The Disney Dining Plan or DDP seems to be one of the only things about Disney I can’t find a definitive answer on and splits peoples opinions equally. In short what it is is a pre paid plan that you can opt for if you wish that can give you free dining at Disney Parks and Resorts. Whether or not it’s worth the money is one of the most talked about subjects amongst disnerds. I’ve done quite a bit of research – and some actual maths!! – I knew the extra tuition would come in handy one day, just wasn’t expecting it to be 20 years later…. and this is what I’ve discovered.
DDP is well worth the money if you are planning on spending your whole holiday on Disney property. It gives you the chance to book into all the pricey restaurants for your table service meals, including Be Our Guest, Cinderellas Royal Table and some of the character dining. There are differing levels of dining plan but for the sake of this post I’m going with the one that gives you 1 table service, 1 quick service and 1 snack a day. It works by giving you a certain number of credits a day, they do roll over as far as I’m aware and some dining experiences require 2 table service credits. Snack credits can be used on things like Dole Whip which is good and drinks.
If I was planning on staying solely on resort I would do it. It would give me a good opportunity to eat at all the really nice places I wouldn’t normally eat in, instead of having to just pick one or 2 to do each trip. Believe me if I was not planning on leaving Disney I would make the most of it and eat ALL the food.
It’s around $60 for the dining plan per person per day (over 10- $25 under 10) I did a bit of maths today based on some of the places I would choose to eat and to spend a day at Hollywood Studios, lunch at Pizza Planet and Dinner at 50s Prime Time, along with 3 snacks during the day (shared between the 3 of us) I worked out we would save $40 by being on the dining plan. However, if we weren’t on the plan we would have chosen less expensive places to eat and not even spent $60 between us. I think that having it encourages you to eat in the ‘nicer’ places because you do save money if that’s where your eating. However if you’re not a big eater then its a waste of money.
It’s also a bit pricey I think for kids, most kids are fussy and won’t eat enough food for it to be worth it. One option is to just pay for the kids as they go along and just have the plan for the adults.
I looked at a few of the nicer restaurants and thought it would be nice to have DDP for a few days during my stay and if you did that then really it’s probably worth it, but you can’t do that. You have to have it for the whole duration of your stay and it is only available to those staying on site. There are so many amazing, and inexpensive, places to eat in Orlando that it’s a shame to miss out on them because you have the plan and feel like you have to use it. (I’ve done a whole page about eating out in Orlando, have a look at the top, there’s some money saving tips as well)
Disney do offer the plan free at certain points of the year which is great, however it’s only valid at certain resorts. Our trip for example we wouldn’t be eligible because we’re in a value resort, all of those are exempt from the offer. You also need to look at the prices of the rooms because generally you’ll find if you’re getting the plan free your room might be a bit more expensive.
Honestly, I still can’t make my mind up about it!! There’s good points and bad points with it and it’s totally dependent on personal preference. I think having more options for it – like being able to purchase for a few days rather than it having to be for the entire stay – would make it more appealing. We all know the majority of people will spend at least 4 days out of Disney during their holiday for Universal, Islands of Adventure, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and shopping or the beach. Why pay over $200 for food for 4 days when you won’t use it…
On another note….
I might have mentioned on here a few times that there will be tears when I get to Disney, seeing the castle from the boat gets me, walking into MK gets me, the parade does it as well and I’m pretty sure when the hotel says ‘Welcome Home’ I’ll be a mess but I think I found the thing that’s really going to get me this time…. MICKEY TALKS!!! Why I never knew about this I don’t know but it’s so real!! I know the characters in Orlando are actually the real ones anyway but my goodness this takes it to another level it’s insane!!