Chances are you’ve heard of the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) but you just aren’t sure if it’s right for your family and for your budget. Check out these seven questions you should ask yourself when trying to decide if the DDP is right for you!
1. Do you have a large appetite?
The Disney Dining Plan is advertised as a program that can save you up to 35% off the cost of dining. There are couple of different versions of the plan that break up how many table service and quick service meals are included per person, but the most popular plan includes one table service meal, one quick service meal, and one snack per person per day. Depending on where you eat, what you order, and what your appetite is like, the plan can certainly save you that 35%. If you aren’t a good eater to begin with though, the plan may not be the best option for you. Table service and quick service meals come with desserts, and light eaters may not feel the need to have all of the meals and snacks that are included with the cost of the plan.
2. Do you follow a special diet?
There are exceptions, but in general meat and seafood eaters will see a greater value using the dining plan. If you are vegan or vegetarian, your options for entrees are likely much less expensive anyway, therefore you won’t see the same level of savings that a meat eater would. The same goes for gluten free menu items, and guests who are just a little bit pickier and tend to order the safer or more familiar items.
3. Do you always order soft drinks?
Both table service and quick service meals on the dining plans come with soft drinks, and bottled soft drinks can be used as snack credits as well. We don’t recommend using snack credits for bottled soft drinks because in general snack credits work on items that cost up to about $5, and since soft drinks are on the lower end of Disney “snacks” you’ll get a greater value by saving your credits for something more expensive. For meals however, soft drinks are included so if you do not like soda or would rather hydrate during your meals, that is another factor to consider over the course of your vacation. Plus, with the Disney Dining Plan, everyone in the family gets a refillable mug for resort refills.
4. Do you sometimes split meals?
Following suit with how large your appetite is, splitting meals works best at saving you money when you’re off the dining plan. Since each guest is entitled to a set number of meals per day of their stay, splitting meals on the dining plan would leave you with leftover credits at the end of your trip thus wasting your money. If you go with the dining plan, only split meals to get a taste of what everyone else ordered, but don’t skip ordering your own meal if you want to come out ahead with a greater value for the plan.
5. Do you often dine at two-credit restaurants?
The higher cost of select signature dining experiences, character meals, and room service may make you believe that these experiences are a deal for two dining plan credits. But they’re not. You would be better off paying out of pocket for two-credit meals and saving your credits for something else. If your entire trip is capped off with nightly signature dining experiences, you may want to rethink the dining plan.
6. Are you traveling with friends or extended family?
To see if the dining plan will still save you money be sure to factor in the details above. There is one more consideration to think about though when deciding whether or not to purchase the plan. If you are visiting Disney with friends or extended family, the dining plan would essentially allow you to pre-pay for the cost of your dining (gratuities excluded). So if you are looking to avoid awkward conversations about who is paying for what, or if it’s easier with a larger group to just have the whole trip paid for ahead of time, this may be something else to take into consideration.
7. Still not sure?
The best way to figure out how much the dining plan would save you is to do some math. View menus for restaurants where you plan on dining to get a general idea of what you’d order (without forcing yourself to order soda or dessert if they don’t actually appeal to you). Add some extra numbers for snacks, get the total and compare this number with the cost of the dining plan. Then choose the cheaper option and you’ll be well on your way to saving the most money on dining in the way that will work best for you!