Thursday, November 11, 2010
The TIW card, which is good for one year, gives you 20% off alcohol, food and beverages at most table service restaurants in Disney World. It also adds an automatic 18% gratuity to your bill. Some quick service locations also get the discount if there is no table service restaurant available. For example, you can use your TIW card in the food court at Pop because there is no table service location at the resort. Having a card means you'll get access to Tables in Wonderland events held throughout the year; last year, this included a pricey but impressive dinner in The Great Movie Ride. It also entitles you to free valet parking if you're dining at a resort restaurant or free parking at any park if you're dining in the park.
The TIW card is available to Florida residents for $100; annual passholders pay $75. The cards are good for up to ten people, but it's unlikely you'll be able to split checks and apply the card to each check. I've heard that some servers who will do this, but don't bet on it happening. Blackout dates include major holidays and Mother's Day.
Annual pass discounts for food are much more limited. In general, with a regular annual pass, you'll get 10% off during lunch Monday through Friday in participating World Showcase restaurants. There are also a handful of restaurants in Downtown Disney that offer between 10 to 20 % off your bill if you present your AP. This benefit, while always appreciated, is pretty minor.
As you can see, they really are two entirely different things. I always say that you should only buy an AP if you're going to at least break even on your park admission days that year; discounts should be seen as an added benefit above your admission, a perk but never guaranteed. Many people, particularly those who take more than one trip per year, swear by the TIW card, but keep in mind you'll need to spend approximately $350 that year to break even, so weigh that against your purchase. Betting on how much you'll save is a little like an annual pass, in that you have to project your potential savings a year in advance based on how often you'll visit. If you're only taking one trip, if your groups is small, and if you don't eat at a lot of table service restaurants, it's probably not a bargain for you.
If you're going to purchase a TIW card, give Disney about three weeks to process your order; if you're going sooner than that, buy it once you arrive. One quirk is that cards that are mailed to your home are often plastic, while cards that you purchase in Disney World are made of very sturdy Tyvek paper; some people have a preference. Unlike your annual pass which will be replaced for free in the event you lose it or it's destroyed, it costs $50 to replace a TIW card.
Cards can be purchased by calling 407-566-5858 during business hours (Eastern) Monday through Friday or by email at WDW.Tables.In.Wonderland@disney.com