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

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


    HWY20RIDE4MYSON Mouseketeer

    May 20, 2012
    My son will be 6 at the time of travel. =)
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  3. catra121

    catra121 DIS Veteran

    Feb 6, 2011
    I love the dining plan. For me...Deluxe Dining Plan is the best option because I like a lot of sit down meals. Not just for the food itself mind you (though I have found dining in Disney World to be one of the best meal experiences in my life) but also because it gives me a chance to sit and take a break from the craziness of the parks without having to necessarily LEAVE the parks. I'm not a big pool person so I would rather take my afternoon "break" at a table service restaurant in the parks.

    That being said...what I like best about the plan is the convenience of having everything prepaid. I don't worry about sticking with a particular meal budget and I don't have to worry about a large credit card bill when I get's already pre paid on the card. I also don't worry about getting the most for the plan either. I get it and then just order what I want when I want regardless of price and that works best for me.

    I got an annual pass in October and since we were staying offsite (not a fan of that BTW but when it's free I can't really complain too much) I got a tables in wonderland card which saves you 20% at all table service restaurants (including things like alcohol and whatever). It paid for itself by the time we were done with 2 meals (4 adults but no alcohol for us). So the rest of our meals that was straight savings. I will be using it for my trip in April and my trip in September too so all of that money will be straight savings as well. You don't have to order a certain way or a certain for many people just looking at the savings this will be a better way to go (but it only saves at table service places). That said...I don't really like it. It's better than nothing which was why I got it since we were staying offsite and I feel like I need to use it for my other trips this year...but I still greatly prefer the dining plan for the convenience which I don't feel like you can really put a price on. I probably save money on the dining plan...but even if I lost money on it I would still buy it because my vacation experience is so much better because of it.
  4. Senator Tressel

    Senator Tressel DIS Veteran

    Sep 1, 2011
    My basic thought on the dining plan is that it's only for people who want to have their meals paid for in advance. For very few people will it actually be cheaper than you could do paying out of pocket. If you order the exact same thing on the dining plan that you would without it, yes absolutely it's going to be cheaper. But if you don't always buy dessert for every single and if you wouldn't buy a pop for every single person and if you wouldn't buy a snack every single day for each can be done much cheaper.

    But then again, it is a vacation and cheapest route isn't always going to be the goal. It's all about personal preference in that regard.
  5. LuvGoofy6

    LuvGoofy6 "This bond between us can't be broken. I will be

    Jun 2, 2012
    We like the Disney Dining Plan and have always used it when it was free dining. What we have found is that we like the dining plan when it is summer time and need the break from the heat and want a fortifying meal. As a previous poster stated, we used the character meals as an opportunity to get autographs and essentially saved time by not waiting in lines to get photographs/autographs. When you have little ones the character meals are wonderful but expensive and for some reason I felt better knowing it was already paid for.
  6. AuroraMeansDawn

    AuroraMeansDawn DIS Veteran

    Nov 3, 2008
    A couple of things that work well for us -- we tend to stay at moderates, though not always, but if free dining is available we will use it but I use it in a little different way. For example if we have 7 nights and therefore 7 TS I will book 3 dinners at one of the 2TS places that I might normally skip and then use the last TS credit for a character meal, because, we're at Disney and I need at least one character meal.

    We then use the snacks and CS credits as we like and pay OOP for what we need to from there. Since it's free I don't feel bad about using it in a way that enhances my trip and 3 very nice sit down meals is more memorable than one more mediocre table service a day for me.

    I once paid for the Deluxe and didn't use the 2TS strategy and booked 2-3 TS a day and it seems we ran from heavy lunch to heavy dinner and were slaves to the ADR. Didn't love it.

    One more thought -- at most QS you can get fresh fruit or yogurt as your dessert.

    Just another perspective. Peace out.
  7. Bullseye

    Bullseye Faithful Companion

    May 8, 2009
    The only ugly I ever experienced was not paying attention to whether something was dining plan choice. We all ordered Acqua Fresca's for our beverage at Via Napoli. They are basically a little fruit juice mixed with seltzer. Lo and behold when the check comes it's $25 bucks more than expected. I was ticked off because the drink was nothing special. But I guess it was my own fault for not paying attention. :guilty:
  8. DisneyFive

    DisneyFive When is the 3:00 parade?

    Jun 16, 2011
    Yeah, last year we spent a day at SeaWorld so we banked a TS credit and combined it on one of our MK days. We used it to dine at Cinderella's Royal Table. Was a great way to use two TS credits.

  9. J.C.&ALI'SMOM

    J.C.&ALI'SMOM <font color=darkblue>I really had to bite my tongu

    Jul 12, 2000
    There is also another aspect to consider. The idea of breaking even on the plans would not be a positive as far as we are concerned because the cost of food at WDW is so vastly overpriced to begin with. The quality of the food is in no relation to the price.

    For example, Chef Mickey's is currently $40-$45 per adult, which all of our party are considered adults. Honestly the last time we had dinner at Chef Mickey's it was so disappointing in terms of food quality that I totally regretted having that meal.

    There are ways to do the math and make the plans cost effective for some groups, but you are still paying way more than the food served should cost.

    We have found (over 30 trips, 28 days just in the last year ;)) that we book a few ADRs that we like, usually 3, and play it by ear for the rest of the meals. It ends up costing way less than any plan.

    There are also several restaurants that we visit offsite every trip. You don't have to eat every meal on WDW property! While we are offsite we purchase plenty of water, beer, wine, food and snacks for the room. Everyone enjoys their meals and no one feels like they were robbed when the bill comes.
  10. Mrs Eeyore

    Mrs Eeyore Mouseketeer

    Mar 24, 2012
    Thanks to everyone who posted in this thread. As someone who has previously added the dining plan as a no-brainer, I've got some thinking to do now. For our next trip we will really need to consider the cost more than we have previously.

    That said, there are advantages to the dining program that I would hesitate to give up. First and foremost is the peace of mind of knowing that you've already paid for it and there's no obligation to order the cheapest thing on the menu. For me it's a mini-vacation in itself not to have to look at the prices!

    If it is convenient to return to your room after meals, the fridge is your friend. With it you can manipulate the bits and pieces of dining plan goodies, particularly breakfast, to provide extra snacks and drinks through the day. We found that the CMs were eager to make sure we took everything that the dining plan allotted to us whether we wanted it or not. For example, assuming the standard plan hasn't changed since 2010, they make sure you take two drinks with breakfast with a QS credit. We use the refillable mugs for hot drinks and one of the DP drink credits for juice. That gives us an extra cold drink to stick in the fridge for later on (admittedly we left a fridge full of cold drinks at the end of our trip but many of the extras did come in handy). Extra desserts and leftovers, of which we had plenty, can also be stashed in the fridge to be used for quick meals and bedtime snacks. One of our DDs takes medication that must be taken with food at bedtime, so it was handy to have a little something in the fridge. And on days when you want to save QS for lunch, for breakfast you can use your refillable mug plus a snack credit for fruit or a bakery item, which might be stolen by a shameless swooping bird, but that's another story.

    My point is that although you do get slammed with way too much food all at once, much of the excess can be stored for that stretch in the middle of the day when you only have a snack credit. Of course that won't work if you're eating in the middle of a hot park day, but if you're heading back to your room (NB: I am not a nighttime person!) you might as well take a doggie bag.

    But on the other side of the equation, I have been known to run out of steam before dinner and not want to use a TS credit that we'd already paid for. Sometimes I'd rather grab a sandwich and eat it in front of the TV. We left a costly TS credit unused on our 2009 trip, and I have sat down to many a meal that I did not appreciate because I was done for the day. So again thank you to those who point out that the dining plan isn't always a no-brainer.
  11. dtstampz

    dtstampz Mouseketeer

    Oct 11, 2010
    I hope it didn't sound like I was blaming the dining plan for being sick. :)
    I just seem to have bad luck with colds at Disney--4 out of 6 trips. I had
    every intention of getting my money's worth out of the dining plan, but
    fate had other plans. I know the plan works great for some folks, and I'm
    glad you've been able to use & enjoy it. Out of pocket seems to be the
    best strategy for me.
  12. Hardy

    Hardy Mouseketeer

    Jan 27, 2009
    The dining plan used to be a good value. You used to get appetizers and tip included, and it was quite a bit cheaper as prices have risen significantly. We stopped buying it after we did an experimental trip when we ordered and ate what we wanted oop and still came out way ahead. We still did ts and qs daily, but we really didn't all need our own dessert or even entree every lunch and dinner. It's just too much food. But also, sometimes we wanted an appetizer, or you find yourself ordering a different meal just bc it gives you more value....I think you will be just fine if you just hold the money that it would cost you, you will come out ahead and have extra in your pocket.

    Also, we also had a trip where everyone got sick....we ended up wasting a lot of credits bc at least one of us was not eating at most meals. You are prepaying for meals when you might possibly skip for one reason or another. It is so hard to break even or come ahead, 1 table service credit can tip you to spending more.

    However, if you or your party are the type where you stress every time you shell out 25/entree or 4/snack, it can be less stressful to just go ahead and prepay for the dining plan. We avoid the sticker shock by buying gift cards slowly and using those for a lot of meals and snacks. You can use them almost anywhere in the World. It's our way of doing a custom dining plan :)
  13. debbie1996

    debbie1996 Earning My Ears

    Jan 3, 2013
    We ran the numbers on our trip and were very glad we didn't get a dining plan. A big part of that is our DD is 10 - and there is just no possible way she would be able to eat enough to justify the per day fee as an adult. My son probably could have broke even - as a hungry 9 year old - he has no problem putting the food down - BUT he sometimes orders off of the adult menu, so we would have had issues if we'd been on the plan as they don't let the kids order up.

    We are not soda drinkers and are an occassional dessert sharing couple, so I think that's a big factor on why we'll never even break even - if you look at entree prices alone, you'd have to work really hard to not lose significantly on the plan.

    At the end of the day, our family of 4 averaged about 75% of the cost of the standard dining plan per day. That's eating all meals on property, not bringing in any snacks and ordering whatever we wanted - and includes adult beverages. We ordered drinks at Ohana and glasses of wine at the Brown Derby which wouldn't have been included on plan.

    BUT - we did no character meals - our kids weren't interested. I know that changes the numbers significantly.
  14. DisneyFive

    DisneyFive When is the 3:00 parade?

    Jun 16, 2011
    That really is a bummer about being sick. Maybe it's the stress and excitement before you leave for your trip that is wearing your body down and making it susceptible while at WDW? :confused3

  15. larryz

    larryz A few of my favorite turrets... DIS Lifetime Sponsor

    Apr 16, 2006
    We did it once, and used our credits in enough variety and different experiences to ensure we didn't have any left. It was another bit of "vacation management" that hampered (only slightly, but noticeably) our vacation enjoyment.

    We'll do it all out of pocket next time.
  16. Dan Murphy

    Dan Murphy We are family.

    Apr 20, 2000
    The good.....I don't get it. OOP and TiW here.
  17. Stinky_Pete

    Stinky_Pete DIS Veteran

    Feb 16, 2000
    I don't think the PP was blaming getting sick on the dining plan. I think the point was if you get sick and lose your appetite, you don't get a refund for credits you intended to use but didn't because of your lack of appetite. In that case you would do better paying OOP because you didn't pre pay for meals you didn't eat.
  18. pens4821

    pens4821 Mouseketeer

    Jan 3, 2013
    We're looking to go the last week of August. Waiting to see if they offer free dining. For our family of 4 adults 1 child, getting the free dining would probably be better than getting the room discount. Just running quick figures, we'd have to spend about $20/adult/day (not including child) to make it worth it which should be pretty simple. However, if it isn't free, there's no way we're going to pay for it.

    As a couple others have said, we may get an app here or there, but VERY rarely do we ever get dessert. My parents also always drink water. We'll just stop when we're hungry, and get what we want (not looking for something more expensive to make out on the deal) if free dining isn't offered.
  19. Robbi

    Robbi DIS Veteran

    Oct 21, 2012
    Disney used to stress you could save up to 30% and now it's up to 15%.
    We would get it at first because with an appetizer and the gratuity included, it was a great deal. It cost about $37 for all of that. Now, the same plan (regular) is 50+ I think, and not worth it to us.
    Unless you're big eaters, skip it. Unless you want to plan your trip around meals, skip it. Now with the FP+ and having to schedule rides, attractions, and meals, I'd also say skip it.
    The last few times I got the DDP was because my daughter and her friends would go off on their own and I didn't have to worry about being around to pay for their meals. We always and I mean always had meals left and were rushing around the last day to buy snacks as a substitute which financially made no sense.
  20. DisneyFive

    DisneyFive When is the 3:00 parade?

    Jun 16, 2011
    Yeah, I misinterpreted the original post.

    Agreed. We cleared it up a few posts ago. :thumbsup2

  21. tryplm

    tryplm Mouseketeer

    Jul 11, 2012
    We love it, even if it is for nothing more than convenience. I like knowing that everything is taken care of once we get down there.

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