Please help decide - meal plan or no meal plan

DebMcDonald

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 26, 2004
I'm taking my 16 year old daughter to Disney April 1-6, I was quoted the Pop Century for 5 nights $1150.22 and adding the meal plan for a total of $1702.99. This is a counter service meal plan, we got a good price on airline tickets for $400 RT from Boston and have tickets from a previous trip that we never used.

We do not go to disney a lot, we've NEVER used a meal plan, but I wondered if this time it should be something I think about.

all thoughts welcome. Thanks
 

_19disnA

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 8, 2018
Each time someone asks this question, the input is always the same. Disney food tends to be pricey so a meal plan is probably a good idea IF you: 1) plan to get an alcoholic beverage, 2) will do some character meals and 3) eat the types of meals that are most cost effective for a meal plan.
 

disneyseniors

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jun 2, 2014
It's individual, but my criteria was if we had small children with us who loved the characters. Then we did it. Now, we don't do the DP anymore. We got tired to always having to be somewhere at a certain time, even if we weren't hungry or didn't want to trek to another park or DS to eat. We ended up cancelling a lot of reservations. So, we decided to skip the DP, which wasn't easy as we had gotten used to it I guess.
Fast forward to the past few years without DP. We LOVE it! We eat where we want, when we want and if we want. There is no pressure to order the most expensive thing to make it worth it or to eat the dessert we really didn't want or need. We eat mostly QS and have a few must do TS meals at our favorite restaurants, but that's it. It is so freeing to do it this way and Less expensive for us. A win-win in our situation. I sometimes eat kids meals or share with my husband, which you can't do on the DP. So, as you can guess, we are not fans of the DP. I think if I had teenagers who were big eaters, or little ones, I would do it. But that's the only way. A lot of the spontaneity at Disney has been taken away with fp'
s and the DP, so being free to eat without the DP is really important to us.
 
  • siren0119

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2018
    So first the question is, are you concerned with dollar value, or convenience? The second is, will you NORMALLY eat in a way that is the same or close to the meal plan you are choosing?

    If convenience is important, and you are normally going to eat the way the dining plan requires you to (in the case of the QS plan, will you eat 2 QS meals a day plus a couple of snacks, and be willing to pay out of pocket for any sit-down/buffet/AYCTE/character meals) then the dining plan makes sense - it makes the trip feel more like an all-inclusive and it's convenient to just swipe your band for your food.

    If cost is important, then it requires a little more legwork to figure out whether it's worth it. In that case, I'd sit down and plan out how you WANT to eat while you're on your trip, every meal. You can pretty easily view the menus and cost of each restaurant online or in the app. Since your daughter is 16, alcohol won't really factor in to the price, though you will have the option of an alcoholic beverage with your meals. It's a negligible increase in value if only one person on the dining plan ever uses the benefit. Then compare the cost of what you PLAN to eat with what the dining plan costs - that'll make it clearer whether it's a good value for you.

    We did this on our last two trips and just knowing what we would normally eat and the things we wanted to do, the dining plan wasn't worth it either time. But it's such an individual decision.
     

    Grant Parkins

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Dec 14, 2015
    Adding onto what previous posters have said, before every trip, I work to see if the dining plan makes sense. I imagine a few of our days and use the menus I can find online and price out our meals. I try to think about what everyone would reasonably eat. And I only factor in 2 meals per day (because that's all DDP pays for) and our snacks. Then I compare it to the cost of the dining plan.

    I do that before ever trip, and it never makes sense for our family to get the dining plan. But that's because our family would not eat 2 full meals, with a soda (or alcohol) at each PLUS 2 snacks.

    While we are there, we get what we want, within reason. When we get back, I run the numbers again. I have never wished we had the dining plan.

    But I know it works for others, so I suggest doing the math for yourself.
     

    Beer Me

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 3, 2014
    Adding onto what previous posters have said, before every trip, I work to see if the dining plan makes sense. I imagine a few of our days and use the menus I can find online and price out our meals. I try to think about what everyone would reasonably eat. And I only factor in 2 meals per day (because that's all DDP pays for) and our snacks. Then I compare it to the cost of the dining plan.

    I do that before ever trip, and it never makes sense for our family to get the dining plan. But that's because our family would not eat 2 full meals, with a soda (or alcohol) at each PLUS 2 snacks.

    While we are there, we get what we want, within reason. When we get back, I run the numbers again. I have never wished we had the dining plan.

    But I know it works for others, so I suggest doing the math for yourself.
    We have pretty much the exact experience. I’ve added up all food and drink for our last three trips and a dining plan would have been hundreds of dollars wasted. It’s not even close. We eat everything we want (and then some) but the dining plan simply does not work with our habits. At first glance it seems like it would - we have one counter service and one table service meal pretty much every day - but it doesn’t.

    I agree it can work out for some people especially if you want to do multiple character meals. Always do the math.
     
  • ClapYourHands

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 2, 2018
    So that's $550 on counter service food for 5 nights at Disney. Would you and your daughter eat $110 worth of food on 2 counter service meals per day? I've got to say, I think that would be hard, if not impossible to do.

    Most QS meals are around $15, so that gets the two of you to $60 on meals per day. Many people find value in the cost of alcohol - would you? You can have an alcoholic drink, but your daughter can't, and if you weren't trying to maximize the QSDDP, would you have alcohol at both lunch and dinner every day anyway? For the sake of argument, assume you would, and add on another $20/day, and you're up to $80. You each get two snacks per day. The upper end of snacks eligible for snack credit tends to be around $5, with some exceptions during F&W in Epcot. So now add $20 per day on your snacks, and you're up to $100. That's still less than the $110 you're paying, and is probably more food/drink than you'd normally consume anyway.

    Disney publishes all the menus online, so feel free to go on and browse the options. Add up the cost of what you think you and your DD would eat during a day. Is it more or less than $110? There's your answer.
     

    MickeyMouseCD524

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2010
    You really need to price it out for yourself and see if it makes since. It doesn't work for us and we usually do a table service every night when we go down. I would look at every where you want to eat and see what you would more than likely order add that all up add the tip and then see if it factors out to be more or less than what the meal plan is.

    Personally I think the counter service plan makes the least since unless you are actually going to eat two counter service meals per person per day. Some of the meals are so big that we can easily split one between the two of us and be full the rest of the day.
     

    VeronicaZS

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 23, 2016
    Don't forget tips are not included in the dining plan. Assuming you manage to eat $1700 worth of food (good lord!) 20% tip on that is $340. I can't imagine it would be worth it.
     

    TwoMisfits

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 21, 2002
    I'm taking my 16 year old daughter to Disney April 1-6, I was quoted the Pop Century for 5 nights $1150.22 and adding the meal plan for a total of $1702.99. This is a counter service meal plan, we got a good price on airline tickets for $400 RT from Boston and have tickets from a previous trip that we never used.

    We do not go to disney a lot, we've NEVER used a meal plan, but I wondered if this time it should be something I think about.

    all thoughts welcome. Thanks
    No. You are not a good candidate for the plan. See all the other posters.

    Instead, eat what you want when you want, and go as you please and just enjoy the freedom.
     
  • foodiddiedoo

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 12, 2017
    Don't forget tips are not included in the dining plan. Assuming you manage to eat $1700 worth of food (good lord!) 20% tip on that is $340. I can't imagine it would be worth it.
    The price she mentioned included the hotel stay and also it was for QS dining only so no tips would be necessary. It looks like it's about 550 for QS dining plan in her scenario.
     

    siren0119

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2018
    Don't forget tips are not included in the dining plan. Assuming you manage to eat $1700 worth of food (good lord!) 20% tip on that is $340. I can't imagine it would be worth it.
    Very true if you choose a plan with Table Service credits. On the QSDP there are no tips to worry about (you don't tip at the counter service locations)
     

    VeronicaZS

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 23, 2016
    Very true if you choose a plan with Table Service credits. On the QSDP there are no tips to worry about (you don't tip at the counter service locations)
    My bad, I read it to fast but this makes me think of another point. What if at some point at want to go to a table service restaurant but I can't combine my 2 QS credits so I'm stuck. It is just very hard for me to think of a scenario where any dining plan is worth it.
     

    siren0119

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2018
    My bad, I read it to fast but this makes me think of another point. What if at some point at want to go to a table service restaurant but I can't combine my 2 QS credits so I'm stuck. It is just very hard for me to think of a scenario where any dining plan is worth it.
    Yep it's definitely VERY dependent on what you want to do while you're on vacation. If you opt for the QS plan, you are paying for any Table Service/Character Meal/Buffet/AYCTE out of pocket. So that cost has to be factored in. I can see it being beneficial for people who really don't do sit-down meals in the parks or resorts, and only plan to get QS meals - but that's a small demographic. I really think it's out there so they have some kind of "lower cost" option but it excludes so many experiences it's not a viable option without also planning to pay out of pocket for stuff.
     

    ClapYourHands

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 2, 2018
    Don't forget tips are not included in the dining plan. Assuming you manage to eat $1700 worth of food (good lord!) 20% tip on that is $340. I can't imagine it would be worth it.
    It's not $1700 in food - that's the cost of the room with the addition of the meal plan. It's about $550 for the meal plan. There wouldn't be any tips involved. It's the quick-service plan, so no waiters at all.

    Tips are important to consider if you're doing a DDP that includes table service, though.
     

    Darcy03231

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 1, 2006
    I've run the numbers I don't know how many times and it always comes up as less expensive to pay as we go than to get the dining plan, unless we get the DDP and do a character meal for dinner every day. Even then it's more of a wash than a savings.
     



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