Dining Plan Convenience???? Where's the Convenience?

DuskKodesh

Marvel Hero in Training
Joined
Aug 11, 2019
I'm doing the DDP for the first time ever this year and while the financial value is probably iffy, the emotional value for me has already paid for itself.

I went once when I was smol and had a hundred dollar food budget. I lived on soft pretzels and soft frozen lemonades.... I was thirteen I think. a hundred for food meant more souvenir money.

Went in 2018 with the hubs. We'd scheduled BOG, LTT, The plaza restaurant, Tusker house, Via Napoli, and Hoop de doo. I second guessed myself, canceled the pricier of those (LTT, HDD, And TH) and ended up starving when we left the parks at night. I just couldn't look at the bill. I grew up POOR. Really poor. I stared at the 170$ on my credit card for HDD and just panicked. We had to eat Arby's or McD's a few nights. Not a stress free vacay.

This trip I'm planning we're staying onsite and doing the DDP. I booked all the expensive stuff I always wanted to do. I'm gonna carry cash for tips and hubs handles getting the receipts. Teamwork. Yes I know we're still paying it but it's not itemized, it's just a big chonk of the 'package' cost that I pay down. The result? I may actually eat when I'm hungry instead of starving myself because I can't logic out 19$ for a burger. Will I end up eating the priciest thing I can? Yep. But I'm a steak person anyways so this way I can do it and not feel bad :D

Everyone has their own preference though. Different strokes for different folks <3
 

OThopeful35

Nurse by night, Princess by day
Joined
Jul 20, 2010
We just returned from a wonderful Disneyworld trip. We had the DDP with our package for the first 10 nights. It was just DS and I. After 6 days it became a chore. Some of those days we just wanted to grab QS, or order just appetizers and be done with it. I did like that you can order alcoholic beverages.

The hardest was trying to get rid of 40 snack credits. I used the last 3 to pay for someones else's snacks. We just do not eat the way the plan dictates. My poor DS he was over it as well and asked me to never get it again. For us, it wasn't convenient at all but more of, "we gotta use these credits up." It just confirmed that the dining plan is not for us but I can see why some love it. OOP is best for our family. We did have it once before in 2011 when I was a struggling student.
 

BSBNess

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
For me it doesn't have me worry about the exchange rate that day. Or counting how much cash I have left and if I have to withdraw more how much I am going to be charge with exchange rate and bank fees. I did that last trip and I felt like I could not relax because a $50 meal turned into $75. Now I feel like I can just have peace if mind since it is paid for already.
 
  • PollyannaMom

    I was a click-clack champ!!
    Joined
    May 16, 2006
    I agree, but I don't understand what this has to do with the question asked. When people say that they like the Dining Plan for the convenience, what convenience are they talking about? Reserving restaurants is not a function of the dining plan.

    I get that if the math works out where the dining plan is cheaper than paying out of pocket, it makes sense. I just don't understand why people say "I don't mind if it costs more. I'm willing to pay for the convenience of it."
    I've only read the first page and this one (got to get off the DIS and make dinner - no DDP here! :rotfl:) so forgive me if someone else has already said the same thing, but it was never a factor of "convenience" for me, but more "piece of mind". My family was just way more likely to stress over the right side of your chart than the left:

    Worry about not getting your money's worth all vacation, so force yourself to eat the most expensive meal, and eat even if not necessarily hungry.Worry about paying too much out of pocket so try to eat cheaper items on menu & only eat when hungry.

    So we did the DDP when we were on a tighter budget. The first time was back when it was quite new and everything was included, and it did save us some money. The last time we got it, we pretty much broke even (maybe even overspent on "take home snacks") but we ordered what we wanted - no sticker shock ruining our good time, because it was all lumped in to the big number we had saved up and decided to be OK with when we booked the vacation.

    On our most recent trip, we didn't book DDP, and we actually spent less (while still eating what we wanted, because the budget wasn't so tight any more, and we didn't stress like we would have before). But I might still advise it for someone taking little kids and doing a ton of character meals/buffets/shows.
     

    Summer2018

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2017
    I just found eating in Disneyland so stressful. They don’t offer a dining plan, and it definitely changed the way we ate. Steakhouse 55 was the only upscale restaurant that we dined at. We also had reservations for Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast and dinner, but we hesitated making reservations for Napa Rose because we were concerned about paying OOP. We normally eat at multiple signature and character meals without a thought, but without the dining plan, we had to be careful. As it was, money got tight by the end of our trip. That doesn’t happen to us with the dining plan in WDW.

    We actually are considering the deluxe dining plan for next summer because we will be eating at even more signature restaurants than ever before.
     
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2015
    I just found eating in Disneyland so stressful. They don’t offer a dining plan, and it definitely changed the way we ate. Steakhouse 55 was the only upscale restaurant that we dined at. We also had reservations for Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast and dinner, but we hesitated making reservations for Napa Rose because we were concerned about paying OOP. We normally eat at multiple signature and character meals without a thought, but without the dining plan, we had to be careful. As it was, money got tight by the end of our trip. That doesn’t happen to us with the dining plan in WDW.

    We actually are considering the deluxe dining plan for next summer because we will be eating at even more signature restaurants than ever before.
    At DLR though they have less options available than WDW. Makes sense of course given it's 2 parks vs 4 parks+water parks and what like 3 hotels versus I don't even know how many at WDW lol.

    According to each website using no filters and only using what Disney categorizes as "Dining" DLR has 123 places vs 442 with WDW.

    I feel like we had more issues at DLR because we're more QS people and the weather was rainy and cool and sitting outside, which is a good portion of what DLR has, was not very appealing. One of our meals we actually went into Hearthstone Lounge in GCH to warm up and had a pizza and coffee lol and we didn't need an ADR for that just subject to tables available. We went during DCA Food&Wine so we ate from that and it helped a bit and while it was nice enough it sure wasn't Epcot's Food&Wine.

    If I am able to make next month work to go out to CA the weather should be better and I suspect we'll have an easier time with food.
     

    tguz

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 6, 2018
    We just got back from WDW two weeks ago and had free dining but I went back and checked menu prices for what we ate and used a generic $6.50 per snack (cause there was no way to remember all of our snacks) and we would have came out about $50 ahead versus paying oop. Plus it’s very convenient not to have to keep track during the trip of how much we have spent on food.
     
  • Christine

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 1999
    We just got back from WDW two weeks ago and had free dining but I went back and checked menu prices for what we ate and used a generic $6.50 per snack (cause there was no way to remember all of our snacks) and we would have came out about $50 ahead versus paying oop. Plus it’s very convenient not to have to keep track during the trip of how much we have spent on food.
    I think the snacks are often what can do people in, financially. To help break even or get ahead, you *should* be trying to spend $6.50 on a snack. But, realistically, people are getting ice cream bars, drinks, cookies, cupcakes, a Dole Whip, etc, all ranging in the $4-$5 range. That was the other thing, I tried to do was to ensure all my snacks cost over $6, otherwise if I didn't blow it out at dinner, I was leaving money on the table.
     

    igrsod

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 11, 2010
    I think the snacks are often what can do people in, financially. To help break even or get ahead, you *should* be trying to spend $6.50 on a snack. But, realistically, people are getting ice cream bars, drinks, cookies, cupcakes, a Dole Whip, etc, all ranging in the $4-$5 range. That was the other thing, I tried to do was to ensure all my snacks cost over $6, otherwise if I didn't blow it out at dinner, I was leaving money on the table.
    When there is a festival on at Epcot, we tend to use most of our snack credits to eat at the booths. Very good snack value there.
     

    Christine

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 1999
    When there is a festival on at Epcot, we tend to use most of our snack credits to eat at the booths. Very good snack value there.
    I agree. I got the dining plan last year and had trouble getting snacks that, IMO, created value on the plan. We are going to Disney in November and F&W will be going on so I am considering getting the DxDP between two rooms mainly for the snack credits. I'm feeling like the value of them is about $6-$8 per snack (if not more). If I can make up some of the cost there, I can relax a bit on the table service menus.

    If you've read my previous posts, I too am "budget conscious" but not if it means "the house wins" and Disney makes food money off my purchase of the plan. To me, if I allow that to happen then how can I care about my finances? I don't have a psychological issue using my own money and ordering a $72 rib eye steak! So, for me it comes down to winning on the plan, because if I don't win, I've wasted my money. But that's a different discussion versus the subject of this thread...convenience. So I digress!
     
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    igrsod

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 11, 2010
    I agree. I got the dining plan last year and had trouble getting snacks that, IMO, created value on the plan. We are going to Disney in November and F&W will be going on so I am considering getting the DxDP between two rooms mainly for the snack credits. I'm feeling like the value of them is about $6-$8 per snack (if not more). If I can make up some of the cost there, I can relax a bit on the table service menus.

    If you've read my previous posts, I too am "budget conscious" but not if it means "the house wins" and Disney makes food money off my purchase of the plan. To me, if I allow that to happen then how can I care about my finances? I don't have a psychological issue using my own money and ordering a $72 rib eye steak! So, for me it comes down to winning on the plan, because if I don't win, I've wasted my money. But that's a difference discussion versus the subject of this thread...convenience. So I digress!
    We are doing the DxDP to share between two rooms on our next vacation. I have done the math, every way possible, knowing what we typically would order at each meal. DxDP shared ends up BY FAR as the most economical. Now if we had to purchase the plan for everyone, no dining plan would save us money.
     
  • ofcabbagesandkings

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 16, 2014
    Depends on the ages of your kids/whether character meals are a thing for your family. We’ve had FD once, paid OOP once, and paid for the DP once. When doing 3 or more character meals or buffets a trip, the DP does quickly become a good value, if you would have paid OOP for those meals. We generally do at least one Mickey and friends buffet, one other character meal, and one buffet/all you can eat like Boma or O’hana. We come out way ahead on the DDP as a result.
     

    ofcabbagesandkings

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 16, 2014
    We love the DDP and purchase it every time we go. For us, we are a large party with many families (my grown kids that have families of their own) and its my wife and my gift to the whole family when we go (we pay for it). I dont want anyone in our large party to worry about ordering that "steak" because its expensive and someone else is flipping the bill, so it forces them to pick something less expensive out of kindness. We want the family to pick what they want and enjoy and not feel pressured to pick something else on the menu becuase a certain food item they like is wildly expensive and feel greedy, or not worth it "cash wise".
    Absolutely, if we ever did a multi-family/multi generational trip we would get the plan without question. Or eat meals separately, lol.
    That is a very real feeling. My kids like when we get the dining plan for this reason. When my son was little... he was always so excited he could order steak at every sit down meal if he wanted. It gave him such joy... that's what disney memories are made of. We now laugh about it because as a young adult, that son is now vegan... lol. Maybe he overloaded on steak.
    Mine is little but he’s vegetarian too now. No O’hana for us this trip.
     

    giovanni2231

    Earning My Ears
    DVC Gold
    Joined
    Mar 26, 2017
    Forget convenience. Look at it from a $$$ standpoint. If you buy the deluxe dining plan and for example want to eat at Crystal Palace for Breakfast or Lunch and then a signature restaurant like Narcoossee's for dinner.... you will pay more out of pocket then on the dining plan.

    Lunch is about $50 - $60 per person at Crystal palace.

    Dinner at Narcoossee's for a Glass of Wine, Appetizer, Entree and Dessert (all what you get on the DDP) is about $75 per person, maybe more considering they have a few entrees that are $50 to $60 alone that you can get on the DDP.

    Then throw in your 2 snacks...about a $10 to $15 value. Which if paying cash for these, you are more likely to tell your kids no. :) When you have already paid for them, you will make sure to use your snacks. Everyone always likes a Dole Whip. :)

    Add it up. The DDP is cheaper than paying cash at these places. 2019 DDP price is $116.26 per adult and $40.01 per kid under 10 per night. My motto and what I tell people, if you want to eat in Disney's Signature restaurants, DDP is the way to go. Prices are inflated there and to pay cash is crazy. Just another Example: if you go to the Yachtsman Steakhouse and want to order the Dry Age Porterhouse for 2 people, its $120 alone. That is $60 entree per person, not including App, Drink, Dessert.

    Same thing if you plan to eat at any of their character breakfasts or lunches. They all run around $50 per person. that's almost half of what they DDP planning costs. And if you plan to do sit down lunches at places like Liberty Tree, San Angel Inn, 50's Prime Time etc.. to pay cash, these lunches would cost you about $50 per person. So, unless your plan is to eat quick service meals, i don't see how the DDP isn't the way to go. We have been doing the DDP for years and to us, it always seems to work out better. I think a lot of Disney signature restaurants are upping their games in the kitchen and really putting out some nice dishes, pricing though like everything else at Disney seems to be a little inflated. The DDP plan seems to help a bit.
     

    igrsod

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 11, 2010
    Absolutely, if we ever did a multi-family/multi generational trip we would get the plan without question. Or eat meals separately, lol.


    Mine is little but he’s vegetarian too now. No O’hana for us this trip.
    I have never done O'hana... mainly because we can never snag a reservation and I'm not motivated to fight for it... lol. BUT, I have heard that they do a good vegetarian option.
     

    MakiraMarlena

    It's a big black fish to you
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2005
    to many visitors, it IS convenient to have your reservations and to be able to tell a varied family group "just order whatever you want."

    For me, the dining plan is the opposite of convenient, and it is more than likely that I won't save any money by using one, but it's not that way for everyone. The poster above says DDP is cheaper when used at signature restaurants. That may be true, if you are ordering everything you are entitled to at the signature. If you just want a couple appetizers instead of an entree, or you want to skip dessert, maybe it isn't such a savings.

    A lot of the appeal of the dining plan is purely psychological, and often doesn't have anything to do with how many steps need to be taken to pay for meals, or whether money is being saved.
     
    Last edited:
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2015
    And if you plan to do sit down lunches at places like Liberty Tree, San Angel Inn, 50's Prime Time etc.. to pay cash, these lunches would cost you about $50 per person.
    When you say this are you meaning ordering all of what you are allowed with the Dining Plan per meal being the cash equivalent to $50 per person? Or something else?
     

    Christine

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 31, 1999
    When you say this are you meaning ordering all of what you are allowed with the Dining Plan per meal being the cash equivalent to $50 per person? Or something else?
    No, I took it that they were saying if you went to those places, a sitdown lunch is generally going to run you $50 per person. I haven't eaten at any of these places in quite some time, so not sure if that's true. Just looking at the menu at 50s:

    Fried Chicken - $24.00
    PB Cake - $9.00
    Beer - $8.00

    $41.00, so close to $50 I guess. Personally, I'd have water but most people probably wouldn't.
     
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2015
    No, I took it that they were saying if you went to those places, a sitdown lunch is generally going to run you $50 per person. I haven't eaten at any of these places in quite some time, so not sure if that's true. Just looking at the menu at 50s:

    Fried Chicken - $24.00
    PB Cake - $9.00
    Beer - $8.00

    $41.00, so close to $50 I guess. Personally, I'd have water but most people probably wouldn't.
    Ah yeah that's def. where experiences will vary. Holy cow I could just not imagine spending $50 PP like that;certaintly not meal after meal after meal!

    I would kinda think a $9.00 difference isn't quite close to $50 personal opinion I guess. That if you times that by two people would be $18 which could almost be another person's entree. I know you were just guestimating though just using your numbers. And of course pesky tax adds up in there.

    We were roughly that for TWO people excluding tip :)

    50s Prime Time: $49.00 add in tax $52.19; tip excluded
    1 person-$3.50 drink, $21.00 entree
    1 person-$3.50 drink, $21.00 entree

    Mama Melrose: $53.00 add in tax $56.45; tip excluded
    1 person-$8.00 beer, $15.00 entree
    1 person-$8.00 beer, $22.00 entree

    Skipper Canteen: $52.00 add in tax $55.38; tip excluded
    1 person-water, $23.00 entree
    1 person-water, $21.00 entree
    Dessert shared-$8.00

    Now these were 2017 prices but the increase in menu prices it would still take a lot to get that number up there to get to $100 for 2 people (excluding tax).

    The items you are quoting that was my question--this assume you are ordering dessert and alcohol at the meal--both of which you are entitled to with the Dining Plan so then are we back to question is the spending $50 PP when you are considering more of what the Dining Plan entitles you? And of course I'm not saying you can't get to that amount simply by ordering 1 entree and a drink (be it alcohol or pop)--that just different than saying "it would cost you this" as a matter of fact if you paid OOP. It can but it isn't a certainty--you would be more likely for sure if you were ordering just like the Dining Plan allowed for which brings back to the question I had.
     

    toocherie

    <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/images
    DIS Lifetime Sponsor
    Joined
    Jan 7, 2008
    The dining plan has more benefit now that you get some booze with both lunch and dinner. :) And snacks always work out exceptionally well when you go during a festival. We will go during Flower/Garden and I don't foresee having any snack credits left.
    Ditto--I will be there during Food and Wine and anticipate using most snack credits at the booths. And I like an alcoholic beverage on vacation as well.
     

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