Anyone else completely priced out of the buffets at Disney now?

kniquy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 15, 2014
The worth or value of the character meals is dependent up on if you or your children must meet a certain character. If you really have to meet someone and they are at a character meal then considering you have to eat anyways it is an efficient use of your time. That is how we look at it.

Over all food at WDW is crazy expensive so to help off set the cost and save 5% I buy disney gift cards at target -- only a little savings but over the course of a trip it can add up. It is a vacation so there is a little splurging going on and if i wanted a vacation where i was trying to be frugal i would be camping and cooking my own food.

You can certainly balance your trip with one or two character meals and then QS meals for the rest or saving too by eating a quick breakfast in your room before heading out. It is a balance of saving in some areas (not buying souvenirs, snacks, water or soda in the parks) and putting that towards a nice dinner.

Have you priced out the dining plan? I usually advise against it but when you want to do many character meals then it starts to make more sense. And again this is where you could still buy the discount disney GC and use it to pay for the dining plan.
 

ENJDisneyFan

DIS Veteran
Joined
Mar 4, 2016
If the alcoholic drink is the draw for the dining plan, I suggest ordering alcohol from amazon prime now. Good way to save serious time and money.
Sure, if you want to drink in your room. Doesn’t really help if you want a drink in the park or with a meal.
 
  • wfjny

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 30, 2012
    In the end, Disney has always been an expensive vacation.

    As others have pointed out, there are many ways that you can lower your costs. We own DVC, so last year when they offered the Platinum Plus pass (4 parks, 2 water parks, espn, etc.) for about $600 each to DVC members, we jumped at them. The same tickets today, undiscounted are over $1,000 each.

    While we spend out one big trip a year at DVC, for our other long weekend trips, we normally stay at a Hilton property. A lot of business travel in a previous life and still have about 300,000 Hilton points. With the AP, we can park for free, so staying off-site is not a big deal.

    I also have mostly stayed away from the dining plans. As others have noted, it is a lot of food, and I am not a small person. At the risk of mentioning circumventing Disney rules, I would say the best time we have had with the DDP was when there were others with us and we shared food.

    The AP has also offered various dining and merchandise discounts. Over the summer, it was 20% off at many dining and most merchandise locations.

    Having said all of that, I do understand that Disney is a company, and they are in business to make money. I will continue to go there when I feel that I can get a good value. I will also stop going when I feel that I can get better value elsewhere. To be honest, with all the construction and closed attractions, I think that is why Disney did offer the heavily discounted Platinum Plus Pass last year. I think many people were choosing something else to do with their entertainment dollars. With the success of Pandora and Toy Story Land, I think that is why they have NOT offered it this year.

    With some of the price increases, and the fact that we own DVC, I can see us eating a bit more in our room on our next couple of trips. I can pick up a DiGiorno Pizza for the kids and a Chicken Caesar Salad for the adults from Publix for about 10% the cost of a dinner in the parks.
     

    snappy

    Survivor
    Joined
    Apr 15, 2002
    Sure, if you want to drink in your room. Doesn’t really help if you want a drink in the park or with a meal.
    You are right of course but besides the $ consideration, we find it relaxing to enjoy our adult beverages on the balcony overlooking crescent Lake in the late afternoon. Won’t work for everyone, but it’s how we personally do Disney.
     

    VikingInMouseEars

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 3, 2009
    Priced out? No
    Unwilling to pay the insane prices? Yes
    This goes for us. We haven't been to WDW at all for several years. We could scrimp and save and afford it, or we can take a different, but very nice, vacation for a lot less money. We love Disney, we love the food, atmosphere, shows, etc etc etc, but the people that run Disney don't return the love. Will we go back, sure we will, but instead of once or twice a year like before, it will be maybe one WDW trip every 6 or 7 years.
     

    DVCjj

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 27, 2015
    After I was reading this, I happened to check the latest buffet prices. Yikes! For just DH and myself, 2 people, a breakfast buffet can easily run $80 and lunch (now the same price as dinner, which irks me, but that's another story) easily exceeds $100.
    I agree with you about lunch and dinner being same price. When LeCellier changed over years ago to the same price for both, I was done with it. It was my favorite TS for years and years but feel lunches should be cheaper with smaller portions even.

    Re buffets: DH & I just don't eat enough to justify more than one buffet a trip and it's 'usually' Boma.
    The children are adults now and the character buffets are not only expensive, they feel and sound like a 3 ring circus to us.
     
  • snappy

    Survivor
    Joined
    Apr 15, 2002
    I agree with you about lunch and dinner being same price. When LeCellier changed over years ago to the same price for both, I was done with it. It was my favorite TS for years and years but feel lunches should be cheaper with smaller portions even.

    Re buffets: DH & I just don't eat enough to justify more than one buffet a trip and it's 'usually' Boma.
    The children are adults now and the character buffets are not only expensive, they feel and sound like a 3 ring circus to us.
    3 ring circus is a good analogy for character buffets.
     

    magicalcouple

    Different Not Less
    Joined
    Mar 18, 2006
    YEP! I said this last year at Minnie's Holiday and Dine. It was the first time I hadn't been on the dining plan in a while and was paying OOP. My DH, DS, and myself after tip came to $190 for our buffet. Yes, the characters were fancy but nearly $200 for a buffet was one tough chicken nugget to swallow.
     

    cmwade77

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2005
    Yes, but OP and other posters have pointed out - EVERYTHING has gotten overpriced b/c of DDP and a push for Disney to monetize any way possible...a different version of your post...

    1 CS
    1 TS
    2 snacks (aka breakfast)

    $75 + TIP ($10 on a $50 TS meal) = $85/day per adult.

    What could I, the non DDP buyer, do for $85/day without actually taking much time/energy away from my touring? I think the answer, especially in "low hour" periods, which now seem to be the norm with early morning events and late events limiting the parks to 9-7 or 9-8, quite a dang lot! I could fit an evening Ruth's Chris 3 course dinner - entree and side/app/dessert ($45.95+tax/tip for $60) in with a Disney lunch CS ($15) and an offsite fast food breakfast ($5)...and STILL have $5 left, eating out every meal with little time wasted in the parks...I picked that restaurant at random, but many, many high end (ala better than Disney 2 credit) meals can be found and fit in that Disney DDP "value"...especially for folks who don't need alcohol every meal...
    $60 for Ruth Chris Steak House 3 course dinner? LOL, just the entree alone is $60 there, side is extra, app is extra and so is dessert. Seriously, the prices I posted earlier are real examples of what you can expect to pay for meals that match quality and quantity of what is on the dining plan.

    But let's go with your numbers, I won't count tip as everyone has a different opinion on tipping and you would still have to tip, about $55 for a sit down meal, $15 for a CS and $5 for breakfast, makes there be a cost of $75, which is the same cost as the dining plan and with the dining plan you don't need to leave the parks and you have one additional snack credit left. Oh and that doesn't count the cost of getting to and from somewhere offsite, for the majority of us who don't drive to Disney World that is a major cost to either rent a car or take a LYFT, Uber, Taxi etc. every time. Seriously not seeing the cost savings of eating offsite.
     

    cmwade77

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 1, 2005
    If the alcoholic drink is the draw for the dining plan, I suggest ordering alcohol from amazon prime now. Good way to save serious time and money.
    For me it isn't, but I don't drink, which is why I used soda is my example numbers.
     
  • snappy

    Survivor
    Joined
    Apr 15, 2002
    Many guests eat at resort restaurants. Without a car that can eat up time too, difficult to know how long it will take via Disney bus, but there’s Uber
     

    TwoMisfits

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 21, 2002
    $60 for Ruth Chris Steak House 3 course dinner? LOL, just the entree alone is $60 there, side is extra, app is extra and so is dessert. Seriously, the prices I posted earlier are real examples of what you can expect to pay for meals that match quality and quantity of what is on the dining plan.

    But let's go with your numbers, I won't count tip as everyone has a different opinion on tipping and you would still have to tip, about $55 for a sit down meal, $15 for a CS and $5 for breakfast, makes there be a cost of $75, which is the same cost as the dining plan and with the dining plan you don't need to leave the parks and you have one additional snack credit left. Oh and that doesn't count the cost of getting to and from somewhere offsite, for the majority of us who don't drive to Disney World that is a major cost to either rent a car or take a LYFT, Uber, Taxi etc. every time. Seriously not seeing the cost savings of eating offsite.
    It's always a promo...they have a 3 course promo every day of the year...right now, it's the summer one...but it's besides the point...$60/person goes amazingly far at high end places...and 1 credit TS is not a high end place (TGIFriday's quality might be more on point for many of the 1 credit sites)...
     

    MomOTwins

    The Mommy Fairy
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2018
    It does if you value your time in the parks and would eat in the parks no matter the cost.

    But let's be a bit realistic about this, $75 (including tax for adults) gets you 1 Table Service Meal, 1 Counter Service Meal and 2 Snacks. Now many of the snack choices these days can be meals in an of themselves, so let's take a realistic look at what this can get you:
    1 Table Service meal that includes: Drink, Entree and Dessert - Eating offsite, the Drink could run as much as $50 since alcohol is included, but let's use a reasonable $4 for a soda and yes, that is what most restaurants around here charge now. Entree for the same portion size and quality as most places, around $25, the dessert will run around $10. So for the meal you are looking at about $39 + Tax for a total of about $42 with tax.

    Counter Service: Drink - $4, Entree - $10 - Total: $15 with tax

    Snacks: These will vary, but let's take something like the Mac and Cheese things served at Animal Kingdom, around $8 each, for a total of $17 with tax

    Grand Total Cost from Offsite for a similar amount and quality of food: $74
    NOTE: All prices are based on food of similar quality and quantity to what you would find at Disney and are based on Southern California prices outside the theme parks. If you drink alcohol you would come out way ahead on the dining plan these days.


    And don't forget the refillable mug that comes with the dining plan, really not seeing a huge price difference between offsite and in the parks on the dining plan unless you are choosing lower quality or to eat less.
    Right but non-buffets which you are quoting prices for have never been a good value on the plan. This thread is talking about buffets, which is what I was posting about. If I am spending over $50 or on a buffet which is what many of them cost after tax, it is easy to get ahead on the plan. Most counter-service meals these days (even a simple burger) are around $15. Add even a very conservative $10 in snacks and you are already over plan value for the day not including drinks. As to drinks, you didn’t mention alcohol, which I get does not apply to everyone, but that is another $10-15 value per day.
     

    Beachmom0317

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 5, 2016
    We had heavy character meals planned into our upcoming trip but we are only down to one now. I can’t stand seeing my hard-earned, saved money be spent on character meals when there are so many other ways it could be stretched! We’ll just plan on some Character m&g at the park
     

    tinkerhon

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 1, 2012
    YEP! I said this last year at Minnie's Holiday and Dine. It was the first time I hadn't been on the dining plan in a while and was paying OOP. My DH, DS, and myself after tip came to $190 for our buffet. Yes, the characters were fancy but nearly $200 for a buffet was one tough chicken nugget to swallow.
    We did the Holiday dine when it was first offered and it turned out to be the first taste of "sticker shock" that we ever had at Disney - ! Needless to say- it was a "one and done"
     

    Jetta8300

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2010
    Along the same lines, We also will not pay for signatures. We used to do a signature every night. Around 4 years ago or so we started seeing beyond tiny portions, and leaving starving after spending $200 on dinner for 2 people without alcohol. The value was not there anymore.

    We never really have been willing to pay the insane prices for buffet food which is usually gross, other than yummy places like Boma. We now do at least two 1 credit table service meals per day, and this suits us, much better.

    Places that are a really great experience for us are Trattoria al Forno, Yak and Yeti, Tokyo Dining, Chefs de France, Sanaa, Grand Floridian Cafe, and many others at Disney Springs. would rather do these than buffet any day.
     

    tlmadden73

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 9, 2014
    When I first did a character meal back in 2014 (Tusker House lunch), I thought it was amazing. Yes .. I was paying a huge premium for the characters and the buffet, but the food was good and the character experience with my 2yo was amazing. That was like $35/adult at the time.

    I am going back in a few weeks. I gather it will be much more expensive now .. and while we have 3 of these buffets planned (Ohana, Tusker House, Crystal Palace (or Chef Mickeys)) .. we will probably cut down on them come next trip. Even with AP discount and 5% discount with target cards -- it is a tough pill to swallow for a meal.
     


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