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Saturday, August 27 2016 @ 05:10 PM CDT

Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts

PodcastEpisode 619 is now available for download.

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Show Notes

Hosts: Matt Hochberg, Len Testa, Mike Scopa, Mike Newell & The Fabulous Annette Owens


  • Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts

  • Today, we discuss if free dining is really free

    Important things to know to keep the comparisons apples to apples:

    1. Magic Your Way is the name Disney gives to packages. Magic Your Way includes: Room and Tickets.
    2. When Disney offers Free Dining in Value Resort packages – it is Quick Service Dining.
    3. Free Dining in Moderate and Deluxe Resort Packages — is the Basic Disney Dining Plan.

    All prices are based on a trip November 2 – 6, 2009. 2 Adults, 2 children. Standard View. 4 Day Base Tickets. Tax is not included.

    ©2009 Touringplans.com

    If you notice in the Deluxe category, it is actually $91.60 cheaper to purchase the Magic Your Way Plus Dining than the Free Dining offer. Just because FREE is in the offer, it’s not always saving you money.

    Here are the numbers for the deluxe resorts:

    ©2009 Touringplans.com

    Related Links

  • Previous Episodes about Special Offers.
  • Previous Episodes about the Free Dining Plan.

  • Running Time: 15:44

Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts | 12 comments | Create New Account
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The Risk of having eating the food
Authored by: AquaViola on Friday, September 18 2009 @ 06:49 AM CDT
I'm guessing that the risk of having eating the food relates to eating Kosher at WDW.

(See Episode 297: Matt's amazing trip from 19'50" onwards for details!)

Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts
Authored by: gwcahill on Friday, September 18 2009 @ 09:01 AM CDT
Wow, that was one of the funniest intro's yet! Who doesn't like a good Kanye joke?

What time is the 4 o'clock parade?
Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts
Authored by: drallab96 on Friday, September 18 2009 @ 11:24 AM CDT
I love you guys a lot. But I think on this issue you guys are in your Disney bubble, and are out of touch with the casual Disney traveler. Most of the people who go to Disney from around where I live, go to Disney once a year. They LOVE the Dining plan, and love sit-down meals.
Free Dining has been a blessing for most of these people. It is a way to "live it up" for a week, eat at expensive and themed restaurants, and enjoy the parks. I help several of my friends plan their trips. We all have kids, and want to do the character meals, and try restaurants like Coral Reef, Ohana, Whispering Canyon, and Sci-Fi, not for the food per se, but for the experience. We save all year for this trip, and want to get the most for our money. We do not want to pack lunches to carry to the park and share meals, we want try desserts and eat at cool restaurants that are not in our hometowns. My kids drink water all year long when we go to restaurants back home BUT at WDW, they get drinks and desserts with all their meals. It is a HUGE deal for them, to have the whole Disney experience. We have never missed a table service meal, and enjoy our meals at these places almost as much as riding the rides. Most of us are regular middle class people, who stay at most at a Moderate resort, but 90% of us stay at Values.

The perceived snobbishness about Free Dining especially is more than I can take. For 2 out of 3 packages, the Free Dining is a better deal, but you make it sound like Free Dining is the biggest loser thing ever, and people are stupid who take advantage of it. According to touringplans.com, if you are at a moderate, it saves you $133 for the trip, and for values $170. That is a lot of money for people to spend on something else. I just want to hear someone on the other side of the issue for once.

It is a discount, but it also opens up Disney for a lot of people, who have not could not have had that same Disney experience in the past, because of financial restraints due to dining.
Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts
Authored by: sal1016 on Friday, September 18 2009 @ 02:55 PM CDT
I have to agree with some of drallab96's points here.

My husband and I like free dining for an entirely different reason then I've ever heard you guys mention on the podcast. We like it because we're cheap and would never spend money to enjoy a meal at a sitdown restaurant without it!

When we're at home we don't often eat out. When we do we usually order water and never dessert. Our first trip together was during free dining in 2007 and we had the best time trying a bunch of different restaurants and meals. We know, for us, since we're so careful with our money, that if we went down without a dining plan we would live the entire week sharing burgers and chicken fingers because we wouldn't want to spend the money at the restaurants. What kind of vacation is that? For us it lets us have the freedom of eating in different restaurants (and enjoying dessert!) without thinking about the price tag and having meals that we never would have thought about having without the dining plan.

The first time we went down together we stayed in a value resort and this time we will be staying in moderate resort and we're definitely looking forward to our ADRs and enjoying a nice vacation on the free dining plan.

We have yet to go at a time when there isn't free dining, so I haven't 100% weighed the possibility of going without it, but I have a feeling we'd do the dining plan, even paying out of pocket for it, anytime we stayed on property.
Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts
Authored by: chewbacca62 on Friday, September 18 2009 @ 03:40 PM CDT
Len, after listening to the podcast I went back and ran the numbers for our upcoming seven night September 2010 trip and I have a question for you.

Currently we have a room only at POFQ king bed room with the AAA discount but I was looking to change to the free dining if offered. If we did not go with a free dining package if offered, the cost of the room would be $1,114 plus the approx $730 cost of the tickets for a total of $1,844 plus whatever dining we would have to pay for out of pocket.

When I plug the same dates (9/18-9/25) and room type into Disney's online reservation site with just the regular MYW package I get a total of $2,121. I'm guessing that the free dining would not add to the cost of the package.

So I only see a savings of $277 between getting a room and tickets, while still having to pay for food and the cost of the room, tickets and food. Please tell me what I am missing here that makes the free dining package not worth it? I know the wife and I will spend over $277 on sit down meals during our stay.


Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts
Authored by: Atomicmickey on Friday, September 18 2009 @ 04:09 PM CDT
The dining plan worked great for my family last year (free!) and we're
doing it again (in 21 days, woohoo!)

Here's my take on it. If we didn't have free dining, we would not have eaten
in the places that we did--places like Teppan Edo, Le Cellier, etc. We'd
just go to a food court and get another burger. So, free dining lets us really
experience the food offerings at the parks. ALSO--without free dining, we never
would have done Hoop-Dee-Doo, and that was fantastic.

Point being, with free dining anyway, our Disney experience is vastly heightened.
We are really looking forward to doing it again. Paying for dining--I am not so
sure we would do that. We could definitely eat cheaper. But not better!

Did I say 21 days to go!?!!? Yup! Woohoo!
For those who like "free" dining...
Authored by: Jul on Friday, September 18 2009 @ 05:28 PM CDT
I'm curious if those who are fans of free dining because they wouldn't have eaten table service otherwise would have looked for room discounts if free dining wasn't offered? In other words, because you see the value in free dining for your personal situation, did you not look for room discounts (AAA, AP, travel agent offerings, etc.)? Because if you're a person who doesn't do discounts on rooms and pays rack rate outright, free dining *is* a good deal. I think that the people who are most critical of free dining are the ones who go through their wallets with every potential discount card to get the best rate possible.

As a person with an AP and DVC, if it's only about the price, the best option time and time again is the Tables in Wonderland card, whether we're staying on points or paying for a room. We do use any discount we can get on that room (Costco, AAA, AP, travel agents, Disney Visa, bribing the hotel manager...well, that one has never worked). At that point, the TIW card is the best option--we can eat table service if we want, but we're not obligated to do so. This helps especially when we dine at places that are "sit-down-esque", but not really dining plan friendly (i.e. Beaches & Cream).

On the other hand, when I traveled with a party of 10 (staying on points), we paid for the dining plan, even knowing we were losing money because the convenience of being able to say "just pick anything" made our folks happy so they weren't stressing on cost at every meal.

From listening to this episode, I think what the folks were saying is do research. Find out the pros and cons of each package, and then pick the one that is most cost effective AND sanity preserving. Which package that is will vary for every single trip and every single circumstance. There's no one answer.

What I'd be curious about is to see if, as I'm sure Disney knows that they make money on the Deluxe, if there's more availability (percentage wise) for "free dining" on a Deluxe than on a Value, and how much Disney tries to upsell because you "save" money with "free dining". I haven't booked a package through Disney in a while... when you book with free dining, is there a lot of "hey, you're saving a ton, why not upgrade to a (blank)"? Anyone able to comment on that?

Gotta go grab some Rita's Italian Ice and then tuning in to the BLT show. Mmm...BLT.
Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts
Authored by: Kfischler on Saturday, September 19 2009 @ 07:22 AM CDT
My takeaway from this episode was not whether the DDP was worth it or not; that decision is based on whether you can get the ADRs you desire and what and how you like to eat while visiting. My takeawy was whether the free dining and paying rack rate was worth the value, or if it was better to use a discount code for the room and purchase DDP. Excellent job doing the math and it save me from having to run the numbers. I still think the DDP is a good deal if you are staying on property and will be eating a TS meal everyday. The TS meal provides more than just food, it is a nice sit-down break for an hour.
Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts
Authored by: Quacktatty on Saturday, September 19 2009 @ 11:59 AM CDT
I just did the math for my trip and Free Dining is far from a savings for me. I am a solo traveler doing a split stay - 4 nights at a value, 6 nights at a deluxe. I'm also an AP holder. I included a one day base ticket in each of my comparisons.

If I booked w/ Free Dining keeping the same dates and room types it would be $777 more than if I kept the same discounts I currently have (AP and a PIN) and added the dining plan to those. Even though I'm going to be there for 11 days, I don't think that I'll spend that much on food to have it be even close to worth it.

Not to mention that Free Dining doesn't work for the way I eat. I'd rather get 2 appetizers than an entree a lot of times and I never get a CS dessert.

For a family of 4, Free Dining sometimes may make sense, but for a solo traveler it almost never does.
Episode 619 - Discounts That Aren't Really Discounts
Authored by: MayorWeaver on Tuesday, September 22 2009 @ 09:01 AM CDT
While my preference is a simple discounted room rate as it's easier for me to see exactly what my discount is instead of the murky discount that is free dining, I think another factor to consider here is that while this may hold true for right now it may not hold true for the future when Disney isn't discounting the rooms as they are this year. If the discount offer available the the public 120 days out is only free dining then free dining is a great deal no matter where you're staying.