View Full Version : Just can't decide...Dining plan or not?

04-17-2008, 11:11 AM
I just keep going back and forth on this and don't know what to do. I've heard so many bad things about the plan this year, but part of me would just love to go and not worry too much about the cost of food.

Here are the details...there are 4 of us so the plan would be $96 a day. I am figuring that without the plan we would have 3-4 TS meals, Regland Road, Chef Mickeys, Sci-fi and maybe Planet Hollywood. The rest would be CS and since we are driving, I plan to have most breakfasts and snacks in the room or quick take along stuff.

Now if we did the plan I would obviously plan a couple more TS. And to be honest, the fact that we can have dessert at every meal, sounds awfully enticing. :) But I also don't want to be tied down to all my reservations, and my kids getting sick of the kids menus, which i have heard are often lean in choices. I also have a 4yo which I don't know how she would do sitting down at a restaurant everyday.

So I guess, it is worth it, even with the changes?

04-17-2008, 11:48 AM
i was havingthe same problem. So I decided to figure out our restuarants and see how much it may cost me. When I cpmpared it to DDP it was better for us to get the plan. Kids on the plan only cost 10.99 and most meals cost that for a child. They still get a CS adn snack. It is just such a good deal for kids that it makes the plan good for us. But if it was adults I am not sure there would be the savings. So I think we will get it this next trip. It sure was a great deal for us when we went in 2007 with the tip included!

04-17-2008, 01:49 PM
I agree. Actually look up the menus for the restaurants that you are for sure going to and decide what it would cost you versus the cost of the dining plan.

As far as being tied down to them, I always just look at it as a nice break for us each day. I approach the parks kind of commando style - one ride to the next and so this is like a nice relaxing break each day to have one sit down meal. My daughter was 5 our first trip so not much older than your dd and she did fine at all the sit down meals - just make sure to choose the more kid friendly ones like Chef Mickeys and maybe a princess meal. My dd is going on 8 now and we still do about 3/4 character meals. The atmosphere is so great.

I've done the math and even the new plan is cheaper for us and I just really like knowing that everything is prepaid when I get there and that's one less thing for to budget for or keep up with. I'm just going to cash out my SR earnings before our trip and use part of my earnings for the tips.

04-17-2008, 07:24 PM
The Dining plan is definitely worth the money even when they took the tip out. I figured it out and we still saved money. And the kids loved the dining plan.

04-18-2008, 09:33 AM
We did it both ways last year and it really just depends on A) The type if food your family enjoys and B) If it is going to save you money:

On our first trip last May we stayed 6 nights and did the dining plan. It was me, DH, DS, and DD - We loved it! Our bills at each restaurant was in excess of $250 and at Narcoossees it was $382 - It was so much fun to be able to tell the kids 'order what you want' LOL - And our family are huge FOODIES so where and what we eat is a huge part of any vacation!

The second time we went it was for 3 nights and it was me, DD and her boyfriend. I did not get the plan, ate breakfast in the room, did a counter service lunch (shared twice) and I had budgeted a TS lunch at Whispering Canyon and dinner at Wolfgang Puck Express (we got pasta and pizza). We did not order extra appetizers and desserts, but we usually don’t anyway. We snacked when we wanted to (churros, pretzels, etc..) and my food budget was very low for the 4 days.

You can definitely eat well on a budget, but we loved the dining plan and now have our favorites that we will want to go back to. I don't mind not ordering appetizers because we usually can't finish our meal anyway when we do. Even without the tip and appetizer, it can still be quite a deal. At many of the TS restaurants, just the entrees and desserts can still run you in excess of $200.

I was a server for years, and I have read a lot about the service lacking. For me it is very simple: If I get bad/snotty/attitudy service...guess what? The server will not get a good tip if one at all, AND they will know why. And being an ex-server for many years, I feel I can say that. I would have never given bad service and expected anything in return. Their job is to make your dining experience a great one. So, if they are having a bad day, they need to chuck it at the door, slap a smile on their face and do their job. Bad service can ruin an entire meal experience for an innocent customer. However, if my service was so bad that I felt it justified not leaving a tip, I would also speak with the manager and they would clearly know why.

04-21-2008, 12:08 PM
I love the freedom of not having to worry about how much the meal is going to cost and letting everyone order whatever they want. We did the plan in 7/07 and it worked out really well for us. It's a shame that the tip is no longer included, I would rather that they raised the price a bit and paid the server 18% 0r something, but Disney is in it to make $$$. I don't care about the appetizer, we can't eat that much food anyway. When I eat out, I usually don't do appetizers unless there is something that I HAVE to have. I love being able to order a dessert for all of us. We all have a sweet tooth!! I think you have to figure what you would spend on food without the plan, and see if it's a savings for you. If you kids are both under 10, it should definetely be a savings. How can you go wrong for $11.00 a day? We brought some simple breakfast/snack foods for the room, and never needed any extra food other than what the dining plan covered. We only ate early in the morning (granola bars/cereal etc..) on our way to rope drop, we never ate any extra food l;ater in the day or at night because we were too full.

04-21-2008, 07:52 PM
isn't the childs price 9.99?

for us, we like the ddp. it is a matter of not having to worry about how much a meal costs. we always do a sit down table service once a day, that is part of my vacation. i know i will miss the appys, as i love trying new things. so i know i am going ot be paying out of pocket on those.

anyway, i think you could save money if you are on a budget by not having a table service meal every day. but for us, that is not an option, i want that as part of my vacation.

good luck in your decisions. oh i would also think about if you are able to get your adr's that you want, if not, then i might consider passing on the ddp.

04-21-2008, 08:22 PM
You all are making me rethink my decision to go sans dining plan this time. Does anyone know how close to your trip you can add the dining? My TA is out of town so I don't know if I can even add it at this point.

04-21-2008, 08:38 PM
If my kids were all under 10, it would be a no brainer and we would do it. But having an 11 and 13 year old, it isn't worth it for 4 adults. Too costly.

04-22-2008, 08:02 AM
i believe you can add the ddp at least 48 hours ahead of time.

we are a party of 10, 6 of us are paying the adult price, 3 childrens prices and 1 infant. it still comes out cheaper and less worry about getting the ddp. we do not have to carry cash (at least not a large amount). it is already paid for, so we do not have to charge it. and once we get there, we do not have to worry about trying to add up all those various meal prices in our heads and then telling someone they can't have it because its too expensive.

we will just go and say, order whatever you want.

yes 37.99 per adult is pricey. i know once day we are at eating at flame tree in ak, price for just the meal is 8.99 this does not include the drink or dessert. then for dinner we are eating at chef mickeys $29.99

here is my breakdown:

37.99 - 8.99 = 29.00
29.00 - 29.99 = -.99

so with the plan, i save the .99 cents and i get the drink and dessert at lunch included (instead of paying out of pocket)

i have done this with most of our meals. so even for adults, while the cost up front seems pricey, it still comes out we save money in the long run, and no stress.

i just wished i did not have to worry about that 18% tip though.

i still think the first thing you need to think about is whether or not you will have the counter service and a table service per day. some people just don't do this, so the plan would more than likely not pay.

however, if you are like us, which we do have an early cs, and a later ts everyday, (because it is part of my good time on vacation) then the next thing would be to see if you can get adr's. if you are at the 180 mark, you should beable to. if you are days away, you may not beable to.

when i went in december with lacy, i was lucky and got 3 adr's. but it did not pay for me to get the ddp, so i paid out of pocket on those 3 meals.

so if you are able to get the adr's, then i would for sure get the ddp.

and don''t forget you still get a snack per person per day also. when i am in mk my snack is the dole whip float.

but you can look at the prices on menus while in the parks, and if it shows snack on it, you can get it. like at some of the hotel stores food courts, you can get a box of donuts for one snack credit. donuts = breakfast.

don't mean to write a book, but i just wanted to let you know my reasoning for why i get it, even with lots of adults.

and just think of all the fun you can have planning everything!

04-22-2008, 08:34 AM
i just figured out another day for us, cosmic ray's at lunch and the lecellier for 6 and garden grill for 3. (could not get us all into lecelliers)

but for this day, i am saving way over $52.39 plus i still get the snacks, and drinks and dessert is included. so if you think about it, it does come out to a savings of way over the $52.39.

this is kind of fun seeing my savings. lol

and like i said, this is getting the dinning plan for 6 adults, 3 kids.

oops, i was looking at lunch prices, so, with the dinner prices, the savings actually is over 64.39! gotta love a savings. lol

04-26-2008, 11:17 PM
Thanks everyone for your advice. I think I am just going to do it. With two kids under 10, it does make it a good deal. It's just hard to see my disney balance go up again. :)

Right now I have three ADRs set up and just looking at those three meals, I will already come out ahead on two of the days if we order what I think we would order. And DH likes the fact he can order steak every day. :cooldance:

04-27-2008, 06:47 PM
Does anyone know if they add in the tip or if you just leave it? What about the buffet meals? It was really nice when it was included, although we usually tipped a little something anyway, there was no pressure or set amt. Just curious to hear from someone who's done it recently.

And Anne, I think you made the right choice. Even if it's close to even, I still think it's nice to have it all taken care of up front. ENJOY.

04-28-2008, 08:26 AM
The dining plans are definitely worth it! We didn't have one for dinner the first night we arrived and my bill for 3 adults and 1 child was over $100! AND I had to add a tip! Besides, it definitely gives you the chance to sit and breathe and have a "taste" of different dining experiences (China was awesome!) and to top it all, my experience with Disney is their customer service is above and beyond regardless of getting a tip or not. That's what sets them way above and apart from other parks. So, yes, the dining plan is soooooo worth it and I highly recommend it to everyone. So, in just under two weks, Chef Mickey, here we come! :mickey: And we are trying the Hoop de Doo Musical Revue which I hear is hilarious. (and the tip is included in this one) :eat: :)

04-28-2008, 10:28 AM
I think if your children are under 10 or it is an all adult group, this is a no brainer. However, my children are in Angela's kids age range and I don't think they will eat enough. Still, we are haven't made a definite decision. DD12 might eat her money's worth, but DD10 usually eats cheesesticks from the appetizer section. Also, while they like to eat, they like small meals, often and aren't old enough to get into the fancier offerings. DD12 can eat one chicken sandwich after the other. But, if it has a vegetable or looks funny (fancy) forget it. She does like salads, Anna doesn't, she likes desserts.

07-16-2008, 01:28 PM
We are going to try it this year. @ adults, 1 child, 1 infant.
In 2010 we go with our extended family, so I want to work out hte kinks and see if it's worth it to us.

Any thoughts about the DDP vs 20% off with AP?

07-18-2008, 09:42 AM
I've been debating the DDP myself. Got it last year with DH, and it was well worth the money as we ate TS meals at some of the restaurants we could have never afforded to go to, plus DH definitely thinks he has to have a nice sit-down meal once a day. However, we normally don't eat appetizers and dessert so we were really stuffed.

This year I'm taking 17yo DD with me and I'm not sure that the dining plan will save us money, although it is nice to know that everything is paid for. She doesn't eat bfast at all, and grabbing a bowl of cereal in the room is okay for me. I looked at the menus and added up all the places we'd be eating at (and what I think we'd order) and figured I'd save $150 without the DDP. That does include tips but not ordering desserts.

Too much decision for my one normal, sane brain cell. :D

07-19-2008, 10:43 AM
don't forget when you are adding up the dinner prices to see if you will be saving money or not: you must take into account what else you get with the ddp: ie snack per person per day, plus your beverage is included in your meals, both counter service and table service.

even if you think you do not need to eat during the day, a nice drink during the day is wonderful also, especially when you don't have to pay for it.
an already paid for dole whip float is wonderful!

the tipping was included in our reciepts. so when we got the bill we had to come up with the tip money. which in our case was 18%. we charged that to our room, then had to pay it off with our debit card. the castle's tip is also included in the ddp (thank God). but all the other places we ate at we were told the amount of tip to charge.

i am sure you could have just left money on the table, but if you do that, then i would watch out for them automatically charging something to your room.

i haven't figured it out yet to see if we in fact saved on the ddp, when we had to pay the 18% tip out of pocket, but i think we still did. but overall with not having to worry about what someone ordered and how much that cost, that was worth it right there. especially with such a wide taste difference that we had. if was wonderful to have everyone handed a menu and tell them all to order whatever you wanted.

we ate at mama melrose one night with the fantasmic package. it was great, the waiter told us that mama wanted us to be happy and she was letting us order appy's also. he even brought my hubby 2 appy's and doubled up on the kids appy's also. it was great.

i am a big fan of the ddp, however, my son and i said the next time we go, we are only going to do 1 or 2 table service meals, the rest we are going to wing it. we did not like being tied down to being somewhere at certain times. and we wanted to eat other things, which then we would have had to pay, like turkey legs, (unless they are considered snacks?) but anyway, next time we are not doing ddp.

09-17-2008, 03:14 PM
I've done the dining plan for a group of 4 adults. While it was a great value, we all felt like we were over eating! It was FAR too much food! I had no problem with booking things in advance, but the portions are HUGE! Even for a combo at counter service... it was all just too much and felt wasteful. We would have spent roughly the same amount of money, if not less, since we found we could really share 1 credit for 2 people (CS or Sit down) and be fine.

12-08-2008, 11:54 AM
Our kids are 7 and 9. After doing the math over several trips, it makes more sense for us to use the DDE card and get 20% off our TS meals than to pay for the dining plan.

With buying the DDP, we end up with too much food. Our last trip we had 12 CS credits to use up, so we ate breakfast at the food court twice and got lunch to go for the drive home. We also had snack credits to use and got muffins to go. And we brought home lots of unopened juice and apple sauce, LOL. Now, we are healthy eaters, but it still ends up being a lot of food (we like character meals and buffets), and not really any savings over paying OOP for CS and getting 20% off TS, since either way we have to pay the tip.

The DDP isn't much of a 'savings' when we order desserts we wouldn't normally order, and we wouldn't have bought all the CS meals and snacks had we not paid for the plan.

Free dining is best, even buying a 1-day ticket which we save for later since we're passholders.

Next year we bounceback for free dining and DD will be 10, so that works out great! She is soooo tired of the kids meals.