While Disney is the haven for wonderful rides like Splash Mountain, Soarin’, and Expedition Everst, as well as spectacular resorts like the Polynesian and the Grand Floridian, it also has award-winning and deliciously delectable restaurants to satisfy whatever palette you might have on any given day. Here are our ten essential tips for dining at Disney!
10 – Popular Restaurants Need Reservations – Disney has some very popular restaurants that are going to require reservations. If you are guest that plans their vacation months in advance, be sure to circle the 180 days out date on your calendar or set an alarm on your phone, so you can take advantage of making your advance dining reservations as soon as you can to lock in your favorite places or to try someplace new!
9 – Check Lunch v. Dinner – if you are trying to get into a new or popular place or you are just trying to save some money, compare the lunch and dinner menus. Often, the restaurant offers a similar or the same menu for both meals, but lunch can be a little bit cheaper and it is a little easier to get a reservation during lunch time than at dinner. If this tip doesn’t help you, the next tip just might…
8 – Consider Non-Traditional Meal Times – most people have been conditioned to want to eat lunch between 11.30-12.30 and dinner between 5.30 and 6.30. However, if you are able to eat earlier or later, it will definitely help you score a coveted reservation. It isn’t unusual for us to have lunch as late as 1.30 or 2 PM and we have been known to have dinner at 8.45 PM. Not only do you get the same meal, but sometimes better service because the restaurants are less crowded! It is your vacation, so leave your schedule behind!
7 – Don’t Overlook the Resorts – many guests forget that the Disney resorts offer some amazing dining choices, so don’t only focus on the restaurants at the parks. If you are at the Magic Kingdom, you can grab a quick monorail ride to one of the Magic Kingdom resorts, have a great meal, and be back to ride more rides quicker than you think! It is also a fun way to be able to explore resorts that you’ve never stayed at before to see if you’d like to stay there on a future trip!
6 – Use MyDisneyExperience – even before making reservations, guests can use the MyDisneyExperience app to be able to look at menus, locations, and hours of the restaurants they might want to dine at. We generally use the app when it comes to making our reservations, too. It is quick and easy and we can do it on the go!
5 – Consider Tables in Wonderland – if someone in your dining party is an annual Passholder or a DVC member, Tables in Wonderland is an amazing choice. It is a discount card accepted at many restaurants on property that offers guests a 20% discount on food and alcohol. It does add an 18% gratuity automatically, but most people are tipping that already, so it offers a great way to save some money. The membership fee is $150 and is good for 13 months from the date of purchase, so there is definitely time for you and your family to get your money’s worth out of it!
4 – Counter Service Options – much like overlooking the resorts, don’t shy away from counter service options – they offer some great choices and quick service so you can make it back to the fun even quicker! Again, keep our other tips in mind – we’ve tried grabbing a lunch at Peco’s Bills at noon before and we weren’t surprised that we had to wait 20 minutes before placing our order and another ten to find a place to sit!
3 – Check Inside of the 24-Hour Cancellation Window – Disney requires guests place a credit card on file when making a dining reservation because they want to make sure people show up for their reservations or else they charge a fee. What this means for you – many guests will cancel their reservations right before the 24-hour requirement, so you might be able to snag a great reservation the day before if you are willing to check the app or on-line!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Disney travel deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius! Discover More >
2 – Character Dining – character dining allows guests to have a great meal, as well as meeting four to five of your favorite characters. Make sure to do your research before booking a character meal – certain characters appear at specific meals and because of the combined experience, character dining experiences tend to be expensive.
1 – Table Service Overload – we like making only one ADR for a table service option each day. Between getting there, waiting for a table, and eating, table service options can take over an hour out of your day. Multiply that by three and you’ve easily lost over 3 hours just eating!
Some people never would have thought that dining at Disney World would have required such planning and thought, but it can be as important as resort and trip planning. Use these ten tips and it will help make the process much more manageable!
BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
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