13 Reasons NOT to Buy the Disney Dining Plan

A couple of days ago, Cindi had a nice article about the reasons to buy the Disney Dining Plan. She laid out a pretty good case.

To be fair and balanced, we thought we should tell both sides of the story. So today, I’m going to give you the 13 reasons NOT to buy the Disney Dining Plan.

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First, let me say, the Disney Dining Plan is a great deal for some folks. It’s not such a great deal for others. The whole point of this semi-tongue-in-cheek article is to make you think before just blindly adding the Disney Dining Plan to a reservation. Do your homework. On with the show.

In this month’s issue of WDW Magazine I wrote that the “Disney Dining Plan is killing dining at Walt Disney World.” And yes, I’m serious.

Now before you hit that back button, wait just a minute. I promise to make this fun. Trust me.

Here are my top 13 reasons NOT to buy the Disney Dining Plan.

13 – The Dining Plan Mindset – for some people the Disney Dining Plan becomes all consuming. And I get it, the Dining Plan is expensive and you want to make the best of it. However, I’ve heard people say things like, “no big guy, you can’t have a turkey leg because it’s a full meal and not a snack.” Or, “sorry Princess, we’re out of snack credits, you can’t have that Dole Whip.” (No, I didn’t say that to my Princess.)

It’s just sad. Just because you’re on the Dining Plan doesn’t mean you can’t pay for a meal of a snack.

Turkey leg - Photo by Cliff Wang

Turkey leg – Photo by Cliff Wang

12 – I can’t get an ‘Ohana ADR – I was at my doctor this week. He’s a big WDW fan and we were talking about his November trip to Walt Disney World. He was lamenting that at 180 days, he and his wife couldn’t get a reservation to ‘Ohana no matter what they did. His trip was in mid-November during what should be a slow time.

I had to explain to him that it was because of the Disney Dining Plan and Free Dining that he couldn’t get a reservation at ‘Ohana. Because so many people are on the Dining Plan (over 65% of Disney hotel guests), more are eating at the Table Service Restaurants which makes reservations harder to get. And the Free Dining promotion in November has made it even tougher.

He was sad.

11 – The last minute candy rush – and while I was talking to my doctor he mentioned that on the last day they make a mad dash to the nearest candy store to use up all of their credits. Very healthy Doc. Good job.

Too much food? - Photo by Disney Photo Snapper

Too much food? – Photo by Disney Photo Snapper

10 – The trash cans love it – I do think the Trash Can Monsters love the DDP. Maybe that’s the whole point. The Monsters hiding in the trash cans have to eat.

We waste a lot of food when we’re on the DDP, at least when it’s just me and Mrs. Mom. When The Man-Child tags along, not so much. Let’s say we were eating lunch at Casey’s Corner. Typically Mrs. Mom and I would each order a hot dog and probably an order of fries. We might even share a big Coke. With the DDP, we’d end up with 2 hot dogs, 2 orders of fries, and 2 desserts.

The Trash Can Monsters will have a field day. At least half of the desserts and a bunch of fries will end up being TCM fodder. (Now that they’ve added Apple Slices it’s a little better.)

I can see the t-shirts: Trash Can Monsters (heart) the DDP.

9 – 10 year olds – I think I said this in the piece in the magazine, but 10 year olds are on the adult plan? Yes, there are some 10 year olds that eat like an adult, but not very many.

8 – Small eaters – and what about those that don’t eat very much? When The Princess was in high school, it wouldn’t have made any sense to get the DDP for her. She ate a bagel at breakfast. Maybe a piece of pizza at lunch and probably an appetizer at dinner. That was it. She’d eat one or two full meals per week.

Special experiences may not be worth it on the Plutonium Plans - Photo by Disney Photo Snapper

Special experiences may not be worth it on the Plutonium Plans – Photo by Disney Photo Snapper

7 – No soup for you – Unless you’re on the Deluxe Plan, appetizers are not included at sit down meals, even though things like bread service at Sanaa, Cheddar Cheese Soup at Le Cellier, and Flatbreads at California Grill are some of the most popular items at WDW.  When you’re on the DDP, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for those pricey items, which may be a big reason why you booked the restaurant to begin with.  Or you just don’t get your cheddar cheese soup, which is what happened to me.  Sniff. 🙁

6 – Takes away the joy of sharing – Mrs. Mom and I are just learning how to share meals. We both are starting to eat a little less (that’s a good thing), so we try to look and see what we could share (fries, appetizers, desserts, etc.) when we go out to eat.

The full meals with the DDP take away some of that joy of sharing.

5 – The quality of food at WDW is going… for the last several years, the quality and selection of food has been on a steady decline. It’s been sad to see the changes. Really sad.

4 – What would you really spend – one of the things I always recommend when you are considering the DDP is to figure what you would actually spend on your vacation and compare that to what the dining plan costs. No cheating.

Would you really order pizza, salad, and a drink at Pizzafari? Would you really book a Character Meal every day? Do you really need all those extra bags of candy?

See what I mean? Be honest and compare. Maybe the DDP will save you money, maybe it won’t.

Would you eat all this? - Photo by Disney Photo Snapper

Would you eat all this? – Photo by Disney Photo Snapper

3 – Too much planning for the average family – yes, I’m a planning nut. Planning a WDW vacation is what I live for, but I’m weird. I admit it.

Most people don’t want to do the work it takes to do all the planning, all the comparisons, all the keeping track of spending it really takes to do the DDP correctly. I bet they don’t even try.

2 – The tip thing – so, I pay for my meal with my dining plan, but I have to do something else to leave a tip? The tip isn’t included? Oh, it’s “recommend” at how much? 18%-20%. That’s pretty high. Now how was I supposed to pay the tip?

#1 – Why do you think Disney is trying to get everyone hooked on the DDP?  Dad’s going to do a little singing as we wrap this baby up… “Baby, Baby don’t get hooked on me.” Boy does Dad sing good.

So 13 is supposed to be an unlucky number, but it’s what I came up with so we’re going with it.

One last thing. I do love the Disney Dining Plan on one condition. When it’s FREE. Bring back FREE Dining in 2016 (but fix it this time).