How cost effective is the Dining Plan without free Dining. is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by Romamom444, May 27, 2013.

  1. princessallegra

    princessallegra They call me Mrs. Disney

    Sep 7, 2007
    It's only ever worth it for us if we get a good discount through our CM friend. We hadn't done it in years but we got a great deal for our feb trip. It was weird being on the ddp again!
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  3. MissionMouse

    MissionMouse DIS Veteran

    Sep 10, 2004
    First, I always need to respond to the marketing pitch of 'free' dining. Its not free. Disney is a business. The cost is recovered by other things guest do during their stay and your room rack rate.

    Do you save money on the DDP? Most people pay for the DDP, well in advance, and can't even tell you the cost/value of 1TS ticket or 1 CS ticket or a snack ticket. Its the design of plans to take your money and convert it to something people loose track of the value of a ticket.

    Like others have already stated you have to do the math. Also, look at what they give you and what you will actually eat and need. Often the DDP is like a hat that one size fits all, so there often is stuff you don't use or need, but paid for in advance. We find you have to run the numbers, look at menus and estimate what you might select, often you don't pick as much as on the DDP. Tickets can end up not used and not be a value.
  4. thr33boys

    thr33boys Mouseketeer

    May 21, 2012
    Last year was our first trip and we opted for the dining plan. We rented points from a dvc owner so there was no possibility of free dining for us...but renting points was a huge money saver itself.

    We are renting points again this December and will again add the dining plan. We have 3 kids. We plan to book mostly buffets as we find it's quicker than ordering off a menu and allows my DH to sample a variety of foods.

    It does give us peace of mind knowing it's all taken care of and we are not watching the price of each item. We didn't find that it was too much food. While, it 'may' be more cost effective to pay oop - I really don't know, we didn't keep track, it's nice to say 'sure' when someone wants a snack instead of saying, 'well can you wait until lunch'? It feels more like a vacation to us.

    Good luck deciding.
  5. Romamom444

    Romamom444 Earning My Ears

    Apr 27, 2013
    Thanks everyone for the replies. It gave me a lot to consider. The convenience would seem to be the greatest benefit for me... ie; no oop expense during trip. Since it will only be me and DD (13) and we aren't huge eaters it really would only be the convenience. We would only be attending a couple of character meals (DD has autism and loves the princesses.) I looked at some of the menus and the choices are just that not appealing. I don't want to overheat or eat something that I wouldn't normally choose simply because I already paid for it. I appreciate hearing the differing opinions and why some choose the DDP while others don't. I think we will probably forgo the DDP. Thanks again for everyone's point of view! :goodvibes
  6. bdklein

    bdklein DIS Veteran

    Sep 17, 2005
    Sounds like the right call. On the Dining Plan you still have to pay for meal gratuity at TS so there will be OOP expenses anyway.
  7. magicbob

    magicbob DIS Veteran

    Mar 16, 2008
    As others have said, you need to estimate what you would likely spend on meals and compare it to the DDP cost.

    For us, it varies from trip to trip, when we stayed in a value resort and got "free" dining, it was a much better deal than the room discount. We actually saved a lot of money on that particular trip.

    On other trips, we have paid for DDP sometimes and paid OOP others. It all depends on which restaurants we will be eating at (and also if we staying moderate or deluxe with a discount). When we paid for DDP, we enjoyed a modest to moderate savings. The savings was only about $25 when comparing our actual meals. But then I factored in the snacks and mugs that were included. So we got about $125-150 additional "value" from the plan. I didn't consider that to be "savings" per se, because we probably would not have gotten all those snacks OOP. But since we were already saving some on the DDP, that was basically $150 worth of additional free stuff.
  8. CuteAsMinnie

    CuteAsMinnie DIS Veteran

    Jun 16, 2004
    No! Not a penny!
  9. JessicaKnits

    JessicaKnits DIS Veteran

    Jun 21, 2010
    I did the math on our first trip (we had the deluxe dining plan) and we technically "saved" money. I use the term loosely. While we did save money if we calculated the cost of what we ate vs. what we paid, under normal circumstances we would have never ordered an appetizer, entree and dessert with every meal. I enjoyed the convenience factor of being able to have everything pre-paid for, and also the ability to branch out and try some restaurants we wouldn't have normally tried.
  10. pmaurer74

    pmaurer74 DIS Veteran

    Apr 29, 2010
    For us... we go to a lot of character meals which are expensive... basically we figured it out to be that we get the snacks and maybe the resort cup for "free". We enjoy not having to watch our money on vacation and having it prepaid.
  11. Meggysmum

    Meggysmum Mouseketeer

    Jun 11, 2012
    Definitely the right call.

    We have had free DDP a couple of times and enjoyed eating places we wouldn't have normally but really we had more food than we would normally eat. I wouldn't ever order a dessert at a QS location for example normally. It was great when I could get a fruit cup as I saved it for breakfast. I also probably wouldn't order dessert in a TS either as I just didn't need it but I ate one everyday whilst on the DDP and my waistline knew about it by the time I got home!:rolleyes2
  12. MrEVILdrPorkchop2u

    MrEVILdrPorkchop2u DIS Veteran

    Aug 1, 2012
    Like everyone else has says, you will need to do the math. For us, we make out better with the dining plan. We eat at sit down places everyday. We like to eat steak and seafood on a regular basis. We don't get the most expensive items to get our monies worth, we get them because these are our favorite choices. For many people it isn't cost effective. Crunch your numbers. ;)
  13. wahoostampingirl

    wahoostampingirl DIS Veteran

    Sep 16, 2006
    If you'd like the convenience of having "pre-paid" for your meals, decide on the amount you would like to budget for meals and put that on a Pre-paid Visa card or Disney Gift card. They're accepted everywhere and that way you won't get a bill after you get home and you won't have to carry cash.

    We haven't actually done this yet, but my dh puts all our meals and snacks on his AMEX, so we can keep track of what we've spent. For our family of 4, all considered adults in Disney's eyes, there is no way the DDP would ever save us money.
  14. rt2dz

    rt2dz DIS Veteran

    Oct 26, 2004
    I may be repeating because I haven't read the replies, but you have to do the math. There are a couple of dining plan calculators out there, links are saved on my laptop and I'm on my iPad or I'd post. You need to go though the menus, decide where you want to eat, and what you want to eat (cost) and compare it to the cost of the dining plan.

    When I do it, I pick based solely on want and not on cost, because that is how it would work on the dining plan. We eat TS several times, which automatically rules out QS. We eat too much and do signature restaurants which makes basic plan not worth it, but we do not eat enough to make the deluxe plan worth it. We don't always eat dessert, and like the occasional appetizer and adult beverage. Our OOP costs are less than basic dining costs, and gives us a bit more.

    It gets even more confusing when you have free dining and need to throw in the differences between a room discount v. Paying rack rate and getting a discount on tickets from an authorized reseller v. Purchasing at a higher cost from Disney. Or, if your willing to stay offsite, or want to rent DVC points, or have an AP and want a TIW card. For me, it's always about total bottom line rather than individual components.

    And remember, Disney wouldn't be offering the dining plan (even for free), if it didn't make them money. If you truly need that ore-paid feeling, put your budget on a gift card. Bonus, you won't be tracking credits AND still paying for tips out of pocket, which is another thing to consider. The more bang for your buck you get from the dining plan, the more money you are paying out of pocket in tips.

    Sent from my iPad using DISBoards
  15. KittyKat1978

    KittyKat1978 DIS Veteran

    Aug 7, 2011
    I went the first week of May and this was my first time without the free dining plan (usually go in Sept). I priced out what the Quick Service dining would be on my 7 day 7 night trip to see when I got home if the dining plan was worth it.

    I did mostly QS with three TS and I only spent $20 more than if I had gotten the QS plan.

    I find that I ate more when I had the QS plan than when paying out of pocket because I felt that I had to get a drink and a dessert to get the most out of the plan (even though it was free).

    I don't drink pop (got a bottle of water once in a while) and only got dessert once at the QS on my trip in May.

    For me, I like the flexibility of paying out of pocket and eating at a few TS and getting dessert (or treats) where I want to, not locked down to what the QS has to offer.

    That being said, I wouldn't say no to free dining if it was offered when I go.
  16. ironpig70

    ironpig70 DIS Veteran

    Nov 29, 2004
    For my family it will pay for itself or come really close depending on which counter service we go to and what is ordered off the menus at cs/ts. Hard to plan it out to the penny. I have gotten it where I was ahead a couple hundred to where I lost a hundred. Sounds like a lot but when you are talking about a 5k trip its not bad.

    Looking at going to the world next year and will have me(DH), DW, DD15, DS9, DD9 since I have 2 kids under 10 it pencils out. My oldest was still eating kids meals/portions till 12 or so and I see the youngest doing the same.

    Also this will be the second trip to the world for us, first was when the oldest was 5. That trip was 4 days and pre DIS so it was planned but not like this one will be.

    As for ADR's we plan on doing a lot of character meals as that's part of the magic. We normally don't do lots of dessert but this is a once in a lifetime vacation so lets splurge a bit.

    In the end even if I lose $100 on this I will take that as a convenience fee. Knowing everything is paid for before leave home is worth it to me.
  17. SA mom

    SA mom DIS Veteran

    Apr 15, 2012
    When our two kids were under 10, it really was a great deal for us. But once they became Disney Adults, there was no way it would ever save us money.

    One flaw we were able to use to our advantage was that counter service credits were not divided between kid and adult credits. We ordered all adult counter service meals. The four of us could eat on 2-3 meals. Over the course of several days, that added up to an extra meal for our family.

    I have no idea if the credits are still counted that way, but something to look into.
  18. LucyBC80

    LucyBC80 DIS Veteran

    Jan 25, 2012
    In my case is not only about being cost effective. I spread my payments throughout the year, making small payments each month. By the time we're reaching the home stretch and thinking about how much money we'll really need, it's nice not to be concerned about spending money to eat. So yes, for me it's worth it.
  19. mom2rtk

    mom2rtk DIS Veteran

    Aug 23, 2008
    I think this is where they lose a lot of families. Once they hit 10, any small benefit from the program gets taken up with the waste of ordering and paying full freight on such a young child.
  20. mousefan73

    mousefan73 DIS Veteran

    May 9, 2012
    This thread made me curious as I have recently booked our Sep13 Package with free Dining. I went online and did 3 possibilities

    The below is for 5 nights POR in a Royal room with pool view. We are 2 adults and 2 Kids.

    1. FD package ( what we did) is 2473
    2. Package with new offer of 25% Fall Room only is 2142
    3. Package with Fall offer plus paying for DP ( 1QS and 1 TS) is 2870

    Now We could save Money and only do the room. but the difference of 331 is less that what we would pay OOP.. We have BOMA, OHana, CM, Akerhus booked. That alone brings us up to that.

    Where I would though consider payiing OOP is if there was no FD and we got the room only. Here the differnce is 728 Dollars. Here it might make sense to crunch some real numbers to see if OOP is better, especially with Kids.
  21. MarieLightning

    MarieLightning Mouseketeer

    May 23, 2012
    I feel that I'm gonna be repeating what a lot of people have said, but yes, it really depends on what you're looking to do, how many people you're feeding, what age they are and so on.

    I work in the travel industry so we're mostly taught to swear by the dining plan - I mean, any job that has a sales aspect tends to have the motto of 'upsale, upsale, upsale' (Even though I work in a call center and don't make commission :rotfl: )

    When I went last November, we had the free dining plan, so we took it. We didn't really stop to think about it, because I mean, it was free. I was also convinced at that point that the DDP was perfection and *had* to be purchased :lmao: (what work trainings will do to you..)

    Now that we're planning to go again for 7 nights in May, which is a time of year for which the free dining plan basically does not appear, we calculated everything through the menu info on allears and wdwinfo. We're going as a group - 10 of us, all adults. We budgeted for 2 meals a day, one QS and one TS, like the DDP offers. From what I calculated, we established a food budget of 375$ per person. That can cover the two meals, one or two snacks a day, some drinks (a lot of us drink mostly water, so to be fair we didn't include much of a drinks budget) *and* in most case, tipping (which for many meals will be a mandatory 18% since of our group size), which is not included in the DDP.

    Between doing room only plus that food budget, and a package with the dining plan, it's less expensive to pay for food OOP for us. To be fair, we are also hoping for a room discount, which from what I can see from the past few years seems to happen for May travel dates

    We did also look into splitting some meals - something else you don't worry about when you're on the dining plan. A lot of food was wasted last time we went. This time around, we'll be splitting some things, so hopefully there won't be as much waste :thumbsup2 Mind you, that's us though - the guys we're bringing along might feel differently :rotfl:

    All in all, it comes down to the numbers. If you want to do a lot of character meals, or some signature dining, the DDP might easily pay for itself that way. And then, if you love planning and lists and such like I do, adding it all up will just be another fun part of your trip planning :goodvibes

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