Thursday, December 29, 2016

{Disney} Dining Plan Changes for 2017 (plus thoughts, special offers)

If you're planning a future Disney vacation, be advised that the dining plans are changing for 2017.  In order to be eligible for a dining plan, you need to purchase a Magic Your Way Vacation Package (resort and park tickets.)  That is not a change, but I thought worth mentioning for those who are completely new to the Dining Plan.

Let's look at what you'll receive (per guest per night) under the Dining Plans for 2017:

2017 Quick Service Dining Plan
  • Two quick service meals (entree and nonalcoholic beverage)
  • Two snacks
  • Refillable mug 
2017 (Standard) Disney Dining Plan
  • One quick service meal (entree and nonalcoholic beverage) 
  • One table service meal (entree, nonalcoholic beverage, dessert (for lunch or dinner) OR full buffet)
  • Two snacks
  • Refillable mug   
2017 Disney Deluxe Dining Plan
  • Three meals, can be either quick service or table service (table service = appetizer, entree, nonalcoholic beverage, dessert OR full buffet) 
  • Two snacks
  • Refillable mug

So what has changed from 2016?

With both the Quick Service and Standard Dining Plans, snack entitlements increase from one to two.  Now, before you go thinking Disney is giving you more, there is a trade-off.  Under the Quick Service Dining Plan for 2016, lunch/dinner did include dessert.  That has been removed from the plan.  Dessert still remains under the Standard Dining Plan, so you are receiving more with the 2017 changes under that dining plan.

I have mixed feelings when it comes to the dining plan.  During our 2014 Disney vacation, I saved all our dining receipts and tallied how much we spent on food versus how much it would have cost us to purchase the Standard Dining Plan.  You can read that post here.  In the past, we have booked vacations under a special offer which gave us the dining plan for free.   The dining plan has also undergone many updates since that time.  

When a dining plan is offered as a special deal, the flip side is that you pay rack rate for your resort room.  Typically in the past, Disney has also offered a room only discount at the same time as free dining.   (Not always, but usually.)  In order to see if it's worth it (financially) to book free dining, you need to compare the cost of the dining plan to what you lose by paying rack rate for your resort room.

Disney has a special offer out right now good for most dates May 30 - August 24, 2017.  When you purchase a non-discounted 5 night/6 day room and ticket package at a Value Resort, each person will receive ONE quick service meal per night.  (Certain restrictions apply.)  So here's my quick analysis of whether or not this would be a good deal for our family.  With five people, we would stay at Art of Animation.  The rack rate in July for a family suite is $384.  If 20% off Value Resorts is offered again this summer, I would save about $77 a night.  What would be the cost of five quick service meals for our family?  $77 may be a stretch when there are three kids involved.  In this case, I'd most likely take the room discount.  Maybe Disney knows this because as of right now, there are no room discounts for summer months and this quick service special offer must be booked by February 12, 2017.  I've read rumors that park attendance was down for this past summer.  It will be interesting to see what special offers pop up for this year.


Julie said...

I went with my 5 year old son and my parents last year and my parents opted to get the dining plan. We probably didn't get our money worth or came out about even but we aren't huge eaters. I actually like losing the dessert with the counter service meal and adding an extra snack, which could be used for, say, a yogurt or oatmeal cup that becomes breakfast. Love your cost analysis of this!

The Hughes Family said...

I've been reading your blog for awhile but never comment. I love how you write and I really enjoy reading about your daughters! I live in Kentucky and have family on the Cape that we visit regularly so we have a little bit in common. I'm a travel planner for a Disney earmarked agency and every time I read your Disney recaps I think "she needs to plan vacations!" :) I know you just retired though - enjoy!! As for the meal plan changes I really like it! When we have a QS lunch we didn't always love the dessert options but felt compelled to get one for each of us. Now we can use it for a dessert we love like ice cream on Main Street! (Or something healthy, but you know...I really like ice cream!) Happy Friday!