by Heather LaPuma

Mickey in the Kitchen cooking

(c) Disney

Check out my favorite tips for Dining at Walt Disney World. These tips will help make sure that you have a delicious visit to the Walt Disney World resort.

  1. Make Advance Dining Reservations – And make them as soon as you can! You can make dining reservations as early as 180 days before your trip. If you want to eat in one of the more high demand restaurants, you will need to make reservations early. If you are traveling during the busy time of year, you also will want reservations as many restaurants fill up.
  2. Don’t pay for food you don’t want – If you are looking at a menu where the item is served with a side dish, ask if you can order it without the side for a lower price. This is often the case at Counter Service dining locations where you can order just the entree item, for instance ordering a sandwich but skipping the fries.
  3. Free Ice Water at any counter service location – Let’s face it, tap water in Florida is pretty gross. But you can avoid it when you get ice water at the counter service locations which use a soda fountain for serving water. The best part? This water is free. Just walk up to any counter service and ask for ice water. You will really want to take advantage of this during the hot summer months.
  4. Save by having a big, late breakfast. Eating a late breakfast that is really filling can double as a lunch. You’ll  be able to make it to dinner time without needing much more than a snack. Head into the parks at rope drop and hit up all your favorites, then head to your favorite breakfast feast as a delicious brunch.
  5. Choose buffet meals to get the most bang for your buck. Buffets are among the most popular meal choices at Walt Disney World. They can be a great choice for families with growing children who like to eat lots of food. (Some call it Hollow Leg Syndrome!) Breakfast buffets are among the most economical choices for meals, too.
  6. Visit the Resorts to check out their restaurants – sometimes people forget about all the amazing dining choices available at the Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Some of my favorites are The Wave at the Contemporary Resort, Cape May Cafe Breakfast at the Beach Club Resort, and Boma and Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge. The restaurants available offer fun theming and delicious food options and also usually offer a respite from the heat and crowds of the parks.
  7. Try out Dinner which includes entertainment – There are options available around the resort hotels which offer fun experiences to go along with your dinner. My favorite is the Hoop-dee-doo Revue at Fort Wilderness. with delicious barbecue food and a fun song and dance routine, this show is a blast. Other options include the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at the Polynesian Resort and Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue which is also at Fort Wilderness.
  8. Book a Character dining experience to save time – Character dining experience kill two birds with one stone. You get a chance to rest and eat and the character that your family wants to see comes to you!
  9. Book a meal during a parade or fireworks show where the restaurant offers a view of the fun – Booking a meal like Tony’s Town Square during a parade or the Rose and Crown Dining Room during Illuminations can be a great way to experience the show from the comfort of your dining table.
  10. Visit Epcot during a festival – Epcot offers two fun festivals each year which have special food and dining options available for guests. The Food and Wine Festival, offered each fall, brings delicious food and drinks from around the world. The Flower and Garden Festival now offers food booths in addition to the fun topiaries and flowers, these booths offer unique food choices which challenge your palette with something new.
  11. Be prepared for sticker shock – It is no surprise that dining at Walt Disney World can be expensive. Check out menus ahead of time online to get an idea of the cost for your dining choices and that can help with your planning and your expectations.
  12. Consider the Disney Dining Plan – to help counter that sticker shock, you can look into the Disney Dining Plan. It offers savings for most families and also offers the option to prepay for most of your food while you are on vacation.  Your Tiggerific Travel Agent can help you make the decision on if it is the right choice for your family.
  13. Consider Tables in Wonderland – Tables in Wonderland is a discount card available to Annual Passholders and Florida Residents which offers a 20% discount on most Table Service restaurants and some counter service restaurants including alcohol purchases at Table Service restaurants. It can offer some great savings and covers up to 10 people on one card.
  14. Try a lounge or bar instead of a regular sit down restaurant – Lounges offer fun atmosphere and access to some of the delicious food available in the restaurants, but offer an alternative option if you don’t have an Advance Dining Reservation.
  15. Check out the goodies created for special events – During times of the year when Disney offers special events and parties, like Halloween and Christmas, there can be some fun goodies available to try out which are only available during that event. For example at the Osbourne Family Lights display at Hollywood Studios, there are some fun holiday themed drinks only available then.
  16. Skip dessert – Just kidding! Don’t skip dessert. Instead of ordering dessert at your Table Service restaurant, grab something at a kiosk like an ice cream sandwich from Sleepy Hollow. It’ll save you a little money and probably some time as well.
  17. Avoid crowds by dining at off times or during off season – Lower crowds offer some great experiences for visiting Walt Disney World with lower crowds. Another way to avoid the heaver crowds is to grab your meal during the middle of the afternoon or have a later dinner.
  18. BYOM – Bring your own meals. Disney parks still allow guests to pack in their own meals to the parks. A great way to save money is to bring your own food, this can be especially easy for breakfast. Grab a quick bowl of cereal in your room and then head to the parks in time for rope drop! Have a picky eater? Make them a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich and pack it into the park for them.
  19. Special Order Cakes for Celebrations – Did you know that you can order a special cake to help you celebrate your special occasions? Contact the Special Order Bakery at least 3 days before you want the cake and they can make it for you and it will be served at your dining location of choice or delivered to your resort.
  20. Note all Special Dietary Needs and Allergies on your reservations – If you have a special dietary need, speak up about it! Walt Disney World is the BEST vacation destination for those with special needs. They will take great care to ensure that your dining experience is safe and fits your needs while still being enjoyable. At each restaurant the head chef will come and speak to you directly to make sure that the staff understands your needs perfectly.