I just renewed my Tables in Wonderland card for another year, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to take a look at this unique dining discount program to see where the value in it really stands for people like me…
As far as the savings are concerned, I suppose that’s actually pretty straight forward – the card costs $75 per year (for Passholders; $100 for DVC Owners & Florida Residents) – and in general, it scores you 20% off on most Walt Disney World table service meals, so at the ground level I figure that I have to spend about $375/year on table service meals to break even with Tables in Wonderland. When I first started visiting WDW again about 7 years ago, that actually would’ve been a pretty tall order because my habits (and wallet!) at the time leaned considerably more towards snacks and counter service meals, but luckily things have changed a bit since then and nowadays sitting down for a good meal at Disney World is something that I look forward to even more than riding some of my favorite attractions!
Plus, it’s given me a great excuse to start writing a new column dedicated solely to Disney dining reviews, but more about that in a minute…
Now that said, one big caveat to keep in mind is that oddly enough … not every restaurant at Walt Disney World “participates” in Tables in Wonderland, which frankly over the years I’ve found to be both confusing and ridiculous. Apparently this is also a problem with the Disney Dining Plan, too – I’ve never encountered it personally because I’ve never actually used it, but I can tell you from a Tables in Wonderland perspective that it can be really frustrating to put the card down for a sizeable check, only to be told, “I’m sorry – we don’t do that here…”
The “reasoning” is that unknown to most guests, select restaurants around the World aren’t actually owned or operated by Disney themselves, but instead by third-party companies that pay Disney a special fee to run their restaurants inside the parks, resorts, and Downtown Disney. As such, these eateries are permitted to choose which Disney programs, like the Disney Dining Plan and Tables in Wonderland, they want to participate in, and some simply choose not to because these programs cut into their profits.
Granted, it’s not really a huge list, but here are the table service restaurants that I’m aware of that currently do not accept Tables in Wonderland…
- Rainforest Café (Downtown Disney & Animal Kingdom)
- T-Rex Café (Downtown Disney)
- AMC Dine-In Theatre (Downtown Disney)
- Yak & Yeti (Animal Kingdom)
- Teppan Edo (Epcot)
Of course, as you might infer this limitation hasn’t exactly been a deal breaker for me over the years, and overall I do still find it a worthwhile enough value to keep renewing again and again. I enjoy it because in a way, it almost helps to legitimize our taking in of more table service meals simply because “Hey, we’re saving 20% off here!” Being members of Tables in Wonderland has encouraged my wife and I to explore more of the dining options that Walt Disney World has to offer because we can save a little money in doing so, to the point where I even get to write a dining review column on this site to share all of our delicious exploits each month!
If you do the math, an average dinner for two with dessert and a drink a piece can easily be upwards of $75 or more, so for me I don’t really have much trouble making the card pay for itself and then some.
So what do you think???
Is Tables in Wonderland worth it for your own personal vacation needs? Do the numbers show that you’re better off on the Disney Dining Plan or even just going without either one?? How about the name – am I the only one who thinks Tables in Wonderland is pretty stupid compared to its previous moniker, the Disney Dining Experience???
I can’t be the only one…
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