Disney Dining Plan - worth it?

Discussion in 'Travelling & Holidays' started by mikeclark007, Jul 14, 2015.

  1. mikeclark007

    mikeclark007
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    Trying to price up a 2016 trip to WDW Florida and can't see how these dining plans represent good value for money. I've been 5 times previously when this didn't even exist.

    They are supposed to be free when booking a Moderate or Deluxe resort hotel (if Disney tickets are purchased) but with the significantly increased cost of these hotels - plus the overpriced Disney tickets when bought through the companies offering the plan I don't see the benefit.

    The allowance for the plan doesn't seem very flexible and as there are only 6 parks I'd be frequenting on Disney property I would still be needing to buy food when visiting the Universal / Seaworld parks anyway.

    Have I missed something?
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
  2. nabby

    nabby
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    It comes down to how long you're staying at Disney for and whether or not you want to eat a lot whilst you're at Disney.

    The plan lasts for the length of your stay in WDW only (no more, no less) and gives you credits to use. Some meals use 1 credit, some use 2. Snack credits are also allocated and can be used a pretty wide variety of items. They all expire when you leave WDW so there is pressure to use them all.

    Who are you pricing your trip with, when are you going and are you certain you can save money on WDW tickets elsewhere? The secondary market for resale of WDW tickets has dried up due to the measures Disney has put in place to stop people transferring them.

    You may find it cheaper to price up a trip with a US travel agent, which is what I did for our trip in 4 weeks time. If you want their contact information let me know. They have been brilliant so far.
    We're staying at Coronado Springs Resort for 4 nights (cost us £350) and then at the Polynesian Resort for 9 nights (cost us £1250). Way cheaper than booking from the UK.
    We didn't take the dining plan this time and bought our 14 Ultimate Disney tickets from a UK-based company for a shade over £800 (2 adults and 1 child - our son is also going with us but he's under three years old so gets free entry to the parks).
    Then we booked a flight and car hire package with BA for £3300 return (2 adults, 1 child, 1 infant), which is Dublin-Heathrow, Gatwick-Orlando, Orlando-Gatwick, Heathrow-Dublin, all flights in Club World (BA Business Class with flat bed seats) with a 7 seater mini-van all inclusive through AVIS. We'll ditch our last leg from Heathrow-Dublin as we live in South London. This was booked on the BA website but I changed my location to Ireland instead of the UK. The saving compared to flying from London direct was huge but I know that even the economy flights from Dublin on BA can be far cheaper than going from London. We added a flight from London to Dublin to get us there for our first leg to Orlando and that was £160 for the four of us.
     
  3. mikeclark007

    mikeclark007
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    Thanks mate. Looking at going on 30th April next year for 2 weeks.

    Booking through WD (which is never something I'd have considered price-wise). 5 adults and 1 child staying in a suite at Art of Animation resort. Flights (inc. transfers) with Virgin from Manchester - £6200.

    Tickets to all Disney and the other parks through attraction tickets direct - about £3200 for us all. Buying the tickets from WD direct is loads more. Used ATD loads of times before for DL Paris and Vegas and they are great.

    Sounds expensive compared to yours. We've picked a decent time as well as it doesn't conflict with any school holidays.
     
  4. nabby

    nabby
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    The AofA suites are meant to be amazing but pricey for a value resort as WDW terms it.

    If you'd booked through WDW for hotel and tix, to get free dining, how much more would it have ended up being? I guess you'd have needed to look at somewhere like Saratoga Springs or Old Key West for the same space at better value cost.

    We booked 2 years ago with WD Travel as well. We stayed in the Yacht Club at Club Level for 2 weeks to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and our daughter's 3rd birthday. We got free dining and bought Disney Tickets for the three of us. With flights that trip set us back £7500. The dining plan was good in some ways but I felt at times we were on an eating holiday with other stuff between meals. And in the Florida heat it got too much at times.
     
  5. mikeclark007

    mikeclark007
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    Yeah Old Key West and Saratoga offered the best prices c/w dining plan so add tix to that and its £9,936.04. Doesn't help that they only offer the 14 day ticket when 7 would do us. We'd then have to get our Universal / Seaworld tickets as well taking the total even higher.
     
  6. thudspud

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    We have been three times to Florida and twice have stayed onsite with the free quick service dining plan and love it, we have booked again for next year.

    The cost of the hotel before the free dining offer started was exactly the same so for us was definitely free, was always stay at a moderate to get free QSDP, is it not just the free breakfast plan at AoA?

    Also Disney tickets were cheaper direct from Disney than through any other major travel agent and only around £10 more than places like. ATD.

    We have never booked flights with WDTC, Always book them separate, usually the Dreamliner with Thomson but next time we are giving Thomas Cook a try on their new Airbus.
     
  7. nabby

    nabby
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    I think it works for some and not for others. Due to the large discount we got on our Disney holes this time, we'd need to be spending about £2200 across 13 nights on food (2 adults, 1 child and 1 infant) to make the free dining the better option. As we won't be doing that, it was a no-brainer for us. As the kids get older I can see free dining becoming more of an attractive proposition.

    As an aside, I am of the opinion that constant free dining offers have led to a marked decline in food quality at WDW, coupled with above average price increases/portion size reductions.
     
  8. Rawschach

    Rawschach
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    We have had the free dining plan a few times whilst staying at Saratoga / Old Key West. Disney normally offer a healthy discount on these 2 resorts and with the free dining plan (the one including sit down meals not just quick service) makes it a really good deal for 2 adults and 2 children

    It does result in having to eat A LOT of food (we double up the credits for the signature restaurants and split the quick service credits or you end up wasting a lot of food) but we have found the quality and variety of food to be excellent. Some of the restaurants really are very good (Wave / Jiko / Narcosees / California Grill etc) and there is some real variety of food / experience.

    I wouldn't pay for the dining plan in isolation as i don't think we would get value for money but as a freebie (i appreciate you are paying more for the room than staying offsite or at a value resort) i really like it

    The resorts and rooms at Old Key West and Saratoga would be better than Art of Animation too (imo) and you get a better dining plan

    If you don't want the dining plan, Pop Century is a great value resort and worth a look
     
  9. mikeclark007

    mikeclark007
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    I finally got round to booking this for 10 nights in May '17 [emoji16][emoji16]

    My question regarding the dining plan is that we have it (along with the Ultimate Ticket) for 14 days at a deluxe resort.

    Given we are only there for 10 nights is there a daily limit to what you can and can't get so for example could I have 3 waiter service meals on one particular day if I choose to or will 3 days worth just have to go unused?

    I'm sure I read somewhere that you can do what you want when you want and build up the credits if you wanted to perhaps eat something small one day and go all out another.

    What does breakfast count as? There's so much small print in booking these Disney Holidays from Hotel offers to tickets and dining offers it's unbelievable. I didn't even realise that the free breakfasts were only for the cheaper resorts.
     
  10. nabby

    nabby
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    It gives you credits to use as you want across the trip. You'll get X number of meal credits and Y number of snack credits.

    So you will get, per person booked for the dining plan offer, 1 waiter service credit, 1 quick (counter) service credit and 1 snack credit per day.

    In other words, 10 waiter service credits, 10 quick service credits and 10 snack credits per person for your 10 night stay.

    Your groups credits will be put together, so for a party of 4, you'll have 40 waiter service credits, 40 quick service credits and 40 snack credits.

    If you wanted, you could blow half of them in 3 days (loads of food, mind!) and use the rest over the remaining 8 days (10 nights = 11 days). Or you could spread them out over the 11 days equally. Or do something else :)

    Whatever credits your group haven't used by midnight of the day you've checked out will expire.

    Most people struggle to use up the snacks and either lose them or go nuts in Disney Springs at Goofy's Candy Store (or whatever it's called) to use them up!

    Just remember that tips will be added to your bill in a waiter service restaurant.
     
  11. mikeclark007

    mikeclark007
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    Thanks mate. Do you have to pick off a certain menu if you are on a dining plan and have a waiter service meal?

    Bloody tips [emoji16]. I was hoping not to carry any cash!!
     
    Last edited: May 5, 2016
  12. nabby

    nabby
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    No, but you may have to pay a supplement for certain higher value items (such as lobster).

    As for tips, just charge them back to your room using your magic band. They will go against your room charges and you can settle them daily or weekly or at the end of your stay (whatever works best for you). Lots of people keep their $200 free gift card to cover these costs.

    If you drink alcohol, you can charge these drinks back to your room too.

    Which hotel are you staying in?
     
  13. mikeclark007

    mikeclark007
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    Animal kingdom lodge. I booked through Thomson so what at what stage do you reckon I'll be able to set up MyDisneyExperience via the app? Thomsons reference number doesn't mean anything when you type it in [emoji16]
     
  14. nabby

    nabby
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    AKL is a beautiful resort. I've visited it a few times (never stayed, mind) and eaten at some of the restaurants there too. It's possibly the best themed hotel in WDW, although Wilderness Lodge and the Polynesian run it a close second, IMO.

    I've stayed on-site at the Polynesian and at Coronado Springs Resort (both last August) and at the Yacht Club (August 2013). The Yacht Club, along with the Beach Club, has the best resort pool I'd say, but the Polynesian has awesome views of the Magic Kingdom and the monorail service.

    You can set up your MDE account now if you want. Then, when you've got the correct reference number to enter, you can link your reservation from Thomson to your MDE account. Once that's been done, you can look at stuff like magic band personalisation (which increasingly is tying in with electronic displays around the theme parks so your name appears on screen in the ride queue (Expedition Everest) or on the ride itself (It's A Small World).

    You can make dining reservations 180 days out from your stay and I'd recommend using www.thedibb.co.uk (register a free account if you haven't already) as they have some useful tools such as:

    Dining Reservation Planner Advanced Dining Reservation Calculator - theDIBB
    which tells you when you can start making reservations. Making them as early as possible is important for popular places such as Be Our Guest and Cinderella's Royal Table (the only way to go inside Cinderella's Castle at the Magic Kingdom park).

    FastPass+ Planner Disney FastPass+ Calculator - theDIBB
    which allows you to work out and record all your fastpass+ reservations. You'll be able to do yours at 60 days out which means you can look at getting better times for popular rides such as Seven Dwarves Mine Train, Soarin' and Toy Story Midway Mania.

    DIBB Vacation Planner
    which allows you to store all your plans and itinerary for the trip in one place.

    There's also a fantastic forum with loads of information. If you've got a question, the chances are it's been asked here and if it hasn't then someone will know the answer or where to find it.

    The other website I'd recommend is www.easywdw.com as the guy who runs it has brilliant crowd calendars to work out the busiest days and hence which parks to avoid or choose on any given day, great reviews of the parks and restaurants, good tips on the resorts and which rooms to request and the blog articles are both informative and funny in a cutting and slightly sarcastic way (which appeals to my sense of humour). He also has very good touring plans that, if followed, should allow you plan a more fulfilling day at each park.
     
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  15. mikeclark007

    mikeclark007
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    Thanks very much mate [emoji106]
     
  16. nabby

    nabby
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    Oh and one more thing I should have mentioned. Try contacting Walt Disney World on their UK freephone number as they may be able to already see your reservation at AKL for next May and therefore give you your WDW reservation number that you will need for MDE, etc. :)
     
  17. mikeclark007

    mikeclark007
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    Thanks very much mate [emoji106]
     

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