Disney dining is an experience in itself when visiting the happiest place on earth. There are so many places to choose from whether you’re in the parks, Disney Springs, or at a resort that is sure to put a smile on your face and a long lasting memory in your heart. Believe it or not, there are some great tips that you may want to consider when planning your dining experiences, so here are ten dining mistakes that rookies make at Walt Disney World.
10. Not Making Reservations
Gone are the days of spontaneity at Walt Disney World. Back in the day, you could just head over to a restaurant and chances are it would be available for a moderate wait time. Since Disney dining has become quite popular, guests have been booking their reservations up to 180 days prior to their arrival to ensure they experience their favorite places. Since reservations have become popular, it is not a good idea to assume you will be able to just walk in or wait a while to be seated. Chances are, if it is a popular restaurant, you’ll be told that they’re booked and there is nothing you can do. Be sure to make your reservations as soon as possible so that you can check out the restaurants your heart is set on.
9. Waiting Until The Last Minute
Like I said earlier, it’s important to make your reservations as soon as you know the dates of your travel, so waiting until the last minute to make them is not a good idea. You will be limited with the choices you will have to choose from making it a bummer if you planned to check out a few places. The good news is that if there is a cancellation, you can always make a phone call one or two times a day to see if you can snag a spot that someone let go of.
8. Not Checking Prices
If you’re on a budget, this is one you will definitely want to consider. Disney restaurants are categorized as $($14.99 and below per person), $$ ($15-$29.99 per person), $$$($30-$59.99 per person), and $$$$( $60 and above per person). You can find this information for each restaurant on the Walt Disney World website. Often times you will hear of a great restaurant and may make reservations without realizing how expensive it can be for your family. Be sure to check the prices to make sure it will work for you and your budget. If you notice the prices too late, it could result in a cancellation fee (which is now $10 per person on the reservation).
7. Not Planning Enough Time To Arrive
Disney transportation is amazingly convenient, but do not assume that the busses or ferryboats will get you t your destination quickly. Depending on crowds or unexpected setbacks, your travel time may be more than what you planned for. It is important to plan enough time to arrive to each dining reservation whether you’re using the Disney transportation system or driving your own vehicle. Traffic, bag checks, Magicband kiosks, and many other delays can occur so it is important to plan enough time to get to where you need to be. If you miss your reservation by a decent amount of time, you could be charged in a cancellation fee (which like I said above is $10 per person on the reservation).
6. Planning Too Many Large Meals In One Day
Depending on how much you and your family eat regularly, you will really want to think about the amount of sit-down or buffet experiences you want to enjoy in one day. While you will walk a lot, eating three heavy meals can slow you down a little throughout the day. If you don’t usually have a heavy meal three times a day, consider a quick service restaurant or splitting an entrée with a family member if you’re still full from breakfast or lunch. If you are planning to prioritize spending time in the parks, remember that sit down dinners take up a chunk of time that you could be spending around the parks.
5. Not Preparing For Character Meet and Greets
Character dining is one of the most unique experiences you will encounter. Meeting some of the most beloved Disney characters while dining is truly magical. Not to mention, a great way to ensure that you will meet a few without having to wait in line in the hot sun to do so. All of the characters at restaurants make rounds all around the dining room stopping at each table to take pictures and mingle with guests. There are times when they move rather quickly, but if you are not seated (because you’re at the buffet), chances are they will move along to the next part y and you will have to wait until they make their way back around the dining room. If you see characters in your area, be sure to wait until they come by before heading back to the buffet. Having your cameras ready helps in assuring you catch a special moment between the characters and your family or little ones.
4. Not Reviewing the Menu
Oftentimes guests will make reservations at a restaurant because they have heard such wonderful things about it, but when they arrive and view the menu, they regret selecting that restaurant to dine in. If you have picky eaters in your party, be sure to glance over the menu of each restaurant on the Walt Disney World website before taking the time to make reservations. You may think twice after seeing what is served there, so it is better to catch that early on than after you made the reservation.
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3. Paying For Water
No one should have to pay for water over and over again at Disney. One water bottle is about $3.00! Can you imagine having to buy a water bottle for each person in a family of four multiple times a day? It adds up! Stop by any quick service restaurant and they will give you a cup of filtered water. This will especially help those that don’t like the taste of Orlando water (from the fountains).
2. Consider The Resort Restaurants
While the parks have great dining experiences, many of the resorts offer unique and themed restaurants that are chart toppers for veteran Disney guests. Even if you’re not staying at a particular resort you can always dine there! If you plan to be in the parks all day, check out some of the nearest resort restaurants so that you can just hop on a bus or ferryboat to head over for a nice meal.
1. Not Buying a Dining Plan
Disney Dining Plans are a huge hit for many guests. Not only will you save money, but you are also guaranteed some pretty great meals and snacks throughout the day. Be sure to calculate the cost of the various plans that are offered to ensure that it is well worth the investment. If you do not eat a lot or share your meals often, it may be best to skip this selection. If you don’t want to be obligated to a certain schedule each day (for example, having to choose from three quick service locations, or one sit down and one quick service) or you just like choosing on a whim, you can dismiss this option. Be sure to check for dates when the Disney Dining Plan is offered for free too! At certain times of the year, you can book a vacation and receive it absolutely free when you pay regular price for your resort. Again, be sure to see if it is worth the investment since you will be paying full price for your room.
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!