It's also when Disney reveals their Disney Dining Plan's cost per day. This is one of those hot button issues-the President has health care, Disney has the Dining Plan.
The most asked question- Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?
There are many pros and cons when it comes to the Dining Plan- before I dig too deep, let me give you the easy answer.
Disney recently came out with free dining for select fall dates. If you can go at all during these periods, it's absolutely worth it.
You can also pay a small difference to upgrade from the basic dining plan to the deluxe, if you'd like.
Free dining is typically offered only once a year-however, it's also impossible to plan for. Either you have great luck and free dining falls on your already planned vacation, or you wait until Disney offers the Free Dining promotion.
The problem with that second strategy-waiting for Disney to release Free Dining dates- is
a) it may not happen,
b) it may not occur at a time you can take a trip-they usually release it during times they are less likely to fill the park, meaning it's harder for the average person to take off, or
c) either you can't get reservations to popular restaurants or you are only left with impossible times because everyone loves the free dining promotion. (Note: I can help plan your trip for the free dining this fall-and get you in your favorite restaurants...but don't delay in requesting a quote!)
So, now back to the rest of us- what if you don't get free dining?
I did some analysis to determine if the Disney Dining Plan is worth it for you. This is part 1 of 3, where I will analyze all of the Disney Dining Plans available.
First, let's get to the prices for 2013.
The first option I'll analyze is Quick Service Dining. It provides two quick service dining meals. These are usually restaurants where you go up and order with a counter service, and are cafeteria style, similar to a McDonalds or Burger King (not in respect to food quality, just how you are served).
2012 Quick Service Dining cost: $34.99
Quick Service Dining 2013 cost: $37.58 (about a 7% increase)
For children (3-9...sorry, once you hit 10, you enter adulthood in Disney's eyes. Also of note, you can operate a motor vehicle at 6, and begin drinking alcohol at 8. Ok, I'm kidding about that part.... but not about the food, even though it seems ridiculous as well)..
2012 Quick Service Dining Cost: $11.99
2013 Quick Service Dining Cost: $14.32 (about a 19% increase)
Now is more important than ever to ask, with the rising prices, is the Disney Dining Plan for me?
Let's look at a sample meal for an adult.
You're staying at the Contemporary, and will eat brunch at your hotel. You stop at the Contempo cafe, and order the Adult Breakfast Platter (scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, breakfast potatoes, and a biscuit). Cost: $6.79 and a $2.59 Orange Juice.
You also get one more meal. You're visiting Magic Kingdom, so you eat at Casey's Corner (a classic). Your meal? $4.99 Corn Dog Nuggets, $2.49 French Fries, and a $2.59 Coke. Total cost? $10.07.
Also important to note, you do get a snack on this plan. So, let's stay at Casey's, and pick up a $3.99 Cotton Candy.
Is the Disney Dining Plan Worth it? Well, you $37.58 as an adult. Your meal cost for the day would have been $23.44, tax not included.
That means you overspent $14.14. That's another meal (that you won't get).
Why would you want to pick this plan, even though I just showed a loss? Well, one thing to keep in mind is these are 2013 meal plan prices versus 2012 (real time) prices. The prices at these restaurants may go up in 2013, and the result could be drastically different.
This is merely a snapshot in a very large photo album- there are a number of different combinations you can order. Some will result in you not maximizing the full meal plan value, and some choices will allow you to go over- making the meal plan a good value.
What kind of food do you eat? Does your party eat? Now multiply that by 100, because you will be hungry. Walking around all day, always moving, sometimes in the heat- you'll be surprised by your appetite.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your party has to have the same meal plan. You are either all on/all off. You can't mix and match- one on the deluxe dining plan, another on the quick service plan. All must be on the same plan. You must account for your entire party when making this decision.
You will need to spend around $19/meal for this meal option to break even. Can you do that? Absolutely. It all depends on what you order. You can also spend under, as I did above. Keep in mind, you'll probably want another small meal or snack during the day that you will pay out of pocket (because you are only allowed 2 meals on the Quick Service Plan).
As a certified Disney Vacation Planner, I want you to maximize and stretch your dollars all you can while you stay in Disney.
Also, as part of my services, I can identify which restaurants are on this plan, where they are located, which day you should visit them, what their menus are, and prices.
If you have questions about the dining plan, Quick Service Dining Plan, or anything else, I'd be more than happy to help!
Stay tuned for Part 2- where I will analyze Standard (Plus Dining) Dining Plan, the next step up in the Disney Dining Plans.