Dining at Disney is an experience in itself! It’s one of my favorite past times there. You may know that there is a Dining Plan available to pre-pay for your family’s meals, and that Dole Whips are the signature snack of Disney World! Here are 10 secret bits of info nobody tells you about Dining at Walt Disney World:
10. There are 5 Dining Plans
Disney World offers different plans to fit your family’s needs. Quick Service Dining gives each guest 2 counter service meals, and a snack. Basic Disney Dining gives each guest 1 table service meal (including most character dining and buffets) plus 1 counter service meal and a snack. If you don’t think these offer enough, you can get the Deluxe Dining plan which offers 3 meals, either table or counter, and 2 snacks for each guest. Not sure which one to get? Email me at Summer@WorldofMagicTravel.com, and we can discuss prices and details.
The Premium Package includes one breakfast, lunch and dinner and 2 snacks per person. This package also comes with many more perks and extras such as golf, and dinner shows. See the in-depth info HERE.
The amazing Platinum Package includes the same number of meals as Premium but gives you In Room Dining service, unlimited use of recreational activities such as watersports, fishing excursions, golf, dinner shows, signature dining, spa treatments, Cirque Du Soleil tickets, unlimited use of child care centers, parasailing and MORE! See the official details HERE.
9. 200+ Places to Eat
There are so many restaurants and to choose from that each day and each vacation can be different! We like to try new places each time we go, plus visit a few of our favorites too. ‘Ohana is a must-do for us each trip but this time we tried Akershus and Teppan Edo, two new experiences that we loved. Ask me for a list of Restaraunts that accept the Dining Plan if you need help planning and booking your vacation!
8. Reservations open up
I strongly suggest having your travel agent book your dining reservations at 180 days prior to get your desired place and time. If you don’t get what you want, keep checking periodically. A good time to find opening is 30-45 days before travel as this is when final payments are due, and some people cancel their trip. The BEST time to get a reservation is the week or two before travel. Travelers change their plans, and drop those extra ressies.
7. Gratuities are not included
If you have the Basic dining plan or higher, you will have to sign your bill and add a tip to it. Table service bills for my family of 2 adults and 3 kids were all over $100 (more at character buffets.) That means traditional gratuity would be $18-$20 extra. Be sure to budget for this! You can charge them to your room also.
6. Kids under 3 can’t use a Dining Plan
This can be a pro or a con if you have a baby age 0-2. I found out with my toddler that buffets are the best. They can get their own plate and eat what they want (and he eats a lot!) at no charge. This was great for us to save money. At table service meals, we either had to order him his own kid’s meal and pay for it, or request and extra plate to share our meals with him. At Quick Service meals, I had to order his own meal and pay for it. We also shipped snack to ourselves to the resort for him too.
5. Order just an entrée- If you don’t have a Dining Plan, you may want to save a few dollars by ordering JUST the entrée, and not the sides or dessert of a meal. You can also order an appetizer as your meal such as burger sliders or quesadillas. I like to order an entrée only for my toddler as he won’t eat a side salad or giant cupcake anyways. Then, I ask for a free ice water. Saves about $5 doing that.
4. You can split meals- My kids aren’t big eaters, and they certainly aren’t as hungry as they are at home since it’s hot and their meals are larger than at home. I like to make sure they have a good breakfast since we burn so many calories walking in the Parks. When lunch comes, I like to order an adult quick service meal for the 2 of them to split. Then later, we have an extra QS meal to use.
3. You can trade credits- You can trade 1 QS meal credit for 3 snacks purchased all together. People say “why would I get rid of a meal just for small snacks!?” Well I have several reasons but my personal favorite use was 3 GIANT caramel apples at Goofy’s Candy Company at Disney Springs at $10 each! That got me $30 of treats in exchange for a $8 Burger and Fries meal.
2. Dine in peace- Disney restaurants are usually open at all times, especially the counter service spots. While everyone else is watching the 3:00 parade or riding rides, beat the rush and eat at non-traditional meal times. The restaurants are very crowded at 9am, noon and 6pm, naturally. The order lines are shorter and the restaurants aren’t as crowded between those times. Plus, the wait times are shorter for YOU when everyone else is eating!
1. Allergies and dietary needs are accommodated- Disney does a great job of making dining easy for people who have special needs. They offer soy, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and nut-free options as prepackaged snack and menu options. As a vegetarian, I can attest to fact that there are great meat-free menu options available everywhere! My favorite places were Crystal Palace, Akershus, Garden Grille, Marrakesh, Taste Track, Tony’s, Electric Umbrella, and Art of Animation’s BYO Pasta Station. Be sure to ask your server or a cast member if you need help.
I am a total Disney Foodie! Especially when it comes to Epcot’s International Food & Wine Fest! What other insider tips do you have about dining at Disney?? Share them with us in the comments!
I’d love to help you plan and book your next Disney vacation or Cruise. I will help you find Dining Reservations and plan out a perfect itinerary! I can fill you in with many more planning tips and tricks too! Just email me at Summer@worldofmagictravel.com or message me on Facebook HERE, and ask me for a free price quote including the Disney Dining Plan! Happy eating mouseketeers!