How cost effective is the Dining Plan without free Dining. is it worth it?

Discussion in 'Disney Dining Plan' started by Romamom444, May 27, 2013.

  1. Romamom444

    Romamom444 Earning My Ears

    Apr 27, 2013
    Just wondering do you really save money paying for the dining plan without free dining? Trying to figure this out for upcoming trip? :confused:
  2. mesaboy2

    mesaboy2 I sense something. A forum I haven't felt sinceā€¦

    Oct 28, 2009
    You would have to do the math for your specific situation. Oftentimes, the answer is it's not worth it.
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  4. GaSleepingBeautyFan

    GaSleepingBeautyFan DIS Veteran

    Aug 12, 2007
    For us no - we don't eat table service (TS) everyday.

    Some days we do a counter service (CS) breakfast and snack all the rest of the day.

    Alot of people like it because it's convenient - your food is already paid for and you can use snack credits for breakfast, a CS for lunch and a TS for dinner.

    Because I have an annual pass, I also got the Tables in Wonderland card so I use that discount.

    I did do the calculations once for my family and for the Quick Service Dining plan we would have only broke even. And for the Table Service dining plan, we would have lost money if we followed our normal eating schedule which is why it wouldn't work for us.

    You can look up the menus and the costs on and figure out if it would work for you based on where you want to eat.

    Happy planning!
  5. RMulieri

    RMulieri DIS Veteran

    Jul 5, 2001
    You need to sitdown and figure it out for you and your family.For us it is worth it.We eat at least a CS and TS meal everyday .
  6. Missytara

    Missytara I'm all ears!

    Apr 3, 2009
    I suggest you go over to the menus; do a sampling of what you would eat for a week or just one day, add it up and see if it comes close to the cost of the dining plan.

    Only you can determine if it is worth it to you and how you eat. You have asked a very subjective question with little detail about what you expect to do.

    On a solo trip, I do two apps, lots of bread, and dessert, so it does not fit me. Most of the people I travel with are on a budget, like to pay ahead of time and I book the most expensive meals I can.
  7. myhouseofmouse

    myhouseofmouse Disney Dad

    Apr 15, 2008
    Agree, the only way it is worth it is if you DO the math. Unfortunately because Disney continues to raise the price on it. You need to plan the dining and figure out if it adds up. You also need to look at your specific family an example of mine, we have 12 year old daughter and 6 year old boy. We would have to pay for my daughter as an adult even thought eh 6 year old eats more then her. At sit down meals and counter service she orders from the kids menu still. It does not pay to pay for us to pay for the dining plan anymore.

    One side note: If you do a lot of character meals, it usually make sense to get the dining plans, since they are so expensive and you can usually come out ahead on the dining plan with them. You just have to make sure to get your ressies.

    Have a great trip
  8. GillianP1301

    GillianP1301 DIS Veteran

    Jun 22, 2012
    It really all depends on how you eat. The only way to know for sure is cost it out. A little research of the dining menus and costing out a room only with the OOP food vs. package deal.

    We used "free dining" on our vacation last summer, first time for me, and it saved us a little (maybe $100 on the entire vacation). But, it encouraged me to try some TS restaurants that I may not have otherwise, so that was a good thing. We also took advantage of lots of character meals, which I doubt I would've done OOP.

    I looked at it for our upcoming vacation and based on how I predicted we would eat, my room discount and paying OOP is going to save me about $200, assuming "free dining" would've been an option for when I'm going.
  9. chris1013

    chris1013 Mouseketeer

    Sep 12, 2011
    In Feb/Mar, we had QS My brother made a point of getting the most expensive item on the item every time. The rest of us didn't always get the most expensive but went with the pricier items. I saved all our receipts and did the math when we got home. Had we paid for it at the regular season prices, my brother is the only one who would have broke even. The rest of us were just below the price.

    In our case, not worth it. Especially because it includes a lot of food which I would not have eaten that much if it wasn't included. I could eat less food for a lot less money.
  10. mom2rtk

    mom2rtk Bring Back MARIE!

    Aug 23, 2008
    If you tend to order sodas and dessert anyway, it might be a good deal.

    If you tend to eat at all the most expensive character meals, it might be a good deal.

    If you always have to argue with your kids because they want the most expensive items on the menu, it might be a good deal.

    If having the cost of meals invade your magic bubble several times a day, it might be a good deal.

    If dad gets cranky every time the bill comes, it might be a good deal.

    But if it saves you money, it probably a lot less than it used to be.

    For us, traveling during free dining is a good deal. I'm not sure if I'd pay OOP though. Especially since our youngest turned 10 but still mostly prefers choices off the kids menu.
  11. tlkscott

    tlkscott Mouseketeer

    Oct 7, 2012
    For us it is worth it. We do two TS meals a day and many of those are character meals. We also do a couple of Sig. meals. So we get the DxDP. We are major foodies and we can break even or come out ahead even with our 5 year old. You really do have to sit down and figure out where you are going to eat and what you would order. The buffets are easy to add up. The other places you have to figure out what you would order. We always do appetizers so that is really where we get our moneys worth.
  12. vicki_c

    vicki_c DIS Veteran

    Dec 22, 2007
    Head over to the DDP board and there are a few calculators to determine whether it's a good deal for your situation or not.
  13. MeeskaMomma

    MeeskaMomma DIS Veteran

    Apr 27, 2013
    I agree with what others have said, do the math. I used my own spreadsheet, but this may help.

    I wanted to add, if you do the dinning plan I would Pre plan I would look really read the fine print. I cannot tell your how many times we were in line behind someone at the food court with a the ddp and they got to check out only to find something they thought was a drink counted as a snack, something wasn't covered or something else was wrong. It seemed really stressful.
  14. Mousemommy1

    Mousemommy1 DIS Veteran

    Dec 6, 2010
    Agree with the PPs that say you need to do the math yourself. Figure out what you would order off of the menus and then compare.

    My family has done the DDP many times, but, always knew we weren't getting our monies worth.

    On our last trip, we decided to not do DDP and use TiW instead and boy were we right!! We spent $1080 over 11 days on food vs. the just under $1500 it would have cost for the DDP.

    Last year, over the course of 11 days we had the DDP and ended up with 8 QS meal credits and 20+ snack credits left over....such a waste :sad:

    From now on, we are definitely OOP/TiW peeps, and we love the freedom it affords (I.e. I am able to get an appetizer for dinner if I want, which is normal for me) :thumbsup2
  15. bdklein

    bdklein DIS Veteran

    Sep 17, 2005
    Please let us know the ages of the people in your party, as a starting off point.
  16. meliss8599

    meliss8599 DIS Veteran

    Feb 11, 2008
    We chose to try the dining plan one year b/c we wanted to try the food and atmosphere of all the highly recommended restaurants Disney had to offer. Because it was not cheap, we felt we had to get our money's worth and used every CS, TS, and snack credit we had. We felt disgusting every day with the amount of food we received and either ate (physically ill feeling) or wasted (emotianally ill).

    Also, we felt our trip was consumed with making our reservation time which, since they have to be booked so far in advance, was very often inconvenient considering our current activities or appetite at that time or on that day.

    The next year, I decided to keep our food and snack receipts and compare them to what a dining plan would've cost us. Doing our own thing saved us money. It was not a tremendous amount of savings, but it was much more convenient to tour and eat OUR way on OUR terms.

    Our preference in eating is mostly CS and snacks and the occasional TS to our favorite restaurant, Le Cellier (that was the only restaurant out of all we've tried that we felt was worth the money; if DD was still young enough, I would also do the Akershus Princess breakfast). Granted, we did not eat at fanch shmancy TS's all week (just once or twice), but that's not how we want to spend our park time anyway--worrying about when our next reservation is, wasting an hour to hour and a half eating, feeling guilty about not using up all credits or feeling guilty wasting food we were just to full to eat another bite of.

    From now on, we will stick with our own dining plan--eating whenever, wherever, and whatever we want. The planning aspect and the overwhelming amount of food is just not worth it for us. And, quite honestly in our opinion, very few of the Disney restaurants live up to the hype so if there are any others we'd like to try in the future (like O'hana), we will be paying out of pocket for them.

    Good luck with your decision, I know it's a tough one to make the first time!
  17. erincon23

    erincon23 <font color=blue>Everyone must have gotten a life

    Sep 25, 2008
    You have to figure in the loss of any room discount you might get if you don't take free dining. And a lot of it depends on how many people are with you. I've found that traveling solo or with one other person, the room discount is greater than the amount I'll actually save on the dining plan, since the food I actually eat will cost a lot less than the amount I'll pay for the plan. But if it was a mom, dad, and three kids, two of which are older than child age, it could be worth it!
  18. Bagheera23608

    Bagheera23608 Bagheera23608

    Apr 9, 2009
    It depends on what you want to pay for. I'm going to get it for the peace of mind of alone. Our last trip was very stressful over just the cost of food alone. It really became an issue between hubby and me.

    There are folks out there who go thru all the menus, add up what the meal would cost, add up all their meals and them compare. That is WAY to much planning for me, personally.

    Give me pre-paid and peace of mind, thank you. But to directly answer your question - no, the general answer is it's not worth it....
  19. roselark

    roselark DIS Veteran

    Aug 26, 2007
    See Ya Reel Soon has a FABULOUS dining plan calculator. You put in some details about your trip, group and eating habits, then where you plan on eating, and it gives you the amount you would pay out of pocket, under the different dining plans, and with the TIW card. It is awesome! Much easier than trying to calculate it all yourself.

    Just google "See Ya Reel Soon dining plan calculator" to get to it.
  20. DisneyFive

    DisneyFive When is the 3:00 parade?

    Jun 16, 2011
    I've run the numbers many times, and the dining plan (if not free dining) is mostly a convenience, not a money saver. Some also like it so that they don't have to see a big lunch or dinner bill while they are at Disney.

    It is also somewhat limiting (appetizers not offered).

    We've been on the dining plan the last three years, and will be this year as well, but that's ONLY because we've gone in when "free dining" has been offered.

    If I were going when free dining was not offered, I would just pay out of pocket.

  21. ghtx

    ghtx DIS Veteran

    May 29, 2012
    Everyone is saying "do the math."

    Let me save you some time (No need to do any math):

    Skip the dining plan.

    It's not worth it.

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