Can You Save Money on the Dining Plan?
The Disney dining plan (DDP) is a great way to save money. However, in order to save money the plan must be implemented properly. Disney banks on people not using all of their points, and thus reaps greater profits. The last blog post detailed the three different options for the dining plan. In this blog I will break down the price and savings potential of the dining plans. To start, the price of the dining plans are as follows: the quick service plan is $34.99 for adults 10 and older and $11.99 for children 3-9; the standard dining plan is $45.99 adults 10 and over and $11.99 for children 3-9; and the deluxe dining plan is $78.99 for adults 10 and over and $21.99 for children 3-9. All prices are per person per night and none of the plans include gratuity.** All of the points that you get for purchasing the dining plan are placed into your account upon check in and do not expire until 11:59 pm on the day you check out. Meaning if you are staying for seven nights you will have seven snacks, seven quick service meals, and seven table service meals, available immediately. There is no rule stating how you must use your points. If you chose you can use three table services on the first day, and then use three quick services on the following day and then the third day use none. The beauty of the plans is that they are flexible and can be used however and whenver you like.
Standard Dinning Plan
This is by far the most popular plan offered. For every Quick Service point you will be able to pick one entree, one side, one dessert, and one drink; also for every Table Service point you will be able to pick one entree, one side, one dessert, and one drink. The best way to show the potential the plan has is to give you an example detailing the math.
Let’s say you are spending the day at the Animal Kingdom. You decide that you want to eat a Pizzafari for lunch. You pick the pepperoni pizza served with a side Caesar salad priced at $8.69; you also choose the bottled water at $2.50. For dessert you go with the chocolate mousse priced at $3.59. During the long day at the park you decide that you want use your snack to get an additional bottled water for $2.50. For dinner you make your way back to your hotel, the Wilderness Lodge, to eat at the Whispering Canyon Cafe. You then decide to go for the Canyon Skillet (an all you can eat master piece, in my humble opinion) priced at $26.99 and to drink you decide to partake in the delightful bottomless milkshake for $5.99. For dessert you go with the S’mores cheesecake priced at $6.99. Now to total out the day you get $57.99 plus 6.5% tax gives you a grand total of $61.71. That gives you a savings of $15.72 per day per person. Two adults could potentially save $220.00 on a seven night vacation. Not a bad deal!
**Something new that is coming to the Standard Dining Plan is refillable mugs! As for the quick service dining plan it does not offer much in the way of money saving opportunities. The only real reason to get it is if you are the type of person that wants to prepay for everything. It did not fair well last season thus Disney is making changes to the plan for 2012. Read all about the changes here http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2011/06/13/2012-disney-dining-plan-changes/.
Deluxe Dining Plan
With the deluxe dining plan you also get an appetizer with lunch and dinner. You start your day at the contemporary resort with a buffet character breakfast at Chef Mickey’s priced at $26.62. You then make your way to the Magic Kingdom, when you arrive you grab a bottle of water at a street stand for $2.50. At lunch you decide to go to Liberty Tree Tavern. For appetizer you get the New England clam chowder for $6.99 you also get a soda for $2.00. For an entree you get the William Penn Chicken Pasta for $15.99 and the Caramel Apple Tart for $6.49 for dessert. You then park hop over to Epcot where you stop by the Germany pavilion and get the Peanut Butter Caramel Crunch Cookie for $4.00. To finish out the day you go to the Coral Reef. There you get the Steamed Mussels for appetizer priced at $11.99. Then for dinner you get the Herb Crusted Halibut for $27.99 and then the Butterscotch Crème Brule for $7.99. You wash it all down with a soda for $2.00. Now if you can even move after eating that much in one day we find that this totals up to $114.56 plus 6.5% tax gives you a grand total $122.00. This gives us a grand total of $43.00 saved per adult per day or $602.00 for two adults for 7 nights. As you can imagine eating this much takes a lot of time and for most of us it is not easy to eat this much in one day. I strongly recommend against this plan for your first time at Disney, you hardly have time to see all of the parks without spending half of you day in a restaurant.
Clearly there are significant saving to be had when purchasing and using the DDP. When it is a free promotion the savings are huge! Here are the dates for the promotion in 2011 http://www.onlywdworld.com/2010/08/disney-vacation-package-free-dining.html. This has been something they have been running fairly regularly. It could be worth the package for the dining savings alont.
**Pricing will be changing shortly. They are also detailed on the Disney Food Blog post.