Jim Hill on Guest Reaction to Disney Dining Plan 2008 Changes

7 Jan

Jim Hill has an article today which describes Walt Disney World Guest reactions to the changes in the Disney Dining Plan, which many do not seem to have understood before being handed a gynormous check at Le Cellier. Seems that it’s slipped past a few Guests that gratuity and appetizers aren’t included anymore . . . and it sounds like the front-line Cast Members have taking the abuse.

A lot of these people are insisting that — when they booked this add-on for their ‘Magic Your Way’ vacation package — that no one at Central Reservations ever told them about there being any changes made to the Disney Dining Plan program. Which is why they now feel blindsided by this whole “appetizer not included” / “gratuity not included” thing.

Our managers are totally caught in the middle here. They’re the one who have been tasked with implementing this new policy. But — at the same time — they’re the ones who are supposed to keep the guests happy. Which is why — right now — all we’re able to do is send patrons who complain over to Guest Relations. Have them lodge a formal complaint there about the changes that have been made to the Dining Plan.

But from what I hear, people are complaining all over property. The frontline staff — the servers and the managers — are taking an awful lot of abuse from angry WDW guests who weren’t expecting to pay gratuities on any of the table-service meals that they eat over the course of their Disney World vacations. That’s why they signed up for the Disney Dining Plan in the first place. For its ease and its convenience. And to now find out now that — in addition to handing over their room key — they’ve also got to hand over a credit card or a wad of cash in order to cover the tip is sending some of these folks right over the edge.

I cruised over to a message board frequented by WDW Cast Members (especially those who need to vent about Guests behaving stupidly). Not a random sample I realize . . . but I didn’t find any threads to indicate that Guests are any more badly behaved than usual this week.

MyDisneyMania questions whether Guests were properly warned about the changes, and may well have a good point. No matter who’s to blame though, I know for sure it’s not the dude waiting tables at the Sci Fi Dine In.

If you’re planning to use the Disney Magic Your Way Dining Plan and haven’t already carefully reviewed what it covers, you might want to check out the summary on AllEars.net.

8 Responses to “Jim Hill on Guest Reaction to Disney Dining Plan 2008 Changes”

  1. Jon January 8, 2008 at 6:06 pm #

    I don’t know about you, but this dining plan stuff is out of control. Who wants to keep track of all of these credits and other things? Just buy a damn meal with cash or credit! If I’m hungry, I don’t feel like figuring out these things.

  2. Jennifer January 8, 2008 at 7:58 pm #

    I hear ya, Jon.

    I gotta admit, I really loved the Dining Plan last August, when it was “free.” But I’m kinda freakish, and really don’t mind doing all the spreadsheets, doing the math to see if the Dining Plan’s a good deal based on where we’d usually eat, etc. It’s way less work to just pay out-of-pocket for food, and for a lot of us it’s usually cheaper, too.

  3. sambycat January 8, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

    i’m sure the info is posted, though i can see howit could be a surprise if you used it before… though, one might think that the servers – or just the menus? – would contain a gentle reminder at least for a first couple of months or something…. then again, i can’t be bothered – i’ll be dining at V&A, sans children!!! mmmmwwwahahahahahha!!!!!

  4. Jennifer January 8, 2008 at 9:32 pm #

    My hunch is that some Guests could be pretty darn ticked off even if the CM gives them a gentle reminder . . . after all, they might have thought they didn’t have to leave a tip, and all of a sudden that meal at Le Cellier just got 20% more expensive, and didn’t include an appetizer either.

    And phooey on you people with your V&A ADRs and no kids! Bah, I’m happy at the Sci Fi Dine In anyway. Glowy ice cubes, decent burgers, The Cat Who Hated People, who needs anything more?

  5. Stephanie January 31, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    I absolutely loved the dining plan when it was a good deal! I can’t say that I love it now. I am pissed that they don’t outline the changes at least for the guest that have just been on the DDP. It’s rediculous with how much money Disney makes they can’t even at least leave the appitzer in the meal deal. What a shame!

  6. John Sloan February 6, 2008 at 9:26 am #

    I am trying to decide if the plan is worth it. My wife and I are going to DW Feb 27-Mar4. Tip and no appetizer stick in my craw.
    As a ten time DW vacationer, I feel Disney is putting the squeeze on families more than ever. Food was always expensive and not that good, include drinks and kids will break you. I feel as if a trust was broken and the magic is disappearing. Too much hassle and not enough relaxation. What’s next? We had family gathering last October and the old plan was confusing with 7 kids and 5 adults.The new one just has a bed feel to it. Cast members not happy means guests not happy.

  7. Jennifer February 6, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by and posting, John!

    I gotta say, the old dining plan wasn’t a good deal for my trips, except when it was “free” (ie, forgoing the AP or AAA room discount on a Value resort was a reasonable cost in exchange for the old Dining Plan).

    I’ve always had to do the math for each trip, looking at what restaurants we were likely to eat at, and what we’d order at each one, and always remembering to add in the cost of the tip. I would be very surprised if the new Dining Plans ever made sense for us . . . unless we hit the bigtime lottery or something and just wanted the total luxury of not worrying at all about cost once we were onsite.

  8. Jill June 22, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    Used DDP in March 07 on first trip ever. Amazed at the value. Wanted to maximize time and force a “break” each night, so planning was not an issue for me. Kinda liked the security of knowing that my choices were available.
    Brought my kids June 8-12 on the DDP. I was not informed at booking of the changes. I did, though, go online to view the family vacation bill before booking and did see the “no gratuity”. Missed the “no appetizer for table service”. I was so let down. Our first meal at Les Cellier was New York strip for 4. With sodas and smoothie for my son, the bill was $191. With the nearly $40 tip and no appetizer, I felt that it wasn’t as good as a deal as last year. The waiter was very kind to inform me when we ordered the appetizers that they would not be included on the plan. He saved me from getting in too deep. He got his tip. My tip to Disney-please don’t take away a great deal! At least let an appetizer be available as a substitute for a dessert. I also noticed that the New York Strip at Tony’s Town Square was identical in preparation as Les Cellier, even down to the long stemmed broccolli. But the price was a bit different.

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