Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?

Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?

by Heath
(Pennsylvania)

Hi Dad! We are going on a trip in November of this year for 5 nights. My parents and brothers will be getting a two room villa and no dining plan. My wife and I are considering renting points from a vacation club website to get a studio at the same resort. With the changes in the dining plan, we are considering getting a deluxe meal plan because you can share the meals with the rest of our family at the main meals we are going to (Ohana, Be Our Guest, Chef Mickeys) but then use the other meals for ourselves. We also have our 3 year old daughter we can put on either reservation. What I'm trying to decide is if it makes more sense to put her on ours since I read especially for counter services you can use child meals as adult credits and perhaps we can share these as well. Or we can put her on our families reservations to avoid having extra credits. I've never dealt with child dining before so I'm not sure what to do. I assume her snack credits are also good for anything an adult is and we'd get a cup for her also? So the two questions I have is does my plan make sense (we'll obviously be there so we can share meals with everyone) and 2) would you put my daughter on with us and the meal plan or with the rest of our family?

ohana

'Ohana is one of Dad's favorites - Photo by Brett Svenson


Dad’s Time to Do the Math Answer

Heath, this is a pretty complicated question, but don’t worry because Dad can help. We’re going to need to look at what the Disney Dining Plan costs, what your meals will cost, what your families eating habits are, and how this will impact your other expenses. It’s time to do the math

Dad’s not a fan of the Disney Dining Plan, but for some families it might make sense, especially with the new rules in place. You didn’t specify how many people are in your party, but I’m going to assume 6 adults and 1 child altogether, and that’s what I’ll base my numbers on. I’m including the 18% automatic gratuity added on to table service meals (even on the DDP) for parties of 6 or more people.

Let’s leave the question about your daughter to the end – all of this math is adults only!

If you and your wife each get the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan for 5 nights it will cost $1117.30. That gets you a refillable mug for at your resort plus 2 snacks and 3 meals (Quick Service or Table Service, your choice) per day for a total of 20 snacks and 30 meals. Lets value the mugs at $15 and the snacks at $5 each – that means each meal credit is about $36.

If you do the regular Disney Dining Plan for 5 nights it will cost $618.20 That gets you a refillable mug for at your resort plus 1 snack, 1 Quick Service Meal, and 1 Table Service meal per day for a total of 10 snacks, 10 Table Service Meals, and 10 Quick Service Meals. Lets value the mugs at $15 and the snacks at $5 each – that means each meal credit (table service or quick service) is about $26.

ohana

A snack on the DDP - Photo by Brett Svenson


At ‘Ohana, breakfast costs $30 for adults, or 1 Table Service credit. Your bill will be $180 plus tax and tip. If you use DDP credits, you’ll use 6 credits (worth $216 on the deluxe plan or $156 on the regular plan) plus still owe an 18% tip - $32.40. That’s not a good value on the Deluxe plan. During dinner at ‘Ohana, you’ll pay $42 for adults, or 1 Table Service credit. Your bill will be $252 plus tax and tip. If you use DDP credits, you’ll use 6 credits (worth $216 on the deluxe plan or $156 on the regular plan) plus still owe an 18% tip - $45.36. If you’re planning on dinner at ‘Ohana, either the regular or deluxe Disney Dining Plan might make sense.

At Chef Mickey’s, breakfast costs $38 for adults, or 1 Table Service credit. Your bill will be $228 plus tax and tip. If you use DDP credits, you’ll use 6 credits (worth $216 on the deluxe plan or $156 on the regular plan) plus still owe an 18% tip - $41.04. During dinner at Chef Mickey’s, you’ll pay $47 for adults, or 1 Table Service credit. Your bill will be $282 plus tax and tip. If you use DDP credits, you’ll use 6 credits (worth $216 on the deluxe plan or $156 on the regular plan) plus still owe an 18% tip - $50.76. This could be a good use of DDP credits in either case.

At Be Our Guest, things get trickier. Breakfast is prix fixe, with a cost of $19.99 for adults. It will cost you $119.94 plus tax out of pocket or 6 DDP Quick Service credits (worth $216 on the deluxe plan or $156 on the regular plan) – not a good value.

Lunch at Be Our Guest is quick service so adults get 1 beverage, 1 dessert, and 1 entrée – depending on the combination you pick this could range from $19.67-$26.98 per person. Even if everyone orders the most expensive item in each category that’s only $161.88 versus 6 DDP Quick Service credits (worth $216 on the deluxe plan or $156 on the regular plan). You simply won’t get your money’s worth.

Dinner at Be Our Guest is Table Service. On the deluxe plan you’ll get an appetizer, dessert, beverage and entrée for $35.99-$59.49 per person. On the regular plan you’ll get a dessert, beverage and entrée for $27.99-$44.49 per person. If you use DDP credits, you’ll use 6 credits (worth $216 on the deluxe plan or $156 on the regular plan) plus still owe an 18% tip. This is the best value of all the restaurants you named because even if everyone order the least expensive items you’ll “break even” with the DDP.

be our guest

Be Our Guest is magical any time of day - Photo by Cliff Wang


So let’s say you do all of these restaurants – that will use 18-24 meal credits, and depending on the meals you pick it may or may not be "worth" it. Breakfast at 'Ohana and Chef Mickey's plus lunch at Be Our Guest probably isn't a good value - but Dinner at all three places is. Of course, that’s only on the deluxe plan, because you’d still have to pay out of pocket for certain meals on the regular plan. That doesn’t give you much left over to use yourself or share with your family. My gut says that paying out of pocket will be better in the long run, BUT if you want the security of knowing that your big meals are already paid for, that's something only you can decide.

Then there is the matter of the remaining snack credits - which are good if you spend them on more expensive line items (like a Dole Whip or a shareable cinnamon roll) but not good if you use them on bottled beverages and lower priced snacks.

If you’re still really keen on the DDP – consider this – how much more will it cost to get the DDP versus upgrading to your families deluxe villa resort? Which one is more important to you? If it’s the hotel, then definitely stick with that plan!

Dad's Bottom Line


Heath, forget the Disney Dining Plan – it’s not a good value in your case. Or ever – but that’s a story for another time.

Comments for Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth It?

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Mar 15, 2016
Thanks!
by: Heath (OP)

Thanks for the comment. One factor I left out is with a villa we cook a couple of meals at the room so this was just a consideration for the "big meals"...however it looks like one set of people may not be going so it looks like we are currently just doing one two bedroom, no dining! But I'll take this all into consideration if things change again =)

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