We’ve all heard these words and cringed. We’ve all been on vacation to waste valuable time trying to decide where we can eat and waiting in line. Several years ago we first experienced the thrill of the free dining plan. Then the appetizer, meal, dessert, drink, and tip were included. Wow, what a deal for a party of five (even though 2 of our kids were still kids). Fast forward through the years and the plan has changed. No tip included. Appetizer is included only with the deluxe dining plan. By some estimations out there, one might feel the value or the wow factor is gone, but not my family of five.
For our upcoming trip in Aug., we once again have the free dining plan. Once the dates are settled, the excel sheet is designed. Days are assigned to parks and the fun begins. Menus are researched. Family favorites are noted. Show schedules are plotted. ADRs are secured. Then the round table discussion begins and plans are tweaked and altered and ADRs are adjusted accordingly. The days and weeks before the trip are almost as much fun as the trip. For a budget conscious micro planner like me, the dining plan enhances the overall trip. The mindset shifts from cost to: what do we want? Instead of looking at the meal saying $35, we look and say, “Ooh that steak sounds good. Book it.” No stress involved. Dinner is planned and paid for. To us knowing where and how we are spending our day is vacation at its finest.
On our last trip in May of this year, we celebrated our 20th anniversary with an adult only 5 night stay at the Polynesian. While we were fortunate to have a 40% savings on our room, the dining plan was not included. Of course, we added it on. The more we planned and studied the menu; it became very clear for our celebration the Deluxe was the way to go. I called and upgraded our stay. What a wonderful relaxing trip to eat at the Castle, the Brown Derby, the Polynesian Luau, and Le Cellier to name a few. No hassles with last minute decisions. No looking to see how much something cost. Everything was planned and paid for before our arrival. All we had to do was show up and enjoy.
To some having a well defined plan that is prepaid would squash their vacation and maybe even feel stifling. To us, it is liberating; and with our plan, we can fully enjoy our vacation to the fullest.
by: Lori Coward