As a new DVC member, I was looking for all sorts of recommendations.  The doors are opening to different opportunities for us and I want to know about EVERYTHING!  I was told that the Tables In Wonderland card (TIW) was the best way to save money on dining.  You save 20% on anything you want at table service restaurants.  This is true, but there's more.  There are some pros and cons.  Let's review.......................

Pros

  1. Save 20% on anything you want including alcohol, appetizers, desserts, etc.
  2. More table service restaurants available to dine at to receive the discount that do not accept the Disney Dining Plan (DDP).
  3. The card is valid for a full year.

Cons

  1. The card is not transferable.
  2. Blackout dates.
  3. Must spend $750 at table service restaurants in order to break even for the $150 fee.
  4. You must dine at a table service restaurant (There are a couple Quick Service Restaurants that accept the card. Be sure to carefully review the list or print the list and take it with you).
  5. It's tough to schedule your day around all table service restaurants.
  6. Most table service restaurants recommend a reservation.
  7. You pay a tip at table service restaurants.
  8. Need to choose table service restaurant on list.  There are some locations you don't get a discount.  You would need to review the list before you leave to make sure your selection is still on the approved list.
  9. DVC member and annual passholders pay a discounted rate of $150 for the card. (Florida residents: $175)
  10. The name on the card must be present to use the card at all restaurants at all times.
  11. You can't buy the card in advance.  You have to wait until at the park or at Downtown Disney.  (I forgot through all the excitement and had to run out during our first table service lunch to go buy it.  Thankfully, I was close to guest relations!)
  12. If you go to Disney World once a year, that's all it can be used for.
  13. You must be a DVC member, Florida resident or Annual/Seasonal passholder to purchase.
  14. You spend more on food than you normally would. (Table service food is more expensive than quick service food in addition to having to pay a tip.)
  15. Tips are automatically added.  When you give the server the TIW card, they come back with a slip for you to sign.  You can add more of a tip, if you want, but, by using the TIW card, an 18% tip is auto added.  What if they were crappy and don't deserve that much?  Thankfully, I haven't run across that, yet, but it can happen. We always give 20% or more, but if the server is rude, unattentive, etc., I'm not going to give that person the same amount as a hard-working, pleasant person deserves and receives.

As you can see, the cons outweigh the pros for me at this point in time.  That's a very important sentence, because each person's situation is different.  As of right now, this doesn't work for me, but, if I move to Celebration, like I want to in a few years, then I will be able to utilize the TIW card more and wouldn't even consider the Disney Dining Plan (DDP).  Up until 2014, we were accustomed to the DDP.  We can make reservations and use an entitlement without worrying about how much something costs.  We could stop where ever we wanted at a quick service restaurant where ever we were at the time in a park to eat lunch and not have to be concerned about the cost of lunch or making it to a reservation.  While all waiters and waitresses need to be tipped accordingly regardless of whether you have DDP or TIW, I found the savings to be wiped away with TIW, because we ate at more table service restaurants than we normally would have just so we could get the discount.  The food is more expensive at a table service restaurant versus a quick service restaurant.  We spent double on lunch than we normally would have at a quick service restaurant.  We never order appetizers, because we didn't want extra food to carry or waste it resulting in having to throw it away. So, TIW wouldn't help us with that.  Also, 9 times out of 10, we didn't order alcohol.  So, those TIW card benefits were moot for us.  After adding up what we spent in food versus the DDP, we spent more money on the TIW card, eating at table service restaurants and paying for tips, because we are only able to use the TIW card during this one trip for the one-year it is valid.  It's also less stress (FOR ME) if the DDP is paid for in advance of the trip.

Keep in mind that this is my opinion based on how we prefer to eat lunches, how many times per year we get to visit Walt Disney World and how I prefer to pay for most of my trip over time prior to our arrival.   Take a look at how you prefer to run your days in or out of the parks.  If you want to eat at a table service restaurant for all meals, visit Walt Disney World more than one time per year and you don't mind circling your days around your dining reservations, then the TIW card is the way to go.  It just wasn't worth it to me at this time.  I'm going back to the Disney Dining Plan until we live close enough to take advantage of the TIW card more than one visit a year. Even if we visit 2 times per year, I don't see us spending more than $750 on table service restaurants in order to "break even" from the $150 fee to buy the card. If we lived there, it would definitely be worth it. Even if we had to pay the $175 as a Florida resident, because we spend more than $875/year at table service restaurants at home.