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6 Points To Keep In Mind About Dining At Walt Disney World

Dining should be a huge part of any Walt Disney World vacation. After all, everyone has to eat. There are plenty of restaurants in the area if you leave property, but why would you want to? There are over 300 different Walt Disney World restaurants and snack options, and they are all fun and unique. Here are six things that you may not know about Walt Disney World dining. If you have your own tip isn’t listed here, please feel free to leave it in the comments below.

6. Gratuity Is Not Included With the Disney Dining Plan

First the negative. Simply put, the Disney Dining Plan allows resort guests to include their dining in their Magic Your Way package (restrictions apply). There are several plans to choose from, most of which include some full service restaurants. Too often guests assume that since the meal has been taken care of, the tip is included as well. In most cases the gratuity is not part of the Disney Dining Plan. If you purchase the Disney Dining Plan for your family, add the tip into your vacation budget. The servers at the full service restaurants work hard to make your meal memorable, and they rely on tips to make ends meet. Please be generous.

5. You Can Split a Meal

The portions at most Walt Disney World restaurants are large. It’s obvious to most guests that you can split meals at counter service restaurants, but for some reason many people don’t realize that you can do the same at a table service location. If you have a couple of light eaters in your party, consider splitting an entree. You’ll save money and no food will be thrown away. Having your whole family split dessert is also a great idea. Order one or two so that everyone can have a taste, but no one will walk away bloated. The last thing that you want to do is ride something that spins or drops if you’re overly full.

4. Breakfast Reservations Give You a Different View of the Park

There is nothing like seeing an empty park! At least once on your vacation, make a breakfast reservation for as early as possible at an in-park restaurant. While you won’t be allowed to wander the park in question, you will be able to see it from a totally different perspective. There’s something special about all four parks when the sun isn’t very high in the sky, everything is sparkling clean, and there aren’t people everywhere. After breakfast you can get in line for a popular ride that you don’t have a FastPass+ for. The lines are shortest at the beginning of the day.

3. Counter Service Lines Are Shorter During Parades

Speaking of shorter lines, it is well known that the lines for rides are more manageable during a parade. The same thing holds true for the counter service restaurants. Have a late lunch during the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade. You’ll spend enough time waiting in line during your Walt Disney World vacation. Minimize your waiting for food by eating during a parade. The parades are a lot of fun and if they’re at the top of your must-do list, you won’t want to take advantage of this tip. If watching a parade isn’t all that important to you, or if you’re there when a parade runs twice, take advantage of the crowds being elsewhere.

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2. Some of the Best Restaurants Are at the Resorts

There is so much more to Walt Disney World than the four theme parks, the two water parks, and Disney Springs. The resorts all have unique themes, and they are incredible. They also offer some of the best dining that you will find in Central Florida, especially the Deluxe Resorts. Make a reservation at a resort restaurant for an off day and you won’t feel like you’re wasting any theme park time. Better yet, try a resort restaurant that is close to one of the parks. Both the Magic Kingdom Resort Area and the Epcot Resort Area have fabulous restaurants, and you can easily leave the park and return without missing anything. The pace at the resort restaurants is different than you’ll experience within the parks, they can offer a much needed respite without having to go too far. The food is also delicious. There’s a good chance that you’ll say that the best meal of your trip was one that you had at a resort restaurant.

1. Cast Members Offer a Wealth of Information

Most Walt Disney World Cast Members are not just employees. They are also huge fans of all things Disney. They work there because they love it just as much as you do. Most of them also enjoy sharing their experiences and recommendations with the guests. If you’re not sure which counter service restaurant has the shortest lines, ask a Cast Member. Want to know if there are any hidden gems nearby? A Cast Member can give you that information. If you’re not sure what to order, a Cast Member can make recommendations. Cast Members know Walt Disney World inside and out, and they want to be helpful. Strike up a conversation about dining with one and ask for suggestions. You will be glad that you did.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.