Friday, September 30, 2011

Is the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan Worth the Cost?

We visited Disney during the free dining plan promotion they run during the off season, but we also decided to go ahead and pay the difference to upgrade to the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan. Here is our reservation list, a short blurb on what we thought of each experience, the cost and whether we thought it was worth it.

The details:
Basic Plan: Free
Upgrade for 4 adults and 3 children: $1130
Dining Plan includes 3 table service meals and 2 snacks per person per day.

We ate most of our meals together so I will work this out as one plan but will note how many people ate at each meal to give you a better idea of how much it costs per person. I will also do a cumulative OOP (out of pocket) and a cumulative DDP (Disney Dining Plan) total

Day 1:
Yactsman Steak House at the Beach Club Resort
Nice atmosphere. Classy Casual. Food was B+.
2 adult meals and 2 children's meals
Total: $175 (covered by plan)
Tip:$35 (out of pocket)

Day 2:
Akershus with the Princesses at Epcot
Buffet Style Breakfast. Food was  typical of a breakfast buffet
4 adults 3 children

Dinner at Maya Grill
Food was mediocre and it took forever to get out of there!
3 children 4 adults

Day 3:

Supercalifragilistic Breakfast
Typical American Buffet
3 children 4 adults
Total: $124
Tip: $22

Lunch at Hollywood and Vine
Typical Buffet
3 children 4 adults
Total: $164

Day 4:
Breakfast at Ohana
Family Style Buffet (FAVORITE)
3 children 4 adults
Total: $110
Tip: $22

Lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern
Homestyle Americana
2 children 4 adults (sleeping 3 year old)
Total: $138
Tip: $28

Dinner at Cinderella's Royal Table
So I hesitate saying this but of all of our meals this was my least favorite. Our reservation was for $8:10 and the parade crowd was scary. All entrances to the front of the castle were closed so they made you go around through Tomorrow Land. This would have been fine except that the crowd was so packed that we had to fight to get through. I had people yelling at me while they were the ones blocking the paths! We got around to the side to be told we had to go back to the other side. I nearly broke into tears and the guy felt sorry enough that he escorted us to the castle so that we didn't have to fight the crowd again. We got there on time (barely as it took us an hour to fight the crowd) only to wait another hour for our names to be called. The food was only so-so, though we did have a nice view of Wishes. The girls enjoyed the princesses but they did at Akershus as well and it was much less stressful. I would never pay out of pocket for the food at CRT and if you make reservations, DO NOT make them during wishes or the parade times!
3 children 4 adults
Total: $296
Tip $46

Day 5
Breakfast at Tusker House
3 children 4 adults
Tip:$ 27

Lunch at Tusker House
3 children 4 adults

Dinner at Yactsman
Atmosphere was wonderful and the food was ok but not spectacular. They have a great kids desert!
3 children 4 adults
Total: $275 (missing one receipt so did an average)
Tip:$ 55

Day 6:
Breakfast at Crystal Palace
Buffet by far the worst out of all of them we tried. Loved the building though.

Lunch was quick service
Dinner at California Grill
Spectacular food and the view we had was It was noisy though so that was a bit disappointing considering how upscale it is supposed to be
2 adults (my birthday with my DH!)
Tip $22

Kids, MIL and SIL had Pizza

Day 7:
Breakfast at Chef Mickeys
Ok so by this point I was SO sick of food I barely ate. It was a typical buffet.
3 children 4 adults
Total: $140
Tip: $29

Lunch was snacks

Dinner Tony's Town Square
Italian. It was good but apparently they were ready to go home because we were rushed. Our appetizer plates disappeared as we were still pulling food off of them.
3 children 4 adults
Total for DDP was $2383
Snack and QS Total: $450
Total OOP was: $491
Total spent including cost to upgrade and tips:$1621
Saved: $1212

So we did save money based on what we ate on the plan, but was it worth it? Well, I don't think so. Had we not been on the plan we would not have eaten an appetizer, entree and desert per person. Sticking to just an entree and an occasional desert would have cut down the cost significantly. We also had 23 snack credits left at the end of our trip so we easily could have survived on just the basic free meal plan. Something else to consider was that we were slaves to our reservations. Some require a credit card to secure so missing them would have been expensive. I am glad that we got to experience some of the places we ate, but I think in future we will stick with the basic plan and just choose a few nice places to visit and pay out of pocket.


Heidi said...

Wow! Thanks for the break-down, Anna. Sounds to me like entirely too much food! I enjoy trying all the different restaurants at Disney, but they do tend to give large portions and I'm afraid I'd be like you and be so sick of food 'til the end of the week! I think all the walking at Disney almost makes me less hungry than more hungry.

I'll have to remember to do a break-down like this of our dining plan in January (we're just doing the regular plan - one table service, one quick service, and one snack per day). I think it'll be more than enough.

Anna said...

No kidding though the lunches were a nice break from the heat and humidity. I will tell you what else was crazy, the number of receipts we got from some of the places. I have 9 from Maya grill!

Anna said...

Oh I was also surprised at all of the snacks you could get! We had everything from fruit bowls, salads, and chocolate covered strawberries, to icecream and candy. I was really prepared for the snacks to be dinky(is this an acceptable word? LOL) but they weren't!

Jenn G. said...

Thanks for taking the time to note all of your dining costs and opinions! Really helpful for those of us who would have no idea if it was a good deal or not. So great!

Sharla said...

I appreciate you taking the time to break everything down and also to give reviews on each of the places you went. I am taking some of the kids to Disneyland in November, not sure if they offer a dining plan like Disneyworld does or not, but it doesn't sound like something I would like. We have a kitchen in our room, so I will make most of our meals, but one of our daughters is having a birthday while we are there, so I was thinking we would go to Ariel's Grotto that night. Anyway, sorry to rant. That has nothing to do with your post except to say that I appreciate the information as the dining plan is something we have considered in the past.

Anonymous said...

That's a good analysis... we've gone twice with Deluxe dining now and found that we love it as long as we do breakfast and lunch in the same park. We also do mostly buffets so we get through faster. Our average meal takes 45 minutes-1 hour.

The Writing Garden said...

Thanks so much for soing this! I have wondered the same thing myself for years - we are annual passholders as we live about 45 minutes away & we have often stayed there for a "stay-cation" & wondered about the DDP. This is awesome!

We usually only treat oursleves to sit-down dinners & eat the rest of our meals with food we bring along or eat at a quick-service.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree that the deluxe plan is a lot of food and that you can probably eat cheaper than the cost of the plan. However, when I read about the dining plans almost everyone leaves out that it is extremely peaceful to have your food paid for before you enter the park and to choose any restaurant solely on the atmosphere or the characters.

I am planning my next trip and intentionally choose 2 places that are 2 meal credits as I know we most likely with have extras if we don't. Looking forward to enjoying those places for the first time. I only plan on making reservation for breakfast and dinner. Then fill in when with quick service if needed.

Also if you want to eat anywhere that's busy you need reservations if you actually want to get in. So be aware that you wont be able to get your first choice if you just want to pop in.

The first time that I used the Dining plan they had one that was 2 full service meals a day and that was perfect, it also included the tips and that made it so much easier as well.

BTW we asked the waitress at one of our meals how it was easiest for them to get their tips and she indicated that if you put the tip on your room card they don't get it until you check out. So if you want to take care of your waitress tip with cash.