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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Default Dining plan or not?

    Is the Dining Plan really worth the extra cost? It is very expensive and sometimes I feel we are eating more than we normally would without the plan.
    Also, I have heard of people purchasing Disney Gift Cards to pay for there food in advance, has anyone done this and if so, can you pay for gratuities and alcohol with Gift Cards? Can you give them to the resort to have the monies put on your magic bands?
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2001
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    I've found it to be less expensive to pay out of pocket for meals rather than use the dining plan. It might take a little work, but you can figure out what you would likely order (and pay) without the plan versus what the plan will cost you. Sometimes the worth of the plan depends on your family's members and how each eats. For example, I have a nephew who is a very picky eater and, knowing what he will and won't eat, would not make him a candidate for the dining plan.

    I believe Disney gift cards can be used for all purchases or to settle your bill when you charge your meals etc. to your room.
    Linda aka: Faline
    INTERCOT Staff: Vacation Planning,Trip Reports and Disney Camping

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  5. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    San Francisco Bay Area
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    You can use gift cards for alcohol and tips. Iíve done it many times.

    I have never done the calculations myself but unless youíre always purchasing the most expensive items on the menu, getting alcohol with every meal AND use all the snacks you probably wonít come out ahead. But, for my family, we like the fact that everything is paid for ahead of the trip and donít need to worry about the added cost of food. While we might not get ahead or even break even, for us knowing everything is covered (except tips) makes it worth it.

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  7. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 1999
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    I use gift cards, and yes, you can (1) pay for alcohol, (2) pay for gratuities and (3) give them to the check-in desk so your magic band can be used.
    Ali's Mom
    Senior Imagineer

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  9. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Portland, OR
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tink33333 View Post
    ... Can you give them to the resort to have the monies put on your magic bands?
    No. Disney Resorts do NOT allow you to establish a credit balance with giftcards. You can, however, charge purchases, meals and services to your room with your magic band and then stop by the front desk and pay those charges with giftcards. Personally, I find it simpler to just use the giftcard at time of purchase rather than going by the front desk every couple of days.

    And just for clarification, NOTHING is ever "put on the magic band". Bands are merely keys to accessing your MDE account - which is where ALL your information is kept.

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  10. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Ontario, Canada
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    We often use the dining plan since we get it for "free". When we aren't there during the free dining promo, we don't pay for it, since it is crazy expensive, and we save a few dollars just eating what we want.

    On one trip, I did get a gift card, and it was nice, since our dining still felt like it was "paid". I just used it at each place to pay for food. You can use it for the tip, but I left it in cash instead.
    Heather aka ibelieveindisneymagic
    INTERCOT Staff: Vacation Planning, Nightlife, Shopping & Waterparks, Collectibles

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  12. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tink33333 View Post
    Also, I have heard of people purchasing Disney Gift Cards to pay for there food in advance, has anyone done this and if so, can you pay for gratuities and alcohol with Gift Cards?
    If you belong to a bulk warehouse store (like Sam's Club) you can purchase gift cards for Disney in advance and save a few bucks off of face value. And, I believe if you have a Disney Rewards Visa card, you will get a % back on your purchase. I know I have purchased them there before at a discounted rate but not without other items, and received my % back to my rewards card.

    It may save you a little bit, since you never really save much while at WDW.

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  14. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Our upcoming trip we aren't using the dining plan. I think we'll save money out of pocket, plus, won't feel obligated to use ALL the dining credits. Sometimes it's just way to much food on the dining plan for us anyway!
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  15. #9
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Near Boston, MA
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    We just returned yesterday from our trip. Since we got an amazing hotel rate through our travel agent, we weren't able to purchase the dining plan. I wish we could have. Like Faline said, it all depends on how your family eats. For us, it would have been worth it. We like to eat at buffets and table service restaurants for dinner which ran about $55 pp. If you take that and then add a few drinks at Starbucks or a couple snacks during the day, I think we would have broken even or may have saved some $$. One day we bought a bottle of water and a powerade - it was over $10 and that was with the AP discount. Me, I prefer the dining plan.

  16. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
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    We would never purchase the dining plan. We only use it when it comes as a free add on to a package. At best we might break even purchasing it, but the way we eat varies while we're there. Sometimes we'll have a sit down meal, sometimes we'll split some counter service options. Even when we got it free on our 2018 trip, we had credits left over.

    As far as the gift card option goes, I think you got some great answers above. But, unless it really helps you save for the trip, or gets you a significant discount, is it worth going to the trouble? We've never done it because it would be just one more thing to remember to bring with us on the trip and into the parks, or down to the front desk. We have the Disney Rewards Visa and I always worry about forgetting the card our Disney Dollars are on!

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