Dining plan epiphany

We have a trip booked for April and this will be the first time going without the dining plan. We are a family of 6 and we have generally done lots of character meals and such. Looking at the cost of those meals, I assumed we were saving a bunch with the dining plan. I’ve read posts where people have made impressive spreadsheets to show that they actually save by not purchasing the dining plan, but I always defended it. Thought we couldn’t not live without it. It was always more food than we needed, but if it saved us money, we can live with that :crazy_face:.
For this trip, I had no choice but to look more closely at meal costs so I could accurately plan the food budget. I have a TS meal and a QS meal planned for each day along with 2 snacks (sound familiar :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:). Well the costs, including tip, will be about $700 less than we would have paid for the dining plan. We won’t get the mugs, and we don’t have any character meals scheduled, but we’ve done them so many times now that we are all kinda ready to move on to something different. And, it is rare that we will all eat 2 snacks per day so we will likely save even more. Without the dining plan, we won’t feel obligated to eat all the snacks (even if we don’t want them) because we already paid for them.
This time around I’m buying Disney gift cards from BJs to pay for our food. That way it will still be prepaid. Bonus, I’ll save $20 bucks for every $500 gift card so score. I know I’m late to the party on this one but I doubt we will ever go back to the dining plan.


This is exactly what we did on our last trip! I vowed after one time that I would never get the dining plan again, but I plan to get it if it is back for our Nov 21 trip, just for 2 nights with a split stay.

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The DDP killer for us was aging out of entrees. DH and I routinely order an appetizer each and maybe split a dessert.

The dining plan was geared to a certain dynamic.


And you’ll have way more flexibility to eat what you actually want!

Appetizer as entree? Sure! Split one entree and order two desserts? Sure!


Yeah, the DDP is definitely for a certain type of guest. We always get two rooms b/c of the number in our party so we’d get the DDP for 1 room and use credits across people in both rooms, and it was still too much food!
My kids are now all Disney “adults” and I’m wishing I could get the DDP just so I don’t have to see the numbers when I pay $60 at a pre fixe/AYCTE place for my 10 year old to eat a roll and drink 1/2 a lemonade!


When my 3 kids were Disney kids, the dining plan was definitely a money saver for us, especially when it was free. But now that my twins are Disney adults, it no longer makes sense. So I’m right there with you.

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Not everyone, but I’ve noticed that sometimes when people defend the dining plan as being worthwhile they include the cost of the ten Disney Rice Crispies that they bought as they left to use up their remaining snack credits. But, once you leave the Disney bubble, a rice crispy is worth about $0.50. So, if you subtract off the price of those snacks, they’d have been better off without DDP.


Oh for sure! We are always scrambling at the end to use our snack credits. We generally use the last of the credits for packaged snacks for the trip home. As cute as they are, I would never buy those Mickey shaped snacks otherwise :crazy_face:

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We would take some snacks home, but they were nice to have when returning to real life. I wouldn’t buy them without the dining plan though. I also think that they are worth more than .50. If you were ever at a bake sale before COVID, people would charge more than that for half the size for those goodies. Inflation stinks.

I’m not a huge fan of those in general. So, I guess that was my personal valuation.

I’m not dissing those that use up their snacks at the end. Or people that buy the dining plan. I do think the OP was spot-on though. It is probably like on-site vs off-site, or flying vs. driving. One is clearly much better for Family A while the other is a clear winner for Family B.

I am confused by all that eating though. Our cancelled Jan 2021 trip had one day that I’d titled “EATING DAY” because we were going to Aker. Breakfast and the German place for dinner. And I’m not skinny. I’ve never been kicked out of a ride, but I do check the test seats and suck in my belly.

We were going to get the dining plan on our cancelled trip. I had it worked out that it made sense. We liked the idea that it was paid for And wouldn’t have to think about the crazy prices. It wasn’t saving us money but more breaking even. Was going to be a fun way to try.
But I agree not being able to be flexible might have been hard. We were planning a lot of character meals so that might be why it made sense.

We could never make a case for DP. We could save hundreds by not getting it.

As for the argument that it was nice to have it paid for…well, we had it paid for as well without the DP. We knew how much we would spend on food, and already had the money sitting in our account. The advantage is that if we didn’t end up eating as much as we planned (which was often the case) the money was sitting in my account and not Disney’s! :slight_smile:


We’ve gone both ways with DDP and w/o for all the reasons stated. I agree when we pay as we go we spend and eat less and do not feel deprived. When w/o we feel free to buy more souvenirs


We got the regular dining plan, which high is 2 meals a day. It really isn’t that much eating. We typically prefer 1 TS a day, as it is a nice break. We like doing a breakfast or early lunch and then use a QS later in the day. The snacks are fillers and we take some home with us.

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I used to love that Disney had options that worked for some people but were not forced on others.

As a signature meal lover that often travels with adults that must have an alcoholic drink at every meal, the deluxe plan has always saved me a lot of money. I always do split stays and credits have always extended into check in night of my next stay.

Honestly, since the EP festivals accept snack credits (or QS credits) at the booths I have never had left over credits.


Yes this has been GREAT


We like the DDP but also my kids are the perfect age for character meals and I feel like those stretch the value of it. Last time I ran the numbers we broke even and therefore it was worth it to me to not have to worry about.


DDP has always been a fun splurge for us enabling our all adult age kids and their spouses to have a signature meal every evening. Have the steak! We usually just have one other meal per day which is an early lunch or late breakfast.
I wouldn’t want to go now on the DDP. There aren’t enough signature places available to make it worthwhile to be on the DDP. I went in January. The crowds are low and masks are easy to wear in the moderate temps of a Florida winter but there weren’t many good food options outside of Epcot and Disney Springs. We ate way too many hamburgers!

Are signature restaurants 2 TS credits per meal? I’m surprised that’s worth it.

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Yes. Cindy’s Castle is one of those too. We’ve done Cindy’s 3x… food is so so, but we did it when each of kids reached a certain age or we were taking someone new to the world. So, I think character dinning is 2xTS too not just signature dinning.