Resort And Dining Experts, Would You Rather

Wonder if some experts can chime in on this one. I’m starting to think about the next trip in fall. November. Mom, Dad, and DS8.
Free Dining, or no Free Dining. That is the major question.
The minor question is more about Epcot area resorts

Would you rather:

  1. Dolphin. 2586.00. Room and 5 day hopper ONLY. I’ve added 150.00 to the actual price for airport transit. Car service FROM mco, and uber back to mco.

  2. Caribbean Beach. 2970. Room and 5 day hopper WITH FREE DDP.

Ok, on the surface, it seems pretty much a no brainer. 384.00 difference, which is basically a Fantasmic package, Hoop De Doo, and one other TS meal, meaning all other meals will be free.

What I’m worried about is Carribbean Beach - it’s frickin bus service to ANYWHERE. Dolphin is very quick walk or Friendship boat to Hollywood, Epcot, and the Boardwalk. Anyone think I’m putting FAR too much importance on the convenience factor here? I’m already guessing that answer is yes.

This next trip SHOULD be a bit more relaxed - hitting what we want, and not trying to pack in as much as we can. What I learned last time is that the hotel pool with the family can be just as fun as exploring some parts of the parks - I think we can be more laser focused on what we want to do in the parks, and be far more efficient.

I also am trying to figure out how to maximize the dining plan if we are able to score it for free.
Our style:
Breakfast in hotel room. Healthy-ish cereal. Nothing fancy.
Hardcore rope droppers.
Early lunch, and then break at the hotel pool.
Back to park very early evening.
Dinner, night show, then leave.

My initial thought on how to maximize a 5 day DDP:
Day 1:
Lunch: 1 QS meal split between the three of us. We’ll have plenty of carrying snacks. (14 qs credit left)
Dinner: Fantasmic Package meal - 3 ts credits. (12 TS left)

Day 2:
Bfast: BOG PPO. 2qs credit. 2 QS split between the three of us. (12 qs left)
Lunch: CHH lunch using 2 ts credits (10 qs left)
Dinner: 2 QS credit dinner split between the three of us. (8 qs left)

Day 3:
Lunch: Very Early QS lunch. 2 Credits. 2 QS meals split between the three of us. (6 qs credit left over)
Dinner: Mickey’s Backyard BBQ (6 ts credits) (6 ts left)

Day 4:
Lunch: QS lunch. 2 Credits. 2 QS meals split between the three of us. (4 qs left)
Dinner: Hoop De Doo (6ts credits) (0 ts left)

Day 5:
Lunch: QS lunch. 2 Credits. 2 QS meals split between the three of us. (1 qs credit left over)
Dinner: 1 qs credit left, one oop meal of some sort.

Assuming my math is correct - I can actually do that, can’t I?

My more relaxed touring plan would allow for the two big, fun show meals, and if I didn’t do those, we’d probably gain 40 pounds from trying to stuff ourselves with all of the food that comes with the ddp. Does anyone think this is decent or not the greatest idea? Again, I’m just starting to think about this. Advice/Input needed. I am NOT worried about splitting those meals at ALL. I’m thinking we’re still going to wind up throwing food away. If free dining is announced, I want to be ready to pounce. If I miss out, no big deal to stay at Swan/Dolphin, imo. We just scale way back on the fancy meals. Fantasmic and one character meal are all we REALLY need. I really want to get the fam to Hoop De Doo as well this time around though, so I’m gunning for free dining.

Ok, so this is all speculative until they come out with a free dining offer (if at all)?
You’re using the current price for CBR for comparison. Not sure if that will change significantly so if it’s in the ballpark, that close enough.
If your main concern about CBR is the transportation, why not consider one of the other resorts that may be included with the as yet unannounced free dining?
I like your outlined plan. Good use of the dining credits.
I guess until you have 2 solid offers to compare, this is a pretty tough thing to make a decision on at present.
One last thing…is there a major renovation happening at the Dolphin? I feel like I heard something about that not too long ago.

Of course you are assuming that Disney will offer free dining again. I have a couple of questions. Are you staying 4 nights or 5? I ask because you have a five day ticket. Is there one day you will not be in the parks?

I think you may also be mixing child and adult credits on your TS? You may have 10 adult and 5 child TS?

In the long run this is what I would say: put a deposit on the Dolphin room and wait to see if the free dining is available and the deal you want. If it is- book online the moment it is available and cancel Dolphin.

Yes. Totally speculative. I’m just trying to get a grasp of how to make the ddp work for us, and compare theoretical prices. I used CBR as a jump off point because its an Epcot area mod, and I think the reg ddp would be offered free with the mod. The other Epcot area resorts are not avail for the dates I selected, OR, they are considered deluxes. I think starting price was right around 4k? With the relaxed touring plan, I don’t think I’d need to be walking distance to Epcot or Hollywood (though that is SOOOO nice in the am or at park close.) So, my thinking, with all things considered, is that CBR was the closest comp to Swan/Dolphin, even though Swolphin is considered to have more amenities like a deluxe.

Dolphin Reno I think is scheduled to be completed in summer, but I’d get a renovated room if not.

Very good points on the length of stay and also the child qs credits. And yes, this is all ONLY based on the assumption of being actually able to score the free DDP if it is even offered again.
The theoretical stay would be 11/1 check in through 11/7 leave date. Those dates are only placeholders. If the free ddp is offered, and those dates are blacked out, then we can adjust our dates. I assumed a 5 day hopper ticket, but now, in looking at the price, adding another day of tickets is only 50 dollars.

SO, for checking in 11/1 - probably late - after 8pm, and leaving 11/7 (assume that we’d leave around 7pm,) how many days worth of the ddp would we get? 6? If so, without re-working this to make sure we are not crossing child/adult qs credits, I think this would even work better for us.

I guess if you indeed get the DP for free, then it doesn’t much matter. But from what I understand, you’re paying for it one way or another. From what I’ve read, you need to score table service ADR’s with a value over $37 per credit in order to maximize the value. That means if you have to use 2 credits for a meal, then you’re at $74. So it’s actually costing you more for BBQ and HDD, than if you paid out of pocket. IMO, it’s not a good use for TS credits, whereas Fantasmic totally is.
We are staying at CBR and decided to just break down and rent a car for the very reason that’s your concern. I didn’t shell out all of this money for a vacation just to spend half of it on busses, or waiting for buses. If it were me, I’d skip the CBR and DP in trade for a better location. That is if you don’t have a car.

@seebee, yes, you’d get 6 days of the dining plan for a 6 night stay. You can use the credits till midnight on your check out day, I believe.

My first Disney trip we stayed at CBR. We were fine with the rooms and the bus service. Parking was also very near the hotel buidings, if that is a consideration. The only bummer was the distance of the room to the food court and main pool. It sounds like you have breakfast covered, but if you were hoping to use your dining plan mug to get coffee, as I did, you might need to build in more time than you’d like for that!

We did stay at the Boardwalk our last trip and it was neat walking to parks and the other hotels. We walked to mini golf at the Dolphin and kids club at the Beach Club which were definitely also perks.

We did the dining plan this summer and were trying not to overdo it on food. It imposed more structure with the ADRs than we ended up liking. Plus we left many snack credits and a few QS credits unused. For me, it would be worth the extra money to stay in the Epcot walking area. And although the dining plan plus CBR total would be less the Dolphin and OOP meals, I would be OK with that because I’d feel like I was paying for the location and gaining flexibility with the dining. But ultimately, it’s what your family prioritizes that really counts!

Well, they call it epcot area, and it is epcot area, you just can’t walk or boat to epcot/dhs like all of the other epcot area resorts. Grrrr.

With free dining, Hoop de doo and bbq would kind of be priorities for this next trip, as it will be more relaxed, so with free dining, I figured for us using the credits on both made sense. We’d still have plenty of credits for our other meals. Most of the meals are huge. Frankly, I think we’d still wind up throwing food away, or giving it away, and I am a huge over-orderer at home.

I am concerned about your TS credits? If each adult and a child uses two for for two meals and one for a dinner package- where do the others come from over 5 nights? Six nights would give you 3 more credits but one of them would be a child? Am I looking at this wrong?

Having stayed at both (kind of).
1 - NOTHING is free.
2 - Stayed at Swan which is slightly nicer - SUCKED! Location was awesome - room was OK but service was horrific.

If you like doing Epcot and Hollywood - I would still probably do the Dolphin. Otherwise - do CB

Never mind - I see it says TS but it is a QS and you counted it that way.

We stayed at Swan in Nov, and absolutely loved it. No big issues with anything, really, and the location for EP/HS can’t be beat for the price. But I absolutely agree that nothing is free. Planning for free dining for US is absolutely a business decision. It is not free.

Glad you had a better experience at the SWAN.

The only time we found the dining plan to be worth it was when we were doing a lot of Character dining. But most of the time my wife gets from the kids menu and none of us are big eaters.

I remember when the dining plan first came out - there was no question that it was a value - but it has slowly been chipped away at. But yes sometimes it makes sense.