I am a DVC member and I absolutely love it but one of my gripes from the beginning has been the lack of perks for members when it comes to dining. I tend to always visit Walt Disney World during off-peak times, which also tends to coincide with free dining, yet every trip we are spending approximately $700 to purchase the meal plan. Frustrating? You betcha! So, when DVC members were given the opportunity to purchase a Tables in Wonderland card this year, I was interested to find out if was worth the $100 cost to save 20% on our meals. For those of you who have no idea what Tables in Wonderland is, it's basically a frequent diner card offered to Florida residents, annual/seasonal passholders and DVC members that gets you 20% off almost all meals at Walt Disney World. A couple of other member benefits include resort and theme park parking for dining purposes and invitations to special member-only food and wine events, winemaker dinners and celebrity chef dinners.
So back to my decision-making dilemma. After much deliberation, we decided to go for it since we have planned to visit WDW at least twice in the next 13 months. I am writing this article because when I was trying to decide whether or not to take the plunge, I couldn't find any posts related to this, so hopefully some of you will find this helpful as I know it would have been for me, so here it goes…
I had hoped to be able to lay this out in a clear and concise manner, but alas, I have a husband that cannot follow directions (especially during the Food and Wine Festival) and I do not have my complete collection of receipts that I need. I do have most so I will attempt to make this as complete as possible.
In 2012, the cost for the Disney Dining Plan (DDP) is $51.54 for adults and $15.02 for children. For a 6-night, 7-day trip that total is $708.60 for my family.
We ate whatever and whenever we wanted and some of these prices do include alcohol (again, since I don’t have an itemized receipt I can’t differentiate) but it appears that we did save a little bit of money and saved 20% for our visiting family too. The difference is, we didn’t eat as much food. We didn’t get dessert with every meal and we didn’t buy nearly as many snacks so I guess that’s where the difference lies.
Here's the breakdown:
Here's the breakdown:
Day One: We spent $62.80 at Walmart to stock up our vacation home kitchen which fed us for a few breakfasts and a lunch or two plus some snacks.
|Hollywood and Vine|
|Gaston's Tavern and souvenir goblet|
Day Three: This was the day that we were privileged to be invited to visit and tour the Give Kids The World Village (more on that in an upcoming post) so we ate breakfast and lunch in our vacation home. Too excited to pass up the chance to eat at Gaston’s Tavern during a special preview of the New Fantasyland at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we ate a couple of pork shanks (delicious, by the way) and a apple plate along with a souvenir goblet and drinks for $36.90. We also got a popcorn snack for $3.50 bringing our total for the day to $40.40 This now puts Tables in Wonderland in the lead 3 to 0.
|Mickey Premium Ice Cream Bar|
Day Six: Breakfast in the vacation home again due to a bit of a late start so we just got a snack in the Magic Kingdom and bought 2 smoothies from the Cheshire Café for $7.38. We then headed over to Hollywood Studios to meet my parents for an early dinner at the Sci Fi Drive In for $38.75 which included 2 desserts. This was the first time we bought desserts with our meal. With the DDP we would’ve eaten A LOT more. Total = $46.13
Day Seven: On our last day, we walked over to the Cape May Café and had another character buffet breakfast which cost $50.38. Before taking off for the airport, we got two snacks at Boardwalk Joe’s for $8.78 and ate dinner in the airport. Total for this day was $59.16
So here’s the score: Tables in Wonderland=6, Disney Dining Plan=1 based on daily allowance. We spent a total of $535.07 on Disney food with our discount, $62.80 at Walmart and $100.00 to purchase the card which brings our grand total to $697.87. So basically, it was almost a wash. The DDP would’ve cost us $708.60 and we would’ve eaten a lot more food. Question is…is that a good thing? If we had eaten the same way on the DDP, we would’ve also had 9 quick service meals and 5 snacks left over plus all of the included desserts with meals!!
Now the real question. Will I do it again? I really don’t know but I’m leaning towards probably NOT. You can’t beat the convenience of the dining plan and even though we didn’t spend anymore, the sticker shock of having to pay for every meal and seeing it all itemized did add some unwanted stress to the vacation. On the other hand, it was nice to be able to offer the discount to the family as well. Additionally, our Tables in Wonderland card isn’t set to expire until 11/30/2013 so we will get much more mileage out of our 20% discount. Still, I think I have to vote for the DDP even if we have to pay out of pocket. If I lived in the Orlando area or was a very frequent visitor, I would buy the Tables in Wonderland card without question. Well live and learn. At least I know that I didn't loose any money and the savings on our next vacation will all be a bonus but I sure will like not having to look at those price tags anymore!
Please feel free to add your thoughts! I'd love to hear everyone else's opinions as well.