Disney Trip Planning: Why the Disneyland Dining Plan is Stupid aka “Disneyland Dining Scam”
I’ve written in the past about how the Walt Disney World dining plan works. I’ve even explained that, though it’s never been worth it for me or my family to add on to our vacation, for some people it can be worth it to purchase the dining plan or even take advantage of it when the free offer usually comes out for the Fall. Now, Disneyland’s dining plan is not at all the same, which can be super confusing for anyone who’s a Disney World pro going to visit Disneyland for the first time. The Disneyland dining plan is pretty stupid, actually, and sort of a rip off. No, scratch that – it’s definitely a rip off.
As most Disney World veterans know, the dining plan THERE works by giving you a selected number of snacks, table service meals, and counter service meals each day, depending on which level plan you opt for, and it’s all stored and kept track of on your Key to the World Card (your room key card). Typically 1 counter service meal “voucher” is good for any 1 counter service meal on a menu at participating restaurants and same goes for snacks, drinks, and table service meals. This means that the most expensive meal on the menu becomes equal to the lowest priced item. So, depending on how many high priced meals you’d order, you could actually save some money using this plan.
In Disneyland, though, it doesn’t work at all this way. Instead of putting everything on your card, you are given tickets. And the tickets aren’t for “1 counter service meal,” they actually have dollar value. For example, you get a ticket that says “$5” and you literally PAID $5 for it, so you didn’t save any money. It is only worth the money you actually put down for it – dollar for dollar. But some might say it’s actually worth LESS than what you paid for it initially, because – get this – if you use it to pay for something that costs LESS than $5 YOU DON’T GET ANY CHANGE BACK. Also, the vouchers aren’t necessarily good for any and all food, so you might end up having to pay cash or credit for something anyway!
I just don’t understand this system, like, at all. It is pretty much a scam, right? I could see why someone might think it’s a good idea before they really know what the program is – if you were worried about using a credit card on vacation, or wanted to know how much money you were down at the beginning of the vacation rather than when you tally it all up at the end. But, if that was what you were worried about, it would honestly be better to give each person in your family a little envelope of how much cash they can spend on food per day. That’s basically all the Disneyland dining plan does anyway, but at least this way you get change back! Instead, with the dining plan vouchers, you are left even more stressed trying to figure how best to organize how you are going to spend them so that you don’t lose too much when you don’t get your change back. It’s quite possible that at the end of the vacation you will be left with a $20 voucher and want to purchase a $5 snack, but don’t want to lose the $15 that would be left over, so you can either pay with cash and have a $20 useless voucher left over to bring home with you or you can spend the $20 and lose $15.
I’ve been sitting here trying to think of one good thing about this program and the ONLY thing I can come up with would be if you were planning on letting your irresponsible kids go off on their own and you know that if you gave them cash then they would spend it on things other than food then not eat anything all day. Since the tickets are only good for certain food service locations, they would literally only be able to buy food with them. This plan is awful, and I LOVE Disney and mostly everything about the company, but this is just stupid. It’s simply a way for them to make more money, so be warned and don’t buy in to it even if you’ve loved the Disney World dining plan in the past!
What are your thoughts on the Disneyland dining plan? Are there any reasons I am looking over that would be worth buying into it? Leave your answers in the comments below!