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To meal plan or not meal plan

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  • To meal plan or not meal plan

    Background:
    • Seasonal passholder, we come up from Miami
    • 2 adults, and one 2 year old
    • Visit WDW 3-4 times a year
    • Mostly stay on property
    • Stays can range from 1-2 nights to 4-5 nights
    Question(s):
    • Is the dinning plan worth it?
    • Can it be something just added on the fly?
    • How restrictive is it?
    • Also after every trip we are so over the counter service food (forgive me Lou) that we want/need to do more table service style resturants.
    • We are also thinking about Tables in Wonderland.
    Thoughts and input from the experts please.

  • #2
    Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

    My 2 bits (should be discounted to 1 bit)

    Since you are a passholder, you definitely will want to consider the Tables In Wonderland perk (only need it for one passholder) It will pay for itself if you think you will eat table service more than 5 or so times- while *not* on the DDP - in the year. Of course if you plan on going to the Signature dinners (like CG, or Jiko's, etc) then it makes even more sense to do TiW since it's not cost effective to use up 2 dining credits for signature meals.

    The number of restaurants offered on the dining plan is very extensive, there are only a handful not on the list - really just the Swan and Dolphin eateries. I think you can add dining right up until you arrive for your trip (someone correct me here) The main problem is if you end up in the free DDP windows during your trip. There's not much point to adding it on the fly during those times as you will be hard pressed to get any ADRs you want at the last minute. When free dining is in play the restaurants get very crowded. Not impossible, but difficult.

    People do complain that using the DDP can be confusing as well, whereas paying in cash and getting the TiW discount taken off is as straightforward as it gets. Since you already have an annual pass, I would really think about TiW first - then you are in complete control of your dining decisions. Being on the plan (or having TiW) has nothing to do with your ability to get an ADR. But if you weren't hungry you wouldn't feel compelled to eat at a sit-down because you have the credits. You could order what you want from the menu without worrying about if it is on the plan (see: appetizers) or feeling like you need to order the strip steak again because it's the most expensive thing on the menu.

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    • #3
      Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

      Far as I know you can buy the DDP at any time during your stay. Unless they've changed it.

      My wife and I have looked at it twice, but we really like to fly by the seat of our pants and be tied into as little as possible. We may do three TS meals in one day, for example.

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      • #4
        Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

        Hopefully it doesn't sound like I'm coming down to hard on the DDP. It can be very useful and many, many people like it. I have a family of 4 and am doing the free dining in late August. If there were only 2 of us I would almost certainly shoot for the room discount instead. But for someone who visits often and has an AP, I think TiW makes more sense.

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        • #5
          Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

          As someone who has only stayed on property once and has to plan and save for trips years in advance I love the DDP. I'm hoping to go sometime at the end of next year and I already know everywhere I want to eat .

          I try to have my trip paid off far enough in advance that I can use the last few months to save spending money, so by the time I make it down, using the DDP feels like I'm eating for free (I know in reality it's far from it) because I don't have to worry about budgeting for my meals.

          That being said I'm not sure how much I would like it if I had the means and ability to go more often. When you're talking about wanting to be more spontaneous or completely avoid TS restaurants it begins to sound less appealing to me.
          http://stewbottalborg.tumblr.com/

          sigpic

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          • #6
            Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

            We've done some form of the DDP every time we've been to WDW (my adult trips. my trips with my parents don't count), and I have never regretted it. It isn't the deal it was when we first started going in 2006, but we still like it and enjoy planning out our dining (I know that is a hot topic around here sometimes).

            Like someone said above, the real bonus, to us, is that your meals are "pre-paid". Whether I save any money or not, it is very convenient to be able to go to WDW and know that at least your meals are paid for. It's also easier to plan your souvenir budget that way (it was even easier when the tip was included in the plan).

            If we can dream it, we can do it

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            • #7
              Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

              Originally posted by the7thAve View Post
              it was even easier when the tip was included in the plan.
              Is it not anymore? When I went in 2010 it was... Bummer.
              http://stewbottalborg.tumblr.com/

              sigpic

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              • #8
                Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

                Originally posted by StewbotTalborg View Post
                Is it not anymore? When I went in 2010 it was... Bummer.
                It is not. At least, it wasn't last time we went. Nor does it include an appetizer anymore.

                My dad claims that not including a tip was Disney's way of coercing the diner not to order the most expensive thing on the menu, since most people tip based on a percentage of the check.

                If we can dream it, we can do it

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                • #9
                  Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

                  The tip and appetizer were dropped from the basic plan in 2008.

                  Depending on your eating habits, you can evaluate the Basic or Deluxe Plans. I think for most people the Basic is adequate. The deluxe plan has seen a rise in popularity lately, because of several locations charging two DDP credits for what Disney designates as Signature Restaurants. The Deluxe Plan allows three meals per day so this can cover that restaurant and still allow the person another meal without incurring out of pocket expense.

                  You can use any amount of TS or CS credits in one day. When they are used up, then you pay as you go.

                  Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!

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                  • #10
                    Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

                    Originally posted by Prince Charming View Post
                    The tip and appetizer were dropped from the basic plan in 2008.
                    I know we didn't get the deluxe plan, our appetizer was not but our tip was definitely included. I guess we just went at the right time.
                    http://stewbottalborg.tumblr.com/

                    sigpic

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                    • #11
                      Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

                      Originally posted by the7thAve View Post
                      It is not. At least, it wasn't last time we went. Nor does it include an appetizer anymore.

                      My dad claims that not including a tip was Disney's way of coercing the diner not to order the most expensive thing on the menu, since most people tip based on a percentage of the check.
                      And if we can't stuff in the dessert, we don't order. If we are ordering alcoholic drinks we do not order soft drinks. All these push up the tip. It is fine if you want them, but if you don't those things rack up the bill you are tipping on. It has not stopped me from ordering the most expensive thing on the menu though if that is what I wanted.
                      Some people are like Slinkies.

                      They aren't really good for anything,
                      but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.

                      Friends are Gods way of apologizing to us for our families.

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                      • #12
                        Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

                        Originally posted by HauntedGabe View Post
                        And if we can't stuff in the dessert, we don't order. If we are ordering alcoholic drinks we do not order soft drinks. All these push up the tip. It is fine if you want them, but if you don't those things rack up the bill you are tipping on. It has not stopped me from ordering the most expensive thing on the menu though if that is what I wanted.

                        Oh, no doubt we do the same. I included that anecdote about my dad mostly for humor, but I wouldn't doubt it if there was something to it. It makes sense, after all.

                        Like you said, though, I'm gonna order the Mushroom Filet at Le Cellier every time, no matter what.

                        If we can dream it, we can do it

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                        • #13
                          Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

                          Since they changed the meal plan to not include tip and since two of our kids are no longer "kids" prices we do not do the dining plan anymore. Often we just want water after being in the heat, and rarely would we order desserts. Sometimes we will even spilt meals if the portions are too big which also brings down the cost. I would price out how much you think you would spend by looking at the restaurant menus/prices to give you an idea if you will be close to the cost of the dining plan. We are not close, so we do not get it. We too make reservations at more TS and do not care for CS too much. If you are close in price, then get the dining plan. With two people on DDP, it might work out for you
                          Last edited by disney-akj; 04-03-2012, 07:41 PM.
                          Michelle

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                          • #14
                            Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

                            Originally posted by the7thAve View Post
                            Oh, no doubt we do the same. I included that anecdote about my dad mostly for humor, but I wouldn't doubt it if there was something to it. It makes sense, after all.

                            Like you said, though, I'm gonna order the Mushroom Filet at Le Cellier every time, no matter what.
                            Yep, funny but likely truthful. And I'm sure there are some that get so wrapped up in the DP they never stop to figure it all out.

                            Yum Mushroom Filet. With dinner being two credits there now, it actually is cheaper to pay cash than pay for two dining credits at LeCellier. I just read a post that LeCellier is booked up already for September dates available. Crazy.
                            Some people are like Slinkies.

                            They aren't really good for anything,
                            but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.

                            Friends are Gods way of apologizing to us for our families.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: To meal plan or not meal plan

                              Originally posted by StewbotTalborg View Post
                              As someone who has only stayed on property once and has to plan and save for trips years in advance I love the DDP. I'm hoping to go sometime at the end of next year and I already know everywhere I want to eat .

                              I try to have my trip paid off far enough in advance that I can use the last few months to save spending money, so by the time I make it down, using the DDP feels like I'm eating for free (I know in reality it's far from it) because I don't have to worry about budgeting for my meals.

                              That being said I'm not sure how much I would like it if I had the means and ability to go more often. When you're talking about wanting to be more spontaneous or completely avoid TS restaurants it begins to sound less appealing to me.
                              Actually I understand the budget planning by including the DDP. That piece of the financial puzzle is just taken care of. It is still possible to be spontaneous IF you tour during the least crowded times. It is often like days gone bye where you can often walk into a TS and be seated in a few minutes at most of the restaurants. The odds of being spontaneous during busy times, not so good.
                              Some people are like Slinkies.

                              They aren't really good for anything,
                              but they still bring a smile to my face when I push them down a flight of stairs.

                              Friends are Gods way of apologizing to us for our families.

                              Comment

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