Stickin’ it to the Man with the Disney Dining Plan! – Daffy Does Disney

Today, Daffy Stardust takes on a controversial topic in the best way possible. With math and sarcasm!


Posted on April 1, 2017, in Daffy Does Disney, theme parks, Walt Disney World. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Well done. I think you made your point very well without taking a hard anti-dining plan stance. What you have outlined is the best possible use of the dining plan which requires guests to jump through an awful lot of hoops to potentially save a couple bucks. Maybe even a few if you’re really lucky. But you have to be prepared to eat more than your average theme park tourist, nab all the hard-to-guest reservations months in advance, order only the most expensive meals and snacks off the menu even if that’s not what you would have preferred to eat, etc. etc.

    Miss one meal or even a snack and Disney wins. The odds of this happening increase exponentially if your travel party includes children. But we also had a trip with my mom in which she caught a stomach bug and stopped eating for a day. Fortunately, we were on the Free Dining Plan Promotional offer, but either way any value the dining plan had went up in smoke the minute something unexpected happened. Even when things go according to plan, we often find ourselves showing up for buffet meals when we aren’t hungry just because we have already prepaid for them as part if the dining plan.

    If the question is “can you save money on the Disney dining plan?” the answer is clearly “yes, you can”. It’s possible. But it means locking yourself into a lot of restrictions including a commitment to spend a whole lot of money at Disney’s dining establishments. So even if you do some out ahead, guess what? Disney still wins.

    And this is where I will take a slight issue with something you said. No matter what you do, there is no money going into your pocket. The best you can hope to accomplish is to save money on paper. The truth is, you’re going to spend a whole lot of money on food no matter what you do. The real question is, will you spend less money on the dining plan? The answer to that is that you can if you play by Disney’s somewhat arbitrary rules.

    For example, if you don’t value getting your picture taken with Pooh and Tigger, does the higher price point at Crystal Palace still make it a better value? Obviously not. You’d be better off getting a less expensive plated entree somewhere else in the park rather than eating at a buffet with characters you don’t actually care about meeting coming to your table.

    I realize I’m preaching to the converted and your comment was at least partially in jest. But I just wanted to underline that you sacrifice a lot of freedom under the dining plan for the perception of savings when in reality, you are probably spending more money than you would have for the privilege of having Disney tell you where you need to eat and what you need to order.

    Something else that rarely comes up in these conversations is that you still have to pay a tip. Assuming you’re not a freeloader, you’re going to leave a higher tip when you go to Be Our Guest and order the steak than if you had gotten a sandwich at The Plaza. So, that will also dig into your “savings”. Not tremendously, but when you tied yourself up in a knot to come out ahead by $1.70, you’re probably splitting that extra money with your waiter. And he didn’t have to have a smoothie for breakfast.


    • daffystardust

      Yeah, that was definitely laced with a little sarcasm.

      As I said in the video, I could have spent a LOT more time discussing this topic. When I considered the idea of doing the subject I realized that a couple of things would be negatives. 1) It could end up being a very long video 2) it’s a topic many other people have covered. Both of these might cause viewers to lose interest.

      So I decided to take a different approach than what I’ve seen elsewhere and set out to accomplish the opposite of my preconceived opinion. It also meant that I would be purposefully leaving out some relevant information.

      The original video was closer to 25 minutes in length, and most of what I cut was actually different info, but I made some hard cuts in the end and trusted that my point was getting across without any additional smoothing over.


      • I think you accomplished that. By limiting yourself as you did to just this one concept, you illustrated exactly how much effort goes into “saving money” on the DDP without getting pulled into a bunch of other side topics.

        Of course if you are the kind of person who talks with people about Disney World topics, you have had the experience of talking to people who refuse to do the math or insist that handing Disney over a large sum of money at the start of their vacation is somehow more convenient than paying as they go. You’ll never reach those people. I was just helping a coworker plan his trip and he was of the opinion that based on what he had read, the DDP was a rip=off. But his sister-in-law, who is in charge of planning the trip, was sold on the DDP (as well as on-site accommodations) by a travel agent. A video like this might be able to sway someone who isn’t already married to the idea that Disney’s marketing promotes that the DDP is a way to save a buck. 98% of the time, it’s not. It’s a way to get you to commit a very large sum of money up front on the hopes that you might eek out a few bucks of savings.


        • daffystardust

          I totally understand the idea of wanting to have your vacation paid for once you leave for it. If that’s your goal and the small number money doesn’t matter to you, then that mindset is part of what you’re paying for with the DDP and you know it. Unless you’re consistently going out of your way with what food you choose, you’re not going to “save” money, though.

          One approach I could have taken to the video would have been comparing my own food plans out-of-pocket versus using the DDP. While I’m going to spend about $10 more with my plans as they are, I’m getting a LOT more for my money. I’m going to 2 table service restaurants a day on half of my days, but I’m spending less there than I wpuld have to if I was trying to “maximize” the value. One of the most popular meals at the Brown Derby, for example, is the Cobb Salad, which costs just $18 for the entree size. The Brown Derby costs 2 table service credits, though, so getting that entree while using the DDP is VERY wasteful money-wise.

          I’m going to spend about $20 there and enjoy the benefit of not waiting in line for my food, not carrying a tray and trying to find a table, and getting to interact with the cast member who serves me. As a single person who knows what I want to eat ahead of time that waiter will be able to pleasantly turn me over in no time flat with no trouble at all. It will be relaxing for me without eating up a lot of time at their table. It’s one of the benefits of going alone that I’m anticipating reporting on when I get back. We’ll see how it pans out.


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