Thursday, August 4, 2011

Free Dining!!!!!

This week has been all about Disney Dining Math!

Several years ago, when hubby and I went to Disney, the dining plan was an AMAZING deal.  There was no way possible you wouldn't save even included tip!  Seriously amazing.  And, it was SO.MUCH.FOOD!

Since then, several changes have been made to the plans, and they are not always the best deal.  It's convenient because all you have to do is swipe your room key to use your dining credits.  And, its "prepaid" so no worrying about how much you are spending.  However, if you look at the cost of the meals you would typically eat on a trip, it doesn't always turn out to be a good savings.

Also, it depends on how you eat.  For some, sitting down at a full service restaurant every day at a predetermined time is no big deal.  Some people hate it. We're in the middle.  We want to do some character meals for the girls, but don't want to have too many scheduled meal times.  Who knows what time the kids will want to eat, what the kids will want to do instead of heading over to the restaurant, when they will need to nap?

We went back and forth on the merits of the dining plans.  If there was not a promotion, we decided that we would not sign up for the dining plan.

However, this week Disney message boards lit up with rumors that the Free Dining promotion would be announced for the fall.  Then, on Tuesday, the rumors came about Free Dining in 2012!!!  I started to get a little excited.  Could it be?

Wednesday morning, the message boards were abuzz with crazy Disney fans like myself, obsessively hitting the refresh button on the Disney site waiting for the 7am announcement and with their finger on the dial button.  At 7am, despite nothing being posted on the website, hundreds of people began calling in for this deal.  So many people that the servers on the Disney board crashed, and the reservation lines at Disney were jam packed.

I started running the numbers.  We were scheduled to arrive 2 days before the dining promotion started.  After running different vacation packages, internal debate, reading reviews, flipping some coins and consulting a Ouija board (OK, not really.  But, if we had one, I may have.  It was just that hard!) I decided to change our dates (yet again) and drop our stay at Animal Kingdom.  :-(  I really want to stay there, and I think we will.  Just not this trip.

What's the end result of all this playing around?  I decided to make some changes and picked up the phone expecting be on hold for hours.  Reports of wait times and drop calls had me nervous.  I called twice.  Once to add the package to the second part of our stay, and then to add the additional nights to the end of our stay, instead of the beginning.  Both times I called, I was speaking to a Cast Member within 15 minutes.  Considering some people had been on hold well over an hour, I felt very lucky.

Our original costs broke down to be:

$1200 resort
$700 for park tickets
$1200 for food (projected budget)
$3100  Total  (Keep in mind this doesn't include travel, spending money, planned special experiences & birthday surprises, etc)

New Plan:

$1750 Resort, Dining, & Park Tickets  Woo Hoo!!!!!!!

A savings of $1350.  Granted, the change in hotels accounted for about $500 difference.  So, taking that out, we still saved $850.  Not too bad!  More money for all the "extra" stuff!!!!

Next up:  Planning out the Advance Dining Reservations!

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