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

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

  1. nooneshome

    nooneshome but us dis shutins-send help or APs

    May 27, 2007
    We always enjoyed getting the free dining for the quick service. We enjoy the freedom of no ADRs although we usually make one per trip and it is just for me and DW - no kids. We really liked the two snacks per day, yummy!! But they did away with the second snack credit, DARN!!

    The dining plans are only "worth it" to us if they are "free". You have to eat too much to make them worth paying for.
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  3. sheilamo

    sheilamo Earning My Ears

    May 31, 2010
    There are a couple grocery delivery places also. We used We Go Shop and they were great. They go to whatever store you would like them to go to.
  4. monorailrabbit

    monorailrabbit Rabbits Rabbits Everywhere!

    Jan 17, 2013
    Same here. It is so relaxing to me to not have sweat a little every time my credit card gets swiped! We always do character meals too - one of the best & lowest stress ways to meet characters - and I feel like after 1 or 2 of those the plan has paid for itself. I also like that you can use the credits as you like, for example if you want to do 2 QS one day and have 2 TS for the next - you can! I do wish tip was included. Tipping here at home is different than FL, but as long as you do a little research and bring some cash for tipping, you'll be good! :thumbsup2
  5. pens4821

    pens4821 Mouseketeer

    Jan 3, 2013
    Just out of curiosity, anyone know the upgrade cost from the quick service meal to the one table service meal? Probably won't do it as we don't want to make reservations everyday, but do want to do a character dining or two.
  6. conandrob240

    conandrob240 DIS Veteran

    Aug 15, 2006
    It has gotten so expensive that it is no longer worth it.
  7. Herfnerd

    Herfnerd DIS Veteran

    Feb 28, 2006
    Was worth it for us on the Stay Play and Dine promo last month -was just DW and I. We are ones that like the fact that all our meals are paid for up front and we do like to eat but we also ran the numbers to make sure it was worthwhile

    If it wasn't for the SP&D plan or Free Dining, wouldn't be worth it.....
  8. Reese D

    Reese D Mouseketeer

    Jan 11, 2013
    It seems to be an unpopular opinion here, but the DDP works well for our family. I keep going over the numbers and every time I do it comes out with us saving at least a few hundred dollars. And that's before I even count snack credits.

    We are two adults and two children under 10. We are doing 4 character meals and a few other TS meals on our next 6 night stay. Add in a few counter service lunches and we've already saved money with the dining plan. We've done the DxDP in the past and found that worked really well for us too on a shorter stay with some signature dining. It just really depends on how your family wants to eat and spend their time.

    The other complaint is that it's just too much food. I am normally a pretty light eater. I never feel compelled to overindulge just to maximize my use of the plan. I generally pass on the desserts or choose an option like a cookie that I can take home for the kids later.
  9. Disney_Princess83

    Disney_Princess83 DIS Veteran

    Feb 11, 2007
    This is such a personal question. For us personally, it's simply too much food for us. We rarely get the appetizer/entree and dessert at any one place so this is a huge waste for us. Sometimes we just feel like "snacking" all day and maybe one table service. Sometimes we've gone to an ADR and just gotten dessert or something to share. The DDP would cost us more then we would spend (and we do every character meal possible at WDW almost AND several signatures and we STILL save money paying out of pocket)
  10. Pembo

    Pembo OH-IO

    Aug 19, 1999
    Used the QSDP once, it was convenient but we spent way more than normal. We typcially share entrees and drinks with the plan we didn't and wasted alot more food.

    The next trip I got Disney Gift cards to use to pay for food. We didn't have to carry cash and we didn't have a big bill the end. Worked for us.
  11. LSUfan4444

    LSUfan4444 DIS Veteran

    Feb 9, 2005
    The menu restrictions are the single worst thing about the DDP in my opinion.

    We just returned from a DDP-less 8 day stay and I tracked just about every dollar of our spending and didn't try and cut any corners. We ate and drank what we want when we wanted, and I wanted to see how that compared to the dining plan.

    I compared every dollar we spent on food to what the meal plan would have cost us. I think the only way you can judge the value of the dining plan is after you dine without it because it is too hard to know what you would have ordered if you weren't on the meal plan. Yo cannot get a fair comparison by looking at your receipts while on the DDP.

    Alot of people see their receipts and think, "wow, look how expensive that is, good thing we're on the meal plan", but would you really have ordered a dessert for everyone at the table? Would you really need a counter service, a snack and a table service meal each day? Do you really want the dessert on the menu or wouldn't you rather a dole whip or a mickey ice cream bar for dessert?

    Anyway, for us the meal plan for 2013 is $55 per day. That comes out to $880 for both of us for eight nights.

    In total we spent $1,058 on food and dining by going OOP. Now, maybe you're asking how could I come out better not on the dining plan when I spent more. Well, this is why. That $1,058 included all of our groceries from Publix, which included a case of beer and two bottle of wine, plus other non food items for the room. That $1,058 also included alcohol that we ordered with our meals, AND gratuity we spent, both of which you have to pay extra for with the meal plan. Most importantly, it allowed us to order what we want when we wanted it. It isn't like we ate cheap.

    We ate at Ohana, California Grill, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review, Be Our Guest, Wishes Dessert Party (also not included on the dining plan), Mama Melrose, Big River Grill and did the Dine with Shamu experience at Sea World. Another benefit of not having the meal plan is it doesn't cost you any more money to dine at any of the Swan and Dolphin restaurants (Blue Zoo, Kimonos, Shulas, etc). At the California Grill, the night before the marathon, we ordered an app, two sushi rolls and a salad and it was MORE THAN ENOUGH food....thats impossible on the meal plan, no matter how full you are.

    And regarding the "free dining"; what you save on the dining plan, you pay more for in your resort reservation more times than not. Free dining is anything but free.
  12. Love Tink

    Love Tink DIS Veteran

    Jan 14, 2011
    Love this. I see it all the time.

    So if four of us go to WDW for a week and stay at All Star Sports, we often have the option of either saving 20% on our hotel room (i.e. $20 a day) or getting free QS dining - two meals and a $4 snack each per day (i.e. about $120 a day).

    No matter what proclamations you want to make, getting $800 or so worth of food for the week in exchange for paying $100 a night for an on-site free.
  13. mom2rtk

    mom2rtk DIS Veteran

    Aug 23, 2008
    I think most of the people who complain that Free Dining is not a great value stay at deluxe, or at least moderate resorts. Nobody I know who stays at a value resort has anything bad to say about the value of free dining, especially those with 3 or 4 room occupants.
  14. Wood Nymph

    Wood Nymph DIS Veteran

    Sep 19, 2012
    We used the DDP for the first time on our most recent trip. We were there with our daughter, her husband, and two kids age 3 and 5. The dining plan was worth it only because we made dinner reservations at restaurants that would maximize our cost benefit, i.e. O'Hana, Cape May, Coral Reef and 1900 Park Fare Cinderella dinner and Tusker's Character breakfast. But it was just too much food, too much time spent traveling to the restaurants, and too many desserts. We lost out on pool time and relaxing at the resort because we had to hurry over to the dinner reservations.

    I don't think we will do the DP again. Next time we will just make a few dinner reservations and eat at CS restaurants the rest of the time. I found myself ordering things I wouldn't normally order, like dessert, just to get my money's worth. I would like to be free to order what I want.
  15. LSUfan4444

    LSUfan4444 DIS Veteran

    Feb 9, 2005
    I am not saying free dining can never be a value, I'm just saying free dining isn't free.
  16. GeorgiaHoo

    GeorgiaHoo DIS Veteran

    Nov 7, 2005
    I went back and forth on the dining plan for our upcoming trip and decided to pass. The primary reasons were (1) we generally prefer appetizers to desserts (2) we didn't like the idea of being tied to a reservation every day of the trip, especially when some of the meals can take a significant chunk out of your day and (3) it wasn't going to save us money. For our family of 5 it was going to cost a minimum of $400 more for the dining plan than if we paid out of pocket. Just not worth it when those facts are taken into acount. Oh, and we are staying at the Yacht Club.
  17. Princess Disney Mom

    Princess Disney Mom DIS Veteran

    Dec 11, 2008
    The good:

    Fun meals
    Order anything
    Lots of snacks

    The ugly:
    Too expensive
    Takes too much time
    No flexibility
    Too much food
    Too many temptations/ snacks
    Too full on hot days

    I've done it several times paying and free dining. While it was good it has gotten way too expensive. The other thing is it is not a healthy option for my family. Sure they could pick healthy options but mine don't.
  18. DisneyFive

    DisneyFive When is the 3:00 parade?

    Jun 16, 2011
    For our family of five (three considered Disney adults, staying at a mod resort) nothing comes close to the discount that FD offers us. Even a 30% off room discount pales in comparison.

    Granted, this assumes that we want a TS and QS meal each day, which we've become used to and an integral part of our trip.

    Sure, it's more food than you need, but we split QS meals on a regular basis. This is to bank credits to use for breakfast or days where we might eat two QS meals. (due to using up two TS credits on a signature restaurant for instance). So we've learned how NOT to order too much for QS meals. We eat modestly for QS meals.

    We love the TS meals for a number of reasons. 1) We normally eat dinner at 5pm and this gives us time to get out of the heat and rest and recouperate for a bit. 2) We love seeing new resorts, restaurants, etc and the environment at many of the TS meals is great. 3) Great food. (despite what many say about Disney TS food quality going down)

    Having said that, I would never PAY for the dining plan. I would go OOP for sure.

  19. mom2rtk

    mom2rtk DIS Veteran

    Aug 23, 2008
    For us it sure was.
  20. amylevan

    amylevan DIS Veteran

    Aug 31, 2005
    The Ugly (for us):
    I have run the numbers for every trip (even back in 2006 when it was a much better deal) and for how we eat, it has never saved us money. In the early years, we'd break even, but then what happens if we decide we just aren't hungry one night? You either no longer break even or you force yourself to eat something that you normally wouldn't.

    And by running numbers, you have to run numbers on what you would actually buy, not just what you get....(i.e. is everyone really going to get a dessert at every TS?)
  21. jtowntoflorida

    jtowntoflorida Looking Like I Can't Really Afford To Go To Disney

    Jan 17, 2011
    We have young kids and like to do a lot of character meals, so that makes it worth it for us. We did our first plan DDP-less and spent about $200 more than we spent using the DDP the next year. I think that the only way it makes economic sense is if you're in our situation--where you want to do tons of character meals, and you want to be able to sit down for a meal at least once/day.

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