Dining Plan Dilemma

And it can be a lot!

Paying extra for enhancements/appetizers is what I mean, since you are limited to an entree + a dessert (with the standard plan). We are moreso appetizer + entree diners, so the value of the dining plan ultimately didn’t work in our favor with the additional cost of paying for appetizers (and then probably being too full for dessert).

I think the menu also generally “feels” limited to me because I would always want to order the most expensive item to get the credit’s maximum value, and would feel like I wasted money if I ordered the cheapest entree.

This is a good article about it that helped me figure out the plan wasn’t the best value for us: https://www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-dining-plan-costs-info-tips/


This is mostly true. Which is why, when valuating the DP, it is key to judge based on what you would ACTUALLY want to order, and not have to eat “more expensively” to justify the cost.

For me, for example, I’d rarely even WANT the most expensive items on a menu!


Good point!

Can you charge tip still?

That’s what I did, check all the menus and try to guess :woman_facepalming:t2: It’s hard enough to predict what I want to eat 3 months from now, and I didn’t think I’d want to be eating steak every meal to feel like I was “winning” the plan :joy:

This is kind of where my mind is going. I can’t get my daughter to eat dinner half the time and I know she’s going to gravitate towards french fries and uncrustables. Also, my husband tends to gravitate towards lighter portions since he often finishes off her food. With this scenario, we’d be paying a set amount for food that potentially would cost less. I haven’t booked ADRs yet but we are looking at quite a few character meals with at least two overlapping characters and I don’t know that I really want to eat at that many buffets just to get the value out of the plan. If we choose non-buffet/family style restaurants we lose some of that value for those meals but that’s not including snacks. I know my daughter wants a snack every 5 minutes and I like the fact that the DDP gives us those snacks built in so we don’t feel the pain of paying for them every time. Also, we’ll be there during flower and garden where I know we’ll want to try foods at the booths. Finally, I’m concerned there might be a couple of nights where we decide we don’t want to take the time to rush to an ADR and would rather grab quick service and I don’t want us to be forced into doing so because we would be afraid to lose out on the money. But then I think that if we used the cost of the DDP as a guide for our food budget and just paid out of pocket would we lose money if we DO eat at all our ADRs and get all the snacks that are included? :thinking: Ugh. I think I’m just overthinking this. I tried to use my husband as a sounding board but he’s no help lol. :crazy_face:

Well, it is Disney. They want you to plan every moment of your day ahead of time.

Which reminds me…I need to schedule my FPs for the restrooms…



Small savings if you plan it right, but too much loss in flexibility make it not worth it for us.

I also don’t agree with the “convenience” argument. It’s a lot more convenient to order what I want and just pay the bill when it comes, than to sit there and figure out what works on the plan (and to listen to the spiel at every restaurant).

Character meals can make it worth it if you were going to eat those anyway.


Maybe it’s different for us because we stay at a WDW resort and use MB anyway, but I don’t understand what is magic about always having to check for the DDP Icon and make sure you don’t order something that doesn’t have it. Besides the fact that we don’t eat that much, this is the biggest drawback for me by far. And, I don’t want to keep track of credits. But the hassle factor made it a non-starter for us from the very beginning.

What Disney needs to do is set up an account tied to the MB for people to put their budgeted money into, or attached to a Credit Card, and then spend it with their Magic Band. That would address a lot of these experiential issues while avoiding the restrictions of the DDP. There’s probably some type of banking regulation that makes this impossible, though, or they’d have done it already.

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We always buy a bunch of gift cards before we go. Then we charge all our food to our resort - using MB. We use those gift cards to pay before we leave. It sounds like that’s basically the same experience as dining plan, but without the restrictions. (I’ve never used DP, so I’m not positive about that)

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Yes you can pay cash, charge to room or credit card, or use s gift card.

You only have to check for the icon on snacks, and about 90% of them are included anyway.


DP is included with your package. Can you get an equivalent room rate discount?

It’s all been said here already but if you can get a close to equivalent room discount, put the cost of the DP on a Disney gift card or a Visa gift card. You’ll have the flexibility to eat whatever, whenever without stressing about getting value. (I’m about value, flexibility, and experience.)

If you only want an appetizer for dinner, more power to you. If DD only wants ice cream all day, sure. We’ll worry about balanced meals after vacation. If DH only wants salad half the meals, great. He’s eating DD’s veggies for her! If nobody is hungry, what’s next on our TP or a 45 minute power nap! And at the end of your trip, you don’t need to stress over what to buy to bring home with all those leftover snack credits. If there is no money left at the end, great. Your family got to eat whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. If there is money left on the gift card, save it for next time, pay off some of your restaurant tips on your hotel bill, spend it…

If you can’t get an equivalent room discount, just enjoy the experience of having a dining plan.


It comes down to personal preference. Unless you put some extraordinary effort into planning and rationing every item, the savings either way will not be drastic.

I’m not sure if this has been mentioned, and it’s probably obvious, but you do not have to do 1QS, 1TS, and 2 snacks each and every day. You could have all QS meals one day or eat snacks for lunch and do TS breakfast and dinner. Also, some meals are 2 TS credits so you may want to do one of those and that would mean using snack credits as another meal. So, with a little planning ahead, it shouldn’t feel like such an overload of food.

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This is the way I’m leaning. I think I’m just psyching myself out of it, afraid that we’ll over-spend or that my husband will stress about the money instead of enjoying himself (he doesn’t like to spend money; he won’t know how much the trip costs exactly except that we won’t be going into dept for it) which will keep me from enjoying myself because I’m looking forward to the food and I want to be able to order whatever I want and buy my daughter all the snacks she wants without him fussing about it.

I suppose I can just take all the receipts and hide them…LOL

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I have a spreadsheet with literally 7 days of meals for 7 people estimated out with tax and tip calculations. It includes 4 character meals and F&W snacks. I kept hearing about how the Dining Plan was such a no brainer with the character meals so I have tried to run the numbers 100 times and can’t come up with a single dollar in savings. It comes out more expensive every single time. And god forbid we skip a meal or change a TS into a QS.

So yes, I think you can get VALUE out of the dining plan if you buy it. As in, I for sure would be ordering a $14 mimosa with my character breakfast if I had the dining plan. And getting lots of steaks. But do you get actual SAVINGS? I drink with breakfast maybe twice a year and before a day of touring in the FL sun I would not be paying a dime out of pocket for alcohol. Same with lots of meal desserts. I’d rather have snacks. And at QS I am sure we can use up the credits on expensive QS locations (which I would have to go out of my way for) but we are pretty happy with basic, less expensive meals to share.


We really enjoy the TS restaurants and find that part of our enjoyment comes from knowing that we will have one sit-down dinner each day to relax and unwind. We usually get the regular dining plan because we don’t tend to share meals (even though my daughters will often not finish a full entree) and we like being able to have a dessert with each meal, even if we do end up stuffed!

I actually find it less stressful having the dining plan than paying out of pocket. I don’t stress over the “value” of our meal choices and just get what we want. When I’m paying out of pocket I do notice the price of each item and worry about the total. I know the dining plan isn’t really costing me less, but it makes me feel better. YMMV


Yes. We’ve done that before, too. What I’m trying to think of is a system where folks staying off-property can use their MBs to pay for things. That seems to be one of the attractions of the DDP.

The fact that Disney hasn’t already made some type of account like that available makes me think there are some type of banking regulations that prevent it. Because that’s a HUUUGE untapped market. Let’s face it, most of us probably spend more on account of MBs!

Yes, and it’s fairly obvious so it’s hard to make a mistake. The main problem I’ve always had remains the counting and tracking of credits. Just not the way I want to roll on vacation. Besides the fact that the plans don’t fit the way we eat, anyway.

Restrictions just rankle me, I don’t like them. I’m ornery.

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This was me several years ago. But now we do envelopes with cash (although you can use gift cards or similar as well). Each day has the cash that is allocated for the day for food, after figuring out the ACTUAL likely spending. Or, if you budget for the entire trip, you can divide the amount by the number of days.

Then, what we do is, at the start of the day, put that money in our wallet and head out. It is what we are allowed to spend that day. If, at the end of the day, we didn’t spend it all, it rolls over into the next day, etc.

Doing this made our vacations far more enjoyable. I no longer had to be so tight-fisted because I knew what we had to spend, and knew it was budgeted. “Dad, can we get a Mickey bar?” Look in my wallet, and respond, “Sure! No problem!” :slight_smile: But if we were down the last of the money, I could just say, “Well, we’re out of food money for today. We’ll try to make sure we fit it in tomorrow!”

As the kids have gotten older, we give them gift cards that they manage for themselves. I might give each a $50 gift card and say, “That is for you to buy yourself snacks in the parks this trip. But when the money’s gone, no more snacks.” This allowed them to simultaneously be frugal with their own snack money, but have the freedom to buy what they wanted when they wanted.

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I think it is more that they want to drive more people to stay on-site. By making paying with MBs an on-site exclusive, it becomes an “encouragement” to folks to stay on site.

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