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 .
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.
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 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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