Sunday, January 25, 2009

Tables in Wonderland

Well, when it comes to a Disney vacation most of us are all for anything that will save us some money. For years now, Disney has had a dining card available for Florida residents and Annual Pass holders that allow them to receive 20% off of meals in most sit-down restaurants and some counter service locations throughout the WDW property. “Tables in Wonderland” (formerly the “Disney Dining Experience”) can be purchased for $60 by Annual Pass holders and $85 for non-AP holding Florida residents. Both AP holders and Florida residents also have the option of adding a second card for an additional cost of $25.

There are a few things to note about using the card. There are blackout dates – namely holidays - on which you cannot use it. When using it for a meal, an 18% gratuity will automatically be added to the bill. There seems to be a lot of controversy over this that makes people feel as if they are only saving a few percent. Let’s think about this though: you were going to tip anyway (let’s hope ;o) so that tip would have been added to the original check amount so you’re still saving a substantial sum on the check. Let’s check out the example below, from the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian (yes, real men DO drink tea):

So, the original check amount would have been $38.14 and we saved 20%, or $7.63 based on that. The 18% gratuity (that is based on the original amount before the discount) is added at $6.57 along with the tax and our total check is now $39.37.

Still with me? Good. Now, if we hadn’t gotten the discount, the original amount would have been $38.14. Let’s add the tax and we get $40.62. Add a 15% tip to that and the grand total is now $46.71. Using the card you would have saved at LEAST $7.34. If you had tipped 18% on the original amount then the card would have saved you $8.56.

WHEW! That was a lot of math but it shows that the card does save money on the average check. As for recouping the cost, that will probably happen faster than you think. Odds are, if you are a Florida resident or an Annual Pass holder, you get to the “World” fairly often. My wife and I paid $60 for our card. Over the course of our last trip we used it for ten meals and two bar tabs. Bearing in mind that those meals ranged from the food court at Pop Century all the way through to California Grill, we saved over $140 with the card. Subtract the $60 cost of the card itself and we had a net savings of over $80 and that was in one trip!!! Heck, if you do a trip to Victoria and Albert’s the card will pay for itself in one meal! LOL

If you visit WDW fairly often, sit down and think about what you spend on a sit-down meal for you and your family and how often they occur. You may be surprised how quickly the savings would add up if you had a “Tables in Wonderland” card!

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