Thanks for reading the second installment of my series Dining Plan or Wonderland. If you’ve read the first entry you know I take a look at a table service restaurant and try to decide if it’s a better value for me to get the Disney Dining Plan or the Tables in Wonderland discount card. If you want more detail about the rules of the game please see the first installment, 50’s Primetime Cafe.
I actually really like Crystal Palace. I ate there on my very first trip to Walt Disney World it 2009. Funny enough we had the Disney Dining Plan during that trip. It’s a good buffet for Lunch and Dinner, though you’re not there for the food. You’re there to meet the Pooh characters. Eeyore is my wife’s favorite Disney character so it’s always fun to go meet him.
As the rules of the article go, I have calculated the price of a meal on both the Tables in Wonderland (20% discount, 18% tip added back in and 6.5% tax) and the amount I pay in cash for the Dining Plan plus an 18% tip.
For a typical Table Service meal I would choose the entree I would eat and compare it to the full Dining Plan meal I would order. This restaurant is a buffet so I’m actually able to bend the rules in a very interesting way. I traditionally wouldn’t speak for my wife but at a buffet we all pay the same for whatever we eat! In this article I’ll go more in depth to determine which option is truly the best discount for a Disney family.
According to Allears.net the Non-discounted, pre-tax cost of a Dinner meal at Crystal palace ranges from 37.99-43.66 for adults and 17.99-21.29 for children. To make this insanely number-heavy I calculated the price for both the “low” and “high”. Don’t worry there will be a summary at the end.
As in the last article I set the “cost” of an adult table service credit at $33.50. That works out to be about 55% of the cost of the Dining Plan per day. I looked at the price of the child’s dining plan and mathed out $10.57 as the cost of a child’s table service credit.
Now on with the math!
Crystal Palace, 1 adult:
To fully abide by the rules I’ll run the numbers on me going to the buffet solo.
In the low season the adult buffet costs $37.99. If you add our 18% tip and 6.5% tax into that price you’re looking at a cool $47.30 when you walk in without any discount and belly up to the bar.
Since the adult dining credit costs $33.50 that means you save $6.96 before the 18% tip. The tip actually works out to $6.84 which means in total you paid $40.34 to use the dining credit and pay your tip.
With Tables in Wonderland your meal costs $32.37 pre-18% tip, so the total comes to $39.21 with the tip added in. With TiW you save an astounding $1.13 off the cost of the Dining Plan to be a sad lone adult meeting Winnie the Pooh…
Winner: There are no winners when a 31 year old male eats alone at Crystal Palace.
The Typical Disney Family: 2 Adults, 1 Ten Year Old, 1 Child:
When Disney advertises discounts they always calculate it based on a family of four. In an outstanding feat of logic, a ten year old can’t vote for the Mayor of Main Street, USA but counts as an adult at a buffet. The child, however, gives us a good price break.
A “retail” price child’s buffet costs $17.99 in the low season. That works out to $22.40 after tax and tip.
The Dining plan table service credit costs $10.57 for a child so after tip the dining plan is $13.81, a savings of $8.59 from retail.
Tables in Wonderland works out to total $18.57 for a child and is completely blown out of the water. You are paying $4.76 more to use the TiW discount instead of the dining plan.
We know how much each meal will cost our three adults and child so let’s put these numbers together.
Dining Plan: 134.83
No Discount: 164.30
Winner: Disney Dining Plan
As much as my personal opinion makes me hate typing it, the winner is the Disney Dining Plan. You save 29 dollars over “retail” and aren’t paying the $100 entry fee.
Bonus Round: High Season
These numbers are all assuming you travel in a slow time when food is relatively cheap. If you’re visiting during a peek season you may encounter a price hike on your way to the 100 Acre Woods.
In the high season an adult buffet costs $54.36 and a child buffet is $26.50! This is the time the Dining plan really shines. Our Disney family sees a slightly higher tip at the end but their up front costs remain the same.
Dining Plan: 138.48
No Discount: 189.58
So for the price of a car payment you can meet Pooh, or you can save some serious money with the dining plan. You’re looking at saving 51 dollars over that the schmuck at the table beside you.
If my wife and I planned to eat at a buffet every day for dinner then I think the Dining Plan would work for us. I think it REALLY makes sense if you have a child and want to “Dine with Character” every single dinner. If you just want one or two buffets then you really need to do the math on the entire trip to figure out which discount, if any, is best for you.
If you have any questions, want to see my math, or have suggestions for other restaurants please tweet me @tbgree00. Thanks for reading.