Tables In Wonderland, a Tasty Discount Dining Programby Donna Fesel, contributing writer
My family and I have been members of DVC (Disney Vacation Club, Disney's timeshare program) since my son was a toddler. Our DVC membership has provided us with many years of wonderful vacations. It has also provided us with one of my very favorite Disney perks, the Tables in Wonderland (TIW, formerly the Disney Dining Experience) dining discount program. TIW offers qualifying guests an annual membership in a program where they receive 20 percent off at a list of participating Walt Disney World (and Disney's Vero Beach Resort) restaurant on both food and beverages (including alcohol).
More than 100 restaurants participate, including those located at all four WDW theme parks, Disney Springs, Disney's Vero Beach Resort, ESPN Wide World of Sports, and WDW resorts (including the Swan, Dolphin, and the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at WDW). Various types of dining establishments are included, including food courts (All-Star Movies, Music, and Sports Resorts, for example), buffet dining (Boma at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Cape May Café at Disney's Beach Club Resort, for example), fine dining at WDW Signature Restaurants (Artist Point at Disney's Wilderness Lodge, and California Grill at Disney's Contemporary Resort for example), counter service (Flame Tree Barbecue and Pizzafari at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park, for example), shows (one of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort, and one of the performances of the Spirit of Aloha Show at Disney's Polynesian Resort), and popular character meals (Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort, Cinderella's Royal Table at Magic Kingdom Park, and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at the Norway Pavilion at Epcot's World Showcase, for example). For a complete list of participating locations, go to wdw.tablesinwonderland.com. It should be noted that Victoria & Albert's, the fine dining restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, no longer participates in TIW.
This amazing view is from the balcony at The Green Cabin Room at Disney's Vero Beach Resort; I sneak away to this little bit of paradise to read and enjoy a discounted drink, thanks to TIW. Photo by Donna Fesel.
A TIW membership will set Florida residents back $175 annually, and both Passholders and DVC members back $150 annually. Florida residents and Passholders can order their cards by phone at (407) 566-5858, and should allow three to four weeks for delivery. DVC folks can buy their card by presenting their member card and photo identification at any WDW Guest Relations desk; Florida residents and Passholders can also purchase their TIW membership using this same method should they choose. The cards are now plastic and durable, replacing the previous paper cards that were provided. You should note that although TIW is accepted as of this writing at The Green Cabin Room at Disney's Vero Beach Resort (other restaurants at this location are under renovation and their participation in the TIW program is unconfirmed at this time), Disney's Vero Beach Resort does not sell the TIW membership.
On my 45th birthday, my husband and I enjoyed a meal at Victoria & Albert's WDW's premier restaurant at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. At that time, the restaurant participated in TIW. Photo by Donna Fesel.
One TIW membership can be used to discount a party of up to 10, and the TIW membership must be in the same name as the person paying the bill. A spouse or partner at the same mailing address can purchase a second card for $50, and use that card for a party of 10 as well. An automatic gratuity of 18 percent is added to all checks where TIW is applied, even if it is just a few glasses of wine at your hotel. You may add gratuity if you choose, but it is certainly not expected.
You'll need to be mindful of blackout dates when TIW cannot be used (listed on the website noted above), and additional blackout dates for some of WDW's post popular spots (including Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot's World Showcase, and 1900 Park Fare at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa), additional spots are listed on the website. Remaining blackout dates for these restaurants include Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks.
You can use the TIW discount if you are on the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) to discount any non DDP items, including wine, beer, and cocktails.
I nearly forgot one of the best perks of the TIW card: free valet parking for the purposes of dining (which again can include a couple glasses of wine at a resort hotel if you use TIW). You just need to patronize a TIW location, use your TIW discount, and provide your receipt at the valet station. Gratuity is customary for valet parking attendants, and is not included. I recently spoke to TIW and confirmed that valet parking for TIW is valid at Disney Springs as well.
I can't think of too much that is better on a super-rainy Florida night than driving right to the front door of one of my favorite WDW Resorts to dine, and having someone park my car for me. I was recently at WDW with a friend and I wanted to show him Animal Kingdom Lodge. It was pouring. We valet parked, got a few cocktails at the Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar, poked around the Lodge briefly and voila we were back in our car, dry, and out only the cost of valet parking gratuity. I don't normally valet at WDW, so this is a particularly exciting perk for me.
Is TIW for you? I'd recommend you do the math. We try to travel to WDW twice in a calendar year. This year, we'll go in October, and then go next summer, so we get twice as much use out of the card. I love the free valet feature as I said, so it depends if that would help you feel more pampered on your trip as well. Typically, we eat breakfast at WDW (and Disney's Vero Beach Resort) in our room, grab something quick for lunch, and indulge in fine dining for dinner. The first year we purchased TIW, then the Disney Dining Experience, I figured it out, and it was a savings for us. I honestly love TIW, and am teeing up for another membership soon. Do you have TIW? Do you love it? Hate it? Let me know.
You can contact TIW via email at WDW.Tables.In.Wonderland@disney.com or by phone at (407) 566-5858.