIS Veteran

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The menu restrictions are the single worst thing about the DDP in my opinion.

We just returned from a DDP-less 8 day stay and I tracked just about every dollar of our spending and didn't try and cut any corners. We ate and drank what we want when we wanted, and I wanted to see how that compared to the dining plan.

I compared every dollar we spent on food to what the meal plan would have cost us. I think the only way you can judge the value of the dining plan is after you dine without it because it is too hard to know what you would have ordered if you weren't on the meal plan. Alot of people see their receipts and think, "wow, look how expensive that is, good thing we're on the meal plan", but would you really have ordered a dessert for everyone at the table? Would you really need a counter service, a snack and a table service meal each day? Do you really want the dessert on the menu or wouldn't you rather a dole whip or a mickey ice cream bar for dessert?

Anyway, for us the meal plan for 2013 is \$55 per day. That comes out to \$880 for both of us for eight nights.

In total we spent \$1,058 on food and dining by going OOP. Now, maybe you're asking how could I come out better not on the dining plan when I spent more. Well, this is why. That \$1,058 included all of our groceries from Publix, which included a case of beer and two bottle of wine, plus other non food items for the room. That \$1,058 also included alcohol that we ordered with our meals, AND gratuity we spent, both of which you have to pay extra for with the meal plan. Most importantly, it allowed us to order what we want when we wanted it. It isn't like we ate cheap.

We ate at Ohana, California Grill, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review, Be Our Guest, Wishes Dessert Party (also not included on the dining plan), Mama Melrose, Big River Grill and did the Dine with Shamu experience at Sea World. Another benefit of not having the meal plan is it doesn't cost you any more money to dine at any of the Swan and Dolphin restaurants (Blue Zoo, Kimonos, Shulas, etc). At the California Grill, the night before the marathon, we ordered an app, two sushi rolls and a salad and it was MORE THAN ENOUGH food....thats impossible on the meal plan, no matter how full you are.

And regarding the "free dining"; what you save on the dining plan, you pay more for in your resort reservation more times than not. Free dining is anything but free.