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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Disney Dining Plan: Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth it? Final Analysis

If this is your first visit to my site, or you missed last week's posts, make sure you scroll down the page and check out my initial posts about the Disney Dining Plan.

In this post, I'll analyze the  Disney Deluxe Dining Plan- is it really worth it? One quick note- with Disney's Free Dining offer for the fall 2012, all you have to do is pay the difference between the standard Disney Dining Plan and the Deluxe- about $30. The food you can get for just $30 a day... unbelievable. Some of the finest steaks, seafood... just some of the best food you're going to find, and you are stealing it at that price.

I also have a great resource you can use to analyze the Disney Dining Plans option for yourself, and how Disney Dining can work for you.

First off, a bit of a disclaimer. I cannot attest to the previous two Disney Dining Plans I discussed- because ever since I discovered it years ago, I have always been on the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan. 

Please read my analyzing of the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan- but if nothing else, check out the great video I posted at the bottom of my rambling!

The Deluxe Disney Dining Plan gives you 3 meals per night of your stay, 2 snacks per night of your stay, and a refillable mug.

One of the great things about the Deluxe Dining Plan, and really provides a value- not only do you get an entree, dessert, non-alcoholic drink.. you ALSO get an appetizer.

If you've ever looked at a Disney food website, visited a Disney restaurant, or looked at Disney food pictures, some of the most tastiest food you'll find are appetizers. You can also get a little adventurous, and try something you never have before- because, hey, it's just an appetizer, and you know you'll have plenty of food on the way. Why not take a chance on something you can't find at your local Applebees?

My own experience with this- at Disney's California Grill (which is undergoing renovations, and will be closed soon- find my post about it here), the menu is a little fancier than what many people are used to. My husband picked the goat cheese ravioli- and this is some of the best ravioli you'll taste in your life, as least this side of the Atlantic. (sad fact: I had to double check and make sure it wasn't the Pacific that separated the US and Europe. When's the last time you tried to name the 50 capitals? It's scary how quick you lose this knowledge.)

Also, on another trip to the California Grill, we decided it was time to try something that the restaurant is known for. Being from the Midwest (Missouri), you have to question the sign in the local Japanese restaurant that says "Fresh Sushi!" Really? How fresh? Because all I really think you'll find fresh in these neck of the woods is catfish, bluegill, bass, carp.... I know I don't want my fresh sushi to have whiskers. However, not only is the California Grill known for their sushi, they are also a little closer to water that'd I'd expect that kind of fish to come from.

So, I tried sushi for the first time- and loved it! I absolutely would have never tried it, were it not for being on the Deluxe Dining Plan. I could give you about 20 other examples of this throughout Disney World- there are so many great food options. This is something we have come to really enjoy on our trips.

Back to the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan!

So back to the nitty gritty. 

2012 Disney Deluxe Dining Plan Cost: $85.82 (although it's about $5 more during peak season)
2013 Disney Deluxe Dining Plan Cost:  $99.97 ( a 16% increase)

2012 Disney Deluxe Dining Plan Cost: $25.79
2013 Disney Deluxe Dining Plan Cost: $26.84 (Just a 4% increase) 

My first thought? The price increase is a bit backwards, in regards to the other plans. The adult plan prices jumped a smaller percentage (7% for quick service), but the children's dining packages jumped remarkably (19% for quick service). So what happened here?

Maybe Disney saw that they could charge a little more, and the Deluxe package really was a steal. Disney knows people on this plan will be dining either A) more often or B) at more expensive restaurants. Let's take a look.

Now, you can go two ways with this. You can visit 3 table service restaurants, or visit 1 table service restaurant, and go to one of Disney's Signature Restaurants or Dinner Shows. This is how we usually use it- we will go to breakfast, load up, and then hit Hoop Dee Doo or Mickey's Backyard BBQ, or Jiko- or the latest Disney restaurant that will be considered a "Signature" Restaurant for both lunch and dinner, Le Cellier. 

Let's look at a sample meal for an Adult.

Let's start with Breakfast. This is one of my favorite- O'hana, located at Disney's Polynesian Resort. You'll run into Mickey, Pluto, and of course Lilo and Stich-it's actually called the "Lilo and Stich Best Friends Character Breakfast."

On the menu you'll find your usual breakfast fare, but with a little Hawaiian flair; including some delicious bread. It's also served family style- you won't have to rub elbows at a buffet. 
Price: About $25 (again, depends on season)

Next, it's lunch time. Here's where you can really get your belly full. Let's stop at another one of my favorite restaurants, located at Wilderness Lodge. The staff here is fun, and love to give you a hard time. If you ask for a refill, it's a crapshoot- they might bring you a tiny glass with a giant straw, or a gigantic mug, who knows. It fits in perfect with the beautiful Wilderness Lodge and its theme. 

Anyway, here's a sample food selection. You're going to start with an appetizer- the Slow Smoked Pork Spring Rolls are delicious- I've devoured plenty!-and will run you $11.50. 

For your entree, the choice is simple. It's got to be the Canyon Skillet. It's brought out to you in an actual skillet, and is all you can eat Smoked Pork Ribs, Oven-roasted chicken, Pork Sausage, Cowboy Beans, Corn on the cob, coleslaw, mashed potatoes, and cornbread. The price? Just $19. 

Don't forget- after all this food, you also get a dessert. Another item I've been able to sample- the S'mores cheesecake. Cheesecake on a graham cracker crust, with chocolate ganache and marshmallows. All for a delicious $6.99.

Can't forget the $2.99 beverage either.

Finally, you're ready for dinner.
Let's finish up with one place I have never been-I've actually had reservations, but we switched them at the last minute- but I really want to go to. Tony's Town Square, which you'll find near the entrance of the Magic Kingdom. I've heard nothing but great things about Tony's.

You pick Calamari for your appetizer-$10. Your entree will be the NY Strip Steak, for $29. Dessert, at a place like Tony's, you can't go wrong with Tiramisu for $6.50. You're also looking at another $2.99 beverage.

So before I get to the prices- that's a lot of food. 

BUT- that's an incomplete statement. It's a lot of tasty, delicious food. You can also change your schedule up, so that you are just making two visits to restaurants, like I mentioned above. That way, you spent a little less time eating, and eating a little less. You can use your snacks to tide you over.


Final tally-$114. Obviously, you saved yourself about $15. That's like getting the Skillet at Whispering Canyon for free. Another bonus- you are going to be able to sample so much on the menu, depending on your party. You can all order something different, and share. You'll be amazed at what you get.

Let's not stop this here. You're also getting 2 snacks and your $15 refillable mug. Even with the price increase- again, I'm using 2012 restaurant prices vs 2013 Disney Dining Plan Prices, and you know theres only one direction for those prices to go, so I may be undervaluing your meal- the Deluxe Dining Plan is a great value.

And finally, to wrap up my Disney Dining Plan reviews, check out the video below. It's a great resource. Of course, as you plan your next Disney Trip, just send me a message and we can figure out the plan that will work best for you. 

Thanks for reading, and happy eating!


  1. I love how you share the information. You give reasons and information to back up your opinion, while letting the reader decide what will work best for them!

    Thanks for sharing your Disney Wisdom!

  2. Thanks for reading and your comment! I know that everyone who visits Disney is unique- and there are so many different "types" of visitors to the park. Maybe the people are a thrill-seeker, or pregnant, honeymooning, foodie, or someone who just loves all things Disney. Each of those people will have a different trip-but no matter who you are, Disney is such a wonderful place!

    Thanks again!