Where to start??

Discussion in 'Welcome to the DIS' started by sablebomb, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. sablebomb

    sablebomb Earning My Ears

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    This is my first time even attempting to plan a Disney vacation.

    Where do I start?

    We have narrowed down a date (January 2014) but that's about it.

    I guess first choice would be to decide if we want to stay on site or off site?
    Any suggestions? I've been sent some great links to different places and talked to a few people who have done both and I guess both have thier benefits.

    Then what?

    And, I must ask, ball park figure, for a family of four (two adults, two kids) approx. 1-2 weeks, how much of a budget should we be looking at?:beach:
     
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  3. noleen

    noleen Earning My Ears

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    First I would, without a doubt, stay on Disney property! Then go on disney's reservation site and start pricing. You can make dining reservations up to 6 months in advance. Consider a dining plan if your kids want photos with characters and if they would like signatures.
     
  4. sablebomb

    sablebomb Earning My Ears

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    Thank you!!:wave2:
     
  5. danicaca

    danicaca Mouseketeer

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  6. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

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    A date is a good place to start. Let me give you a few broad overviews:

    Not to undo where you've started, but nkow that all choice of dates have pros and cons. As long as you understand the advantages and disadvantages, January is as good as any month. Jan is oftne not all that warm- sometimes you'll get a day to swim, but you may miss out on all the water rides in Jan, and swimming propably will be very chilly. Jan is also when quite a few rides are closed. the advantage of January is low prices (After New Years weekend), and low crowds.

    Think about an overall budget. Probably start withthe idea of onsite, unless the price seems too high. Consider though that onsite means you don't NEED to rent a car. Consider how you will get TO WDw, put that in your budget. Get familiar with going rates- like airfare.

    I gotta go know, but I'll be back...
     
  7. redrosesix

    redrosesix DIS Veteran

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    we started with the wdw planning dvd -- and that's what I recommend to anybody else who is thinking about going. We fell in love with the value resorts because they were so disney-ish, and that was lucky because it has saved us tons of money. They might not be for you though, and you can really only tell from a video.

    But, yes, stay at disney, use magical express and disney transportation, and just do disney the first time you're there. You can add more on your next trip.

    And don't add the dining plan unless you know for sure it will work for your family -- and think about whether you'd rather fly by the seat of your pants and just explore what there is, or run a tight ship and get to each attraction on a fixed schedule. That will affect what you really want to book in advance.
     
  8. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

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    It would help me to now a little about you, and how you wish to vacation. Disney world has lots of choices, enough to fit almost every budget. You can do a super-budget trip in your own camper/or offsite place, living on pbj all week. I'm pretty sure it's also popssible to spend a million $ in one week at WDW: staying in a huge suite, eating all high end meals, having personal escorts, getting the VIP celebrity treatment. (Oprah's been to WDW more than once, I'm sure she doesn't skimp!)

    Knowing a bit about how you like to vacation will help us steer you in the right direction.
    1. What is your group make up: Adults, number of kids in each age range (over 9, 3-9yrs, or under 3)? gender of kids?

    A 2-adults only trip is going to be a bit different than a trip wtih 16extended members or a family with three kids.

    2. What kind of dining do you prefer: eating in the room (with or without a kitchen), quick serve (fast food style, but better quality than McD's), buffets, moderate table service, room service, high end fine dining? Is offfsite dining something you think would be great, or a waste of time?
    2B. Are you moderately adventurous, picky eaters, or non-adventurous (say all burgers/steaks/American)?

    3. On a scale of say - one to ten- how immersed do you want to be in Disney? "One" being, "I was as little immersion as possible. Mickey makes me want to puke. I'm only going to please someone else." And "ten" being, "I want to hear Disney songs in my sleep, and see characters the entire time my eyes are open."

    4. Do you like to take a slow pace vacation, or a high energy vacation? Are you more in the see-everything camp, or the sleep-in every day camp? (Disney is more geared towars the high energy..but again, it opens it's arms to everyone!)

    5. Are there any mobiliy issues? Disabilities we should know about? You don't have to tell us this one. I'm not trying to be insensative, but mobility is important at WDW. A kid in a stroller can make quite a difference. All resorts can accomodate any family...but if mobility is an issue, then you may want to avoid the very large moderate resorts. You may want to opt for the compact POFQ, a preferred location room, or a deluxe resort.

    The disney DVD is a like a long commercial. It will give you an overview, and lots of pretty pictures, but the last one I saw (I think was 2009) was not all that informative on details- like prices. Another possible way to get info is if you have a AAA membership. Going in person to your local office is a good place to start. Even if youa re not a member, they might be willing to give you some brochures. A local travel office cna also do the same. Still one more possibility is Comcast's on Demend. Tehy used to have info there, not sure if they still do. There are also travel books you can get, or you can just use us.

    One more question....Do you prefer to have all the small details planned, or more of a 'go with the flow approach' (i.e. the freedom to make in-the-moment smart choices) We can help you get to a happy place either way.
     
  9. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

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    As you probably already know, every month has pros and cons. I'd not mention the month at all...but if I am advising a newcomer, January is not the first month I'd suggest. WDW is certainly open for business in January. It is also one of the most inexpensive times to go. I just don't want you to go uninformed. WDW is kind of made for 80 degree weather, and January is probably not going to be 80 degrees. that's why January is inexpensive. It's also a low crowd time of year. Lots of informed customrs love going to WDW in January.

    Another aspect of January is the national weather. It depends where you are coming from, but I've been to WDW in winter lots of times, and can tell you it's entirely possible to have your flights delayed/cancelled in winter (or really any time of year) due to storms, but it is kind of most frequent in winter and late summer (hurricane season). Again, I'm not trying to tell you to pick a different month, but rahter to inform you. I've gone many times in Feb. Feb is still a toss up weather-wise, but the odds of better weather go up as the month progresses (as do the prices, esp on the Pres holiday week). If you are driving from anothe part of FL, then you kow all this. If you are coming form someplace up north, and expecting FL to be in the 90's, then you may not be getting what you want going in Jan. Southern FLA stays pretty warm most of the time, but the Orlando area sometimes gets pretty cool. Then again, sometimes it's in the 70's in January. If you are flying, it might be worth your while to seek out direct flights, say.
     
  10. sablebomb

    sablebomb Earning My Ears

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    1. 2 adults, 2 kids- ages 6 (girl) and 12 (Boy). First time for all of us. We live in Nova Scotia Canada.

    2. we are simple eaters. We probably prefer quick and easy stuff. Nothing fancy (the kids won't appreciate it anyway). We wouldn't mind room service a time or two. Like buffets as well.
    2b. I'd go on the picky eater side. Hubby will eat anything (loves new stuff). The rest of us, not so much.

    3. I think the first time being there, we'd love the Disney. Not a 10 but certainly not a 1 either. I'll go with a little higher than the middle- let's say a 6 or 7!

    4. We are a bit of both. Love keeping busy and the kids will love keeping busy and want to do it all. However, we'd probably like to have a day or two of just chilling and swimming for the day. A relaxing day in the middle would be perfect!! Hubby is also the type who won't want to go go go all the time. He will want to relax a bit. I have a feeling I may end up taking a day and going with the kids while he stays at the hotel.

    5. No disabilities or mobility issues. Tired kids if we have to do a bunch of walking is about it. lol

    Thanks so much for all of the help you guys are all giving! I appreciate it!!
     
  11. sablebomb

    sablebomb Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for the info. As soon as I noticed someone else mention the lower temps in January and say we might not get to do any swimming, it sort of changed my mind. We did a lot of searching today and we are now leaning towards late April instead. Lower volumes but nicer weather.
    We will be flying from Halifax, NS, Canada so I know all about cancelled and delayed flights- BOOOO!!! Would hate to have that happen!
     
  12. sablebomb

    sablebomb Earning My Ears

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    How exactly does the dining plan work?
    To me it sounds worth it, but I may not completely understand it either.

    Does it involve reservations for all meals?
     
  13. myzel

    myzel Mouseketeer

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    Hi, enjoy your first trip.

    I will put in my 2cents. You an interesting case, will the children share a bed? This will determine where you stay and may impact your budget. The value resorts are equipped with family suites, or rooms that are joined by an interior door.

    Being your first trip some character dining would most likely be in order, but that is another thread. There are some really good threads on the Dining Plan, but depending on when you go ADR's can be a must. Used to be a time when you had no problems but more people are enjoying dining at T/S than they used too.

    January in Florida is like April in N.S., April is much nicer. For a first timer I would suggest a Disney Specialist like Build a Better Mouse Trip or Small World Vacations. They are used to dealing with people who want to make things just right and ask a lot of questions.

    I like to suggest a moderate resort for first timers however if you need more room I would be inclined to go with POP Century, it is a nice value resort. The value resorts are still very Disney and it is hard to believe when you are there that are possibly 5000 other people sharing the same resort.

    I hope this helps.
     
  14. chalee94

    chalee94 <font color=green>I thought all sand was ground up

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    no - reservations still need to be made by you in advance. nothing is guaranteed.

    i don't like the dining plan. it was a good deal back when tips were included but now it doesn't offer much of a savings and it often pushes you into choices that you don't really want.

    there is an entire forum dedicated to the dining plan, so you might want to read some of the stickied threads there to decide what you prefer:

    http://www.disboards.com/forumdisplay.php?f=116
     
  15. sablebomb

    sablebomb Earning My Ears

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    I was reading a bit about the dining plans but kept going back to the comments that if you want to have character meals, you should get the dining plan? Is the dining plan make it easier to reserve the character meals? or is it just that the character meals are more expensive so it makes it more worth it? That's what I haven't come across yet. (tons of info and I've spent hours on here so far reading up on all kinds of great topics!).
    What exactly is this character dining?
     
  16. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

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    April is just about the perfect time to go. Being from up north, Winter temps would probbably feel warm to you, but I still think April is iseal, unless youa re a REALLY looking to go on the cheap, or really don't mind cold.

    In 2014, Easter falls on April 20 - so you will do better if you can avoid the week before Easter and the week after. there shoudl be a sweet spot aruond the begining of the month, or at the end of the month. If you don't mind going that late, the week including April 28 will likely have great rates. Otherwise the very start of the month will be great weather, not sure yet how pricing will fall. The tail end of March/first few days of April should also be excellent (weather and crowds) , since Easter falls so late next year.

    All Disney resorts have pizza delivery, but I think only the deluxes have real room service. All Disney resorts also have quick serve places (food courts). We really like to eat in the food courts most mornings because they are quick.

    In the morning, it pays to make good use of time. you don't have to drive your fanmily nuts holding to a schedule, but being at the parks very close to 9am most mornings is very helpful. On the DIS we call that 'rope drop.' (being at the gates when the proverrbial rope drops tolet guests enter the park. If the posted park opening is at 9am, rope drop actually often happens at quarter to the hour, 8:45am) Personally we are rarely AT the gate before 9am, but most days we are there by 9:15am. You cna get a lot of park done in the first hour. Conversely, you can aslo do a lot of rides after dark. the parks are really fun at night, so I highly suggest it. the crowds drop off a ton, and the nitgh time lighting is relaly superb. The night parade at MK is the only one we see. It's that cool. the night fireworks at MK are also superb - but I'm getting ahead of myself.

    If you are going in April, then any disney resort is going to be nice. (In Jan, it realy pays to stay deluxe).

    the Dinig Plan used to be a great deal. It is not for 2013, but we'll see what 2014 brings. It is still useful though as a rough guide as to how much food costs at WDW.

    gotto go...
     
  17. myzel

    myzel Mouseketeer

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    You hit that one right on, the character dining is more money. They are more popular hence the need for ADR's. All Ears has a good site with menu's and pricing to help, as well Davids Disney site has a good calculator to help. Davids DVC has some good tools to use, you may like the DVC option as well but I would agree with other posters that DVC while a great option is not for first time visitors.
     
  18. chalee94

    chalee94 <font color=green>I thought all sand was ground up

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    one theory is that disney overprices their food to make the dining plan look better. so it's very possible that if you do several table service meals with characters, the DDP will save you money.

    but you would still need to have the reservations made ahead of time. if you show up and a restaurant is full, you might risk losing your dining credits and getting nothing in return (unless you can find a less popular restaurant nearby which has tables available).
     
  19. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

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    There are now several dining plans. There'sa quick serve option, that offers no savings at all and is a bad idea, except as a gaugue of what food costs.

    There is also a deluxe plan, then allows three table serve meals per day ,and is also generally not a good diea, unless you are hard set upon the idea of getting room service every day. If you are, then it might be a good deal.

    (sorry, I make too many typos when I'm trying to be quick.)


    The middle of the road dining plan, used to be a great deal. For 2013, it's not not going to offer much savings. It works this way, for the adult and kids over 9, the cost is about $55 per person per day. For your daughter, it runs about $17 per day. In short, the dinig plan gives you vouchers on your room key. Ech person gets a voucher fora complete quick serve meal, a complete table serve meal and a snack each day. A "snack" is almost anythign edible that costs $4 or less (and a few thgins over $4). A Meal includes entree, dessert, and a non alcoholic drink. (so at a quick serve you get a completemeal: burger/fries/drink/dessert, and a similar offering at dinner: Entree with side dish as listed on the menu - or- complete buffet, drink and dessert) To redeem your vouchers, you just hand over your room key, and the cashier deducts the credits. Cashiers will help you to navigate the system -but taking advantage of the dining plan means (except breakfast) getting a soft drink and dessert with every meal. It also means ordering one of the more expensive items off the menu, or dining at a buffet (as in the DDP is a good deal at the buffets). If you are a small eater, skip desserts, and/or drink water with your meals - it won't save money at the price Disney has set for 2013 (as I said, prices for 2014 are not out yet. But the price of DDP has gone up each year and the discount has evaporated. Still, Disney could offer a great price in 2014.) Another key point is that your vouchers expire if you don't use them - you don't get the value back. Another key thing is that DDP does not cover appetizers, gratuity, or alcohol. those costs you pay out of pocket.

    The one nice thing about DDP is that it's a way to prepay your meals. It's also useful as a guide. If you eat one quick serve, one Table serve, and one snack each day- then you will average about $55 per adutls (plus tip and alcohol), and probably about $20 on your daughter.

    To use DDP, you dont HAVE to make ADR's, but it's strongly advised that you make one ADR each day. Practically speaking, you will have to make one for each day. However...the table service restaurants and buffets do get booked up fulll, especially if you want to eat at a normal time. Almost always you can find one restaurant that has an opening, but it might be at 9pm, or not be the neatest place to eat.

    Disney restaurants have really great theming. It's sort of becoem a trend nowadays for some chain dinig to offer fun theming. the 12year old may be beyond a the idea of a meal with characters, but yoru daughter will likey love a princess dinner.

    Typically when we eat at WDW, we share food. So while two meals per day may not sound like much, it's plenty for most folks. (the again, you have a 12 year old boy. Some boys at that age are still small eaters, and some are big eaters..) Typically for our family, the DDP is about the right amount of food, but we don't eat all the desserts. We also prefer water with some meals.

    conversely, eating one table serve emal each day, but not more than one table serve meal each day, is a good rough guide. A table service meal allows you to sit down. With full active days, a table serve dinner is nice. In the mornign, a quick food coutr meal is a great way to get out quickly. Also, though I'm not a big fan of the food court in my loacla mall, Disney food court food is fairly decent. Not stellar, but better than most amusement parks. the table serve emals go from so-so to rather great. I haven't mentioned Signature dinig, but that's still one more option. (You can use two vouchers per person to do a signature meal or room service- again not a great value on DDP - but an option you should be aware of)

    I mention signature dining nott to overwhelm you, but just to let you know there are some really high quality options at WDW. Compared to most themem parks where food is really marginal, I'm quite happy withthe food quality at WDW. Not allthe food is stellar, but there are lots of little fun treats, fun desserts, and really fun themes. Like in DTD, there's a restaurnat with giant animatronic dinosaurs! Another fun option is a dinner show. (double credit, but fun) another place is designed to look like an old fashioned drive-in movie theater! With actual movie clips showing. Many meals have characters. they walk aroudn while you are eating and you can get a picture, and autograh, and just have fun acting like a kid. It's actually fun for adutls, if you can get intothe spirit of it.

    Still other dinig will 'take you some place exotic'. Almost every restaurant offers a basic steak with potato- so don't feel too intimidated. But it may LOOK like you are in China, dining next to Canada's Victoria Gardens. There's also a restaurant where your table has a view of a giant aquarium. (think nurse sharks) There's too many fun options to list here, but it's worth looking at your dinig options and having alittle fun.

    for yoru third meal of the day (lunch, for us) quick serve again sia good option because it gives you flexibilty. While the table serve options are lots of fun, they also take a while.

    WDW is very large. Getting from place to place takes a long time. Soemtimes it may take over an hour to get fromyour resort to a restaurant - so I'll help you be strategic. that's where a little planning pays off (picking apark each day, and having your tables erve emal in that park) Also, table serve meals take sometimes 90 minutes- especially if you have to wait for your table - so that's why I only like to do one per day. Oh, and I plan no more than onebuffet every 24hour period. it's just too much food. If you like to table serve lunches, or breakfasts or a mix of meals that's perfectly fine..but if you are not sure- my tried and true is to have breakfast i our food court, a quick serve lunch, and a table serve dinner - as our most common pattern. (this has several advantages that I can explain later)

    So now that you have a time frame....find a resort you like. Again, think abou your budget. Oh - you also should think about how long you want to stay. Mousesavers gives great tables, pricing info, as does the parent website of the DIS. Allearsnet.com is another great place for good info - like menus. Somewhere between five to nine full days is ideal for a first trip. Do what appeals to you, and what fits your budget. You willl find plenty to keep you busy for nine days- with some ride repeats. Five is not enough time to see everything, but you'll at least get to each park once with five full days. Six or seven full days is my suggestion. (You will get some time on arrival and departure days, but not a full day, especially if you have to go through customs and all)

    Find a resort you like. Look at price, theming and dining options there. Once you get a resort in mind, and an overall budget....you can have fun finding some table serve dining that appeals to you. You can certainly be happy doing less thanone table serve per day...but that's my rough guide suggestion.

    Oh - ....If you DO decide on a deluxe resort....then WDW does offer a club level. I only mention since you said you like room service. Club level is kind of a neat option if you want the convenience of somethig like room service, but it's not a budget option to be sure.
     
  20. 101disneyfan

    101disneyfan Waiting for Avatar, Star Wars, Pixar Place...

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    I would just like to say Welcome, and if any of my links can help you with your planning, feel free!
     
  21. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

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    Most of the chracter meals are buffets, and are pricey. It used to be that DDP was less expensive than paying for buffets - at least when you consider the value of the QSmeal credit and the snack. As I said earlier the way it's priced for 2013, it's not much of a savings. At any meal, if don't picka drink or dessert, then you aren't maxing your credit. You simply 'lose' that credit. Sometiems you have the optioh topick something like yogurt as your dessert or a packaged cookiepackaged applesauce. If youa re sharing, then a yogurt could make a lunch snack for a second person, while prepackaged desserts can be saved for later. Most quick serve desserts are nothing to get excited about.

    A snack credit is worth up to $4 (usually, there are rare exceptions where it's worth over $4), but also as low as $1.60 if you use it for a soda.

    An adult QS meal credit is worth up to about $17 (Pizzafari combo meal: pizza/salad/dessert/drink, $17.25). It's about $9 for a low end breakfast sandwich+drink (Pizzafari you don't get dessert w/breakfast). Kids quick serve meals are all about $6, and always include drink/side/dessert. Kids' meals are nearly the same everywhere.

    the table serve meals are more highly variable. If the place has a menu, and you order the vegtarian meal, The DDP will lose money, as most veggie meals are about $15 (plus drink/$3 and dessert/$4-7). The most expensive single credit buffets ( 1900Park Fare, Chef Mickey's) are around $40 with tax. So at that meal, your TS 'credit' is worth $40 for adults and $20 for kids. At the Plaza, a TS might be worth as low as $19, for example. Lunches are also often around the $20-25 value mark.

    So if you max out your snack, $4, your QS, $17.5, and your TS, $40 then your DDP credits for one day are worth up to approx $61.30. but you aren't going to eat at the same buffet every day. If you did, then the DDP would save you $5.7 - except that DDP doesn't include a tip for your server....so the more you max out the value of your TS credit - the more you should also leave as a gratuity. If you eat vegtarian, or use your TS credit at lunch or breakfast, and don't max out your snack credits (drink, $1.60, apple $1.30), skip dessert at lunch, and drink water, then you could easily lose $25 or more each day on DDP.

    [The short answer for your daughter is that she will probably come out about $5-10 ahead each day. For your son, it's complicated. He has to pay the adult price for DDP. If he's a small eater, and you don't do DDP, then most QS will allow you to buy him a child meal. If he's a big eater, then effectively he's like a third adult.]

    A downside of DDP if you will - at least as it is priced now - is that you REALLY have to make sure you are maxing the value of your credits. In practice, it requires a fair amount of thought to police your family memebers and make sure everyone is remembering to order their desserts and drinks- even if they don't want them. You also end up ordering the steak - not because it's what you want to eat- but because it maxes out your credits. (then agian, withtout DDP you may be the type to orders the least expensive entree, just because it's less $$)

    Dining reservations are competely seperate from the dinig plan. They are not at all tied to one another. The only exception is if you have DDP, then there area few dinner show type meals that you don't have to prepay.

    Last year, Disney complicated dining reservations by requiring a credit card security on it's most popular locations. (all buffets and character meals) In order to make a reservation, you now have to provide a CC number. In short, if you are a no show- Disney will charge you ten $ per no show guest. In your case, you would be charged $40 for being a no show at a character meal. At the Signature meals, they charge $20 per no no show- so $80 for your family. It's a big YIKES!

    If you cancel more than 24 hours before the reservation they won't charge you. If however, you don't feel like eating a big dinner one night, your child gets sick, or it's pouring rain (happens quite a bit in the summer months) - guests are kind of compelled to go to dinner anyhow. (Can you tell I'm not a fan of this new policy?) If you are a no show and don't eat, you lose your DDP credits plus the $40 charge - so you could lose BOTH your DDP credits AND be charged for a meal that you did not eat.

    So that's one more facet in the 'how to plan your dining at WDW'. Again, hopefully I'm not overwhelming you. the simple solution is that DDP is not a great deal in 2013, not when you consider the risk. It doesn't save much money, requires a good deal of thought/hassle (planning to max your credits) and potentially sets you up to lose quite a bit of money. Unless you are gungho about prepaying your meals, I suggest just payingfor meals as you go. Unless of course Disney comes out witha special package discount in 2014.

    I do think planning one or two character meals and buffets is fun. They are event meals. The rest of the time, we find we are better off eating at menu type places where we have the freedom to order what we feel like eating, and only paying for what we eat.


    I'll add that much of what you are likely reading is about DDP in the past. Just a few years ago, DDP was priced much lower. Almost no matter what, it saved money, even if you didn't get dessert. If you planned to eat at some buffetss/character meals, it saved a good deal of $$. Disney's no show charge policy did not exist, or was only at a very few places. At one point DDP included appetizers and tips! So back then it was a really good deal.
     

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