Dining Plan worth it?

Discussion in 'Disney Restaurants' started by Turtletyson, Mar 11, 2013.

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  1. Turtletyson

    Turtletyson Mouseketeer

    Feb 4, 2007
    How do you figure out whether it's worth it to do the Disney Dining Plan?

    I'm assuming you look up the menus at the places you would probably eat, add up what you would probably spend, then compare the total price?


  2. Hopefully

    Hopefully DIS Veteran

    Nov 3, 1999
    Yes, exactly right. Look up the menus here on the DIS or at allears.net.
    Figure out what you would order, price it out and compare it to the cost of the DDP. The DDP doesn't include appetizers and does include deserts. Is that how you would eat.
    For us, the DDP ends up in small savings, but it does not for all families.
    You have to do the investigation and math for your group.
    Good Luck
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  4. bennifer

    bennifer Mouseketeer

    Jan 20, 2013
    Yep, that's basically it. There will be a lot if people who will say it's not worth it, others who can't live without it. I personally like it only because I don't have to worry about how much money I'm spending on food. For me, it makes it worth it. And besides, shouldn't you always eat dessert on vacation?
  5. Dis703

    Dis703 DIS Veteran

    Aug 24, 2010
    Yup that's exactly what I did. It ended up being about $250 more for us to get the dining plan so we are skipping it. I usually like to have my desserts spread out through the day and not necessarily with my meals so that was part of what made it more but we also aren't doing many character meals this trip which can make a difference. Even if we were though I think at best we would break even but not really save anything.
  6. evoli

    evoli Earning My Ears

    Feb 20, 2013
    What matters to me is as long as I enjoy it, it's all worth it.
  7. tammilynne

    tammilynne Mouseketeer

    Jul 19, 2011
    everyone will have a different opinion but for my family we love it... I love not having to worry about it and enjoy the convenience :)
  8. ixmnrs

    ixmnrs Mouseketeer

    May 6, 2007
    There was another thread where there was a link to a site that had some kind of dining plan calculator but for the life of me, I can't remember where I saw that. If I remember, I'll post it or maybe someone else can chime in on it. Researching the menus really helps, but it's a lot of reading! It really depends on how you like to eat, whether desserts play a big role in your meals and whether you like the "all-inclusive" feeling of the vacation. There is no right answer, most of us probably figure it out after a few trips of trial and error.
  9. davedmaine

    davedmaine DIS Veteran

    Mar 30, 2011
    Keep in mind too that when you're running the numbers, you're likely going to pay more in gratuities while on the plan. To maximize value of the plan, users typically have to purchase the most expensive items on the menu -- therefore the price of tips will go up.
  10. dminnie

    dminnie DIS Veteran

    Jan 3, 2013
    You might really benefit from checking allears for menu prices and thinking about your family's eating habits.

    For us, not worth it and didn't enjoy it.
    Too much time sitting at TS meals when we wanted to be doing other things. The savings was very little and we probably spent more since we got more TS meals and more expensive tips. Didn't like having dessert right after our meals. We would rather have desserts an hour or two later or just order 2 desserts for the 4 of us to share.

    We felt like we were tied to all our ADRs since we wanted to get the most from the dining plan.

    The only advantage for us was knowing how much we'd be spending on food and we tried a couple of restaurants that we probably otherwise wouldn't have.

    We do enjoy just having 2 or 3 ADRs for a trip(4-5 days) and doing the rest CS. It saves $ over the dining plan and we feel like we have more freedom. We share meals when we want, order appetizers when we want(without feeling like we're adding to our overall cost), go for ice cream when we want, cancel an ADR if we don't feel like it, etc. We're not worried about not using all our credits in order to get our money's worth. If you don't use all the credits, you pretty much wipe out any savings you might have had.
  11. mastermind307

    mastermind307 DIS Veteran

    May 24, 2010
    I like the convience factor of it. The past 2 times we went, we got free dining. This time we rented points to stay at BWV and I keep adding up where we are eating in hopes that the DDP will be worth it. The DDP just has too much food. We won't be eating a lot of counter service meals and when we do we won't want a soft drink and a dessert. Our plan this time is to eat breakfast in our studio, we aren't big breakfast eaters so it makes sense to have cereal and stuff in the mornings. Then we'll have one big meal either at lunch (usually a later lunch) or dinner (around 5) and just have sandwiches in our room or split a counter service meal if we get hungry. So as much as I want to do the DDP for my upcoming trip it just isn't worth it even though we'll be eating at a lot of character meals and buffets. So instead of doing the DDP I'm going to buy gift cards to use to pay for our meals. That way I will still have paid for our meals in advanace, in my mind anyway!
  12. sharonabe

    sharonabe DIS Veteran

    May 22, 2009
    That thread is over on the Dining Plan sub-forum....check it out!
  13. Peachkins

    Peachkins DIS Veteran

    Nov 4, 2012
    This. My first time doing a dining plan was on my last trip- I went with my brother's family and they wanted it, so I chose it as well. I loved it. It was great not having to worry about setting a ton of money aside for meals and to be able to choose whatever I wanted on the menu without worrying about cost. I do think I got my money's worth then as well.

    My husband and I are going to Disney next year, and we're doing the deluxe plan since we love TS. He is also in love with the idea of paying for everything beforehand. I even brought up the fact that I wasn't sure how economical the plan would be, but he doesn't care. He'd rather have the peace of mind than save a few bucks. We're doing a bunch of signature meals in addition to regular TS, so we should at least come close, and again, I don't have to stress about what I should or shouldn't order due to cost.
  14. dutchdisneyfamily

    dutchdisneyfamily DIS Veteran

    Apr 7, 2010
    I like to not have to worry if my son orders steak instead of the cheaper chicken, so to speak. It's already paid for and I don't have to worry about cost. We wouldn't get desserts if we weren't on the dining plan because they are at least $8 a piece, which is nuts by the way. Some of the desserts there are incredible, so I don't want to miss out on them. It's really just peace of mind.
  15. disney-akj

    disney-akj DIS Veteran

    Aug 12, 2009
    We personally found once our kids were an adult price (10 and over) that the plan was not worth it. We still do all the TS meals we want, but do not spend near the cost of the dining plan. We still will buy desserts but maybe only two and split them since we are usually full. There are lots of time that we prefer water to drink too just from the heat, but while on the plan that seemed like a waste. We set a food budget (by looking at menu prices and guessing costs of entrees) and buy a gift card in that amount. We usually over budget and have extra money left over for other items in the park. I would rather have extra money to spend on what ever I wanted instead of wasting dining credits on over priced snacks in the resort gift shop before boarding ME (which is what happened to us several times while our kids were younger and the DDP was more affordable).
  16. Karabee

    Karabee DIS Veteran

    Jul 1, 2011
    As others said think about what you would eat and price it out. I don't eat dessert with each meal or even everyday so that was something I knew I wouldn't spend money out of pocket on. Additionally I don't drink soda or coffee so the reusable mugs aren't worth it. My dad, sister and I got it one year and had 8 QS meals left over so we knew it wasn't for us.
  17. kungaloosh22

    kungaloosh22 DIS Veteran

    May 25, 2008
    There's a flip side to this though. A lot of people seem to worry if their party isn't ordering the most expensive things.

    I've seen soooo many posts where people worry, "What should I order to maximize my dining plan?" or "You HAVE TO order the most expensive thing to make sure you get your money's worth." At this point, you're not necessarily ordering what (and how much) you really feel like eating.

    My advice, if you're going to look up the menus to see if it's worth it, try hard to not get caught up in that. Try to think about what and how much you'd really want to eat at any given meal. If you love steak and want to eat that at every meal, plus always have room for dessert, it might be a good plan for you. If you're a lighter eater or a salad and chicken fan, maybe not so much?
  18. Southern Bell

    Southern Bell DIS Veteran

    Mar 22, 2011
    I have never bought a dining plan. It seems to be cheaper for us not to. But we have used it when Disney offered it free. We up graded from Quick Service to Dining one year because I had two reservations all ready made that paid me to do so. But last fall we just kept the Quick Service. I enjoyed the dining because we did eat somehere nice every day. We ate places we hadn't before. But we were surprised how well we ate on the quick service. We had fish at the Columbia House in MK, Ribs at Flame Tree Barbque in AK, Pork chops & chicken at Seasons in Epcot & two meals a day was enough on either plan! When we purchased a meal(dinner) at the hotel we would get a pastry or muffin for breakfast in place of our desert, bottled milk or juice for our drink and use our cups for a refill for our meal. Then we had our breakfast for the next morning! You learn little tricks like that when using the plan. The negative side to using the dining plan was arranging your days around your reservations. I found on the quick service plan we ate when we were hungry & it didn't matter where we were at! So I think if I were ever to buy it I would buy the Quick Service and make one or two reservations and pay out of pocket , unless it figured up I was spending more! But I think thats what would work for us! I also wanted to add one reason I wouldn't want to buy it is by the end of the week my family was tired of eating in Disney. I had to insist to (older children) that they please finish using the dining plan instead of going out to eat!( Applebees or Outback or where ever) LOL! So I would be afraid to buy it in case they wouldn't use it all.
  19. OklahomaTourist

    OklahomaTourist Mouseketeer

    May 3, 2008
    It's very much a "how do you like to eat" question. If you normally expect three meals a day, have desserts at lunch or dinner, and want/expect those meals to be all Disney every day, then the DDP could be a good fit for you. If you depart from that appreciably, say you eat lighter breakfasts and maybe only one other "sizable" meal the rest of the day while in the parks, paying OOP may be a better plan.

    All I can offer is for my family, OOP works best. We're planning light breakfasts in room all but two days, and the heat generally keeps us from getting hungrier for two full meals later in the day, so we plan on a late lunch or early supper, and we normally don't do that many desserts. Add that up, and OOP is a fairly decisive winner for us.

    All that is to say do some planning, add it up, YMMV, and have a good time :)
  20. Maisey13

    Maisey13 Mouseketeer

    Mar 6, 2013
    We went back and forth on this same issue for weeks before deciding to add a DDP. As you can see from the wide range of responses everyone has a different opinion of what works for their family.

    This is our first trip to Disney and we finally came to the decision that the DDP is about 1) enjoying our dining experience on vacation (dessert!) and 2) convenience. We are doing three character meals and plus the BOMA buffet at our hotel (AK). In the "real world" we would never pay these prices for our child to eat out, but we are at WDW and we view it as paying for the character interaction.

    My husband is a number cruncher and determined that for us it made sense on this trip because of the number of character meals and special events we are celebrating. However, on future trips, we will preload a gift card and just pay as we go.
  21. Southern Bell

    Southern Bell DIS Veteran

    Mar 22, 2011
    We usually go to Disney in the summer. We drink alot of water all day long. We don't want as much to eat either because of the heat. So you are right it just depends on your family and how they do. Sometimes they didn't want the big meal I had reserved for them to eat that evening! LOL! The year we had the dining plan though we did alot of character meals! We had our daughter & family! It did pay us to upgrade just because of the character meals she wanted to do! My grandson had a blast and we did, too! Just watching him was alot of fun & worth it! Last Fall it was just me and my husband a & we just kept the quick dining.

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