Dining discounts and plans for DVC Members

Which dining "discount" cards or plans do you use?

  • DVC Discount

    Votes: 117 54.2%
  • Disney Dining Plan

    Votes: 25 11.6%
  • Tables in Wonderland

    Votes: 132 61.1%
  • None

    Votes: 4 1.9%

  • Total voters
    216

DVC Mike

DIS Veteran
DIS Lifetime Sponsor
Joined
Aug 25, 2007
Dining discounts and plans for DVC Members

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Let's face it: Walt Disney World is expensive, and the cost of most meals carries a stiff price tag.

There are various options for trying to mitigate the high cost of dining during a vacation at Walt Disney World.
  • Buy groceries and feed your family with simple things that are easy to prepare. While this usually means preparing light quick meals or snacks in your room, those in 1-BR and larger units with full kitchens can cook full meals in their room.
  • Eat offsite (outside Disney) using a rental car or taxi
  • Leverage a "discount" card or plan
This thread focuses on the last option. DVC Members have three main options.

DVC DINING DISCOUNT

One of the "perks" of DVC membership are some dining discounts. The coverage of locations where a discount is available is much more limited than either the DDP or TiW.

The discount is also 10% for most spots (with a few offering 20%).

Check the DVC member web site for a list of locations and discounts.

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DISNEY DINING PLAN (DDP)

The Disney Dining Plan is a very popular part of many people’s Walt Disney World vacation. Disney markets it as a convenient and affordable way of dining at WDW. The DDP is a prepaid meal plan offered so guests can budget their dining costs in advance and (potentially) save money. Many people really like the fact that everything is pre-paid (and thus can be a fixed cost of your vacation budget), as well as the ease of using the system. DVC Members can purchase the DDP.

Over the years the DDP has been modified and there are different variations of it (quick service, basic, and deluxe). Disney says you can save on your meals by purchasing the plan; however your actual savings really depends on how you choose to dine during your vacation.

If most of your family are light eaters, or you don't order the most expensive items on the menu, then your savings will be reduced or eliminated altogether. In some cases, the DDP can cost more than if you just paid out of pocket.

Gratuities are not included except at dinner shows and CRT, and an automatic 18% gratuity charge will be added to your bill for parties of 6 or more. Alcoholic beverages are not included in any of the dining plans.

  • 2016 Quick-Service Dining Plan - includes two (2) Quick-Service Meals and one (1) Snack per person, per night of your stay for everyone in the party ages three and over, beginning after check-in to your Disney Resort. The plan also includes one (1) Rapid Fill Resort refillable drink mug per person that is valid for the length of your stay.
  • 2016 Disney Dining Plan - includes one (1) Quick-Service Meal, one (1) Snack and one (1) Table-Service Meal per person, per night of your stay for everyone in the party ages 3 and over, beginning after check-in to your Disney Resort. The plan also includes one (1) Rapid Fill Resort refillable drink mug per person that is valid for the length of your stay .
  • 2016 Deluxe Dining Plan - includes three (3) meals and two (2) snacks per person, per night of your stay for everyone in the party ages 3 and over, beginning after check-in to your Disney Resort. The plan also includes one (1) Rapid Fill Resort refillable drink mug per person that is valid for the length of your stay.
My main issues with the DDP are: 1) it is simply too much food, and 2) you have to plan out where you will eat and what you might order to achieve maximum value with the plan.

In the early days of the DDP, it was a great value. However, as the DDP has changed over the years, it's become less of a value proposition and more just a convenience than a money saver. I believe its become more difficult to save money with the DDP, although you still can. The DDP can be a great value or a poor value depending upon how you will use it.

Some people like the DDP just because they don't have to worry about what it's going to cost, and they can simply enjoy the meal. With the DDP, you can order anything off the menu without worrying what it costs, allowing you to be a more adventurous eater. These people are happy with prepaying for the DDP, even if it does not save them money, as it saves them headache and grief as they worry about what their family members are going to order and how much it will cost.

If you do want to maximize the monetary value of the DDP, go to places with the more expensive items on the menu (that cost the same number of credits).

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TABLES IN WONDERLAND (TiW)

TiW is a discount card that you can purchase if you are a DVC member or Annual Pass holder. The card entitles the user to a 20% discount on food and beverage at certain table and quick service restaurants. An automatic 18% gratuity is included when using the TiW card, regardless of the size of the party.

Some claim that because there is an automatic 18% gratuity added, you are only really saving 2%, but that's poppycock. Yes, you'd only save 2% if you never, ever leave the server a tip. Since most people are tipping at or around 18% anyway, it’s not merely a "2% discount". Note that the discount is taken on your check and then the gratuity is added based upon the pre-discount amount.

Tables in Wonderland will provide a discount for up to 10 guests, as long as one of them presents their membership card during the meal. It provides free valet parking if you eat at a Disney resort.

Unlike the DDP, which does not include appetizers or alcoholic beverages in its pricing, the TiW card your 20% discount applies to the entire meal including appetizers and alcoholic beverages. So, if you enjoy a glass of wine at dinner, you should look seriously at the TiW card.

A huge benefit of the TiW card is freedom. Unlike the DDP, which forces you to eat a lot of food in order to obtain the benefits, with the TiW card, you can eat just what you want. You won't feel obligated to get dessert if you are full. You're not forced to stick within the confines of the DDP.

The TiW card costs $150 (as of Oct 4, 2015; was $100) per year for DVC Members or AP holders (actually, it's valid for 12-13 months). If that sounds like a lot of money for a 20% discount, you should take a moment to consider how much a table service meal at Disney costs. You need to spend $750 (as of Oct 4, 2015; was $500) before you break even. What you have to do as a potential purchaser of the TiW card is determine how many days you will spend at Disney during a given year. Then, calculate if 20% of that total (factoring in gratuity) represents a definite savings for you. For frequent guests who enjoy table services, the answer is almost always yes.

On the other hand, if you typically eat counter service meals instead of table service meals, then perhaps the TiW card isn't for you.

Finally, the TiW card is not accepted everywhere. Notable exceptions include Victoria & Albert’s, and there are also blockout dates at popular restaurants during peak times when the card is not accepted. Refer to http://tablesinwonderland.com/ for details.


WHICH IS BEST?

The answer, of course, is it depends. It depends upon your family’s dining habits, as well as how often you visit WDW. The comparison of savings under any of the options can deviate substantially from family to family. For us, we've found that the TiW card is the best option, as we eat mostly at table service restaurants, don't want or need the vast quantity of food the DDP provides, and do like a beer or a glass of wine with a meal.

There are several calculators and spreadsheets floating around that let you do a financial comparison of these plans based upon your family's dining habits. It's difficult to do a true apples to apples comparison, so these tools are not flawless.

Even after you decide which one to use, it may be good to revisit your decision, as Disney is constantly tweaking menu prices, as well as the Disney Dining Plan prices and what it covers.

Also, you can use multiple options on the same vacation. For example, if you are using Disney Dining Plan entitlements, and you order a bottle of wine, you will be presented with a check for the bottle of wine, at which time you may use your Tables in Wonderland discount as long as the restaurant participates in Tables in Wonderland.


WHICH DO YOU USE?


Please tell us why.


Personally, I find the TiW card to be a better overall value for us. However, others who may spend less time at WDW may find the TiW card doesn't fit, and will most likely choose between the DDP and the DVC discount.

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DougEMG

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 14, 2008
We don't eat out at that many table services so when we do we'll just use the DVC Dining Discount.
 

Geomom

DIS Veteran
Joined
May 17, 2010
TIW. We normally get an AP every other year and get 3 trips out of it. The TIW pays for itself in the first trip. I love that it also includes a discount off alcohol and that we can order what we want vs. being stuck with entrée/dessert with the DDP. Sometimes we just want appetizers. I also feel like I can eat at a signature restaurant and not feel like I'm wasting money by using 2TS credits on the DDP.

DDP was great when our girls were 'kids'--that's the only time we made out on it, after that it was either break even or losing money. We find it too much food and we don't need 4 mugs. Back in our Value resort days, we used the mugs to get coffee for the adults (no coffee maker at the value resorts) and lemonade for the kids--and back then we had a stroller to store the mugs when we went to the parks.
 
  • kydisneyfans

    <font color=blue>It may be because they are too em
    Joined
    Sep 26, 2005
    We don't eat sit down meals within the parks/resorts. It's counter service in the parks, food courts at the resort, and then we head offsite for sit down meals.
     

    NanaPapa

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2011
    So we are trying to see what you all think...
    We are 6 adults and 3 children...
    Dinner at Boma 1 night...
    Dinner at Ohana 1 night...
    (No alcohol...)
    Do you think Tables in Wonderland would be a good choice?
    TIA
     

    dreaming4disney

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Feb 9, 2006
    We use TIW- we used to get the DDP when it first came out, but prices have gone up, the plan has changed and our kids aren't under 9 anymore. We find that we eat what we want with TIW and don't worry about getting our "monies worth". We also like to have a drink with our meal and its a small bonus to get a discount on that as well.
     

    disfanforlife

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Nov 9, 2006
    We used the DDP for about 5 years. We bought the TIW for the first time March 2014. I found it very nice to not feel like we had to eat a certain number of meals every day. My daughter and I shared either a lunch or a dinner on many days. We were able to use the card again in December so it was well worth it for two trips. Planning to buy a new one for our next trip in November. Even though it will just be DH and I we feel it will still be worthwhile because we have another trip planned for March 2016 with a larger group and will still be able to use the same card for that trip as well.
     

    freediverdude

    Was very touched by the Tapestry of Dreams parade
    Joined
    Jun 16, 2002
    So we are trying to see what you all think...
    We are 6 adults and 3 children...
    Dinner at Boma 1 night...
    Dinner at Ohana 1 night...
    (No alcohol...)
    Do you think Tables in Wonderland would be a good choice?
    TIA
    It's possible that you may save enough just over those two meals to more than pay for the card, since your party is so large. I can see each one of those meals being $400+, depending on what everybody gets.
     

    smcabee

    Boomer Sooner
    Joined
    Feb 27, 2005
    So we are trying to see what you all think...
    We are 6 adults and 3 children...
    Dinner at Boma 1 night...
    Dinner at Ohana 1 night...
    (No alcohol...)
    Do you think Tables in Wonderland would be a good choice?
    TIA
    Boma is $40.46/adult and $21.29/child if Rustys sticky is correct so that is $306.63 for that meal
    Ohana is $42.59/adult and $23.42/child so that meal is $385.83 for a grand total of $692.46.. I did not include the tip since you will get charged it regardless with that size party. Seems like TIW would be a near $200.00 over the $500 break even point.

    Edited for clarification
     
    Last edited:

    goofy4prez

    A guy can love Disney and still keep his man card!
    Joined
    Jul 24, 2008
    For us dining out is always a big part of our vacations and WDW is no exception. I don't want to cook (or my wife), I don't want hot dogs, hamburgers, frozen pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries or other fast food like meals. come to think of it, I don't even eat these types of foods back home (no attack on those who enjoy them). This past June we stayed at Disney for the first time as DVC members and purchased the TiW card and loved it. The $100 price of the card quickly made it a worthwhile purchase and our TiW card will still be good for our visit next June. The savings will just keep on adding up for us. :thumbsup2
     

    SarahInMN

    Drink your wine with a cheerful heart
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2008
    We are two adults who sometimes travel with other adults/family members. We have never done a dining plan - we just don't eat that way and its too much work to keep track of the credits. We have always gotten TiW for its flexibility and because you can use it on alcoholic beverages as well at restaurants. TiW is the way to go from our perspective!
     

    Popouri DVC

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2015
    We use TIW.

    The fact that it offers discounts on alcohol is great! :)

    Also, sometimes we find we don't eat all of the food with the DDP. Of course the only time we used the DDP was when staying on a cash ressie last September and we were offered free dining! But when it came time to buy, it seemed TIW was a better program for us.
     

    JWG

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 14, 2004
    Harder choice for us this next year. We're likley visiting 12/24-1/2 of 2016-17 and will be in the blackout zone.
     

    papertraveller

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 14, 2009
    We have TIW. We bought it in March, only to discover the first time we tried to use it that we had been caught in one of the new blackout periods.
    Honestly not sure if we'll get our money's worth out of it this time, but we shall see!
     

    Minniesgal

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 29, 2013
    We really really do not like the DDP, we have used and liked TIW. Next trip I'm going to look into whether the .d.v.c discount is worth just using that for our choices or whether we should buy TIW again.
     

    Dr Gevil

    Send me to WDW or pay $1 Meeelion dollars!!
    Joined
    Aug 24, 2011
    We got TIW in June 2014, and used it for that trip, again in November for a quick trip that piggybacked off a business trip, and again in March 2015. Loved it and definitely got our money's worth, esp. w/ drinks included :drinking1

    Have to pass on it now with the new blackout periods. Going Dec 19 - 27 this year (Xmas) and March 18-27 (Easter). So it's DVC/AP/Visa discounts for awhile. :(.
     

    Kidanifan08

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 22, 2011
    We have been using TIW for about 3 years. We like the flexibility of the program. DDP is just to rigid, and too much food. We usually have an appetizer, adult beverages and perhaps share a dessert between the 3 of us. TIW is perfect for that. We can usually get 14-20 days on a card, which more than helps cover the cost. We don't cook on vacation, so we do several TS meals over the course of a WDW vacation. We do use the DVC discount at Yak and Yeti, since they do not take TIW. I am a little nervous about what I read on another thread about the possible discontinuation of the TIW program. That would make us sad, but we would then start using whatever DVC discounts are available.
     

    SarahInMN

    Drink your wine with a cheerful heart
    Joined
    Jan 16, 2008
    I am a little nervous about what I read on another thread about the possible discontinuation of the TIW program.
    That would be a huge bummer! I haven't seen/heard that rumor but whatevs. I mean, granted rumors are rumors, but still a huge bummer. But yeah then we'd switch over to DVC/AP/Visa discounts.
     

    Kidanifan08

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 22, 2011
    That would be a huge bummer! I haven't seen/heard that rumor but whatevs. I mean, granted rumors are rumors, but still a huge bummer. But yeah then we'd switch over to DVC/AP/Visa discounts.
    There was a thread on these boards within the past two weeks alluding to the possible end to the program. Someone mentioned that they were told by a CM at The Boathouse (which is not a TIW participant) that they were told not to worry about it, since the program was going to be cancelled. Our current TIW expires in Nov 2015, so I do plan to buy a new one during our 4-day stay in early December, so we are at least covered through 2016.

    ETA: Here is the thread -- http://www.disboards.com/threads/tables-in-wonderland-card-question.3432744/#post-54132279 . See post #16 through the end.
     

    SpaceMountain77

    Kidani Villager Victorian Gentleman Turtle Trekker
    Joined
    May 3, 2012
    This year, Tables in Wonderland has worked out well for us. We used to purchase the quick service dining plan, but it was still too much food and salads/fruits are not always available in place of a dessert.

    If given the option, we will renew our TIW membership.
     

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