5 tips for making the most of your Walt Disney World Dining Experience

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There are SO MANY dining choices at Walt Disney World, it can be overwhelming and scary to try to answer the question of “what’s for dinner?” Luckily, there is help out there! Follow these tips and you will be sure to have a spectacular dining experience!

Plan ahead: Do your research! I can’t stress this one enough, there are tons of books and websites that have restaurant descriptions, menus, and even pictures so you can know what to expect when you go. Another part of planning ahead would be to make your ADR’s in advance (ADR = Advance Dining Reservations, and Disney allows you to make them up to 180 days prior to your trip). So go online, figure out places you might like to eat, and make a tentative itinerary based on that. A tip on ADR’s would be to have backup choices, and don’t be disappointed if you don’t get every single one of your top picks, chances are very good that you will still enjoy whatever you end up eating!

Please note you will need a Credit Card to Make your ADR’s.

Don’t overload: 3 buffets in 1 day? Sounds like a deliciously horrible idea…but I have seen it done (I have personally only done 2 buffets in one day, and even that was too much!). There are a lot of options, and a lot of them are buffets or all you can eat meals, so you will want to take this into consideration when planning your meals. My personal rule of thumb is to book 1 ‘special’ meal per day (be it a buffet or other sit down restaurant), and then let the other meals fall as they may and grab a quick snack or counter service meal whenever we need a break

Ask yourself “Who am I eating with?”: Whether you are dining alone or with a party of 10 people, it’s always important to take people’s tastes into consideration. If you know your father hates seafood, or your kids won’t eat anything other than chicken nuggets, you will want to pick places that accommodate those tastes. Obviously you can’t please everyone all the time, but you can come pretty darn close at Disney – especially with their large number of buffets that offer a large variety of food, where everyone is sure to find something they like

Try something new: Never had *real* French food? Been thinking about giving sushi a try? Go for it, you are on vacation, and Walt Disney World has it all, from the authentic cuisines from countries around the world at Epcot’s World Showcase, to plenty of seafood, American, steak, and barbeque options all over the World. And when you go to these new restaurants, don’t be tempted to order the burger or steak just because it’s safe, order that new item whose description intrigued you. No matter what you order, you won’t be sorry

Consider the Disney Dining Plan: It’s easy to use, convenient, and can save you some money if you really use it to its fullest advantage. The snack items you can use it for are marked with a special dining plan symbol at most locations, and as for sit down restaurants, almost all of them in the World participate. The regular dining plan includes 1 Table Service, 1 Counter Service, and 1 Snack per person for each night of your stay. All you have to do is swipe your room key at the checkout, and you’re done, just like that! It is a genius idea, and I am a firm believer in the Disney Dining Plan (check it out for yourself here, and check Disney’s website for participating restaurants and information)

Dining in Disney World is a truly special experience, and if you follow these tips, the food you eat on your WDW vacation won’t serve as mere fuel to keep you going as you tour the parks, but it will be a highlight of your trip and something that keeps you coming back again and again!

5 tips for making the most of your Walt Disney World Dining Experience


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Catie Hiltz is an avid Walt Disney World lover who has been vacationing there since she was tall enough to ride Space Mountain. She believes there is something for everyone at WDW-and especially writing about the benefits of vacationing there as an adult
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5 thoughts on “5 tips for making the most of your Walt Disney World Dining Experience

  1. We have always loved the dining at Disney World, for both the food and the atmosphere/experience. It has always been a priority in our planning and an integral aspect of our vacation. However nowadays, I can’t stress enough booking your dining reservations as far out as possible. Especially with all of the “free dining” promotions going on more and more often. We ran late last time and started booking 8-10 weeks out from our trip last time and out of 10 days, we only were able to book a few restaurants that we wanted and normally have on our list – so we had to pick less-desirable options. What the article above didn’t mention (unless I accidentally missed it…) is the new Disney policy of charging $10 per person cancellation fee if you cancel within 24-hours of your reservation. Out of 20 years of trips to Disney World, this was one of our biggest sources of contention on this past trip in November. We’ve always booked months in advance but were able to cancel or revise our reservations based on the way our day was evolving. There are many factors at Disney World that can affect your day (ESPECIALLY now more than ever with having to book FastPass on your smart phone days/months in advance…wow, it’s crazy!), even with the best planning, that it’s really disappointing that you’re locked into expensive table reservations without much flexibility. Whenever we’d try to revise a reservation rather than cancel it, the small list of alternate restaurant times or locations were worse options – so we’d end up sticking with our original reservation and we ate about 5 meals that we were not hungry for, or were rushed during, because our plans had changed based on weather or whatnot. (for the first time ever, our dining was NOT a magical experience – not so magical when you’re not hungry or when you’re rushed/stressed due to your schedule). I have always done a lot of pre-planning for Disney World (some people would say too much) but with all the components now that you have to set in stone before you arrive, it was definitely the least magical trip we’ve ever had. But back to Dining…We find that Nine Dragons in Epcot is a great fall-back. It’s huge and has fast service, so it seems we can always get in there without much notice. Great service, great food, great atmosphere 🙂 Cape May Cafe, too – not as easy to get a reservation, but we have found it to be the more consistently delicious buffet on property. Cheers!

  2. We usually get the deluxe dining and have all of our snack credits left at the end. We take lots of snacks home. By the end of our 2 week trip last February we could not eat another meal we were so full! We had to trade some of our meal credits for snacks to take home. Our next trip we are going to try the Quick Service plan and pay out of pocket for a few special table service meals and see how that goes 🙂

  3. We’ve actually had left over meals at the end of our trip because there is so much food where ever we went that we just weren’t hungry for another meal! They have let us use them to get extra snacks to take home though.

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