Tables in Wonderland vs. Disney Dining Plan

Which do you think is better? Tables in Wonderland (and out of pocket expenses) or signing up for the Disney Dining Plan?

For those that aren’t aware, the Tables in Wonderland program is a special discount card that you purchase to get 20% off of dining costs at various restaurants at the Walt Disney World dining locations. However, there are some things that you need to know about the TiW program:

  1. The TiW card can only be purchased by a person that has an annual pass, or by a Florida Resident.
  2. The card costs $75 for Annual Passholders, and $100 for Florida Residents.
  3. As I mentioned, the TiW program will discount 20% off of all your food and drink purchases (including alcohol) at many of the Walt Disney World restaurants, but not all of them.
  4. The TiW card can be used for the cardholder and up to nine guests dining with the cardholder.
  5. An automatic 18% gratuity is included when using the TiW card, regardless of the size of the party.
  6. If you are thinking of buying the TiW card, you need to do some research to make sure that the discount will be at least equal to the cost you are paying for the card.

On the other side of the equation, the Disney Dining Plan has several different choices available. The three main ones are the Disney Quick Service Dining Plan; the original Disney Dining Plan, and the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan. You can also add the Wine and Dine component to your Dining Plan or Deluxe Dining Plan, but that is a separate add-on charge. Here are some things you need to know about the regular Disney Dining Plan:

  1. For the regular DDP, you will receive one snack, one quick service meal, and one table service meal per day.
  2. With the DDP, you must select the plan for every day that you are visiting Disney, and the DDP is only available to people that are staying on a Disney property.
  3. In addition, each member of your party needs to be on the dining plan. You can’t pick and choose.
  4. You get one credit for each of the types of meal (or snack) for each day. You can choose to use all of them in one day, if you like, or you can space them out so that you have credits for each day.

For my family, we have always had the regular Disney Dining Plan. There have been times when we got it for free based on when we came down on vacation, and there have been times when we paid for it.

Last June we became Disney Vacation Club owners, and as a result, this year we are staying at Bay Lake Towers, one of the DVC resorts available to us. The room that we reserved is a 2 bedroom suite, and will sleep 9 people, which is the number of people in our party. As a result, we made the decision really quickly that we were going to pay for our meals out of pocket. Our room has a full kitchen, so as a result, we are planning on only having three sit down meals during our visit. If we had wanted to do the Dining Plan, it would have cost my family (I am responsible for 5 of the guests) $1,371.65 for our stay, and it would have cost my sister-in-law’s family $1,049.72! If we did the quick service plan, it still would have been about $1,800 for the two families combined.

So for us, having 9 people eating at Akershus and 50′s Prime Time Cafe and Tune-In Lounge, and 5 of us eating at Boma, the discount will more than make up for the $75 cost (we will be buying three annual passes as well!)

While I don’t have the final tally of what our costs for dining will be, I’m going to make a conservative estimate that we would save at least $750 by going the OOP/TiW route over what we would pay for the DDP. When we get down there, I’m going to keep our receipts, and work up the final numbers after we get back! Thanks for reading!

  • What to bring with you to the Disney Theme Parks (chipandco.com)
  • Why Choose Disney’s Quick Service Dining Plan (chipandco.com)


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3 thoughts on “Tables in Wonderland vs. Disney Dining Plan

  1. I used the TiW card last August when we stayed on rented DVC points. It was definitely cheaper than the dining plan and gave us more flexibility on where to eat since we didnt have to use 9 table service credits. This year though we will be staying at a value resort and are hoping to get free dining in November since that will be the cheapest. I think it’s great Disney has all these different options so everyone can find the one that works best for them! Plus, it makes planning so fun because you have to search and do the math! : )

  2. Our Disney Files magazine which just arrived 2 days ago states that the TIW card is now available to DVC members in addition to the criteria that you list.

  3. Getting the DDP Quick Service free is the cheapest option I can think of! Thank you for ours, Disney! Can’t wait to get there!

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