What are your thoughts on the dining plan? I will have 3 adults and one child and planning to go in December. I am playing with the numbers now, but I’d appreciate opinions from those of you that pay OOP. I am planning Chef Mickey’s, Crystal Palace and Via Napoli. The rest are up in the air. I have used the dining plan calculator and the difference was around $100. I am not able to use TIW. TIA for any suggestions!
We ended up saving more than we thought we would by paying out of pocket because we didn’t end up wanting desert most of the time and were usually too full to eat a lot of snacks in the park. My only real suggestion is to look at the menu’s and price out sample meals then add it all up yourself and compare that to the cost of the dining plan. It’s more work but it’s also more accurate.
We used the dining plan for our family trip - 3 adults and 1 child - and we decided that we probably wouldn’t do it again. I think we did save money, but we often ended up eating things we wouldn’t have ordered without the plan (like desserts) and then having to skip treats in the parks that we would have preferred over the desserts included with the meals because we were too full to enjoy them. It would have been nice to have the flexibility to say “we’re just not hungry after that big TS breakfast, let’s eat ice cream for lunch.” Like I said, we DID get very good value for our dining plan, but I bet we would have spent less over all if we’d just ordered what we wanted instead. I think setting the cost of the dining plan as your general food budget is a good alternative. Then you have a nice, large budget but can eat whatever you want.
It just work for the way DW and I eat. We typically like 2 TS meals each day. The DDP only has 1 per day, and the DxDP is so over the top with 3 TSs - each with app and dessert we’d be paying for much more than we would really eat (we rarely have apps and almost never have dessert with lunch; at dinner we will share an app and a dessert). If they ever came up with something in the middle (like 2 TSs with the choice of app or dessert), I’d probably be in…
Checkout www.distripplanner.com . You put in your info and it compares out of pocket to dining plan cost. We are going when dining is a free add on (I hope!) but I wanted to compare to say a 30% discounted rate or something. I found it super helpful for planning the meals!!
I’ve done the dining plan, and I’ve done out of pocket. The dining plan can be delightful and a great way to over indulge (but I have to order a dessert!) it is also a great way too destroy a diet and becoming controlled by eating. Out of pocket allows for so much more flexibility. If someone gets sick and misses a meal, now you have to double up later. If someone just isn’t hungry, either food is wasted or you may be restored with credits later.
I’m sure I’ll forget my own advice and one day get a plan again, but if I don’t plan on getting one my next trip
It is definitely not a good value for us. We prefer to have a simple breakfast in our resort room, and often pack a lunch/snacks depending on what our plans for the day are. We would have at most one “park meal” a day, and prefer to be flexible in our menu choices (for example DD might want to have two appetizers instead of a main course).
Here is a good source of info on the Dining Plans: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/disney-dining-plan/. To quote one of the articles there, in order to save money with a plan “you have to be a certain type of eater and not waste any credits.”
One of the commonly stated “plusses” of the dining plans is that the food is all paid for so you don’t have to worry about it while on vacation. If that is your goal, you are probably better off setting a food budget, buying Disney gift cards for that amount at Target (saving 5%), and then using those cards for your dining expenses.
For Chef Mickey’s and Crystal Palace (or pretty much any place that has a single price no matter how much you eat/drink) the dining plan works well. For somewhere like Via Napoli, where you may want to share a pizza, it might not work as well.
Whether the plan is a good value for you could depend on your dining habits. If you tend to order a non-alcoholic drink, entree, and dessert with every meal, then it’s perfect for you. If you don’t want any of those items, like to order appetizers, like to order alcohol instead of a soft drink, or sometimes share meals, then it’s not as good of a fit. For some people, the plan makes things easy for them, but for others it can be constraining.
We are not huge eaters and true many times didn’t eat all the food, but we loved using it last time. We like the character meals for the kids and its a nice way to not stress about the cost individually of the meals themselves. We used the meals each day as scheduled breaks and made sure to use all our credits. We went during a free dining period because of the benefit. Comparatively we prefer that discount to the 30% off. Given that we will have four going it seems like good value.
We love the dining plan but always go in the fall ( due to our schedules) when it’s an added bonus. It works out financially for us to take the dining plan vs a room discount because we don’t stay in deluxe resorts. That being said, we would not pay full price for it.
pros: 1. we can be indulgent and not worry about the cost ( get the steak and dessert!) 2. We can do the fun character meals that often are a little more expensive 3. More relaxed without counting the food cost as we go
Cons: 1. it’s A LOT of food and having the benefit kinda makes you feel like you should use it 2. So much food planning up front. Our day sorta has to revolve around the big ADR for the day, but then with FP+ All at has to be decided up front anyway
Sounds like you’ve picked some great meals either way!