Dining plan confusion

Flamingomo

Jack Sparrow's Wench...and proud of it.
Joined
Sep 12, 2007
I have never done it before, but we are hoping to get it for my family of 5 when we go in 2020. My question is this... If you don't use all of your TS and CS meals, what happens? Do they refund you? Do you get something else? A gift card? Treats? haha! I am clueless. Thanks!
 

mom to minnie&mickey

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 12, 2010
There is no refund. I believe you can exchange TS and CS meal credits for 3 snacks each which you can then use to stock up on to bring back home. However that is a major $$ loss for the TS credit. Or, you can pixie dust someone and pay for their meal. The ddp is expensive. Make sure it works for your family before committing all that money.
 
  • DisLiss

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 2, 2018
    It's a use it or lose it situation. And for many it costs more than paying OOP, so you may want to do some calculations to be sure it fits your eating style well before opting for it. :)
     

    Christine

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 1999
    I've used the dining plan before. It requires some planning if you care about breaking even or losing money.

    Before you decide to get it, you need to plan your dining out and look at what you'll likely order. If you can come close, it's worth it. It's actually kind of hard to break even on the plan if you don't do character meals or if you don't drink. If you have children who are "disney adults" they won't be able to order the alcoholic beverages that so easily make the plan worth getting.

    You will need to ensure that you can somehow use each TS and CS that they give you. Otherwise, it's money down the drain.

    At the end of my plan last year (3 people), we did break even, but I had 1 CS left and several snacks. I only had a CS left because one day my DH and I split a CS meal and I should have just got my own (because I was hungry enough). I gifted that CS to my parents who were leaving later than us and they split a hotel food court breakfast (which was actually a poor use of the credit).

    We were driving back so I used my snack credits to get about 3 gourmet cupcakes, a few huge danishes, and some gift bags of candy.
     

    Flamingomo

    Jack Sparrow's Wench...and proud of it.
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2007
    So they convert the TS or CS meals into snack credits? With three boys, two of which are teenagers and love to eat, we would not mind bringing home several snacks that we would not otherwise get. We are planning on doing 2 Character meals and also eating at either Rainforest or Dino Cafe in DS.
     

    Christine

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 1999
    So they convert the TS or CS meals into snack credits? With three boys, two of which are teenagers and love to eat, we would not mind bringing home several snacks that we would not otherwise get. We are planning on doing 2 Character meals and also eating at either Rainforest or Dino Cafe in DS.
    Officially, no.

    The official policy is that you can go to one counter service restaurant and ask that your CS credit be converted into 3 snacks. Those 3 snacks must be used at the place of conversion.

    There are reports of people having CS converted to snack credits at the resort, but that would be considered a dose of pixie dust and should not be counted on.
     
  • siren0119

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2018
    So they convert the TS or CS meals into snack credits? With three boys, two of which are teenagers and love to eat, we would not mind bringing home several snacks that we would not otherwise get. We are planning on doing 2 Character meals and also eating at either Rainforest or Dino Cafe in DS.
    They don't convert them into snack credits that you can then use anywhere.

    Essentially, your TS or CS credit can be used to purchase 3 snacks at a single location. You have to buy the 3 snacks at the same time, in the same location, and at the register they use the one TS or CS credit to cover the purchase. Just make sure any items you buy that is eligible as a snack credit are in groups of 3.
     

    Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    I know this is not what you want to hear, but I think you need to run some numbers to be sure that you woudl benefit from purchasing the plan. It is expensive if you are not going to eat the way it is set up. It is NEVER cost effective to cash out credits for snacks, especially if some of those credits are TS credits because you cannot use them everywhere snack credits are accepted.

    I suggest you look at the restaurants you plan to book, check out the menu and cost out how much you think your family choices will amount to. I use the plan, but it is not appropriate for every family.
     

    DL1WDW2

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 5, 2019
    I always joke I could probably benefit just with the amount of money I spend at Starbucks. What is the conversion value at the Starbucks on property?
    (Hope they have a temporary location at Epcot tho!)
    Interested to know how it works or doesn’t for your family.
     

    Nancyg56

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 17, 2005
    I always joke I could probably benefit just with the amount of money I spend at Starbucks. What is the conversion value at the Starbucks on property?
    (Hope they have a temporary location at Epcot tho!)
    Interested to know how it works or doesn’t for your family.

    We always use snack credits at Starbucks. It is a good value for us.
     
  • Christine

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 1999
    I use snack credits at Starbucks. I generally don't eat at Starbucks but get Venti drinks.
     

    NYCgrrl

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 13, 2017
    We find using up snack credits at Karamel Kuche at German Pavilion @ Epcot a goody. They pack the snacks in easy to travel containers/bags.
     

    TigerlilyAJ

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2011
    So they convert the TS or CS meals into snack credits? With three boys, two of which are teenagers and love to eat, we would not mind bringing home several snacks that we would not otherwise get. We are planning on doing 2 Character meals and also eating at either Rainforest or Dino Cafe in DS.
    OK, yes, you should run some numbers on the restaurants you are most interested in eating at to do some OOP vs. DDP comparisons. BUT when I read "two teen boys," I think of my experience going with mine and feel like you need the DDP. :P My teen meant no meal went unused, because if his youngest siblings split a meal (totally possible), he just ate a second meal. Yes, even with Disney portions. Any character meal or other buffet/AYCE situation is going to be a value for you to fill them up.
    But sure, we did end up with unused snack credits, mostly because I made the mistake of focusing on the over-emphasized idea that "If it costs less than $5, it's not a good use of a snack credit." No. Keeping everyone fed, hydrated, and happy is a good use of a snack credit. We ended up buying candy and cookies to take home with the extra credits.
    When we go this time, I am not going to hoard credits for fear of running out too soon. Kids will get all the sundaes, Mickey bars, crazy overpriced pretzels, and yeah, even Powerades if they want them. We plan to "Snack Around the World" at Epcot, possibly electing to convert QS credits into snacks if we run through our per diem allotment of 12 snack credits for our party of six.
    In the past two years, Disney raised OOP food prices by a lot more than the meal plans, which only got back inflation bumps. People who felt it wasn't a good value in 2017 might find the math works differently in 2019.
    Having said all that, though, I still find myself yelling: Never convert a TS credit for snacks. 😉 That's the important question. If you don't think you'll eat all the TS meals, then the math won't work out at all--but there is the QS plan to consider if you guys don't do a lot of full-service meals.

    Sidenote: The book "Dollars and Sense" covers the ways and reasons paying for an all inclusive feels better and leads to a better experience (meaning, is more fun) than paying a la carte. Which is not to say that the authors recommend it in all situations. But it helped clarify for me some of what I enjoy about the DDP. Paying for anything is literally painful, i.e. lights up the same region of the brain as if I socked you one. Separating paying and consumption reduces the pain of paying and increases the pleasure of consuming, which could be an unintended? bonus effect of having to pay off your vacation package in full a month before your trip. (Again, the authors point out lots of daily financial decisions that you *want* to be painful to help you make better budget decisions. They just also give a big example of how a big, infrequent vacation may not be that type of situation.) Making decisions is in itself taxing to the brain. So a plan that is already paid for and tells you it's fine to let each and every person in your party enjoy two snacks, to let everyone enjoy a specialty drink (my kids are going to have a lot of milkshakes and smoothies this time! DH and I are going to have our first Disney alcoholic drinks!) because it's all included, all taken care of, frees one from math, budgeting, and making some types of decisions as well as letting everyone indulge.
    In short, "Did I save/lose money on the plan?" might not be the only meaningful metric.
     

    Flamingomo

    Jack Sparrow's Wench...and proud of it.
    Joined
    Sep 12, 2007
    OK, yes, you should run some numbers on the restaurants you are most interested in eating at to do some OOP vs. DDP comparisons. BUT when I read "two teen boys," I think of my experience going with mine and feel like you need the DDP. :P My teen meant no meal went unused, because if his youngest siblings split a meal (totally possible), he just ate a second meal. Yes, even with Disney portions. Any character meal or other buffet/AYCE situation is going to be a value for you to fill them up.
    But sure, we did end up with unused snack credits, mostly because I made the mistake of focusing on the over-emphasized idea that "If it costs less than $5, it's not a good use of a snack credit." No. Keeping everyone fed, hydrated, and happy is a good use of a snack credit. We ended up buying candy and cookies to take home with the extra credits.
    When we go this time, I am not going to hoard credits for fear of running out too soon. Kids will get all the sundaes, Mickey bars, crazy overpriced pretzels, and yeah, even Powerades if they want them. We plan to "Snack Around the World" at Epcot, possibly electing to convert QS credits into snacks if we run through our per diem allotment of 12 snack credits for our party of six.
    In the past two years, Disney raised OOP food prices by a lot more than the meal plans, which only got back inflation bumps. People who felt it wasn't a good value in 2017 might find the math works differently in 2019.
    Having said all that, though, I still find myself yelling: Never convert a TS credit for snacks. 😉 That's the important question. If you don't think you'll eat all the TS meals, then the math won't work out at all--but there is the QS plan to consider if you guys don't do a lot of full-service meals.

    Sidenote: The book "Dollars and Sense" covers the ways and reasons paying for an all inclusive feels better and leads to a better experience (meaning, is more fun) than paying a la carte. Which is not to say that the authors recommend it in all situations. But it helped clarify for me some of what I enjoy about the DDP. Paying for anything is literally painful, i.e. lights up the same region of the brain as if I socked you one. Separating paying and consumption reduces the pain of paying and increases the pleasure of consuming, which could be an unintended? bonus effect of having to pay off your vacation package in full a month before your trip. (Again, the authors point out lots of daily financial decisions that you *want* to be painful to help you make better budget decisions. They just also give a big example of how a big, infrequent vacation may not be that type of situation.) Making decisions is in itself taxing to the brain. So a plan that is already paid for and tells you it's fine to let each and every person in your party enjoy two snacks, to let everyone enjoy a specialty drink (my kids are going to have a lot of milkshakes and smoothies this time! DH and I are going to have our first Disney alcoholic drinks!) because it's all included, all taken care of, frees one from math, budgeting, and making some types of decisions as well as letting everyone indulge.
    In short, "Did I save/lose money on the plan?" might not be the only meaningful metric.
    This is amazing!!! Thank you! One of my honest reasons for wanting a dining plan is so my husband doesn't see the $250+ bill we will get from our character meals. We went to Chef Mickey's once when my boys were younger and they barely ate and he freaked out at the bill. This way, he never sees it, and we are good. Haha! I agree, the price of the food is crazy there, though there are a couple of spots that are still relatively normal, but if this saves me any sort of headache, I am happy.
     

    TigerlilyAJ

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2011
    This is amazing!!! Thank you! One of my honest reasons for wanting a dining plan is so my husband doesn't see the $250+ bill we will get from our character meals. We went to Chef Mickey's once when my boys were younger and they barely ate and he freaked out at the bill. This way, he never sees it, and we are good. Haha! I agree, the price of the food is crazy there, though there are a couple of spots that are still relatively normal, but if this saves me any sort of headache, I am happy.
    Yes! I have a couple picky eaters, and definitely had some meals when they were young that would have hurt to pay for there after they ate so little.
    As a family that first visited DLR, where it reasonably easy and quick to leave the park and eat in the "real world," the DDP helped us cope with the logistical need to eat in the WDW parks while getting whiplash from the menu prices. Even the exactly matching menus at Galaxy's Edge have higher prices at WDW.
     

    Markal

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Aug 1, 2013
    We always have snack credits left over, and use those to stock up on treats to bring home. Makes the Disney magic last a little longer. 🙂
     

    DISNEY1975

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 5, 2008
    Or, you can pixie dust someone and pay for their meal.
    Just did this a few week ago. We were on the DxDDP (free dining upgrade so really didnt cost much) and knew we'd have some leftover credits, so "paid" for our tablemates at Beirgarten! They were shocked and happy and I was happy to do it, so it was a win -win! Much better than leaving credits behind...or more rice krispy treats :laughing:
     

    Junior8

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Sep 4, 2019
    Don’t forget that tips aren’t included in the dining plan. I’m thinking about doing the deluxe plan but higher tips might make it totally out of reach. We also like to snack around the world and never have any snack credits (or any other) left over, even without the kids! As the DH, I agree with your “he won’t freak seeing the bill” philosophy, I’m the same way. I may not save money on the DDP, but we get it every time and don’t lose much if anything.
     

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