Dining has become a very big part of many guests’ Disney vacations. And no wonder, the restaurants found on Disney property are amazing. Whatever your favourite kind of cuisine, you’re sure to find it at Walt Disney World. Plus everyone has to eat so you might as well make the most of a necessary situation. Now there are two types of dining styles at Walt Disney World: quick-service and table service. All quick-service, with the exception of Be Our Guest, is a walk up situation. You don’t have to reserve a table. You simply wait in line to place your order and then find a table, sit and enjoy your meal. Table service meals on the other hand require reservations ahead of time. You will find the odd restaurant or odd times of day where you can walk in to these table service restaurants and dine, but if you’re looking to dine at the most popular restaurants or during the ideal dining times you’re going to need to make an advanced reservation. Now before you make these reservations take some time to look at the restaurants you’re reserving with a critical eye. Checking out the following things specifically:
Check the Location.
There are restaurants found all over Walt Disney World. Some restaurants are found at one of the four theme parks, some are at Disney resorts and some are at Disney Springs. Which means there can be travelling involved with getting to the restaurant of your choice. Theme parks are easy, as long as you plan on being at that park that day. If you’re planning a full day at the Magic Kingdom but have a reservation at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot’s Norway then you’ll be spending part of your day park hopping over to Epcot and then back. A bit of a waste of time in my opinion. Or maybe you’re staying at Animal Kingdom – Kidani Village and you reserve the character breakfast at 1900 Park Fare. This restaurant is found at Disney’s Grand Floridian, a hike from Kidani, which means careful planning will need to happen to make sure you make it to your reservation on time. Now if you are driving your own vehicle or have rented a car, then the transportation side of things won’t be too tricky. You won’t have to manage grabbing different buses and waiting for buses. But you’ll still have to plan. If you’re dining at a Disney resort restaurant and your within walking distance then it’s a piece of cake, so don’t make things inhibit you from making these reservations. Just check to see where the restaurant is and how you would get there.
Check the Time.
Breakfast is one of my favourite meals to eat at Walt Disney World or frankly anywheres. There are many options for breakfast at a table service restaurant at Disney World, some even offer reservations as early as 7am. Which when you’re trying to get some of these coveted restaurant reservations you may jump at but you need to think a bit about that before you reserve. These early morning reservations mean early wake up times. If you’re planning a full park day and starting it with one of these extremely early breakfasts, you may be setting yourself up for a day of tired kiddos and cranky adults. The early reservation times also mean that you need to get to the location early. So if you’re heading to the Magic Kingdom for an 8am breakfast reservation at Crystal Palace, you’ll need to be at your resort’s bus stop no later than 7:30am, I’d be there by 7:15am to be on the safe side. These early reservations are great for some but if a 7:30 bus ride does not sound like something you’ll be able to make happen then move the time to a little later.
Check the Cuisine.
You may have heard that Jungle Navigation Skipper Canteen is a must do place to eat. When you arrive there to dine you may look at the menu and nothing appeals to you. What a shame, with so many restaurants to choose from at all the different locations on Walt Disney World property, you should not be wasting your time at a restaurant where you don’t love the cuisine. So check the menu before reserving. Even if a restaurant is on someone’s top 5 list, doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you and your family. For every customer that loves a place there’s bound to be someone who does not. So make an informed decision by checking the menu ahead of time.
Check the Price/Dining Plan Credits.
When making your dining plans or your plans for Disney in general, we can quickly get carried away. It may seem like a once in a lifetime experience but you still want to make wise choices for you and your budget. So check the prices of the dishes. Especially if you are paying out of pocket. Some restaurants are extremely reasonable whereas others are outlandish for what you’re getting. It depends on location, popularity and restaurant category. If you’re dining on the dining plan, be sure to check how many dining plan credits are required. Some restaurants and dinner shows require 2 meal credits, which means you may have to make some adjustments to your plans depending on which dining plan you’ve chosen. If there’s a restaurant you really want to dine at but it’s more money then you’d like to spend, check to see if they serve breakfast. Breakfast meals are always less expensive.
Check for Characters.
Many guests love to take advantage of the many Character dining locations found on Disney World property. These meals are always lots of fun and ideal for young ones. You also save time during your park days by eating meals with characters. You won’t have to do many or any character meetings during your days at the parks. Of the many restaurants found at Walt Disney World, only 12 (as of September 2019) are character dining experiences. So if character meals are a must, check the restaurants you are planning on reserving. And triple check because some of the character meals are only for breakfast.
Check for Alcohol.
For some, drinking a glass of wine with your meal is a vacation must. It’s certainly something you want to be mindful of when on the Disney and Deluxe Dining Plan because alcoholic beverages are included. But not all restaurants found on Disney property offer alcohol. Talk about a disappointing evening. You arrive at your restaurant for supper and find out they have no wine, no beer, no cocktails. So double check that the restaurant you’re choosing serves alcohol before making that reservation. For a full list of the dry restaurants check out this previous post.
Now whatever reservations you make you can change, the only ones I wouldn’t recommend changing are the ones you have to pay for ahead of time because then you’ll see charges coming on and off your credit card. If there are some reservations that you don’t get that you really wanted, don’t worry, many reservations become available days before. Many guests don’t take all these things into account and then realize when they arrive at Disney that many of their reservations are not going to suit their plans. Don’t let this happen to you. You are spending lots of time planning, and it really sucks when all that work ends up being wasted. Happy Planning, Friends.