Anyone who knows me knows that I am a Disney planning nerd. I absolutely LOVE planning the details of Disney vacations, and I am not ashamed to admit that spreadsheets filled with things like ADR confirmation numbers fill my heart with a particular kind of joy. While preparing for a recent trip “home” to Disney however, I kept Walt Disney’s famous quote’ “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” in my mind because we had decided to plan our meals differently for this trip.
First, I am a definite fan of the Disney Dining Plan. I have used it for every Disney vacation that we have taken since it began. We love trying all of the different restaurants at Disney as well as revisiting our favorites ( I think I could eat at ‘Ohana every day). To put it simply, we LOVE to eat at Disney! However, our recent trip was a quick weekend trip to Magic Kingdom and Epcot and we decided to skip the Dining Plan and table-service meals and instead focus on counter-service options and snacks this time. On our previous trips, using the Dining Plan, we had usually used our counter-service meal for an easy breakfast at our resort before hitting the parks for the day and then had a table-service meal at the end of the day; so I was curious to see what we had been missing.
Here are the Top 5 things that I learned along the way:
- Snacks!! Since we have always had a large table-service meal during our day, we haven’t tried many of the snacks at Disney. I know, it’s embarrassing. We’ve always had our favorites; I mean it’s not a trip to Disney without a Mickey Bar on Main Street right? But since we weren’t saving room for a big dinner we were able to try so many snacks on this trip! It was one of our favorite parts of the trip. The Viking Mousse in Norway was a particularly big hit- it was delicious! Also be sure to try the Cinnamon Roll at Gastons Tavern!
- Relaxed schedule: Without an ADR to plan our time around, we found that we were able to have a more relaxed day in the parks. We took our time and really enjoyed our time together- often while eating a snack!
- You can get full on counter-service meals: One of my only concerns with skipping table-service meals this trip was my son. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not really him; it’s more his hollow leg that never seems to get filled. He’s 17, well over 6 feet tall and let’s just say that he eats a lot. I am glad to say that that we were able to fill him with counter-service meals on our trip. For heartier appetites like his, there are many filling counter-service meals available. In Magic Kingdom he had great meals at Be Our Guest and Cosmic Rays. When we visited Epcot, he really loved the tacos and churros at La Hacienda de San Angel.
- There really is something for everyone: Most of my family is pretty adventurous when it comes to eating and tire of hamburgers and fries pretty quickly. We were able to find many choices beyond typical theme park food. We had the most fun with this at Epcot in the World Showcase, of course. We discovered that Moroccan coffee really is stronger than what we are used to at home and that seaweed candy from Japan must be an acquired taste that we are lacking. The more careful eater in my family was also able to find lots of great choices and gave rave reviews to the walnut baklava in Morocco!
- Sharing: Since not all of us can eat as much as my son, on several occasions two of us were able to share a meal and still have plenty to eat. It also left us more room to enjoy the snacks!
We really loved trying more of the counter-service options at Disney during our trip. Now I just have to wait until I can get those delicious noodles at ‘Ohana again…the sooner the better!