Disney Dining - Can't Justify The Expense

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

  1. maxiesmom

    maxiesmom The Mean Squinty Eye Works

    Jul 6, 2004
    Not necessarily. If your family likes to do a lot of character meals, you will almost always come out ahead using the Dining Plan.

    In truth, the only time we use the dining plan is when we do a lot of character meals, or when it is free. Otherwise we can eat cheaper than what it costs. But some people do like the idea of having everything prepaid, and then not having to worry about having $3 for a pop or $2 for popcorn.

    We decide how we are going to dine, and then I run the numbers.
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  3. mrsltg

    mrsltg Guest

    This is our first trip not doing the dining plan, and it's because like the OP, we have found it's just not cost effective for us anymore. This trip will just be DH and I, and we don't need, nor will we eat, two desserts. Instead, we'd prefer to get an appetizer and maybe a dessert, or maybe not. Often I like some time between my dinner and my dessert, and I don't with a lunch at all. The price has really increased, and the value has decreased. I'm looking forward to tallying the receipts when I get home to determine the actual numbers.
  4. 6disneykids

    6disneykids Mouseketeer

    Jun 29, 2012
    If you are doing an adult only trip, or have kids that are now considered an adults, the plan isn't going to be a money saver at all. If, however, you have kids between the ages of 3-9 there is a savings, especially if you have any character meals scheduled.
  5. BDL

    BDL DIS Veteran

    Aug 20, 2010
    I actually beat the DxDP last Dec. Burned through every meal point. But I had help. I had a couple of dinner/show combos (Candlelight Processional and Fantasmic!) and ate a signature (Le Cellier). Each one of those meals cost 2 meal points against the plan. So if you have something similar to this planned, it is possible to get value out of the dining plans.
  6. Masonmj84

    Masonmj84 DIS Veteran

    Jul 28, 2011
    I'm not much of an expert on the regular plan but am a pretty experienced user of the deluxe plan.

    Last year, when it was about $85 per day per adult, it was still pretty easy to drive value out of it, provided your eating style matched the plan.

    For example, we typically do either a character breakfast or TS lunch + a signature dinner every day (in that regard, I enjoy a 3 course dinner and usually order one of the most expensive entrees, not because I feel forced to, but because that's what I would want to order anyway).

    An average charcter breakfast adult price is, say, $25, and an average 3 course TS lunch (with beverage and tax) is, say, $35. So the first meal averages to about $30 a day per adult.

    An average signature dinner is in the $70-$75 range (with beverage and tax). So this adds up to about $100-$105 per day. Throw in two snacks and you're up to at least around $110.

    So under the old prices, adults could still save at least $25 per day. Now it's closer to $10, which leaves very little margin for savings (you're doing well just to get the snacks for "free").

    Kids, between 3 and 9, however, are still a relatively good deal on the DxDP. Assume a kid's first meal of the day (breakfast or lunch) averages about $15 and a kid's signature dinner averages in the range of $25-$30. You're already up to at least $40 even before getting to the two snacks.

    In contrast, kids between 10 and 12 (or older) are an incredibly lousy deal on the plan (unless they are unusually good/voracious eaters). But this has always been the case.
  7. Dreamer & Wisher

    Dreamer & Wisher DIS Veteran

    Mar 28, 2006
    I did some research and I can't see how the dining plan really saves any money. Our family is 2 adults, a 12 year old and an 8 year old, and our 18 month old.

    Cost per day for the dining plan is 183.93.

    If we have breakfast at Tusker House it would be $95.96 plus tax and tip. That leaves us $95 to spend on food just to break even with the amount we spent for the dining plan for that day. And with the dining plan tips are not included. We wouldn't spend that much on Counter Service lunch and dinner and with the dining plan there is only one counter service meal allotted per day.

    We could get 2 counter service meals for $95 easily because we wouldn't buy desserts. On previous trips we have ended up with several cookies and cakes from those meals in our room at the end of the week.
  8. pauly's girl

    pauly's girl Mouseketeer

    Feb 18, 2010
    Amen!! It was so worth it then, also my kids were smaller and we did alot of character meals. If they do not offer FD this year I will be paying OOP!! :)
  9. glamdring269

    glamdring269 Mouseketeer

    Feb 7, 2013
    We had the dining plan on our trip a couple of years ago and I have been pricing our trip this year with it as well. Glad I read this thread. To be honest I fully understand the math and I also know that we're not huge dessert eaters so having that is not even really a plus. I'd rather have a beer than a piece of cake! We can usually get by sharing a QS meal too. To be honest I feel like we sometimes just ordered our QS and snacks last trip just so they wouldn't go to waste. And even then we were just ordering what we wanted to eat at our TS meals and not trying to find the most expensive item on the menu.

    The more I think about it the only reason I can think of to get this, for us (2 adults), would be to avoid number crunching at the park. Not sure if that's really worth it.

    One question though, if you're not on the dining plan can you still make dining reservations 6 months out?
  10. Siliobear

    Siliobear Mouseketeer

    May 6, 2009
    After much number crunching, I decided to not get the DDP. We might break even, but sounds like too much food for us. Instead, I plan to get the TiW card for 20% off most table serve locations. I did the DDP before when it was less, and enjoyed restaurant hopping. Still love to eat, just only want to eat less.
  11. glamdring269

    glamdring269 Mouseketeer

    Feb 7, 2013
    TiW card?
  12. sharonabe

    sharonabe DIS Veteran

    May 22, 2009
    A discount card you can buy if you are FL Resident, DVC or AP holder.

    allearsnet.com explains here:


    Oh and as for your other question, yes, you can still make ADRs 180 days out even if you're not on the DDP. Anyone can!
  13. brockash

    brockash DIS Veteran

    Jul 16, 2008
    No, you're correct, financially it really isn't a good idea. The dining plan is really expensive and we would never normally spend that much money out of pocket. We usually go during free dining, so then we do it, but I completely agree that financially, if you're paying for it, in most circumstances, it really isn't the best choice. Having said that I do like the convenience of it and not having to think or care about the cost of the food we're eating, so I'm not really sure if I'd get it or only pay oop if we were ever on a trip that free dining wasn't an option. I know financially it would be "dumb" for us to buy the dining plan, but I do like having it.
  14. tmmalave

    tmmalave Earning My Ears

    Oct 14, 2009
    We just recently returned from a six night stay at WDW. We were there because our daughter had a gymnastics competition. We were going to buy the discounted hotel and tickets through Disney Sports, and then my travel agent advised me of the Stay Play and Dine offer. When I crunched the numbers, if I added the discounted price of the hotel Disney Sports was offering, and the discounted ticket prices and compared that to the SPD offer, the difference was around 21-22 dollars per person per day. So I took it that was the amount the QS-DP was costing us, for our particular situation. Because there was no price difference between children and adults, we listed our 7 year old as 10 so she could have better eating options. Only on a few occasions did we order off of the kids menu for her. Here are the numbers:

    If we had paid for DDP with our daughter as a child 3-9 the cost would have been ~763.00

    If we had paid for the DDP with our daughter as 10 or over the cost of the DDP would have been ~902.00

    Amount of money the food we got with the DP would have cost us if we paid OOP, ~825.00

    Amount of money from the package that paid for the dining part: ~528.00 (keep in mind this is in addition to discounted room and ticket prices.

    And we ended up with a bunch of desserts and snacks (some we bought at the MS Confectionary to use up the credits) in our fridge at home, which we still have not finished eating.

    So in our case, savings would have only come if our daughter had paid for the child plan, and in that case we would have been in trouble because of the limited options.

    We shared meals, desserts and snacks, not to be cheap, but because we did not want to waste food! We all ate very well.

    Unless its a special offer (like SPD or free dining) then we would not pay for the DDP. We would save money by going out of pocket, even more than I calculated here, because we would not have ordered all of those desserts!
  15. MyTwoPrincesses

    MyTwoPrincesses DIS Veteran

    Sep 1, 2009
    This is really helpful. I have gone twice with Free Dining but with my upcoming trip, I'm leaning towards NOT getting the DDP.

    I don't really drink soft drinks and neither does my SO. The kids sometimes do, sometimes don't. The QS desserts are worthless. I never ate them. And many QS meals work out at around $12 with tax. I normally get water when I eat out.

    As for TS, I do like TS, but I also think that even with say, Biergarten at ~ $34 for an adult for dinner, 34 + 12 = 46. I don't think I'd come up with the other $11 in snacks. And many TS meals are less expensive and will come out to about $20-25 an entree (or less). If we get dessert at all, we are inclined to share. Again, we're not soft drink people.

    I do think for kids there is value there. But again, it depends on how many character meals/buffets you do. The way I'm calculating it, for OUR eating styles as no soft drink maybe 2-3 shared desserts during the week, at best, DDP is a break even proposition. But more likely, we'll spend less on food going OOP.

    ETA: After I posted, I did end up adding DDP to our reservation. For 2 adults and 2 Disney kids, DDP is $145.50 per day, which is actually my estimate of what we'd spend on food at WDW anyway. I figure that since it is break even, it's worth the peace of mind to have food mostly prepaid except for tips and alcohol.

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