View Full Version : Free dining

06-05-2013, 01:21 PM
Free dinning good or bad idea what are your thoughts

06-05-2013, 01:37 PM
Free dinning good or bad idea what are your thoughts

oh Lordie Robert, you've opened up a can of worms lol

A lot of people think it has ruined disney dining, a lot feel that it's opened up dining to disney to them though. There is the thought that there has been a general decline in standards because of this, i think there has to a point but i also think if you go somewhere a lot then it doesn't feel as special as it once was. Free dining worked really well for us when we went as 4 adults, it would have cost us a small fortune. For just 2 i think we'll probably go back to staying in a villa and having the odd meal onsite as although i enjoy dining at disney i don't like being tied down to eating at a certain restaurant at a certain time.

06-05-2013, 01:54 PM
Free Dining has its pros and cons. Personally I feel it was implemented totally wrong. When you give something like food away, IMHO, you don't give away your whole menu, but rather a subset of that menu. For example maybe 1 or 2 appetizers, a meat, fish, chicken and vegetable entree and one or two desserts. It is difficult to say that it has ruined Disney Dining but when you see practically the same items on every menu there is a problem. The Disney chefs should be able to prepare specialties or their own version of meals without having to copy what everyone else is doing. As a result I think the quality of the meals has suffered.

06-05-2013, 02:49 PM
I can see that the free dining is a great bonus for many folks who may be working to a budget, but I feel that it has totally changed the on-site dining experience for many folks in a negative way. :thumbsdown:
Gone are the days when you could easily get a table just by walking up to the podium, albeit with a short wait on occasions. Having to book a table 180 days in advance is crazy IMHO, I have trouble deciding where we will be, or where we will be eating a few days ahead, let alone 6 months!

Many of my CM friends who work in the WDW restaurants absolutely hate the free dining/dining plan scenario and long for the way things were before they were instigated.

06-05-2013, 03:00 PM
It is marketing genius!! It's a pure money maker for Disney. They make people think they are getting a good deal ( and some families certainly are) so they stay longer (spending more money on the hotel, spending more money on souvenirs).

To those of who go to Disney frequently, it's not such a great deal anymore. And if we decide to pay OOP for food, the prices have risen exponentially. So much so that I will be eating mostly off site.

Love it or hate it, the ddp is not going anywhere.

06-05-2013, 03:41 PM
I think it depends on how you read and interpret your question.

FREE dining is awesome in my book. Period. With a family of four on a limited budget who refuses to "charge" vacations, anything being offered for "free" is worth taking a look at...

Free dining allows us to budget our trips better (it's already "paid" for) and try out new restaurants we might not otherwise have thought about. I do think each family MUST (as with all "free" deals) look at the fine print and make SURE you are actually saving money. I think so many people JUMP at the idea of "free dining" that they don't take a good enough look at the other offers out there (such as room only) that might make more sense for them. Much like the DVC, in my opinion. The DVC, just does not *work* for my family composition and the way we travel. However, I can absolutely see it working for us a few years down the road. Every family is different, you have to figure out what serves your family the best.


The Disney Dining Plan implementation in GENERAL has been, in my opinion, TERRIBLE for those dining at Disney-for the reasons so many people noted above. It's practically priced out those who do not wish to purchase it from eating on property, service and quality have taken a hit, and it's made "walking up" to eating choices on a whim practically impossible.

So while I detest the practice, I certainly do not hesitate to take advantage of it when it works to the advantage of my family.

I'm not sure if that makes me a hypocrite, but I'm not losing any sleep over it.

06-05-2013, 03:55 PM
We've done free dining the last few times we've been. I know you're essentially laying a premium for it, but for us it works well. I like not having to think about paying foe food whilst we're there, the convenience of it is what we love.

06-05-2013, 04:18 PM
I can see why people like it and good on them if they want to take advantage of it. Personally, I think it has been bad news for people who don't want to plan what they are going to eat in September in advance. I also think the service and quality of food has fallen dramatically.

There are still a lot of servers out there that care about how they treat their guests and want to give them the best possible experience, I know some personally.

Sadly there are those that ask "are you on the dining plan", when your answer no, they basically don't want to know and the service you get reflects this. I have thought on more than one occasion, "hang on I am paying top dollars for this and you are treating me like a secdond rate guest" and I must admit, I have reflected my feelings when I have left a tip. We basically don't eat at any of the table service restaurants in Disney anymore, we are going to Be Our Guest this year because I want to experience it, but that's the only Disney restaurant we will be going to.

I also think the changes in the menus and food quality has gone downhill. I agree with John, ok, have the dining plan, but have a different menu. It's not unusual practice, if you go to other restaurants and they have a set meal, you have the choices and that's that, you don't choose things from the main menu.

Sadly, I think the dining plan is here to stay, I'd like them to stop the free dining, but it's not going to happen :shrug: So the way I see it is that people like me, Johnie, Keith, Terry, to name just a few, are paying extra dollars for our food to subsidise the free dining. I've been doing the menus as you have seen and the price increases are just stupid in some restaurants, but the kiosks and counter service restaurants have seen the highest increases.

I guess you can't please all of the people all of the time and sadly Disney, as a profitable company, don't care.

06-05-2013, 04:57 PM
How do you find they treat you differently if you're not on the dining plan?

I would be more than happy to have a seperate dining plan menu, especially when it's free anyway.

06-05-2013, 05:21 PM
The idea of a separate menu is appealing to me. I don't think Disney will do it. I cannot even imagine the guest backlash :-(

Alysia and I are going down to WDW on the 8th. I have not made a single ADR. We ARE going to indulge in the booths at the flower and garden festival but aside from that, and some choice snacks, I don't think we will be eating on site at all. I am very thankful that I always get a car and dont mind driving otherwise our options would be limited.

06-05-2013, 05:22 PM
Meant to add, I've actually experienced the opposite of Wendy. I've had servers be glad we didn't have the ddp lol

06-05-2013, 06:09 PM
I'm talking about the past really, the time when the gratuity was included with the DDP, it's been that long since we've actually eaten onsite at a Disney Restaurant (except twice at the YSH and that's only because of our dear Ricardo and going with friends) The servers would rub their hands together if people were on the DDP as they knew the more the meal cost the better the tip they were guranteed.

It may very well have changed since then, but that was enough, along with the trouble it was to get reservations that initially stopped us dining on site.

06-05-2013, 06:13 PM
I'm talking about the past really, the time when the gratuity was included with the DDP, it's been that long since we've actually eaten onsite at a Disney Restaurant (except twice at the YSH and that's only because of our dear Ricardo and going with friends) The servers would rub their hands together if people were on the DDP as they knew the more the meal cost the better the tip they were gurantee.

Oh I see :) yes, we had the dining plan that first year when it was 3 courses and tip included. Now that was a good deal! I agree. Service wasn't as good though.

06-05-2013, 06:16 PM
Ah yes when a starter AND the gratuity were included. Those were the days!!!

07-05-2013, 02:58 AM
I don't think I would ever purchase the dining plan but I LOVE the free dining offer. We have taken advantage of the offer almost every year since it began and it really made our trips affordable. I am actually kind of bummed out that its not being offered in August this year. I don't know what we are going to do yet. We could stay off site, go to Universal, or skip Orlando altogether and try something new this year. I don't see us staying on the property and paying Disney prices for our meals. I could stay at a 4* hotel for the same price as a value and pay for some nice restaurants off property for less than an average meal on the property. I guess I don't have to decide anytime soon as we drive down to Fla and could book a hotel last minute in late August.