I’ve often heard a simple formula to determine whether it’s worth the cost to purchase a Tables In Wonderland dining membership.
Tables In Wonderland provides a 20 percent discount at most Walt Disney World table service restaurants, along with counter service restaurants at resorts that don’t have a table service restaurant (those would be the value resorts, along with Port Orleans French Quarter). The year-long membership is available to Florida residents for $125 or to Annual/Seasonal Passholders or Disney Vacation Club members for $100.
The back-of-the-napkin calculation I’ve heard is that if you spend more than $500 in dining, then the 20 percent discount has recouped the $100 cost of the membership. It’s simple enough for even the math-impaired to figure out in their head, but for someone considering Tables In Wonderland, it’s not the whole picture.
If you are an Annual Passholder or DVC member, you are already entitled to discounts at many of the same restaurants. For example, DVC members get a 15 percent discount at Via Napoli in Epcot, while Annual Passholders get a 10 percent weekday lunch discount there. If you want to compare all the dining discounts, the folks at AllEars.net have put together this handy guide that shows the three discount programs side by side, along with Disney Visa discounts.
Let’s say that a party of four DVC members at Via Napoli ordered a $41 Mezzo Metro pizza, an $11 Arancini appetizer, four soft drinks at $3 each and a couple of $9 Tiramisu desserts. Total bill before tax: $82. The Tables In Wonderland card gives a $16.40 discount, while the DVC discount is $12.30. In this case, Tables In Wonderland would net our DVC members only $4.10 in real savings.
But what if our party of four substituted their four soft drinks with two $25 pitchers of Sangria? Fun, yes, but the discount calculations get more complicated. That’s because while the Tables In Wonderland discount applies to alcohol as well as food, the AP and DVC discounts do not. So our now $120 bill gets a $24 Tables In Wonderland discount, but just a $10.50 DVC discount. In this scenario, Tables In Wonderland nets $13.50 in real savings and our party of four tries not to stumble out into World Showcase.
So here, we see an argument in favor of Tables In Wonderland. For those who enjoy a cocktail or two with dinner, the discounts can add up in a hurry.
Another scenario to ponder: You’re enjoying a peanut butter and jelly milkshake at the Tune In Lounge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios when in walks Daniel Plainview, the protagonist played by Daniel Day Lewis in the film “There Will Be Blood.” Plainview takes out his straw, which somehow reaches across the room and proceeds to “drink your milkshake.” What a jerk. He drinks it all up, forcing you to order a second. Luckily, your Tables In Wonderland card gives you 20 percent off your two milkshakes. If you had to rely on your DVC or AP discounts, you would be out of luck, because the Tune In Lounge and 50’s Prime Time Cafe don’t take those discounts.
And here is a second argument in favor of Tables In Wonderland — if you want a discount, you have far more restaurants from which to choose. In the Magic Kingdom, for example, it’s the only way to get a discount at any table service restaurant. Popular resort restaurants like California Grill, Chef Mickey’s and ‘Ohana also only take Tables In Wonderland.
Before you pony up the $100 for Tables In Wonderland, you should keep in mind that additional blackout dates have been added, which means you won’t get any discounts during major holidays and at selected restaurants during peak attendance weeks. Victoria & Albert’s also no longer takes the Tables In Wonderland discount. Finally, if you enjoy attending the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, know that there are no discounts for any of the food or drink kiosks.
Otherwise, you’ll have to do the math to determine if the 20 percent Tables In Wonderland discount will really pay for itself.