Pop with Free Dining or Moderate/Deluxe without?

I have had a trip booked for Sept 1-8 since last October at Pop Century which I am super excited for. It is just me and my husband (no kids) and we are in our late 20’s early 30’s. Last time we went in Sept 2016 (first time staying on site) we stayed at All Star Music and took advantage of the free QS dining plan. My husband and I loved the convenience of the dining plan and found we had more than enough to eat on the plan since the meals are so large. We didn’t do any table service last time due to limited costs and late booking. We ended up doing 2 BoG breakfasts which we enjoyed. We are hoping to do 2 or 3 table service restaurants this time though it’s not the end of the world if we don’t. We are also planning on attending MNSSHP.

This time, I am doing a bit more research and I am considering upgrading to a moderate or deluxe if there is a discount instead of the dining plan. I have done some basic calculations with an example 30% room-only discount and it would be about $170 more to stay at Port Orleans (either resort) with no free dining compared to Pop Century with the full price + free dining. The cost of Port Orleans with free dining is about $640 more than Pop Century at full price. It would also be about $1000 more to stay at the Contemporary garden wing with the assumed discount and no free dining. I calculated the discount as if I booked a room only so there might be more savings booked as a package (I’m not 100% sure how to get accurate numbers on that… 30% off the package makes a big difference but I don’t think that’s how it works).

What would you do? Do you think it’s worth it to upgrade to Port Orleans or even Contemporary? I’m Canadian so I have to take into account the exchange rate cost as well if that makes a difference in your opinion. I have various table service and BoG reservations in order so I’m set up depending on what I go with. Also, if I can’t get free dining with Pop Century for some reason I am hoping to go with Port Orleans and debating tacking on the free dining if it’s available. If we upgrade to deluxe we would definitely not do free dining since the cost is too high.

Sorry for the novel! :slight_smile:

Assuming that you mean the room itself would be $170 more PLUS you would have to pay for all of your food out of pocket. So, you’d be looking at a fairly significant cost increase between the two options.

My family of four has done the free QS dining twice and just like you, we found it very convenient and since we stay at value resorts, it has saved us a great deal more money than a room discount would have. That being said, I would love to upgrade to moderate or deluxe accomodations one of these days. So, if you have the funds, go for it. It just doesn’t make sense for us right now though.

Yes, the $170 doesn’t include the cost of food. I think the QS dining is going to end up being what we will go with. I just always see people say that room discounts often work out to be a better deal. From what I can tell that must only be the case for moderate or deluxe rooms.

I think the only way I’ll upgrade at this point is if I can’t change my current reservation to include free dining. Then I might look at how much more it would be to jump to a moderate if they are available.

Thanks for your input. I’m happy to see someone else has had the same experience as me. I imagine free dining for 4 people must be even better value than just the 2 of us! :slight_smile:

IF they do free dining this year - and I have a feeling it would be extremely limited - it is almost never your best deal since you pay rack rate for the room.

Of course it depends how many people in your room. 4 disney adults makes it a better deal than 1 adult

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Yes, I think you are right. I am sure that when you stay at a deluxe resort the dollar savings with a 30% room discount are very substantial and maybe even more than it would cost you to eat. At a value resort though, a 30% room discount on a 7 day stay doesn’t come close to equaling the $1000 or so that it costs the four of us to eat.


I’m just gonna add my 2 cents here about free dining. I’ve done free dining at CBR for 5 nights for a family of five and it was in 2016 for $3057. At that time dining was DDP not QS only and there was no construction. I paid $156 OOP for tips and upgraded from STD room to a Pool view room and park hoppers for 4 days to get the deal.
That was a great price I thought.

Forward last year and it was a huge celebration- my daughter’s 16th bday, my son’s 12th bday, our 20th anniversary and my littlest one skipped 2nd grade. So I decided to go to BC. My TA knew we were looking for the best deal and when free dining came out she wasn’t up yet. I booked BWI for 5700 std room for 6 nights 5 day PH and then after I emailed her to see if I could modify my BC room to Free Dining bc they weren’t showing available rooms online she finally emails me back at around 10am. She states I can “upgrade to DLX CL room for only $80 more”! She states what a great deal! So in all my tiredness and craziness I tell her to book it and cancel BWI. Then later upgrade to DLX DDP. Total spent 8K plus tips :scream: I really went nuts!

This year I’m going through Darcy with MVT and have a room booked at Poly. I was still really hoping for free dining. But on our vacation last year my son and daughter came down with stomach flu while on vacation. So many reservations canceled and snacks came home with us. But I learned that the kids had so much more fun picking where to eat and when they wanted to eat. If we wanted to snack around epcot we did it. IF we wanted to skip a meal we did it. All of this brought me back to the question, “Is free dining really worth it for us?” I got all my receipts out and with mugs, snacks (all 50 of them), Cape May Cafe for breakfast, 'Ohana for dinner, Via Napoli, Biergarten CLP, Tiffins (ROL pkg), Garden Grill for dinner, QS every day. With $187 in tips OOP we spent 1630!!! The DLX DDP is not 1630 for 6 nights for 4 adults and 1 child!

This year we are staying 7 nights at Poly STD room and I’m paying less than 1200 for food for the week. With some free Disney Gift Cards and my Amazon Points (bought Landry’s GC) and AMEX points I paid for CRT, Yak & Yeti & T-Rex and brought down our cost to 600. I still have some gift cards coming as well so hopefully that will lower it.

My point is really really calculate before saying free dining is deal! I for one am not using it this year although I’m following on disboards threads bc it’s so fun. But honestly, I am so embarrassed at my full disclosure bc I’m very frugal but got caught up in the excitement last year. I hope people really do the math beforehand since Free Dining isn’t the deal it used to be.


I want to make sure I understand what you are saying. So your total food cost was $1630 but you only actually paid $187 because the rest was covered by the free dining plan? Right?

Corect. But just so you can see the value the DLXDDP was worth 2301 if paid for OOP. In order to qualify I had to upgrade my 6k original package price to Deluxe club level room which brought the trip to over 7k.

I know it’s a great savings but not when I could have saved on room rates and not upgraded and realized we don’t eat all that food. Even without tummy issues.

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WAY to much math for me. It’s an easy decision for me; I don’t especially like QS (I typically eat TS lunch and dinner), so I would never go with a QS dining plan - free or otherwise.


Wow, that sounds like a great trip though. I was worried I might get caught up in a similar thing but the prices for anything deluxe are just way too high at the moment, especially just for the two of us.

I’ll definitely be doing some quick math when/if free dining is released to see if it’s actually a deal.

At the moment I think we will just try for free dining with the Pop room we have booked and if not I’ll explore moderates to see just how much more it is.

Thanks for your insight everyone!

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It was a great trip! Good luck with free dining!! Wish we could stay at POP- I hear good things on all the forums I follow. On disboards free dining thread it’s definitely the most popular!

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30% seems high for a room discount at POR. Last year the room discount was 15-30%. The 30% being some deluxe. I suspect the moderate discount is close to 20% but you can do more digging to find out. From my experience when we rented a standard at AKL from DVC it was almost the same as a discounted room stay at a moderate when you included tax.

Will you get hoppers? Free dining has required buying those. If yes the better deal is probably POP if they offer two QS meals. The alcohol inclusion for drinks helps. Free QS with POR is better than 20% off the room. If you wanted to stay in a Deluxe then the 30% is probably more savings than free QS for two people but you are clearly going to pay more for the trip. For an adult trip I would go moderate or deluxe if it was in the budget.

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Yes, we have 8 day park hoppers at the moment so that shouldn’t be an issue unless something is drastically different this year. The 30% is definitely on the high end of discount when I was doing calculations moreso to see if it is worth it even with that discount.

We’ll have to see what happens with free dining but I’d definitely like to upgrade to a moderate or more. At this point, even with a large discount like 30% it’s double to stay in a deluxe but only about $300-600 more to jump over to a moderate. Here’s hoping!

POR is very nice if you go that route and you have the boat to Disney Springs. I found the upgrade from value to moderate greater than from moderate to deluxe. Have a great time.

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