The Real Reasons I Buy the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan
You should envy me. My Disney countdown clock is almost down to single digits. A few days after you read this, I’ll be in a Doom Buggy, laughing at macabre jokes on the best possible day, Halloween. As one of my vacation decisions, I did something that’s become a habit, and I’d like to explain my thought process in the hope that I might give you an idea about your next Disney getaway. Here is why my family always purchases the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (DDDP).
Great for Large Traveling Parties
In planning this article, I realized that my justification for the Deluxe plan falls into five main categories. Some of them will apply to you while others are unique to my situation. That’s true of everyone in vacation planning, of course. I’m merely saying in advance that you may not agree with or relate to some of the things that I point out. I simply want you to think about whether these suggestions could help you.
For example, you may not travel with a large group of people. I do. During my last trip, I went with three other people, and I’ll be going with a different group of three people this time. Two years ago, our traveling party included eight guests. These large parties split into two or three different families, each of which book their own rooms, generally at different hotels. I mean, we all love each other, but everyone wants some space on vacation, right?
One of the criteria for all Disney Dining Plans (DDP) is that you must purchase one for each person staying in your room. My wife and I each get the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan (DDDP), and it allows us to do something fun. We won’t eat three meals each day despite the fact that the plan provides three entitlements per hotel room guest. We usually stay for at least four nights, sometimes as much as 12. We’re diehard Disney vacationers, as you can tell.
Four nights for two guests eating three meals per day is 24 entitlements. We will use 18 of those entitlements on our trip. Why would we think that’s a good deal? Well, it allows us to “buy” two meals for the other traveling party, reducing their vacation food budget. We’ve done this many times before and have even picked up the tab for a stranger a time or two. With extra entitlements available to us, we get to add a bit of magic to the trip, which makes it more special for us.
Gives Families Better Options
Look, I have nothing against Quick Service restaurants. To the contrary, I’ll be eating at Satu’li Canteen and Woody’s Lunchbox on my next trip. Still, I know from experience that my wife and I prefer Table Service restaurants. In fact, I’ve done the math on this, and we seem to favor sit-down meals by a two-to-one ratio over counter service. Now, I must confess that Mobile Ordering changes the calculus for us a bit, but we still book Table Service meals more often than not.
For us, a sit-down meal gives us a chance to recuperate without leaving the park. We eat prolonged meals that sometimes last as long as 90 minutes. It’s rare when we eat a Table Service meal in less than 45 minutes. We like this sort of relaxing break during a busy park day. The food is much better, too. More importantly, it’s healthier.
Disney’s gotten better about counter service menus in recent years, but their finer dining establishments are where health-conscious people should eat. While I’m not one of them (I wish I were eating a bacon cheeseburger right now), my wife is, and I lose all of the 1-1 votes in our relationship. With the DDDP, we get to eat wherever we want and choose whichever appetizers and entrees we want without worrying about pricing. And since we’re walking 15 miles a day (seriously), we can even order that dessert guilt-free!
Enables More Character Meals
Do you know what my favorite character meal at Walt Disney World is? All of them. Seriously, that’s not even a joke. There’s no such thing as a bad character meal at a Disney theme park. You get to interact with adorable characters from the Disney movie library. Whether you prefer Chip and Dale, Mickey and his crew, or Winnie the Pooh, Disney’s got a meal for you.
The catch is the cost. Since almost all of Disney’s character meal restaurants are booked from opening until closing, the company can charge anything it wants for the food. And they do. DisBoards maintains a current list of prices at character meal establishments. You WILL get sticker shock when you look at a few of the most expensive ones.
When I write articles about these places, I always refer to this thread for a simple reason. I’m only vaguely aware of the price of any of these character meals. Since I book the DDDP, I pay with entitlements instead. To my family, dinner at Akershus is the same price as lunch at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. Thanks to my meal credits, there’s no difference between a counter service breakfast and a Table Service three-course meal. So, why wouldn’t we get the latter? It’s just common sense, right?
Makes Breakfast Better
I’ve previously mentioned my adoration for a simple meal at several Disney resorts. The Bounty Platter is a wonderful combo breakfast that my wife and I can share. The Contempo Café has our favorite version, but Capt. Cook’s is great, too. When we eat this meal, we’re perfectly satisfied and avoid overly indulging at the start of the day.
Here’s the thing about vacations, though. Sometimes, it’s FUN to overindulge. While I love Capt. Cook’s, it pales in comparison to Best Friends Breakfast featuring Lilo & Stitch, which is only one floor above it at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. With the DDDP, I can go all-out for breakfast, eating a meal fit for royalty.
Combining the two sections, Disney offers several breakfast character meals that are brilliant. The Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno is one that you HAVE to try at some point. With the DDDP, you get an entitlement for breakfast, too. You might as well use it on an unforgettable meal experience with a few of your favorite Disney characters.
Gives Me Cost Control
Here’s my favorite part of all Disney Dining Plan options. My trip is still a couple of weeks out yet I’ve already paid for it. Thanks to the setup of the plans, you may pay in advance for your meals. When I get to Walt Disney World, the ONLY thing I’ll be responsible for is tipping. Otherwise, my entire food budget is ZERO DOLLARS. No, it wasn’t free overall, but the applicable economic principle here is that it’s a sunk cost.
I budgeted well in advance so that I could have a stress-free environment once I get to the parks. The last thing that I want to do during a Disney vacation is stress about money. With any of the DDPs, I can shop in advance, so to speak.
I know the cost per person for the three main plans, and I know that the Quick Service plan doesn’t suit my needs. So, I evaluate the benefits of regular plan, currently $75.49 per person, and the DDDP, which is $40.75 more per person per night. My wife and I are Disney pros who can get much more out of that $40.75 difference than most people, and so the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan is a no-brainer for us.
Once we arrive at the park, we can enjoy all of the tremendous benefits of a Table Service meal without stressing about the cost of it. Plus, we get to “buy” a couple of meals for our traveling companions! We get to pass the magic along to our friends!