Your Good and Bad and even the ugly on the Meal Plan

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by HWY20RIDE4MYSON, Jan 18, 2013.

  1. HWY20RIDE4MYSON

    HWY20RIDE4MYSON Mouseketeer

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    Looks like were going to do 7-8 days in "July" ARRRRRRRR!!!!! were prob going to stay at DWL my question is if were going to spend all day at the parks is the meal plan good for this?? This is our first on site stay is DWL good for food and also if were going to close the park every evening will we be able to get food at the resort late? Would it be better just to wing it and pay as we go? I like the idea of having everything paid for but I know with the Summer heat H20 will be our main dish lol!!! Thanks!
     
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  3. Chellymouse

    Chellymouse DIS Veteran

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    We ditched the DDP a few years ago and have not looked back. The DDP really is not all it's cracked up to be for the cost, especially having to pay a higher cost due to it being summertime. I would suggest if you're driving or have a car, head to a store offsite and stock up on beverages, water and light snacks and pack them into a soft side cooler and take them into the parks everyday to start. If you're flying and won't have a car, I highly recommend gardengrocer.com. GREAT service and very reasonable prices. In order to get your $$ worth, you need to eat lunch at the most expensive CS you can find and eat all TS meals at supper time, again needing to order the higher cost items in order to get your money's worth. Keep in mind that you are also responsible for your gratuities. Take the money that you have spent on the DDP and get Disney gift cards with your cash. Your meals will still be pre-paid and you can eat as you wish. If there are few TS you really want, make sure you make your ressies at the 180 day mark to ensure you get them.
     
  4. mrsR123

    mrsR123 Mourns her Tag Fairy tag. :-(

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    I have to agree; DDP is just too much food and way too much money. The only way I can see it being beneficial is if you think you'd eat that way anyway: one sit down with dessert for every person every day and desserts for every person at every counter service plus the snack.

    I try to do late breakfasts or early lunches for our big meals anymore so that the sit-downs are a little less expensive vs. dinner prices-- especially if we're doing buffets. We do a like to do 2-3 in a week's time. It's nice to be able to sample lots of things, I can get the DSs to eat something green, and desserts are included.

    Good luck deciding and have fun this summer.
     
  5. ThreeBeans

    ThreeBeans Now with FOUR Beans

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    If you were actually going to order and eat the volume of food that the DP gives you it does save you money. I think though, even the heartiest eaters are unlikely to ever order that volume of their own volition.
     
  6. HWY20RIDE4MYSON

    HWY20RIDE4MYSON Mouseketeer

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    thanks for the info, on our other trips we allways stayed off site, we usually bring snacks and bottled water. So we really drink more then we eat, usually split a lunch or if super hungry we get individual meals. I def agree with the online store, we were planning of flying and renting a car for the day just to stock up on snacks. I think we will skip the meal plan for the reason that were not heavy eaters when at the parks, Now at the resort that is a dif story!!! lol
     
  7. Sphinx610

    Sphinx610 DIS Veteran

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    I will not do it unless its free at this point... this article sums it up pretty well:
    http://blog.touringplans.com/2012/07/17/the-disney-dining-plan-exposed/

    I don't think its worth it at all. You may break even but I can't see how you would be "saving 20%" like it advertises. Maybe bf all the changes and price increases... You basically pre-pay for your meals, but you have to use those credits and you do not get reimbursed. So you could end up losing money on it. Also you are stuck using it the way it is laid out for your whole trip, which makes it kind of restrictive. If you go with the quick service, you are stuck eating quick serv every meal for your entire trip. You pay out of pocket for any character meal etc- plus there are those unused credits... If you do the standard plan, you are stuck getting at least one TS meal a day and what if you want to keep moving and just grab quick serv? nope... Plus tip is not included anymore so there is always going to be out of pocket every day. We only did 2 ts meals, but each was over $100. Not a big deal but if you have to do TS and leave a tip on a $100 meal every day that really adds up. Especially for the heavy tipper like me. (I tip 20% unless the service is horrible) The deluxe is way too much food for the average person and its really pricey.

    Just my two cents. Some people love it :confused3
     
  8. Yoshi

    Yoshi DIS Veteran

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    The only time I like the dining plan is when it's free dining. I know it's not really free because you lose the room discount but with our last trip, if we had gotten the same room discount as in past years without free dining, it was like we had gotten the room discount during free dining but paid $16 a person a day, for the Quick Serice plan (before that we had gotten the regular plan when values still got the regular plan).

    My biggest issue with it is that it was way too much food and included stuff we would never order. We usually drink water with our meals so wouldn't have bought soda and never all get a dessert with a meal, either counter or table service. Most of the time, our snack credits went unused most of the trip because we weren't hungry in between lunch and dinner and ended up using them for stuff to take home at the end of the trip.

    If we had to pay $34.99 a person a day for the Quick Service or more for the regular plan, I'd feel like we might be overall saving money based on the regular prices but wouldn't actually be saving anything because when ordering off the plan, our meals would have been cheaper to begin with. As an example, eating at Sunshine Seasons in Epcot our total for 4 people on the dining plan was around $62, if we were paying out of pocket what we would have ordered would have been around $35.
     
  9. ChristineOH

    ChristineOH Mouseketeer

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    Do you have kids? How many and how old? Are you planning to do character meals? We found that when our kids were all "kids" on the DDP, and we had character meals, it was a good deal. Our next trip we decided we didn't want an ADR every day. But in July, you might like air conditioned breaks for meals! It all depends.
     
  10. T. Baker

    T. Baker Earning My Ears

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    We used the dining plan for the first time in December 2012 and my husband said never again. He said he felt like all we did was eat and it was way too much food and he is a big eater.

    I agree with the poster that said you need to eat more dinners than lunches. I kept track of what each meal would have cost for the entire week so I could find out how we came out. Well -- if we had not had to use the snack credits (got candy and cookies for Christmas stockings with these), Disney would have made about $30 on us. As it turned out, we almost broke even.

    A funny example of the dining plan is the dessert in Rainforest Cafe called the volcano. It is a huge dessert with brownies, ice cream and hot fudge. Anytime anyone orders this dessert they waiters scream out volcano as they take it to the table. Before the dining plan, you heard Volcano maybe once while you were there. This year we heard volcano being screamed about every 5 minutes. This is because everyone feels they have to have the dessert or they are giving away part of their dining plan.

    We would have eaten several table service meals anyway, but we would much rather have a salad or appetizer than a dessert. Also , the sandwiches are huge at Disney and ordinarily we would have shared one, but on the dining plan you don't want to waste the credits.

    We decided that whoever instituted the dining plan for Disney should get a big fat raise because everyone is using it. We paid for the dining plan because the discount on the room was $100 more than free dining. We know now not to add dining plan again.
     
  11. Stinky_Pete

    Stinky_Pete DIS Veteran

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    I did the dining plan back when it included appetizers and gratuity for something like $38 pp/day and it was a no-branier that it was "worth it" financially. However, even with that great deal, I still had issues with it.

    When I have a program like that, I am always thinking "Am I getting the best value from the plan?" So even though I had all these snack credits I was concerned about going unused, I still wouldn't use them for a bottle of water as it wasn't a high-cost item and therefore not a "value". Also, there are meals you might want that are not included on the plan. An example: We were stying at the WL and one evening wanted appetizers and drinks in the lounge in lieu of dinner. The plan doesn't cover anything in the lounges.

    Now that the price has gone up so much, I don't see how it would be a "value" like it used to be.

    You've been before, so you already have an idea of what types of meals you prefer, unless you want to try something different this trip. But think about that - your mix of counter service vs. table service. Then look at the menus on here or All Ears. What would your family likely order? How much does that cost? And think about your own psychology - are you likely to stress over getting the most value out of the plan? Or would you just think about it like some say as "Pre paying" for your meals and oh what a relief that is?

    Years ago they had a dining plan called "Food and Fun". It was full TS breakfast and dinner each day, and unlimited "Fun" - things like boat rentals, bike rentals, etc. We joked that we were always planning where we were going to eat next. We saved our receipts and found that, in the end, we broke even on the meals. The one boat rental put us over the top. But if we weren't on the plan we would never have eaten a full TS breakfast and dinner every day. My point is, are you enjoying your vacation, eating what and when you like? Or is the dining plan ruling you?

    I like what someone said about purchasing Disney gift cards in advance and "pre paying" for your meals that way.

    And don't forget that it is not necessarily a table service every day. You can do a signature dining experience once or twice for two credits. I love Artist Point at the WL, and CA Grill at the CR.

    You asked about dining options at the WL. Late night your option will be Roaring Fork, the QS at the WL. Not sure how late it is open. May only be until 10 or 11 .p.m. Oh, and the meal plan works for people who are going to be in the parks all day. Lots of QS and 1 credit TS options, but you will likely have to plan and make your ADRs far in advance.
     
  12. LaurenT

    LaurenT DIS Veteran

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    OP, the way you worded your post leads me to believe that you think you need to eat at the resort. The DDP gives you credits that you can use almost anywhere on Disney property.
    Having said that, I only did it once and would not do it again. I like appetizers, but rarely eat dessert. I don't want to feel like I have to eat dessert and then pay outnof pocket for my appetizer. I like wine with my dinner....
    The upside is that the bulk of your food is all paid for ahead of time (don't think this doesn't factor into Disney's thi king...with your food prepaid, you feel like you have more cash on hand for souvenirs).
    But I prefer Tables in Wonderland. it gives me 20% off my entire sit down meal, including appetizers and alcohol.
     
  13. dtstampz

    dtstampz Mouseketeer

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    And don't get *sick* while you are there.
    I've used the dining plan twice, and both times came down
    with a nasty cold and had NO appetite. A few CS credits wasted...:(
    Won't be doing the dining plan again.
     
  14. WantToGoNow

    WantToGoNow DIS Veteran

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    We have done the regular DP for our last 8-9 trips and we like it for nothing more than the convenience. We have gotten it free every trip so we don't feel like we have to eat (or even order) the soda and desserts if we don't want them. On our upcoming trip we are doing the QSDP. We would probably come out ahead paying OOP but I want it paid in advance and not have to worry about what I order - I can get the $13 rib/chicken combo with drink and dessert if I want where if I was paying OOP I probably wouldn't. We will be 2 adults, a 12-year old Disney adult who eats like a bird and a 9-year old child who eats like an adult.
     
  15. mountdew1

    mountdew1 DIS Veteran

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    First off, I'd suggest making sure that you know the ins and outs of the dining plan, including which acronyms people are using, and what level you are talking about. Some people use DDP to refer to Disney Dining Plan, (which could be any of the levels) others use it to refer to the Deluxe Dining Plan (I prefer seeing DxDP for this one). QS DP has 2 CS meals, DP has 1 TS and 1 CS meal, DxDP has 3 TS meals, and then there are the higher levels above that that include tours and such also. You can pick any of those 3 base levels at any resort, but the higher ones require certain resort types. If you get a dining plan, you don't need to use it at your resort, you can use it at any dining establishment that accepts the credits you have. So if you have a TS credit you could use it at Cosmic Rays, Pizzafari, or Roaring Fork. So closing out the park each nice won't necessarily preclude you from using the credits, even if you get back to the resort after Roaring Forks closes, you would just need to eat at the Park. You need to eat one way or the other, so the dining plan shouldn't preclude you from enjoying the parks. However, if you think you only want 3 TS meals during your 7 day trip, then you can immediately skip looking at the TS and DxDP options as those will lose money for you.

    What it really comes down to is running the numbers on what you think/know your party will eat. And knowing if you will eat to the plan. Some people like having 3 TS meals a day, and for them the DxDP can easily work in their favor. Others want to wing it, in which case that would most definitely not work in their favor. Look at the places you are likely to eat, and plan out potential meals. Do this without looking at the prices. Many people tend to choose the most expensive item to maximize their value on the dining plan, without taking into account what they would actually eat. Then do the math and see which dining plan, if any works out in your favor. Odds are, if your family doesn't do desserts with each meal, or drinks water more than soda, or you have an 11 yo who still eats off the kids menu, it won't work out in your favor. Something as simple as not redeeming each of your snack credits can turn the dining plan from breakeven, into a losing deal. The dining plan doesn't work for my DW and I as we almost never get snacks, usually share a single drink at a meal (or drink water) and have gotten dessert a whopping ONCE at a CS location (it was free since they screwed up our order). But other people can do well if they normally eat to the plan.
     
  16. aaarcher86

    aaarcher86 DIS Veteran

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    My family enjoys, and saves money using the DXDP. Please keep in mind that we took advantage of the discounted dining offer that was out for January/February. I haven't run the numbers if it was full price.

    We have 2 small children and end up doing a sit down breakfast and sit down dinner each day - most being character meals. It saves us a lot of time in the park that we'd otherwise be spending waiting in line to get autographs and pictures. We'll just grab a QS or snack through the day as we get hungry.

    I'm not a big dessert eater but I enjoy getting to try some things I'd never ordinarily order, and being able to get apps for each person is a bonus for us since we all have different tastes.

    Totally agreeing with a PP about using the menus to calculate your costs. Whether you save or not will depend on your party size/ages, how you eat, what you order, etc. It's pretty easy to calculate using the menus from allears.net what you'd pay OOP versus the DDP nightly cost.
     
  17. jenfromjersey

    jenfromjersey Mouseketeer

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    My last trip, in May, I was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of a CM discount when booking my trip, which meant that we got a room discount AND a discount on the dining plan. $29.99 is a price that we couldn't pass up for dining. It was most definitely a good deal for us, and we made sure to maximize our value by eating at expensive places.
     
  18. pigletto

    pigletto DIS Veteran

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    Free Dining usually ends up being the best discount for us if we stay at a moderate. It isn't how we would typically eat as my vegetarian dd sometimes doesn't like the vegetarian choice and would prefer a main course of an appetizer or two. We also almost always drink water with meals because that is what we prefer and often the desserts get one or two bites and then we're done. But we do eat at one TS a day no matter what, and when we go with free dining we drop down to the two day tickets for the promo because we are AP holders. So I budgeted 200 per day for food this trip plus the cost of Tables In Wonderland and it came in a few hundred cheaper to do free dining over a room discount no matter how I ran it.

    However, if we want to rent points next trip or use a room discount at a Deluxe I will be happy to give up the ddp. It's not how we want to eat all the time. This trip was about keeping the cost low.

    It is one of those scenarios where you have to run the math, but from the sounds of things you would be much better off with a room discount and paying as you go for food.. especially because you are staying Deluxe.
     
  19. DisneyFive

    DisneyFive What time is the 3:00 parade?

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    I know that a lot of people are very negative on the meal plan, but we love it. Folks say that it's caused a decline in food quality since it's been introduced, but we don't know any different since it's been available since we've been going (2010) and we've had many fantastic meals every year. (maybe we just pick the right places :confused3)

    However, we've only done the "free" dining plan (one TS, one QS, and one Snack per day). As other's have said, it is the best discount we can get being that we stay at Mod and Value resorts. The room discounts don't save us near as much.

    That being said, I would not pay outright for the dining plan, and would rather pay out of pocket if the free dining wasn't offered. It's for the same reason that other's have mentioned. We wouldn't order as much food; we would share deserts, drink more water rather than pop/juice, etc... We also probably wouldn't order so many entrees on the high end of the menu price (which the dining plan makes it very easy to do)

    The only "bads" I can think of:
    Thinking back to our first ever trip to WDW (with free dining), ordering the QS meals was very confusing. I remember standing in line with others behind us waiting, at first it was hard to figure out what was considered a "entrée" and what deserts we could choose from, what needed to be ordered(or not) on the child's menu... The TS meals were easy to order, no probs there.
    After our third trip, we totally get it now

    The other "bad" is that it does fill up the restaurants (even though we haven't' had problems with getting our seat on time), and can make it tough to get some reservations if you're not able to book 180 days out.

    It also sets your park schedule once you've made your dining reservations. Being that the dining reservations can be hard to get, it really makes it a tough choice to change you park plan for fear of not finding another good TS reservation on the alternate park day.

    However, I think a lot of this is due to the fact that we go when free dining is offered, so more folks are competing for the reservations.

    Dan
     
  20. DisneyFive

    DisneyFive What time is the 3:00 parade?

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    You can't blame that on the dining plan. We've spent 23 full days total in Disney the last three years, each day using the dining plan. For our group of 7 the first two years, and 5 the last year, that totals 145 quick service meals and 145 table service meals and none of us have gotten sick at WDW.

    Dan
     
  21. butterfly71076

    butterfly71076 DIS Veteran

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    I know a lot of people don't like DDP, but, we love it! It is so easy to have everything paid for before you arrive and we just add the tip on to the room. For our family, that does a character meal just about everyday of our trip, it does save us money. For example, last year, we paid around $120 per day for dining. Our dinner, at Chef Mickey, ran about $120, not counting tip. In that one meal, our dining for the day was paid for. I do like that the tip is not included in the meal plan, not a popular opinion, I know. But, everyone knows their own family, OP, and if you think the dining plan will be a good fit for your family, go for it! Hope you stay cool this summer and have an amazing trip!!!!
     

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