I am a big time fan of Disney food. We love the restaurants, trying the seasonal menus and enjoying what we consider to be the relaxing part of our Disney vacation. There is a lot of work, detail and theming that goes into the dining locations, and there are over 100 of them, so there is a lot to learn! Here are 8 secrets that most people don’t know about dining at Walt Disney World to get you started:
8. There is an AAA Five Diamond Award winning restaurant on property.
Walt Disney World really does have it all! There is a World Class restaurant, Victoria and Albert’s, right at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. The restaurant has a strict dress code to keep up the grand and elegant persona of the restaurant. The menu each night is a prix fixe, multiple course menu that rotates based on what is in season and what the chef has selected to prepare for the evening. You also have the options for different room locations and dining experiences, like the chef’s table where you interact individually with the chef at his private table as the courses are prepared and served. Any experience here is an amazing one, and a dream dining opportunity!
7. The Disney Dining Plans.
Many guests may have heard about the dining plans, but unless they have actually used them, they may not know much about them. Each dining plan includes a rapid refill mug for each guest on the dining plan. There are also 3 different plans to choose from. You can choose from the Quick Service plan the Disney Dining plan and the Deluxe Dining plan. The packages are priced differently and offer different variations to the number and type of meal entitlements that you receive for each guest on the plan. Snack entitlements are also included based on the plan, so no matter which way you go, you have the option to make your vacation a true all-inclusive vacation.
6. Don’t rule out the resorts.
Don’t get stuck only visiting the parks for delicious dining options, when some of the best and most delicious restaurants are actually scattered around Disney’s Resorts. Many of the restaurants aren’t as difficult to get into as the restaurants in the parks are, and are each perfectly themed to match the theme and cuisine of each of their respective resorts. The dinner shows like the Aloha Dinner Show, Hoop Dee Doo Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ are also at resorts, and those are other fabulous experiences for your family!
5. Split your meals.
On a budget? Well if you are at a non-buffet location, you can actually split meals with another member of your party instead of each purchasing a meal. This is extremely helpful if you aren’t hungry enough for a full meal, or want an appetizer and a meal without the leftovers and cost! You can order and just let your server know that you will be sharing and they will bring you an additional plate.
4. Gratuity is not included with Disney Dining Plan. (Except where noted.)
This is an important one to remember. When booking a Disney Dining plan that includes table service entitlements, you will still want to budget money to pay for the gratuities at the time of the meal. The gratuities can be charged back to your resort room or paid for via cash, credit or Disney gift cards. This is NOT the case at a few dining locations like Cinderella’s Royal Table or Hoop Dee Doo Revue, so be sure to confirm what is included when you make the reservation.
3. You can get in the parks early.
Guest can now get into most of the parks prior to official park opening. For example, guests can now get into Magic Kingdom an hour before park opening, but are kept in the Main Street U.S.A. location and hub in front of Cinderella Castle. Having a breakfast reservation prior to official park opening not only allows you to avoid this initial crowd but it also gets you into parts of the park that may not be open to all guests yet. If the park opens at 9am, we recommend an 8am breakfast reservation which will allow you plenty of time to dine and finish up before the official park opening. Snap some photos and take in the amazing parks without all the crowds and noise. It is an amazing reason to get out of bed early and get a jump start to your day.
2. Snagging desired reservations.
I always recommend that guests should be diligent about making their dining reservations right at the 180 day mark. This will help make sure that you have exactly what you want and you won’t have to worry about it. This just isn’t always possible, especially for last minute trips or if your plans should change for some reason. So, keep trying to get some of these desired reservations, even if it seems all hope is lost. Usually the week or even a day or two before the date you are looking for, there will be reservations that open up. Disney has a policy in place that charges $10 per person for reservations that aren’t cancelled within 24 hours. This results in the folks that were holding reservations until the last minute to drop their reservations and opening them up for you. You could snag that perfect Be Our Guest dinner time the day before, so just keep trying!
1. Fireworks views.
There are restaurants inside and outside of the parks that offer amazing views and vantage points for fireworks. For Magic Kingdom fireworks, the most desired dining spots are outside of the resorts at either the Grand Floridian, Contemporary or Polynesian Village Resort. Each of these resorts has a restaurant that is extremely popular to dine at during the fireworks and they pipe in the music so you get the full effect of the show without the crowd! At Epcot, many of the dining locations around the lagoon offer seating that is either outside or offers fireworks views, so it is another great opportunity to view the fireworks from a comfortable seat and without the crowds.