Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?
I'm in the beginning stages of planning a trip to Disney World for one of my daughters' 5th birthday. In the past, I've always just added a dining plan, but this time I'm wondering if it's really worth it.
We'll be staying for 3 nights, so we'd be allotted 3 days of meals, but we'll be there for basically 5 days. I'm thinking I can budget our meal spending across the 5 days and do a little better than a plan, but I was wondering what your experience is.
It'll be just me and my daughter, and we'll be focusing more on fun than eating. I'd like to get a character experience in the mix, which I know can be pricey. I took a look at your calculators, but since I really have no plan as to what we'll be eating, it really didn't tell me much. I'd love any thoughts you might have. Thanks!
You won't be eating at Casey's - Photo by Mike Billick
Dad's don't even think about it Answer
I'm so glad you asked this question Mary. I've got to say you're very smart to be questioning the Disney Dining Plan.
I probably ought to say up front that Dad is not a fan of the Disney Dining Plan (unless it's free). I know I'm in the minority, but I want to be honest. I think it has diminished the quality of the food and choices at the Disney World Restaurants. I also think that most people lose money.
Disney has so conditioned us to signing up for the Dining Plan that no one even questions what they are spending versus what it really costs.
For you, Mary, the real question is, will save you money if you compare it to what you would "REGULARLY" spend? Maybe yes, and maybe no.
You don't need a calculator. Make a list of where you think you might eat. Find the price of a meal. Then see what the Dining Plan would cost. Do you save money? Don't fudge, be real. Would you really order that dessert or that appetizer?
We've done the math. You have to really work to make the Disney Dining Plan save money. You have to use every credit smartly.
Here's the way you have to think. Don't buy a Coke with a DDP credit because you need to save that for a higher priced item. Be sure that you get the highest price thing on the menu. No, Casey's Corner is not a good choice, go to Columbia Harbour House instead and make sure to get a Lobster Roll. Oh yeah, don't use your credits at breakfast, dinner always costs more.
Yep, I know. That's way too much thinking. You just want to go, have some fun with your daughter and enjoy WDW.
Our experience with the Disney Dining Plan is this. It's too much food, it doesn't really save you that much if anything, it's a lot of planning to make it work, and tipping is inconvenient.
Dad's not a fan.
Dad's Bottom Line
Mary, don't take my word for it. Do the math. If you'll save money, go with the Dining Plan, if you won't then skip it. I'll be interested to hear which way you decide.