for anyone budgeting WDW meals

Discussion in 'Budget Board' started by mickeyluv'r, Apr 18, 2006.

  1. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

    Feb 14, 2005
    Well, I was curious...would it be less expensive for a couple to go with the dining plan, or DD Experience? Which would save the most money? For those who don't know, the DDE gives you a 20% discount at most sit down restaurants, and a some of the quick service restaurants (POR, Value resorts, POFQ, Animal Kingdom eateries)

    For my calculations, I did not include the price of any ticket media, nor did I include room discounts. I also didn't calculate the cost of DDE ($60). I did include tax (6.5%).

    For a couple spending five nights/four days (getting four days worth of dining plan), I planned the following:
    6 QS meals, four snacks, and three dinners at: Boma, Yacht Club Galley, and California Grill. I also assumed you'd go for higher priced items.

    With the Dining Experience, you'd only get four quick service meals, so you'd have to pay two out of pocket. The total cost would be about $320 - $360.

    With DDE, I got a range from about $322 - $369 and above. The price range has a lot to do with where you order your QS meal, and whether your QS meal was breakfast or lunch. If you're using your QS for breakfast at a Value resort, you're not really getting a good value, especially compared against getting the DDE discount there. If you're using your QS voucher at a more expensive restaurant for lunch, at a place where you wouldn't get the discount, then the DE voucher is a better deal. I suspect lots of people use the vouchers for breakfast if they are going to have a big dinner. A much better value would be to have your 'snack' for breakfast, and your QS at lunch time - or else use one of each and share a meal item. I also didn't factor in any savings one could gain from a refillable mug.

    So my conclusion is this: if you are staying on property long enough to cover the extra cost of an AP with the room discount (easily done if you have a large group with three rooms booked for a week at a moderate, or stay at a deluxe for a week), or you plan on going more than one time within a year, the AP is probably a better deal, because using the DDE gives you a lot more flexibility. But again it depends if you're going to dine at places that give you the discount. You'd also save considerably more if you didn't get the most expensive thing on the menu, but you do have to remember to give the waitstaff your card at every meal.

    It matters a great deal where you use your vouchers - if you use your vouchers at Boma ($26) or a character breakfast ($19), and your QS at a Value resort (or POFQ, POR), then you won't get your money's worth out of that day.
    If you use your QS voucher at CSR, you do MUCH better. If you use your Table service voucher at a place like Wolfgang Puck Cafe or Yacht Club Galley, where you order off a menu, again the package saves money - assuming you'd order all that food.
    At California Grill - signature dining - your TWO TS vouchers are worth about $61 - though the meal with tip, and DDE would be about $53 dollars.

    char brkfst +snack + Value Dinner - DDE discount = $33
    value breakfast +snack + Boma - DDE 20% discount = $36.50
    snack + value lunch + Chef Mickey's - DDE = about $39
    snack + CSR lunch (assuming you can get the $18 steak)+ YCG = about $58
  2. spiceycat

    spiceycat dvc-blt

    Oct 26, 2000
    you have got it backwards - 5 nights would be 6 days not 4.

    most people would made the dinning plan work for them. so that is probably the better choice.

    I am going back to WDW often and not staying on WDW property all the time. So the DDE is a better bargin for me.

    depends upon your situation.
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  4. calie_j

    calie_j DIS Veteran

    Jan 3, 2005
    It really comes down to how many people in your party and your style of dining out on vacation. If you like 1 TS meal per day then the dining plan will probably work for you. If you like to eat at alot of TS or have some 2 credit signature restaurants or even if you have alot of people in your group (20% off the 6 people allowed per meal vs paying for 6 people on dining plan) then DDE might be better for you especially if you would have bought a 7-10 day park ticket and can get an AP discount. If you really want the cheapest option bring breakfast foods & snacks from home, eat mainly at CS for all meals with only 1 or 2 special sitdown meals for the week, and share meals where possible. Each group should figure out their own estimated meal costs for each trip using the menus at allears, then see how much it would save (or not) using either DDE or dining plan.

  5. mello

    mello DIS Veteran

    May 26, 2005
  6. disneyjunkie

    disneyjunkie I'VE GOT MY EYES ON YOU!!!

    Mar 2, 2001

    I don't really understand your post. If you're staying for 5 nights, then you 5 of each dining credit not 4. :confused3

    My son and I used the plan last April (he was 13).

    First and foremost, I refused to drive myself crazy trying to figure out how I could max out the plan.:crazy:

    Before going I made sure the restaurants we wanted to try were included.

    There were times we used our CS credits for breakfast at Pop Century. A few times we ate breakfast in the room and used the CS credits for lunch or dinner.

    Most of our TS credits were used for lunch or dinner. We used one for a character breakfast at Crystal Palace.

    The dining plan was a plus for us because we were able to try so many restaurants during one trip. If I had to pay OOP (DDE), I would have only
    picked two CHEAP restaurants and then ordered the cheapest item on the menu. :lmao:

    Since we were on the dining plan, we were able to experience Whispering Canyon Café, Crystal Palace, Rose and Crown, Chef Mickey's, Ohana, Tappenyaki, Sci Fi Dine In and Cape May Café. We were able to order what we wanted without worrying about the prices.

    There were times when we didn't order everything included with the plan. However, in the end it was still cheaper than paying OOP.

    I'm looking forward to using the plan again this June and September. :love:
  7. aka-mad4themouse

    aka-mad4themouse <font color="blue">Budget Board Co-Host</font>

    Dec 14, 2004
    WOW! That sure was a lot of work you went thru to figure things out. I'm sure that it worked for you. There are so many factors involved that I really feel that each person has to evaluate the plan for themselves.

    Although you do not factor in the price of the DDE card, I would b/c it's an added expense that I would not pay otherwise. I would also take into consideration the additional cost of purchasing an AP vs. MYW hoppers and the possible AP room discount vs. paying rack rate for the package. But that's just me. I prefer to see how the bottomline works out instead of just looking at line item costs.

    As others have pointed out, a 5-night stay means that you get the dining plan for 5 nights...5 TS, 5 CS and 5 snacks each. I would not plan 6 CS and only 3 TS meals given those numbers. As such, it would change the way that your numbers run. In your plan, there are 9 meals, in my way of looking at things, you're getting 10 from the DP.

    We also have a different dining style than a lot of people. When we're on vacation, we prefer to eat our large meal mid-day and have a smaller meal in the evening. That could result in us not getting as great a value from our TS credits as the someone with the same number of people using their TSs for dinner. But that would also mean that our DDE savings would not be as great, either.

    I also found the DDE to be too restrictive when it came to CS meals. It's great for the Value resorts but useless at the food courts in the Moderate or Deluxe resorts and in the parks, where the card is not accepted at CS locations.

    In all, I think that the DDE is great for anyone who is with a large group (up to 10 people), dines at TS locations at least once (and perhaps twice) daily and prefers to have a cocktail, wine or even a beer before, during, or after their meal since the DDE also provided for a discount on the liquor portion of the bill whereas the DP does not include alcohol.

    But, again, I think that each person needs to run the numbers for themselves and evaluate how each plan might serve them best.
  8. frannn

    frannn <font color=blue>please stop the madnesssss alread

    Nov 2, 1999
    that, for us, its not only based on the individual ages and normal eating habits, but numerous other factors. Even when scheduling out where I thought we would probably eat with the DDE (which we already have) on our last trip, and comparing the costs of what I thought we might eat if we purchased the DP, there were a lot of variables. We would certainly eat at nicer places, more often, with the DP. We would probably order desert, appetizer, beverage, which we normally don't order. We would probably stay onsite for all meals. This would all be different with DDE. Since we always stay at an AS, we mostly ate there for breakfast, and a handful of times with dinner. With the DP, we have to buy one day tickets that we don't need, since we already have APs. Costwise, our best bet is usually the DDE, because we use it a lot at the AS. But, the experience of getting to try different restaraunts, and not worry about cost, and to order all different appetizers, and not have to moniter what DDs are ordering, and not have to tell my family to try to order water whenever possible, will definetly have value. After that whole spiel, I just want to disclose that we are getting the DP for free in Sept (although we are paying for one day tickets), which will be our first time using it. I am anticipating that DH, who doesn't enjoy leaving property for any reason, will be thrilled with it, and want to purchase it on subsequent trips. I think our future budgets may now be out the window, but am thinking I may agree with him on this.
  9. mickeyluv'r

    mickeyluv'r DIS Veteran

    Feb 14, 2005
    Wow, I wasn't expecting anyone to get upset about this...

    My point was just to give everyone some info which could be helpful. Some people assume one way or the other, and maybe don't do the math. I've heard MANY poeple talk about how the meal plan saves money, and it can, but not necessarily. It is probably a good value if you're paying rack rates all around. If an AP will save you at least $200 in room costs, or you already have one, then running the numbers is probably a wise thing to do, especially if you have a large group. If it will save you $260, then DEE will likely pay for itself. For two people, it probably isn't as great a difference. If you can get the AAA room discount, then going the AP route also makes less sense, unless you plan to use it a lot. If you're staying off property, then AP/DDE makes lots of sense.

    Mentally, buying the meal plan does free you up a certain amount because you're prepaying for your meals. It's easy to say, 'this is exactly how much I need to budget for my trip.' That can be very helpful. You also have to remember to use the DDE card with EVERY meal, or you lose out.

    Yes, I was thinking that you could get the meal plan for four days with a four night stay. If you arrive after diiner on your first day, and leave before dinner the last day, then you would only use four days.

    Someone said DDE wasn't as great at the moderates. Truly, it depends WHICH moderate you are staying at - at POR and POFQ, DDE does give you a discount. On the other hand, if you're staying at CSR, the Pepper Market appears to be one of the best places on property to use meal credits. I am presuming that you're going to do a certain amount of dining at your home resort.

    It also became clear to me, that using the vouches for a character breakfast isn't a great use of them either. If you intend to use your vouchers in other ways, it might make sense for some people to pay for a character breakfast out of pocket, and use the vouchers to justify a signature dining experience.

    I really don't have a preference to say one is superior to the other. It all depends on your circumstances.
  10. pezpam

    pezpam DIS Veteran

    Mar 16, 2005
    Someone got upset? Where? LOL - Looked like a perfectly pleasant discussion.

    I will say that even if you're only there for 4 days, you still have 5 nights worth of DDP credits to use on those 4 days, so you just wind up covering more meals on each of your 4 days......

    That said, I think that it's great you're looking at the calculations and explaining how you came to your conclusion and it's great that others have shared their viewpoints. At the end of the day, there are so many variables that each person/group will probably have to crunch their own numbers and then figure in the intangibles - some people just like having most meals pre-paid, some like to try places they wouldn't normally spend money on, some like to get a discount on their wine, etc...... Those intangibles can influence a choice that might otherwise seem un-economical, but still be well worth it to that particular group.
  11. pearlieq

    pearlieq <font color=green>They can sit & spin<br><font col

    Aug 3, 2004
    We've toyed with both. This is our thinking:


    --Only allowed at TS and selected CS restaurants
    --Have to remember to use it
    --We usually spend less with this, because we don't order as much food
    --Can be used for more than 1 trip
    --Costs $ out of pocket. Need to spend $300 on food/bev just to recoup costs.


    --Can try more menu options than before
    --Can try more restaurants instead of limiting TS meals to save money
    --Carefree dining
    --Way too much food!
    --Snack choices are lackluster. Can't be used for some of the more desirable snack at WDW (Dole Whips, funnel cakes, pretzels, etc.)

    We spend less with DDE, but I think I would get equal "value" out of them. We won't be renewing our APs this year, so we'll book DDP on our next trip and I'm looking forward to it!
  12. swillis

    swillis "Make your next dog a Blue Dog!"

    Jan 27, 2006
    I have been getting a little crazy over meal planning. My situation is that we are staying offsite, planning to eat breakfast in the room each morning. We don't have a dining plan or DDE card.

    I'm figuring about $75 on food, snacks and beverages from waiting for us when we arrive at the hotel.

    We have 3 ADR's for dinner (WCC, Liberty Tree, Coral Reef,) and 1 character breakfast (Crystal Palace) I'm figuring about $80 total for each of these (myself, DS-10, and DD-11) Maybe a little less for the breakfast.

    Additonally I'm guessing about $30 per person for lunch, snack, beverages.

    On the days we don't have an ADR, we will likely eat dinner off site before heading back to a park at night.

    So we probably would have benefited from the dining plan (if we were staying on site) and possibly benefited from the DDE, but I'm not planning another trip anytinme soon.

    So I'm thinking at the end of the day I will be spending just the right amount of money :thumbsup2
  13. dawnball

    dawnball <font color=red>bouncie bouncie...<br><font color=

    Jul 6, 2005
    Well, we went for free dining last fall. After the fact I took our actual expenses on the dining plan and compared paying for the dining plan vs paying OOP for everything vs DDE. We were 6 people (4 adults, 2 toddlers) for 9 nights. Buying the DDP was about $200 cheaper than paying OOP. Using DDE would have been about $300 cheaper than DDP (including buying the card, although that was when the card was $50).

    For a smaller group, and less time - it's more questionable. Also, we didn't eat everything we could on the dining plan. My dad is a pretty light eater and occassionally just ordered a drink or a drink and salad. We didn't always get appetizers and desserts although we usually did. We had credits left over (the toddlers didn't eat anywhere near all their CS credits).

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