Thursday, January 3, 2013

Quick Serivce Dining Plan: A Family's First Impression

  After much note taking and receipt comparing, my family and I have finally gathered our week at Disney in December of 2012 into a nice word document listing our restaurant tasting adventures, the credits we used, and the money we saved on our "free" regular dining plan. I have compressed this into a (relatively...) short and sweet post for our fellow Disney geeks to use as a reference whether you are new to the dining plan or a seasoned pro. Below is a list of our restaurant choices, food selection, and prices (approximate). But if you are not all that into the details head to the bottom where we compare the two offers after returning and to read our thoughts as first time Disney dining planners!

Here are the facts:
  • Family of 4 (adults)
  • 6 nights, 7 days in December
  • Quick Service DDP 
  • 24 snack credits
  • 12 quick service credits
4 Resort Mugs:  $60

Meal #1: Studio Catering Company
1 Veggie Grilled Sandwich
3 Sloppy Joe Subs
4 Fountain Drinks
2 Gingerbread Cupcakes
2 Marble Cakes
Total: $70

Meal #2: Columbia Harbour House 
1 Lighthouse Sandwich w/potato chips
2 Chicken strips w/french fries meal
1 Fish with french fries meal
4 Foundtain Drinks
2 Chocolate Cakes
2 Apple Crisps
Total: $64.31

Meal #3: Tangierine Cafe & Lotus Blossom
Tangierine Cafe
1 Vegetarian Platter  
1 Fountain Drink
1 Baklava Dessert
Lotus Blossom
2 Orange Chicken Meals
1 Chicken Salad
2 Red Bean Ice Creams
1 Ginger Ice Cream
3 Fountain Drinks
Total: $58

Meal #4: Cosmic Rays
1 Vegetarian Burger w/french fries
2 Angus Bacon Cheeseburgers w/french fries
2 Chocolate Gelatos
1 Carrot Cake
4 Fountain Drinks
Total: $44.81

Meal #5: Flame Tree BBQ & Pizzafari
Flame Tree BBQ

1 Ribs & Chicken Combo
2 1/2 slab of St. Louis Ribs Meal
2 Chocolate Mousse
1 Key Lime Pie Mousse
3 Fountain Drinks
1 Veggie Pizza w/ceasar Salad
1 Fountain Drink
1 Cheesecake in a Cup
Total: $68.78

Meal #6: Be Our Guest
1 Quinoa Salad
1 Steak Sandwich
1 Braised Pork Meal
1 Ham and Cheese Sandwich Meal
4 Fountain Drinks
1 Strawberry Cupcake
1 Chocolate Cream Puff
1 Lemon Meringue
1 Chocolate Cupcake
Total: $70

Meal #7: Via Napoli Quick Service Window
2 Cheese Slices
1 Calzone
1 Pepperoni Slice
4 Waters
4 Cannolis
Total: $60

Meal #8: Pecos Bill
1 Veggie Wrap
2 Taco Salads
1 Deluxe Burger
3 Carrot Cakes
1 Chocolate Cake
2 Iced Coffees
2 Fountain Drinks
Total: $67 

Meal #9: Wolfgang Puck Express
1 Veggie Melt Sandwich
1 Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf
2 Spaghetti with meatballs
1 Cheesecake
1 Creme Brulee
1 Chocolate Chip Cookie
1 Brownie
4 Fountain Drinks
Total: $92.55

Meal #10: Sunshine Seasons
1 Chicken & Rice
1 Vegan Chik'n w/noodles
1 BBQ porkchop w/potatoes
1 Spicy Cashew Chicken
2 Strawberry Shortcakes
1 Croissant
1 Cinnamon Roll
4 Fountain Drinks
Total: $79

Meal #11: Pop Century Food Court
1 Veggie Lasagna w/salad & bread
1 BBQ Burger
1 Cheeseburger
1 Chicken Salad
2 Monster Drinks
1 Fuze Tea
1 Nesquick
1 Oreo Cupcake
1 Tie-dye cheesecake
1 Yogurt Parfait
1 Chocolate Chip Cookie
Total: $66

Meal #12: Earl of Sandwich
1 Caprese Sandwich
1 Hawaiian BBQ Sandwich
1 Earl's Club Sandwich
1 Montagu Sandwich
3 Yogurt Parfaits
1 chocolate chip cookie
4 Fountain Drinks
Total: $45

Snacks: Confectionery, Goofy's Candy Co., etc.
1 Chocolate Ice Cream
2 Funnel Cakes
1 Chocolate Chip Cookie
3 Cinnamon Rolls
2 Milkshakes
1 Pretzel
1 Babycakes Donut
1 Le Fou's Brew
1 Mickey Gingerbread
1 Brownie Ear Hat
1 Plain Mickey Rice Krispy
1 Sugar Cookie Mickey Head
1 Chocolate Covered Mickey Krispy
4 Chocolate/reeses covered Mickey Krispy
1 Toffee Slab
1 Sugar Cookie
1 Snow Cone
Total:  $93.53


   Now that we've got all the technical details out of the way, let's crunch some numbers. Using a 25% off pin code on our entire vacation, we would have saved roughly $586 for 6 nights and 7 days at Pop Century Value Resort. Using the free dining offer, we saved $938. It was obvious in this situation, staying at a value, and our family of 4, the free dining offer was the best deal. But would we pay out of pocket for the quick service plan? Had we went to Disney at a time where free dining wasn't offered, 6 nights and 7 days would cost us approximately $840. So, is the convenience worth it? This family can't decide.

Overall opinion: As first-timers, our family LOVED the convenience of the quick service plan. There were almost always a ton of options and restaurants to choose from and despite it being quick service, most of the food we ate was very good. It was liberating to take less snacks from home and we felt less pressure to decide when exactly we wanted to eat and where. Something my family liked was the ability to pick whatever on the menu they wanted without worrying about prices; my brother loves ribs and so any chance he got, that's what showed up on his plate. Usually getting water from quick service or bringing bottles, I enjoyed being able to have my tea with each meal. We were thrilled that many of our favorite restaurants like Columbia Harbour House and Be Our Guest were listed for the quick service dining and we were excited that we got to try many new restaurants which we ended up loving, like Wolfgang Puck Express.

But with all good things come the bad. While many people argue, we felt like even the quick service was a lot of food. While we enjoyed a dessert occasionally, to have one with each meal was too much for us. Since we don't eat a lot of desserts at home, we purposely bought some with lids to bring back to the hotel and even brought a couple of carrot cakes home. While we normally would eat 2-3 meals a day at home, the amount of food we received for each meal seemed more than usual; this would be fine, but 6 hours and many rides later we'd still had not had our snacks and we weren't hungry for dinner. This ended up with us having a meal left for our departure day. Our snacks were also underused and we had 12 snack credits left the day before and the day of departure leaving us with quite a load of extras to bring home that we're still nibbling on! To compare the cost of what we would eat without the DDP and then with the DDP, we can easily spend much less on food and be content.

The Verdict: We would probably do it again. We loved the convenience most of all, but we still wish we could combine two quick service meals into a table service. We're so busy running the parks that we don't really think about food all that often! We also felt it would be nice to have another option besides desserts. We like our sweets but not that much!

So, how about you? Are you a dining plan fan? Quick Service, Deluxe, what do you like (or hate) about it? Any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments!

I will also be posting some vegetarian dining reviews over the listed restaurants within the following weeks, so keep on the lookout for a more in depth look into some delicious food!

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