Disney World Dining Plan - Should you buy it?
Will the Disney World Dining Plan save you money? Maybe, but probably not.
Disney says that you'll save 20 to 40 percent with the dining plans. There right, you can, if, and that's a very big if, you eat the most expensive thing at the most expensive Disney World restaurant every time.
Just to prove it, Dad's developed a very useful tool. It's a spreadsheet that calculates what you'll spend on your vacation for food, and compares it to the Dining Plan.
What you get on the Disney World Dining Plan
|Photo by Don Sullivan|
Of the different plans, the Deluxe plan fares pretty well, money wise, IF you are willing to eat huge meals three times a day.
Dad likes to eat, but sometimes too much is too much.
Last year Disney rolled out a new Dining Plan. The Counter-Service Dining Plan. It allows for 2 quick service meals and a snack every day. Now that Disney has eliminated the refillable mug from the plan, you can barely make this plan pay, but just barely. Way to go Disney.
The Real Issue
Dad has 2 issues with the Disney dining, aside from the money thing. One is time and one is flexibility.
- Time - Meals at Disney's Table Service Restaurants can take over an hour. That in itself is not a bad thing, but if you are on the Deluxe plan and are trying to eat 3 Table Service meals a day, that's 4 or more hours that you are spending away from the parks. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it's not.
- Flexibility - In a perfect world, I'd like to be able to plan my meals and fit a dining plan to match. Our family on a 7 day trip will normally eat 4-5 meals at Table Service Restaurants and the rest at Counter Service Restaurants. It would be nice to have a wider selection to choose from or even a build your own, but then Disney wouldn't make any money when you don't use part of it.
Dad's Bottom Line
The Disney World Dining Plan is designed to make Disney money. If you don't use a meal, you lose it. It was a response to people that wanted an all-inclusive Disney World vacation.
Disney does a great job of marketing the dining plan. The make it sound so good. Just give them you Key to the World and all your needs will be fufilled.
Dad's a big proponent of the Dining Plan ONLY if you get it for free. Free is good. Trust me.