Disney World fans know that Dining at Disney can be as much of a magical experience as the characters and attractions; but with so many restaurants to choose from, dining plans to consider, menus, prices, and more, where do you start?
That’s what today’s post is all about, giving you that head start when tackling the Disney Dining world. So keep reading to learn the top 10 things you need to know about dining at WDW!
10. Use the Dining Plan-I’m a big believer in the Disney Dining Plan and never visit without it! First of all, it offers me an all inclusive vacation, which makes Disney less stressful. Secondly, I believe it does save you cash. Dining at Disney is pricey, and this applies to drinks and snacks; and trust us, you’re going to be stopping by those snack carts and restaurants pretty regularly, especially if you have kids. It’s a good possibility that you will go over your dining budget; and it’s no fun to haul around sandwiches and snacks in that heavy backpack on a hot, humid Florida afternoon. So with the Standard Dining Plan, you don’t have to count cash and you get to enjoy a nice, sit down meal every day, along with one counter service meal and snack credits. (This is the one that I always choose because I like to abuse it and dine at as many expensive restaurants as possible without paying the hefty bill!) Tip: The Dining Plan doesn’t include tips, so be sure to include this cost in your Disney budget! But if you would rather eat and run back to the rides, the Quick Service Dining Plan will definitely save you money.
9. Allow Time for Transportation-Did you book a character meal at the Polynesian for dinner, but you’re at Hollywood Studios today? In that case, you need to allow about an hour cushion for you to get from the park to the resort. Buses aren’t always as prompt as guests prefer, especially if you just left before you reached the bus stop; and you also have to account for the time it takes to leave the park and to walk through the resort to make it to your restaurant. Traveling by Monorail? The same rule applies! Monorails can get backed up and even stop on the tracks in certain situations. So don’t miss your reservation, plan ahead!
More after the jump…
8. Prices-As we’ve already mentioned, prices of food and drinks at WDW is on the pricey side; and this can really put a hurt on your wallet! Know this and prepare accordingly!
7. Enjoy the Classic Snacks-To really enjoy the best of Disney Dining, you must try the classic Disney snacks such as a Mickey Premium Bar, Dole Whips, Zebra Domes, Mickey Waffles, and more.
6. Don’t Settle for Burgers and Fries-Disney is famous for going above and beyond, and this philosophy also extends to dining at the parks and resorts. While burgers and fries are available, there are also tons of other dining options, even at the counter service restaurants. Consider Columbia Harbour’s Clam Chowder, pretty much anything at Epcot’s Sunshine Seasons, cultural inspired salads, sandwiches, and desserts at many of the World Showcase’s dining spots, and the many options available at Art of Animation’s Landscape of Flavors food court!
5. Never Pick a Random Restaurant-Just like every Disney attraction, ever Disney restaurant has a theme and tells a story; and while all of them offer different experiences, some are better than others and offer different menus. So don’t just pick the first restaurant you come to, do your homework to see which ones are the best and which is best for your family. Also, many guests who don’t do their homework tend to settle for the first restaurant they see, this means long lines and crowded dining rooms. So the moral of the story is, don’t be like everybody else and find yourself in a bottleneck. Maximize your money and meals for the best vacation experience possible!
4. Bring Bottled Water With You-So pretty much everything is expensive; and when you walk several miles a day in the humid Florida sunshine, you and your family will find yourself thirsty a lot! You may also find yourself opening your wallet more than you would like for sodas and waters. So to save some cash, I recommend bringing your own case of water to store in your resort room and bringing at least one bottle of water to the parks with you, instead of splurging or spending valuable dining credits on water and soft drinks. Also, you can always ask a Disney counter service restaurant for a cup of water. It’s free!
3. Don’t Bring Your Refillable Mugs to the Park-I see this all the time and I hear adults complain about it even more. You know those refillable mugs that are sold almost everywhere at your resort that offer free refills? They’re great, but only if you’re using them at your resort. You can’t get free refills at the parks; and while at first glance these mugs seem like a great way to keep your kids hydrated as you head from ride to ride, it’s NOT! The mugs are bulky and are not spill-proof, and they will most likely tip over with every bump of your stroller. So don’t haul around these sticky mugs all day, just use them at your resort to take a drink back to your room or down to the pool. You will thank me later.
2. Book at Least One Character Meal-This is especially true if it’s your first trip to Disney or you’re traveling with young children. Of course, you want to make sure that your kids are not afraid of characters though! Character Meals are restaurants which feature a variety of Disney characters which stop and visit with each table while you dine! These meals are a treasure trove of photo ops, smiles, and memories; and they are one of the best ways to meet Mickey Mouse himself! If you are using the Disney Dining Plan, you definitely want to book a character meal as the bill can be quite steep if you’re paying out of pocket. They are a great way to milk the Dining Plan to your full advantage!
1. Book in Advance-Pretty much all Disney Restaurants take reservations and they almost always go fast, oftentimes months in advance! So if you want a great meal, or a character meal, forgo being spontaneous as you may not find any openings when it comes time for dinner and book in advance. Disney has nicknamed dining reservations ADRs, for advance dining reservations; and you can easily book the restaurant and time you want online or by phone. So don’t wait, book today!
So what do you think? Do you feel a little more prepared about dining at WDW? Do you have any Dining tips of your own? Let me know!
- WDW Deluxe Resorts – Why They’re Worth The Cost (chipandco.com)
- Top 5 Things To Do at WDW Without Tickets (chipandco.com)
- Transportation: Shortcuts Around WDW (aglassslippervacation.com)
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