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  1. #1
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    Default Dining Plan vs Paying Out Of Pocket

    Apologies if this has been asked before...

    We are new DVC members, and our first stay is coming up this May. Have been trying to decide whether or not to buy a dining plan or just pay out of pocket using the 10% discount for DVC members. We have used the dining plan numerous times over the years and have really enjoyed the "pre-paid" aspect of it. But saving 10% on meals sounds like a pretty good deal. Any thoughts or comments based upon your experiences?
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  3. #2
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    I was always a big fan of the dining plan. I loved the pre-paid aspect as well, and it just seemed easier than paying as I went.

    Last year, we did a trip paying as we go (well, we put $$ on a gift card) and it was wonderful! We spent way less than the dining plan would have cost, and we got to eat exactly what we wanted, instead of the meal & dessert combo. Sometimes we'd have appetizers. Sometimes just a bunch of appetizers, sometimes a meal & dessert.

    Now, if you're planning a lot of meals in the parks, especially the all-you-can-eat ones or character meals, they are way overpriced, and the dining plan is likely a better deal, otherwise, give a trip a try without it.
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  4. #3
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    Personally, I gave up on the Dining Plan many years ago. Way to much food for my family, by day three I would not even want to eat anymore. I have found paying out of pocket to be much cheaper, because we normally would not eat all the food that is on the dining plan.
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  5. #4
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    We've never been a fan of the dining plan and have viewed it as overpaying most trips. We've been using the discount for years and it works pretty well. Remember, though - not all restaurants offer the discount for all meals. Have a great trip!

  6. #5
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    At one time, we used to buy the dining plan. My father was like many people who always check the price of menu items and would not order what they really wanted because it was "too expensive", especially if one of his daughters was picking up the tab. So, when he and Mom would join us at WDW, we would get the dining plan. Nothing made us happier than telling my Dad to get the lobster I knew he wanted and to say, "don't worry, it is covered on the plan".

    We stopped buying the plan after my Dad passed away in 2010, as it did not make sense with Mom as she had a small appetite (she passed in 2015). We use Tables in Wonderland now. But remember, sometimes the value may not necessarily be a monetary one.
    Christine ºoº

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  8. #6
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    Short answer is, it depends on how much you plan to eat.

    Buying the (standard) Dining Plan means you're going to have a table service meal every day, as well as a quick-service meal. We never have found that to be too much, though there might be too much for the kids. I do wish you could share meals, but you can't. This might be where paying OOP makes more sense.

    Although, I should say that we haven't *paid* for the DDP in a long time. We usually schedule our trips to take advantage of the free DDP offer, although this means that you have to pay rack rates at a Disney Resort, and not use your DVC points. I recently checked the prices of the DDP, and I no longer think it's worth it. They really went up this past year, but now include one alcoholic beverage. Still, I don't think the trade off is worth it.

    Bottom line, IMHO, you would be better off to pay OOP, allow kids to share meals, and use a DVC discount or get the Tables in Wonderland discount card.
    2002 - 2017 - 20+ visits (POR, BW, All Stars, VWL, CSR, BLT, BC, SSR, CB, Dolphin, OKW, offsite x4)
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  9. #7
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    Last month my son and I stayed a few nights. In the past we've used the dining plan and I loved the convenience. This time I used Disney gift cards in lieu of dining credits and it was one of my more enjoyable trips. I LOVED the flexibility and freedom.

    On the plan I always felt I HAD to use every credit whether I wanted to eat or not. I always ate more than normal. During my normal life routines, I don't have dessert with every meal and I don't have a snack everyday of my life.
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  10. #8
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    There have been numerous threads on this lately. The consensus now seems to be do not get the dining plan.

    I have been arguing the dining plan was overpriced and it was cheaper to pay out of pocket for years. I compared what the dining plan would cost to what we payed out of pocket a couple of trips probably 10 years ago and it was consistently $200 to $300 less paying out of pocket. We don't eat near as much food as the dining plan provides and I also despise being tied down to dining reservations all the time. I find it annoying to be trying to enjoy the parks but constantly having to worry about time and logistics for an upcoming dining reservation. We typically schedule one or two dining reservations at a couple of restaurants my wife wants to eat at and outside of that we just find somewhere to eat when the time comes.

  11. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1DisneyNut View Post
    I have been arguing the dining plan was overpriced and it was cheaper to pay out of pocket for years. I compared what the dining plan would cost to what we payed out of pocket a couple of trips probably 10 years ago and it was consistently $200 to $300 less paying out of pocket.
    While it clearly depends on your family's particular dining habits, I think that it was definitely worth it back when it was something like $50/person/day, AND included the gratuity. But now it's up to $75, and their reasoning is "Now it includes alcohol!" Well, that's just bull. I mean, it does include alcohol, but it's not a value anymore.

    Unless, of course, you're bringing your family and getting it for free. Then it's totally worth it. But, you can't do that and use DVC points, so, there's that.
    2002 - 2017 - 20+ visits (POR, BW, All Stars, VWL, CSR, BLT, BC, SSR, CB, Dolphin, OKW, offsite x4)
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  12. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by azcavalier View Post
    While it clearly depends on your family's particular dining habits, I think that it was definitely worth it back when it was something like $50/person/day, AND included the gratuity. But now it's up to $75, and their reasoning is "Now it includes alcohol!" Well, that's just bull. I mean, it does include alcohol, but it's not a value anymore.

    Unless, of course, you're bringing your family and getting it for free. Then it's totally worth it. But, you can't do that and use DVC points, so, there's that.
    We used to debate it back when the price was in the 50's per day. I studied it and kept track of what we spent. It was still cheaper back then to pay out of pocket back then just as it is now but just not as much of a savings.

    As for including alcohol drinks, try it one time. How it works is they bring the first one out in a relatively short amount of time but the second one you order will take a while and the third one you will be lucky to ever get if the plan even includes a third drink. I haven't looked and would not be surprised if it has a two drink maximum but either way, you will be lucky to ever see the third one.

  13. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammer View Post
    At one time, we used to buy the dining plan. My father was like many people who always check the price of menu items and would not order what they really wanted because it was "too expensive", especially if one of his daughters was picking up the tab. So, when he and Mom would join us at WDW, we would get the dining plan. Nothing made us happier than telling my Dad to get the lobster I knew he wanted and to say, "don't worry, it is covered on the plan".

    We stopped buying the plan after my Dad passed away in 2010, as it did not make sense with Mom as she had a small appetite (she passed in 2015). We use Tables in Wonderland now. But remember, sometimes the value may not necessarily be a monetary one.
    Great story! Christine, you're a Philly gal, did you see the recent Goldberg's episode where Jeff, Erica's boyfriend, joined them for a birthday dinner at "Beefsteak Charlie's?" It was for sure one of their top five episodes because it is so relate-able, especially Murray laying out the rules of what they could and could not order.
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  14. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1DisneyNut View Post

    As for including alcohol drinks, try it one time. How it works is they bring the first one out in a relatively short amount of time but the second one you order will take a while and the third one you will be lucky to ever get if the plan even includes a third drink. I haven't looked and would not be surprised if it has a two drink maximum but either way, you will be lucky to ever see the third one.
    The DDP only includes one drink per meal.
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  15. #13
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    For us, it hasn't been worth it. But, we usually go during the food and wine festival, so really not worth it then. Plus, I don't like the lack of flexibility. I.e. some days, we just feel like hitting the quick serve, instead of sit down. Just depends how our day goes, etc. So depends a lot on your dedication to having a food centric trip, and what type. But if you doing during FW, probably not.
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  16. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by VWL Mom View Post
    The DDP only includes one drink per meal.
    Not all that surprising....

  17. #15
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    We have been DVC members for eight years and we never have used the DP. We bought DVC for the convenience and savings of being able to have breakfast in our villa. When we are visiting the parks we always take a mid day break and go back to our villa for lunch and a swim. Sometime we have food for lunch or may grab something from the CS/QS.

    We always use Green Grocer for our stays. It’s a convenient and great service. We have done many stays with out going to the parks too. So dining a our resort is easy.

    My sons when they were younger were never big eaters, so DP did not make sense. The last time we were at WDW we stayed at SSR, so we eat a lot at Disney Springs, yummy. And of course we take advantage of any discounts that apply to being a DVC member.

    Wishing you the best of luck with your first DVC stay.
    Arlene<br />Jackson, New Jersey<br />1980 Day Trip<br />1986 Off site<br />1996 All Star Music<br />2003 Polynesian<br/>2006 WL, All Star Sports 2008, DCL - Magic 2010, DVC - 2010, Future - WDW - BLT 2011 and DCL/Dream 2011

  18. #16
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    We haven’t used the dining plan since our early WDW days (circa early 80’s) when tips were included and every meal was table service! It was way too much food and we spent too much time shuffling to our next meal. We’ve been DVC members since 1992. We are very comfortable making light meals in our unit. We order from Garden Grocer. Breakfast is either eggs, cereal or maybe some cinnamon rolls. Lunch is normally when we are out and about, so probably counter service or maybe a restaurant at the Springs. Dinner can be either out or something simple at home like a sandwich or restaurant leftovers. We do eat out, but not every day and not every meal. That’s how we roll....it has definitely evolved through the years. Between now having elderly parents and grandkids, we sometimes make it up as we go along......but it all works out! Just noticed this was a older post!
    Becca
    DVC Member since 1992 (OKW)

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