This year we decided NOT to get the Disney Dining Plan. For months we went back and forth on if it would save us money, or if we would spend more, or if would simply be a hassle handing over a gift card. I almost wore out the Disney Dining Plan Calculator, I used it so much!
The three reasons we chose not to get the dining plan, were:
1. Now that our oldest is now considered a Disney adult, truthfully hes not an adventurous eater, and always wanted a kids meal, instead of an adult, unless it was pizza.
2. Now that food allergies are in our house, getting desserts are a lot more complicated at Disney. While Mr. Disney and the oldest can get anything they want, since the youngest can't have any baked good really, and was limited to churros, sort serve and slushies, I sure as anything wasn't going to be eating cupcakes without him!
3. The final reason was that we ALWAYS have loads of snack credits left, that get used on candy and treats to bring home, that often don't get eaten, or were a last minuite got to spend them unwise bang for the buck choice.
With those reasons, and hours of menu research and number crunching ahead of us, we put the balance that we would have spent on the Disney Dining Plan onto a gift card, (bought discounted!!) and decided to experiment.
The rules were:
1. Order whatever you want
2. Rapid Refill Mugs are a must
3. Bring home a few treats
4. No cringing at prices allowed
Doesn't sound so bad, does it?
Here's what happened. We swiped a gift card almost every time. Even places at Disney Springs like Wolf Gang Puck Express took out Disney gift card! I did have to use cash twice, at Epcot, when their system was down, so I was grateful I had a few emergency dollars with me.
What did we spend though?The numbers are exciting!
For 8 nights, 9 days, the Disney Dining Plan would have cost $1450.24
For 64 meals and a ton of snacks, including ones to bring home we spend $1068.59
That means, we saved $381.65
That's a loooot of money. There were a few times Mr. Disney wanted water with a meal, once I shared a meal with the youngest of chicken nuggets and fries and we did bring drinks inside the park, but even if he bought a drink each time, and we had chosen more take home snacks, we would still have come out ahead.
Things change, appetites are sure to grow as my boys do, but this trip, we saved enough to cover most of the souvenirs we wanted! There's a good chance if your kids are now Disney Adults, you might save a bundle, too!