To Dining Plan or Not to Dining Plan

Login to post comments
46 posts / 0 new
Offline
Joined: 03/22/2014
Posts: 552
To Dining Plan or Not to Dining Plan

I hope this isn't a repeat topic...I looked and couldn't find anything.

Question is : Have you ever regretted NOT getting a dining plan?

My DOH and I have been strongly considering a budget trip this spring. Maybe a long 4 day weekend, staying at a Value or the cheapest moderate available and possibly no dining plan. After adding up our expenses from the last trip I found that we only spent a LITTLE more than the dining plan cost (thought it worked out then because we had free dining). We always find we have WAY too much food each day and thought we could cut back a lot (eating more QS, less snacks, no dessert at every meal). Thoughts?

__________________

alicemouse's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/22/2013
Posts: 2832

No regrets here! We're firmly in the anti-dining plan camp. With just two of us eating very few table service meals, we even have to run the math carefully to see if Tables in Wonderland is worth it for us. We prefer a table service meal once every 2-3 days and we're not so much "restaurant dessert" people. Don't get me wrong, I love sweets, but I'll mostly save my sugar splurge for a caramel apple or a pistachio ice cream sandwich or a churro. We tried DDP once when it was free and honestly, I found it stressful because I can't fight my desire to maximize the value of the plan by searching out the most expensive qualifying meals that I can find regardless of what I actually want to eat. silly

__________________

Be good at something. It makes you valuable. Have something to bring to the table because that will make you more welcome. --Randy Pausch

Find me on Facebook

Trip Reports:
December 2013: 10th Anniversary, 1st DVC Stay | April 2014: Birthday on the Boardwalk | May 2014: Star Wars Weekend, Navigating WDW with a wheelchair | August 2014: Villains Unleashed | September/October 2014: MNSSHP, F&W, Tower of Terror 10-miler | March/April 2015: Disneyland and California Coastal Cruise | November 2015: Wine & Dine Half, Food & Wine, 1st Disney Cruise | February 2016: Presidential Classic Gymnastics Meet | March 2016: "Work" Trip, Tours, F&G Festival | April 2016: Conference at Disneyland | Fall 2016: Festive Fall Fun | January 2017: Festival of the Arts | May 2017: AbD Backstage Magic | July 2017: AbD San Francisco | Sorry I had to give up doing trip reports. Too many time commitments right now.

h0ney227's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/30/2013
Posts: 547

This past trip we actually regretted getting it. It was just too much food! We were pretty much forcing ourselves to eat. We don't need desserts at every meal and we found that we would have been very happy splitting our QS. Next time we go back we are going to forgo the DDP. We are still going to book a TS meal every night though. Just no desserts most likely. And I would rather split an appetizer anyway.

__________________

Offline
Joined: 09/12/2010
Posts: 4680

I'm with alicemouse. We've never paid for the dining plan thanks to timing (usually our September trips come with free dining), and never regretted not getting it when we go in the Spring and it's not a free option.

For just the 2 of us, it's usually more food and sit down planning than we than we normally would do. We don't mind planning a few sit-downs, but more than that and I also would find myself trying to find the most expensive meal or place to justify the cost. And since we usually park hop in the afternoon and evenings, I usually would make ADRs for lunch, since I knew/planned our morning park but not necessarily our evening park. Our whims could take us somewhere totally different in the evening, so I didn't like making a lot of dinner ressies. And with lunch meals usually less expensive, it didn't take sense for us.

The Colonel's picture
Offline
Joined: 11/08/2012
Posts: 2936

I am not a fan of the dining plan. However I would like to try the Platinum dining plan for a one night reservation and stretch it out over arrival and departure days.

Oh I just found out there is a three day minimum reservation. That's a little pricey. But I'm putting it on the to-do list.

__________________

See my Disney Photography at...
https://www.flickr.com/photos/rt_images/

DVC owner since 2002 BCV/BWV/BLT/VGC

Ms.Mouse's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/2013
Posts: 358

For the first time we will not be getting the plan for our next trip. It really is a lot of food and like others have said I always try to maximize by getting the most expensive meal and not necessarily what I would prefer. So I am going through the menus of the places we are most likely going to dine and pricing out the meals. That way I will have a general idea of what to budget. My husband likes the plan because even though he knows we have prepaid for it, he doesn't feel like he is paying out of pocket laugh I guess it's a mind game!

PJsLife's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2014
Posts: 314

I will be the lone voice with a different opinion. We always do the dining plan that has one QS and one TS plus one snack. For us it is fine. We plan our meals on the off times and use our snacks (which are huge) as a meal. We have never regretting using it. We are foodies and we like trying new things. For us, it works out we save between 20 and 25%.

I know it does not work for everyone including my parents. So....If it is not for you, then don't use it. If you think it will stress you out, don't use it.

But my husband and I love it.

Offline
Joined: 07/19/2013
Posts: 1556

Nope. Dining plan doesn't work for us.

We did the DDP a couple of times, but we both found that we had snack points left over and I'm not a big dessert eater. I'd rather get an appetizer vs dessert. So, I usually skipped dessert altogether and as soon as you do that, the value is gone from the dining plan.

Plus, I like going into a restaurant and ordering anything I want, and in any combination, without there being any restrictions. I also like that I don't have to listen to the dining plan speech from the server each time we sit down.

I know it works for some, but for us, the TiW card is a MUCH better deal.

NikkiMouse's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/19/2015
Posts: 526

I love getting the dining plan; however, now that the LO has turned 10 it not really something we would get unless it was free. We have paid for it in the past and never regretted it due to the ease of not really having to think about money or anything while on vacation though.

I added it to my trip for October, but if free dining is not announced, I will change my plans. My daughter does not eat like an adult (she can literally eat a chicken finger and a fry and announce she is full), so it would be a complete waste to pay out of pocket and after losing 40 pounds, I do not eat like I used to.

I do agree with people that it is a A LOT of food. We usually grab the portable snacks and desserts and wind up taking some home for the plane trip and snacks for school for the next week or so.

__________________

Nyxess's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/09/2014
Posts: 203

My boyfriend and I have not yet tried it - but we're looking at it for our two week trip this year. Since it's the two of us we'll usually do sit downs every night, with many of our favorites being the slightly pricier locations around World Showcase (I'm pretty sure he'd eat at Chefs de France every night if I let him). Since we normally budget a decent amount for our meals anyways - the dining plan looks like it'll actually save us some money.

Neither of us eat a whole lot, and the portion sizes are crazy - but we also love to try news things, so we very rarely will get something to split, instead getting two entres and sharing both.

We'll see if it ends up actually saving us any money in the long run - but I'm excited to try it out Laughing out loud

__________________

No trips planned currently... But we're hopeful something in 2017!!!

BarbaraB's picture
Offline
Joined: 03/13/2014
Posts: 402

I am also in the minority here. I love the dining plan simply for ease and convenience. I have never actually sat down and crunched the numbers. Yes, it is a lot of food, but I've never felt the need to maximize the value. If I didn't feel like eating dessert that night, I just didn't order it. This past Sept we had the plan with 3 meals & 2 snacks per person per day. Even with a 2 credit table service meal almost every night, we had 4 meals left over. I'm sure in that situation it would have been much cheaper to pay out of pocket, but I don't regret getting it. I love not having to budget for meals. In my mind, it's almost like having an all-inclusive vacation.

__________________

~ Barb ~

kathys's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/01/2013
Posts: 694

I also love the dining plan as it fits how we eat and if it wasn't for that I would have never gone to Narcoossee's or California Grill as i wouldn't have spend the money so for me it is always a go.

__________________

[url='http://www.mickeypath.com/']

[/url]

Offline
Joined: 09/12/2010
Posts: 4680

Totally agree about the ease and convenience of the plan. And I do think it's nice that they offer a number of options now to suit a variety of needs. It can be cost effective depending on your plans and how you do the parks, and it can be a great tool to keep one on rheir budget.

We often would either just skip the dessert or order one and split it, as we aren't huge eaters, and that worked well for us.

And it does go a long ways towards pushing us to try places we might not other try.

I still remember the first year it came out and we got it for free, and it included everything!! Now that was a deal!! And a ton of food.....I think they learned a lot that year Tongue

Mousedreaming's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/11/2014
Posts: 367

The dining plan never seemed to make sense for my family, either. Honestly, I would rather have the room discount, than free dining.

__________________

*Proud Disney Nut*

Offline
Joined: 11/15/2012
Posts: 870

We have talked about it but as G would rather have a starter than a pud it never seems worthwhile. We are lucky in that we can get Tables in Wonderland and that was worth every penny. I think the only way to be really sure is to do a costings exercise, tedious but may help you decide.

__________________

ScottFL's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/28/2014
Posts: 237

"we don't need dessert for every meal"

... TOTALLY foreign concept to me... rolling

Offline
Joined: 07/19/2013
Posts: 1556

In the end, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer to this. It's completely subjective based on eating habits, size of party and other preferences. I think it's one of those things that people have to try for themselves to see how it works out for their particular situation.

The general advice that I've read when it comes to the dining plans are that you should ideally be eating *everything* that it includes. The plans are priced such that if you start skipping any items (desserts for example), then any cost savings go out the window (or door depending on how much biggrin ).

But, perhaps looking at it from a purely financial perspective isn't always the best approach. I mean, vacations in general don't make any sense financially when you think about it.

For those that find a convenience factor in the dining plan, well it's hard to put a price on that really. In fact, there are a lot of things about a Disney trip that might not make sense strictly financially, but have more to do with what you like while on vacation. Just look at the differences in opinions regarding type of resort (val, mod, del). mickey

Brinbunny's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/23/2014
Posts: 645

I posted a link in another thread for a calculator that works out if dining plan is worth it, I've dug out the link again. I like the fact you can also set your preferences (such as no dessert or sharing an appetiser)

http://www.distripplanner.com

Mad Hatter's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/28/2013
Posts: 140

I agree with Ken, it's completely subjective based on your family's wants and needs. We personally have never used it, but typically like to have a late large breakfast, no lunch, typically no snacks, and a signature dinner. I like to not have to think about it and just order what I want, when I want. After all, I'm on vacation! wink

__________________

Things get curiouser and curiouser...

MrHub's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/29/2009
Posts: 9407

I don't think the "Free" dining plan should be a part of this question, not that there is anything wrong with getting it, it just has no bearing on the question the way TinkASL is asking, am I correct? You can definitely eat cheaper than the dining plan costs and if you are getting it for free, it wouldn't matter!

Miss Mikki's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/20/2012
Posts: 766

We had free quick serve dining and left WDW on the last day with 14 unused QS meals and we only ate 4 of our desserts so 56 unused desserts!!! OK as it was free, but what a waste if we had paid for it!!!

__________________

no ticker Sad

Offline
Joined: 03/22/2014
Posts: 552

MrHub wrote:
I don't think the "Free" dining plan should be a part of this question, not that there is anything wrong with getting it, it just has no bearing on the question the way TinkASL is asking, am I correct? You can definitely eat cheaper than the dining plan costs and if you are getting it for free, it wouldn't matter!

Absolutely MrHub. On our last trip we got the free dining plan so didn't regret it one bit. I totaled up the cost just for curiosity and future reference. In that sense it saved us a lot of money, so if I ever got the opportunity again for free dining in August we would take it up.

Thanks for all your thoughts! I'm thinking we might try our next trip with no dining plan. Like so many of you said it's just so much food, much of which I wouldn't normally eat, and I also end up picking the most expensive thing for most of my meals. I agree with those who love the convenience of it all but I think if I'm going to keep convincing my DOH I need to find a simple way to save some money. I was thinking maybe take the amount we would spend on the dining plan and making that our "budget".

__________________

PJsLife's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2014
Posts: 314

Another thing I do is to use the plan to my advantage. If you are using a TS credit and say you don't want the half a mountain of chocolate cake...I ask if a piece of whole fruit is available. Say apple or orange or banana. Many times I am told yes and I take the fruit and put it in my bag and eat it later. If it is a Buffett TS, I just pick up the fruit and take it with me. For example: Chef Mickeys

A trick shared with me on my last trip this past Thanksgiving. I was redeeming a QS breakfast at my resort, so I had my RFID mug. The cashier said, you get a bottled drink with your plan, go get a water and take it with you to the park. She then proceeded to tell me ALL of the places she likes for snack credit meals. LOLz.

I have found that if you ask, you can get most anything.

Even with no dining plan, just ask for a subsitution. Because of my food allergies, I ask for subsitutes all the time.

jw24's picture
Offline
Joined: 11/23/2013
Posts: 999

It's crapshoot really. There is no right or wrong answer to that question. There are so many variables to consider like signature dining, asking yourself if you can really survive on 2 meals every day which may not be possible for some and if you're really going to order the most expensive meal at every restaurant visit or most of the time.

I've been fine on my trips without the dining plan for the most part plus the dining plan doesn't cover certain snacks that can be meals like turkey legs or pork shanks for instance, which as are ideal meals for me regardless of what you may think! Plus it's a ton of desserts and I'm not really a dessert person in general. 2 desserts per day sounds like a lot. I've found time and time again that for me, I end up paying less money out of pocket than I would on any of the dining plans.

__________________

"All my life I wonder how it feels to pass a day, not above them but part of them.

And out there living in the sun, give me one day out there, all I ask is one to hold forever. Out there where they all live unaware, what I'd give, what I'd dare, just to live one day out there."

CdnSquirrel's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/12/2013
Posts: 365

I am still undecided about the meal plan for my upcoming trip. I did the math for our trip in January and we did not by any means 'make money' on the dining plan, though it was part of the package. I am not a big eater and tend to have one big meal a day and two/three little nibbles otherwise.

PJsLife's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/08/2014
Posts: 314

jw24 wrote:
It's crapshoot really. There is no right or wrong answer to that question..

Totally This.

Offline
Joined: 11/15/2012
Posts: 870

Sorry TinkASL and my fellow posters. I can't resist any longer

You have to just go with what your gut tells you! laugh

__________________

kathys's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/01/2013
Posts: 694

MrHub wrote:
I don't think the "Free" dining plan should be a part of this question, not that there is anything wrong with getting it, it just has no bearing on the question the way TinkASL is asking, am I correct? You can definitely eat cheaper than the dining plan costs and if you are getting it for free, it wouldn't matter!

To MrHub I seem to do everything wrong and I have removed the one sentence about 'free meal plan'. So all I can say is am sorry and from now on I will keep my opinions to myself. Again so sorry I went off track.

__________________

[url='http://www.mickeypath.com/']

[/url]

MrHub's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/29/2009
Posts: 9407

kathys wrote:
MrHub wrote:
I don't think the "Free" dining plan should be a part of this question, not that there is anything wrong with getting it, it just has no bearing on the question the way TinkASL is asking, am I correct? You can definitely eat cheaper than the dining plan costs and if you are getting it for free, it wouldn't matter!

To MrHub I seem to do everything wrong and I have removed the one sentence about 'free meal plan'. So all I can say is am sorry and from now on I will keep my opinions to myself. Again so sorry I went off track.

Kathy, you didn't do anything. Your post was perfectly fine. I was just stating that the free dining plan wouldn't factor in here because free is free. I figured TinkASL was asking the question to decide if she should "buy" it or not.

The Watchmaker's picture
Offline
Joined: 07/08/2014
Posts: 1802

I suppose its a personal choice..Some folk have bigger appetites than others..We got it free in 2012.. Wow..We struggled to eat our quota..Example..Staying at PORS that trip my good lady and I split the " Create your own Pasta " ...To us there was plenty of food to fill us up..Would I get it again..Probably not..( unless it was free ) lol...

Offline
Joined: 03/22/2014
Posts: 552

Sally-Ann wrote:
Sorry TinkASL and my fellow posters. I can't resist any longer

You have to just go with what your gut tells you! laugh

Bumdumdum (cymbal) wink My kind of humor!

MrHub wrote:
kathys wrote:
MrHub wrote:
I don't think the "Free" dining plan should be a part of this question, not that there is anything wrong with getting it, it just has no bearing on the question the way TinkASL is asking, am I correct? You can definitely eat cheaper than the dining plan costs and if you are getting it for free, it wouldn't matter!

To MrHub I seem to do everything wrong and I have removed the one sentence about 'free meal plan'. So all I can say is am sorry and from now on I will keep my opinions to myself. Again so sorry I went off track.

Kathy, you didn't do anything. Your post was perfectly fine. I was just stating that the free dining plan wouldn't factor in here because free is free. I figured TinkASL was asking the question to decide if she should "buy" it or not.

What MrHub said. There wasn't anything wrong with the comment at all. I agree that given free dining it's totally worth it and I am ALL in! The opportunity to eat my face off for free? Yes please! But yes, I was more considering whether others thought it was worth "buying" and if they ever regretted not buying it.

__________________