Saturday, April 3, 2010

DDP... worth it, or not?

After talking to a fellow WDW fan about the Disney Dining Plan (DDP), I figured I should write my opinion on it.  It's a really difficult topic to discuss simply because the DDP isn't for all guests of WDW. 

I feel like there are essential "qualifications" in order to determine if the DDP will work best for you and your family. 
  • You have to be able to consume a large amount of food... or be okay with letting some food go to waste.  With getting one snack, one quick service meal, and one table service meal a day... it's a ton of food. 
  • Your family needs to be willing to take some extra time out of the day in order to have a sit down meal.  Disney service is very quick but you obviously have to wait for each course to come out.  If you're on a tight schedule it's probably not best to take the time out of your vacation to have long meals.
  • Make sure that you're willing to maximize the DDP.  That requires you to use your quick service meals on lunch instead of breakfast and your table service meals on dinner.  Breakfast is the cheapest in WDW so my advice is to use your snack credit getting a pastry in the morning.  Lunch time is when you want to use your quick service.  Use the table service credit wisely!  Choose restaurants that cost more per person.  Be willing to choose entrees that are higher priced as well. 
There are a lot of questions that come up as far as if the DDP is financially worth it.  After lots of number crunching i've laid out how much it costs on the DDP and how much it is to dine the exact same way while paying out of pocket.  Here are a few facts that I took into account.  I don't think I forgot anything.
  • Florida sales tax is 6.5%
  • I used a straight 15% tip for all table service meals.
  • I never order pop at table service restaurants.  Matt sometimes does. 
  • I used a price of $3.00 even for every snack.  Just for the sake of keeping it easy.
  • The price of the DDP does NOT include gratuity.
The basic Disney Dining Plan is $39.99 per person per night.  We're staying 7 nights. 
$39.99 x 7 = $279.93 x 2 people = $559.86  (I'll add the OOP gratuity later)

Biergarten -   $26.99 x 2 = $57.49 w/ tax and $10.00 tip = $67.49
Coral Reef -   $20.99 + $25.99 + $7.99 x 2 = $64.96 w/ tax and $10.38 tip = $79.57
Le Cellier -   $36.99 x 2 = $73.98 + tax = $78.79 + $11.82 tip = $90.61
Tusker House -   $28.99 x 2 = $57.98 + tax = $61.75 + $9.27 tip = $71.02
Cape May Cafe -   $26.99 x 2 = $53.98 + tax = $57.49 + $8.63 tip = $66.12
Chef Mickey's -   $34.07 x 2 = $68.14 + tax = $71.55 + $10.74 tip = $82.29
'Ohana -   $30.99 x 2 = $61.98  + tax = $66.01 + $9.91 tip = $75.92

Table Service Total = $544.96

Yak & Yeti -  $10.99 x 2, $3.29 x 2, $2.50 x 2 = $33.56 + tax = $35.75
Studios Catering Company -  $8.39, $6.49, $3.59 x 2, $2.50 x 2 = $27.06 + tax = $28.82
Pizza Planet -  $7.79 x 2, $1.79 x 2, $2.00 x 2 = $23.16 + tax = $24.67
Tangerine Cafe -  $7.95 x 2, $2.00 x 2 = $19.90 + tax = $21.20
Pecos Bills -  $6.79 x 2, $1.99, $3.99, $2.50 x 2 = $24.16 + tax = $25.73
Columbia Harbour House -  $8.09 x 2, $3.59 x 2, $2.50 x 2 = $28.36 + tax = $30.21
Sunshine Seasons -  $8.59, $9.99, $2.89, $3.99, $2.50 x 2 = $30.46 + tax = $32.44

Quick Service Total = $198.82

Snacks - $3.00 x 7 nights = $21.00 x 2 people = $42.00    Note:  I couldn't remember if they charge tax on snacks or not.  So I just did without.

Table Service Total -  $544.96
Quick Service Total - $198.82
Snack Total -             $42.00 

Out of pocket expense total =           $785.78
Disney Dining Plan price + tip total = $632.17

Difference saved by using DDP = $153.61

Keep in mind that if your goal is to spend the least amount possible on food then it's not in your best interest to use the DDP.  Your best option would be to eat quick service for your entire vacation.  Have breakfast in the room, share large quick service servings, and cut back on pop.  If you can reuse water bottles then you'll save a bit more as well.

If there is anything flawed that you notice in my calculations please let me know.  I'm sure there are some small errors in there somewhere.


  1. This is like when that shepherd found the Dead Sea Scrolls.

  2. Hey Stacey,

    I did the same thing in Excel for the Unofficial Guide. Drop me a line, please - we should chat:



  3. I've always been a fan of the dining plan - I like the pre-paid aspect of it, and with kids, we enjoy having a table service meal every day - especially since so many of them are special in some way - character meals, special locations, etc.

  4. I agree, Gina. Dining at WDW is an experience in itself. It's not like hitting up your local Applebees. You bring up a good point with kids. They need breaks. Sitting down and enjoying a meal together in an air conditioned environment is probably welcomed. I do miss the old version of the DDP. Not just because it was technically a better deal but because it was even more convenient with gratuity being included.

  5. Holy crap! That's a lot of money on food! Haha!

    We're CS people. Partly because we don't care to take the time to eat. Partly because we don't like to make ADRs (no clue what we'll be in the mood for or when.) And partly because I can't rationalize spending that much money on food I probably won't like (I'm a super picky eater.)

    For our trip in 2008 we spent around $500 on food and souvenirs. Not sure exactly what was spent on food alone but I'm too lazy to look. We were there 6 nights. That includes ALL food...meals, snacks, drinks, etc.

    For our trip this year we spent about $700 on food and souvenirs. (Again, not sure exactly what was on food.) We were there an extra day/night. We had two ADRs which were pretty pricey ($75 for lunch at coral reef and $100 at Restaurant Marrakesh for dinner.) I think that is a lot to spend on food but that includes quite a few snacks. Besides to two ADRs above, we had CS for every breakfast and every lunch. We also had various snacks in the parks. So for what we got...I don't think it's too bad.

  6. Yeah, Jill, i'd have to agree. Snacks add up quicky. And if you did two counter service meals at least, per day... that adds up.

    We have a hard time using our snacks sometimes on the DDP. We're always so full from our CS or TS that we don't even want snacks. Typically, by the end of the vaca we've at least got two left each. This last trip with my mom was easier because of F&WF. You can use your snacks on sampling food. I appreciated that because it wasn't "junk food." I felt like I wasn't wasting my credit on a bag of chips that they buy in bulk for like 2 cents a bag.

    I'm without a doubt the most adventurous eater out of my family. I'll try anything once. My mom won't touch fish unless it's from Long John Silver's (ugh) and Matt didn't grow up sharing food. He says that you eat what you're given and don't ask for anyone elses food. Drives me nuts. haha. Even sharing something off of the same plate is hard for him.

  7. Graham and I share a lot. Sometimes that's the only way I learn I like something. I try stuff he orders rather than order it for myself and end up hating it/wasting it.

    In my blog a while back and went through and listed everything we ate on our January trip (so unhealthy! Haha!) I don't feel like we ate that many actual snacks (just some pretzels and random things here and there.) But if we had done any sort of dining plan, we could have used those credits for one of the many bottles of water I got. :)

  8. haha! Yeah you can save on water by using your snack credits for that. Every time I'd get a CS meal, I'd get a water. And a large one at that. I don't normally drink a lot WHEN i'm eating a meal (don't know why) so then i'd have my water left to pop in my Baggallini.

  9. Hey thanks for the post. Very helpful to see it all spelled out like you did.