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Vacation Planning Tips & Tricks Discuss Dining Plan Advice in the Vacation Planning forums; I am wondering about adding the dining plan to our trip if we don't plan on going to any character meals and we might not even use table service everyday. ...
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    magic mom's Avatar
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    Question Dining Plan Advice

    I am wondering about adding the dining plan to our trip if we don't plan on going to any character meals and we might not even use table service everyday. What do you think? Would we be saving any money or not?

    Thanks so much
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    The answer may be different under varying circumstances: how many are in your party, and what are their ages? How do you generally eat while on vacation? For some the dining plan is a no-brainer; for others, you'd save money paying your way.
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    There is no one-size-fits-all answer. The dining plan isn't only for character meals, it is for any table-service meal. In fact, you can save MORE money by using the table service credits at meals that are NOT character meals. The character meals are almost all buffets with single set prices. A regular sit-down meal at a non-buffet could easily cost more than the fixed price buffet.

    Do you normally eat a table-service meal most days? Or do you prefer counter service, or dining off-property, or fixing some of your own meals?
    You're not required to use your one table service meal each day - one day you could eat a table-service breakfast buffet and a table-service dinner. Or you can use 2 table service credits at one meal in a signature restaurant or a dinner show. The plan is flexible to a certain degree.

    Do you like to plan ahead and know where you will be dining each day months in advance? or do you prefer to be spontaneous and eat wherever you feel like at that moment?
    The popularity of the dining plan has made it difficult to get into some of the most popular restaurants without making a reservation far in advance.

    Do you normally eat a full meal AND dessert at least twice a day? Both the Counter-service and the table-service meals include desserts. There are some options that you can take with you for snacking on later, but generally you will be getting a full meal and dessert each time. If you don't normally eat that much, you may not be saving any money in the long run.

    It's a lot of questions, I know, but the only way to know if you will benefit from the plan or not is to learn how it works and see if it will work for you.
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    mritty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magic mom View Post
    I am wondering about adding the dining plan to our trip if we don't plan on going to any character meals and we might not even use table service everyday. What do you think? Would we be saving any money or not?
    This has nothing to do with character meals. If you're not going to do a table service meal every day, DO NOT get the meal plan. Meal plan is $39.99 per person per night. A counter-service meal will run you approximately $10-$12, maybe less. If you're not doing a table service every day, DDP is a waste of money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by disneydame2004 View Post
    Do you like to plan ahead and know where you will be dining each day months in advance? or do you prefer to be spontaneous and eat wherever you feel like at that moment?
    The popularity of the dining plan has made it difficult to get into some of the most popular restaurants without making a reservation far in advance.
    This question is irrelevant to the question of "Should I get the DDP or not?". Regardless of whether you get the DDP, you need to make your reservations in advance if you want to any table service meals. I understand what you're *trying* to say - that if you get the DDP, you've prepaid for table-service meals, so you HAVE to make reservations, whereas if you don't, you can just eat at a random counter-service place. But to the uninformed, the implication of this question is that you only need to make table service reservations if you have the DDP, and if you are paying in cash, you don't need to make reservations and can just show up to any restaurant you like.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mritty View Post
    This question is irrelevant to the question of "Should I get the DDP or not?". Regardless of whether you get the DDP, you need to make your reservations in advance if you want to any table service meals. I understand what you're *trying* to say - that if you get the DDP, you've prepaid for table-service meals, so you HAVE to make reservations, whereas if you don't, you can just eat at a random counter-service place. But to the uninformed, the implication of this question is that you only need to make table service reservations if you have the DDP, and if you are paying in cash, you don't need to make reservations and can just show up to any restaurant you like.

    Yes, if you want to dine in a particular table service restaurant, you should make advance dining reservations, regardless of how you are paying for your meal.

    But you still can walk up to a restaurant and try to get a table. You can also try to make reservations the same day at any Guest Services location or on the dining phone number. You may or may not be able to get into the restaurant, but you can always try. Again, this is regardless of how your meal will be paid for.

    There are ways of replying that don't sound like you are attacking the poster, Mritty. It really isn't necessary to put words in other posters' mouths.
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    Wow -thank you Disneydame for sticking up for me. I do realize how ADRs work I have been to the World 6 times and certainly wasn't implying the dining plan was different than paying in cash as far as reservations are concerned. It is advertised as saving visitors money and since I haven't used the dining plan before I just wanted a few opinions. Btw we have been able to go to our desired restaurant of the day without making ADR, it is possible.

    Okay my angry face is gone now : )
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    Quote Originally Posted by disneydame2004 View Post
    There are ways of replying that don't sound like you are attacking the poster, Mritty. It really isn't necessary to put words in other posters' mouths.
    I'm sorry you feel I "attacked" you, disneydame. That certainly wasn't my intent. I was attempting to point out the contradiction between what point I knew you were trying to make, and the actual implication of the words you used. I did not put those words into your mouth. The poster asked "Should I get the DDP or not", and one of the criteria you listed was "Do you want to plan out every meal or go on the fly?". I stand by what I said - that criteria is not a valid one for deciding whether or not to get DDP.

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    Mritty, saying I had an intention other than what I typed IS putting words in my mouth. Perhaps my answer wasn't complete enough to satisfy you, but it is valid and stands as such. I was most certainly NOT implying that you do not need to make ADRs if paying by cash, and you have read way more into my statement than was there.

    As a more complete explanation of why I believe whether you like to plan ahead or eat on the fly is a criteria of determining whether or not to get the dining plan:

    The method one prefers for planning their meals matters very much in figuring if the Dining Plan is going to work for them or not - both in their ability to get the table service meals they want AND if it is going to save them money. If you want to use the Dining Plan to save money, you have to plan ahead, and that includes making the dining reservations, but it also includes looking at the menus online, knowing your family's eating habits, and deciding if you will eat meals that cost at least as much as the cost of the plan. Use the dining plan table service credits only for breakfasts (most breakfast buffets run under $20 for an adult, Chef Mickey's being one exception at $22.99) and you may not. Use them for dinners in the right places, you will (Teppan Edo: Sirloin Steak & Large Shrimp, Chocolate Ginger Cake and a beverage = roughly $37. + tax. In this one meal I spent the entire cost of the Dining Plan for the day - and I still have a counter service and a snack credit to use!)

    As two examples, I will use my two most recent trips. In January '08, I took my son, age 5, to WDW. He is not a big eater and only likes a limited selection of foods. He also is not very patient and does not like to wait around. When he is hungry, he is hungry NOW and doesn't care if we have a reservation in an hour or not. Knowing these things, planning ahead for table-service meals did not make sense, and we did not use the dining plan. Our total cost for food was about $40 a day for the two of us, vs. $37.99 (which is the correct current cost per day for an adult) + $9.99 (child 3-9) = $47.98 for the dining plan. If I had not looked at my son's dining habits, using the dining plan would actually have cost me almost $8 a day more than my food!

    But on the other hand, at the beginning of this month I returned to WDW with my 15 yr old daughter. She likes good food and enjoys the atmosphere at the table service restaurants. In some ways though she is a pickier eater than her brother, so choosing a restaurant to eat at meant going through the menus on AllEarsNet.com to be sure there would be something on it that she would like. While looking at those menus, I could determine the approximate cost for each meal, and could see that we would easily eat at least $30 - sometimes much more - at each table-service meal. For us, the dining plan made sense, so we used it and saved over $100 on our 3 night stay.

    As another example of planning ahead to save money with the dining plan, my daughter and I had made 4 table-service ADR's for three nights worth of Dining Plan credits. By planning ahead, I knew that the lowest cost meal of those four was going to be the fixed-price buffet at Garden Grill. That was the meal we knew to pay cash for instead of using a dining plan credit, therefore saving our credit to use at the much higher priced meal we had at Yak & Yeti later that trip.

    The dining plan is easy to get - just book a Magic Your Way package and add it on. The dining plan is easy to use - a table-service meal, a counter service meal and a snack for each night's stay. But saving money by using the dining plan, that takes some planning ahead.

    I hope I have made my point clear now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by disneydame2004 View Post
    Mritty, saying I had an intention other than what I typed IS putting words in my mouth. Perhaps my answer wasn't complete enough to satisfy you, but it is valid and stands as such. I was most certainly NOT implying that you do not need to make ADRs if paying by cash, and you have read way more into my statement than was there.

    I don't believe this. Seriously, I really don't. I have no idea why you are seeing fit to attack me, why you're trying to argue with me. I have done nothing to you, except clarify your ambiguous statement. I'm sorry you can't see how someone who is unfamiliar with the Dining Plan might have misinterpreted your post. I assure you, they could have. The implication is there whether you meant it to be there or not. *I* know you didn't mean to imply that you don't need to make ADRs in cash. Unfortunately, that's exactly what you implied. And so I responded to clear up any possible confusion that someone reading your post might have gotten. And you lash out at me, accusing me of attacking you, accusing me of putting words in your mouth, when I've done neither.

    I'm so tired of this. There is no reason for this argument. None. We both agree completely on what the point of this thread was supposed to be. But for reasons surpassing my comprehension, some people on this board cannot deal with the possibility that someone might contradict them in any way. You are certainly not the only one. If someone points out that the words they used were ambiguous or even incorrect, it's seen as a personal attack. That is just an insane way to look at it, and I feel sorry for anyone who dares try to help by answering questions and clarifying statements. If you don't 100% agree with someone, you best keep your mouth shut - because if you don't, if you have the nerve to clarify, or even *correct* them, then you're being unfriendly, and you're "attacking" the person you're responding to.

    It's absolutely ridiculous, and it completely takes away from the supposed "Happiest Forums on Earth" that DWT.com is supposed to be. And I can't deal with it any more. As much as I enjoy posting here, I can't just stop correcting people when they're wrong, or clarifying their statements when they make incorrect implications. That's what everyone *SHOULD* be doing, for the good of the community and the good of the less well informed who might be reading these threads now or in the future. But if that behavior is so looked down upon by the inner circle here, then there's nothing left for me to do.

    So I'm out. Maybe I'll come back to these threads at some point in the future, but that time won't be for several months at least. The attitude here is just too contradictory to what I expect to receive from a place devoted to my Happy Place.

    I wish you all well, and hope that your future vacations are as magical as they can possibly be.

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    Paul Lalli
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    Wow!!!

    Hey we just got back in from a trip in April and we too debated endlessly whethter we should get the plan or not. We finally decided to get it five months BEFORE the trip.

    For us, a family of three with mom, dad and a thirteen year old daughter it worked great. I don't know if we came out ahead or not but it was a psycological comfort not paying cash for every snack and meal.

    I know that sounds strange and I know we paid up front but it was nice knowing that each time a snack was requested be it ice cream or a drink etc that I didn't have to pull out 3 bucks plus.

    Remember the key for sucsess were ADR's. We met folks who did the plan but didn't plan and get ADR's. Felt sorry for them as we walked right into the restaurants they were waiting for,
    We did do a character dinner and the Hoop dee doo, which ate up 2 table services for each of us.

    We also ate "around the world" in epcot sampling from three counter service sites from three different countries and a pastry from france. YUMMY!

    We ate at places we would never have considered without the plan.

    At best we came out ahead by eating at different places and not having to worry about doling out cash at the spot, cept for tips.

    At worst we broke even on the plan. But with our meal at Coral reef coming in at 150.00 and 50's prime time at 130.00 I think we came out ahead. Oh yes and the Yak and Yeti, they charge different for the plan but we racked up a bill there too.

    So if you do it get ADR's.

    Rob

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    When we go we always get the Disney Dining Plan because it is a good value. We went to Le Cellier for dinner one night and for 2 adults and 2 children our meal came to $150. I think we only paid $450 for 5 nights. It really is what you prefer. My family gets tired of always eating counter service (burgers, chicken tenders, pizza, sandwiches etc.). It is nice to sit down and have a healthy nice dinner or lunch every day, especially after a long day at the parks. There are many choices for table service restaurants besides the character meals. If you plan on eating at more counter service type places, then the DDP probably isn't for you. However, even counter service for a family of 4 can cost you $30-$40 each meal. Just a thought....Good luck planning your trip.......
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    I think if you want to go to table service meals and maybe even a signature dinner or two, the DDP would be worth it. You are in a sense paying for the table service meal and getting the quick service and snack for free.

    With my wife and I going in September, we got the free DDP. I would have never made so many reservations at the table service meals if we didn't have the DDP. It just would have been sooo expensive.

    But, plan it out, do a budget, and take into consideration how your family eats.

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    For us, personally, for the $37.99 ($9.99 ages 3-9), we really enjoy the convenience of having our meals "mostly" paid for. When the dining plan first came out, it was a terrific deal for those dining full-service - especailly when it included gratuity and appetizers. Though we did find the amount of food to be almost too much.

    Now that it has changed, I was a bit skeptical as to whether it would be a good savings for us, but found that even though we are paying tip, we still save money. We tend to use it in non-character restaurants such as Coral Reef, Boma and Whispering Canyon.

    Another perk - is just the convenience factor. As others have written, it will really come down to your preferences. We just make a list of where we want to eat on our trip and then decide if having the table-service and counter-service 'pre-paid' is worth it to us.
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    Thanks for all of the advice. It is sad, though, that the conversation had to upset people on here. I'm certainly not trying to be flip about Disney but I think that some people on here take this stuff WAY TOO SERIOUSLY. While reading this thread, I thought that the 2 people who were "arguing" were just kidding around (we tend to do that on my St. Louis Cardinals forum). It wasn't until MrItty said he would no longer be on here that I saw that you two were serious. How crazy!
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