Do you think people realize free dining isn't free?

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by coopersmom, Dec 4, 2010.

  1. coopersmom

    coopersmom DIS Veteran

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    Everyone understands that "free" dining isn't actually free, right?

    I say this not trying to sound mean, or snide, or any thing of the sort. I'm genuinely concerned and confused. I'm currently planning my first trip to Disney World and, as such, have read a lot of dining reviews here in order to determine our restaurant selection.

    We will NOT be on the dining plan, but again and again I see in these reviews, comments and even complaints that people would be mad/complain/do something, "if I'd paid for it." Or, "if I wasn't on free dining I would have said something" to the chef/staff/manager.

    Well, you DID pay for it. You paid rack rate for your room to get free dining and, while I see how in some circumstances (not mine), it could be a good deal for a family, it's in no way, "free." And it in no way costs Disney money, or they wouldn't be continually doing it (announcing it even a year in advance) and pushing it so hard. Clearly it's a very good deal for them, and very effective at driving people into their hotels and parks.

    This attitude seems so prevalent, at least from what I've seen here, it's hardly surprising that Disney has let quality slide dramatically (if reports here can be taken at face value). Why wouldn't they if no one complains? (Or only a very small number do.) The less they spend, the more they make. And if people don't complain/stop coming, it's a great deal for Disney. It's just simple math.

    Always makes me think of the line from "Miss Saigon" during the "Miss Saigon" contest … "People don't care how much they pay, as long as it's free."
     
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  3. Bete

    Bete DIS Veteran

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    It's hard to go away from Disney proper to eat each meal outside of the property especially with kids or older folks, etc. It's hard to stay offsite, too; you lose a lot of time in commutting back and forth to the parks. Many come without cars. It's not just a few minutes to get in and out of Disney proper even if you have a car. Then you have to navigate to where it is that you want to go to eat out there. The nearby restaurants to Disney don't really offer any better quality and prices are still up there. The cheaper places out there are actually lower quality in my opinion.

    If you stay at a value all you need are three adults ( or 2 adults, 2 kids ) and with free dining you just about recoup the cost of the room (depends on the season) even at rack rate. You can stay at the QS level at the value free dining offer or you can upgrade for $10/day per person for the better dining plan.

    We each have to do the arithmetic to see what's best for us. The dining plan includes sales tax; that's a good advantage to have at Disney. In addition, I always beat the game each day on costs for the actual plan. We probably average $60 worth of food each day by doing the dining plan that costs $45 per adult. We almost always do free dining and pay the upcharge to get the better plan and we are still money ahead in our case.

    We tend to go to the places where we get the best bang for our bucks using the plan. I love free dining and I hope that promo stays around for a while.

    I've been doing Disney for over 30 years now and I've seen many different promotions and I really do feel this is one of the best promos Disney has offered.

    In a few cases staying at a deluxe with the perks and getting a room discount is better than free dining. This is where you have to do the arithmetic. It definitely depends on how you want to stay there and the mix of people in your party as to whether or not free dining is a better value or not.
     
  4. Tinkerbellie16

    Tinkerbellie16 <marquee><font color=deeppink>Certified <font colo

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    I understand where you are coming from but it is a promotion and the dining plan is free if you purchase a package for certain dates. You could be paying rack rate and not get the dining plan tossed in. I certainly wouldn't let it stop me from talking to a manager about a bad dining experience and it is unfortunate if anyone else let it influence what they were to say.

    Technically, yes it is free dining because Disney adds their dining plan without adding to your cost. There aren't always other discounts available so you would be paying 'rack' rate anyway.

    And if there are other deals out there (like a room discount), each family has to determine if the discount is better for dining or a room discount - it all depends.

    I will say that it does cost Disney to offer this - it cuts into their profits. I'm not sure how they allocate their funds but some part of Disney has to 'pay' for that free dining. I'm in finance for a large company and you have to allocate these funds somewhere. 'Free' is not 'free' to the company - just to the consumer.
     
  5. coopersmom

    coopersmom DIS Veteran

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    I'm not talking about the cost effectiveness of free dining or even slighty trying to dissuade people from taking advantage of the deal. My point is regarding the prevailing sentiment I seem to see where many say they would complain about food quality, service, etc. IF they were paying for the meal.

    My point was/is good deal or bad you ARE paying and have every right to a decent meal, regardless of whether or not you're on the dining plan or how much you paid to obtain it. And if people continue to see "free dining" as a "gift" from Disney, and therefore something they have no right to complain about, it's only natural that quality will begin to decline. Just as dining at Disney, or any theme park, used to be abysmal until legions of complaints turned the tide.
     
  6. catne

    catne DIS Veteran

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    I think it's a stretch to blame the dining plans for a slip in quality and service. We travel a considerable amount each year, and both away & at home eat out frequently (2-3 times a week minimum.) Everywhere we go--major chain restauarants, high-end regional or local specialty places, diners, even fast food we've been seeing a big decline in food quality, variety, service and portion sizes. The sides are smaller & less extensive choices...much of the food appears to be of the type that can be prepared in large batches (as opposed to individually prepared items) There is less help everywhere--the hostess is doubling as the beverage re-filler for example (and not getting around as often as should happen) We blame the economy...all of these places, Disney included, are trying to continue to stay in business despite tough times. So corners are going to get cut everywhere they possibly can. It's not lack of magic, it's just simple economics.

    When the economy has a better recovery going, and people become a little more free with their $$, I suspect we will see an increase in quality and service everywhere again when the focus returns to increasing business & keeping customers instead of just barely holding on.
     
  7. Mrs D

    Mrs D I realize most people don't hear editing.

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    I dislike threads titled like this. Yes, Free dining is free. Many people pay rack rate at Disney, sometimes even when free dining is available, with out taking advantage of a discount. True, most are simply unaware of the discounts available.

    If you call Disney right now to book a room March 1-7, 2011 they will not automatically offer you free dining. So for a family who books for that time frame and buys tickets from Disney - the free dining promotion would be completely free! You can't say it's not free just because they potentially is another discount to be had.
     
  8. catne

    catne DIS Veteran

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    and for some families, even if they know about the other discounts, the free dining is substantially free (FOR REAL, lol.) If you stay in the deluxe resorts sure the room discounts are generally going to save you more. But if you stay in mods or values, you can easily get some totally free food in the discount, even allowing for the differences between discounts.

    For example, if you're a young family of 4 staying at a value resort during the off-season, the typical room discount may be as little as 20% off. During the cheapest off-season (when free dining is also going) that %-off discount will only save that family about $20 a night, bringing room rate down to $80 approx. and then they have to pay full price for food. But free dining would have them paying full rate $100 night and spending very OOP on food...and getting approximately $100 worth of QSDP. Take off the difference in room rate ($20 on the %-off room rate) and yes, they did get $80 worth of QSDP totally free.
     
  9. buzzmom3

    buzzmom3 DIS Veteran

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    The Free Dining discount saved us several hundred dollars compared to the room discount. So for me, it is free but I will still be upset if the quality was not what I expected. Luckily, I haven't seen a decline in quality.
     
  10. ElizabethB

    ElizabethB <font color=teal>I have a raw meat fetish. Who kne

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    We stay in deluxe resorts, so a 40% off rack rate discount is much, much more valuable to us than "free" dining, and we have noticed a very serious decline in food quality since the advent of DDP.
     
  11. NMW

    NMW DIS Veteran

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    I don't understand how it's not "free" :confused:

    When we go to WDW, we call WDW Travel and book a package with room, tickets and the deluxe dining plan. We have done this every year since 2002! We have NEVER gotten any kind of pin or code, so we pack rack rates. Only twice have we ever gotten any kind of discount.
    1. May 2009 we happen to book during this buy 4 get 3 nights three thing.
    2. May 2011 we have to go May 28-June 5 due to sons lacrosse schedule. When I called to book the CM informed me it was a free dining week. So, I only am paying the difference between the FREE basic plan and the Deluxe Plan.

    So for me, the basic plan would in fact be free...and the deluxe is a discounted price of about $31 a person per night. Sure, I suppose a room discount like I had in 2008 would be better, but none are running during my trip. So, I either pay rack rate for all components of my trip or get this discount. So I honestly don't understand why you claim it's not "free" :confused3
     
  12. Colleen27

    Colleen27 DIS Veteran

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    I don't get the mindset of not complaining or expecting less because you got a good deal (whether that is free dining or a percent-off offer on the room or whatever). The product being offered should be substantially the same, or the deal really isn't a deal - it is a lower price for an inferiour product/experience.

    For us, sometimes free dining is the best deal. Sometimes it isn't. But I don't expect less of our meals or the service we receive if it happens to be the deal that works best for us on that trip.
     
  13. Bete

    Bete DIS Veteran

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    whether I was on free dining or not. Free dining does not make me nicer in that way at all. Bad is bad and I'll say something.

    I've not been personally dissastisfied with free dining. For those who are maybe they should try more two credit signature restaurants or maybe even Victoria and Albert's.

    Actually, I use to love club level at AKL. The food changed a few years back for the worse and I don't do it anymore. I speak with my pocket book.

    There are plenty of people who are paying full price when I book a free dining package. To me, this says it's free.

    I think some dissatisfaction came when the dining plan changed especially when the appetizer was dropped and gratuity was no longer included in the basic plus dining. Many wanted to gripe at that time; so, they started picking on the food and maybe most of it was unfounded; who knows.

    I do believe if you are dissatisfied with your meal the restaurant will try to help if you speak up.

    I do believe there are a lot more people satisfied with having free dining than those who feel it has ruin Disney dining.

    Disney wants to fill the restaurants which went empty in years past. The waiters gain from increased business, too. Most people tip well at Disney. The more tables are filled the more tips there will be.
     
  14. TDC Nala

    TDC Nala 1937, what a year that was Moderator

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    Whether it is "free" for you or not depends on what you would have paid without it being offered at no cost with your package - if you were going to pay rack rate and buy tickets anyway it certainly is "free." And when comparing to other discounts it's going to depend on the resort you stay at and the size and makeup of your party as to what will be the best deal. I agree some do grab at the word "free" without doing the math and maybe they could have done better as far as a discount, but for some parties or for those who are just dining plan lovers it can be the best discount.

    Although I do understand, in all cases, in some way you did indeed "pay for" the food. I don't understand shrugging off bad food because it was "free" if people are indeed doing that. In my opinion if an issue arises that is serious enough for a guest to WANT to speak to a manager or guest services, they should do it, whether they're on "free dining" or not.

    I've noticed a decline to the extent that I will not eat at any Disney buffet any longer, but there are still plenty of people who think they're fine. There's also lots of other restaurants that don't have as prononuced a decline or any decline at all.
     
  15. msmith07101

    msmith07101 DIS Veteran

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    While it may not be "free", it is a savings for me on my upcoming trip. I priced my trip with the room discount they were offering and then with "free" dining. The free dining costs $100.00 more that the discounted room rate...this is to stay at Pop Century...for 2 people, 4 nights. I would most certainly spend more than $100.00 in food for 2 people in 4 days at Disney. I've never done the dining plan before and this seemed like a good opportunity to try it. I think 2 counter service meals and 2 snacks a day for each of us is perfect for our needs and how we prefer to eat on vacation...don't want to spend a lot of time in sit down restaurants. Did it last year, and really prefer to have something quick. So for me, for this trip...there is huge value in the "free" dining.
     
  16. npcougar

    npcougar DIS Veteran

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    You do realize that Disney is a business. Even if there wasn't a free dining promotion, the Disney experience was going to decline. Business is all about profit now. Why are stores open on Thanksgiving? Maximizing profits. Twenty years+ ago business was different and so was Disney. If you can change the world and its greed, maybe you can have the old Disney back.
     
  17. yvettedem

    yvettedem Mouseketeer

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    I am so gonna regret this but I think I sorta get what OP was saying...at least in my case anyway....I got a huge discount on the room because I am a seasonal pass holder...so for me, the free dining wouldn't work because I already have tickets....I can still add the dining for $45 per adult which includes the mug and meals....honestly that should only be the cost the first day as you are not getting a mug everyday..kwim? everyday it would cost me around $7 for breakfast, 8-9 for lunch and 8-9 for dinner so that would be on the high side $25 w/out snacks which would only be what...$4? so that is again on he high side $30 for me.....it is not worth it for a Florida resident that gets discounts on rooms....my room for 12/7-12 (6 days/5 nights) was only $260ish with taxes and everything where as someone out of state could be paying in excess of $500 for the same ressie....so that $240ish that I am saving I could go to expensive restaurants if I choose to do so and still be saving money ;)
     
  18. mandibc11

    mandibc11 Living in Wonderland, married to the Mad Hatter, w

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    We are renting points from a Disney Vacation Club member. Because of this, we're not allowed to utilize the Free Dining Promotion that is taking place during the dates we're there. However, when I did a comparison, it turns out that when booking through Disney, a stay in the Boardwalk Villas with Free Regular Dining FAR EXCEEDED the price we paid for the exact same villa, while also paying out of pocket for the DELUXE dining plan.

    We love the dining plan and feel it's worth paying for, but really love the value of renting points from a vacation club member. :goodvibes
     
  19. npcougar

    npcougar DIS Veteran

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    My family saved money with free dining when we stayed at a value. We saved money going with a room discount and paying for dining.
     
  20. PrincessTiffany

    PrincessTiffany Is there anything better than Free Dining and Fast

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  21. boltfan

    boltfan DIS Veteran

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    I've been to WDW 5 times and don't know what all the complaints are about. Maybe I'm just laid back, or maybe I'm just not as fussy as some, but I've never had a bad dining experience on any of my trips. And maybe because of this, for me, free dining is just that...free dining. And I love it!
     

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