There is so much available for your Disney World vacation and even so many information on my blog alone! Today, I’m dedicating information to Disney dining tips. These are tips that can be seen in the 200+ posts both Dawn and I have compiled over the last 2+ years. This is the most up to date information I have available to you and I’m confident these tips will help you on your Disney World adventure!
In no particular order…
1. Research, research, research! The more you know, the better your trip!
2. If cost is an issue, know when the best deals are and try and find a set of travel dates that have dining or package promotions to help you save a few dollars. Be flexible in resorts to be included in the promotional rates!
3. STAY ON PROPERTY! It’s the only way you can a dining plan which can save you up to 15% on food costs!
4. Think about using a travel agent. We know how to get the best discounts, when discounts come out, and are actively looking to save you time and money! Plus, we are FREE to work with!!!
5. Think about your budget. Now think about adding about 20% more to it to make it a more reasonable number for Disney. You can definitely do Disney on the cheap, but if you’re thinking about cost the whole time, it makes it less fun for the adults!
7. Make sure Disney knows about any celebrations during your stay! You’ll get a few freebies and some recognition as well. At dining locations, you may receive a free dessert to celebrate!
8. Children under 3 are free in Disney. If you’re thinking about a vacation before or after your child turns 3, you’ll likely save at least $300 if you go when they’re 2! This includes dining! It’s HUGE in terms of cost savings, especially if you are thinking about dining at any character locations!
9. Similarly, Disney considers 10 year olds Disney adults. That means there’s a price break between 9 and 10. Park tickets don’t make a huge difference, but dining does!
10. Plan for a day off. Disney can get exhausting. Make sure you take a break during your trip. It’s a great day to get in a long meal outside of a park like a dinner show, signature dining, or a leisurely character breakfast!
11. Plan at least one table service dinner. Even if you’re not on the dining plan, it’s a good experience!
12. Try new food! You’re on vacation. Don’t be afraid to book a unique restaurant or menu item (especially on the dining plan!)
13. Ask your server for suggestions. They’ll give you a good opinion or at least tell you the most popular menu items.
14. Save room for dessert! There’s some awesome options on all the menus.
15. Don’t be afraid to book dining at a resort. While it takes a bit longer in terms of transportation,
some of the best dining locations are outside of the theme parks! PLUS, you don’t need a park ticket!
16. Bring snacks to the park. You can also bring your own water bottles. Anything except glass and alcohol is allowed into the parks! If you have a place to store it or are fine carrying it, you’ll save a ton of money!
17. Share meals. Share meals! Seriously. For quick service/counter service meals, start with one meal for every 2 people. You can always go back and get another or one or get a snack to share. Don’t throw away the expensive food!!! Look at appetizers and meals to share for table service meals. If you made a reservation and you’re not that hungry, don’t be afraid to share a meal. The only place you can’t share are buffet meals. Via Napoli does not allow sharing on the dining plan, but you can share if paying out of pocket.
18. Even if you’re not using a dining plan, purchase at last one refillable mug. You may share (just be aware that with the chips inside the mugs, you can only refill every few minutes). It’s still a worthwhile way to save money for soda and coffee drinkers!
19. Bring your refillable mugs to the parks! While you can’t officially refill them, it’s a great way to share one of the large fountain drinks from counter service meals. You can also fill them with water from the water fountains or ask for some free ice water at any counter service (a word of warning that Orlando water doesn’t taste the greatest!)
20. Download the My Disney Experience app to your smart phone. If you’re looking for a last minute dining reservation, keep checking while you’re in line for attractions. People tend to cancel some big ticket items 1-2 days before the experience so they don’t get charged the cancellation/no show fee. We’ve gotten some great reservations on short notice!
21. Use pre-park opening reservations to your advantage! Most character breakfasts inside the park allow you to enter the park up to an hour early so you can enjoy your character time without missing the best park time (as the first 3 hours before the park opens are the best in terms of crowds)
22. Take a break for lunch outside the park! Whether it’s quick service or a sit down meal, it’s nice to be out of the hustle and bustle for an hour or two!
23. Be aware of Extra Magic Hours. Late hours at Epcot offer you additional dining options and early hours will take away your pre-park opening dining reservations!
24. Fall brings some early park closures to the general public for special events. Check the park hours on Disney’s website for days that close early due to special events. Disney did offer the opportunity to book dining during these special events with a party ticket in 2015!
25. Make your dining reservations as soon as possible. This has become extremely competitive in the last 2-3 years. Resort guests can make reservations 180 days in advance (this is for your entire vacation, not just one day). If you don’t have a resort reservation, you can make reservations 180 days in advance (but you’ll have to do it each day).
26. If you’re booking inside 180 days from your arrival, consider adding park hopper tickets to your package – it will allow you to flexibility to come and go as you please and open up additional options to find dining reservations you may not have been able to grab!
27. Explore the new dining options in Disney Springs. It seems like new options open up every couple of weeks. There are some amazing signature dining options and more on the way! I can’t wait to try them!
28. Don’t try and do too much. Don’t plan every second of every day. 3 Dining reservations every single day of a 6-7 day trip is probably too much!
29. Really enjoy each country of World Showcase in Epcot. They are really interesting and intricate. Try snacking around the world and sharing different things from each country!
30. Watch Magic Kingdom’s fireworks from different vantage points while dining – California Grill, Ohana, Narcoosees!
31. Be cautious before booking a dining reservation the night you arrive. Flights get delayed, things happen.
32. Try a character meal! Even if you are dining as adults, it’s fun to watch kids faces light up.
33. Eat at off peak times. You’ll definitely be able to tell peak lunch and dinner times by the amount the crowds dwindle. If you can take advantage of that, you’ll get more for your time.
34. Stop and enjoy the cupcakes.
35. Disney buses run until the last guest is out of the parks. You won’t get left behind! So if you book the last dining reservation before the park closes, you’ll still be allowed to dine and have a way to to get back home!
36. Eat a decent breakfast. Even if you plan on enjoying some food at the parks, don’t go on an empty stomach and then get lost in running from ride to ride. Whether that’s a scheduled meal inside the park or grabbing food at your resort, fill your belly!
37. Pack some simple breakfast foods in your luggage. Pop Tarts and granola bars are easy grab and go things to get you to the parks early!
38. Think about club level service. Breakfast, snacks, hot and cold appetizers, happy hour drinks for adults, desserts, and after dinner cordials. It won’t be all of your meals, but we were able to keep full throughout our stay. They will fill your water bottles for free too. We LOVE club level service!!
39. Enjoy Club Cool in Epcot. Get a free beverage and try the different flavors of Coke around the world!
40. Think about a dinner show! Disney has 3 on property and they’ll all really fun! Two credits on the dining plan or a decent out of pocket charge, but it’s a great way to take a nice long break!
Whew! Did I forget anything important?
Ready to get started planning your 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote. The benefits to using an authorized Disney vacation planner include saving time before and during your vacation with itinerary planning which can help save you hours of standing in line each day. Plus you won’t have to watch for available discounts, research resorts, wake up early for dining reservations, or stay up late for FastPasses. The best part about using a travel planner instead of planning yourself? It’s totally FREE! Plus I’ll take away some of the stress and confusion of planning a Disney vacation (especially if it’s your first one!)It’s also a worry free vacation opportunity. I’ll walk through through all of the steps to the process with a few little insider tips along the way! If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, ask me how!