No free dining again?

Jax1023

Mouseketeer
Joined
Nov 30, 2008
IMO where the dining plan starts to really decline in its value is when you have small children. The deluxe plan seems like just way too much food for anybody IMO but I guess it works for some. I could see my husband and I making "our money back" on the basic plan, but when you factor in kids, no way. Your vast majority of small children do not have the stomach capacity nor the want or need to eat three full meals a day of appetizer entree and dessert plus snacks. Maybe some do and that would explain a lot of the vomit we all encounter around the parks...... :crazy2:
See I think the exact opposite. The kids dining plan costs like 25 dollars a day. A single character meal like crystal palace is 31 and change. So basically everything else your kid eats that day is free.

Also my kids are grazers. They eat like 6 times a day. We’ll split them a breakfast, split them a lunch, have a post nap snack around 3, character meal for dinner.

I personally think the dining plan is only “worth it” for families with the under 10 set. And parents who like to have some adult beverages with meals
 

rdaky

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 12, 2014
OH - definitely agree - I think we're saying the same thing, only a bit differently. I'm saying yes - plenty of people DO think it's a deal, DO buy the clever marketing, etc. But is it really as much of a value - not only as in the past - but for THEM as they THINK it is? Sadly - probably not. VERY clever marketing, props to Disney on building a superior net that catches LOTS of fishes. My comment was "fishes - do your MATH, if you're ONLY buying it because you think yo're getting something for FREE, or a FANTASTIC deal!" This is the thinking of most of the people I have ever heard talking about getting free dining. And you know what? A lot of them are either newbies, or haven't been very many times, so don't know (want to know?) the difference.

If people get the dining plan strictly for the convenience of paying for everything once, then it;s done, and time to vacay and relax - I TOTALLY get that, and do that myself. But in the case of "FREE:" dining, I tend to very much think that is NOT the primary motivator.
I agree with all of this. I know lots of people who have never been or only go once every few years or so and are completely pulled into free dining. Disney knows that they can get people to pay full price for a room by feeding them meals that didn't cost anywhere near the amount to produce that they charge for them. It's a money maker for Disney, and the more restrictions, the better for Disney, and as far as I know, they are getting just as many people to sign up for free dining deals as in the past. And those same newbies are people who are paying for the dining plan because they think it must be a huge money saver and then they're spending their table service on a less expensive breakfast or they are the ones taking home 12 boxes of cookies at the end of their trip.
 
  • Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    I think its the dining plan, "free" or paid, that has dumbed down the menus.
    That's the popular argument. I am not in agreement. I firmly believe that it is not the dining plans that have degraded menu options and dining quality, but the bulk ordering that is probably saving WDW a ton of money. I find it ludicrous that the same people who insist that dining plans cost more than OOP would cost complain that they also dumb down menu selections. I believe that when Disney consolidates much of their ordering the volume discount speaks louder than customer satisfaction.


    OH - definitely agree - I think we're saying the same thing, only a bit differently. I'm saying yes - plenty of people DO think it's a deal, DO buy the clever marketing, etc. But is it really as much of a value - not only as in the past - but for THEM as they THINK it is? Sadly - probably not. VERY clever marketing, props to Disney on building a superior net that catches LOTS of fishes. My comment was "fishes - do your MATH, if you're ONLY buying it because you think yo're getting something for FREE, or a FANTASTIC deal!" This is the thinking of most of the people I have ever heard talking about getting free dining. And you know what? A lot of them are either newbies, or haven't been very many times, so don't know (want to know?) the difference.

    If people get the dining plan strictly for the convenience of paying for everything once, then it;s done, and time to vacay and relax - I TOTALLY get that, and do that myself. But in the case of "FREE:" dining, I tend to very much think that is NOT the primary motivator.
    Nothing is free. Not dining, not lodging, not transportation. It is part of the cost of a WDW vacation. The issue is not if folks "buy the Kool-Aid" but if they do the math. I do. I refuse to pay rack rate for any trip, so I look for discounts. I know how to run my numbers so once I determine what I am going to purchase I do an apples to apples comparison and go with the least expensive option for what I am buying for my family. I really don't care what it is called. "Free Dining" "Friends and Family" " Room Only." "Come for Dinner" "Sleep Here for Less" What difference does it make. A discount is a discount.
    A lot of families will not travel unless they have a FD deal, and that is not because they have no idea how to do the math, but that they already know that for their family RO is not the same discount as FD. I travel with at least 4 people, so for my crew FD is hands down a deeper discount than RO. We usually add in hoppers so that is no harm no foul for us.

    In terms of value? Nope. None of the discounts offer the same value as I found they did in the past, however I feel that is because for me Disney does not offer the same value for my dollar as in the past. I am not sure if this is because now that I really do not have little ones in tow I am looking at things in a different light, or if I am suffering sticker shock as I try to cost out a tentative RO discount trip in December.
     

    rotlex

    Is it summer yet?
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2007
    I think we’ll have a better sense of future promotions once they release the new bounceback offer in mid August. For years, it’s been free dining for the following year. We’ll see what happens.
    I'm interested to see what the offer is for our upcoming trip in August. We have been booking free dining bounce backs for the last 10 years at least. We have gotten very used to it, and it is a great deal for us. (Family of 4 who truly enjoys the dining experiences).

    My biggest issue though is how they keep dumbing it down. Yes, I remember when I could stay at POP and get the full plan. Tips were included as well as apps and desserts. Not to mention I didn't have to spend for a park hopper that I never use. Even with that said, it's still the best deal for us if you factor in staying at a mod. Last year, even with just CS, our receipts probably totaled $150-200 per day for meals and snacks. Getting that free still tops any room discount out there. We really like the fact that alcohol is now included as well.
     

    Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    My biggest issue though is how they keep dumbing it down. Yes, I remember when I could stay at POP and get the full plan. Tips were included as well as apps and desserts. Not to mention I didn't have to spend for a park hopper that I never use. Even with that said, it's still the best deal for us if you factor in staying at a mod. Last year, even with just CS, our receipts probably totaled $150-200 per day for meals and snacks. Getting that free still tops any room discount out there. We really like the fact that alcohol is now included as well.
    Remember it well! I also remember all of the complaints about the tip and the inability to control how much the server got. The amount of food, and why cant a discount be offered if you do not want the dessert or appetizer.....and on and on. The moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for. Disney graciously agreed to remove that pesky appetizer and gave us control of the gratuity, and reduced that plan by a buck. Yes indeed......mission accomplished.
    (this is not directed at you, but in general "you)
     

    CampbellzSoup

    Son. Husband. Father.
    Joined
    Oct 4, 2014
    Again it will always live on through marketing promotion look what an awful value it is now with the type of hotel and tickets you have to get to achieve the promotion.

    DINE FREE at a galaxy far far away!

    *Must stay in the Star Wars themed hotel with a Parker hopper and water park and more ticket, minimum 7 days 6 nights.

    PS - Personally I think it’s just too much food with the dining plan with lunch and diner I can’t eat all that food I usually split it with someone.
     
  • rotlex

    Is it summer yet?
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2007
    Remember it well! I also remember all of the complaints about the tip and the inability to control how much the server got. The amount of food, and why cant a discount be offered if you do not want the dessert or appetizer.....and on and on. The moral of this story is to be careful what you wish for. Disney graciously agreed to remove that pesky appetizer and gave us control of the gratuity, and reduced that plan by a buck. Yes indeed......mission accomplished.
    (this is not directed at you, but in general "you)
    This is all true, regarding the tip etc. if you were paying for the plan. Getting it free though and including all of that made it a FANTASTIC promotion. Now it's just kind mediocre. :)
     

    dwheaton

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 13, 2006
    I think that I missed the heyday of free dining, so it always seems weird to me. It's probably as good a deal as a Room-only discount, but I would still feel the need to make sure I'm covering what I could have saved. I also know that even when they've done free dining in the past few years, the number of rooms has been super low that have availability.
     

    Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    This is all true, regarding the tip etc. if you were paying for the plan. Getting it free though and including all of that made it a FANTASTIC promotion. Now it's just kind mediocre. :)

    I remember when it was 35.99 per person and something like 12.00 per child. It included 1 CS meal with dessert nd beverage, 1 snack, and 1 TS meal credit complete with entrée, dessert and tip. Some of our entree's were over $30!
     

    DadofChristaSonofRay

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 15, 2001
    Without Alcohol the Regular Disney Dining Plan is about breakeven in the case of our Family of 3 (Mom, Dad, Adult Daughter). Neither my wife or daughter drink but I would take advantage of the one free beverage so we come out just slightly ahead. Since we are flying this year and wouldn't be renting a car we decided on using the Plan this trip.
     
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  • Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    Without Alcohol the Regular Disney Dining Plan is about breakeven in the case of our Family of 3 (Mom, Dad, Adult Daughter). Neither my wife or daughter drink but I would take advantage of the one free beverage so we come out just slightly ahead. Since we are flying this year and wouldn't be renting a car we decided on using the Plan this trip.

    My family has some that indulge in alcohol and others who do not bother. The specialty drinks were a hit with them. They can be pricy so if your wife or DD want them you will see a spike in value tehre as well. It is a funny thing with us. We never say "no" so on vacation if anyone wanted a fancy pants drink or cocktail, go for it, but we all tend to look at those prices and get something less expensive. This last trip was the first one with special drinks for us, and what fun! The CS restaurants in the parks have some pretty fin beverages that are costly, both with and without alcohol, and none of us would have added them to our meals (I am too darn cheap!) but we sure did have fun saying yes when we knew it was not going to be an addition to the cost.
     

    DadofChristaSonofRay

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 15, 2001
    My family has some that indulge in alcohol and others who do not bother. The specialty drinks were a hit with them. They can be pricy so if your wife or DD want them you will see a spike in value tehre as well. It is a funny thing with us. We never say "no" so on vacation if anyone wanted a fancy pants drink or cocktail, go for it, but we all tend to look at those prices and get something less expensive. This last trip was the first one with special drinks for us, and what fun! The CS restaurants in the parks have some pretty fin beverages that are costly, both with and without alcohol, and none of us would have added them to our meals (I am too darn cheap!) but we sure did have fun saying yes when we knew it was not going to be an addition to the cost.
    My daughter most likely will have a couple of specialty drinks, My wife is mostly tea or soda.
     

    DisLiss

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 2, 2018
    I disagree. I think Disney will always keep it in their back pocket to whip out any time crowds aren't what they want them to be.

    We never buy the dining plan, and even the free dining isn't a very big savings for us, just because it is not set up for the way we eat at all. Plus, I am one of the folks who feels as though the dining plan itself had a negative impact on the TS restaurants, in particular, and the free dining just made it worse.

    So, if free dining goes away, I won't care, but I doubt it will go away for good. I really do. Especially in 2020. I still see 2020 as a tough one to call in terms of crowds. It all depends on how SWGE rolls out and how many people are trying to wait for either the anniversary year and/or the opening of the 2021 attractions. So if things look slow during parts of 2020, I definitely think we'll see small pockets of time where free dining is offered again.
     

    YesterDark

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2017
    The Dining Plan is great with small kids when you do all character meals which is what I do with my kids.
     

    YesterDark

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2017
    Also, Pete has been predicting the demise of free dining for years now. Might happen eventually.
     

    Dawn Peterson

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 30, 2018
    We enjoy “free dining”. I run the numbers and we usually save more with that than 30%. We have a 10 year old adult (annoying) that is still in the character meal stage and I love food and wine with snack credits.
     

    rteetz

    Rumors and News Moderator
    Moderator
    Joined
    Feb 20, 2013
    Also, Pete has been predicting the demise of free dining for years now. Might happen eventually.
    Disney has certainly changed the requirements and how one goes about getting free dining though. It’s not as free as it once was. Quick service at values and mods. Regular plan at deluxes. Requirement of park hopper tickets and such. The dates offered always change and the hotels available always change. I think one day they will just no longer offer it. Not necessarily next year but eventually.
     

    dreeger

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 10, 2012
    I really believe you will get free dining (or other awesome room promos that are as good as free dining) back. You can look at what’s transpiring in Anaheim as GE opens, with fewer on-site rooms total then WDW Pop has and see things getting back to normal quickly. GE opens today and there is still on-site room availability all summer. The crowd reports have been ridiculously low for the special reservation period.

    A poster shared a picture from micechat’s Instagram this morning of people lining up for the big grand opening. It wasn’t anything like feared.

    I think maybe Disney tipped the scale and chased off casual fans with price increases? Or many people traveled ahead of the land and now plan to take other trips for now?
    I feel like everything is going to be just fine. DL app is a little sluggish with people from home watching, but not crashed, I mean, good grief if Disney IT is fine...
    And they increased the room rates at DL to ridiculously high rates during the reservation period. We went and stayed at DLH and paid more for a standard room than we paid for a 2 bd suite at DLH during spring break just 2 months earlier.
     

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