Tables In Wonderland Card 2014 Info & Tips


Overview

If you dine often at Walt Disney World restaurants, and are a Florida resident or an Annual Passholder, there is a simply wonderful money-saving card that you must have, called Tables in Wonderland. I believe they call it this because only in Alice’s Wonderland could you save money at Disney by presenting a small piece of plastic. Normally, when you present a piece of plastic at the end of a Disney meal, the charges don’t mysteriously disappear, you just don’t have to pay them for about 30 days.

Tables in Wonderland was previously known as the Disney Dining Experience, in case that name sounds more familiar. The Tables in Wonderland card offers a 20% discount off all food and beverage (including alcohol) for up to 10 people at most table-service Disney restaurants. While a charge of 18% gratuity is added to all Tables in Wonderland table service transactions, most parties are tipping at or around 18% anyway, so it’s not merely a “2% discount” as some people claim.

Tables in Wonderland isn’t quite as magical as I might have implied above, as it does cost $100 for Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club members, and $125 for Florida residents in 2014 and has some blockout dates (Easter Sunday, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day). Although there is no price increase for 2014, benefits have been slashed. Starting on August 1, 2014, Victoria & Albert’s will no longer accept Tables in Wonderland, and Le Cellier, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, 1900 Park Fare, Ohana (dinner), Chef Mickey’s, and Cinderella’s Royal Table will have additional blockout dates (November 23 – 29, 2014; December 21 – 27, 2014; March 8 – April 4, 2015; and May 31 – June 20, 2015). If you dine at Victoria & Albert’s, its removal from the program is a big loss–one meal there would previously come close to paying for the cost of the card! As for the other blockout dates, these restrictions apply to the most popular Walt Disney World restaurants during the busiest travel periods of the year.  Despite the cuts, most frequent guests will still get a lot of savings out of the card. If you aren’t a Florida Resident, Annual Passholder, or Disney Vacation Club Member, the program unfortunately is not open to you. I guess that means it’s time for you to move to Florida?! If you don’t qualify for the card, but you do visit Walt Disney World nearly enough to justify purchasing an Annual Pass (the ‘break even’ point for an Annual Pass is right around 11 days per year) for at least one person in your party if you’re not doing the Disney Dining Plan.

In addition to the 20% savings at Table Service restaurants, a Tables in Wonderland card entitles you to the following benefits:

  • complimentary valet (and standard) resort parking (if dining at the resort)
  • complimentary theme park parking after 5:00 pm (if dining at the park)
  • access to member-only special Food and Wine events, winemaker dinners, and celebrity chef dinners, and other events throughout the year
  • free admission to Atlantic Dance Hall for the cardholder and one guest (although if you’re actually going to Atlantic Dance Hall, you should have far greater concerns than the cost of admission)

It is also important to note that some Downtown Disney restaurants don’t accept the card or only offer a 10% discount with it. Also, some Counter Service restaurants (Flame Tree BBQ, for the win!!!) offer a Tables in Wonderland discount. As these restaurants change yearly based on the contracts signed with each restaurant, it’s best to refer to Disney’s Tables in Wonderland page before your trip to determine what discount you’ll receive at each restaurant you visit. Also, the Tables in Wonderland discount is not valid on any “busy” major holidays: Discount not available on the following dates: New Years Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Years Eve.

Review

Since you could find the above information in a multitude of places online, I’m assuming you’ve come here for our thoughts on the Tables in Wonderland card. In light of the price of the Tables in Wonderland card and the discount offered, the break-even point for a Florida resident breaks is $625 at Table Service restaurants, and an Annual Passholder’s break-even point is $500 spent at Table Service restaurants. If you’ve ever paid for Table Service restaurants at Walt Disney World out of pocket, you know that you can probably break-even within only a few meals!

That said, you’re probably wondering how the Tables in Wonderland card compares to the 2014 Disney Dining Plan for saving money. My biggest criticism of the Disney Dining Plan is that it offers too much food for most people and is unnecessarily complicated. Nothing is as simple as paying out-of-pocket for the food you want, when and where you want it. The Tables in Wonderland Card works well for this “strategy.” We don’t research what restaurants accept it and which ones don’t (despite the long listing on Disney’s website, almost every Table Service restaurant accepts it, and offers 20% off with it); we just present the card when we pay, and if for some reason it doesn’t work, c’est la vie.



However, if the Disney Dining Plan (1 Table Service meal consisting of an entree, dessert, and drink, 1 Counter Service meal consisting of a combo, drink, and dessert, and 1 Snack per day for the standard plan) matches your eating habits, that might very well be better for you. For us, Tables in Wonderland works better because it allows us to “eat as we please.” We can order an appetizer if we want, skip dessert, get 3 snacks per day, etc. We don’t feel as confined to a specific eating pattern and schedule with Tables in Wonderland. Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer as to which is better for your party, so doing the numbers based on your specific dining style is a must.

You may find that even if you’re a frequent user of the Disney Dining Plan, there still may be value in purchasing the Tables in Wonderland card if you eat at Disney restaurants enough! This is because the card can be used on alcohol and appetizers, so if would order these items with your Disney Dining Plan meals, and you eat enough appetizers or drink enough alcohol, you can come out ahead. Just think of it as an booze “rewards” card for Disney! Plus, since it’s accepted at some restaurants where the Disney Dining Plan is not, you can benefit by using it in these locations.

Sarah and I actually first purchased Tables in Wonderland for a trip during which we’d be using the Disney Dining Plan! For our honeymoon, we wanted to experience Victoria & Albert’s and California Grill, in addition to using the DDP, but the former is not on the Dining Plan, and the latter offers poor value on the Dining Plan. We thus decided to break our trip into two reservations at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas, with two days off of the Dining Plan. During those two days, we ate at Victoria & Albert’s, California Grill, and Beaches and Cream. The savings on our dinner at Victoria & Albert’s came close to paying for the card, with the savings at California Grill easily putting us “in the black” on Tables in Wonderland. We used the card again at Christmas, and again in May, and saved well over one-thousand dollars in those three trips by utilizing the card!

The greatest strength of the Tables in Wonderland card is not even one mentioned by Disney. That it’s value increases the more you eat at Table Service restaurants! What’s better than an excuse to eat an extra meal at Flying Fish, Jiko, or Kona Cafe because you need to save more money?! If you’re looking for just such an “excuse meal,” make sure to check out our Disney Restaurant Reviews.

Looking for Disney trip planning tips? Make sure to read our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide.

For updates on Walt Disney World, the latest news, discount information, and tips, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!

Your Thoughts

What do you think of the Tables in Wonderland Card? Is it worth the money for your traveling party, or do you go for the Disney Dining Plan (or something else) instead? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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57 Responses to “Tables In Wonderland Card 2014 Info & Tips”

  1. Darolyn says:

    We’re going to the World in November and getting AP’s. We were contemplating between the DDP and the TIW card. Since we’re going again in May but staying off property, we figure the TIW card is better for us since we will be able to use it for both trips. We eat quite a few TS meals a trip (Le Cellier, Les Chefs De France, Ohana, etc..) so the savings to us will be worth it. There will be 3 of us traveling and we will each pay $25 to split the cost of the card. It’s time consuming to figure everything out but it’s worth it in the end to make sure you’re picking the right plan for you!

  2. Katie says:

    Can you use the TIW card if you’re dining on a Candlelight Processional dinner package?

  3. Steve says:

    TIW sounds perfect for us. Will be at WDW for 8 days in October and another 6 next June. I am getting an annual pass that will be activated in Oct. The one question about TIW for which I cannot find an answer anywhere is this: When does the use year begin? Upon first use just like the AP? Or the day you buy it? Or is it tied to Jan 1?
    Thanks for the info!

  4. Alex says:

    Tom:

    Thanks for the concise break-down of the Tables in Wonderland card. We used it on our trip a few weeks ago. We had a party of 7, so we were charged the 18% tip automatically. We used it at Narcoossee’s (as a family), Citrico’s (just 4 adults) and Jiko (just my wife and I) and easily recouped the $75. It also helps make the price of the character meals slightly more palatable, even though I view the character meals as a time saver from not having to stand in line to meet the characters.

    Steve:

    The TIW card is good for 13 months essentially. We bought it July 28th, 2011, so it is good until August 31, 2012, so if you buy it at the beginning of the month you can essentially get more value.

    Thanks again Tom.

    Alex
    @ajcenac – twitter

  5. AGW says:

    I am contemplating buying a card as a florida resident, but what if I do not attend every meal with my children, would they still get the discount even without me present??

    • Steven Powell says:

      No they would not. You need to present ID that matches the name on the card. Sorry

    • Leigh says:

      We used my TIW card last Thursday at Splitsville in DTD for a party of 6. The 18% gratuity was added and the 20% discount applied. My husband put it on his credit card even though the TIW card is in my name. Since the last names matched, no one asked for my ID. We also used it recently at Brown Derby for a party of 4 and paid in cash. ID was not requested, but I had it available if needed.

  6. I’ve never understood my guests (I’m a WDW server) who think they’re just getting a 2% discount. I feel like saying “well, that would be true if you were planning on stiffing me out of a tip.”

    • Buck says:

      Technically they are saving 17%. Most normal people in the free world tip 15%. Since the card forces 18% and then removes 20% they are saving 17%.

  7. Don Livingston says:

    The 18% gratuity is interesting for 2 reasons. Number 1 it is applied to the discounted amount rather than the full price (essentially it is not a true 18%) and no 2 it is forced on you even if you receive poor service. My wife and I are both in the restaurant business and are big tippers (our bartender Bill at Crews Club can attest) but I do not like tipping bartenders who, well, suck. This happened to me last week at ESPN Club. We had a couple drinks at shift change and the day bartender vanished without a trace and the night bartender completely ignored us. I finally gave up on getting another drink and walked around and found the bartender and got my bill. I didn’t use my TIW card because I refused to tip this person a dime (we easily could have just walked out and they wouldn’t have known). Has anyone ever balked at the gratuity and had it taken off? Is this possible?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I have heard of speaking with a manager about this and being able to have it done, but I’ve never had the gumption to test it myself. We’ve never had service *that* bad for one, and if we did, I’d do the same thing you did.

      …On a couple of occasions, I’ve accidentally double-tipped!

      • sandie says:

        It can be done and I have done it at Citricos. Really bad service and food not up to par that night. Got the whole check taken off of TIW

  8. MickeyMeg says:

    Question… we have the Disney Deluxe Dining Plan so…could this card be used in conjunction with the Plan? and can it be used on alcohol as well as food? We spend as much on wine and tips at Signature Restaurants as we do on the Deluxe plan for our family… this could save us substantial $$. with thanks….

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yes, Tables in Wonderland can be used in conjunction with the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan, and yes it can be used on alcohol at table service restaurants.

  9. Bryan says:

    We upgraded to an AP for our 8 day trip in Dec. 2012 and also got the TIW card at that time. Cost was already at 100.00. We saved 101.00 during that trip so broke even (only 2 people). When we return in May for 5 days it will be all savings. The savings definitely add up. Remember to use it for a few drinks at a resort lounge as well as full meal.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yeah, it’s really easy to break even on the Tables in Wonderland card if you dine regularly at WDW restaurants…even if you’re not a local!

  10. Cari says:

    I think this is one of the best kept “secrets” of Disney World. My in-laws have DVC and live in FL. I told them about this last fall and they got it before heading over to Disney for a couple of days during Food and Wine. This past April my family of four joined them for a week at the World. As a party of 6 at each meal the 18% was already added for service which just made things easier. We saved a bunch at every meal and easy recouped what they had paid, and then some!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      With that large of a party, it’s pretty easy to recoup the cost after 1 or 2 meals! Glad you know about this best kept “secret”! ;)

  11. John says:

    Just commented on your post comparing DDP with OOP and whether I should purchase TIW card. I won’t re-hash. Suffice it to say, I’m a Florida Resident and have made dining reservations “around the world” during the first week of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival. Should I also purchase the TIW card for $100? (I have a weekday select pass).

  12. Amy says:

    Help! We are DVC members and we are a family of 4. We will be in Disney for 12 days. The basic dining plan will cost us around $2,280. We can’t decide if the TIW would be better for us. We like to go out to nice restaurants. What do you think is the best deal for us?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Without knowing specifically where you’ll eat and whether you always order dessert (and not appetizer), it’s impossible for me to say.

      As a general rule, if you often eat at Signature Restaurants and more often order appetizers than desserts, Tables in Wonderland is better. If the opposite is true, the Disney Dining Plan might be better. Check out menus and do the math to find out for sure.

  13. amanda says:

    My father in law is a dvc member and we are using his membership for our trip in nov but he is not joining us . . If he buys a tiw card with his dvc membership can we use it on our trip?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Technically, no. However, I’m not sure how diligently the servers match the name on the Tables in Wonderland card to the name on the credit card. I would give it a try if he will be buying a TiW card anyway, but I wouldn’t buy a TiW card for this sole purpose, as it might not work.

  14. fran says:

    Don Livingston posted above that the 18% gratuity is calculated on the post-discounted amount. Everything I have heard is to the contrary. Is the gratuity reflected pre or post-discount?

  15. Donna says:

    I am a DVC member, do i also have to be a Annual Passholder to buy a TIW card?

  16. Emily says:

    Hey Tom! Love your blog…thanks for posting all of the great info. It’s really helpful to a rookie like me! :) My family and I are coming to WDW in Jan 2014…first trip! YAY!!! We have decided to forego the DDP and I’m going to convert my 8 day park hopper to an AP and then get the TiW discount card. Where will I be able to take care of that? We’re going to Animal Kingdom on our first day and starting with an early character breakfast at Tusker House.

  17. Maureen says:

    Can you use the TIW card to just buy cocktails at a restaurant or do you always need to buy food as well?

  18. Sharon says:

    Uh oh, some changes are coming…
    According to the official site (tablesinwonderland com):

    **Victoria& Albert’s will honor Tables in Wonderland discount through July 31st, 2014. As of August 1st, 2014 the restaurant will no longer participate in Tables in Wonderland.

    *Beginning August 1st 2014, 1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana (Dinner Only), Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, and Le Cellier Steakhouse will be subject to the additional blockout weeks of: November 23-29, 2014; December 21-27, 2014; March 8-April 4, 2015; May 31-June 20, 2015.

    Blockout dates for Tables in Wonderland are Mother’s Day, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Tables in Wonderland is valid for one year from date of purchase.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I saw this but forgot to update this post with the information. Very disappointing. Cut, cut, cut! That’s the modern Disney way!

  19. jeff says:

    If myself and family have seasonal passes and stay at a resort, is there a way for us to get the dining plan without having to purchase tickets through the package? Thanks

  20. Jenna says:

    I’m curious on the savings benefit when contrasted with the 10% dining discount already received by passholders at most table service restaurants. It seems that one would have to spend $1,000 on food over the course of a year to break even with the membership fee (save 10% with annual/seasonal pass on $1,000 = $100 savings, or save 20% with TIW for $200 savings, thus breaking even on the $100 membership fee). True, alcohol isn’t included for passholders, and it’s only valid for up to 3 guests, but all that aside, wondering how many dinners this would be…

  21. Nicole says:

    I have an annual pass and was interested in getting a TIW card because we are having our wedding at Disney and treating our guests to all their meals during the 4 days we are there. But we’ll probably have more than 10 people, so how does that work? Do I get the discount off 10 and pay full price for the rest, or will they refuse to take it at all?

    • ARCNurse says:

      FYI: I read on the Tables in Wonderland Website that you can purchase a 2nd card for your spouse for $50. Then between the two of you, you can cover up to 20 people for the discount.

  22. StephM says:

    Thanks for the update! Good to know! DVC members here.

  23. Jen says:

    So can you just use this card to purchase just alcohol-not in a restaurant setting say in Epcot at one of their outdoor beer/wine stations?

    • Gevidge says:

      No. You can buy drinks only, but it must be at a restaurant that accepts TIW. For example, I buy drinks from the Rose & Crown pub all the time using TIW. But I couldn’t use it at the outside drink station. Mine expires in January and I am definitely buying another. Great discounts especially if you regularly purchase alcohol with your meals.

  24. Beth says:

    Would you explain how it’s not just a 2% discount? It seems to me that if they’re automatically adding an 18% tip, and then giving you 20% off, you’re just paying 2% less than you would’ve paid if you didn’t have the card and left a similar tip. What am I missing? Thanks!

    • Lauren says:

      Say the meal is $100. Normally you would be paying $118 including tip. Now instead you are paying $18 tip plus $80 is $98 so you’re still saving $20.

      • Laura says:

        Technically it’s even better than that – though terrible for your server. So say the bill is $100 for $118 total when tip is added (yes, you should tip, those CMs sure do work hard and are awfully patient with us). Ok, the discount comes off first, so $100-$20 (TiW discount). THEN the tip is figured from the $80 you paid. That’s a $14.40 tip (pretty stingy). So in total, you’ll pay $94.40 instead of $118.

      • Todd says:

        @Laura: $14.80 is stingy on a $100 bill? 15% tip is NORMAL every where else in the world except Disney!

  25. Chris M says:

    I used this calculator/spreadsheet to help me decided between DDP & TIW. For our October trip the difference between buying the DDP and paying OOP using the TIW card was around $700 in our favour.

    http://seeyareelsoon.wix.com/seeyareelsoon#!dining-plan-calculator/cxc0

  26. Renea says:

    Hi: Can you purchase this without being a AP holder?
    Thank you!

  27. Kristina says:

    Hi Tom! Love your blog! We’ll be going to the Epcot Food and Wine festival for the first time this year (so excited!) other than the TIW offers for chef dinners, etc. that you mentioned…can you generally utilize the TIW discount for most things at the food and wine festival?

  28. Mary says:

    Hi. Just wanted to mention that your link to Tables in Wonderland is not working. I was able to google and then get to the information.

    Great article and I look forward to leveraging the information on our next trip!

  29. McCoy says:

    Hi, thank you for the article! It’s inspired me to get a card on our upcoming trip. One question though, if these comments are still monitored regularly: if staying at a resort with other guests, and room charging privileges are tied to a credit card of another member of the traveling party (not related/different last name/etc.), how does that work for Tables in Wonderland? i.e. I am the TiW card holder, but wish to simply charge a meal to the room, but the room is held under not my credit card. Can you do that?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The only real “restriction” is that Tables in Wonderland card needs to be present at the meal its being used to discount. It doesn’t matter who pays.

  30. Krista says:

    Does it matter which property you are a DVC member of? We belong to Aulani, but want to get this for our next WDW trip – am I able to?
    Thanks!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      The property doesn’t matter. Just present your Disney Vacation Club membership card and you’ll be able to purchase it!

  31. phi says:

    great information, thanks. Just one question, you say you can purchase a secondary card for your spouse, do they have to have the same surname? as my husband and I have different ones, and will be eating with different people during our two week holiday, or will we both need to buy annual passes and both buy the tiw cards? Thanks.

  32. ARCNurse says:

    I want to be clear with my understanding of the TIW card. The discount of 20% is applied first to your bill and then the 18% gratuity is added after the discount? I want to be sure of this because I can see why people would call it a 2% discount if the discount was applied after the gratuity was added to the bill.
    And I also want to be clear on the payment of the meal. From what the Disney website states the person who has the TIW card must be the one paying the bill and not just present with the card. Are you telling me this is not true or not enforced?
    I would love to purchase an annual pass and TIW card but they would not really be worth it if the dining discount was applied after the gratuity was applied. Hope you can answer these questions. Thanks…

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Discount is taken and then the gratuity is added based on the pre-discount amount. The reason it wouldn’t be a 2% discount regardless of the order of gratuity/discount is because you would be paying some amount of tip regardless, and in the absence of the card, that tip would be added to the full bill. It may be less than 18%, but it would not be 0%, meaning that it’s more than a 2% discount. So assuming you normally tip 18% (a safe assumption in most cases), Tables in Wonderland is a 20% discount. If you would tip less than 18%, then adjust your “real” discount down accordingly.

      Technically, the TIW holder must be the one paying, but I’ve never had that enforced. So long as the cardholder is at the meal, it has always worked for us. YMMV on that one, though.

  33. Jan says:

    Todd, I can’t believe you think 15% tip is normal everywhere except Disney. Everyone I know always tip 20% and people who work or have worked as servers always tip more. So unless you have really poor service 18% is a very reasonable tip. We used our TIW last Nov. with our kids and saved a lot and we’re not even big drinkers. There were 7 of us. They did always check for my ID and we had to put it on our credit card or pay cash. Our kids could not pay on one of their cards. I kept all the receipts with notations and we squared up at the end of the trip. It was definitely worth it. I wrote it in a small notebook at the end of the day. That way I could also make a note if something was extra special, so we could know for next time. It’s a nice way to unwind and reflect on the great day we had. My daughter also took a picture with her phone of the receipts, just in case we lost any. My husband and I are going again this fall and will be able to use it again…more savings! YEAH!!!

    • Buck says:

      In Orlando the average tourist tips 0%. If you google average tip you’ll see it’s 15%. I’ve lived in 4 states and never heard of anything above 15% until I started going to Disney.

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