The value of the Disney Dining Plan has been long argued by guests. There seem to be two camps the people who absolutely love it and use it every trip and those who are adamant they will never buy the Disney Dining Plan. Today I am going to break down why people say the dining plan is a waste of money and that they don’t use it. This can help you decide whether or not you want to get the dining plan on your next Disney World vacation.
Too Much Food
The first response I have is the dining plan is wow, way too much food. Disney food is delicious don’t get me wrong but a big sit down meal every night and then immediately follow it up with a dessert, you really have to stuff it in. When we tried out the dining plan I am not going to lie, I struggled and most often didn’t finish my food. Both lunch and dinner include a dessert.
Have I mentioned that a big meal slows down your ability to hustle onto as many rides as possible after dinner? Those big meals can make walking back to the bus after dinner a struggle!
Dinner isn’t the only time you are overfed, you get a lot of food at lunch too. Just think if you stop in at Flame Tree Barbeque to have lunch and you order the Chicken and Ribs, that comes with baked beans, coleslaw, and a dessert. The portions are huge at Disney and this meal could easily be split between two and both would feel plenty full by the end of it.
Makes Signature Dining Overpriced
Do you like the finer things in life? If your idea of a good vacation includes the likes of enjoying a meal at Yachtsmen Steakhouse and California Grill than the dining plan isn’t the way to go for you. While Disney does allow you to eat at these locations it’s going to cost you two credits. Two table service credits equal out to almost $80/per person. Even at these more expensive spots, it’s nearly impossible to make up the cost of using two credits.
One the second page of this link you can see all the Disney restaurants that require two credits.
Miss Out on Park Time
When you are eating at a sit-down restaurant you are missing out on precious park time. Sometimes it’s really nice to get a break and rest your feet so you can close down the park. On average a sit-down meal can take about two hours. You should expect at a minimum an hour but most take longer.
You Still Need to Bring the Money
While many rave about the convenience the Disney Dining Plan offers, you will need to still bring money with you. The tip for your server is not included and you will have to pay 18%-20% gratuity in person. Keep in mind had you not opted for the dining plan you may have gone to less sit-down meals. This would mean avoiding having to pay a tip or for such an expensive meal every night of your stay.
Water is Not Included
If your family are not big soda drinkers then the $8/day of drinks Disney charges are going to be lost. Both lunch and dinner include your choice of a soda, tea, or coffee. If this is something you normally would skip you should take that into consideration.
Kids are Charged as Adults
In Disney’s eye when you are 10 you are an adult, and let’s be honest the reality is that just isn’t the case. I know every child is different but I am guessing a lot of you parents out there reading this don’t want to be paying for an adult meal for your 10-year-old or even 12 years old. Not to mention if your kid isn’t a big eater you are going to waste a ton of food and money.
Everything Becomes About Food
If you are not a foodie you probably don’t want your whole trip to turn into where you are eating and when. Dining reservations can be booked up to 180 days out. Which means you should probably already have your park days planned so you know where to book. The downfall then becomes you may be going to a park just because that’s where you could get a reservation, not that it’s necessarily where you wanted to be.
You Don’t Save Money
I saved my biggest reason for last, the facts just come down to that most don’t save any money when using the dining plan. People have to make out spreadsheets of where they eat at places. This then breaks out the most expensive dishes and as long as everyone in your party orders that (most likely steak) you will save money. That’s just not how a vacation should be, whatever you want off the menu should be what you get. Worrying about getting your money’s worth and being restricted to select menu items is no way to go.
The advantage of the dining plan is budgeting the cost of food – use Disney’s cost per day in your budget to plan on what you will spend and then balance out the choices you make over your vacation. If you take the time to do the math, I’m sure that you will spend less just paying for you food as you go.
What do you think of the Disney Dining Plan? Share your experiences in the comments below! If you do think the Disney Dining Plan is the right fit for your family here is some information on how to make sure you get the most value you can out of it! Also, check out the Snacks that will Maximize the Value of the Disney Dining Plan.
I have been visiting the parks annually since my parents first brought me at just a year old. Recently I was able to fulfill my life long dream of being a Florida local and moved from the wintery Northeast to the sunshine and fun of central Florida. Now I am hoping to share my Disney knowledge with you so you can have the best vacation possible!