It’s great to be back to work after an exhausting, but fun, family vacation to Disney World last week. With the rigors of growing Next Level Purchasing, this is the first family vacation trip that we took in seven years.

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Having said that, you may think that supply chain management was the last thing on my mind while getting pictures taken with Goofy and letting the kids give me nausea on the Teacup ride.

Nope. I couldn’t turn off my supply chain brainwaves despite all of the excitement.

Specifically, one personal supply chain question that kept going through my head was: Is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?

The Disney Dining Plan is basically a prepaid package that allowed our party of three adults and two kids to get one snack (e.g., beverage, ice cream, bagel, piece of fruit, etc.) , one quick service meal (i.e., fast food including drink), and one table service meal (i.e., sit down dinner including drink) per day. For the five of us for five nights, I think that this option cost us around $700.

Here are some supply chain principles that were running through my mind every time we sat down to eat:

Waste: When you prepay based on a forecast, there is always the possibility that you will experience waste due to actual requirements being less than forecasted requirements. We found this to be the case. My mother-in-law experienced some “intestinal distress” on our first night there. So she opted out of her table service meal, essentially wasting the portion of the money allocated to that one meal in the package price. Otherwise, we used every single one of our credits.

Effect of a Contract on Demand: We are an “on the go” type of family when on vacation. Normally, we may be tempted to opt for fast food in lieu of a 60-90 minute dinner in order to visit more attractions. So, without the Disney Dining Plan, we may have eaten faster meals and spent less money. But you know what? I am glad about this. I think that we ate healthier as a result of being forced into the type of meal that we had paid for! Another thing is that we often ordered dishes that we probably wouldn’t have otherwise. In many cases, our mentality was “Let’s get the most expensive thing on the menu, ’cause it costs us the same whether we get a chicken salad or prime rib!”

Over-and-Above Charges: As with many contracts, there are costs that somehow don’t get factored into a comparison. One such charge with the Disney Dining Plan was gratuities. Our table service meals ran between $90 and $120 and you are expected to tip based on what your meal would have cost. This meant that we shelled out $20 or so as a tip for each table service meal. Again, if we weren’t forced to have table service meals, we probably would have had more fast food and refrained from ordering the most expensive menu item and, as a result, shelled out less money in tips.

Cost Savings: Had we not had the Disney Dining Plan, we would have paid about $800 for the meals that we had. So that is a cost savings of about $100, or 12.5%. But had we not had the Disney Dining Plan, we probably would have made less expensive food choices. So, our spend on food may have been slightly less.

So back to the question: is the Disney Dining Plan worth it?

If you are careful not to waste what you’ve paid for, are going to order the more expensive menu items anyway, understand that gratuities are a part of “total cost of ownership,” and the one-snack-one-quick-service-one-table-service-each-day matches your personal “demand pattern,” the Disney Dining Plan is definitely worth it.

If you have to slightly adjust your demand pattern and don’t mind doing so, it still is worth it.

If you prefer to eat as quickly and cheaply as possible, you may want to think carefully about it.

Personally, I would do it again.

One last note: another nice thing about the Disney Dining Plan is that it avoided about 15 instances of sticker shock. For the five of us, each snack ran about $15 – $25, each quick service meal ran us about $40 – $50, and each table service meal ran us about $90 – $120 plus tip.

Tomorrow, I’ll be back to blogging about normal stuff!

To Your Career,
Charles Dominick, SPSM
President & Chief Procurement Officer
Next Level Purchasing, Inc.
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Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is an internationally-recognized business expert, legendary procurement thought leader, award-winning entrepreneur, and provocative blogger. Charles founded the Next Level Purchasing Association in 2000, oversaw its incredible growth, and successfully led the organization to its acquisition by the Certitrek Group in 2016. He continues to blog and provide advisory services for the NLPA on a part-time basis as he incubates his upcoming business innovations. Charles is also the co-author of the wildly popular, groundbreaking book, "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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