Paying OOP for Dining - Budgeting

Discussion in 'Disney Restaurants' started by prairiesarah, Oct 23, 2012.

  1. prairiesarah

    prairiesarah Mouseketeer

    Jul 4, 2012
    I am just wondering what others budget for paying OOP for dining. I know it is going to be completely individual, but I am hoping to get an idea if I am realistic in my thoughts. There are three of us - DH, myself, DS (7). We aren't super big eaters, and eat quite healthy.

    We probably would do one TS most days and the remainder in CS. I can see us having a bigger breakfast then DH and I not really needing another real meal till supper (other than maybe a snack or two). So most days it would be one TS, one CS, and a few snacks, plus maybe a second CS for ds.

    I am thinking to budget $150 a night and I think that would be on the high side of what we would need. Am I realistic or out to lunch on this? I think that is higher than if we got the regular dining plan, but looking at the menu's everywhere, it seems like it would cost a fair amount to eat OOP. But then from what I have read, buying the DDP isn't always that great of a deal either (unless it is offered free obviously).

  2. smiths02

    smiths02 DIS Veteran

    Feb 13, 2009
    Since you say you want 1 TS and 1 CS daily...I would either get DDP or budget the price of the DDP plus some money for tips/drinks.
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  4. eeyoresmom

    eeyoresmom Guest

    I think you may be just a little low but eating styles vary widely. For TS, average entrees are probably close to $30 so if you usually eat just an entree and maybe a non alcoholic beverage you will be just over $40 per adult per TS dinner( dont forget tax and tip). Add a CS lunch or breakfast averaging $12 each and a $5 snack and you are at $57 per day. Your DD should cost about $25 -$30 per day. This doesn't include any alcohol, desserts with meals etc. However, skipping just one TS and replacing with a CS will save a significant amount of money. Have you checked out the menus on AllEars?
  5. garanorymom

    garanorymom Mouseketeer

    Jan 24, 2009
    In your situation, based on how you plan to eat, I would get the meal plan. Most likely, you and your husband will be a wash either way. Your son is the tipping point. Since he is young enough to use the child meal plan, you will save money on him on it.
  6. tonyhoop

    tonyhoop Earning My Ears

    Feb 20, 2005
    We have done both OOP and DDP before. We eat way better with the DDP than we do OOP
  7. butsy113

    butsy113 AKV Owner

    Aug 13, 2012
    Before you go with the DDP, as others are suggesting, go to and check the menus out. Pick what you might eat to get an idea for a budget. Then find out how much the dining plan is going to cost you. That is the only way you can really tell what would be best. If your not big eaters you can share meals and snack often, which is what my family does. At TS I sometimes eat appetizers as meals. The portions are huge! The DDP makes no sense for us even though we eat one TS and one CS meal per day. Also if breakfast is your TS meal it is often cheaper.

    I have budgeted $1600 for our family of 4. We will be on property 10 days. That's $160/day. I figure some days we will spend more, but others less so it will equal out. I came to this number by looking at the menus
  8. sharonabe

    sharonabe DIS Veteran

    May 22, 2009
    I'm disagreeing with all the other pps. Your $150 is totally doable with your situation.

    You said your CS would be breakfast. All 3 of you can easily eat, and eat a healthy full breakfast for under $20. Snacks and a kids' CS during the day is MAYBE another $20. That still leaves you $110 for dinner. Kids' TS meals are $10 (if you choose to get him one), so you and DH still have $100. One PP said entrees were $30, but that is not true. Most entrees are $25 or UNDER with many, many hovering around the $20 mark. Each 1TS credit restaurant does have one or two entrees nearing that $30, but the majority are not.

    I think you'll spend less than that $150.
  9. dzneelvr

    dzneelvr A Disney Dolly<br><font color=deeppink>Doesn't min

    Jan 11, 2003
    Read up on and consider the discount plan Tables in Wonderland:thumbsup2
    That's the one we've always used because it's a straight 20% off most every place we've ever eaten in the parks and resorts! The other plans are way too much food for us and too much calculating credits, etc. to suit our style:lmao:
    I can't say I'd ever do WDW simply OOP when there are other options;)
  10. crazybones27

    crazybones27 DVC Member

    Aug 24, 2008
    I think $150 is very reasonable. We are paying out of pocket this trip for the first time in a long time. We figured out on our last trip that we'd sometimes rather eat and appetizer instead of dessert or just have an app for dinner if we just weren't overly hungry by the time our ADR rolled around. We were very big into the DP, but we've noticed changes in our eating habits so OOP seems like a better choice.

    Sometimes even though you want a sit down and quick service everyday doesn't mean the DP is always the best option. It's very easy to spend less then the dining plan since you'll most likely eat the way you want and not the way you feel you'll get the most value out :).

    I think $150 is definitely a good number, but what you should do is look at the menus of the sit down places and just do a rough gauge as to what your family will eat. This should give you a good amount that will be left for the day after those meals :).
  11. dawnball

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

    Jul 6, 2005
    Remember to compare apples to apples. The dining plan pricing includes tax, but not tip. So add about 6.5% to each of your totals for tax, but figure the tip separately.

    If your TS meal is likely to be breakfast, that's usually cheaper OOP than on the dining plan.

    Do you find the dining plan to be restrictive, or want things that aren't included? For example - we like to get the fruit and cheese plates as an afternoon snack. We sit in the shade, nibble and people watch. Those aren't on the dining plan. Not a CS meal, not a snack, nothing. We buy them OOP, and just estimate them as "extras" along with the tip. Then I have to remember that I probably won't be very hungry for a meal after that. Unused dining plan credits are a straight loss.

    Another factor that can effect your cost analysis is sharing. We're sharers. One CS breakfast will usually get four of us out the door and fed until midmorning. A little baggie of nuts and a mickey bar gets us through to lunch (often with more nuts in someone's pocket). Three CS lunches will feed four people (sometimes 2 CS lunches). So by the end of the trip, we're accumulating credits. Again, unused credits make it hard to break even on the DDP.
  12. dawnball

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

    Jul 6, 2005
    Yeah, for me, this is pretty good evidence for me that eating styles vary widely. We're three adults and a child, and this is how we "usually" eat at WDW, assuming we were doing 1 CS/1 TS (we'd usually only do one TS on a trip and the rest QS.)

    Our usual snacks include "Mom, I want a banana" which is $1.50, "I need -cold- water, and I need it now!" which is $2.50, "Mickey Bar!" $3.50. Sometimes it's an ice cream sundae, which is $4.50. With all the hard boiled eggs and little snack-packs of nuts - I think we center around $3.50 for snack credits.

    Breakfast for three (Grandpa doesn't really eat breakfast) is about $5.50 for a kid's mickey waffle platter with meat. I eat the meat and my coffee. Small-fry eats the ears off both waffles. Grandma eats the heads. We either pawn off the fruit on grandpa or shove it in the fridge for later. By day 2, we usually have a growing assortment of beverages in the fridge (We're water/milk drinkers, so we always get milk with our resort CS and stow them in the fridge if we don't want them.)

    CS lunches for us are usually 2-3 lunches split four ways. A CHH salmon platter (double veg, no cous cous), a gluten free mac and cheese plate (double kid-fries), a lighthouse sandwich (slaw instead of chips) plus three milks would run us... $31.00 with tax.

    Ala Carte TS dinners.. hmmm, lets say Kona Cafe. A kid's meal, a noodle dish, clams, and duck. A couple of milks to drink. $76 w/tax.

    So on this particular day - we'd be at $126 (plus tip). The dining plan would be $169.64 (also plus tip). I didn't put desserts in because we aren't big dessert eaters (and snacks usually give us plenty), but the $43.50 we saved over the dining plan covers a lot of extra desserts.

    Like I said, we'd usually do a CS for dinner - and often at our resort. That's usually pasta with salad or a similarly price entree for each adult, kid's meal, a milk or two, and a sundae for all three of us to share. That's $44, or $94 for the day vs $117 for the QSDP. Again, $23/day makes for a lot of extras/things not covered.
  13. Wood Nymph

    Wood Nymph DIS Veteran

    Sep 19, 2012
    We have always gone OOP and I think we have always saved money over the dining plan. Last trip I kept a tally of how much we spent, just to see if the dining plan would have been cheaper. For 2 people for 5 nights we spent $430.00. I even paid OOP for a refillable drink mug. And that includes the taxes and tips. We did four TS and the rest were CS. Three of our TS were on the cheap side, less than $20.00 for an entree. We don't do lots of desserts, in fact I'm rather a health nut and tend to avoid junk food.

    We are doing the dining plan for our February trip because our daughter and her family are doing it. I have purposely booked a bunch of expensive TS meals just so I get my money's worth. Even with that, I'm still not 100% convinced that the DDP is cheaper, especially since I wouldn't have gone to those restaurants in the first place without the DDP.
  14. rznhal

    rznhal DIS Veteran

    Mar 13, 2009
    We are 2 Adults, 1 7yo and 1 2yo doing OOP this trip...I think we can do it cheaper than the DDP and eat better:thumbsup2

    Here's why:

    1. We are sharers. When we go out my DH and I usually split and entree and an appetizer. We usually don't want dessert right after a meal, but get a late night snack for dessert.

    2. My 7 yo is soo PICKY! I'm planning to pack her lunch (buying ham and bread from the Kidani Gift Shop) and take it with us to the parks bc she doesn't like very many things! My 2yo will eat off our plates.

    3. We like to eat pretty much as soon as we get up, so we are buying pop tarts, english muffins, etc. from the store, so there's our breakfast. I'm also bringing some little things, fruit snacks, fruit bars, from home.

    4. We will be spending a good amount of time at the resort this trip, so we are buying bread, noodle cups, etc. to eat a quick lunch at the pool.

    We are budgeting $700, which includes:

    4 CS (yorkshire fish, maji pool bar, earl of sandwhich, mara)
    4TS (sci fi, t-rex, cape may cafe, plaza)
    1 pizza from Flippers
    1 Signature (flying fish)
    Tips and taxes
    $100 for groceries and 2 mugs

    The DDP would have been $896 (does not include tips)

    Good luck! let us know how it turns out!!!!:thumbsup2
  15. effervescent

    effervescent Mouseketeer

    Oct 28, 2010
    We paid OOP this last trip after using DxDDP for the last few trips. Really the only thing that I like about DxDDP is that we tend to try new restaurants since we have plenty of credits...we don't worry about "wasting" our credits on a place we may end up not caring for. However it's an insane amount of food and we spent a lot of time eating. We don't care for most CS in the parks so we don't often use the reg dining plan.

    This trip we decided to change our dining habits and see how it worked for us. We picked up groceries for breakfasts and snacks after we got there. Every day that we were in the parks (and one non-park special occasion) I made reservations for a late lunch/early dinner sit down meal. The other 4 days we grabbed dinner off property. We took snacks with us into the park - jerky, nuts, granola bars, fruit leather, etc. We picked up a few snacks in the park that we wanted like popcorn and Mickey bars.

    It was cheaper overall - obviously since we didn't eat as much in the parks - but mostly we liked that we didn't feel like we "had" to eat app+entree+dessert or 9011 snacks since we had paid for them. We liked getting things that aren't on the snack plan that we would have not previously bought since we had already paid for the 9011 snack credits. We liked not being tied down to more than one reservation per day. We also enjoyed having free days where we could relax at the resort and not worry about having to go to a reservation.

    As for budget, I don't have my figures in front of me, but we budgeted roughly $175 for our park days and $50 for non park days, plus about $100 in groceries when we arrived. We came in under budget. There are five in the family - 2 adults, a teenager, 7yo and 5yo. I made our budget from the menus at - pricing for the restaurant we wanted, plus a % for tip, plus snack money.
  16. JimmyV

    JimmyV Por favor manténganse alejado de las puertas.

    Jun 4, 2008
    I would be very cautious with the advice of those who reflexively reach for the DDP. The Dining Plan is not about saving money. It is about pre-paid convenience. Yes, you can manipulate your meals the way "extreme couponers" manipulate coupons and make the system work to your financial benefit. But the question becomes: Is this really about saving $10 per day, or is it about eating the way your family wants to eat. If you really love the appetizer offerings on a menu and would be happy making a meal out of those, you will save money over the DDP. But more importantly, on the DDP, those doors are shut to you unless you add on OOP costs, which blows the whole DDP savings concept out the window. If you are dreading the thought of yet another slice of cheese cake for dessert, but are lamenting the fact that you couldn't get the goat cheese ravioli appetizer, then the DDP savings are irrelevant. If the three of you could split an order of ribs and an order of chicken at Flame Tree and be perfectly content, then you save money over the DDP which requires you to pay for a CS meal for each person in the family. Yes, if your family eats every morsel of food provided by the DDP, and you maximize your selections by opting for the priciest snacks and entrees, you will save on the DDP. But if you surrender just once during the week and think to yourself..."all I want right now is a green salad and some water", then the DDP will cost you extra money. This is why you have to look at things from an individual standpoint. Familes that dismember and share Mickey Waffles do better off the Plan. People who eat everything offered on the Plan do better on it. No way for us to know which camp you fall into. You have to do that math.

    As far as guideline for OOP costs, figure on the following:

    We always buy groceries at Publix and eat breakfast in our room as we get ready for the day. I can't tell you the last time I paid Disney prices for breakfast, so I can't help you here. For us, we spend around $60 in groceries for a full week. So we figure around $10 per day.

    A typical CS lunch (combo meal) will run around $16 per person. We are also a family of three, and we usually get two meals to split among three people, and an extra straw. We find the large drink size to be more than enough such that three people can drink from two cups. So our lunches for three people run around $32-$34 per day.

    So far, we have spent around $42 or so per day. (We rarely buy snacks, but for the sake of argument, I will subtract out $5 per day on average just in case the kid wants popcorn.) A budget of $150 per day would leave us with roughly $103 for dinner. Two appetizers split among three people will cost around $25. At TS restaurants, we will typically get a single dessert to share. That will cost around $7. That leaves $71 for three people to order main courses. In many circumstances, this is just about right. At higher end places, this is not enough. Add in tax, tip and wine, and it isn't nearly enough.

    But here's the rub. We don't do a TS every single day. There are days when we double up on CS meals (such as MK days) when there aren't any TS restaurants that interest us. So here is where the math gets tricky. The average daily cost would come to $150 per day, even though not one single day came close to that precise number. And this is where the DDP fails us. On days when we eat light, we don't get the most value out of the DDP. And on days when we "go big", there isn't enough flexibility or credits in the DDP to account for our three course meals. For example, imagine a two day trip on the DDP where you have 2 CS and 2 TS credits. On day one, you go to the MK and eat at Columbia Harbor House and Pecos Bill's as your two meals. Your two CS credits are gone. On day two, you go to dinner at the California Grill and you add some appetizers to your dinner. Your two TS credits are now gone, and lunch that day as well as the appetizers has to be paid OOP. So you spent over $300 for the meal plan, ($50 per person per day for 3 people x 2 days), plus around $34 for an OOP lunch and $25 for appetizers for a total of $359. If you bought everything OOP as described above, your three CS meals would come to around $102. Your appetizers and dessert at CG would run you $32 ($25+$7) for a running total of an even $134. Even if everyone bought a $40 entree at the CG for dinner, your grand total would still only be $254. And before people jump all over this, I could just as easily concoct a two-day scenario where the DDP pays dividends. Which is why EVERY PERSON HAS TO DO THE MATH BASED ON A REALISTIC PREDICTION OF WHAT THEY MIGHT EAT. That statement will always be true.
  17. Jennasis

    Jennasis DIS life goes on

    Jun 11, 2000
    For two adults (DH and I) we budget $100/day for 7 days. I came home with about $170 left in the food account.

    DISNEYDUET Will sing for Mickey Bars and Dole Whips! Oh and e

    Mar 27, 2006
    Just an FYI:TIW is only available for Florida residence, AP holders and DVC members. Many here have been led astray believing they can purchase the card when they get to WDW only to find out that they don't qualify for it.
  19. At World's End

    At World's End DIS Veteran

    Jul 27, 2010
    I think this is the case with alot of people, feeling like they have to eat more than they normally would just to get their money's worth (or make the most of "free" dining.) Seriously, how many people would normally order an appetizer, entree and a dessert? I don't think this is the kind of eating that the OP refers to as "healthy." My guess (since I've never done the dining plan) is that most people eat way more at Disney on the DP than they do at home. We split alot of our meals, eat at odd times, and sometimes skip meals because we're just not hungry. If you get the dining plan and are pinned down to ADRs made 180 days in advance, it also has an impact on your touring plans. Our next trip, we have 3 ADRs scheduled over 8 park days. The rest of the time we'll wing it. I like that flexibility, especially with the new Fastpass enforcement rules.
  20. prairiesarah

    prairiesarah Mouseketeer

    Jul 4, 2012
    Thanks everyone! This definitely gives me a few things to think about. I think my original thought of $200 per day (times 6 days) for food and souvenirs should be close to realistic for us. I am going to look at some of the menu's and get a better idea just to be prepared (also to have a short list of CS for each park that we could eat at). (Was planning for about $200 for souvenirs).

    I know that some days we will do two or three CS and others will be one TS and one CS and some snacks. So some days could be closer to $100 and some will be closer to $200.

    I really don't feel that the DDP would be a good option for us. I'm a vegetarian, DH eats vegetarian about 80% of the time and DS could live on chicken fingers and pepperoni pizza. I would like the flexibility to share meals, order myself or dh a kids meal and ds an adult meal if we so desire, have appetizers for a meal, etc, etc. We also aren't really big dessert with meals people (anymore). I have lost 90lbs this year so far, so am wanting to save my splurges for things like Ghiradelli ice cream and Babycakes Cupcakes rather than being faced with the option of dessert each meal.

    Now to wade through the menu's and pick a few ADR's!
  21. vdub322

    vdub322 Are we there yet?

    Jan 30, 2012
    I am surprised to see so many people say to go with the dining plan. We had the dining plan for our April/May 2012 trip and the only way that it made sense for us was that we booked expensive meals or ordered the most expensive entree. For our January 2013 trip I have decided to go out of pocket, after receiving a great deal of advice from experienced DISers. We liked the convenience of prepayment with the dining plan, but felt like certain things were "off limits" in order to make the dining plan worth the money we paid.

    In order to make the dining plan "worth it" we scheduled ADRs every night, but on this trip we are only making a several ADRs that are most important to us because we don't want to be tied to certain parks at certain times. I think planning ahead where you are going to eat helps to make the cost of the DP make sense.

    I think it's very hard to come out on top financially with the dining plan unless you order the steak (or similar $30 meal) every night, or book a few character meals. I'm looking forward to ordering some vegetarian dishes and appetizers this time! And we won't have a fridge full of counter service desserts at the end of our trip!

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