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15 Essential Dining Tips for Walt Disney World

15. Thoroughly Research Restaurants before Booking.

Doing plenty of research on Disney restaurants prior to booking will help ensure you choose the best fit for your budget, family and schedule. The Disney website is a great resource to see photos of restaurants and understand transportation options nearby the restaurant.

14. Thoroughly Research Menus before Booking.

Menu review and research is another important point to consider when booking a dining reservation. Luckily, all Disney restaurants have really kid friendly options at every restaurant ensuring your little mouseketeers stay satisfied. All the same, taking the time to review cuisine offered on different menus will allow you to find the best restaurant fit for you.

13. Budget and Save For Disney Dining.

Budgeting for Disney dining is an important part of planning for any Disney vacation. Reviewing your park plan to understand what days is the best fit for table service dining will help you allocate money for each meal. Disney dining tends to have the reputation of being an expensive portion of the trip. In reality, there is an array of price points and food types to choose from.

12. Prepare Your Family For the Dining Experience.

The old verse “getting there is half the fun” certainly rings true with Disney dining. Having a meal plan that you can get the group excited about makes the actual dining experience even more fun. Talk to children about the delicious items on the menu, characters they may meet and the theme and cuisine of the restaurant you are dining at.

11. Make Advanced Dining Reservations Prior to Your Trip.

Scoring a seat at table service restaurants will require an advanced dining reservation. The size of your party, flexibility your group has with seating time and day you are hoping to dine will all affect the availability of reservations at Disney restaurants. Particularly popular restaurants like California Grill, Cinderella’s Royal Table and Ohana often necessitate that guests book at the earliest possible time, around 180 days in advance.

10. Consider Character Meals as a Dining Option.

Character dining is an incredible way to skip the lines, see your favorite characters and enjoy a delicious meal all at one time. While character dining is fun for children, it is not just for kids. Guests of all ages enjoy meeting their favorite Disney pals at character meals. My favorite part of character meals is that I can get cute photos with characters without the sweat, flushed face and disheveled hair that happens during a park day.

9. Explore New Cuisine Through Disney Dining.

Walt Disney World is a great place to sample new cuisine from around the world. Learning about the culture of different countries through food is easy to do at the fantastic Disney restaurants. Cast members are more than happy to answer questions, suggest their favorite dishes and help you explore dishes that are new to you.

8. Dine at Different Types of Restaurants.

Disney dining does not just mean enjoying table service restaurants. Walk-up dining options, food trucks, food carts and cafeteria style dining are all great options for meals at Walt Disney World. Try to enjoy several of these dining styles during your vacation. After all, variety is the spice of life!

7. Budget for At Least One Big Meal.

A big meal can be whatever you decide it should be. For some people this means scoring a great character meal or meal in Epcot’s World Showcase during their trip. For others, a day indulging in as many Disney snacks as they want may fit the bill. Plan to have at least one day of no holds bar food exploration or indulgence during your Disney vacation.

6. Consider Allowing Time for Spur of the Moment Dining.

While advanced dining reservations need to be secured for any definite dining plans, leaving your schedule open for spur of the moment dining plans is also a fun and easy way to experience Disney cuisine. One of my favorite ways to break from the Magic Kingdom is to snag delicious resort dining at walk up options in The Polynesian and The Contemporary. Pork nachos at Captain Cook’s or barbeque chicken flatbread at The Contempo Café make incredible dinner options.

5. Explore Dinner Package Options.

If an evening in the park enjoying dinner and nighttime entertainment sounds like a magical evening to you, look no farther than Disney dinner packages. Packages include dinner at a restaurant in the park and preferred (first come first seated) seating at a show after dinner. Dinner packages are available for Fanstasmic, The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic Dining Package, Magic Kingdom parades and seasonal show The Candlelight Processional all offer dining packages for guests to enjoy.

4. Branch Out and Explore Dining at Disney Resorts.

There are some incredible dining options at Disney resorts that may not be on guest radar because they are a little off the beaten path. Taking the time to explore new resorts and eat at restaurants nearby is a great way to break from the parks and get ideas for your next Disney vacation.

3. The Same Tip Goes for Disney Springs, Restaurants.

With the new Disney Springs addition, guests need look no farther for incredible Disney dining. Short order, drinks, desserts, food trucks, fine dining and burgers are all available for guests at Disney Springs. I have always loved dining at Downtown Disney, but with the evolution of the area last year Disney Springs has topped my dining list.

2. Share Dishes to Taste More Food.

Sharing main courses, appetizers and desserts is a great idea for guests hoping to sample smaller portions but a larger variety of food on vacation. Splitting an appetizer, first course, entrée and dessert at California Grill is my favorite way to enjoy the cuisine without feeling too stuffed to enjoy the park that evening.

1. Experience the Ultimate Disney Dining Experience, The Food and Wine Festival.

The ultimate Disney dining tip is to experience the Epcot Food and Wine Festival in the fall. This tasty festival features cuisine from around the world in kiosks around World Showcase. Tasting sized plates of favorite foods native to the country represented is served for around five dollars per serving. Spending a weekend eating around the world at Epcot is the ultimate in Disney dining and Disney vacationing to me.

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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