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To do the Dining Plan or not?- that is the question

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  • To do the Dining Plan or not?- that is the question

    Last night, I was able to make a room reservations for the 3 rooms we need in order to go to Disney next year. However there are 3 reservation numbers. We are staying at the Caribbean Beach- plus I was getting nervous because I know at a certain point, the rooms go fast. I had the Best Disney cast member last night- I even got her extension number too.

    Once all was taken care of the room reservations, she asked me if we were thinking about the Dining Plan. I wasn't really, but I asked her what the prices were for 2020. She told me that the Counter-service one (that includes 2 CS meals, 2 snacks, and one refillable mug) is $54.00 per person for Each night. The other plan with Table- service (that includes 1 TS meal, 1 CS meal, 2 snacks and one refillable mug) is $79.00 per person for Each night. We are staying 8 nights. My ex-husband was there too, and he was said something about the dining plans getting coffee for free. I told him let me do some "crunching numbers" and I would get back to him.

    Of course my brain automatically started to think about it. Last night I was leaning towards the CS meal plan, because then a breakfast & lunch meal would be covered, and we would pay OOP for the dinners. TODAY, I started to really think about it, and now I am leaning towards to TS meal plan. Because as far as planning, California Grill would be the ONLY 2 credit meal we would be doing. And that would leave ONE other meal that we would have to pay OOP. Big deal!

    But I have to understand that we are really paying the Dining up front, but still it seems more reasonable too. But is it?

    Please give me your opinions because I have not been on a Dining Plan since 2012. Tell me what worked for you on your trip. Tell me something that I don't know about the Dining Plan- which one do you think works best for us. We are a party of 5. I plan on scheduling ONE meal, for all 5 of us, but there will be 2 non-park days that I am not going to plan. I want everyone to do their own thing, if they want.

    Thank you for Helping me decide......
    Kate from PA

    1994 Dixie Landings, 1998 ASMu, 2000 ASMo, 2002 CT, 2003 Caribbean Beach, 2004 Outside WDW, 2005 Caribbean Beach, 2006 ASSp, 2007 Coronado Springs, 2008 BC, 2012 WL, 2013 POR, 2014 Caribbean Beach, 2015 BWI, 2015 PC, 2016 Disneyland, 2017 POFQ, 2018 BWI, 2018 ASMu with the Heidke Family! 2019 CS w/ Wanda Anderson.

  • #2
    Well, you know your dining needs and habits better than I do, Kate, but on our recent trip, I thought the regular Disney Dining Plan was too much food for us. In theory, we enjoy trying new restaurants, but practically it just doesn’t work for us to plan that much around food. However, if you know for sure that you are going to eat the TS meals, then I think the DDP is not a bad idea, just for the convenience. I like the pre-payment. Yes, Iknow I can probably (okay definitely) save money paying out of pocket, but I have to shell out the money every time, which I find takes away from my goal of a carefree experience. So, if I knew we would eat TS every day, I might go for the DDP. Remember, as our fellow pixie Dot says, YMMV.
    Susan

    DLR off-site June 1979, WDW offsite March 1985, ASMovies June 2002, ASSports May 2006, ASMusic May/June 2007, ASSports May 2008, Pop Century May/June 2010, Coronado Springs October 2011, ASSports May/June 2012, Pop Century May/June 2013, ASMovies October 2013, DLR off-site June 2014, ASMusic May/June 2015, ASSports May/June 2016, ASMovies October 2016, Pop Century May/June 2017, MNSSHP October 2017, ASSports March 2018

    Comment


    • lovewdw2
      lovewdw2 commented
      Editing a comment
      I am having problems figuring out what YMMV means...lol

    • Pris
      Pris commented
      Editing a comment
      Your milage may vary

  • #3
    By the way, when I read the other day that your ex is going on the trip, I harkened back to our 2015 when Joel’s dad and half-sister went along with us. Our endeavor was largely successful. Best wishes with yours.
    Susan

    DLR off-site June 1979, WDW offsite March 1985, ASMovies June 2002, ASSports May 2006, ASMusic May/June 2007, ASSports May 2008, Pop Century May/June 2010, Coronado Springs October 2011, ASSports May/June 2012, Pop Century May/June 2013, ASMovies October 2013, DLR off-site June 2014, ASMusic May/June 2015, ASSports May/June 2016, ASMovies October 2016, Pop Century May/June 2017, MNSSHP October 2017, ASSports March 2018

    Comment


    • lovewdw2
      lovewdw2 commented
      Editing a comment
      Susan, Thank you! I have already said to my ex, that I will be honest with him if he starts anything that isn't positive. The last trip he went on was in 2012, and I did not speak up. This trip we all are paying for our vacation at Disney- so no one is going to put a damper on this one, including my ex! I have already told him that there may be times, where we will go on our own but if he wants to tag along with me, I said I was okay with that. We shall see- but this is a Celebration for our son, who is graduating college next May 2020! Keep thinking Magical. is what I am doing...lol

  • #4
    I would never pay for a dining plan unless you’re big eaters or plan to go to a lot of character meals/buffets. It’s just way too much food.
    CINDY

    18 Trips to WDW and counting!!😊
    Granddaughters’ 1st trip to WDW-August 30-September 5, 2020!🥳

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    • #5
      We have never done any of the dining plans, so I'm not much help. But I do hope this will be one exceptional and magical trip.
      Cam
      27 Trips to WDW
      2 Trips to DLR
      2 Disney Cruises (Wonder and Magic)
      1 Trip to Aulani/Hawaii

      Comment


      • lovewdw2
        lovewdw2 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you, Cam! I am Hoping for it too, but it has to do with my youngest son- and I will try my hardest to keep it Happy, Fun, and no drama for him!

    • #6
      For us the dining plan is more a fact of convenience than savings. Especially when I took my parents for their 50th Anniversary trip. If I had not done the dining plan, Dad would have insisted on paying for some/all of the meals and the trip was my present to them. So, by having the dining plan I took that fight out of the picture. When I crunched the numbers once we got home, we did wind up saving some money, but not a lot. I think if you really want to know if it will save you money you should put your rough plans into the calculator at distripplanner.com. It hasn't been updated to include the alcohol, but it will still give you an idea of the possible money savings. Like others have said, the dining plan is a lot of food. So, you also need to determine if eating that much is what your family wants to do.
      Ta Ta For Now. Jenn

      WDW 2007 & 2015, Universal FL 2011 & 2015, DLR 2012, DCL (Dream) 2016, (Wonder) 2018

      Comment


      • lovewdw2
        lovewdw2 commented
        Editing a comment
        Thank you for suggesting the website. I did do the calculations, but I am not understanding the red numbers. Can you help me?

      • manticorjenn
        manticorjenn commented
        Editing a comment
        Sorry, I don't remember getting any red numbers on the site. Basically you put in the people in your party, the dates of the trip, whether you would eat appetizers, desserts or get the refillable mug. Then you choose the places you are thinking about eating. Once that is done the website shows the options and whether you would have any leftover dining credits or if you are over credits and what the costs/savings would be.

    • #7
      I think you know your dining habits and know what might work for you in terms of a Disney Dining Plan. We love enjoying signature meals, so for us, for the Deluxe often works, as we have a non-signature meal at lunchtime, then we have a signature meal for dinner. We don't find two table service meals a day too much for us, it's what we usually do when we're away - either a big breakfast, then snack and dinner or snack for breakfast and then lunch and dinner.

      Enjoying some relaxation time on the Transatlantic cruise on the Disney Magic - I'm Cheryl and with my husband Mark, we love visiting Disney and exploring the world...

      Comment


      • #8
        That's the issue I am having- I don't normally eat alot in Disney. Last trip I was not on the dining plan. I had a sit down meal one every day, however I just ordered an entree & a drink (non-alcohol)- definitely no dessert.

        My ex husband eats WAY more than me. My youngest son, Ryan eats like me. I have to find out how my other son eats and his girlfriend too. I think that will determine the way we go. Because I was thinking if we get the Sit-down meal plan, and we use 2 credits for CA Grill- I don't see how that justifies the cost. $50 x 2= $100, I don't see myself eating $100 worth of food at CA Grill. I almost feel like the that plan, I would be wasting money.

        Thank you for all your suggestions..... but if you have any other ideas, please let me know....
        Kate from PA

        1994 Dixie Landings, 1998 ASMu, 2000 ASMo, 2002 CT, 2003 Caribbean Beach, 2004 Outside WDW, 2005 Caribbean Beach, 2006 ASSp, 2007 Coronado Springs, 2008 BC, 2012 WL, 2013 POR, 2014 Caribbean Beach, 2015 BWI, 2015 PC, 2016 Disneyland, 2017 POFQ, 2018 BWI, 2018 ASMu with the Heidke Family! 2019 CS w/ Wanda Anderson.

        Comment


        • #9
          Originally posted by lovewdw2 View Post
          That's the issue I am having- I don't normally eat alot in Disney. Last trip I was not on the dining plan. I had a sit down meal one every day, however I just ordered an entree & a drink (non-alcohol)- definitely no dessert.

          My ex husband eats WAY more than me. My youngest son, Ryan eats like me. I have to find out how my other son eats and his girlfriend too. I think that will determine the way we go. Because I was thinking if we get the Sit-down meal plan, and we use 2 credits for CA Grill- I don't see how that justifies the cost. $50 x 2= $100, I don't see myself eating $100 worth of food at CA Grill. I almost feel like the that plan, I would be wasting money.

          Thank you for all your suggestions..... but if you have any other ideas, please let me know....
          In fairness, it is stupidly easy to eat $100 worth at the California Grill at their prices!

          Enjoying some relaxation time on the Transatlantic cruise on the Disney Magic - I'm Cheryl and with my husband Mark, we love visiting Disney and exploring the world...

          Comment


          • #10
            Those TS credits can REALLY pay for themselves at a place like Cali Grill, I heartily agree with Cheryl. (ETA correction about sushi not being covered) There are a few items you’ll pay something extra for like super-fancy steaks, easily avoided unless something someone wants enough to pay the upcharge.

            The way they might not for you is if you’re thinking the dining plan could stretch to cover more meals by using only one credit per meal.

            I agree you need more info about how your other son and girlfriend plan to eat before deciding if a dining plan will work for all of you.

            Your ex is correct, IMO, that those refillable mugs can be an inexpensive way to load up on coffee, sodas, iced teas, plus adding snack credits to those for a light breakfast or lunch at resort QS.

            Remember that if you’re planning any buffets because you’ve some big or picky eaters, the character meal buffets are only 1 TS cred each. You can easily satisfy a variety of eating styles at a steal with 1 credit when you consider that those buffets can cost $50-$70 per person. It can be pretty easy for a big eater to spend that much or more at TS.

            I know some people think a buffet isn’t a good value unless everyone oinks out. However, I look at it as a great way to feed a variety of eating styles—from oink out to light. But, to me, a credit is well used when I get enough to eat even where that’s been a single Mickey waffle, a few bacon strips and a coffee.

            Generally speaking, the main purposes of the dining plans are ease and convenience. Are those worth more to you than messing with paying when you eat? They sure are for us. (‘We are on vay-cay-SHUN. We do not want hassle. That is why we cannot be without a dining plan.” )

            As ever, YMMV [Your mileage may vary.] Just depends how much you get into that vay-cay-SHUN attitude and don’t want to mess with anything but tossing a tip on the table.
            Last edited by Her Dotness; 08-11-2019, 09:50 AM.
            “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” —Winnie-the-Pooh

            WDW 11/2019-VGF/BRV; WDW 11/2018–VGF; WDW10/2017--VGF; WDW 12/2015--GF; WDW 11/2014--WL; WDW 11/2013--GF; WDW 1/2010--GF; WDW 7/2004--CR Tower /// DH to WDW several times in the 1970's & 1984; Me DL 1969.

            Comment


            • lovewdw2
              lovewdw2 commented
              Editing a comment
              Dot,

              Can you give me the break down of the Dining plan? I looked on the CA Grill menu- and I saw that I would get the filet. The price was $31.00. but I wouldn't get dessert, so how does that save me money since I would need to use 2 credits for dinner? Please help me justify it. Its too bad I can't get an appetizer instead of a dessert. I have all kinds of numbers running through my head....lol

              At this point I am looking at Trail's End & Garden Grill- maybe Boma too- a total of 3 buffets.
              Last trip I was on a solo trip- except my girl friend was with me- but we each paid for own meals. I normally use $60 per day for lunch, dinner, and a snack. (I bring cereal for breakfast). However this last trip I brought $60, but I had $100 in gift cards for snacks. I know that this is not a comparison for next year's trip. Can you break it down the meal plan for you & Drew? So I can wrap my head around these figures!

              Thank you....

            • Her Dotness
              Her Dotness commented
              Editing a comment
              Actually, Kate, I really can’t give you a breakdown that would be very useful for you as we do the DeluxeDDP. Plus, we both can easily down an appetizer, entree and dessert.

              I suspect, as I mentioned earlier, that using only 1 credit per meal rather than doing any Signature would make the Basic plan more usable for your group.

              Of course, you could say that everyone but you and your younger son are on the dining plan if eating at a Sig. You and he could eat as lightly as you wish and pay OOP. Everyone on your room reservation must be on the dining plan. But, you don’t all have to use the credits at any given place if you’d rather not. You’d just say who will be using credits and who are paying, getting separate checks as if dining with friends not on the dining plan.

          • #11
            Originally posted by Her Dotness View Post
            Those TS credits can REALLY pay for themselves at a place like Cali Grill, I heartily agree with Cheryl. Just be aware that the sushi is OOP-only if you’ve sushi fanciers in your group. There are also a few items you’ll pay something extra for like super-fancy steaks.
            Whoa... have they changed that in the last couple of years? It used to be that most of the sushi dishes were included, but not all. If none are now on the Dining Plan, that will be a real shame, as we really enjoy getting an appetiser to share and some sushi to share when we go there.

            Enjoying some relaxation time on the Transatlantic cruise on the Disney Magic - I'm Cheryl and with my husband Mark, we love visiting Disney and exploring the world...

            Comment


            • Her Dotness
              Her Dotness commented
              Editing a comment
              Oops! I may be wrong about the sushi.

              Now that you mention it, I’m probably stuck in years-past mode when most of the sushi wasn’t on the DDP at Cali.

          • #12
            Okay... Can someone explain what is included with the Dining Plan- it would be the one with the sit-down, 2 snacks, a counter service and the refillable mug. With the sit-down is it a entree, a drink, and a dessert? (I wish it was an appetizer instead). California Grill, can you get other items under the dining plan other than just the entree, drink, and dessert? I am confused....

            Jenn- did suggest that I use the website of distripplanning.com and its great- but I am not understanding the numbers in red.

            Also I know it is paying the dining up front, however is it possible that I could save a bit? From my numbers it looks like I could....
            Kate from PA

            1994 Dixie Landings, 1998 ASMu, 2000 ASMo, 2002 CT, 2003 Caribbean Beach, 2004 Outside WDW, 2005 Caribbean Beach, 2006 ASSp, 2007 Coronado Springs, 2008 BC, 2012 WL, 2013 POR, 2014 Caribbean Beach, 2015 BWI, 2015 PC, 2016 Disneyland, 2017 POFQ, 2018 BWI, 2018 ASMu with the Heidke Family! 2019 CS w/ Wanda Anderson.

            Comment


            • #13
              Here’s what you get for those restaurant meals on the regular dining plan, Kate:

              The Table Service meal will include an entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage (or alcoholic beverage, for guests over 21) per guest.

              The Quick Service meal includes the 1 entrée and non-alcoholic beverage (or alcoholic beverage, for guests over 21) per guest.

              Some TS may let you get a salad, soup or fresh fruit instead of dessert. That’s the one you must ask about and might not be allowed to do.

              Sorry, I thought you were asking something more complicated than what you can order for a TS or QS meal.

              So, no, using two credits at Cali Grill if you would eat only an entree and be satisfied is not at all a good value. Especially not if you would do fine with a salad and beverage.

              Each person dining TS on dining plan credits must order an entree, dessert and drink unless the restaurant will let you substitute as mentioned above.

              However, let’s say your ex might order a cheese board, steak and dessert with coffee there. His bill alone could be $90-$100 or more without tax or tip.

              This is why the dining plan is more for convenience than value because he could get two hefty TS meals at places like Mama Melrose or 50s Prime Time for that price range and would use only one credit for each meal.
              Last edited by Her Dotness; 08-11-2019, 12:53 PM.
              “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” —Winnie-the-Pooh

              WDW 11/2019-VGF/BRV; WDW 11/2018–VGF; WDW10/2017--VGF; WDW 12/2015--GF; WDW 11/2014--WL; WDW 11/2013--GF; WDW 1/2010--GF; WDW 7/2004--CR Tower /// DH to WDW several times in the 1970's & 1984; Me DL 1969.

              Comment


              • #14
                I've never done a DP as I know it would not be beneficial for us with our eating patterns. Remember, you can buy a refillable mug without having the DP. Is everyone paying their own way? Since you have 3 different room reservations, you don't all have to have a DP. You could all dine together even if some are on a plan and some are not. You can also consider buying Disney gift cards between now and your trip to cover the dining. Although I don't have a Target red card, I know that you get a 5% discount on the gift cards with one. You also get a discount at places like Sam's and Costco. Years ago, I would figure our expenses per day before the trip and put the cash in an envelope for the day. If we had money left over, which we often did, it could be added to another day or a special purchase, or simply brought home to start the next Disney fund. There are many ways to "prepay" the meals that keep the money in your hands and not Disney's. Also, consider, and I may be wrong about this, that if you add a DP to your reservation, you may not be able to take advantage of future room only discounts that may come out. (Again, I'm not sure about that!) Good luck with your decision. Take your time and weigh all the options before taking the plunge.
                11/19-POFQ~5/19-POFQ~12/18-POFQ~4/18-Won. thru PC~10/16-POFQ~6/16-Won. to Alaska~4/16-POFQ~2/16-POR/Mag/POFQ~11/15-POFQ~6/15-Mag to Norway~5/15-POFQ~3/15-POFQ~12/2014-POR~9/14-CSR~3/14-POR~3/13-POR~ 6/11-Won. to Alaska~3/11-POR~6/10-GF/Poly~6/09-Mag~ 3/08-Pop/Won/POFQ~10/07-Pop~ 6/07-CBR~3/07-Pop/POFQ~6/06-Pop~12/05-POFQ~7/05-POR~1/05-Pop~7/04-POR~1/04-CBR~6/03-POFQ~3/03-POFQ~3/02-off site~12/01-WL~7/01-ASMU~3/01-POR~7/00-Swan~7/98-DxL~7/92-DxL~5/89-Off site~12/76-Honeymoon off-site

                Comment


                • lovewdw2
                  lovewdw2 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Thank you Pris- I plan on doing more research and not making any decisions until probably until next year....

              • #15
                You can sometimes apply a room-only discount to an existing reservation. We’ve done that in the past when we had free dining with a package stay.

                The CM calculated for us whether applying the discount would save us any. She explained we would have to break up our package, applying the discount, and then adding back the dining plan, tickets, etc. as long as we wanted to keep everything we’d had in the package.

                However, we wanted to do that on a special room type not in great demand which made it simple. Little worry that what we wanted in a room might not be available.

                That can be the catch: You want/need a particular room type and can’t convert your room ressie or would have to switch to a resort you don’t want.
                “People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” —Winnie-the-Pooh

                WDW 11/2019-VGF/BRV; WDW 11/2018–VGF; WDW10/2017--VGF; WDW 12/2015--GF; WDW 11/2014--WL; WDW 11/2013--GF; WDW 1/2010--GF; WDW 7/2004--CR Tower /// DH to WDW several times in the 1970's & 1984; Me DL 1969.

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