Dining at Walt Disney World can be confusing. After all, there are over 300 different choices! Walt Disney World has everything from snack carts to fine dining. Your meals on your vacation should be more than just to fill your stomach, they should be a special part of the magical experience. Here are eight tips for Walt Disney World restaurants.
8. Consider Both Sides of the Disney Dining Plan Carefully
The Disney Dining Plan allows you to include your meals as part of your Magic Your Way Package. You won’t have to pay out of pocket for meals, and you’ll be able to try some great restaurants. You must stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel in order to be eligible for the plan. Before you sign up, look over all of the options carefully. There are several plans to choose from. Make sure that you will use all your credits before you make your final decision. The Disney Dining Plan can be a lot of food, you don’t want any of it to go to waste. Also, make sure you understand how the plan works, and what the restrictions are. Sometimes the Quick Service Disney Dining Plan is offered for free. That can be a great savings as well, but free dining comes with even more requirements. You’re the only one who can decide whether or not the Disney Dining Plan will be right for you and your party.
7. Ask a Cast Member
So you’re in a park and you don’t have a dinner reservation. How do you know where the best place to eat is? That’s simple, ask a Cast Member for recommendations. Most Cast Members are also Disney fans, and they will have their favorites. Cast Members pride themselves on knowing hidden gems and little details that most people don’t realize. They have a wealth of information, and most are more than happy to share. You might end up with the best meal of your vacation, based on a Cast Member’s recommendation.
6. Make Reservations for Must-Try Restaurants
If there is a full service restaurant that is on your must-try list, make the reservation as soon as you can. At most full service restaurants Disney will accept reservations 180 days in advance. Even if you are traveling at a slower time of the year and don’t expect there to be a problem, make a reservation anyway. That’s the only way to guarantee your table. If you have a reservation that you aren’t going to use, don’t forget to cancel. A credit card is required to hold a reservation, and you will be charged if you’re a no show.
5. Check Out Disney Springs
Dining at Disney Springs has reached a new level of excellence. If you haven’t been there since it was Downtown Disney, you need to stop by on your next trip. There are now several signature restaurants at Disney Springs. Places like The BOATHOUSE and Morimoto Asia have joined such favorites as The Dining Room at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe. Disney Springs is now one of the premier dining destinations in Central Florida, and it’s only going to get better.
4. Start or End With a Character Meal
If you’re arriving in Central Florida in the late afternoon or early evening, you might not want to spend one day of your ticket in a theme park. That’s a great time to make a reservation for a character meal! You’ll start your vacation off on the right foot for everyone, and then you can all get a good night’s sleep and hit the parks early in the morning. Another great time to book a character meal is for the morning that you leave. That will make leaving the parks the night before a little bit easier. Remember to book the meal for either of these times at one of the resort hotels. If the restaurant is in one of the parks, you’ll need a ticket to get in.
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3. Ask Questions
If you have special dietary needs, or a food that you just don’t like, it is smart to ask questions. A seemingly innocent pasta dish may be made with beef stock, which isn’t vegetarian. A rice dish could contain eggs and trigger an allergy in some people. If you don’t like tomatoes, ask if you can get that burger without them. The staff at the restaurants want to serve you a meal that is unforgettably delicious, so tell them what your preferences are. If you have an allergy, need kosher options, or follow a vegan diet, it’s never a bad idea to call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) at least 48 hours in advance, just to be on the safe side. You can also make note of several special dietary requests when you make your reservation.
2. Tip Generously
If you’re trying to save a few dollars while at Walt Disney World, stiffing your server isn’t the place to do it. There are some cases where the gratuity is added, but most of the time it isn’t. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan your tip is also not included. Your bill will have a suggested 18% and 20% tip printed on it. Your servers work hard to make your meal magical. Please tip generously and reward them for their service.
1. Try the Resorts
Some of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World are not found in the theme parks. Disney Springs has already been mentioned, the other place to look for fine dining is at the resort hotels. You’ll find fresh food, creative menus, and Cast Members who are willing to go above and beyond. Many of the resort restaurants also have breathtaking views. You could dine while staring at Cinderella Castle out the window, or maybe you’d prefer to watch the animals roam on Sunset Savannah. You can find fun character meals, or romantic dinners for two. If you don’t visit at least one resort restaurant on your vacation, you’ll be missing out.