Why do some guests love the Deluxe Dining Plan?
It is true that the Deluxe Dining Plan does not fit every style of Walt Disney World vacationing. It is also true that it is not worth the money for some families going to the Walt Disney World Resort. The Deluxe Dining Plan can be very beneficial for many others, though. Here is a look into how the Deluxe Dining Plan can work for those that fit into that category.
The Deluxe Dining Plan (DDP) is an optional add-on to a Walt Disney World vacation package. You must be staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel to take advantage of any of the dining plans. All members of the party must be on the same dining plan. For this article, the focus will be on an adults-only trip. The DDP costs $116.25 per adult per night of stay, and you receive 3 dining credits/points per day and 2 snack credits/points. So, for a 5-night stay for 2 adults, the cost of the DDP would total $1,162.50.
I believe that there are all kinds of Disney travelers. There is a category of folks that like the leisurely trips and lots of exciting cuisines, myself being one of them. We are a group of Disney fans who like to stroll around the parks and resorts and eat like kings! I do not have a king's budget, but I can save for a trip and save money using the Deluxe Dining Plan. In fact, in the past, we have come out ahead by $1200! Plus, we did not eat too much food, which is one of the largest complaints with the DDP. There is also a lot to be said about peace of mind when it comes to not having to spend and budget actively while on vacation. Just show up and eat whatever you fancy!
The restaurants included in the Deluxe Dining Plan that require 2 credits to dine at are:Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, Be Our Guest (dinner only), Le Cellier Steakhouse, Monsieur Paul, Tiffins, Jiko, Flying Fish, California Grill, Citricos, Narcoossee’s, Yachtsman Steakhouse, Jaleo, Morimoto Asia, and The BOATHOUSE. There are several others that only require 1 dining plan credit to dine at.
In order to break down the financial side of the Deluxe Dining Plan, the following calculations have been done for the minimum price. They include an entree/buffet for breakfast. Appetizer, entree, and dessert for lunch and dinner. I did not include drinks, so there is a little wiggle room. I am also putting all of the DDP cost on the meals and excluding your 2 daily snacks which will make using them extra money saved!
2 Meals/Day – Breakfast/Lunch = $38.75 Dinner = $77.05
3 Meals/Day – Breakfast = $19.38 Lunch = $38.75 Dinner = $58.12
Here is an example of how to maximize your Deluxe Dining Plan. For this example, let us visit one of my absolute favorite restaurants: the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Disney's Yacht Club Resort. This restaurant is a steak lover's dream. For us, every trip to the Walt Disney Resort has to include dinner at the Yachtsman!
Average Meal Price (included in the DDP) is $75.00
Highest Meal Price (included in the DDP) is $92.00
The Yachtsman will serve you with nice sized portions and very rich food, so I would not plan for loads of adventure after your meal. Also, we usually only eat two meals on the day we go to the Yachtsman for dinner, this way it is not too much food.
As you can see, the average price for the Yachtsman Steakhouse is $75.00. This is a little lower than our calculated minimum price for the DDP on 2 meal days. However, are you going to the Yachtsman Steakhouse to eat a salad for an entree? I’m not, nor would any steak fan. So here is a peek at the menu:
First Course (Appetizer)
French Onion Soup $12.00 Caesar Salad $12.00
Crab Louis Revisited $18.00 Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail $19.00
Lobster Bisque $13.00 Steakhouse Wedge Salad $14.00
Prime Beef Ravioli $18.00 Charcuterie or Cheese Board $19.00
Butcher’s Cuts (Entree)
8-oz Black Angus Filet Mignon $50.00
14-oz Roasted Prime Rib $45.00
16-oz Rib-Eye Steak, Prime $57.00
12-oz New York Strip Steak, Prime $50.00
Land and Sea Entrées
10-oz Rocky Mountain Lamb Chop $54.00
Citrus-cured Ora King Salmon $42.00
Lobster Pasta $52.00
Bell & Evans Chicken $34.00
Lime Semifreddo $12.00 Carrot Cake (No Sugar Added) $12.00
The Lexington Sundae $10.00 Seasonal Sorbet Trio $9.00
Crème Brûlée $10.00 The Admirals Cake $16.00
How much would your meal add up to? Also, your drink is included in the Deluxe Dining Plan, but does not negatively affect the outcome of the calculations above. So, now we know that the Yachtsman can be effective as a dinner option for the DDP. What about the rest of the day? Remember this is a 2 meal day; should you choose breakfast or lunch? The answer would depend on your plans for the day. Are you going to a particular park in Disney, spending the day at the resort, or even traveling to another theme park like Universal? And, of course, what restaurant will give you more bang for your DDP buck? Here are some options:
Breakfast 1 credit options that meet or exceed average $:
1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey’s, Ohana, Tusker House, Crystal Palace
Some lunch 1 credit options that meet or exceed the average $:
50’s Prime Time Boma Chef Mickey’s
Chef de France Crystal Palace Kona Cafe
Liberty Tree Tavern Sanaa Sci-fi Dine In
Sebastian’s Bistro Teppan Edo The Wave
Tokyo Dining Turf Club Bar & Grill Tusker House
Tutto Italia Via Napoli Whispering Canyon Cafe
Yak & Yeti Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin'
For a late breakfast, around 9-10 AM, I would choose any of the above options. All are character meals, and each one is in a great location depending at which park you decide to start your day. For an early lunch instead of a late breakfast, I would choose any of the 1 point options depending on your location at lunch time. The reason I do not recommend any of the 2 credit restaurants is that they would not (for this day) be cost effective. During the entire stay though it could be. If you need food outside of your chosen dining time, I would suggest using snack credits. You would be surprised what you can get with snack credits! For example, if you are staying at The Wilderness Lodge, a Fruit and Cheese Plate ($6.98) can be purchased using a snack credit! Also, many pastries and even coffee can be purchased using a snack credit, and would be a very good light breakfast.
Let's have a pretend day at Walt Disney World! We are staying at the Wilderness Lodge. Today is a lazy morning, waking up at 8 AM. While I get ready for the day, my sweetheart goes and grabs us each a coffee and a chocolate croissant from the Roaring Forks restaurant. All of the items were covered with Deluxe Dining Plan snack points. After enjoying our little breakfast on the balcony, we head out to the boats for the Magic Kingdom. We use our first fast pass for The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and then head over and have some fun in Adventureland. We get into all kinds of trouble with our favorite characters and enjoy the day. For lunch, we hop on a boat and head over to the Contemporary Resort to eat at The Wave. At 12:30 PM, we eat wonderful meals in a crisp and cool environment. We get back to the Magic Kingdom in time to see the parade and, though the parade is great, we enjoy watching the little ones around us light up watching it. Next, we are off to use our other fast passes, and especially to slow down and enjoy where we are. No rush, no worries! At around 6 PM, we head back to the Wilderness Lodge to get changed and refreshed for dinner at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. Our Minnie Van picks us up and delivers us to the Yacht Club resort. Dinner is amazing, to say the least. We walk on over to the World Showcase and catch the fireworks. What a good day!
Specialty Coffee $4.49 – 1 snack point
Iced Coffee $ 2.49 – 1 snack point
Chocolate Croissant $3.49 x 2 ($6.98) – 2 snack points
Appetizer 1 Lump Crab Cakes $ 15.00
Appetizer 2 Steamed Bao Bun $10.00
Entree 1 Pappardelle Pasta $20.00
Entree 2 Signature Burger $19.00
Desert 1 Chocolate Flight $11.00
Dessert 2 Trio of Sorbet $11.00
2 Waters $0.00
Total: $86.00 all on the DDP using 1 credit per person.
Appetizer 1 French Onion Soup $12.00
Appetizer 2 Crab Louis Revisited $18.00
Entree 1 Filet $50
Entree 2 Ribeye $57
Dessert 1 The Lexington Sundae $10
Dessert 2 Admiral’s Cake $16
Beverage 1 $3.49
Beverage 2 $3.49
Total: $169.98Grand Total: $269.94
Break-even point: $233.50
Difference: + $36.44
A nice day with food that reaches a level above those in our normal lives. Service that exceeds expectations and, in this case, an excellent value to boot. There is definitely a wrong and a right way to use the Deluxe Dining Plan. The biggest mistakes made with the DDP are:
● Using credits for Quick Service Meals
● Not making Advance Dining Reservations
● Not wisely booking reservations with considerations to the rest of your day
● Booking meals too close together
● Thinking you have to eat everything on your plate
● Ordering things you may not like to maximize your points
● Not being adventurous with your dining locations (go to Jiko!)
● Trying to eat 3 meals per day every day
● Not taking advantage of the 2 credit restaurants for dinner
● Not using your snack credits
I hope this article helps you in your decision making for your next trip; either to confirm that the Deluxe Dining Plan is not for you or to help you see how it can be beneficial to you. Thank you so much for letting me nerd out with all of the math. I know there are those out there, like me, that like to get very detailed in your planning. Happy Travels Disney Fans!
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