Every Disney vacation, since 2012, we have chosen to add the Disney Dining Plan to our package. *Except this year, which we totally regret. To get the full details on this click here.* Every year I wonder, the money we spent purchasing the dining plan how does that compare to the value of goods consumed on our vacation? Do we actually end up saving money? Do we break even? This vacation I saved every single receipt from every table service restaurant, every food cart and kiosk, any food item that was purchased with dining plan credits was noted. I wanted to make sure there was no stone unturned. Whenever we purchase the dining plan it seems like a huge upfront cost. In comparison to paying 30 dollars for a quick-service meal at Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom, 70 dollars for a meal at Coral Reef Restaurant. I wanted to know once and for all if purchasing the dining plan makes sense for the needs of our family.
To give you a background, the vacation we’re looking at for this post is our January 2018 vacation. We did a multiple resort stay, which meant two separate dining plans, because the dining plan is directly linked up to your room reservation. The dining plan we’re going to look at is the plan we used for our visit at Boulder Ridge, Wilderness Lodge.
The cost of our dining plan was $937.00. This was the Disney Dining Plan, which includes 1 table service meal credit, 1 quick service meal credit and 2 snacks per day and per person. Each guest also receives a refillable mug. This dining plan was for 5 nights and included myself, my husband and our 5 year-old daughter. Our 2 year old son, just one month shy of 3 was free.
The amount of goods we consumed during those five nights would have cost us: $1187.84. That is a $250 savings. Now this does include the extra meal we got at Chef Mickey’s. So if we remove that, it was a $135 savings.
With a $135 savings we basically got one of our character dining meals for free. Which I count as being ahead. So does it save you money? It can. But you need to make sure you are being aware of getting the most out of your dining plan investment. Indulge in the alcoholic beverages now being included on the plan. If you’re not a dessert person be sure to ask to substitute an appetizers or salad in lieu of the included dessert. Also book as many buffets and all-you-care-to-enjoy meals as you can. These dining experiences are the most expensive and therefore you’ll see your return on your dollar spent.
To summarize, we paid $937 up front for our dining plan. The food consumed would have cost $1187.84. $250 savings.
Now, you may be wondering what does this actually look like. Where did we eat, what kind of food did we enjoy to have racked up those kinds of expenditures. We weren’t all that outrageous with our choices. When on the dining plan you can choose any of the entrees on the menu. So, if you want to, you could eat steak every night of your vacation. We didn’t do that. Here’s where we ate, what we ate and the total bill for our table service meals.
3 Buffet Meals.
2 Adult Cocktails.
Feature Fish Tacos.
Kids Chicken Tenders.
Kids Crispy Chicken
Chicken and Ribs.
3 Buffet Meals.
3 Buffet Meals.
As you can see, our orders were not outrageous, but the bills are of course higher because of the alcohol but also because you’re at Disney. All of our quick service meals ranged from $50-75.
In my opinion the dining plan is worth it. Especially if you plan on doing a couple of character dining experiences because those bills run very high. In this particular case we have three character meals in this example and we basically got two for free with our savings.
I can’t imagine a day when we don’t add the dining plan to our Disney vacation because it seems to be working in our favour. Happy Planning Friends.