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Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes

PodcastEpisode 840 is now available for download.

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Show Notes

Hosts: Matt Hochberg, Mike Scopa, Mike Newell & AJ

Running Time: 25:20
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes | 16 comments | Create New Account
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Mickey Matt Dollars
Authored by: AquaViola on Friday, February 18 2011 @ 03:43 AM CST
Do Matt Dollars come with a certificate of authenticity?
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: superfluffyyeti on Friday, February 18 2011 @ 07:48 AM CST
Do All Star Vacation Homes take Matt dollars?
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: ADP on Friday, February 18 2011 @ 09:09 AM CST
This is certainly a hot button topic. The cost of the dining plan keeps going up, but what we are not discussing is how the prices of buffets and menu items keep increasing as well. The dining plan will always look like a value as the buffet and menu prices increase with it. To the casual guest they'll think the dining plan is a good value because the buffet and menu prices increase as well. If both the dining plan and menu prices increase in conjunction guests will be fooled in thinking the dining plan is a good value. Looking at it from Disney's perspecitve the cost of food in general is increasing for everyone. This recent price increase probably helps combat the rising food prices Disney pays its providers. In addition, the restaurants are still full and demand is high.
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: FigmentRules on Saturday, February 19 2011 @ 12:42 PM CST
I agree with AJ about using other tactics to save money on WDW visits--hotel discounts, AP, Tables In Wonderland.

I just made an on-line ADR for breakfast next Sunday at Kona. Cool enough. Messages that kept popping up about the Dining Plan made me a bit mad. "Save up to 20% using Disney's Dining Plans!" as if you would save 20% on everything you wanted to eat while there--like a salad with your dinner. I am the office WDW travel counselor. More than one person has asked me, "Do you have to buy a Dining Plan to eat at the WDW restaurants?" Oh my! You should hear my answer, but we'll keep this posting clean.

Meanwhile, we're discussing our choices for Saturday dinner. The choice of the buffet at Crystal Palace came up. While this and Cosmic Ray's were offered up as sarcastic alternatives to V&A when I said we'd have to bring our "dress up" togs again on a four day trip squashing any hope of bypassing baggage claim, it got me thinking. Does Disney add the 18% gratuity for buffets for TiW and Dining Plan guests? Curious diners want to know!

Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: TXKBee on Saturday, February 19 2011 @ 03:37 PM CST
Great show as always. I've never understood the "convenience argument." What's more convenient than handing the server your Key to the World Card and charging everything to the room (including tax and tip), then just paying for it at the end of the trip - either with cash you've stashed in an account, reward points, or credit card??? Plus, it makes going to a food court easier with older kids because you can tell them to get what they want then hand the castmember your room card. We always end up spending much less on dining this way because we're only ordering and eating the food we want.

Also, if zombies attack, you haven't wasted money pre-paying for food.
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: Jul on Saturday, February 19 2011 @ 06:49 PM CST
We have been supporters of the dining plan for the convenience factor for a number of years. . . .

Until now.

We were sad when the appetizers disappeared. We tolerated the price going up a bit, and avoided the whole peak time surcharge annoyance. But with this latest price increase, it is just way too much price for the convenience. We are doing another party of 10 vacation this fall, but no dining plan for us... Just our two Tables in Wonderland cards, thanks.
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: Kfischler on Saturday, February 19 2011 @ 07:40 PM CST
Thanks for the show. Looks like another year of in park CS and off site TS.
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: smbern on Saturday, February 19 2011 @ 08:30 PM CST
The real danger of the increasing price of the Dining Plan is the increase in prices for cash customers. The "value" of the dining plan can be maintained by Disney by simply increasing the cost to dine. Plan +$5.00 entrees +$5.00, no value lost. The people who really get stuck are those of us who pay cash and continue to see the cost of table service meals going beyond ridiculous. Also, has anyone ever discovered what the actual conversion rate is on the Dining Plan? I'm sure their are many people who pay for meals on the plan that never get redeemed, this is extra money in Disney's pocket. Another motivation for the incessant price increases of the plan just might be the number of dollars collected that are never expensed. None the less, I have worked the numbers for my last three trips and couldn't come up with more than a break-even outcome for the Dining Plan versus paying with cash. In this case I would much rather have the flexibility of cash.
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: MotorPro on Sunday, February 20 2011 @ 08:17 AM CST
I love listening to you guys but you guys don't live in the real world. The dining plan might not make sense to people who can go to WDW 12 times a year but to people in the real world who have to save and plan for 2 years before they go the conveniance of the dining plan makes perfect sense. Obviously it makes more sense if you get it for free.
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: rlank on Monday, February 21 2011 @ 08:10 PM CST
I will never understand the "convenience" argument for the dining plan. Does it really matter what piece of plastic in your pocket you use to pay for the meal? If anything, its more convenient to not use the dining plan because you don't have to worry about any restrictions, credits, or having to listen to a CM talk about the plan.
Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: minniemouse on Tuesday, February 22 2011 @ 12:10 PM CST
I'm a dining plan fan...for US. I truly believe it doesn't work for everyone...but it matches our style of vacation and allows us to save a lot of money.

We've done the QS, regular and deluxe plans for different kinds of trips. The QS definitely did NOT work for us...we prefer to have a TS meal every day.

The regular plan is what we generally opt for. We definitely make it work. Snack or light breakfast in the room (brought from home), CS for and early-ish lunch and then TS for dinner. If we opt for an additional TS it would be for breakfast and we would pay OOP (more bang for your buck w/ the dining plan for dinner over breakfast).

I plan out our park days in chunks (identifying parks based on TP, EMH and how much time we like to spend in each) so I don't feel that having ADRs ahead of time ties us up at all. The restaurants are chosen AFTER we figure out our parks and are always either in the park we will be at that evening or at a nearby resort.

The only time we have opted for the deluxe plan was for a mother/daughter (7yo) birthday trip where we did a TS breakfast and signature dinners every day (I should mention that we saw Cindy FIVE times in five days that trip!). After crunching the numbers both ways (OOP, regular dining and deluxe dining) it was obvious that Deluxe was the only way to go.

In our case, with the way we like to tour at WDW...the dining plan is significantly (by a few hundred dollars) cheaper than paying out of pocket. The TIW card is an excellent option for those that have APs, but for those of us that go every other year and can't qualify for one... the dining plan CAN be the best option.

I will add that I agree that is is significantly less of a deal than it was before they removed the appetizer and tip from the plan. And thank you AJ for pointing out the change w/ the breakfast beverages. I will definitely lean towards trying hard to not use CS credits for breakfast on our next trip!

Our upcoming trip was booked in August of 2010 w/ free dining for August of 2011. Since booking there have been 2 promotions and we have received THREE PIN codes. Our wonderful TA checked each time and Free Dining is still the best option for us (by close to $800!).

Something I think that is MORE of a problem than the Free Dining plan is the idea that 10yos are "adults." There should be an option to purchase the children's plan or adult plan for tweens. I know some kids are eager to dine off the adult menu well before 10yo and others that would be happy with mac & cheese and kids' pizza until they are 14yo. Instead of one hard age... have a span from like 7yo to 14yo where you could opt for either one??

If you haven't guessed... we are taking a brand new 10yo on our next trip and it definitely has had an impact!

Episode 840 - 2011 Dining Plan Changes
Authored by: llastovica on Tuesday, February 22 2011 @ 10:12 PM CST
Bottom line for us- when we see actual green dollar bills leaving our hands, we tend to think twice about what we order. In order to make a logical decision I printed out menus from All Ears and had everyone pick what they would order. We choose from several different places in the parks, including where we had current ADR's. I then made a list of possible costs, and compared that to the dinning plan. In the end, even with the highest possible price, cash still won.

And I would buy in to the convenience argument if I had a choice of appetizer or dessert, could order anything on the menu and tip was included. But since those things are not included- cash for us.

And I probably have my facts wrong here, but I think I read where McDonald's discovered that people will spend 20% more when they are given the option to charge their meal. So, just the act of using cash could save you 20%.