Disney Dining Plan - Worth It? Here is our break down

I know that this is a big issue and is pretty divided but I would like to show you a break down on the costs and saving we incurred this trip from 12/17 - 12-27.

We were able to get the free QS which had a value of $856.80
We then upgraded to the Deluxe Dining Plan which would have been $2234.60 but cost us $1377.80

Our total meals were $2932.09 and snacks were $277.63, however we did have some out of pocket that was not covered - Meals were $320.83 and snacks were $75.04

So the break down of what was covered is as follows:
Meals - $2611.26
Snacks - $202.59
Total - $2813.85
We paid - $1377.80

Total saved by using the dining plan - $1436.05

A note on this, we did not get the most expensive things on the menus, also some of the dining we did was not a good value if you only looked at the dollar amount. If we had not done a few of what we did and changed this, I know that the amount saved would have been much higher. I am in the process of doing the trip report and if you follow it, you will see the break down for each meal.


Trying to figure out the numbers, and I’m not sure I see exactly what you did. You had a $2234.60 deluxe dining package, and with that got $2813.85 worth of food…but you had to spend an additional $395.87. So adding the value of the dining package and your out of pocket costs, the total of what you would have spent straight-up on the package plus out-of-pocket was $2630.47.

Because of the free dining promotion, you got a $856.80 discount. But if you had rejected free dining, what would you have paid for your room? Was “free dining” truly the best deal you could have had?

Even so, it looks like the dining package worked out for you.

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Wow you really made that work for you. I always hear deluxe dining is too much food and people don’t manage to use all the credits so I’m amazed you had $400 worth of food oop too. But well done you!

Yep the calculation is missing the room only discount you gave up to do the “free” dining package as @mikeandkelli said. It still might have been a good deal for your family but without taking that into account the numbers are skewed. Free dining is not truly “free”. :grin:

True. But in terms of what they paid for their food and the amount it would have cost, they made out. Of course, they may not have eaten as much if they didn’t have the plan.

Have you included all the tips in your meal total? That was the one that sealed it for me.
We used to book through Disney and twice they were offering the “free dining” but we’ve never done it since. It never comes close to what we actually spend.

I think aside from the cost, the other issue that divides people on this is the feeling of restriction that it places on the vacation. When we’ve used the dining plan, all we could think about was where/when the next meal was, how soon we’d need to stop what we were doing to get to said reservation, and did we “beat the system” by consuming more than the value of the plan.

Disney sells the dining plan with the premise that it alleviates the guest from having to concern themselves with the food factor by prepaying or getting it “free”. But I’ve found that it does just the opposite. But, that’s just my opinion. I’m happy that it works well for others.

One caution I have with the Dining Plan I have is waste. In looking at some of the QS meals, they are HUGE. Did you find that there was a decent amount of waste, or, do you think you ate much more than you would have normally? I’m sure you could tweak your ordering / restaurant choices to pare down the amount of food, but I’m guessing that would take extra planning, and probably more TS time instead of hitting attractions, but that’s ok if it works out too. Thanks for putting this out there. Eager to read more in your trip report.

Ok, I understand what people are saying. We saryed at a Value resort to save money so we could use it towards the Deluxe dining plan but to answer some of the comments and questions, the discount, if we could get it would be a 15 or 20% discount, so going at the 20% would be $44 X 10 nights = $440, $856.80 (QS) - $440 = $416.80 better discount for the dining vs the room discount. As far as what Disney paid for the food vs what they charged, they don’t change the price because we got the dining plan, anyplace you go out to eat at charges you a good bit more then what they paid.

We did not change much in the way we ate or what we ordered, except we did try a few different things. Most times we go out, we get apps, main course and dessert and drink.
We ate at a few locations which were not a good deal for using TS credits, CRT was %110.77 but 4 TS, and Beirgarten was $99.05 - $15.98 (wine flight) = $83.07 and used 4 TS because of CLP package we used. If you are going only on dollar amount, these are a huge waste of the credits. but if you go other. We were in CRT with a window that over looked the courtyard and for the CLP we were sitting in the 2nd row on the right side, well they were a great value.

Tips, on or off the dining plan, if you eat at buffets or sit down, you will have to pay tips. I did not change the way I tipped, it was all based on our service but for fun lets just add our tips in $483.87
This is for meals and does not include the tips for mousekeeping or luggage or transportation.
Wow you really made that work for you. I always hear deluxe dining is too much food and people don’t manage to use all the credits so I’m amazed you had $400 worth of food oop too. But well done you!

Here are the numbers again.
If we paid for everything, our out of pocket as follows
Meals - 2932.09 Snacks - 277.63
Total - $3209.72 (This is if we paid for everything out of pocket)

Same figures but looking at what the dining plan covered
Meals - $2932.09 - $320.83 = 2611.26 Snacks - 277.63 - 75.04 = 202.59
Totals - $3209.72 - $395.87 = $2813.35

Covered by Deluxe Dining plan - $2813.35
What we paid for the dining plan - $1377.80
What we saved with free dining - $1436.05

We will also look at the different amounts to show the savings with out the free QS
$2813.35 - $2234.60 =$579.25 If we add a 20% discount on the room that is $440
$2813.35 - $440 = $2413.35 - $2234.60 (DP) = a savings of $138.75

Anyway you look at this, we did save money, $138.75 or 579.25 or $1436.05, it is still a savings.
This was for the 2 of us, 60 TS and 40 snacks. A lot of food but because we spread out most days and ate at 8 locations which took 2 TS each, there was only 1 day where we were overly full after lunch, but by the time dinner came around, we were fine.

With all this all said, there are those that the DP will never save money and those that it will, those that hate and and those that love it.
Could we have saved money by not using the dining plan and skimped or changed what and where we ate, yes we could have and to all those who don’t like the dining plan, yes you can save money if you don’t use it and watch what you eat and don’t pay for bottles of water. Could we save money by using the dining plan and going to other or some of the same locations and changing what we ate, yes, for those who like the dining plan. And then there is this trip, 6 signature dining locations, one CLP, one CRT and 9 table service, along with a few quick service locations, using snack credits for some bottled water or soda, experiencing Walt Disney World and the incredible service at these locations. We would have done it even if we had to pay out of pocket for the whoe thing, the thing is, with the way we planned, the discount we did get for the QS, upgrading to the Deluxe dining plan, well it saved us$1,436.05 which we believe is making the most of the money and the value and the experience.


I think you are absolutely right - it really depends on your circumstances whether DDP will work for you. I keep reading reviews of DDP that say that it takes so much time and slows you down to eat at a table service restaurant (if you choose a DDP with table service meals), but for us, sitting in an air conditioned restaurant and having time to really sit and enjoy a meal is a great break from our conquering the parks and it often provides that bit of respite that has us back out enjoying the attractions versus heading back to our resort to relax.

For us, where it gets trickier is that we have three boys (ages 13-22) who will eat and eat, and eat. For them, DDP and the buffet restaurants make a lot of sense, because they will eat it all. However, our only daughter (age 16) will still eat off the children’s menu if she can, and she won’t even finish all of that food. So, we are going to be doing some calculations (using yours as a model) before we decide which way we should go with dining on our next trip. Thank you!