20 Tips And Secrets For Walt Disney World Restaurants

Dining is an important part of any Walt Disney World vacation, but it can be tricky. You won’t want to waste time, but you will want to be able to relax for a few moments. You’ll want to enjoy good food, but you will not want to overpay. There are over 300 different places to eat at Walt Disney World; how do you even know where to begin? Here are a few tips and secrets to help make dining at Walt Disney World more rewarding. They are in no particular order.

20. Try the Specialty

If you’re at a signature restaurant and you aren’t sure what to order, try the specialty. The chef who created it will have put a unique and delicious spin on it, and it will be unlike anything that you can get back home. If you aren’t sure what to drink, order a specialty cocktail.

19. Ask for Recommendations

Cast Members offer a wealth of knowledge. Strike up a conversation with someone, and ask what his or her favorite restaurant is. You might find something fantastic that you wouldn’t have tried otherwise.

18. Tipping

In most cases gratuities are not added at full service restaurants, even if you are on the Disney Dining Plan. Servers earn a lower hourly wage because they are expected to receive tips. Please be generous.

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17. Check the Hours

Not all counter service restaurants are open from the time the park opens until it closes. Check the hours of any restaurant that you are thinking about stopping by so you won’t end up hungry.

16. Don’t Skip Disney Springs

Since Downtown Disney became Disney Springs the number of restaurants has skyrocketed. It has now become a premier dining destination, with several signature restaurants and many other great choices. Include at least one Disney Springs restaurant in your vacation plans.

15. Plan an Arrival Dinner

Unless you are arriving fairly early in the day, you might not want to use a day from your theme park ticket on your arrival date. Book a resort character meal or dinner show that night, and start your vacation with a bang.

14. Order Something Healthy

There are plenty of heavy meals at Walt Disney World, meals that will leave you feeling more than just full. Try to order something healthy at least once a day so that you won’t feel weighed down. Also, order Mickey Check Meals for the kids. They offer balanced nutrition for the little ones, and they taste great.

13. Skip the Combo

Many counter service restaurants feature items such as burgers and fries or pizza and a salad. If you’re trying to save a few dollars, skip the combo and order just the entree. You’ll pay quite a bit less, and you will save a few calories as well.

12. Try Something New

At Walt Disney World you will find restaurants featuring foods from around the world as well as specialty creations from celebrity chefs. Step outside of your comfort zone and try something that you have never had before.

11. Read the Menus

Not sure what to do while waiting for 90 minutes for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Pull out your cell phone and look over the menus on the My Disney Experience App. You might be able to plan out your next few meals.

10. Dine Around the World

World Showcase features specialties from 11 different countries. Dine around the world, splitting meals and snacks at each pavilion.

9. Talk to the Chef

If you have special dietary needs, it is never a bad idea to talk to a chef at a table service restaurant. He or she will take the time to find out what you can and can’t eat, and will then either make suggestions or possibly create something just for you.

8. Don’t Forget the Resorts

Some of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World are not found in the parks, they are at the resorts. Take a couple of hours out of your day to enjoy the meal of a lifetime, or make a reservation for a day when you are not planning to be in the parks.

7. Try a Late Breakfast Buffet

If you’re having a hard time deciding between whether you want breakfast or lunch at a buffet, make as late a breakfast reservation as possible. Enjoy your breakfast, and if you’re still there once they roll out the lunch offerings you can try those as well. Just make sure that you don’t hit Mad Tea Party as soon as you’re done.

6. Book an Early Meal

If you’d like to see a park before the crowds arrive, book a breakfast for first thing in the morning and then show up early for your reservation. You won’t be allowed to wander, but you also won’t be stopped if you decide to take a few pictures as you walk to the restaurant. Check Extra Magic Hours before you book, because that could affect your strategy.

5. Use Mobile Ordering

With Mobile Ordering, you can place your order ahead of time and they will prepare it when you arrive at the restaurant. It’s an easy free service that is located on the My Disney Experience App. Mobile Ordering can save you time and frustration, especially if the park is crowded.

4. Try Off Hours

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World at a busy time of year the counter service restaurants can be packed. Using Mobile Ordering will help you to get your food, but seats may be hard to find. Avoid the crowds and find a seat by eating at times that aren’t considered normal meal times.

3. Make Appetizers Your Meal

Just because you are dining at a full service restaurant does not mean that you have to order an entree. Some of the appetizers are quite large and filling. You can save money, try more things, and not feel quite as bloated if you make a meal out of an appetizer or two.

2. Don’t Forget to Cancel

If you can’t make your dining reservation, don’t forget to cancel it at least 24 hours in advance. If you don’t, your credit card will be charged according to the number of people on the reservation. Even if you don’t make it within the deadline you should cancel anyway so that someone else will be able to get the space.

1. Keep Checking

Some restaurants such as Be Our Guest Restaurant seem to be impossible to get reservations for. Keep checking, try several times a day if you need to. Since reservations can be made 180 days in advance, spots open up all the time as people change their plans. You might even snag something the day before, since many people will cancel at the last minute to avoid the fee.

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.