Disney Dining Plan - yes or no

Nana2Callie

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 6, 2011
How do you decide? I am on the fence and need to make a decision today - we've had a trip coming up very soon - but still in the window to add the dining package... which we've always done in the past. But said last year... no more because we had so many snack credits left... Now I'm second guessing myself.

We are two adults and one teen with a healthy appetite - we do a lot of character dining and enjoy snacks throughout the parks. However, we are blessed to stay 14 nights this trip... so that runs the dining cost up there... but then when I start adding up meals... it makes me wonder if maybe we should. Someone please help me with my math... quick.

Dining is roughly $231 a day for 3 adults with the (TS, QS and 2 Snack plan).

Chef Mickey - $180 so that leaves $51 for lunch and snacks - if we go over that money ahead on the DP or so it works out in my head.

These are the reservations we have currently for TS -

Chef Mickey
Crystal Palace
Ohanas
Garden Grill
Askerhus - breakfast
Tusker House - breakfast
Cape May - breakfast
Sci Fi
Planet Hollywood
Rain Forest - AK
Corral Reef - but thinking of canceling this one.

All thoughts appreciated please...

We do have an AP - do that discount applies where available and considered the Tables in Wonderland card but would need to save $150 with the card to break even.
 

Aurora79

Earning My Ears
Joined
Oct 5, 2018
For me, the dining plan isn’t about saving money. It’s about being on vacation and not having to look at prices on the menu because it’s already paid for. To me, being able to order what I want is worth it, even if the math doesn’t add up.
 

Ecomommy09

Earning My Ears
Joined
May 6, 2019
14 days would give you 14 TS credits. You only have 11 listed there. That should mean that you would save money by NOT using the DDP.
 
  • sharonabe

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 22, 2009
    Dining is roughly $231 a day for 3 adults with the (TS, QS and 2 Snack plan).
    A couple of things to add to the math. Will the two true adults enjoy alcohol with their meals? If the answer to this is YES, than the dining plan will save you some money. You get alcohol even at the buffets with the dining plan. I do think you need to use all 14 TS credits, but it's likely that even if you only use 11 for TS, 3 for QS, and the 14 other QS credits, you'll still save money IF you are drinking alcohol at the majority of those meals.

    We do have an AP - do that discount applies where available and considered the Tables in Wonderland card but would need to save $150 with the card to break even.
    You'll save that $150 with just 3 or 4 of your TS meals, so at all the other TS meals, the 20% is a true savings. If you'll only want a few alcoholic beverages, and you truly only want the 10 or 11 TS meals you have planned, then this might be the better way to go.

    One other thought. This is the first time you've even thought of going without the dining plan. I think it's worth doing that at least once to see if you like it. We went without it on our last trip, had 3 TS meals over 5 days and the rest QS, ate whatever we wanted, including some snacks not covered by the plan, and never said no to any food or beverage anyone wanted. We didn't even spend the amount the QS plan would have cost us. BUT we don't drink alcohol and one of us only drinks water and the rest of us prefer water with our meals. We still had coffee, soda, milk shakes during the day, but not with our meals. If you're going to go without it, you have to be willing to eat and drink whatever you want without thinking about the cost. Save all your receipts and do the math at the end to see how you measure up to the dining plans.
     

    MarkinNM

    NO SOUP FOR YOU!!!!
    Joined
    May 28, 2003
    For me, the dining plan isn’t about saving money. It’s about being on vacation and not having to look at prices on the menu because it’s already paid for. To me, being able to order what I want is worth it, even if the math doesn’t add up.
    BINGO..........................................

    That is it for us also, the convenience of having the food paid for in advance, and looking at the menu ordering what we want and not worrying about sticker shock...........
     

    Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    I woudl do a quick math check for the restaurants you have listed, add the CS costs if you know about where you woudl choose to go, and add in alcohol or specialty beverages if your family will normally order them. If you run close to the overall cost of the plan, book it. If you fall short then think about the snacks you may order. If that does not push you towards to total cost of the plan skip it. Be sure to add in tax for the meals and snacks you will order.

    I firmly believe that the choice to book a dining plan involves math, and I firmly believe that there is no definitive answer with that math check. WE all tend to answer based on our own preferences and experiences.
     

    Elle23

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 6, 2016
    BINGO..........................................

    That is it for us also, the convenience of having the food paid for in advance, and looking at the menu ordering what we want and not worrying about sticker shock...........
    One thing I didn’t like about having the dining plan (when we paid for it) was always worrying if I was getting value out of it. It would stress me out when my daughter (who doesn’t eat much), would consistently order the cheapest option. There is a tendency with the dining plan to gravitate toward the most expensive items for the perceived value. Sometimes we just want the cheaper items!

    We have always done the dining plan (one full price, 1 reduced, 1 free), and may be going without it if no free dining is offered. I’m kind of looking forward to the freedom of not having it. I guess there are different perspectives for everything!
     
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  • Nana2Callie

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 6, 2011
    Thanks for the replies and just a few more questions - where can I find accurate menu pricing including the TS buffets that are listed above. Also, what is the tax rate which I've heard between 4% and 12%. We do not drink alcohol. Is there a snack list with some pricing that would help me to calculate those better - I was adding them at an average of $5 each.
     

    rwdavis2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 2, 2007
    Just keep in mind the plans are not designed to save money. I’ve never understood the value of having it prepaid either. IMHO, paying out of pocket and ordering what you want is least stressful.
     

    sharonabe

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 22, 2009
    Thanks for the replies and just a few more questions - where can I find accurate menu pricing including the TS buffets that are listed above. Also, what is the tax rate which I've heard between 4% and 12%. We do not drink alcohol. Is there a snack list with some pricing that would help me to calculate those better - I was adding them at an average of $5 each.
    Here's the most current list (note: these prices INCLUDE tax) https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/disney-world-price-updates-for-buffets-characters-meals-shows-and-all-you-care-to-eat-platters/

    Tax rate for meal planning is 6.5%

    $5 average for your snacks is the norm most of us use.

    You should still do the math, but since you don't drink alcohol, I really think the TiW is the way to go for you.
     

    alex9179

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2010
    Are you staying 14 nights or 14 days?

    First, you all can't actually eat all of the allotted credits given that you had a bunch of snack ones to "spend" at the end of your last vacation. Is that $231 including the two snacks per day? I would leave snack cost off until the end, since you're inclined to not use them. That would be money in your pocket at the end of the trip.
    Do you all wish you would share QS instead of ordering for each person every time? That's savings when paying OOP.
    Would you think it nice to NOT have a TS scheduled every day or is that a break you look forward to (I know we do)? Do you prefer a bunch of character meals or are you trying to maximize the plan? All valid questions for deciding.
    I got the plan for free this time. We've never used it, before, and I found myself scheduling TS that I wouldn't have just to get "value". I had 3 buffets and none of us are into characters or steam table food. I came to my senses and only kept 1900 PF (hoping the stepsisters are there to give my boys a hard time!), replacing the other two with meals that I KNOW we would have if OOP. I'll be the only >21 adult to enjoy the alcoholic beverage included. IMHO, feeling like one needs to break even or come out ahead on the cost is a big negative with the plan.

    I added up your scheduled TS to be 1488.75. TiW savings would be ~$280. Remember that you all could eat at lounges (kids welcome, no need to order alcohol, small plates of food) and enjoy the discount. We love doing this (especially in DS) and the kids really like the mocktails. Some QS are eligible, so if you're staying at one of those resorts you'll get more savings. You can share apps at TS when not too hungry, instead of ordering entrees. If you just want a salad, no guilt about losing money on a cheaper selection.

    I don't think that you'll come out ahead on the DDP for the sole reason that you all have trouble utilizing the snack credits. I mean, you're there for 2 weeks and the large meals will wear thin at the end of your stay.
     
  • The Foolish Mortal

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 28, 2017
    Just keep in mind the plans are not designed to save money. I’ve never understood the value of having it prepaid either. IMHO, paying out of pocket and ordering what you want is least stressful.
    I agree with this comment. My partner and I never use the DDP. We're on vacay. We just want to order what we want when we want it. I always budget a couple hundred bucks a day for food and snacks, so we rarely go over that amount anyway
     

    Moliphino

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2016
    I would only do the DDP with a free dining promotion (as long as it works out better than a room only discount). It's too much food for us and it does limit your options. I'm excited for our first non-DDP trip in years this fall - we can eat in lounges, get the Nutella waffle that doesn't count as a snack credit, and not be stuffed to the gills at all times.
     

    Park Pirate

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2016
    For me, the dining plan isn’t about saving money. It’s about being on vacation and not having to look at prices on the menu because it’s already paid for. To me, being able to order what I want is worth it, even if the math doesn’t add up.
    I can completely understand this, but it also points out that everyone is different. We tried the dining plan a couple of times and for us, it was the opposite. We felt like we were forced into getting an entree, dessert, etc. for everyone to get the value out, whereas often we like to get an appetizer for a meal, or split a pizza or entree or dessert, etc.. We find that it is liberating not to have to worry about scheduling a TS meal everyday. We eat a lot, but I think we probably save much money by not getting the plan and we eat what/where we want without the pressure of worrying about credits or getting the value.

    I think it just depends upon your dining preferences. If you find a variation of the plan that fits your plans, then I can definitely see the benefits. I think your approach to list the meals that you will be going to (if you have those planned out) and then doing a quick calculation on what it would cost without the plan, is a good way to determine what you should do.
     


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