I received a call today from good friend, and fellow Fan Zone writer, Darlene. She wanted to know if we’d considered buying a Tables in Wonderland (TIW) card for dining discounts on our upcoming trip. Darlene’s timing was great, as with my new Disney Vacation Club (DVC) membership I recall there also being some DVC discounts available. I was curious how good those discounts were, and if we would still need to purchase TIW. I also recalled some annual passholder dining discounts. Before leaping into buying TIW I wanted to make sure I wouldn’t get just as good of a discount without having to pay $75 for the TIW card. I needed to do my research anyway, and Darlene’s call prompted me to get a move on since our next trip is in November.
First, to refresh your memories, I’m NOT a fan of the Disney Dining Plan. I don’t believe it’s a good value for what you get. Even with “free dining” (which we don’t get as DVC members) I don’t think it’s always a good deal since it means sacrificing room discounts. I know some people like the ease of paying in advance and forgetting about it. But you don’t really pay 100% in advance since you are still on the hook for gratuities, not to mention any appetizers or adult beverages you may order. And my method of paying in advance is just as easy, and I can spend the money how I want, not how Disney believes I should be eating. And if I have leftover money, great! Savings for my next trip or an extra souvenir or five. If you’d like a refresher on how I elect to pay for dining instead, check out my article from last February: My Alternative to the Disney Dining Plan
Okay, the first step in determining which route to go for dining discounts – you have to look at which restaurants you plan to dine in! Our list for this coming trip includes:
- 50′s Prime Time Cafe
- Captains Grille
- The Plaza
- Chef Mickey’s
- Raglan Road
- California Grill
- Whispering Canyon Cafe
So let’s review first the Annual Pass holder dining discounts. According to my research, the ONLY restaurant on my list that would get a discount, is Whispering Canyon Cafe. And that discount is just 10%.
Next, I looked at Disney Vacation Club (DVC) Dining Discounts. There were a few more restaurants included here, but still at 10% level:
- Captains Grille
- Raglan Road
- Whispering Canyon
At this point I have to admit I was a bit surprised. No wonder we’ve never taken advantage of the DVC dining discounts. There aren’t that many places we could have!
Finally, I looked at Tables in Wonderland. Not only was every single restaurant on our list eligible for Tables in Wonderland discounts. But the discount amount was DOUBLE what I saw with Annual Pass or Disney Vacation Club discounts – Tables in Wonderland is a 20% discount!
My conclusion – even having to pay $75 (as an Annual Passholder) or $100 (as a Disney Vacation Club membership) I believe the 20% discount at every sit down restaurant we have planned will MORE than cover the $75 card. That would mean we break even at just $375 spent at these restaurants. To see how feasible hitting $375 in food and beverage was, I looked at the menus for each place, and picked out my likely entree. JUST based on the entrees, not including dessert or beverages (alcoholic or regular) I come up with just over $300 for only MYSELF. I’m sure I’ll get some dessert, perhaps a glass of wine. So $375 definitely not out of the ballpark. Plus that is just MY food costs. I won’t be dining alone, so for two of us we’ll EASILY hit well over that mark – making the $75 Tables in Wonderland card the obvious choice for us!Share