8 Things You May Not Know About Dining at Disney

Christy Caby

Disney dining is absolutely amazing and there are so many great experiences to have while you are on your Disney vacation.  If you are a Disney dining novice, here are 8 things that you may not know about dining at Disney that could be extremely helpful to you:


8. There are different levels of Dining Plan options.

You may not know much about the Disney Dining plans, but you should definitely check them out.  There isn’t just one dining plan, but rather three different plans that suit different needs and budget amounts to help you plan your dining experiences while you are on property.  Be sure to weigh out all of the options compared to your eating habits while on property.  These can end up being a decent savings if the plans match your dining needs!

7. Restaurants for a year.

You seriously could dine at a different restaurant each day and experience a new dining location.  There are so many restaurants and dining establishments to choose from that it is unreal.  The great thing is that they are all very uniquely themed with unique menus, too.  The saying that there is “something for everyone” when it comes to dining at Disney is true a huge understatement!

6. Watch for last minute reservations.

Many think that if you miss your opportunity at the 180 day booking window, or you don’t find anything a couple months out that all hope is lost.  This definitely isn’t true.  Since Disney implemented a $10 fee, per person for reservations that aren’t utilized, people actually drop the reservations that they have no intention of using.  This means that in the weeks leading up to your stay, you may find more options and even some of the highly desired options that are hard to get.  So be sure to keep checking regularly, as you never know what you will find!

5. Eat of off-peak times.

Travelers just seem to naturally flock to the “normal” meal times for each meal.  You definitely don’t have to do this at Disney.  Many of the restaurants serve all day long and change the menu and offerings slightly between services.  Try to dine at off-peak times and you are more likely to encounter restaurants that are less busy, and you won’t wait as long as you might have during the busiest times.  The off-peak times just tend to feel more relaxed than other times, plus you can take advantage of riding rides while everyone else is eating!

4. Your dietary needs can be accommodated easily.

Disney makes takes every effort and precaution to help accommodate any special dietary need you may have.  You are able to select many of the dietary options when you book a dining reservation.  You can also call in advance to obtain information on how to report dietary concerns and make sure that you still have delicious options.  The parks are also equipped with soy, gluten-free, vegan, etc. grab and go options with what they supply for their pre-packaged items.  Be sure to ask questions, read labels and do a bit of planning and you will have no problems while on Disney property.  They are among the most accommodating that I have seen.


3. Gratuities are not included in the dining plan.

If you have a dinning plan that included table-service entitlements, be sure that you include gratuities in your budget, as they are not included in the price of the dining plan.  You will be presented with your receipt to sign and will be able to add gratuity from there.  These costs can really add up if you weren’t prepared for them, so it is just something good to keep in mind.

2. Kids under 3 eat free.

This is definitely a benefit for those of you that are traveling with small children.  At dining establishments where you order a specific meal, your child can share from your plate and there will be no sharing charge.  For buffets, shows and various experiences where the menus are pre-determined, your child will be able to have their own plate with whatever they would eat from the selections for no extra charge, as well as beverages for them, too.  This is definitely a nice savings if you do a lot of character dining and these types of dining experiences so that you know you don’t have to go out of your way to accommodate the little tykes.

1. Order appetizers or skip the sides.

If you are working with a tight budget, there are a couple tips to enjoy dining experiences without spending as much.  Consider ordering an appetizer for your meal.  They are much less expensive than entrees and still let you experience the restaurants.  You can also order entrees without the sides.  This will shave a few bucks off of your meal (this works at quick-service restaurants, too), but still leave you feeling satisfied.

About Christy Caby

I am a diehard Disney fanatic! I fell in love with all things Disney from an early age and that only increased once I first visited Walt Disney World! It led me to complete a yearlong Disney College Program working at merchandise locations within Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Disney-MGM Studios at that time) and I worked for Disney Parks & Resorts Technology in Project/Program Management. Now I get to write about Disney and help others plan their magical vacations! Disney holds a special place in the hearts of my entire family as my husband proposed there, we honeymooned there, took trips while pregnant with each of my boys and have visited with them many, many times from 8 weeks old through now. One of my favorite memories from each trip is always the look on my kids’ faces the first time they see the castle. I’d love to help you plan your magical vacation! Request a free quote at or look for me on Facebook at Have a magical day!