Dining Dilemma

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by pinkpenny58, Apr 28, 2013.

  1. pinkpenny58

    pinkpenny58 Earning My Ears

    Jan 13, 2013
    My family and I have gone to Disney tons of times but have always stayed at our time share, this is the first time that we will be staying on property. We are going Aug 24-31. We have two kids 11& 14. We are trying to decide if we should buy the dining plan or not. Can you please give us your opinions and reason on whether or not to buy or not to buy the dining plan. Thanks so much!
  2. lroger01

    lroger01 Touring the parks one Mickey bar at a time!

    May 17, 2008
    Get the dining plan if:
    • You look at the menu, freak out at the prices, and end up ordering the cheaper things.
    • Members of your family (teenage boys) tend to inhale food
    • You like to get dessert but hate to pay for it
    • You want to have your meals paid for before you leave (note, tips are not included for table service meals so you'll still need to pay $10 to $20 at the end of the meal).
    Skip the plan if:
    • You feel like you'll need to get your money's worth and will feel compelled to order the most expensive thing on the menu, even if that isn't what you really want.
    • You price out some sample meals, and realize it's cheaper to pay out of pocket. And not having your meals paid in advance won't bother you.
    • You never eat dessert.
    If paying out all those tips is a deal breaker, consider the Quick-Service Dining Plan. There are plenty of places to get "knife & fork" dinner food. You won't be eating hamburgers for a week. You can still plan a few table-service meals at your favorite places with the money you save. And not having to rush to an ADR can be kinda nice.
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  4. Pixie Princess

    Pixie Princess DIS Veteran

    Nov 23, 2009
    For my money no, not any more. It used to be nice value, but not so much now. In my estimation, I have to think more than I want to think about what I'm ordering to make it worth it. In most cases the things I would choose to eat are not going to get me to the break even point. I also do not like that I still have to pay tips when I get there. It used to be tips were included in the purchase price, but now I have to budget for tips as well. I know I pay them if I pay for my meals as I go, but I can budget "x" dollars for meal and know that's what it is tips and all. I also don't like that at some restaurants I am limited as to what I can order from the menu. And specific to me, my DD is 13 and is a picky eater, so unless I want to do a bunch of b'fast buffets, there is a good shot she will try something and simply not like it. Money wasted. Also specific to me, I find that the desserts at most restaurants have a dairy component, and I can't have them. Again, money wasted. For me, an appetizer would be better, but those are no longer included on the regular DDP. The DDP is a lot of food, that I normally wouldn't eat, so for us, it simply isn't a good value.

    However, the question of "is the DDP for me" is a pretty individual one, and in terms of savings, I think you really need to run the numbers is you want to determine if you are going to be saving by purchasing it. The best calculator I've found was created by the SeeYaReelSoon folks. Here's a link to their You Tube video explaining their calculator. It is pretty involved, but worth it if you take the time to fill it out. I've done that for me and my DD just to verify that the DDP is not a savings vehicle for us. I suggest you watch the video, and if you want to put the work into using it, download the calculator from the link provided in the description section of the video.

    I will say this, it is nice to pay for everything up front and not have the sticker shock of the bill being brought to you. When you pay $60 bucks for a b'fast buffet, it is a tough pill to swallow in the moment.
  5. StitchesGr8Fan

    StitchesGr8Fan DIS Veteran

    Jul 17, 2009
    This is an excellent post and a good way to evaluate it.
  6. cancersucks

    cancersucks Mouseketeer

    Aug 28, 2010
    Our thoughts on the Dining plan are that we would more than likely save money paying OOP (we don't do table service, just quick service) BUT we know we will say "well, I want the stake sandwhich, but it is $6 more than the hot dog, so I guess I will just have the hotdog." kinda thing. We like having it prepaid, and then getting whatever we want. It is just the simplicity and ease for us.
  7. sharonabe

    sharonabe DIS Veteran

    May 22, 2009
    The only way you'll know if it's for you is to go over to allearsnet or up above to the dining area and price out your meals. Look at where you WANT to go and "order" exactly what you WANT to eat without any regard to the prices. If you include apps, kinda keep them in their own space. If you go with the deluxe plan, apps are included, but otherwise, they will be OOP.

    If you go over to the Dining Plan sub-forum under the Restaurant forum, you should find a thread that has a spreadsheet to help calculate what is best for you, but you need to know where you want to eat to use it most effectively.
  8. GaBelle

    GaBelle DIS Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013

    Another factor to consider is the convenience factor. With the DDP, everything is paid for ahead of time.
  9. Good Morning Dewdrop

    Good Morning Dewdrop Have Courage & Be Kind

    Sep 17, 2009
    I'm going to beg to differ with you - on either plan (regular or QS) you're only getting 2 meals and a snack. So either you need to pay for a meal (often breakfast as it's the cheapest) or buy groceries/ eat in the room or split meals so you can stretch them out.

    I ditto going to Allears and doing your research. And do your math too - I can feed our family of 3 easily on $50/$60 per day - last time I checked the QS plan was $33 / person per day.
  10. GaBelle

    GaBelle DIS Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Thank you for the correction. I certainly did not mean to imply that absolutely everything was included.
    My mistake.
  11. MamaBear248

    MamaBear248 Mouseketeer

    Mar 29, 2013
    Hi I have a question to add here ! Hope no one minds ? I'm planning my families 1st trip for may 2014 I'm thinking of doing the dining plan simply because I want to do like 6 character meals over 9 days .. Buts lots of people have said its not worth it ?! The DDP is 49 per adult per day one character meal is roughly 30-60$ ? From what I have read .. I don't see how the 49$ a day isn't worth it ?? Can anyone help me shed some light on this ?? Thank you
  12. momofboyz3

    momofboyz3 DIS Veteran

    Mar 18, 2013
    We have never been to WDW. Our 1st trip is next month :) yay!!!! I decided to do the DDP because I know 2 of my meals r paid for and for me that's convenient! II do have twin boys 13 who love love love to eAt! And I have a ds9 who is still on the child's menu. We are not huge dessert eaters but I'm sure we will indulge on this trip. I'm purely doing the plan for the convenience
  13. PrincessMe

    PrincessMe Mouseketeer

    Oct 2, 2012
    I'm another one who does not like the dining plan. Psychologically it seems great - prepaid except for tips, order anything on the menu, less sticker shock since many WDW restaurants are very overpriced, etc. But it actually costs us more in reality and we don't really like to always be running to ADRs. We like appetizers and are content to skip or share dessert so end up paying OOP while also skipping things we are entitled to. By contrast, the DxDp is just way too much food and led to our worst trip ever.

    I kept careful records on our last trip (our first without a plan). We ate exactly what we wanted (including appetizers and drinks) and spent slightly less than we would have on the dining plan (before appetizers and drinks). The key to success for me was remembering that I had crunched the numbers and we were coming out ahead so I could be comfortable ordering more expensive menu items.

    The calculators are helpful and so is pulling up menus and figuring out what you would likely order.
  14. 2012DisneyWorldBride

    2012DisneyWorldBride <font color=royalblue>I was a Disney Bride on 12.8

    Dec 7, 2011
    We did the deluxe dining plan for our honeymoon in Dec. We now have decided its worth it to us. We liked being able to use 2 credits and go to some if the signature restaurants, go to CRT without paying ahead, and being able to order whatever we wanted in the menu. If we hadn't been on the dining plan, all those restaurants we would have picked cheaper meals (chicken instead if surf and turf). We liked being able to try new things, get appetizers (something we wouldn't do paying out of pocket), and get desserts (something we also maybe wouldn't have done all the time). Plus the snack credits are a nice bonus... you can get bottled water with snack credits and/or also at the end of your trip use those credits towards packaged snacks to take home with you. Yes it's a lot of food but oh so worth it. We also liked not stressing on our trip about the money... Since you pay for the dining plan ahead... Only cash you need on you for food is tip money. We are pro dining plan!!
  15. bumbershoot

    bumbershoot DIS Veteran

    Mar 5, 2007
    For several trips I have tried very very hard to make a dining plan work for us. It just doesn't. We don't eat the way the plan provides for.

    Just last night I was trying to make the QS plan work, after failing to make the normal plan work. It doesn't. Not for us. We're vegetarian, we don't drink soda or Disney coffee (not until it changes) so the mug is pointless for us and the beverage you get with the meals doesn't help either. (we don't really drink milk, either) We share meals (DH and I do at least), and DS can't be relied on to ONLY get a kid's meal or to not need more meals per day than the plan thinks he should have.

    I cannot get it to make financial sense for us.

    But that's not the right price. Per allears.net and wdwinfo.com for 2013's normal dining plan (1 TS, 1 QS, 1 snack per night, and a mug for each person):

    Unless you are hitting the most expensive dinner buffets, you're not going to see that $60 amount. So if you are only going to the $30 character meals and you're paying $55 each night, you now have to make up $25 in one snack and one QS meal. I can't do that. I can't get there with a QS meal.

    Even if it were 49, with the character meals we tend to do (we did CRT last trip but that won't be happening again) we would still need to make up $19ish, and I can't even get *there*.

    But if you can, then you can! And it makes sense for you. Once you've taken the real price into account, that is.
  16. lizzi6692

    lizzi6692 DIS Veteran

    Jul 8, 2011
    For us having our meals prepaid for except for tips is worth it. We are fairly big eaters, so the amount of food on the dining plan works for us. Even on the regular dining plan though we have not had to pay OOP except on our last trip we paid for CRT. However, next trip we will most likely be upgrading to the deluxe dining plan because we would like to try some more of the signature restaurants.
  17. ArmyVet80

    ArmyVet80 DIS Veteran

    Aug 29, 2012
    My wife and I always do the Deluxe Dining plan. We are foodies though. :rotfl2:

    It is about $99 per person per day or around $1200 extra that we pay on for our trip but I have saved all of the receipts from our meals and snacks and on average if we were to spend o.o.p. we would spend around $1350-$1400 per trip. Sure if we paid o.o.p. we would not get an appetizer and dessert at every lunch and dinner but that's the point of a vacation. Splurge a little and just pay for the tips at the end of the meal.

    The thing we also like about the Deluxe plan is that if we want to do signature dining or a dinner show it's 2 meals per person. We do not eat breakfast most of the days we are at WDW so we can do Spirit of Aloha, Mickey's Backyard BBQ, and/or Hoop Dee Doo Revue and still eat at all of the other eateries that we want. With the exception of Japan and China (next on our list of places to eat) we have eaten at every eatery at Epcot. We just have to eat at Be Our Guest to knock out every eatery at MK. I'm not saying that you couldn't do that without a dining plan but it's nice only having to carry around tip cash. :)
  18. andyman8

    andyman8 DIS Veteran and WDW Passholder

    Mar 17, 2011
    I tend to disagree w/ the common consensus on these boards that the DDP is great. I find the DDP to not be worth it at all. Generally, we like to do two TS meals (w/ one being at a "less popular" and cheaper location) and one QS lunch each day. Last year, I priced out the standard DDP for 5 nights and it would be $1,100. I was able to to do as I mentioned (2 TS and 1 QS a day) for about $1,000, so not only did I save money but I got more meals out of it.

    Then there's flexibility. You are forced to either pay out of pocket for breakfast (or whatever meal you don't use your credits on) or eat your own in the room. Since I'm generally a bit of a clean freak, the idea of eating in my room kind of disturbs me. Not to mention, I'm on vacation: I can go downstairs to the QS location and get a large breakfast for $10 each. And let's say that come one night in your trip and you really don't feel like showing up for those ADRs for the Plaza, since you've already paid for it, you need to go.

    I generally can't say it's worth it. It's too restricting for vacation.
  19. Leeanne

    Leeanne Loving Life as a Princess with my Prince Charming

    Feb 26, 2009
    Both of these. We seriously considered not doing the dining plan this year, however I know no matter how I budget I will look at the menu and say "I would like the 9.99....errr plain burger please". However the spreadsheet (posted in second quote) was amazing. I plugged in all our restaurants (found on Allears.net) and I calculated would be purchase low, middle, high prices. I like that I can pick do we want desserts or apps XX% of time. Plus it calculated for me how much we might spend on tips. For me I looked at bottom line using mid-range price entrees but upped to expensive entrees with 20% to budget for tips. Dining plan works for us!!
  20. Hopefully

    Hopefully DIS Veteran

    Nov 3, 1999
    I agree with the others, only you can decide if it is right for your family. You have to look at menus and prices, do the math and then decide.
    For us it works - we love it. And we save a bit - not enough to be a factor either way.
    We eat a family sit down evening meal at home and we want to do that on vacation. I do not feel burdened by planning and then making ADR's. I first choose which park which day based on crowd projections and then plan an evening ADR in or near that park. I love the convenience of having it all paid in advance too.
    I know it is a big decision, but you need to do the research for your family.
    Good Luck
  21. NC Disney Fan

    NC Disney Fan Live long Disney Lover and visitor

    Mar 28, 2013
    Okay here is the bottom line. Both of your children are considered adult so there are no "cheap" meals. It's a crazy policy if your 11 year old is like mine and eats like a bird. However, we have gone to WDW for the past 6 years on the free dining deal so for us, it is certainly worth it :cool1: But what I will tell you is that with a family of four who has eaten at a huge number of the restaurants, (on of which was eating off the kids menu), our bill would average about $90 to $120. Then for lunches, we were averaging about $40. Of course you get the snack as well.

    I saw someone post that you didn't get all meals (meaning in most cases, a breakfast isn't part of it). But here is what we quickly learned with the dining plan. There is SO MUCH food!! The first year, we brought snack bars, choc. milk and box cereals for the mornings but after about a day, we never touched breakfast! You are so full on the dining plan. Portions are huge; dessert is included. After the first day, we were barely hungry for lunch. In fact one of the challenges is planning meals spaced out far enough so you are hungry. As we like to sleep in, we mosey into the parks at about 10:30 and by 11:45 we are heading to eat lunch so that we can be hungry by dinner. My point is, with as much food as you have and with the snacks, you most likely do not need a breakfast.

    I don't know the cost of the plan (as we have been lucky enough to get on the free dining plan) but you have to weigh this all out. How big of eaters are you? And when you figure in snacks, meals, dessert, will you come out ahead? You have to figure that with the plan, you will average about $20. a day for tips. If you can get in on the free dining deal (which has yet to pop up for this year and whose dates normally include August to September) then jump on it.

    One last thought. The free dining has allowed us to try all the restuarants we ever wanted to try-many of which are hugely overpriced. It has been a great way to expereince all the restaurants you want without worrying about the cost (i.e. Cinderella's castle was about $186. and was not worth it food wise but worth the experience).

    Good luck. Let me know if there is any thing else I can answer.

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