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Totally lost in which dining plan to select--help!

mdcpr

Member
Original Poster
We're a family of 4--2 adults, a 12 year old that eats like a grown up and a picky 8 year old. I'm clueless about which dining plan to get. I know we would like sit down dinners every night, and a light quick lunch every day. As for breakfast, we would like to have it at the hotel before heading out the parks. What's the recommendation to select a dining plan? tks!!
 

Kingdom Konsultant

WDWMAGIC Board Sponsor
Premium Member
WDWMAGIC Sponsor
I would start with the regular plan and make your dining reservations. Count up how many dining credits that you will need during the trip (keeping in mind that the plan goes by per night of stay and not per day) and then see if you are going over how many you get on the regular plan and by how many to decide whether to upgrade to the deluxe plan or not. That's what I do with my clients that are undecided.

Good luck!

Pam
 

slappy magoo

Well-Known Member
If your 12 year old truly eats like a grown up the deluxe plan might make sense, but it is very expensive.
The deluxe plan made sense for my family when both kids were under 10. We'd do a sit down breakfast and a sit down dinner, had quite a few Signature meals, occasional sit down lunches (which we'd sometimes split to save credits for those Signature dinners, and we weren't often that hungry anyway) and at the end of the trip we not only saved money compared to the same meals out of pocket, we also had a ridiculous amount of snack credits we'd use to bring back packaged Disney treats, stuff that'd last at least a few days (like rice krispie treats) or a while longer (like the giant bags of Chip and Dale trail mix).

If by having breakfast at the hotel, you mean in the food court or the counter service location, the regular plan would make sense and the deluxe plan would not.
I'm not sure the Quick Servicee Dining Plan makes sense for anyone unless a: they're using it for lunch and dinner and b: including an alcoholic beverage with both meals. QS breakfasts are usually no more than $16 with a coffee or non-alcoholic beverage and if you're drinking that early, bless your heart. Plus, assuming you're getting breakfast every morning at the hotel's QS location, the regular dining plan includes a souvenir mug so you won't be paying for coffee or tea anyway, you know?

So I think @Kingdom Konsultant makes sense. Book the regular plan, then make your reservations, if you start piling on a lot of Signature meals, or buffets or other restaurants with a fixed price, the Deluxe plan might make more sense. Or if you start booking breakfasts in the parks before they open, so it's a sitdown breakfast and a sitdown dinner, the deluxe plan might make sense.
 

CaptainAmerica

Premium Member
You are the first person who have said that. Interesting.
It's pretty universally agreed upon. Even most people who really like the dining plan do it because they psychologically like to pre-pay, not because they're ACTUALLY getting a good deal.

It's a terrible value for most people. You end up with way more food than most people can eat, so even if you pay less for the dining plan than you would for all that food, if you were paying cash you would never have ordered all of that food in the first place.

Example:
You look at the menu and the food you really want would cost your family $120.
Dining plan includes desert and alcohol so you end up ordering $180 worth of stuff.
You paid $160 for that day's dining plan.

Pro-DDP people will look at that and say you "saved" $20. In reality, you wasted $40 worth of cash and another $20 of food you didn't want.

You're especially bad off if you have a child who's over 10 but under 21. They're an "adult" to Disney, and the adult DDP includes alcohol, which your kid obviously won't be drinking even though he's paying for it.
 

helenabear

Well-Known Member
You are the first person who have said that. Interesting.
I will agree! You can make the dining plan pay for itself, but it takes work. Your 12yo will need shakes or the like at every sit down. Most expensive foods ordered or costly buffets. My 11yo eats as I do, but even then adult meals are wasteful. It's a lot of food even for average adults. So skip and pay OOP since you'll be 3 adults.
 

nickys

Premium Member
None. Unless you're an expert, you're going to waste money. Skip the dining plan and pay cash.
Also, if you’re doing a lot of character meals. That can make it pay.

We did for 3 nights from 23rd Dec to 26th, as part of a split stay.

Had breakfasts at Ohana (TS) and BOG (QS). Dinner at Crystal Palace and Chef Mickey. Pizza dinner at The Mara @ AKL. And used up the snack credits with the big tubs of Haagen Daz ice cream :D (staying in a DVC 1-bed, so had a freezer, 6 tubs lasted us a week)!

It saved us a reasonable amount. But over NYE for 3 nights it didn’t, with HDDR, Sci Fi and a Fantasmic dinner at H&V.

You need to do the math based on what you book.
 

Worldlover71

Well-Known Member
It often works out better to pay cash, especially when you add in the tips, since you should tip on the total value of the meal. If you get it "free" as part of a package, it can sometimes work out better but doing the math is still a good idea.
 
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aliceismad

Well-Known Member
There’s a calulator online somewhere that will help you see whether the dining plan will help save you money.

Have you looked at the restaurants and their menus? Get an idea of which places you might like and if they are table service or quick/counter service.

If you eat a lot of high-priced entrees, like character meals (that are only 1 credit), and like to have your dessert right with your meal, it might work for you.
 

KaliSplash

Well-Known Member
It is NOT too much food if you typically eat at least two Full meals a day (I don't mean two sit-down meals, I mean a Full meal with a large sandwich, fries and a large drink and probably desert (None of which you share) along with a sit-down meal. If you have a wife who grazes all day and you don't eat a lot, it is definitely a waste of $. But if you Really Eat, Lucky had the right answer. The regular plan
 

NeedMoreMickey

Well-Known Member
Skip the dining plan and look for gift cards that you can purchase for a discount. Use the gift cards to pay for you meals. We enjoy TS meals in the evening it don’t always like to get dessert most of the time we like to have a special treat from someplace else in the park, our resort or Disney Springs.
 

Bananafaceal

New Member
I am a bit confused, how is it too much food? I’m a light eater but even I can eat a quick service meal a sit down main course and desert and two snacks a day. I’m on the free dining plan but I’m a bit worried about leaving all my food now and looking rude...
 

mdcpr

Member
Original Poster
It is NOT too much food if you typically eat at least two Full meals a day (I don't mean two sit-down meals, I mean a Full meal with a large sandwich, fries and a large drink and probably desert (None of which you share) along with a sit-down meal. If you have a wife who grazes all day and you don't eat a lot, it is definitely a waste of $. But if you Really Eat, Lucky had the right answer. The regular plan
OP: I have a husband who grazes all day and I'm the wife who eats full meals. ;)
 

Jon81uk

Well-Known Member
I am a bit confused, how is it too much food? I’m a light eater but even I can eat a quick service meal a sit down main course and desert and two snacks a day. I’m on the free dining plan but I’m a bit worried about leaving all my food now and looking rude...
At home I would rarely have dessert with dinner and even if I do its not the same size dessert as you get in a restaurant, 10 days of eating two courses for every dinner adds up. It can quickly feel like a lot of food, especially if you order bigger more expensive mains to get better value from the plan (eg getting the $40 steak instead of the $20 salad).
We would often use a snack to get a cinnamon pastry at the resort quick service for breakfast, but it was still hard to use up all the snacks when you are hot and full from lunch, there is only so much ice cream you can eat!
 

helenabear

Well-Known Member
I am a bit confused, how is it too much food? I’m a light eater but even I can eat a quick service meal a sit down main course and desert and two snacks a day. I’m on the free dining plan but I’m a bit worried about leaving all my food now and looking rude...
To me the serving sizes are huge. Their idea of a sit down is like Thanksgiving size to me. At home I have a bowl of cream of wheat (1 serving size) or granola like cereal, or yogurt for breakfast. Lunch is a light meal that's either a small sandwich or some cheesen, nuts, and crackers type. For dinner, I eat the most but my portion is closer to Disney's kid portion. I might have a frozen yogurt bar now and then or a piece of chocolate, but real desserts that are calorie laden are not at all regular. Same with 2 snacks. No way I do that close to regularly. Add in Disney oversize portions (as many US restaurants do) and it's too much for me.

Personally before DVC I found better room discounts vs free dining. But since you are on it, try not to worry.

OP: I have a husband who grazes all day and I'm the wife who eats full meals. ;)
Mine grazes more than I do too. I'm really not much of one at all lol
 
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