Disney World Dining Tips
If you were unable to get reservations to the restaurant of your choice, you might still get in. Just ask the hostess/host if they have had any cancellations, and sometimes you'll be in luck and be able to eat there. Last time my family of 7 went to Disney World, we asked the server at Cinderella's Royal Table and got in because of a cancellation. Thanks to Jessica for this tip!
When my husband and I go to Disney World, we never use up our dining plan's snack credits. We don't mind the taste of Orlando's water, and with free water from the counter service restaurants, we don't 'waste' credits on soda pops. Generally, after the first day, we're over-caloried so we just don't use those snack credits. On the last day, we take all our leftover credits to Goofy's Candy Company in Downtown Disney and load up on packaged goodies that fit just fine in our carry-on luggage. We've even gotten wrapped sandwiches from the Earl of Sandwich to take with us to the airport with extra counter service credits! Thanks to Joyce Deen for this tip!
The Disney World Dining Plan is actually accepted at many of the restaurants at Disney Springs, including Raglan Road, Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, and Crossroads at House of Blues. If you’re on the dining plan, lunch or dinner at Disney Springs could be a good idea.
Our family always waits for Free Dining to come around to book our trip. But, not only do we take advantage of that, we add on more food and park days than we are actually staying. It only costs a little bit more. Why would we add on more days if we aren’t staying that long??? You can reserve restaurants that take 2 table service meals and you don’t have to pay a lot more for a more expensive meal. Suddenly eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table doesn’t cost too much! Thanks to Bryan for this tip!
One of the best ways to save money when going to Disney World is to get the Disney Dining Plan. The price is great, and you get 2 meals a day and a snack, depending on your plan. You can pick and of the restaurants and that includes all of the character meals and nice places in all of WDW. We have done this 3 times already and will do it again this summer. Thanks to Dianne for this tip!
Disney Dining Plan is awesome! Always let the waiter know that you are on the dinning plan when you are seated, some places have unpublished menu items for resort guests on this dining plan, a little more magic offered by Disney World! Thanks to Blaine for this tip!
Tell your server that you are on the Disney Dining Plan.
When making an Advanced Dining Reservation (especially during non-peak seasons), you should try making one as late in the day as possible. In many cases, priority seating is available around the time a park is closing. For example, when we were at the Disney's Hollywood Studios, it was closing at 7 pm, yet we got priority seating at the Brown Derby at 6:50. That allowed us to spend more time at the attractions, and by the time we left the park, we were almost alone as we walked to the exit and there were no crowds waiting to leave the parking lots. Thanks to Andrew for this tip!
Often the prices at sit-down restaurants are quite comparable to the "quick" food places when you consider all you'd need to buy at the snacky places to make an ample meal, plus you get more food at table service restaurants. More importantly, you'll get a much-needed break to rest and relax, away from the crowds! Eat off-hours and you'll also have the traditional meal hours to take advantage of much shorter lines, while everyone else is busy eating or standing in line at the counter service places! I couldn't imagine going to Disney World and not having a sit-down meal break once a day. Disney restaurants are often very good (check reviews and menus), you can make Advanced Dining Reservations ahead of time so waits aren't usually bad, and they provide atmosphere. Thanks to Julie for this tip!
If you really want a reservation, keep calling up until the day before to check for availability. I called today for the Cinderella breakfast and got a reservation for next Wednesday, exactly what I wanted. :-) People who made an ADR two months ago are now canceling their reservations. This also works for making reservations through Disney's website. Thanks to Aida for this tip!
Character meals at Disney World are a great place to get young kids used to being around the characters. They come around often enough that the kids really relaxed. Thanks to Chris for this tip!
Everyone talks about how expensive the food is at WDW, but what we discovered was that though the price seem high the servings were huge. So buy one meal and split it between two people. Thanks to Amanda for this tip!
If you want to see, take pictures, or otherwise interact with Disney characters, I highly recommend that you schedule a character meal. We did breakfast at both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Although pricey, we got into the parks before other people, ate, interacted and took pictures of at least 5 characters at each venue. This will save an indeterminable amount of time waiting in line elsewhere in the park. Thanks to David for this tip!
A Character Dining Experience is a great way to interact with characters without a wait.
My wife and I went to Cinderella's Royal Table because she wanted to look at the menu for lunch. I told her that there was no way that we would get in because I thought that one could only get in by reservation. One of the hostesses came over and asked if we wanted to eat there. She just had a cancellation for 2! The meal was wonderful. The view was excellent. And it was worth every penny to get away from the crowds for a little while! So, the old cliché is true "It never hurts to try!" Thanks to Rusty for this tip!
If your family really wants to grab a bite to eat, but the counter service restaurant is crowded, split up. Someone finds a table while another gets the food. It's the best way to go! Thanks to Megan for this tip!
When going to Animal Kingdom, make sure you make reservations for breakfast for before the park opens. That way you get into the park way early and get first in line onto awesome rides. Also, make sure that you do that on a day the park that doesn't have early Extra Magic Hours. Thanks to Giraffegirl126 for this tip!
Very nice place to sit is behind Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom. Just follow the path to the left of the counter. There is a lot of covered seating with ceiling fans. It was 90 degrees and we stayed very cool. Thanks to Toni for this tip!
When I visited Disney World last year, I purchased the Fantasmic Dining Package. I went to eat at Mama Melrose and it was great... but when we got out to go to the show, it started to rain and the show was cancelled! I was disappointed because we had spent so much on the dining package. The next day, I went back to the restaurant and talked to the manager, and they gave us more tickets to go see the show in the reserved seating area. So if you are rained out, you can go back you can get more tickets. I'm sure I could have also gotten this resolved at Guest Relations. Thanks to Nathalie for this tip!
At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the 50's Prime Time Cafe -- made of small retro kitchen settings with TVs showing our fave sitcoms of the day -- was awesome! Fabulous service by our "cousins," lots of Mom's rules to follow, camaraderie among each kitchen's guests, and really, really good food. Try the chicken pot pie and S'mores dessert! Priority reservations highly recommended. Thanks to Sam for this tip!
50s Prime Time Cafe offers a dining experience unlike anywhere else!
Disney Dining Tip: Make sure you try the bakery in Epcot's France pavilion. They have delicious macaroons, strawberry tarts, and other great treats. Sometimes the line is long but it is well worth the wait! Thanks to Frank for this tip!
When attempting to find a good location to view Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot's Showcase, some sources recommend snagging a lagoon side table at the Rose & Crown Pub in the United Kingdom pavilion. If you should decide to follow this advice, be prepared to eat more than just an appetizer. The Rose and Crown staff is fully aware of this tip and will only seat patrons who intend to eat a full meal. Thanks to Andrea for this tip!
This tip has to do with eating at Cinderella's Table for Lunch or Dinner. Make sure you make your reservations in advance but consider eating a late lunch as opposed to dinner. It is not quite as crowded. Your chances of getting a reservation close to your vacation time are much better (if not booked far enough in advance). Many of the menu items for lunch are on the dinner menu but are much cheaper on the lunch menu. If you book lunch around 2:15 you can see the 3:00 parade right after lunch. Dinner does not start until 4:00 but I believe the last reservation for lunch is 3:00. Thanks to Scott for this tip!
We just returned from Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and were pleased in particular with Storybook Treats in Fantasyland. The ice cream sundaes were to die for and the prices were great! If your family likes ice cream, then this is the place to go. It beats the pre-made ice cream stands found all over the park. Thanks to Breanne for this tip!
If you plan to eat at the Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom, try and plan your dinner so that you are done 20 minutes before the parade starts. Just step out onto the porch for a great view. Thanks to John and Karl for this tip!
Liberty Tree Tavern is located right on the parade route.
Save money at Disney World counter service restaurants throughout the parks by requesting the entree without the sides. They normally don’t list this as an option on the menu, but they will do this. By ordering a sandwich without the fries, you can often save over $2!
We just came back from a six day trip to WDW and saved over $900 on food. We had a party of six adults and one child and we went on the Disney Dining Plan which I think is part of the Magic Your Way program. For $30 per person per day, we ate like kings. Each day we each got one counter service meal which could be used for lunch or breakfast, (we used them for lunch since it includes one drink, one entree, and one dessert), one snack (ice cream, popsicle, popcorn, soft drink or bottled water), and then one table service meal for dinner. There was a list of restaurants participating in this plan so you had to stick to these restaurants but we got to try so many of the restaurants that we wouldn't have gone to otherwise, including, Boma, the Rose and Crown and Cinderella's Royal Table. Thanks to Amy for this tip!
We were lucky enough to get the Disney Dining Plan included in our booking, this was a great bonus it saved us a fortune. Disney has done this promotion several times over the last few years. If you can get the free Disney Dining Plan during your trip to Disney World, I definitely would say get it! It's a great value!!! Thanks to Steve for this tip!
We like to only eat at the World Showcase restaurants at Epcot, but after our first trip to Disney World we discovered how expensive it was to have dinner there. Now, instead of having dinner, we have a late lunch. We try and book the last lunch seating, which works out great! You get a large portion of food at about half the price. Then in the evening, we just grab a snack or eat after we leave the park. It has saved us a lot of money on our Disney World trips. Thanks to Patti for this tip!
It takes a long time to get into Fantasmic, but if you eat at one of the restaurants with the Fantasmic Dining Package at Hollywood Studios (Brown Derby, Mama Melrose, and Hollywood & Vine), they offer Priority Seating for the show so you don't have to wait in the line to see the show (which was worth it if you don't have to wait for 2 hours beforehand). Thanks to Michelle for this tip!
A tip for dining at Magic Kingdom is to put off eating a dinner until 1 hour before the night parade. While you wait for the parade someone can go get the food and bring it back. That way you can have a nice meal and a place to sit during the parade. Thanks to Amanda for this tip!
Time your meal around the parade at Magic Kingdom.
Since we fly down to Orlando, it is not feasible to pack any great amount of food, and we never rent a car since Disney provides ample transportation to the parks. So, to get groceries we send ourselves a care package of non perishable snacks like juice boxes, bottled water (an expensive Disney World commodity), crackers, cookies, and gum (you can't buy gum in Disney World). I call the resort in advance and ask what I need to do to mail myself a package there and we have it delivered to our room upon check in. It works out great for those poolside snacks at the hotel. Just make sure you send the heavy stuff separate from the chips! We tried packing them together but the chips get crushed. (However, Pringles work well). Thanks to Johnny for this tip!
Epcot dining tip: If you don’t mind leaving the park for a little while, head out the World Showcase entrance (between UK and France) and go to the Boardwalk. There are many great dining options, including the Boardwalk Bakery, one of our favorites!
To save time in the morning, I brought my own cereal, bowls and spoons. My husband went to the food court to buy milk for the kids' breakfast and coffee for us. We would take turns in the shower while the others ate. This took us about one hour each morning, and we'd be ready to head into the parks. It sure beats sitting at a table waiting to place orders and get fed. The kids thought it was fun too. We also brought along snacks (zip-lock baggies with trail mix) so that during the day we weren't spending a lot of money on junk food. We usually skipped a sit down lunch and opted only for a sit down dinner. It worked great! Thanks to Mike and Gina for this tip!
Whenever I have visited Walt Disney World (always in July/August), it has been extremely hot. To save money on drinks, ask for a large cup of ice! The ice is free and cools you down. Counter service restaurants will always give you a free cup of ice or water. Thanks to Karen for this tip!
Bring a backpack to the theme parks to carry extra water bottles and snacks. By buying them beforehand and bringing them into the parks with you, you can avoid some of the high prices for these items. Thanks to Karen for this tip!
I have read several tips about sending packages to your hotel with snacks and other treats in the package. This is very costly even in comparison to buying treats at Disney World. What I have done in the past is pack another suitcase filled with snacks, crackers, candy, cereal bars, or whatever my children like for that moment. This way I haven't spent any money sending a package to the resort AND I have an extra empty suitcase for all the trinkets that are purchased in Disney World. Thanks to Molly for this tip!
Pack a suitcase full of snacks: Save money and have space for souvenirs on your return trip!
Arlen shares a tip for saving some money while dining in the parks: "We pack our lunch in the morning and place it in collapsible cooler along with enough cold water bottles for our family. We then take the cooler with us to a Disney World park and place it into a locker at the beginning of the day. We provide our own lunches to save money so we don't feel bad spending at dinner at a Disney restaurant later on." Thanks to Arlen for this tip!
The Disney Dining Plan can save you a lot of hassle and planning while you're at Disney World. Plus, if you get it as part of a Disney resort package, you can pay for it in increments before you arrive. Guide2WDW reader Kim writes, "Could my family eat a lot cheaper than what I pay for the Dining plan? Sure. But with the dining plan, we get more character breakfasts and more themed dining than what I would pay for when we got there. Not to mention, when I get there, my entire vacation is paid for and I didn't have to charge anything or worry about trying to save the money to pay for it when I arrive." Thanks to Kim for this tip!