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The Disney Dining Plan Debunked

Don’t buy the Disney Dining Plan. It’s not worth the money. I’ll say it again. Don’t buy any of the Disney Dining Plans they won’t save you any money.

So, I’m sure your thinking, Hey, Dad, what’s prompting your little tirade today? Yes, I can read minds.

I got a question from a very well meaning Dad today who was putting together an incredible first visit to Disney World vacation. The family was going to be at Disney World for 4 nights and 5 days, so it was going to be a short trip. This great Dad asked this great Dad my opinion of what would make his trip better. He mentioned that he was going to book the Polynesian Resort and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan.

Wow. That’s some dough and it’s totally overkill. Disney loves these kinds of Dad’s. They encourage you to spend all your money. I don’t know this great Dad, and he may be able to afford to flush away hundreds of  dollars, but the Deluxe Dining Plan is a terrible way to do it. Just go to your nearest Disney Store, get $500.00 worth of Disney Dollars and burn them. At least you’d get some heat out of it.

The question that prompted Dad’s Rant

The Disney Dining Plans only work if you eat all your meals at the most expensive times at the most expensive restaurants at WDW. Let’s look at the main plan, the Disney Dining plan. One adult costs $45.99 per person per day. For that you get one meal at a table service restaurant and a quick service meal and a snack. So, let’s price a typical day for Dad.

Breakfast at the food court at the Pop Century. I normally get an omelet, no drink because I refill my refillable mug, but for argument’s sake we’ll throw in a non-alcoholic beverage. Breakfast would cost around $9.00. Now for a snack. Snack selection is pretty limited, but let’s say Dad picks up a Mickey Bar for $4.00. Now it’s dinner time and Dad’s going to Tony’s Town Square for some Chicken Parmesan (one of Dad’s favorites). With drink and dessert the total is $25.67. So for this day Dad spent a grand total of less than $39.00. Yes, you can pick some restaurants which will cost more than you’ll spend, but if you’re like Dad, you would be spending days trying to choose restaurants that will give you the most bang for the buck.

The Disney (basic) Dining Plan is the best of the bunch. The Quick Service Plan makes no sense. It costs $34.99 for 2 meals and 2 snacks. Let’s see breakfast came in at less $12.00, $6.00 for snacks, that leaves $16.00 for lunch or dinner. Sounds more like table service than quick service.

Dad’s Bottom Line

You can make the Disney Dining Plan work, but it takes planning. I still say the only time to get the dining plan is if you get it for free.

PS – Tips are not included, and for parties of over 6, an 18% tip is automatically added to your bill.

Comments 13

  1. Im with you Dad. We did the dining plan once, because it was free. And we might have saved some money but there was a lot of time planning and a lot of meals that were nice but not really necessary for our trip. For example we had to do seven table service dinners which is great if you are loaded with cash or you get the dining plan for free but is totally over the top for my wife and I. Plus you had to get desserts and such which often times ended up not being eaten in our case. I would just stick with paying as you go, hit mainly counterservice and splurge on one or two nice meals. I personally love Le Cellier and Liberty Tree for table service and Peco’s Bills for counter.

  2. Pingback: What does a Walt Disney World Vacation cost | Dad Guide to WDW - The Blog

  3. Pingback: Decision 2 - Will Dad get the Disney Dining Plan? | Dad Guide to WDW - The Blog

  4. I think the dining plan is great! We do the one with a table and quick service. We dont use the quick service for breakfast we do it for lunch I think that would change your price a lot. But we arent huge breakfast people so we can get away with just a muffin or some ceral. I just like the plan because I am on vacation and I dont want to worry about how much we are spending on meals they are already taken care of. I worked out our plan as to wich retruants we wanted and what we would spend out of pocket and we saved money to so that is a big bonus! I wouldnt go to Disney without it! But I am the planner and I love planning our trips so once I get there I am on vacation and dont have to worry any more. Isnt that what disney is for!

  5. At $60 a day for an adult, that runs about $1,800 a month per adult. And at $20 a day for a kid, that cost $600 a month. So with a family of four, the total cost per month would be $4,800. So why compare to a month? If most people are like me, they probably have an idea of how much they spend a month on food. Unfortunately, it cost about $1,000 a month to feed my family, so the thought of $4,800 is insane. Or how about the weekly cost of $1,200 just for food? This is all just silly to me. We pay cash at Disney and usually have 4 or five character breakfast and come in at just under $500. The buffet breakfasts keep us full most of the day, and we rarely even eat lunch.

  6. We always get the mid level dining plan and it’s great for us. My husband loves to eat at all the restaurants and we like having it paid for before we go.

  7. We’ve bought the dining plan 9 times and 1 trip we paid for food. We did the math and spent more when we didn’t buy the dining plan. But that was 10 years ago. The dining plan price has gone up and we were trying to “do the math” again to see if it is worth it. I think the main reason we like it is we know exactly what food will cost us before we go and it will be paid for. Then we can just relax and enjoy our vacation! We NEVER leave any credits unused! And we love to eat at one nice sit down meal at dinner per day! Lunch is a quick service meal and breakfast is a snack. We now are DVC members and I’m trying to figure if we could save money by paying for our meals and choosing the restaurants that offer 10% savings. Still thinking and figuring for our May trip we are planning. Thanks for your opinion! I nearly almost always agree with you Dad 100%. Love your magazine and following you on FB!!

  8. It is totally a scam now. Back int he day when the tip was included it was a deal. Now that tip is not included its a total scam. For a family of 4 I was paying over 20 bucks a meal for a tip. Plus all the good resturaunts are 2 credits now anyway so RIP off with a capital R.

  9. Back in 2009 the Dining Plan was worth every penny at 39.99/adult. Today it has almost doubled in price and I’ll bet that next year it will double, in a decade. Even though it’s been a staple for our trips, I’m having a hard time with actually buying DDP for next year when we go.

  10. After 7 visits to WDW, some with dining plan and some without, I can say it’s not worth it to buy the dining plan, even the basic plan. Dad is right.

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