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11 Reasons I “Hate” the Disney Dining Plan

by Dad
(The Office)

 33.2K  85  174  33.5K  15


Can we talk? I’m not a fan of the Disney Dining Plan. I’ve said that a few times. So today I want to talk about the .

Dad’s Disney Dining Plan page

OK, maybe hate is a bad word, but I do think the Disney Dining Plan has been bad for Dining at Walt Disney World. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

The new breakfast at the Magic Kingdom – Photo by Cliff Wang

Reason #11 – Refillable Mugs

Now before you go all crazy and says Dad hates the refillable mugs, let me explain. I love the refillable mugs. We get them all the time. I just don’t like them in conjunction with the Disney Dining Plan. Here’s why. Lets say you decide to eat a quick service breakfast at your resort (or any other meal for that matter). You want to pay using the Dining Plan. Fine. Guess what. If you use your refillable mug, instead of the included drink, you just lost money.

That’s $3.50 or more that Disney just pocketed. If you use your mug you just threw that money away.

Reason #10 – Inconsistent application of the plan

When we took the grown kids a couple of years ago we had FREE Dining so we scheduled some meals that took 2 credits. One was Cinderella’s Royal Table and one was Le Cellier. We went to Cindy’s first. Great meal. Appetizer, entree, dessert and a drink just like advertised. No problem.

A couple of days later we went to Le Cellier. We told the waitress we were on the Dining Plan. Great what do you want for an entree? What about the appetizer. No, at Le Cellier, you don’t get the appetizer. But, I said, the DDP says appetizer, entree, desert and drink. Nope, she said, not at Le Cellier. We are special.

We were so looking forward to the Cheddar Cheese Soup. We didn’t get it. That was just the first of many problems with that meal. Just saying.

Dad’s Le Cellier experience.

Reason #9 – Leftover Snacks

I was at the Pop Century in December paying for my breakfast (with cash, yes, Disney takes cash) when a family at the next register started making a big fuss. It was their last morning and they had 2 quick service credits left they hadn’t planned on.

They started scrambling around grabbing candy and all kinds of junk. This is while people are waiting behind them to check out. The cashier started counting “snacks” and said they needed 2 more. Dad sent the kids to grab more junk.

Great use of the dining plan there. Disney loves people like you. You take a credit worth around $18 and turn it into $12 worth of junk food. Good job.

Reason #8 – Everyone says it’s more convenient

Nope. Not at all. When you use the DDP, you end up paying with your MagicBand, right? When you don’t use the DDP you pay with… wait for it… your credit card, cash or your MagicBand. It’s still the same process unless you use cash which is easier and faster.

Oh, and that assumes that the computers are working at Disney. There have been a lot of breakdowns lately. Cash always works. Drop the cash and leave. No worrying about how may credits left. Did I “spend” my credits wisely, etc.

Reason #7 – The Deluxe Dining Plan

The Deluxe Dining Plan is crazy. No one can eat that much food, and if they can, they don’t need to. I’m serious.

Pretty much all of my adult life I’ve been Pooh sized. I can eat a lot of food, but eating 3 table service meals per day is crazy. I made the mistake of scheduling Whispering Canyon Cafe for breakfast after ‘Ohana for dinner. Way, way too much food. No one wanted breakfast (except the 15 year old Man-Child who could eat a horse at that age) and we all are big eaters.

Yes, you can use your credit at either Table or Quick Service Meals. Disney thanks you for using those credits for Quick Service meals. Trust me.

Reason #6 – I’d never eat at (insert expensive restaurant here) without the Dining Plan

The same day, the same time I was in line at Everything Pop with the family scrambling for snacks, a couple of guys were in front of me talking about eating at The Boathouse. One of them said to the other “I would never eat there if it wasn’t on the Dining Plan.”

Huh? I’ve heard that about several of the more expensive (2 Table Service Credits) restaurants.

Let’s take a look at reality. At dinner at the Boathouse you can order a sandwich for $18. Even a Lobster Roll is just $29. Shoot, you can get an 8 oz. NY Steak and fries for $29.50 and Lobster for 2 for $60. And for that you “spend” 2 Table Service credits.

Compare that to dinner at Be Our Guest which is just 1 Table Service Credit. The Grilled Strip Steak is $35 and the cheapest entree is $21. Most of them are $28 or more and you can get that AMAZING French Onion Soup!

Yep, Disney loves it when you spend 2 Table Service credits at The Boathouse and, by the way, most of the other Signature Dining and 2 credit Table Service restaurants.

Reason #5 – Only way to do Character Dining

This is very much a corollary to Reason #6. Lots of people think they save money on Character Dining by using the Disney Dining Plan.

Maybe not.

Look at the Princess Storybook Dinner at Akershus. It’s one of the favorite character meals at Walt Disney World. The price for dinner is around $50. (It varies during the holidays.)

Let’s compare that Strip Steak at Be Our Guest at $35, $5 for the cupcake and $3.50 for the drink. That’s (if my math is correct, and it usually is) $43.50.

But if you try Akershus at breakfast… You’re talking around $35 per adult. For the same “credit” that is worth $43.50 at Be Our Guest (and no, that’s not the most expensive restaurant I could have chosen.)

So, Character Dining is not automatically a better use of Dining Plan credits.

Reason #4 – The Dining Plan allows me to try new things

This one makes me laugh.

So you are going to try new restaurants or new foods just because you are on the Disney Dining Plan? OK.

Let’s say you want to try the “exotic” menu at Skipper Canteen. It’s kind of different. Really different.

You go to Skipper Canteen and find out you don’t like it. In fact, you just can’t eat it. (It’s happened.) Now you have to go somewhere else and get food. (Casey’s Corner is pretty cheap.) You’ve not only used your credit, you’ve had to pay for another meal.

Disney loves that.

Reason #3 – It’s very wasteful

The Disney Dining Plan wastes food. Lots of it.

Mrs. Mom and I have done the Disney Dining Plan twice. Both times we had the same feeling. The DDP is too much food. We threw away a bunch.

The portions at most Disney World restaurants are big. In fact they are big enough for most adults to share. For example, Pizzafari. One “meal” is a pizza, a salad and a dessert. The pizza is big enough to share and with salad and dessert more than enough for two people.

The last time we ate at Pizzafari, we threw away half a pizza, a full salad and more than half of 2 desserts. We didn’t need that much food but because we were on the DDP we had to use the credits.

If we were paying actual money we would have ordered less and wasted a lot less.

Reason #2 – The food quality at WDW has suffered

This is why I “hate” the Disney Dining Plan. Since the DDP started, the food quality at WDW has gone down hill. In some cases way down hill.

At almost every restaurant, food quality has suffered. Extras have gone away. Being able to order a la carte items has gone bye bye. All because all meals now have to fit in the DDP and restaurants don’t get as much money per customer as they used too.

So they’ve had to economize, change menus, lower food costs, add really bad desserts, all because of the DDP. It’s really, really sad.

Reason #1 – Most people don’t save money

Yes, I know, a bunch of you are howling at me right now, but I firmly believe that most people who buy the Disney Dining Plan don’t save money. They don’t.

In fact, it’s really hard to save money using the Disney Dining Plan. I know. I’ve tried. Back when Dad went on his big Palooza we actually paid for the Disney Dining Plan. We kept close track of the numbers and we “saved” a whopping $13.68.

BUT, we ended up with things we would have never ordered and really didn’t want or eat (see the Pizzafari story above). And we had more Table Service meals than we normally would have. We “saved” $13.98 on paper, but we probably spent over $100 that we wouldn’t have normally.

Over in this months’ WDW Magazine there is an article about using the Disney Dining Plan. In it, the writer does a comparison of what she actually spent for food versus what she would have spent using the DDP. She saved $390.43 by NOT getting the DDP.

That’s right for her family she saved almost $400. FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS!!!

(Check it out at WDW Magazine it’s the Dining at WDW issue.)

PS. Dad can help you figure out if you’ll save money using the DDP. I’ve created a little calculator where you can figure what you would spend versus what it would cost.

Dad’s DDP Calculator page

Destinations to Travel

Dad’s Bottom Line

For years, I’ve said I’m not a fan of the Disney Dining Plan. Now you know why. What do you think about the DDP? Like it? Hate it? Love it? Add a comment below and let us know.


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Comments for

Aug 18, 2019 Why I love the Disney Dining Plan- a different perspective
by: Suzie

Mugs- First they make it possible to fill in the meals you don’t have enough credits for in the least expensive way. Unless you want a drink that does not work in the mug all you have to get is the food. Plus the fact that you get them on the plan means that the plan saves you money with them. If you use a credit to pay for a whole meal when all you need is a food item, that is not the fault of the plan.

Snacks- pretzels and cheese, funnel cakes, Dole whip float, ice cream sundaes, plus fest stall food. So many things to snack on, so few credits. The failure to use them is also not a problem of the plan. There are so many ways to use them, and if people do not do it well, not a problem of the plan.

I can not address inconsistencies, because we have not had a problem, and I have seen many people who say they were able to get that soup when they ate there. So, you had a problem others did not.

You do not hate it because some people think it is convenient. It is no more or less convenient than paying with your magic band not on the plan. The computers can be glitchy either way. One thing I know is I won’t be carrying that much cash around.

Too much food is a bad reason to hate it. Most sit down restaurants give too much food. If I am and home and I have things leftovers, I do take them if it was good, and will get home without sitting too long, and will rewarm well. However, even if it won’t, I still order the food I want to eat. And I only eat what I want of it. This happens no matter how you pay. If you go into Le Cellier as a family paying out of pocket, do you order meals to share? It is the same amount of food on the plan as it is off the plan.

I realize there is another part of that. The idea that you have to have 3 TS meals a day for it to be worth it is wrong. I have not even gone yet, and I already know this is not true. Because reservations are made, 2 a day for most days. 4 buffets where you can eat just as much as you want. 4 signature meals. That is 12 of my credits used, and the remaining balance to break even after my snacks and mug are removed from the total, is $100. A couple more sit down meals had to be added, and that is all, with 4 credits left each they are all free. If I lived closer I would bring home a lot of leftovers. It would be great. Sad, yes, but that is not going to keep me from enjoying what I want.

The new things argument- nope. Not a problem with the plan. That can happen when paying out of pocket too. And anyone who goes in some place and orders a whole meal of odd things that they have never had before and leaves hungry has themselves to blame. It is not the fault of the plan. However a bonus of the plan is that I now know that there is way more available than I had any idea about.

Okay, it is amazing that you can actually put #2 and #1 right there together and not see that they can’t both be true. Either the plan causes such good discounts that the value of the food is dropping, or it is not really saving most people money. In most places I will be saving less than someone who uses a Tables in Wonderland card, and less that any annual pass holder can save. Why are the 20% and the 10% discount they get Not responsible for food quality going down? It is all the dining plan that can’t really save you that much money. It feels like the guys who griped so loud about early morning magic and late nights, because it takes opportunities from the little guy, just wants to use any reason to try to push those who will never be eligible for other discounts away from the one that can help a little. I am saving about 15% on this trip. A different trip it might be less, or maybe the plan won’t be a good idea at all.

I am not, and will not ever say everyone should have to get it. I have read just as many stories about people having groceries sent to their room, and having their own breakfast and taking lunch, snacks and drinks in with them, and only eating one quick meal in the park, and having a great time doing it. Isn’t that cool? Everyone can do Disney the way they want to, and Disney is fine with that, you can buy tickets from some discount broker, and come have a great time at Disney, and not spend any money in the park, and that is not a problem.

One last thought- since those with the plan can buy meals for those not on the plan there is an infinite number of ways to use credits. Instead of hating it you could be helping people use it well. Or realize that it is not for them in their situation. The calculator is good, but you need to update your example with the current prices. Sometimes, to the little guy, $20 bucks can make a huge difference. The truth is that on my upcoming trip the dining plan is playing a part in making my dreams come true, and isn’t that what Disney is supposed to be about?

Jan 26, 2019 You didn’t mention
by: Brad

My hate for this plan is the negativity around using it. Our last visit we were in a restaurant (sorry can’t remember which one) and the waiter asked if we were going to be using the dining plan. When we said no she said “oh good” and the visible delight on her face that we didn’t have it was like a billboard. The one time we did have it was during a promo that gave us the sit down, counter, and snack. Every sit down and counter we had too much. It was at a time when EVERYONE got an appetizer and also a dessert. Even the counter service included a dessert. We felt like we way over ate the entire trip.

ALSO, they are pretty strict on sit downs and having a reservation. We have gone to restaurants without the plan with no reservations and they get us in.

Nov 12, 2018 Dining plan NEVER worth it!!!!! Thank you DAD!!!
by: Anonymous

Yes finally someone tells the truth!
People are crazy!!!!
If you actually sit down and do the math of what you would of payed out of pocket INCLUDING the tip, it is true, Disney makes you OVERPAY for the dining plan!!!! There is no convenience about the dining plan except that you pay for it ahead of time. And yet , you can take a credit card with a 0 balance and pay $2000 and make it a negative -$-2000 balance and pay ahead for your meals.

It’s common sense people. You are never ever saving money using the dining plan ever no matter how you use it, Disney is overcharging you for the plan on all tiers. I can’t believe people are actually defending the dining plan, probably because they’re embarrassed that they bought it and didn’t save money and now feel the need to defend their poor and stupid decision.

Honestly this man has a point in everything that he says in this article. Wake up and smell the coffee! Disney overcharges for everything even a bottle of water. What makes you think that they aren’t going to overcharge you for pre purchasing your dining in advance?? There are no such thing as free dining in Disney! Nothing is ever free in Disney. Period.

I love Disney world and go every year with my children and sometimes without and I never ever use the dining plan and it feels so liberating knowing that you can order whatever you want without the pressure of having to use all your snack credits or over using a dining credit! Maybe you dining plan fanatics should not try it for a change and experience the true feeling of peace of mind not being chained to a rigid dining plan!!!

Jun 06, 2018 Fatty
by: Anonymous

Wow I feel like we must be quite the fatties after reading this. We like steak and seafood and easily spent $250 per nice dinner before the disney dinning plan. We also usually have 2 coffees a day, 2-4 alcoholic beverages, snacks and a light lunch every day. Staying seven days at Disney our meal plan cost us $179 / day for all three people That’s not even the cost of one dinner with alcohol

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is a good example. It cost 1 credit and would typically cost $178.00 by itself making the dinning plan pay for itself just on dinner.On that day we got our 3 iced coffees (one snack credit)
3 snacks (second snack credit)
3 quick service meal with two beers (for the 2 adults) essentially for free. Almost $80 in savings

We dont really eat carbs / wheat / bread (the cheap stuff) and eat lots of steak seafood and alcohol so thats probably a big factor. Its also great for kids for $30 a day I can let her order whatever she likes and also get drinks and ice cream at the end of the night

May 27, 2018 Dinning plan works for us
by: Simon family of 4

You have to use it correctly. If using the refillable mug, you can substitute rhe drink for any side that is a snack credit. You can also share to save credits. So in the pizza situation you cited, you could have shared on meal and used a snack credit for a drink. Then you would have an extra credit for another meal. By sharing strategically you can stretch 1 CS and 1 TS per person for 3 meals a day.

You have to determine what you plan to eat. Then choose the dining plan if the numbers work for you.

Apr 24, 2018 Amen
by: Anonymous

You made excellent points. I agree with every one of them. My personal experience with the DDP is that it’s a waste of food, waste of time, and especially a waste of money. If you take the room only discount instead, buy tickets from an authorized ticket broker instead of from Disney, and pay for your food as you go, there are huge savings.

Feb 02, 2018 Too many sit-down meals takes too much time
by: Sherrie

We have had the regular dining plan twice during free dining. In order to get our moneys worth, we scheduled one sit-down meal per day. It felt like we were missing out on park time, as it took about 1 1/2 hours or more each time.
Now, we pick a few restaurants we want to try each trip, and eat at counter service the rest of the time. Many counter service places have excellent food ( Flame Tree Barbecue, Friars Nook, etc.) So much faster!

Jul 24, 2017 When you are bring friends its great
by: Anonymous

We have an only child and when we can, we like to bring a friend or two along. Having the dining plan makes paying for meals much easier and we can give the parents a set amount to pay and then don;t have to worry for the trip, Makes life easier.

Jul 10, 2017 My family values the dining plan
by: Anonymous

My husband and I saved almost $400 two months ago with Deluxe Dining Plan. We don’t always purchase the deluxe dining plan, but we had a lot of signature and character meals scheduled. We know what places aren’t worth two credits (Boathouse). If you’re smart enough to use the dining plan correctly, it will almost always save you money and give the peace of mind that it is paid upfront. Also, the standard dining plan doesn’t include appetizers. So unless you upgraded to deluxe dining the time you had free dining, appetizers aren’t included. Cinderella’s Royal Table is an exception because it’s part of the high fixed price signature meal.

Jul 09, 2017 Paid for before I leave (or free)
by: Donna

I love knowing everything is paid for before I go. That being said we look at menus we know what we want in advance. And if it going to save us money or not. This last we took, all we took into account was the table service meals. We forgot to consider that even counter service meals for what is essentially 4 adults at this point can cost $15-$20 per person. And now that the plan will include alcohol and specialty drinks the plan is even more worth it to me. Just my 2 ¢.

Jul 09, 2017 It’s not the dining plan….
by: Jeff

….. it’s how you are using it.

Jun 30, 2017 Flexibility
by: David

Just got back, didn’t have the plan. Did we save money? Who knows!

Yes, I have all of my charges, and I suppose I could compare to the DDP prices. But would we have had that wonderful “multiple appetizer, no entree” dinner? Would we have dined at Disney Springs at a non-participating establishment? And of course that fireworks event, that would not have been covered either. Our 11 year old frequently (not always) ordered from the kids menu. She’d be an adult on the DDP.

We’d also have to back out “extra” bar drinks to properly compare. Speaking of which, how many sugary carbonated beverages did we avoid by not having those refillable mugs? Tough to tell. The kids consumed a few “shirley temples” over the week, but I imagine not nearly as many as if we’d had the mugs. Which we’d then need to clean.

I don’t know, I didn’t want dining to feel like an accounting exercise. To the extent that it’s possible at Disney, we ate where we wanted, when we wanted. If it means we didn’t max out our possible savings? I don’t care, if I wanted to save money I’d go to the local KOA, not Disney!

Jun 26, 2017 Too Much Food
by: Lori

Myself and two teenage kids went during “free dining”. The servings were so huge, we threw away so much food! I passed on the free dining for our upcoming trip – we’ll all share.

Apr 25, 2017 Amen!
by: Anonymous

I looked into the DDP once. Once. It was several years ago, and I compared what we actually spent vs. what we would have spent on the DDP, and the DDP would have cost us more money. Plus, it’s gotten more and more difficult to get table service dining reservations (probably because of DDP), that I would hate to buy the DDP and then just be frustrated by trying to use them. I generally love the dining options at WDW, but “No thanks” to the DDP.

Apr 19, 2017 We saved by NOT getting the dining plan
by: Emmett

On our last trip we used a Travel Agent for the first time. After we arrived we learned that she forgot to order the dining plan and the price was refunded to our card. We had saved for the trip and had a cushion, so we took a leap and just ordered what we wanted when we wanted it. This included this like wine flights and other items not covered by the dining plan offered at the Food & Wine Festival. After eating way more than we should have AND counting the Sand Castle Club and souvenirs, we had $83 of our “Dining Plan” money left.

Apr 15, 2017 I don’t get it.
by: Anonymous

I do not get it when folks say the ” convenience” of not having to budget for meals makes it all worthwhile. That their budget conscience spouse would worry about cost if they did not use it. Any budget conscience person would never use it if they actually looked at the costs and totaled the tips.

If these people took the cost of the dining plan and placed that money in an account before their trip, they would still have the convenience but much less cost. I think people don’t ever put the tips they pay into the final cost of their dining. I wonder how many actually tip fairly.

People traveling with multiple children under 3 may make out when eating character meals 2x a day , on a short trip.

Since Disney has not asked for birth certificates yet, many persons do post that they list older children who look small, as under three.

Biggest thing is that people stress while planning n how will they get the biggest bang to make it worthwhile. They need a vacation after the stressful months of trying to get dining reservations at certain places.

Apr 14, 2017 Agree and disagree
by: Anonymous

I agree with several of those points. The DDP rarely saves anyone money. However I think you miss an important point. The convenience factor isn’t just a matter of how you hand over the cash, there is also the matter of budgeting.

Since we generally have a finite amount of money to spend, and if not why would we bother giving this any thought. So paying per meal instead of using credits means budgeting. We have to figure out before we go how much money we need per meal and make that amount available.

We have to research menus and figure out where we get the most bang for our buck which is not going to be a simple matter when one member of the family could do better at restaurant A while another member would at restaurant B. Then you have to do further budgeting at the individual restaurants because what sounded good when you looked at the menu 2 months ago may not be what you are in the mood for. This can be a real problem.

My husband would worry about overspending at individual restaurants and order cheaper items in order to make sure the rest of the family gets what they want later in the week, even if it wasn’t what sounds best or is filling. That dampers things a bit.

So convenience can go far beyond handing over cash vs scanning the band, it can be about doing the math, more intensive research, piece of mind, and not settling. The dining plan, like everything Disney does is about making money, that doesn’t make it inherently bad, nor does my neurotic husband’s piece of mind make it inherently good. It does make the question a complex one.

Apr 13, 2017 Disagree on one point
by: Anonymous

One thing I disagree with you on is that when you use refillable mugs at your resort with your meal, you really are not losing money on it. You can still get a drink for later. We have gotten either a Coke (or some other type of soft drink) or a bottle of water as the drink with our meal and also used our refillable mug to drink with our meal.

Mar 27, 2017 It Ain’t What It Used to Be
by: Anonymous

The DDP introduced our family to a variety of restaurants that we would never have tried if we were paying out of pocket. We would have continued taking our packed lunches into the parks and perhaps splurging on a quick service meal if not for the DDP. In addition, we learned that the dining experience at Disney could be just as enjoyable as the rides.

Many times we have been grateful to have our own little corner of Disney (a table at a full-service restaurant)when it was hot or crowded in the parks. The DDP use to be a fairly good deal. When our boys were young, our family of 5 was able to go to Disney for an entire week (6-7 nights), stay at Port Orleans Riverside, and enjoy the DDP for under $3,000.

The last time we enjoyed “free dining” was October 2015. We spent 5 nights squeezed into tiny little rooms at Pop Century (we had to put one of the kids in a room with grandparents). In order to get “free dining”, we had to book preferred hotel rooms, buy park hoppers (which we didn’t use), and upgrade our dining plan from 2 counter service meals per day (which is what you got when staying at a value resort) to 1 counter service and 1 full service restaurant (because rooms at the moderate resort sold out before we could book them).

What did we pay for such fun? Over $4,000! We’ve had to accept that the days when we could go for an entire week and enjoy a variety of interesting foods and restaurant settings is gone. Disney has gotten greedy. Even if we stayed off property, ticket prices are climbing higher and higher every year. I’m having to give long, hard thought to spending such an extravagant sum of money for less than a week’s vacation.

Mar 21, 2017 I totally agree.
by: DisneyMimi

While we have never used the DDP, my husband and I are not big eaters. Most of the time we will split a quick service meal, so even the quick service plan is too much for us.

We rarely do table service meals. Of the few times we do, it is only one during our visit.

Plus the “Free Dining” is not completely free. I calculated a trip with the free dining and without, (the only difference being the dining) and there was a definite price difference. If it was truly “free”, there would have been no difference in price. They do charge you for at least a portion of the normal Dining plan cost.

We will never use the dining plan because it is not worth it for us, even taking my daughter and granddaughter.

Mar 20, 2017 This is going to sound like blasphemy…
by: Cheapskate

I have been a huge Disney World fan for 40+ years and have been more than 25 times. We have 2 kids and bring grandma, too, when we visit. We stay off site at a development like Windsor Hills – 3 bedroom condo for about $70 a night – about a 5 minute drive away.

We do this to save money and so that kids can go to bed earlier than adults. It also allows to go shopping and fill up the full-size fridge with food for lunches.

Yes, here’s the blasphemy. We bring our lunches into the parks in a soft-sided cooler and when we get hungry we find a cool spot and we start eating. No lines, no hassles, and tons of savings. You can freeze water bottles or cokes (quickly turns into slushies by lunch on a hot day) to keep the food cool.

I, too, have noticed the food quality at Disney parks has suffered from what I remember in the 70s and 80s. We only partake a time or two during a week trip and that’s about all I can stand.

Just wanted to throw out an alternative since it seems like no one ever speaks to this method…

Mar 10, 2017 Calculators are flawed
by: Anonymous

The price of the DDP includes tax. Your calculator does not reflect tax on the price of a meal. So the comparison is skewed.

Mar 10, 2017 We love the DDP (when it’s free)
by: Lottie

Coming from the UK, it’s great knowing that when we leave the house (usually on a cold and wet day) to go to the airport, we have our dining covered.

We have paid out of pocket on 8 of our trips and used the dining plan twice (both times when it has been offered for free). For us the difference the dining plan makes is that we can order what we want without considering the cost. Frankly, even if I had a lot of money, I would always look at the prices before considering opting for a $61 steak. The dining plan gives people financial freedom. I remember as a child my parents saved hard to take us to Disney (before the dining plan) and they had a budget for our daily spends…the dining plan covers (pretty much) everything on the menu, so if your child wants the most expensive drink, entree and dessert…ok! I can imagine, those on a strict budget would avoid the more expensive dining options, that the dining plan would open up for them.

The introduction of a second snack and the removal of the QS dessert has made me a happy girl! I hated most of the desserts and felt terrible wasting them. This way the additional snack can be used on a much needed Starbucks or an extra trip to the confectionary on main st.

So all in all, I like the dining plan. I can understand why people use it and find it to be more convenient. Totally get that you probably don’t spend as much money when paying out of pocket because you’d definitely eat less. That being said…I think it’s biggest appeal is the financial freedom, once you have it…you don’t have to worry about the cost of what you’re ordering (except to cover the tips)

Mar 08, 2017 Rebuttal
by: Anonymous

You’re an idiot

Mar 07, 2017 Reasons I “Love” the Disney Dining Plan
by: Amber

Your article seemed very negatively skewed and I felt the need to respond. Our family loves the dining plan, and can honestly say having gone to disney without it as well that it saves us money and is more convenient. Our next trip we will have 2 adults, an 11, 9, and 2 yr old, and a four month old.

We love character dining and do a lot of buffet meals and we find the dining plan ideal for this. Now to use it most effectively you do have to exercise common sense….don’t waste snack credits on water or candy, don’t order a kids meal with your quick service credits when you can get twice as much food, always ask for a large drink, and don’t waste two credits on a meal.

And yes, sometimes we pay cash for a character breakfast and use those credits for eating at the Rainforest Cafe for dinner which costs twice as much. But it works for us…and I can honestly say I’ve never seen anyone check out at a resort quick service restaurant with just their mug without the cashier sending them back to get a drink out of the cooler as well since they are paying for it on the meal plan.

And I don’t know where you’re eating because even when my kids order an adult quick service meal there are no leftovers to throw out. And if we do have a leftover dessert which we always order in a to go container, we save it for later or my daughter likes to give it to someone who didn’t get an awesome disney dessert and spread a little pixie dust….not throw it away.

I’m not sure why the plan doesn’t work for you, but I don’t think you should be discouraging others from it so vehemently.

Mar 07, 2017 we like the dining plan
by: Anonymous

The biggest reason we like the dining plan is because it allows us to go to a character breakfast every morning. My granddaughter loves seeing all the characters without having to stand inline and wait for them. Its all part of the magic of being at Disney. We really do enjoy our sit-down dining as well looking forward to the yummy desserts 🙂

Mar 06, 2017 convience is worth the price
by: Ron

My in-laws have taken my family and bro-in-law’s family 2 times to WDW. I recommended the DDP (1 table, 1 quick, 1 snack). My MIL was adamant against it b/c her parents never used it.

I was for it because:
a. convenience. they were paying for the entire trip. so if we got separated, we had our credits (primarily snacks)
b. selfish reasons. when they take us out to eat, we drink water, no deserts, and are very conscientious of price. By using the DDP, we get non-water drinks, deserts, and pretty much anything on the menu. All without my in-laws having to worry about pricing. “its already paid for” (except the tip)

While it may not be a good fit for everyone, in my opinion, the convenience/all-inclusiveness factor is more than worth it. Each Disney customer needs to weigh the pros/cons of the DDP.

Mar 05, 2017 Disney Dining Plan
by: Anonymous

I usually get the 1 table service and 1 cafeteria service and 1 snack plan. It usually works fairly well until someone orders OATMEAL at the cafeteria for breakfast AND then a breakfast platter. Disney Charges a full meal for a bowl of oatmeal – not a snack as some may consider. So come the end of the trip when someone in the group gets oatmeal and a breakfast platter – Boom by day 3 of a 5 day plan you find out the bad news. Then they have you!Its too late. So run to the debit machine or pull out the credit card – you’re going to need it even though you budgeted so you wouldn’t.

Mar 05, 2017 Love the Dining Plan
by: Anonymous

My family likes to eat at the restaurants while we are at Disney and that’s why I do it. I agree that you can save some money by not getting the DDP but you are going to eat anyway. I like to plan when they have it so can we stay at a different resort and not worry about paying for food. It’s kind of a trade off for us to be able to stay in a nicer resort. I also admit that I could go off property and save a little too but that takes away from park time. I have done it both ways in the past and I like the dining plan much better.

Mar 04, 2017 I can well believe it
by: Anonymous

Our first trip to Disney world on the dining plan (standard) we had appetisers and gratuities included. No mug!

Since then it’s changed and morphed into its present state, I’ve read many blogs which show how to use it to the best, and how it’s not really worth it, and on balance I can quite believe it. But as yet we have not tried it out to see for ourselves, and the reason is like another post said is, at the end of the day for us coming from the U.K. for 2 weeks it’s easy to pay up front before we come, so we only need spending money, no maxed credit cards on return and don’t for get we have exchange rates when using our cards!.

This November is going to be our last trip for awhile as insurance for me is going to be Help! So maybe I won’t get the chance to try out that old system PAYG. If we do get to come back say 3 years on I might have a go at convincing my husband to give it a go

Mar 04, 2017 Totally Agree
by: Anonymous

I totally agree with everything you said!! My family of 4 (2 adults/2 teens) usually stay for 8 nights. The dining plan would cost us over $2200. We pay out of pocket and usually spent between $1200-$1400. And we eat wherever we want, including a table service meal each day, and never go hungry! So, obviously the dining plan is not for us. It was at one time – when the kids were both under 10, and when the appetizer, meal, dessert, drink, and tip were included. Many years ago!
To have the “convenience” of having it prepaid I just pick up $1500 in Disney Gift Cards before we go, and I always end up with leftover money on them!

Mar 04, 2017 Agee/disagree
by: Geoff

The thing I like most is knowing everything is paid in advance and not trying to budget meals for a week or more. You are correct with what you said, but knowing that when you leave home the money you have budgeted as “spending money” is for extras and souvenirs, not for meals.

Mar 04, 2017 Suggestions to improve the dining plan
by: sandy

Just a comment.. I have not been to Disney in 2 years.. I chose and enjoyed the Deluxe Dining plan Points to ponder.

1. Who says anyone needs to order unhealthy meals or snacks? Salad plates with fresh fruit or yogurt, fish, cheese plates… You get the drift.. is expensive outside of theme parks so is eating fresh which is costly at home on a food budget. Especially gluten free. Traveling out of the park to eat is also expensive.. consider the parking fees, gas and time ordering and delivery is not cheap either. In order to evaluate costs you must consider that transportation to other food options out side the park is also an expense as is a rental car. Food at Disney if you have no car is your best choice and Disney is well aware.

The restaurants in the park are also an excitement to all this is why everyone spends hours on where to eat… So be real. Food, Quality, and options are important to numerous customers.. Many bloggers sell books, promote plans, follow pintrest, report on the many offerings and make food a big portion of the Disney planning experience.
Invite or challenge Disney to fix the program to make it work.

2. Portions are key.. Yes a lot of food is provided… You are not obligated to eat it all. But you have the ability to try new things order different plates within your group and share, a plus to me. I was able to try sushi for the first time and enjoyed it my husband did not and would not order it again. I had an opportunity to try African food that I enjoyed but might not have tried.

If the program provided to little to eat for growing teenagers and bigger eaters that would be a disappointment some.

3. As an adult traveler sans children I enjoy the evening signature dining and welcome a relaxing meal before evening festivities. My husband is disabled and has to sit down at intervals.. So for us this resting option works.

4. Disney does not like input (suggestions) from “visitors” I attempted to suggest some user friendly changes to the program in the past that would alleviate some of the complaints I have observed and was told politely that Disney does not welcome input from outside sources because they do not want to give credit to outsiders.. That was a silly response but I received the letter in writing.

5. If enough people send you their comments on what they would like to see fixed in the program from the least expensive option to the finer dining option you, being a well known and established and important blogger (to me ) anyway.. might be able to get the Big Wigs at Disney to listen… forward them a report with input from customers.

6. Complaints make programs disappear… But suggestions for positive changes could make a mediocre program much better.

7. I understand most people travel with children.. My husband and I regrettably do not have children nor family but we are huge Disney fans and go when ever we can. I visit Disney on a regular basis in addition to being an active member of most of your site offerings and follow you on a regular basis. I am a Dad follower and supporter.

8. Health issues require better food choices for both Children and adults. Sweets should not be an only option offered for snacks .. Especially for the many Diabetics that are out there.. Sugar free baked items are expensive everywhere. Diabetics are better with protein offerings so maybe a snack could be a cup of soup, vegetable or chicken… celery and a protein or small amounts of protein in place of baked goods… Jerky, cheese sticks ect.. even a snack portions of unique foods in EPCOT… like the food festival…. How many people use the snack points to sample offerings in October.. I know I did We ate our way around EPCOT and had a great time. There is so many creative ways to make the dining plan great and user friendly.

I have several suggestions for improvements as I would suspect you and many others might have also to make the established dining program a success as opposed to a rant in addition to offering new ideas. For example, one would be a Princess/ Pirate Package. two an adult package, three a family package. ect…

Points program to use at your discretion We all figure out where we would like to eat and how? so why not buy points required for your family. So you could make your own option based upon your eating choices and needs. This would alleviate wasted food…Mix quick picks and signature options and 2 signature dining options each having a points value.. Now that would create a need to plan.. Good for Bloggers increasing more jobs also mix and match the points to coincide with your dining options.

Dining at EPCOT to try food around the world. I have a multitude of ideas.
Adding 1 glass of wine at diner with an appetizer for adults especially at EPCOT in conjunction with the food show in October.

Offering small tapas plates as a snack ie. fried rice, Swedish meat ball, falafel, small salad or fruit cup a yogurt parfait, soup ect.. Why can’t a snack be a small portion of food… That would help diabetics who shouldn’t choose sweets.

Better sugar free options… right now, they are not good or tasty and are expensive everywhere not just at a theme park. Including specialty drinks such as a health smoothie perhaps a higher coffee or tea option.

Up the quality of food and offer more healthy choices but make the amounts and usage more friendly… still cost effective. Reminder, the restaurants do not work for Disney they are vendors also.

another example, look at the response for the Grand Floridian… That 5 star dining option might not appeal to some however the restaurant has a great rating and is consistently booked…an adult experience.

Bring back the Appetizer option and maybe offer an appetizer or a happy ending not both. I would rather have an appetizer and not the sweet. or one person gets and shares an app and the other orders a happy ending to share.

These are just some examples… Disney wants to appeal to all especially tweens and adults look at the upscale Disney springs.. Cheap bad food and pricey merchandise do not reasonably go hand and hand… if you want to have quality and a good reason for people to eat at the park and Disney Springs. Don’t loose sight of quality. This is what Disney is noted for. Quality. Lack of quality would bring down the brand Disney has established through the years.

Maybe you would consider having a “Let’s fix” the dining program Blog… That would get everyone forwarding you suggestions to present by us to Disney.. Have a vote after all information is gathered to present the best of the ideas.. That would promote major Blog participation.

just a thought.

Ok, Thanks for listening.


Mar 03, 2017 Saved 50%
by: Anonymous

I priced the standard dining plan for our family of 5. Instead, we ordered groceries from Garden grocer and packed some things in our suitcase. We ate quick breakfasts in our hotel, packed lunches for days in the park and kept dinners we paid for pretty simple. This saved us 50% and we ate much healthier!

Mar 03, 2017 Don’t forget the tips
by: Anonymous

I often wonder if people realize how much extra the tips are when they are trying to maximize the DDP.
They are getting desserts they normally would not buy and then paying a tip on them and then throwing them out?
I am not a fan of character meals every day. The dining is not relaxing as your family is up and down for food at different times and then jumping up for photos or taking the photo. Does Mom get to eat?

Mar 03, 2017 Split meals
by: Anonymous

When my family went, we split the lunch meals with our kids and there was more than enough food without feeling too full. It’s hard to keep going all day when you are stuffed.

Mar 03, 2017 DDP vs TIW
by: Anonymous

You can save money if you do your research and plan for the Disney Dining plan. Last March for Spring Break we got the DDP – we saved $120.73 over the cash prices. We know this because we made no mention of the DDP until we had the receipt in hand and could track the amount we would have spent. I agree the amount of food is too much even for big eaters. My biggest complaint is too much sweets (desserts and available snacks) and I love sweets & never thought I’d see the day I said I had too much.

Now I also tracked the places that would have taken the Tables in Wonderland discount. If we had opted to use that instead. TIW would have saved us $127.70 in total.

By using the DDP we went to 4 more pricey dinners out of the 7 we had available. If we were paying with cash, I know we would have opted for a quick service over these table service much more often.

You can save — but you really have to work at it to save.

Mar 03, 2017 Dinning plan, deluxe
by: Anonymous

Our first time we got the deluxe dinning plan and we lost time waiting for a table, instead of looking all, buying, attractions,finally we lost the EPCOT Center Fireworks! We are waiting to dinner, and the dinner was not a miracle, the restaurant service regular but food horrible, I do not want to say the name..

Mar 03, 2017 Agree 100 %
by: Anonymous

The Dining plan has way too much food to offer and when you have it you are limited to what you can order! We only go when it is FREE!!! But is it really? Who knows? But we love to go where we want to eat and that is the bottom line!

Mar 03, 2017 agreed
by: Anonymous

dad: I couldn’t agree more. we did the dining plan the first two times we went and tried to maximize the value, but we ended up wasting lots of food. we would of never ordered dessert every meal if we were paying out of pocket. plus: the wife and daughter never eat $60+ of food each day which is needed to break even on the cost

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