Disney Dining Plan for Multiple Arrival Dates
We are going to Walt Disney World in July. There are 5 of us total, but 2 of my children will be arriving 3 days later than the rest due to work obligations. We would like to purchase the Disney Dining Plan for our trip, but I was told that because there are 5 of us in the room, we have to purchase it for all of us from the beginning of the reservation-- even though 2 people will not be there for three more days! This is very expensive. !!! The Vacation Club agent suggested I should get another room (uses much more points) for those not coming initially. This is NOT an option. What else can we do?
Some restaurants make more sense to pay cash for - Photo by Tom Bricker
Dad’s the trouble with the DDP Answer
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Dad’s not a fan of the Disney Dining Plan
. It’s got a lot of rules that don’t allow for the flexibility that most families need. It’s true that all the people in your party need to be on the Disney Dining Plan for the entire duration of the reservation, even if some are coming a few days behind the rest of you. Let’s take a look at what you can do to have the Perfect Vacation – dining and all.
The way Dad sees it, you have 3 options. The first is to get the Disney Dining plan for every member of your family for the entire duration of your trip. That’s 2 people times 3 days of extra dining – or 12 extra meals and 6 snacks. Since the Disney Dining Plan ties meal and snack credits to your party’s reservation instead of the individual person, you could use these throughout your trip to supplement with extra food if your family are big eaters. Some folks find that 2 meals and 1 snack per day isn’t enough, so having the extra credits may save you the out of pocket expense. This option will cost more money but it’s the most convenient way to go if you really want the Disney Dining Plan.
The second option is to get a room for the first 3 nights with the Disney Dining Plan and park tickets, and then switch to another reservation for the rest of your trip. This will be inconvenient with switching rooms, and since you’ll have to pay for 2 sets of tickets for your family (3 days for 3 of you, and the rest of the trip for all 5 on a separate booking) you’ll miss out on a lot of the park ticket savings that come from longer stays. This option isn’t convenient at all and I doubt it will save you money.
Your third option is Dad’s choice, and that is to ditch the dining plan altogether. Dad doesn’t think the Disney Dining plan will save you much if any money
, and by paying for meals out of pocket you can eat what you want, when you want, instead of having to follow Disney’s idea of how much you should eat at a given meal (Dad would take a meal and then a snack a couple hours later over dessert with a meal any day!). The Disney Dining Plan can seem like a really great deal, but if you’re not planning on eating dessert with every meal or having a table service meal every day then you’ll save money easily by paying out of pocket instead.
Dad's Bottom Line
Valarie, don’t worry – there’s always secret option number four: let the pros help! If you book your trip with a Disney travel agent you’ll get to sit back and relax while they figure out all these logistical details and make sure you get the best deal. Now that sounds like a great way to start a vacation to me!