1) You should make reservations in advance
Disney restaurants can easily become entirely booked, especially during peak times of year such as the winter holiday season and the summer months, as well as every school vacation week and holiday weekend in between. Even if you are not traveling during a peak week, making advanced dining reservations can still be a good idea, as it will ensure that you do have a guaranteed table at your favorite restaurants, and that you won’t need to wait too long once you arrive for your meal. While some guests do not like planning so far in advance, you are welcome to cancel reservations twenty four hours in advance to avoid being charged a cancellation fee if you do choose to eat elsewhere, so I always suggest making reservations as the safer option.
2) Don’t knock quick service
When you think about dining on vacation, table service restaurants might be the first thing that comes to mind. However if you are on a budget, prefer to eat on a go, or simply just do not want to spend the time sitting in a restaurant, Disney’s quick service restaurants can be the perfect options for you. Many guests assume quick service meals will only consist of burgers and hot dogs, but in reality Disney truly does offer a huge variety in terms of quick service, so if sitting down for most meals just isn’t your thing, plan on researching some quick service options instead. Plus, keep in mind Mobile Ordering is available via your My Disney Experience App.
3) Don’t stress over special diets
Compared to other restaurants, Disney is extremely helpful if you need to accommodate any kind of dietary needs. From simply asking for a gluten free menu, to discussing with a chef which menu items are acceptable for certain allergies, and any other diet in the mix, you can let the waitstaff (or cashier at a quick service location) know that you have specific dietary needs, and they will find a cast member to help you out.
4) It can be expensive
Like any tourist destination, dining in Walt Disney World can be pricey. If you don’t mind splurging a little bit and spending some extra money on vacation, dining at signature restaurants and character dining experiences can add something special to your trip. Even if spending the extra money for more upscale experiences isn’t going to break the bank, I’d still suggest researching the prices in advance so you can know what you’re in for and how to budget the rest of your vacation spending.
5) It doesn’t need to be expensive
If you’re not looking to splurge for high end dining experiences, the good news is that dining in Walt Disney World does not need to be expensive. You can easily bring down the cost of dining with a couple of tips like sharing meals, ordering off the kids menu (at quick service locations), eating primarily at quick service restaurants, ordering water over soda, and bringing snacks.
6) The dining plan might or might not be worth it
Whether or not the dining plan is worth it really depends on your individual eating habits. If you tend to eat at least two full meals per day on vacation, and you see yourself regularly dining at more expensive locations or at least ordering the more expensive menu items, the dining plan might save you a great deal of money. However if you are planning on eating at more affordable locations anyway, you simply don’t tend to eat all that much, or you order less expensive entrees (like pasta or vegetarian options) you might be better off paying out of pocket. To estimate how much the dining plan will save you, look at some menus before you book the plan and estimate how much you would spend on dining, then compare this amount with the cost of the plan, and go with the cheaper option.
7) It’s entertaining!
Many Disney restaurants come with a show, and while you might be aware of the official dinner show options like the Hoop De Doo Musical Revue and the Polynesian Luau, there are a number of other locations where guests can experience a show while dining. Some great options for non-dinner show entertainment include the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, and the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge. Even quick service locations can offer entertainment, including La Cantina de San Angel in Epcot (if you happen to stop by during Epcot nighttime spectacular) and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café in the Magic Kingdom, where guests can enjoy the musical stylings of Sonny Eclipse.