Top 10 Disney Dining Tips

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One of the most overwhelming parts of planning a Disney trip can be figuring out your dining options. With so many restaurants to choose from, and so many different kinds of dining experiences, understanding exactly what you’re doing can be a challenge. Thankfully, this does not need to be as difficult as you might think, by following the following tips:

1) Do some research

The first step to a successful Disney dining experience is typically to make reservations in advance, but we can’t get to that step if you don’t know what you should be making reservations for. It can be time consuming to sit down and research all of the different dining options, but it will be extremely helpful in the long run to have a basic idea of all the restaurants Disney has to offer. Thankfully doing the research is easy, as you can go through the My Disney Experience website or app and see all of the different options. Doing research in advance is also helpful for creating a dining budget.

2) Make reservations

While doing your research, you’ll probably read up on which of the restaurants are the most popular. This can be very helpful because there are a lot of restaurants that you’ll want to make your reservations for close to 180 days away from your arrival date. Even if you’re not big into planning your whole trip in advance, making at least a couple of reservations will be helpful if you want to have some table service meals. If it turns out that you do not need those reservations, you can cancel them twenty-four hours in advance with no penalty.

3) Try unique quick service options

For guests who have not been to Walt Disney World often or at all, they often expect most of the quick service meals to be made up of burgers and hot dogs. To some surprise, this is not the case at all. Of course there are plenty of standard quick service options, but there are also so many different options, where guests can order things like burritos, orange chicken, deep fried sausage, shrimp tempura with udon, salads, pizza, and much more. Don’t feel like you need to have a table service every meal of your day if you don’t particularly want to, there are plenty of excellent quick service restaurants as well.

4) Skip purchasing water bottles

Water bottles can add up when you continually pay for them either at quick service restaurants or merchandise locations to carry throughout the park or enjoy with your meal. Instead of paying for a bottle, order a cup of water for free. The water is ice cold, and filtered, and will save you some money over the course of your trip.

5) Have a dining budget in mind before you go

Even if you have a rough idea how many table service meals you’d like, or about how much it should cost you for your family to eat in Disney for a week, having some kind of budget set in place will be helpful. A budget can come in handy when deciphering if you’re going to add an extra table service meal mid-trip or decide to spend some time at a bar or lounge at the last minute.

6) Bring snacks

If you’re worried about going over a budget, or you just like to be able to eat on the run, throwing some snacks in your bag before you hit the parks each morning can be a good idea. This can prove to be especially helpful if you’re visiting with young children, as you probably don’t want to get out of line at an attraction or otherwise stop what you’re doing whenever one of the kids needs a snack. Being able to pull some Gold Fish crackers out of your purse or backpack can be a huge stress reliever and time saver when the time comes.

7) Try character dining and dinner shows

Dinner shows can be an excellent option if there is a day you do not have a park ticket during your trip. They’ll take up a couple of hours, are less expensive than an extra day at the parks would be if you don’t have the time for it, and they often come with delicious food and great entertainment. Character dining is another fun dining option at Walt Disney World, especially if you know meeting those characters is going to be a priority on your trip, as having a character meal will save you the time you’d spend waiting to meet them in the parks.

8) Splurge on a signature restaurant

Signature restaurants are pricier than other table service restaurants, but they are well worth the price. There are enough signature restaurants that you should have no problem finding something that your family will enjoy. Just be sure to check the dress code, and decide whether or not you think using two credits on the dining plan will be worth it if you use the plan.

Bonus Tip!

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9) Decide whether or not to get the dining plan

The Disney Dining Plan can save you up to 35% off the total cost of dining, assuming you would otherwise eat everything that the plan includes. Before booking the plan do some research to make sure your family would get enough value out of it to justify paying for it. And remember that when free dining is offered as a promotion, the resort room rates are likely fully priced, so you’ll need to decide which discount is more important for your family.

10) Use the dining plan wisely

If you decide to go with the dining plan, make sure you’re using it in a way that is going to give you the most value. For instance, ordering the most expensive items will save you some extra money, as will eating at more expensive restaurants. Basically, the more expensive the food is you’re eating, the greater value you’ll have with it already paid for under the cost of the plan.

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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About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."

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