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  1. #1

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    8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    Kevin looks at SeaWorld & Walt Disney World dining plans, SeaWorld's GPS Guide, More... discuss it all here!

    DIRECT ARTICLE LINK: http://miceage.micechat.com/kevinyee/ky080708a.htm
    "Politics is the profession whereby the inevitable is made to seem a great human achievement" - Quentin Crisp

  2. #2

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    Sea World has a great plan. Thanks for the update on those. But did you have to post it so early? It's just past 8:00 in the morning here and now I'm already starving!!

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    Nice article. I definitely will have to utilize the Dining Plans at Sea World.

    But...you have your math garbled again for Disney's Dining Plan. The QUICKSERVICE PLAN also includes a DESSERT with each of the two COUNTER SERVICE meals. (Just like the reg plan includes dessert with both TS and CS) So, once you add in the price of a dessert you definitely save some money. But, I agree totally that the DDP is really more of a terrific convenience. With the exception of the regular plan now leaving out the TIP. Which makes it inconvenient.

    When I do my own math, I find that the DDP work okay for me. Mostly as a convenience that doesn't really cost me more money based on the way MY family normally eats. But, if you don't normally eat dessert, then the plan really is a break even or less. But, it is convenient. I'm glad they are offering this new plan, because I'd use it for sure when going alone. And many folks I know never use table service.

    Now if Disney would just allow us to choose between an appetizer or dessert for the reg DDP I'd be happy!

  4. #4

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    Interesting article Kevin. The Sea World Dining Plan actually sounds really great.

    I also think your thoughts on the Counter Service plan at Disney is probably right on (will be the "Free" dining plan in the fall). And HOPEFULLY it will become so popular that the restaurant dining will become more open, and get more variety back. We can hope right.

    The GPS thing is interesting. When you first described it I thought it would be more like the Q-bot at Six Flags parks where you scan it at a ride or attraction and then it gives you a time to come back with little or no line. But with the added benefit of a park map, etc.

    This obviously isn't the case which is odd. I remember Sea World San Diego used to give you a "rough schedule" when entering the parks. It was different for everybody in hopes they would not all show up for the 1st Shamu show of the day, etc. This GPS unit seems like a GREAT way to do that.

    If you are close to a show-time you could find out how full a show was before walking all the way to the other end of the park. It could tell you how long the line is for Kraken, etc.

    It's a great concept, but I think they are missing a LOT of the benefits they can have with it.


  5. #5

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    Great article, Kevin. I was totally clueless about the dining plans at Universal and Sea World, so this helps me out tremendously.

    One other minor nitpick about your examination of the new Disney Quick Service Plan, in addition to you leaving off the cost of dessert as mentioned above -- you say that the mug benefit only breaks down to $2 a day over the course of a 7-day stay. But the mug you receive allows for unlimited refills at your resort, and your breakdown doesn't take that into account. For every beverage you get at the food court, such as that cup of coffee in the morning before you head out to the parks, or the OJ for the kids, that's an additional $2 you've saved. Those beverage costs can really add up if you have to pay for them. With the mug, you don't.
    *Brian*

  6. #6

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    To those of you who use any of these meal plans - without trying to be insensitive, just how *big* are you?

    I think I'm average, am considered slightly overweight by my Wii Fit game, and yet I find it very hard to eat anywhere near the amount of food that Disney Dining would serve me. In fact, whenever I go to WDW, I find that I tend to eat *less* food than I do at home because I'm so distracted/busy doing rides or whatever that I tend to miss a meal about once every other day.

    Looking around the Disney parks, I do not think I am among the skinnier half of the patrons either, and I am average height. You guys must be running marathons in the evenings or something to burn off that many calories!

    I do get the "convenience" argument, but really, you still have to present something at each meal, and worry about counting entrees and desserts - I'd think just handing over a Visa card would be just as convenient. I can't imagine how your total bill at the end of your trip would approach the cost of the dining plan.

  7. #7

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    The new Disney meal deal is a good option for people that want to stay in the parks and get as much done as possible.

    Meal 7.50
    Drink 2.00
    Dessert 3.00
    Snack 3.00

    $15.50 x 2 gives you $31.00 which gives you the mug for free. Good deal. Just so you know snacks up to $4.00 are usually included and a list is available on many other websites, plus many lunches at Epcot run up to $10.00 a piece, thus you could save an additionaly $5.00 per day plus the free mug. I've also heard the average vacation is 5 days, not 7, so take that into account when valuing the mug.

    Having only visited Sea World in San Diego(many times, including 2 weeks ago), the problem I see is that I've only done one meal a day at Sea World, usually visiting the park from 9 to 5, with the taste of food a definite drop from counter-service at the DLR, thus only spending $10 for lunch.
    Last edited by socalkdg; 08-07-2008 at 08:58 AM.

  8. #8

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian_WDW74 View Post
    Great article, Kevin. I was totally clueless about the dining plans at Universal and Sea World, so this helps me out tremendously.

    One other minor nitpick about your examination of the new Disney Quick Service Plan, in addition to you leaving off the cost of dessert as mentioned above -- you say that the mug benefit only breaks down to $2 a day over the course of a 7-day stay. But the mug you receive allows for unlimited refills at your resort, and your breakdown doesn't take that into account. For every beverage you get at the food court, such as that cup of coffee in the morning before you head out to the parks, or the OJ for the kids, that's an additional $2 you've saved. Those beverage costs can really add up if you have to pay for them. With the mug, you don't.
    I think the comparison is valid. It's stil $2 a day whether you are on the plan, or you just buy the mug on the first day of your visit. I think that was the comparison Kevin was going for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pretzel View Post
    To those of you who use any of these meal plans - without trying to be insensitive, just how *big* are you?

    I think I'm average, am considered slightly overweight by my Wii Fit game, and yet I find it very hard to eat anywhere near the amount of food that Disney Dining would serve me. In fact, whenever I go to WDW, I find that I tend to eat *less* food than I do at home because I'm so distracted/busy doing rides or whatever that I tend to miss a meal about once every other day.

    Looking around the Disney parks, I do not think I am among the skinnier half of the patrons either, and I am average height. You guys must be running marathons in the evenings or something to burn off that many calories!

    I do get the "convenience" argument, but really, you still have to present something at each meal, and worry about counting entrees and desserts - I'd think just handing over a Visa card would be just as convenient. I can't imagine how your total bill at the end of your trip would approach the cost of the dining plan.
    That's always been my question too. I'm not tiny, but I don't really eat ALOT.

    I think in a total of (approx) 25 days spent at WDW over the past 2 years, we've eaten a TOTAL of 8 counter-service meals (in the parks). Most of those type meals for us are in the food-court of our hotel, and generally (at least IMO) a step-up from counter-service in the parks.

    Although, I will freely admit that Pecos Bills, Flame-Tree and Harbor House aren't typical "Counter-Service" meals.

    In fact, one of those meals was a "Free" meal because some stranger had some extra counter-service meals on their last night and gave it to us at Flame-Tree (one of the rare exceptions to "Counter-Service" IMO).

    But the dining plan would never work for us. On the days we had counter-service meals we generally didn't have a sit-down meal planned (with one exception I believe).

    Our general schedule is to have a light breakfast (bowl of cereal or something in the room), have lunch be our major meal, and almost always a sit-down, and then a light dinner back at our hotel food-court (salad, sandwhich, etc).

    There are of course exceptions, and on the nights we have dinner as our sit-down, are the days we generally have a counter service meal for lunch.

    And by the end of the night, I always feel I've had WAY too much food. I can't imagine doing that every day.


  9. #9

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    The amount of food included on the Disney plans can be excessive. When I had the plan in 2006 you got an appy and dessert, where a typical meal out for myself might only include one of those, and shared between two people no less. I always walk enough on this type of vacation however, that calorie intake was not an issue. And besides, a week or two of eating a bit more than usual is not going to result in major weight gain, in the long-term.

    Doing some meals that took two credits helped spread it out as well.

    I really agree that the newer plans should include a choice of appy or dessert, that's a no-brainer. Perfect for two people to share one of each.

    I cannot imagine buying it on a break-even basis, since I'm bound to spend at least one day off-site. Of course, the plan is just another way Disney wraps its tentacles around you.

    Another highlight was using almost all of my snack credits at Epcot's Food & Wine booths. Made an evening/dinner of that, and got much better value than if I'd got popcorn or churros or what not.

    And what on earth is included in the $200+ per day plans? Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack at Victoria & Alberts?
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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    I'm surprised that the 'gluttony' angle can exist when it comes to theme park food in terms of Sea World and Universal's food. The portions can be outlandishly huge, at times.

    I've always been fond of Sea World's food, however, so I'm excited to hear about the dining plan. And concerning the GPS console, I think the lack of cartoon orcas on the system is a plus, rather than a minus, but that might just be me and my preference for Sea World to remember its educational roots as well.

  11. #11

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    Quote Originally Posted by Pretzel View Post
    To those of you who use any of these meal plans - without trying to be insensitive, just how *big* are you?

    I think I'm average, am considered slightly overweight by my Wii Fit game, and yet I find it very hard to eat anywhere near the amount of food that Disney Dining would serve me. In fact, whenever I go to WDW, I find that I tend to eat *less* food than I do at home because I'm so distracted/busy doing rides or whatever that I tend to miss a meal about once every other day.

    Looking around the Disney parks, I do not think I am among the skinnier half of the patrons either, and I am average height. You guys must be running marathons in the evenings or something to burn off that many calories!

    I do get the "convenience" argument, but really, you still have to present something at each meal, and worry about counting entrees and desserts - I'd think just handing over a Visa card would be just as convenient. I can't imagine how your total bill at the end of your trip would approach the cost of the dining plan.

    Speaking for my family and myself, we are trim, and athletic. I am a bit more wirey. We generally eat very healthy. At WDW we indulge here and there, but stick to healthier foods. This was easy to do on the REGULAR DDP.
    It's very easy to find healthy TS food. We indulged by ordering appetizers, but really would only order one dessert and split it or not at all. Or we would get some fruit for dessert at CS to take along as a snack. We generally did not MAX OUT the plan by always eating as much as we were entitled to. When I did the math to see if the plan was worth it for us, I actually decided were we would be eating, and figured out what we would normally eat if we were NOT on the plan. This figuring usually meant one appetizer to split, and no dessert. The math came out close to even, with the plan being a couple dollars cheaper for us. Especially since the tip was included. And yes, I did add in the tip on the calculations I made without the DDP. The new plan still would save us a tiny amount, but really, I liked the convenience.

    The convenience was knowing that it was all taken care of. I didn't have to look at prices to decide if I really wanted to spend the extra cash or not. I believe I calculated that my family saved about $65 dollars using the plan. We didn't max it out, had a couple snack credits left too.

    It definitely doesn't work for everyone. We did do a couple character meals and buffets, which were $25 plus tax and tip. Those days alone were savings boosters. You really should do your own math. At this point, if you don't eat dessert, do buffets or character meals DDP might not save you any money. But it is nice to have it all prepaid. And no one says you HAVE to eat all the food. I sometimes use it as an excuse to have a bite or two of something new.

  12. #12

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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    When I did the dining plan for one day at Disney, my CS came up to 17 dollars so your math seems to be off.


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    Re: 8/7: Deal-A-Meal

    Interesting article Kevin.

    I have hope for the new option in the DDP only in that I hope it caters well to a target audience and Disney drops the 'one size fits all' and instead moves more towards a high and low end with a significant difference in price and quality between them. With a premium DDP in place, at the right price and volume, you could have plans that don't harm the Disney Dining Experience like we've seen in the last few years. There were 'all inclusive' plans since the 80s that were able to provide the services without destroying the menus or availability. By having a quick meal plan to lure resort visitors with Disney keeps their dangling carrot without necessarily having to bring every food establishment into 'compliance'. Where compliance is lowering operating costs to be more in line with revenue from the plan.

    I'm actually excited a bit.. as this plan sounds like it provides value for those looking for FOOD without DINING - and *hopefully* improving the situation over time for those looking for DINING, not just food

    As for the excess comments.. I think you took the comments from your last article well and soundly. On vacation, excess is often the name of the game. I mean, even the premise of not working for an extended period in its own right is excess People may not eat at top restaurants at home, or eat out at a table restaurant nightly - but may look to do so on vacation. Not just out of necessity, but because that too is entertainment.

    Food IS entertainment for many.
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