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Are the dining plans cost effective?

gibmom

New Member
Original Poster
Hi. We used to go to the World when there was free dining plan. I'm sure many of you have put time into figuring the cost/value of dining plans. Would you please share some quick conclusions you arrived at? Thanks ahead.
 

Smiley/OCD

Well-Known Member
I guess it all depends on the appetites of the people going...for us, not having to pay or carrying cash with us is one factor. Secondly, everyone in our family eats well, so that makes it cost effective for us. If you have picky eaters or people who don't eat a lot, the DDP may not be a great way to go. We get it every time we go and for US, we wouldn't "leave home without it" ! There will be MANY different opinons, pro and con, but for us, it works and we get our money's worth out of it.
 

jaklgreen

Well-Known Member
We are not big eaters at all. The 4 of us usually share 2 breakfast platters, a modest lunch and then a normal dinner each. For us the dining plan is a big waste of money. We would never eat enough to even come close to breaking even. I would go and look at the menus and price out what you would normally eat and compare it that way. Don't forget that the dining plan does not cover the tip.
 

Monty

A legend.
Premium Member
In the Parks
No
It also depends on the size of your party when it's "free" dining. In my case, an AP and the Tables in Wonderland card are much better savings. I'm normally solo or have my son and his Fiance with me. The way we eat doesn't match the pattern of the dining plans, so even "free", it's never worth it. I put free in quotes because you're paying rack rate and have to buy a minimum park ticket to get "free" dining.

There are people who absolutely swear by DDP. Some enjoy the fact that it's pre-paid, others the convenience of not carrying cash and there are lots who save money using it. Basically, there are enough variables in play that it comes down to whether it works for you or not.
 

ELG13

Well-Known Member
So I pull menus and have everyone pick what they want ahead of time, add that up and compare the difference of paying out of pocket vs ddp. I do it to see if the FDD is worth it and this year it's not. A 4 day park hopper to qualify is way over what we need. For my family of 6 going, one being an infant Soni don't count them, it was $1000 for the dining plan. When i totaled up snacks, meals and everything we generally get, it was coming in around $700. So that $300 difference made it not worth it....and keep in mind, it's a lot of food. Last year my mom was begging to skip a meal she was so stuffed all the time! But we couldn't bc we had ADRs lol!!
 

ELG13

Well-Known Member
It also depends on the size of your party when it's "free" dining. In my case, an AP and the Tables in Wonderland card are much better savings. I'm normally solo or have my son and his Fiance with me. The way we eat doesn't match the pattern of the dining plans, so even "free", it's never worth it. I put free in quotes because you're paying rack rate and have to buy a minimum park ticket to get "free" dining.

There are people who absolutely swear by DDP. Some enjoy the fact that it's pre-paid, others the convenience of not carrying cash and there are lots who save money using it. Basically, there are enough variables in play that it comes down to whether it works for you or not.
This was always us until this year...we liked that it was paid for and we didn't have to budget for it...I feel like this year the prices are wonky...usually we will over look a small price difference for the convenience...but this year the price difference was much more noticeable .
 

Sirwalterraleigh

Premium Member
Hi. We used to go to the World when there was free dining plan. I'm sure many of you have put time into figuring the cost/value of dining plans. Would you please share some quick conclusions you arrived at? Thanks ahead.

They reduced the quality of the plan years ago...they raise the price of the hotel and required tickets each year.
It become a less value each year...just the way it is.
 

Rsj88

Well-Known Member
This will be the first year we go without free dining. Free dining absolutely saves us money because of where we stay, how long, and how many there are of us. This year the dates for free dining don’t work for us so I started calculating what was cheaper. Bottom line for us is that paying out of pocket is cheaper than paying for the dining plan. But that is for us. We don’t drink sodas, we don’t get dessert usually, we bring our own breakfast and share some meals. We also won’t be doing but one table service meal this time. I do love not having to worry about the price with the dining plan. I know I will be thinking every meal about trying to save money. I really suggest though that you go through the menus and do the math for yourself. My parents saved money doing the quick service plan but we won’t, so it just depends on the individual.
 
We booked for November 2019 a few weeks ago when the 2019 offer was released by Disney UK.

The last three times that we have booked, free dining has been included in the package.
We eat out a lot at home & are unashamed foodies, with this in mind we tend to book quite a few signature restaurants & by using two table service credits for those we definitely feel that we make the DP work for us.

As an example the first time that we went to the world together we left booking the trip to the very last minute, we stayed at the Swan so did not have the DP, over the 10 nights that we were there, we ate at 4 signature restaurants & were paying well in excess of $250 per meal by the time we included wine & the tip, when we totalled up our spend at the end of the trip we found that our biggest expense had been on food & alcohol.

We had the free DP on our next trip & ate 6 signature meals over the 14 nights, we went for 10 nights last year again with free dining & had 5 signature meals.

Even taking the tip & wine with each meal into account, we easily made the DP work for us & by the time we added in the quick service credits which we used for lunch & breakfast along with the snack credits we were well ahead of the curve.

We anticipate eating 5 – 6 signature meals over our 14 night trip next year & fully expect to utilise the DP to the fullest.
I am sure at some point the free dining will be dropped from the Disney UK offer but after our calculations we would probably still go ahead & buy it.
The DP is not for everyone but if you do your homework & plan accordingly then you can make it work for you.
 

TARDIS

Well-Known Member
For us we can break even or ahead, but to do so I feel like it’s more work than the covinience of having it. We just look ahead at what we want to eat for that trip and do the math. If we are in hotter weather we don’t get it for sure since we aren’t big eaters in the summer months. I’ll always consider it for winter trips, but for just two people we always come out ahead by skipping the plan and taking a room discount instead of “free dining”.
 

eliza61nyc

Well-Known Member
Hi. We used to go to the World when there was free dining plan. I'm sure many of you have put time into figuring the cost/value of dining plans. Would you please share some quick conclusions you arrived at? Thanks ahead.


For my family, no it is not.
First and most important, it forces us to eat in a unnatural way. Generally we enjoy appetizers which would be oop anyway Next, since we generally stay in Deluxes, free dining isn't "free" since it requires us to pay rack rate for the room. 600 bucks a night. With my AP, I get room discounts.
 

MomofPrincessGrace

Well-Known Member
As someone mentioned above, if you have a picky eater its not worth it. I wish that they allowed the dining plans to be per person instead of per reservation. Me and my sister would get it and take full advantage of it. My daughter on the other hand, ends up wasting most of the food she is served because its usually too much for her to eat. After doing toe DDP twice, we are foregoing it on this next trip and loading up Disney gift cards in advance in order to "pre-pay"
 

Davkind76

New Member
Free Dining works for our upcoming 12 night trip in Aug. Although there are just 2 of us, we already knew where we wanted to eat during the trip and did EVERY cost calculation (sale room rate vs rack, adding hopper, etc)
We have ALOT of the character buffets and more expensive restaurants on the list.
We did Pop Century w free QS dining and paid the upgrade to TS.

In the end, we will save minimum $500 up to $700 possible.

In our situation, lodging category, restaurant choices and even w paid upgrade it worked for us.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
Free Dining works for our upcoming 12 night trip in Aug. Although there are just 2 of us, we already knew where we wanted to eat during the trip and did EVERY cost calculation (sale room rate vs rack, adding hopper, etc)
We have ALOT of the character buffets and more expensive restaurants on the list.
We did Pop Century w free QS dining and paid the upgrade to TS.

In the end, we will save minimum $500 up to $700 possible.

In our situation, lodging category, restaurant choices and even w paid upgrade it worked for us.
I don't think she's asking whether Free Dine is worth it over a room discount, I think she's asking whether paying for the dining plan is worth it over paying cash for your food. But you're right with regard to the former.

In terms of dining plan versus cash, it's roughly break even if you eat all of the food. I dislike the lack of flexibility. We like to be able to share meals, add or remove TS dining on a whim, order two appetizers for dinner, skip desert, order inexpensive entrees, etc.
 

Davkind76

New Member
I don't think she's asking whether Free Dine is worth it over a room discount, I think she's asking whether paying for the dining plan is worth it over paying cash for your food. But you're right with regard to the former.

In terms of dining plan versus cash, it's roughly break even if you eat all of the food. I dislike the lack of flexibility. We like to be able to share meals, add or remove TS dining on a whim, order two appetizers for dinner, skip desert, order inexpensive entrees, etc.
Oh yeah...

my cost calculations (very rough)

"free" dining cost me $800
paying for dining plan (for our # of days) cost $1500 or so
cost of the food we will eat (roughly) $1400-1600

free dining saves $600
paying for dining plan could ONLY possibly break even so I would never buy it
 

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