New Restaurants at Disney World

There are a few new restaurants at Disney World that are opening soon at Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs.

Jock Linsey’s Hangar Bar recently opened with some fan fare as did Mrimoto Asia both of which are in The Landing at Disney Springs. There is more exciting news! Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen was announced last August and Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine which will be operated by celebrity chef Art Smith which was just announced today.

Homecoming: Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine

This new farm to fork concept restaurant is scheduled to be open sometime in the summer of 2016. The cuisine is described as rustic southern with a Floridian twist. Some of the southern influenced dishes served will be deviled eggs, low country shrimp and grits, grilled Blackstrap pork chop with sawmill gravy and homemade pimento cheese.

Each dish has a little Florida twist and make guests feel like they’re on the back porch with me for every meal. – Art Smith

The new establishment claims that deserts will be a specialty with daily made pies and cakes including the restaurant’s Mockingbird Cake. I don’t know what Mockingbird Cake is and tried to look it up and could not find much but it is fairly clear that it is not made with mockingbirds. It seems it is a cake with pineapple in it with a cream cheese frosting. I love pineapple so I’ll definitely try it.

Who is Art Smith?

Art Smith was Oprah’s chef and also appeared on Top Chef, Top Chef masters and Iron Chef. He was defeated by Cat Cora on Iron Chef. He has also cooked for several heads of state including Barack Obama.

Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen

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I’m pretty excited about this new joint scheduled to open sometime in 2015. It will feature “jungle fair” and have several dining rooms. One will be sort of like a “crew mess hall” and another is to be a “once-hidden secret meeting room of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.”

The wait staff of the restaurant will be all Jungle Cruise skippers. If you’ve ever ridden this attraction you know you’ll be entertained by the skippers for sure. If you have not, come to the restaurant ready to laugh.

Jungle Cruise by DearCatastropheWaitress is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Jungle Cruise by DearCatastropheWaitress is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

I have heard rumors that the serving experience will be similar to Be Our Guest. What that means is that it will be a counter service for lunch and table service for dinner. The nice thing about that is you can eat there for lunch first and save some bucks then if you like the flair, you can go back and try it for the more expensive dinner at a later date.

New Restaurants at Disney World

One of the greatest things about dining at Disney World is that they are constantly adding new stuff. I will readily admit that some of the dining experiences are a bit of a flop, particularly in Magic Kingdom. I’m hoping with the new offering at Skipper Canteen will improve upon that.

Disney Springs does not suffer that issue, though. The competition for really good dining is at a premium. With this in mind I’m pretty confident that Art Smith’s new joint will be a good place to eat.

Disney Has Raised the Price for Tables in Wonderland

crying-baby

We have confirmed that Disney has raised the price for Tables in Wonderland (formerly known as the Disney Dining Experience) and it’s a pretty steep hike. *insert sadface here* The new prices are:

$150 for annual pass holders and DVC members.
$175 for Florida residents.

What is Tables in Wonderland?

Tables in Wonder (TIW) is a program that provides a discount (usually 20% for a party of up to 10 people) at participating Walt Disney World restaurants available for annual pass holders, Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members and Florida residents..  We have found that most restaurants do participate in the program and we usually purchase it for our trips.

An easy way to tell if a restaurant you want to visit participates in the TIW program is to either go to the TIW website or to visit the restaurant’s page on the Disney World dining website. Its also not a bad idea to ask your server, regardless of whether you are at a table or counter service. You can also ask the cast member on the phone when you call to make your reservations.

Sounds great! Where can I buy it?

If you are a DVC member you can visit any guest relations location at Downtown Disney er… Disney Springs or in any theme park.. You will need to show a photo ID and your DVC membership card.

If you are a Floridan resident or an annual pass holder you can either purchase them like a DVC member, at a guest relations location or by phone. If purchasing by phone, you will need to allow three to four weeks for delivery.

The Teaparty by Patrick Emerson is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
The Teaparty by Patrick Emerson is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

OK, so how much did it go up?

For DVC members and annual pass holders it went from $100 to $150. For Florida residents it went from $125 to $175. Why? We do not know. The Tables in Wonderland card is valid for one calendar year from the time of purchase.

A second card can be purchased for a spouse or partner for $50. Both individuals must reside at the same address and be over the age of 21.

Are there blackout dates?

Yes, there are. TIW cannot be used on any major US holiday. Those holidays are New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

And from the TIW website:

These select locations are subject to the following blackout dates: 1900 Park Fare, Chef Mickey’s, ‘Ohana (Dinner Only), Cinderella’s Royal Table, Le Chefs de France, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, and Le Cellier Steakhouse. The dates are November 22-28, 2015 and December 20-26, 2015; March 6-27, 2016; May 29- June 18, 2016; November 13-27, 2016; December 19-25, 2016.

Are there other restrictions?

There are a few. If you’re paying for TIW by credit card, the card must match the name the membership is being purchased under.

Bills cannot be split. If you are using TIW the person with the card must pay the entire bill that is being discounted. If a second card is purchased and both individuals are at the table the discount may be applied to a party of up to 20.

That’s not too bad. Are there other benefits?

One is that if you use valet parking for a restaurant, the valet fee is waved. (Still tip your valet, please.) Parking is also free but only for the express purpose of dining. Let your valet know that you are on TIW when dropping off your car.

waiterDoes Tables in Wonderland include gratuity?

Nope. And remember to always tip based on what the pre-discounted charge would have been. Disney makes this really easy for you by including different tip rates (starting from the recommended 18%) on the bill.

Is it worth it?

The answer to that question is a resounding, “it depends.” You really have to do some math. We always try to figure out where we are going to eat and about how much each meal is going to cost both with and without a TIW discount. If you’re just breaking even or under breaking even on the difference between the full price and the discount price, it might not be worth it for you.

Another consideration is are you going to be visiting Disney World more than once in a calendar year. I can’t imagine that it would not be worth it if you are visiting for at least two weeks and plan on eating most of your meals on Disney property.

For us it usually is worth it. We are a family of five and as long as we are staying for five or more days, the card will more than pay for itself. Not only does it discount food but it also discounts drinks, including those of the adult variety (usually). April and I use this for date night.

But what about the Disney Dining Plans?

If you purchase a Disney Dining Plan, TIW may still be a benefit but it is not likely. There are a few restaurants that offer a TIW discount that are not on the dining plan. You can also get a discount on items you purchase that are not included on the dining plans such as appetizers and alcoholic drinks. I think TIW being a benefit in this case would be an exception and not the norm, though.

Tables in Wonderland does not offer a discount for the purchase of a Disney Dining Plan.

disney-world-beeches-and-cream-family-dinner
The whole fam at Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort

We are going on three trips to Walt Disney World over the next 12 months so it will really pay for itself when we buy it in December. I’m sad that the price is going up but I have full confidence that it will still add value to our vacations.