Tables In Wonderland Vs. Disney Dining Plan

DDP symbol and TIW card

The Tables In Wonderland card is offered to Florida residents, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members and Annual Passholders (AP). If you are not one of those, the decision is much easier for you. Go for the Disney Dining Plan (DDP).

There are some questions below that may apply to you. You may not want to buy any dining plan, because of the age of your kids. You may be wasting more money than saving money.

For many years, so many people have asked which program they should buy. Which plan saves the most money? Some people are die-hard Tables In Wonderland (TIW) users and some are die-hard DDP fans. Well, unfortunately, the bottom line is, there is no right answer! It is a personal decision. It all depends on certain factors and every vacation party is different.

By the way, this mainly applies to the regular DDP. If you are considering the Deluxe Dining Plan, then buy the TIW card if you are a DVC member, Florida resident or Annual Passholder. TIW will save you more money unless you are dining during the blackout dates or restaurants that do not accept the TIW card. 

Do not forget about DVC discounts where applicable! Some people decide not to buy either plan. They plan their days around QS meals and dine at TS restaurants that offer a DVC discount. 

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How old is everyone in your vacation party?
  • What is best for your vacation party based on how you like to run your day and how do they like to eat? Light eaters?
  • Will you have a kitchen where you plan on making meals? Are you eating breakfasts in your room?
  • Do you like to get appetizers and alcohol (more than 1 glass)?
  • Are you planning on eating at Quick Service (QS) restaurants most of the time and/or eat at a TS one time per day?
  • Do you prefer to have as much paid for in advance as possible?

Why these questions?

  • I asked about ages of the people in your party, because kids around the ages of 10-13 do not eat that much. You are charged the adult rate for the DDP. In this case, you may want to lean towards TIW. 
  • How you run your day is huge with determining the best program. If you prefer to stop and eat at a QS where you are during the day and not take up too much time, you would lean towards DDP. Don’t mind taking the time to get to a reservation? Lean towards TIW.
  • If you plan on making some or most meals in your room, TIW and DDP may not be good options. At the very least, if you plan on having only breakfasts in the room, the DDP is the one to lean towards.
  • Getting appetizers and alcohol with each meal? Lean towards TIW. If not, lean towards DDP.
  • Does your vacation party only want one TS per day? Lean towards DDP.
  • If you like to have as much paid for in advance of the trip without the stress of sticker shock 2-3 times per day and want to save the 18% tip you do not pay at QS restaurants, the DDP is the way to go.

See how personal this decision is?

If you eat at mainly Table Service (TS) restaurants and order wine, beer, appetizers and/or cocktails, TIW is the way to go. Your break-even point is $750. You get 20% off of everything at certain restaurants and 18% tip is auto applied to the bill. (Be careful of blackout dates. Be sure your desired restaurant is still on the plan, too, before you go to Walt Disney World.) 

If you prefer to stop and eat at a QS wherever you are during the day, DDP is the better option. Plus, it allows you to save money by not having to pay tips at QS restaurants. As long as you don’t normally order appetizers and your vacation party eats hearty meals, the DDP is still the better option. Some people also like to have as much paid as possible before their trip. The DDP allows you to do that.

Personal Experience

We have done both. Our bigger savings is with the dining plan. It is also convenient and less stressful to use the DDP. It is paid in advance so there is less stress when paying for so many meals every day. We may have an alcoholic drink at the TS restaurant, which one is now included with the DDP, but not enough to warrant the TIW card for us.

When we had the TIW card, we felt obligated to book more TS restaurant reservations than we normally do just so we could utilize the card. Any snacks/appetizers we consume is never during dinner at a TS restaurant. It is too much food to consume at once for us and no one wants to carry the extra food back to their room (if you have a refrigerator).

As time went by, it is just my husband and I on the trips. We usually have a kitchen in our room and do not buy either plan. We look at the restaurants offering discounts to Disney Vacation Club members and share many QS meals, because it is enough food for both of us.

So, what is your decision?

For details or more information about the TIW card go to this page called Tables In Wonderland Pros and Cons. This page will not only discuss the pros and cons, but it also goes into details about the benefits of the card, cost, how it works, etc.

For details about the Disney Dining Plan, Click here. It has details on how to qualify for the dining plan to be offered to you in your Disney package, how to qualify for free dining when offered by Disney and best ways to use the plan.

To see the most popular TS and QS restaurants based on All Access Disney Group polls along with the top choices for TS restaurants that only require 1 TS entitlement, click on each link below.

Click here to see our Facebook group members’ choices for Top TS Restaurants.

This link will bring you to the group’s choices for Top QS Restaurants.

They also voted for their Top TS Restaurants that require 1 TS DDP entitlement.