With well over 100 restaurants located on the Walt Disney World property, there is no shortage of delicious food to keep you well fueled during your vacation. Some guests are overwhelmed by, or unaware of, their choices, and many leave without knowing just how good dining at Walt Disney World can be. Those who do it right know that Disney offers some of the tastiest food and most creative atmospheres you will find in any restaurant. Here are 9 tips from the pros (yup – the ‘professional’ eaters☺) to help you make the most of your dining experiences at Walt Disney World:
9. Make Reservations.
This is so important that we considered repeating it 8 times and being done with this list. Most of the sit-down restaurants at Walt Disney World accept reservations up to 180-days in advance through Disney’s Advance Dining Reservations system, and for many of them this is the only way to get a table. If you have your eye on a specific restaurant, or even just want a table-service dinner in the park, you really need to plan ahead. The only thing worse than having your heart set on a specific restaurant and being turned away when you’re famished is being turned away from the next three places you try as well! Do not let this be you! Make reservations!
8. Do your research.
There are SO many options for great dining in Walt Disney World, and those who read up on their options and make intentional choices regarding where they dine have the best experiences. If you love a good steak, read reviews of the various steak houses (there are several!) and choose one that you are excited about. If the kids are excited about a character breakfast, read about each of them and pick the one that has the characters they are most interested in or fits best with your schedule. Check out the restaurants with creative themes (e.g. Sci Fine Dine In, 50s Prime Time Café) and see if there is one that your group will be excited about. Dining at Disney can really be a highlight of the trip if you research ahead of time and make choices you are excited about!
7. Use that Mobile Order button.
No table service reservations? It’s super simple to use Mobile Ordering at numerous Quick Service Restaurants throughout Disney World Property. Order and pay for your food from the My Disney Experience app and pick up your food when you arrive. It’s awesome! Quick Service locations accepting Mobile Ordering are located throughout Disney World property from the parks to Disney Springs.
6. Eat dinner at EPCOT.
While some of the parks have limited options for table service restaurants, EPCOT has a wide offering of amazing table service restaurants. If you have a park hopper pass and will be at the parks for 5 days or more, plan to eat dinner several nights at EPCOT! With 18 table service restaurants to choose from, you will be sure to find several that you are excited about! The world showcase restaurants do a great job of making you feel like you are really in that country, so make sure to check out a few of them.
5. Be upfront about dietary restrictions.
Walt Disney World is extremely accommodating to those with dietary restrictions. While they do not always note allergen information on the menus, the staff go out of their way to make sure that those with restrictions are well taken care of. When you make your reservation, let them know about any dietary restrictions in your party. When you arrive at the restaurant, the host or server will acknowledge the restriction and they, or more often a chef, will talk you through what menu items are available to you. Don’t be afraid to ask for changes to be made to menu items or to have something special prepared to accommodate your restrictions; while not guaranteed, most chefs seem happy to do this if requested.
4. Dine at the resorts.
While there are many great dining options within the parks, many of Walt Disney World’s best restaurants are actually located at the resorts. Many guests never think of dining at a resort unless they are staying there, but it is a great way to explore new restaurants and get a break from the hustle and bustle of the parks. All of the resorts are accessible from the parks through the Disney bus system, and many are even easier to access via walking paths, boats, or the monorail. The Disney’s Grand Floridian boasts Victoria and Albert, a AAA Five Diamond restaurant, Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Fort Wilderness Resort offer excellent dinner shows, Disney’s Beach Club Resort has the biggest dessert in all of Walt Disney World at Beaches ‘n Cream, and the African fare at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is out of this world. These are just a few of the great dining opportunities at the Disney Resorts!
3. It is ok to stick with an old favorite.
Trying new restaurants at Walt Disney World is definitely recommended, but it can be just as fun to stick with an old favorite. Many guests have strong memories associated with their dining experiences at Disney, and it can be fun to revisit the same restaurant year after year. So if your family loves a particular restaurant (for my family, it is San Angel Inn at EPCOT!), then make it a priority to eat there each time you visit. This will become something you look forward to on every vacation and will help create magical memories!
2. See if you qualify for Tables in Wonderland.
Tables in Wonderland is a program offered to Florida Residents, Annual/Seasonal Pass holders, and Disney Vacation Club members. There is a charge (at the time of writing $175 for FL residents and $150 for pass holders and DVC members), and once you have the card you can present it for 20% off your total bill (alcohol included) at most restaurants at Walt Disney World. The discount applies to your whole party, up to 10 guests, so if you are travelling with a big group and plan to eat several table-service meals, you could save money by purchasing the card. Tables in Wonderland members also get advance invitation to certain culinary events that Disney puts on throughout the year.
1. Make reservations.
We really cannot stress this enough! Making Advance Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World restaurants is the best thing you can do to ensure a great dining experience! If you have a visit coming up in the next 6 months and you haven’t yet made your reservations, start doing your research and make those reservations ASAP!