Is the dining plan worth it for my family?

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by mummy2emma, Jul 14, 2013.

  1. mummy2emma

    mummy2emma Earning My Ears

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    We are staying 9 days/8nights (November 1-9/13) and we are staying at SSR so we will do breakfast at home everyday but lunch and dinner will be eaten out plus a snack/treat of course!

    How much is the average amount of money a family of 5 (2 kids over 10 and one just 9 + 2 adults) would spend on food per day? Do you think it would be over $200? We would do 1 TS, 1QS and a snack plus drinks everyday. If we would be over $200 it makes sense to do the meal plan - what do you all think??

    Thanks :)
     
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  3. aaarcher86

    aaarcher86 DIS Veteran

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    No one can really answer that but you. It depends on what your kids would order. If your 10 year olds would prefer the kids menu, it probably isn't going to be a good fit for you and OOP would be the way to go. It also depends where you eat.

    Check out Allears.net and do some price comparisons with the menus and what you think the kids would order versus the cost of the DDP.

    The dining plan works for lots of people and saves them money, but it also isn't beneficial for lots of people. It's completely different from family to family. It's really hard to get an average.
     
  4. bartleby1

    bartleby1 DIS Veteran

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    Head on over to allears.net and look up the menus for the places you think you might eat to price out your meals. We personally have never found it to be a value for us and would have trouble even breaking even with the cost of the plan. I know some people swear by it. I just save up Disney gift cards to use for our meals instead. This way it paid for ahead of time so we don't come home to huge credit card bills.
     
  5. mickeynut1

    mickeynut1 DIS Veteran

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    I agree with everything here :thumbsup2. Some people will tell you the DDP is a waste, while others will tell it's the best thing. Getting the DDP or paying OOP is an individual decision that only you can make according to your family's way of eating.
     
  6. texasroni75

    texasroni75 Mouseketeer

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    We haven't done DDP yet, but I can tell you OOP for our family of 5 on our last trip. TS meals (NOT character dining), about $120 with tip. Counter-service meals, about $45. Snacks and drinks throughout the day, about $40. So, if we ate breakfast in our room from stuff we brought from home, it's about $180 a day and we sometimes shared CS meals. That was nearly 4 years ago so it will probably be $200 a day now. Character buffets would bump that up at least another $75.
     
  7. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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    The answer is probably No. But you need to do the math to know for sure.

    With the current design of the dining plan, you will only save more than a few pennies if you maximize it every day and every night.
    You're on the right track with QS lunch, TS dinner, plus snack and drinks.
    But you would also need to eat dessert with every lunch and every dinner.
    Your 2 older kids will need to get expensive adult entrees every night.
    And even the 2 adults -- must order expensive entrees from the more expensive restaurants.

    Do you ever share? Do you ever order apps as your meal? Do you ever skip dessert? Ever drink tap water instead of soda? If so, the DDP may not be for you.

    It's not just a question of whether it costs $200 per day to feed a family -- Also a question of buying the same things covered by the dining plan.

    Dining plan for your family I believe would run about $215:

    Here is a hypothetical way to feed your family of 5, for less than $215, without it feeling like you are skimping. Let's assume you are spending the whole day at Magic Kingdom.

    Lunch at Cosmic Rays:
    Adult 1: Rotisserie chicken + soda. ($13 before tax)
    Adult 2: Angus cheeseburger + soda ($13 before tax)
    Oldest child: BBQ pork sandwich with soda ($12.60 before tax)
    Middle child: Adult portion of chicken nuggets with soda (($11.70 before tax)
    Youngest child: kids meal, includes beverage and dessert -- $6

    No need for a cruddy Cosmic Ray's dessert for others...
    Because take a mid afternoon dessert break:
    For the 5 of you, get to Dole Whip floats from Aloha Isle: $10 total, plus tax.
    And get a couple of pastries from the bakery: Estimate of $9 for 2 large pastries.

    TS dinner at Be our Guest:
    Adult 1 Grilled Strip Steak - with garlic-herb butter and pommes frites $29.99
    Adult 2 Rotisserie Cornish Hen - with roasted fingerling potatoes and seasonal vegetables $15.99
    Oldest child Thyme-scented Pork Rack Chop - with au gratin macaroni, seasonal vegetables and red wine au jus $21.99
    Middle child (getting from kids menu) Grilled Steak
    with seasonal vegetables -- with dessert and beverage included, $10.59
    Youngest child -- with dessert and beverage included -- Whole-Grain Macaroni
    topped with Marinara Sauce and Mozzarella served with Seasonal Vegetables-- $8.59

    For the 3 people ordering from the adult menu, 3 desserts ($12) and 3 sodas ($9).

    Total cost for the day before tax about: $183. With tax -- $195.

    So saved $20 over the dining plan. Still got individual entrees at every meal. Still got sodas at every meal. The only thing you skipped was cheap QS desserts at lunch, you skipped 1 snack, and your middle child ordered from the kids menu at dinner.

    Take the exact same set up, and add desserts at lunch (about another $15), add the extra snack (another $4), and if your middle child orders from the adult menu at dinner (another $15) --
    So if you truly maximized every entitlement, the DDP would save your family about $15 for the day.
     
  8. Jonathan Swift

    Jonathan Swift I'm being sarcastic...or am I?

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    You won't know unless you estimate it. Check out the "Disney Dining Plan Tool" Microsoft Excel spreadsheet link in my signature. It will estimate all dining options for you providing you input your dining itinerary.
     
  9. Lyndsey

    Lyndsey Mouseketeer

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    I like the convenience of the dining plan. I like having my vacation paid in full before I go minus tips! My kids are 14 10 and 7 they are big eaters. They always want dessert but when I was paying out of pocket the answer was always know, now they get plenty. I would typically not waste money on snacks in the park but since its included they all get snacks. They know they can order whatever is already paid for so we know longer have arguements over ordering an appetizer with dinner. I have done dining plan the last 4 times and not once did we have a single credit of any kind left.
     
  10. MHSweb79

    MHSweb79 DIS Veteran

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    You've got 4 Disney adults and one Disney child, so the DDP would cost 4x$55.99 plus $17.16. That's $241.12 before tips.

    If you are a family who likes to do character buffets or a sit-down meal every day, and who likes to order dessert with lunch and dinner, then the plan might be good for you. If you have a couple of light eaters who could split meals, or someone who likes to order salad & an appetizer instead of an entree, or who can't eat in the brutal heat, or who can make a huge buffet breakfast last until 6pm (with a snack in the afternoon) OR you prefer not to take the time every day for a table-service meal, then it probably isn't the best deal in terms of saving money.

    We have recently discovered the joys of splitting meals, not just to save money, but simply that portions for many of them were so large and it pained me to waste the food (who takes a doggy bag back out into the Florida heat?). At Teppan Edo my DD and I split the entree at two visits, and we both left stuffed each time. (Of course, this doesn't work for every restaurant or every entree.) Flame Tree BBQ and Cosmic Ray's also have very large combos that can be easily split.
     
  11. LovesTimone

    LovesTimone DIS Veteran

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    We love the Dinning plan, we normally go for DDXDP. I made the mistake in January when I took my mom for her Surprise birthday trip, and did not go with the DDXDP or any dinning plan BIG... HUGE... Mistake>>>>.I found some receipts yesterday, now this is just for the 2 of us.

    CBR - Food Court Breakfast- 2 adult bounty platters, juice and coffee. 33.00

    Flame Tree BBQ Lunch - AK - Pork Sandwich plate, Turkey Sandwich plate, order of Fries,( they would not allow substitution for the fruit) 2 large drinks and we shared dessert. 42.00

    Chef Mickeys( Character Meal) for Dinner, Buffet and Soda, Coffee 110.00 plus tip - no adult beverages. 135.00 Total

    33.00 + 42.00 + 135.00 = 210.00 for 2 of us for one day. That not including a snack, and extra drink during the day.


    I also found a receipt for Coral Reef, We shared the appetizer for two , 2 Lobster pasta entrée Shared Dessert - Chocolate wave, Iced Tea, and 2 glasses of wine, 130.00 plus tip 155.00 for dinner.

    I will not be making that mistake again, I love having everything paid for up front, except for tips, adult beverages and souvenirs.

    I suggest you figure out where you would like to eat, then look and the menu's and price it out. You know your family best, are your boys big eater? Remember you will be doing a lot of walking, swimming, playing and running around, which could increase everyone's appetite.

    No matter what you decide have a wonderful time.
     
  12. Jonathan Swift

    Jonathan Swift I'm being sarcastic...or am I?

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    Your review is specious. When you say, "built in snacks," it really means, "you're being FORCED to buy snacks." When you say, "dessert and drink with every meal," it really means, "dessert and drink with every meal whether you want it or not." You're not getting those things for free. You're paying for them. In fact, you're essentially OBLIGATED to buy them lest the whole thing becomes financially unfavorable.
     
  13. bigmac5

    bigmac5 DIS Veteran

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    I love the dining plan- simply because it is paid up front and I don't have to worry about the cost when we get to Disney. I know if we were paying OOP for everything-even if we budgeted for more expensive meals I would opt for cheaper items and I would be constantly clicking away the $$ in my head. We will be celebrating our 25th anniversary at Nacoossee. I know if it was out of pocket we would cringe at going there. It has been 8 years since we have been to Disney and I know each time will be memorable but the dining will be high in the memories
     
  14. sandyplayer

    sandyplayer Mouseketeer

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    It also depends on where you eat. And remember that you can't split meals while on the plan. This would bring your tip down too, but on Dining plan you end up ordering all the food offered (at least at TS) and then pay tip on it.

    Last time we did the plan because we had three kids who were counted as children. And we did a lot of expensive meals if out of pocket, and dinner character meals. I actually added up all of our meals ahead of time and it came out ahead, not even including snacks.

    But this time we are not doing it. We will only do one character meal and a few table service, but the kids may not order adult entrees. And we often split entrées and add an app. Often for our family of five we have two desserts. Our oldest kids get charged as adults on the dining plan so it is much more expensive and therefor not worth it.

    Taking the time to add up all the meals you will eat takes a lot of time. I did it both times. Once, it made sense. now it does not

    bottom line, there is no one size fits all answer
     
  15. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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    I'm missing the huge mistake?
    Not sure if coffee at Chef Mickeys would be included under the DxDP or if coffee is extra. But assuming all included..
    Going into next year, the DxDP is $105 per person per night.

    So using your "big mistake" example --- you would break even under the DxDP.
    So where was the mistake?

    People often make the mistake of looking at the high price of Disney restaurants, and assume that the plans MUST save money -- or they think of past years when the plans were much cheaper.
    The reality is, most recently, the plans won't save most people anything.

    Sure... If you go out of your way to maximize each plan --- order the most expensive items 100% of the time, use EVERY snack, ALWAYS get dessert... Then you can save a few pennies.
    But substantial savings are gone.
    Moderate savings are only obtainable if you maximize the plan use.
    And for most people, the plan is now break-even or a loss.
     
  16. aaarcher86

    aaarcher86 DIS Veteran

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    I've always just orders an,orange juice and coffee and never been charged extra there, and every other character breakfast. They gave me the impression that they don't count coffee as your beverage.
     
  17. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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    I wasn't sure, particularly for dinner.

    But with that information -- with it being included -- it means under the example given, the DxDP would have been exactly break even. If the poster had also maximized their snacks, then you can count a "savings" of about 5%.
    Doesn't seem like a "huge mistake" to skip the DxDP.

    I did the DxDP and saved a good amount of money -- Back when it was about $70. But now that it's over $100.... There is still some potential savings, but not very much. (I was averaging $90-$100 in value per day, back when it was $70).
     
  18. aaarcher86

    aaarcher86 DIS Veteran

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    I'd agree with that. I haven't done the pen and paper math yet, but I'm within $100 for the DXDP and OOP using the spreadsheet. With it being that close I'll do the DXDP every time!

    I think I've seen coffees or lattes in exchange for dessert.
     
  19. nemajovc

    nemajovc Mouseketeer

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    Just remember to plan for tips with TSs. Most people do but it can add up.

    Sent from my iPhone using DISBoards
     
  20. havoc315

    havoc315 DIS Veteran

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    Yes, I've typically seen a coffee allowed as a dessert.

    I take the opposite attitude --- If there isn't a significant savings, why be tied down to a "plan." While everyone is different, I never personally found the plan to be less stressful than simply ordering what you want, when you want.

    Last trip -- we ate "deluxe style" -- Over 5 nights -- 3 signature dinners, 2 ts dinners, 3 ts lunches, and 2 cs lunches.... Ordered whatever we wanted, never skimped, often got appetizers... And the total cost was about the same as the regular dining plan (But got much more than we would have gotten on the regular dining plan). Our total food expenses were about $800, where the DxDP would have been about $1300.

    Now, while we didn't skimp at all -- we also didn't get individual desserts at every meal. Sometimes we each got an appetizer and entree, sometimes we shared, sometimes we had an appetizer as our meal. All depended on what we actually wanted. We did not do a ton of extra snacks -- not to skimp, just because we weren't hungry for them.

    So when comparing any dining plan to OOP -- instead of comparing what is "covered" -- which nowadays usually makes the plans about break-even -- I'd look at "how do we realistically want to eat" -- Which for most people, I think is a fair amount cheaper than the dining plans.
     
  21. aaarcher86

    aaarcher86 DIS Veteran

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    I think you're probably in the majority. For me personally, we're almost break even without me getting a dessert/app at each TS. Getting the DXDP allows me to get the app/dessert for nearly the same cost and I enjoy getting those things. For me, it's almost like extra perks for nearly the same cost. I won't order a dessert that I haven't had before for fear of not liking it and then I'm annoyed I just bought something I don't like. With the DXDP I can try things I wouldn't normally have tried. So far, we've had either a FD or SPD discount and upgraded to DXDP so we're saving money by getting it.

    I'll be looking at the TIW card for our next trip though and comparing that as well since we'll be doing DVC and a full price DXDP if we go that route. Who knows!
     

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