I found a site that I think this has got to be one of the best Disney planning tools out there when it comes to deciding if the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is for you.
The question regarding the DDP and if it is a must do keeps coming up on virtually every Disney planning site or Facebook group. There are those that swear by it and say that it is a must do. It is touted as a way to take the guesswork out of planning the dining costs for your trip because most everything is already included…. for a price.
The problem is that as with most everything at Disney, not everything is a must do for every single guest. I know that sounds unmagical, but follow me here for a moment as I talk about the Disney Dining Calculator.
This wonderful site allows you to pick your travel dates, how many people are in your party, and through filling out the form itself, automatically calculates how the different dining plans compare to the average cash costs. It is very flexible allowing you to choose different specific restaurants, or in some cases with counter service eateries, allows you to choose a predetermined average. When all is said and done, it breaks it down to an estimated cost for cash and then compares it to the Quick Service plan, Regular Dining Plan, and the Deluxe Dining Plan.
I played around with the site a bit, putting in different choices among the different meals for different days and trying to recreate the costs for where we went during our last trip. For my example, I chose a 7 day, 6 night trip with 2 adults and two kids under 10. What I am finding from the calculator is pretty much what I already knew, but is still an eye opener:
- Choosing either mainly character meals, or some of the more pricey dining choices for dinner, I would come out ahead using the DDP by nearly a $200 savings.
- Choosing less expensive, non-character meals for dinner across the board brought my savings down to less than $40.
- Throwing in a few Premium dining choices such as California Grill and Le Cellier in the mix may actually reduce the savings. Using the same example, the savings dropped down to $20.
- Using the last example with a few Premium choices, but one of the kids is now charged as an adult (10+)…. the savings is no longer there and the total cost is actually over $100 more than if I would have paid cash.
Keep in mind, I am just throwing some numbers around for examples. At the same time, it became quite clear that the number of people in your party, their ages, and where you eat really makes a big difference in how much value the DDP brings to your vacation budget.
It does back up the comment that I make often during online discussions. The DDP has the potential to be a cost saver. But you have to do the math in order to see if it will be a cost saver for you.
The tool itself is great to play with especially if you are trying to keep costs under a certain amount or if you are simply trying to predict costs. Give it a try… here is the link:
This would be a great blog post to send to your friends and post in groups. If you liked this post, please do me a favor and pass it around. Of course please comment if you would like and even let me know other Disney topics you would like to hear more about.
Have a magical day!