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Any success in "winging it"

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
#21
Just be aware of potential FP+ and dining conflicts. You could have a FP+ that you really want scheduled for a time and park where there are no dining options available. Of course the remedy for this is to have your FP+ times early in the day.

As long as you are fairly flexible as to where/when you want to eat, and have no problem traveling to a different area of WDW to do so, winging it can work out.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#22
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Just be aware of potential FP+ and dining conflicts. You could have a FP+ that you really want scheduled for a time and park where there are no dining options available. Of course the remedy for this is to have your FP+ times early in the day.

As long as you are fairly flexible as to where/when you want to eat, and have no problem traveling to a different area of WDW to do so, winging it can work out.
Yes, agreed. I generally do try to get all our fast passes in the morning... and because of free dining, we will have park hoppers, so we can go any to any park, plus Disney springs and resorts!

ETA: we also have DAS pass because of my disabled husband, so if we have to change things up, we can always get come back times.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
#23
Why do you say as long as your not on the dining plan? What real difference would that make?
When you are on the dining plan you have prepaid table service credits that are use it or lose it. That makes just going to a counter service when table service is not available a very bad option from a cost perspective. Odds are that if you try to "wing it" with a dining plan you will be paying much more than just paying cash.

I would never in a million years ever attempt to wing it if I was using the dining plan as the odds of breaking even are slim and the odds of spending more than I need to are quite high.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#24
When you are on the dining plan you have prepaid table service credits that are use it or lose it. That makes just going to a counter service when table service is not available a very bad option from a cost perspective. Odds are that if you try to "wing it" with a dining plan you will be paying much more than just paying cash.

I would never in a million years ever attempt to wing it if I was using the dining plan as the odds of breaking even are slim and the odds of spending more than I need to are quite high.
I'm willing to gamble with something I didn't "technically" pay for. My original dates were the end of October the beginning of November, and I changed them to September for the Free dining promotion. It saved me 1k. And I prefer prepaid... I'm really not concerned.
 

Swissmiss

Premium Member
#25
I'm willing to gamble with something I didn't "technically" pay for. My original dates were the end of October the beginning of November, and I changed them to September for the Free dining promotion. It saved me 1k. And I prefer prepaid... I'm really not concerned.
I hope you plan on doing a TR - I’d be extremely interested in hearing how it works out for you. I think I’ll lean the same way too for our next trip - making ADRs for a few absolutely must do meals for us but then seeing what’s available a day or two in advance. On our last trip I ended up changing times of several reservations the day before, so if I was able to, then it means there was sufficient availability.
 

Weather_Lady

Well-Known Member
#26
A tip to balance "winging it" with "wanting to eat without a long wait," at least at Disney Springs and Animal Kingdom: hop on the Landry's website and purchase a Landry's "Select Club" rewards card. (It will cost you $25, but you get a $25 welcome credit towards your first meal at a Landry's restaurant, so it ends up being a wash.) https://www.landrysinc.com/selectclub.asp

The Select Club card will entitle you to priority seating (no reservations needed) at the four Landry's-owned restaurants on Disney property: T-REX and Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs, and Rainforest Cafe (yes, there are two at WDW) and Yak & Yeti at the Animal Kingdom. We used our Landry's Select Club membership twice on our last WDW visit (at T-REX and Yak & Yeti) and both times, during peak dinner hour and without a reservation, were seated within 10 minutes and treated like royalty. (Meanwhile, other walkup guests were being quoted 30-40 minute wait times.) The Landry's Select membership has no bearing on how you can pay for the meal, so you can use the DDP if you wish (although if you wanted to "cash in" your $25 welcome credit, I suppose you'd have to either pay cash, or use the DDP and then rack up at least $25 in purchases -- apps and such -- that the DDP wouldn't cover). In fact, we enjoyed our Yak & Yeti meal so much that we now consider that restaurant a "must do" for future trips.
 
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Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#27
I hope you plan on doing a TR - I’d be extremely interested in hearing how it works out for you. I think I’ll lean the same way too for our next trip - making ADRs for a few absolutely must do meals for us but then seeing what’s available a day or two in advance. On our last trip I ended up changing times of several reservations the day before, so if I was able to, then it means there was sufficient availability.
I do plan on doing a TR for sure. I haven't done a pre-trip yet, because it's so far away yet!
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#28
A tip to balance "winging it" with "wanting to eat without a long wait," at least at Disney Springs and Animal Kingdom: hop on the Landry's website and purchase a Landry's "Select Club" rewards card. (It will cost you $25, but you get a $25 welcome credit towards your first meal at a Landry's restaurant, so it ends up being a wash.) https://www.landrysinc.com/selectclub.asp

The Select Club card will entitle you to priority seating (no reservations needed) at the four Landry's-owned restaurants on Disney property: T-REX and Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs, and Rainforest Cafe (yes, there are two at WDW) and Yak & Yeti at the Animal Kingdom. We used our Landry's Select Club membership twice on our last WDW visit (at T-REX and Yak & Yeti) and both times, during peak dinner hour and without a reservation, were seated within 10 minutes and treated like royalty. (Meanwhile, other walkup guests were being quoted 30-40 minute wait times.)
Thanks... already have that in my pocket! We have a Landry's restaurant where I live (Charlie's Crab) so I've had a card for years. I got it back when they didn't charge you for it.. but OHHHHHHHHH you just reminded me... we are going in September, which is my birthday month, and I will have a credit for my birthday. Maybe we'll do breakfast at the Rainforest Cafe one day to spend it outside of our dining credits!
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
#29
I'm willing to gamble with something I didn't "technically" pay for. My original dates were the end of October the beginning of November, and I changed them to September for the Free dining promotion. It saved me 1k. And I prefer prepaid... I'm really not concerned.
I would seriously look at doing a room discount vs free dining especially if you are staying at a moderate or better resort. With only a party of 2, the savings for a room discount at a moderate or deluxe are often more than free dining. At minimum, I would see what is available and do the math to see which is better.

As a general rule, the only way the DDP really saves you money over paying out of pocket is if you do a lot of character dining. If you are not doing a good deal of character dining and look at what you would actually order at a restaurant, the savings from the dining plan begin to evaporate quite quickly.

If you want to be prepaid, start buying gift cards until you hit your food budget.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#30
I would seriously look at doing a room discount vs free dining especially if you are staying at a moderate or better resort. With only a party of 2, the savings for a room discount at a moderate or deluxe are often more than free dining. At minimum, I would see what is available and do the math to see which is better.

As a general rule, the only way the DDP really saves you money over paying out of pocket is if you do a lot of character dining. If you are not doing a good deal of character dining and look at what you would actually order at a restaurant, the savings from the dining plan begin to evaporate quite quickly.

If you want to be prepaid, start buying gift cards until you hit your food budget.
I already did check that (did I mention I use to be a travel agent?) And we are staying at POP, no desire to move up to the moderate or deluxe.

We did DDP last May and came out over $100 ahead with just two of us... so it's worth it for us... and we only did 1 character meal. Believe me... I'm not some newbie. I've done the math, I know what works for us as far as prepaid vs oop...

I just wanted opinions of winging it. I now have yours.
 

Master Yoda

Pro Star Wars geek.
Premium Member
#31
I already did check that (did I mention I use to be a travel agent?) And we are staying at POP, no desire to move up to the moderate or deluxe.

We did DDP last May and came out over $100 ahead with just two of us... so it's worth it for us... and we only did 1 character meal. Believe me... I'm not some newbie. I've done the math, I know what works for us as far as prepaid vs oop...

I just wanted opinions of winging it. I now have yours.
Former Disney TA myself. Just trying to help.
 
#32
I know you just said ...you're decided...but I felt the need to add

We used to do meal plan with TS...and like you stated, we seemed to waste food because we were never hungry at the reservation time.

Took us 4 trips to learn, but we started going with no TS reservations at all. Found some pretty good QS places, snack things, and just overall were happier with the free-er schedule.

Now we go twice a year, once near my birthday, once near my wife's. So we each pick 1 or 2 places we like to try as TS, then just wing the rest. AND...there are still a lot of reservations open the day of. Maybe not the top choices, but still, great places to eat if you want TS.
My husband and I do the exact same thing. It took us 3 DP trips to realize that we just could not eat that much food, and more importantly, we usually weren't hungry at the specified time to go to yet another adr or we just plain didn't want to go to the park or DS for an adr at the time. We were hesitant to let go of the DP but we are much happier now. I only make day of arrival ADR's, day we leave adr, and one special one for a nice dinner. The rest we do QS or look for a res on the app. No problem. We are now free to eat those yummy ice cream snacks or anything we want. We occasionally go to the resort store and buy junk food and go back to the room and munch away and watch tv in the evening, no supper:) Love it this way and we'll never go back to adr's.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#34
My husband and I do the exact same thing. It took us 3 DP trips to realize that we just could not eat that much food, and more importantly, we usually weren't hungry at the specified time to go to yet another adr or we just plain didn't want to go to the park or DS for an adr at the time. We were hesitant to let go of the DP but we are much happier now. I only make day of arrival ADR's, day we leave adr, and one special one for a nice dinner. The rest we do QS or look for a res on the app. No problem. We are now free to eat those yummy ice cream snacks or anything we want. We occasionally go to the resort store and buy junk food and go back to the room and munch away and watch tv in the evening, no supper:) Love it this way and we'll never go back to adr's.

Well we would still be on the DP, because I prefer that all inclusive feel. Last May we came out ahead of the game, this year with the wing it attitude, we shall see what happens!
 

helenabear

Well-Known Member
#35
My only suggestion with winging it is to be open to places that others don't talk about as much. Look into resorts for dining as well. Often much easier to get those. We went in June and had 2 ADRs planned - that's 2 more than usual LOL but we had my dad there and we wanted to show him a couple places. We opted for a few more on the fly. Booked the day of for them - sometimes just an hour or less in advance. Walked up to Whispering Canyon and they got us in once too. We were a party of four. I find the smaller the party, the easier this is to do. Also consider lounges though not sure how it works with the dining plan.

We of course do not do the dining plan because we often don't do enough meals out to pay for it and since you have to pay tip, the convenience is gone. So our experiences are based on less eating out anyway. If we don't get somewhere we don't really care.
 
#36
Well we would still be on the DP, because I prefer that all inclusive feel. Last May we came out ahead of the game, this year with the wing it attitude, we shall see what happens!
I know what your mean. We were on the DP since it came out as a slow season promotion. It was no problem. But as we got older and appetites lessened, we found that it didn't suit us anymore. My daughter and family, including 2 large hungry teenage boys and pre teen girl always get the DP. It works for them with their appetites. She still has to buy extra food for the boys who are never filled up, LOL. We also liked the all inclusive feeling, and I never thought we would go without DP. I had to convince my husband to try it, and he is happier too:) Enjoy your trip!
 

aliceismad

Well-Known Member
#37
Is there any harm in making ADRs and then dropping them if you decide not to go/you’d rather do something else? Just curious. I’m a planner, so I’d rather have a plan and then change on the fly if needed.
 

Rista1313

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
#38
Is there any harm in making ADRs and then dropping them if you decide not to go/you’d rather do something else? Just curious. I’m a planner, so I’d rather have a plan and then change on the fly if needed.
Well you'd have to cancel them the night before, or change them to another day the day off and then remember to cancel them. I'm normally a big planner, but it just wasn't relaxing last May having to be somewhere at a certain time... We will make 3 ADR's..... so no worries, we will get what we really want on the days we want it.
 

Jon81uk

Well-Known Member
#39
Hubby would not go for all QS.... I have yet to convince him it's not all hamburgers and hot dogs... even though he never ate one hamburger or hot dog on our last trip :facepalm:
I tried to do this with a friend on one trip who was convinced all theme park food would be burgers. After a week he specifically asked for a burger, I was doing too well at avoiding them!
 

Phonedave

Well-Known Member
#40
Is there any harm in making ADRs and then dropping them if you decide not to go/you’d rather do something else? Just curious. I’m a planner, so I’d rather have a plan and then change on the fly if needed.
This is why we can't have nice things.

All kidding aside, but your idea is part of the current problem with dining at WDW. I am not saying YOU are the problem, or casting blame - this sounds like an innocent question.

Just to summarize history. At first dining at WDW was easy. Maybe make a reservation around noon, or just walk up if you didn't mind a 15 - 20 minute wait - max.

Then "free" dining started, and Disney started pushing the DDP at other times of the year. It got harder and harder to get into a restaurant. People still did not like the idea of having to decide 180 days out where they were going to eat, so people started to make multiple reservations. Restaurants were showing no availability, but people were not showing up. Disney got smart(ish) and started to check the logic and prevent you from making multiple reservations at the same time. People got smarter and started making dummy accounts. Disney got smarter again and started making you use a credit card to hold a reservation, and charging if you canceled with less than 24 hours notice.

So now were are where we are today. Either you make a reservation for what you really want, 180 days out. Or you wing it, and look for openings about 30 hours before you want to eat.

We could talk about the impact DDP has had on food quality as well, but that is a story for a different thread.
 
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