10 Ways To Survive Dining On A Crowded Day At Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is always busy, but there are some times of year that it will be packed. A good rule of thumb to follow is that if schools are closed, the crowd level will be high. That doesn’t mean that you won’t have a great time. Here are ten tips on making sure that you have a great dining experience at Walt Disney World, even on the busiest days of the year.

10) Make Reservations ASAP

You can make dining reservations up to 180 days in advance. If you’re making plans that far in advance, make your reservations as soon as you are able. If you’ve missed that date, make them immediately. It’s easier to cancel a reservation if your plans change than to snag a reservation for a place that you really want to try at the last minute.

9) Bring in Snacks

You’re allowed to bring snacks into the parks with you. If it’s going to be crowded, you don’t want to have to wait in yet another line if you get hungry and your dinner reservation is still two hours away. Bringing in your own snacks will keep your family from complaining, and give you time to do something else besides waiting in line at a snack cart.

8) Read the Menus While in Line

The My Disney Experience App can help you in plenty of different ways on a crowded day. One time that you might want to use it is if you’re waiting in line for a ride. Look over the menu for where you plan to have your next meal. That way, when it’s time to eat you’ll be ready to order, which will save time.

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7) Eat at Off Hours

On crowded days, the lines for the counter service restaurants will be quite long during regular meal times. It can also be hard to get a table. Plan to have a late breakfast or an early dinner. If you adjust your schedule a little bit, you could wait in a shorter line.

6) Keep Checking for Openings

You can make dining reservations by using the My Disney Experience App. If there is a restaurant that you really want to try but couldn’t get a reservation for, keep checking for openings throughout the day. It’s a long shot, but someone might cancel and you can snatch it up. Disney will charge people who do not show up for a reservation, so there is a chance.

5) Look for a Lounge

Some of the popular full service restaurants have lounges next door that do not require reservations. 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Tiffins, and California Grill are just three popular places that have lounges associated with them. Some lounges offer small plates or appetizers, while others feature the adjoining restaurant’s full menu. With a lounge you’ll enjoy the food and the atmosphere, without having to worry about a reservation.

4) Use Mobile Ordering

A third way to use the My Disney Experience App on a crowded day is Mobile Ordering. It’s simple, all that you need to do is to place your order at a select restaurant and pay for it through the app. Then when you’re ready, you can pick up your food at a separate window. The list of restaurants that accept mobile ordering is growing. At this time Mobile Ordering is not available for those on the Disney Dining Plan, or for anyone who is paying with gift cards.

3) Try the Nearby Resorts

Some of the best restaurants on Walt Disney World property are located at the resort hotels. Consider leaving the park and heading to a nearby resort for your meal. You can take a break from the craziness of a crowded day, and you might find a new favorite restaurant.

2) Be Patient

On a crowded day, you will need your patience. If you remind yourself and your party that you are going to do a lot of waiting, then the lines will be easier to handle. You’re the one who decided to visit Walt Disney World on a crowded day, no one forced you to go, so remember that and give yourself some extra time. Be patient all day long, not just while dining.

1) Thank the Cast Members

On a crowded day, many guests are frustrated and rude. They tend to take it out on those around them, especially the Cast Members. Remember that the crowd and the lines are not the fault of the Cast Members. They’re doing all that they can to make your meal magical, even though they’ve probably been yelled at for things that weren’t their fault the entire day. Sometimes a smile and the words “thank you, you’re doing a great job” can turn a bad day into a better one. Thank the Cast Members, they work hard for you. It will also make you feel good about yourself.

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.