There are many variables that affect whether table service meals are better in the parks or the resorts. Last time I looked at specialty dining such as character meals, signature dining, buffets, and unique and entertaining restaurants. Today, let’s evaluate table service meals by looking at the convenience factor and the time of day you’ll be eating, shall we?
Transportation. Walt Disney World’s most common form of transportation, buses, connects resorts to theme parks, water parks, Downtown Disney, and the Transportation and Ticket Center (TTC) only, making travel between resorts time-consuming. If you’re staying at a Value Resort without a table-service option, chances are it is more convenient to eat at the theme parks while touring that to travel to another resort to eat. Guests staying at a monorail resort (Grand Floridian Resort, Polynesian Resort, and Contemporary Resort) or one of the Boardwalk area resorts (Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resorts, Boardwalk Inn, Yacht Club and Beach Club resorts) have a wide variety of table service restaurants that are relatively easy to travel to. Other Deluxe and Moderate Resorts have at least one table-service restaurant on-site but you’ll likely not want to eat at the same restaurant day after day.
Flexibility. Generally, it’s more difficult to get an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) at a theme park restaurant than at a resort restaurant; it’s a numbers game, really. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but if you’re not one to embrace planning your dining months in advance, eating at the resorts may be a better bet for you. You won’t have to worry about fitting your touring plan around your ADR times. Once you finish up for the day, you’ll be able to hop on a bus, monorail, or boat and have a better chance of getting a table at a resort restaurant without an ADR than in the parks.
Touring Plan. If your touring plan has you at the parks both before and after your meal without a rest period in between, it’s more convenient make an ADR at a theme park restaurant rather than exiting the theme parks and traveling to a resort to eat. Some exceptions would be eating at one of the monorail resorts if you’re touring the Magic Kingdom or eating at one of the Boardwalk resorts during a day at Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The proximity of some resorts to these theme parks make it pretty quick to leave to eat and return to the park after dining.
Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner?
Breakfast. Rule #1 for my family when creating our Walt Disney World touring plan is to be at the theme park when it opens. We simply see more attractions with less wait. By the time the parks fill-up midday, we’re ready to take a break and head back to our resort. With that in mind, the only time I think eating a table-service meal for breakfast in the parks wins over eating at the resort is if you have an ADR prior to the park opening. You’ll experience a sight few rarely do – a nearly empty theme park – and you’ll have the opportunity to get those coveted photographs without strangers crowding the shot. By the time you’re finished with breakfast, the park is opening and you won’t miss out on a thing!
Lunch and Dinner. Whether eating at a table-service restaurant in the park is better than at a resort for lunch and dinner primarily depends on convenience. If you’re planning to be in the parks during a particular time of day, it probably makes sense to have your table service meal at that location to maximize your time enjoying the attractions.
In my experience, it’s usually easier to get an ADR at a popular theme park restaurant during lunch, when many people grab quick-service, than dinner. So if you have your heart set on a particular restaurant and cannot get that dinner reservation, try lunch.
If you’re paying out of pocket and wondering if you should splurge on a special restaurant, either at the resorts or the parks, lunch is an option to consider. The menu is usually more affordable for your midday meal than in the evening.
Whether eating in the theme parks or the resorts for your table service meal really is a personal opinion but there are some advantages of one over the other for specialty dining, convenience, and meal.
- Eating Table Service in the Parks vs the Resorts – Which is Better? Part 1 (chipandco.com)
- Best Disney Dining Plan Restaurants For Kids (onlywdworld.com)
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