View Full Version : Is Disney getting rid of the Dining plan?

02-10-2006, 04:43 AM
When we were waiting for the Magical Express bus for our return to the airport, we were chatting with the sweetest CM at POR while sitting on the benches near where the bus would park. He was asking about our vacation, and giving some neat Disney info, and a couple of his remarks made me wonder, the main being about the Dining Plan.

He stated that he was told that Disney has lost lots of money with the dining plan, and they will be getting rid of it. I thought that was odd, esp. since it was extended to DVC members, wasn't it?

He also noted that Disney is paying 100% for the return ME trip for guests using it, though the airlines pay for part of the arriving segment, and if they keep it there will definitely be a charge. I rather expected the fee to kick in eventually though.

Do you think he is right about the dining plan? I am happy with the DDE card, saving 20% (saved a bundled this past trip alone) but I also liked the dining plan when we had it earlier this year.

I guess I am just curious.

02-10-2006, 04:59 AM
I haven't heard about the possibility of discontinuing the dining plan but it all makes sense. I started using the dining plan when it was first announced and it is too good to last long. My wife and I typically save around 70% on our meals using the plan. I would guess that Disney introduced the plan to get guests in the habit of eating at their restaurants. I am referring to guests who have never had the experience of Disney dining in the past and typically bring their own food. You will have to admit, once you experience the Disney restaurants, you're hooked! The Dining Plan is a great stategy to encourage guests into trying the restaurants and making them a regular practice during park visits.

02-10-2006, 05:10 AM
I heard from a CM that they were actually talking about extending it to AP holders. Seems like they would loose money when they offered it for free like this past fall but not if people pay for it. I know there are people out there that do not know how to take advantage of it and they would offset the ones that do know how to make the most of it.

02-10-2006, 06:31 AM
Like many things, certain offers start out as money-loosing programs only for them to be slowly changed into something that is not only a money maker but also a decent value for those using it. Both the dining plan and DME could possibly fall into this category.

Example - I have used DME a couple of times now and have found it to be a rather good program. I do realise that there is a very good possibility that after the 50th celebration, there will be a charge. The catch is this - since I already find it to be a good program, and would like to use it again, I would most likely still pay for this service if the cost still is in balance with the value that I believe it to be. Price it too high for my family of 4 and I will no longer see value and will seek out other means to and from the airport.

The same goes for the dining plan. For my family, there is real value in how it is set up and priced. I save quite a bit. Getting rid of it would most likely change how we dine. However, if they keep it but raise the price, as long as it still provides a financial benefit in using it, I will continue to use this option.

Being that you need to staying on site in order to participate in these programs, I am sure that Disney sees other benefits from these programs. An example that comes to mind is that if you do not have to pay for transportation, and/or have reduced costs for meals, you will tend to spend more on the room or for items in the shops and the like.

02-10-2006, 06:36 AM
On the positive side, Disney just announced that profits are up due to a pickup at the theme parks. I'm sure that they will start charging more for the meal plan but they have some flexibility to offer incentives like this.

02-10-2006, 07:15 AM
Disney recently increased the dining plan costs for 2006. I think you are safe in assuming that it will continue for the remainder of the year. I have not heard that Disney is loosing money on the dining plan at all; the Table Service restaurants are busier than ever, and constantly selling out.

The DME is supposed to stop offering free service at some point. I've heard anytime between October 2006 and the end of this year. We won't really know for a while, but all things Disney are subject to change.

02-10-2006, 11:35 AM
There is one advantage to Disney with the Dining Plan. They get your money for the meals up front, when you pay for your package. They have that money before you even get there, as opposed to if you charged your meals and the downtime for credit card processing. That must help their cash flow, and may even offset any "lost" revenue from the meal discount.

Mark Goldhaber
02-10-2006, 07:32 PM
Actually, the rumor that I heard (and I stress "rumor") is that the Disney Dining Experience may be in danger. The dining plan, they can always shift the pricing until the money works out. Look for DME to start charging about the same as Mears used to cost, or slightly less, around the beginning of November, or maybe the beginning of December if they can extend for another month.

02-12-2006, 04:45 PM
Based on what I know about restaurants, which certainly isn't everything, they make most of their money on drinks, desserts and appetizers. Sometimes the meals are just break-even. So, it would seem to me that if Disney has warm bottoms in almost every seat at every restaurant every night, they will be raking in lots of cash from drinks alone. Both soft drinks and adult beverages cost the house only pennies to poor and the customer dollars to buy. I think this would more than offset the cost of discount meals and was likely calculated into the plan.

It's quite possible that many CM's who aren't completely familiar with the accounting of the plan see how many people are using it and automatically think, "Man, Disney must be losing their shirts on this!". From there it's easy for people say, "They can't keep this up much longer", then "Disney is going to cancel it any time now".

I'll bet if we talked to the Disney accountants we'd get a very different story. Disney has been doing business more than long enough to know what will be profitable. And, they certainly aren't going implement a plan that wouldn't be profitable.

02-13-2006, 10:08 AM
Of course, DCA would be a glaring exception to never implementing a plan that isn't profitable. Thankfully, the guy who laid that egg is long gone.

02-13-2006, 12:06 PM
I had read that DME was extended through the end of 2006.

I sure hope so as I'm planning on using it for the Dec 10-17 stay.

If I have to add in another $100 for RT transport that will take away from my spending money at WDW.

02-13-2006, 12:32 PM
I had read that DME was extended through the end of 2006.

I sure hope so as I'm planning on using it for the Dec 10-17 stay.

If I have to add in another $100 for RT transport that will take away from my spending money at WDW.

I am also staying in December and was concerned about having to pay for DME so I called and asked about it. The answer was that as long as I book DME before they begin charging it will still be free, however they do not have a definate answer on when they will start charging. But the way I see it I will book my flight within the next couple of months and I know it will still be free then so I'm not worried and you should be fine too.