40 of the Best Walt Disney World Dining tips!

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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!

6. Look into the dining plan and what it includes. See if it’s for you (or how you can get it for free!)

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 IMG_8759couple 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.

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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?

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

A free gift for Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box!

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!

What’s New Wednesday! Weekly roundup around Disney destinations

It’s a new installment here on A Little WDW Magic called “What’s New Wednesday”! It’s a way for us to get you the new information for the past week around Disney destinations (Disney World, Disneyland, Disney Cruise Line for the most part with a little bit of Adventures by Disney and Aulani news here and there). It will allow both new and old readers to get the tips and tricks they love and need while keeping updated on some of the new things happening around Disney parks and destinations. So let’s check out this week’s roundup…

Disney World

  • Downtown Disney OFFICIALLY becomes Disney Springs today! It’s an exciting transition that has been in progress for a few years now. All of the online presence on Disney’s web sites now says Disney Springs. They have been working on changing signage around property over the last month or so.
  • Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs will be opening this week! Another great addition to the area providing some unique and delicious dining. You will see this location available for dining on DisneyWorld.com/Dining in the coming months
  • Jock Lindsey’s Hanger Bar is now open in Disney Springs! This nod to Indiana Jones has been a popular destination since it’s opening. This location does not accept Disney’s dining plan, but it’s a great place to grab a drink and some tapas style appetizers.
  • Hollywood Studios popular Jedi Training Academy will be closed for a refurbishment beginning October 4th. No word on how long this refurbishment will last, but lots of disappointment fall travelers on this one!
  • TWO new promotional offers available for Disney World travel 2016 travel dates in January, February, March, and early April. Check out the full details HERE.
  • The Salute to the Military offer for military members and their families has returned for 2016!

Disneyland

  • Seasons of the Force will begin on November 16th at Disneyland which includes:
    • Star Wars Launch Bay – Offering opportunities to visit with favorite Star wars characters, special exhibits and peeks at the new Star Wars; The Force Awakens
    • Star Tours the Adventure Continues – Updated attraction with scenes from the new film!
    • Jedi Training – Trials of the Temple – Coming in December to Disneyland. It will introduce new characters and a new villain!
    • Hyperspace Mountain – Reimaging of the classic Space Mountain ride (for a limited time only)
    • Opportunity to revisit favorite scenes from classic Star Wars movies at Tomorrowland Theater (limited time)
    • Special themed food & beverage items (limited time)
  • The New Star Wars Land will break ground in early 2016 which will permanent close some attractions in Frontierland , Big Thunder Range including Big Thunder Range BBQ, Petting Zoo and Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree. The last day for these attractions will be Jan 10, 2016.
  • The following Disneyland attractions will close for approximately 1 year beginning Jan 10, 2016:
    • Disneyland Railroad (all stations)
    • Fantasmic!
    • Mark Twain Riverboat & Sailing Ship Columbia
    • Pirate’s Lair on Tom Saywers Island
    • Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes

That’s this week’s WHAT’S NEW! We’ll continue to update you on important breaking changes!

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

A free gift for your Disney vacation! The amazing and exciting Minnie Box! (subject to minimum vacation package)

Ready to get started planning your late 2015 or 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!

Disney Springs New Boathouse Restaurant


IMG_8759The old Downtown Disney is slowly turning into Disney Springs.  As a veteran of West Side and the Marketplace, I must admit that I was a little sad with all the changes. (I still long for the Adventure’s and Comedy clubs) However, I do like the new additions with the smart tech parking decks (see last post) to the great new dining options.

IMG_8762One new options is the new Boathouse Restaurant which offers upscale, waterfront dining.  The atmosphere is nicely nautical from regattas trophies, boat motors everywhere, and phenomenal artwork throughout.  Disney always has that attention to detail so make sure you walk around to soak it all in.  Hopefully you will be lucky enough to get to dine in one of the “boats” – how fun!!  If not, then no worries since every seat has a great view of the water.  I personally like the outside, dining area- if the weather will cooperate.IMG_8763 2

The menu made it hard to choose from all the great choices and a bit pricey however, the meals are good size so you are able to share many dishes.  My sister and I halved the Stuffed Crab BLT sandwich which was a special for the day and it was incredible.  It got two thumbs up from her as well who knows her crabs being from Annapolis!  I can’t wait to go back for the surf n turf!IMG_8761 2

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The best “show” is outside of the restaurant which is the new Amphicar which is a car AND a boat!  You can experience your own cruise experience with a guided captain for a 25 minute boat tour of Downtown Disney as it floats on the water.  The aqua-car has seating for four with the price tag of $125 and you can purchase the tickets in the gift shop.  We stood for a while and watched the Captain drive a family into the lake with a splash.  It was fun to cheer them on from the shore as they floated away from the dock.  I believe that this is the only place in the world to ride in these great vintage vehicles so don’t miss seeing it while around Disney Springs!

Lastly, do not forget the gift shop. I have to mention the ducks.  Yes, I said ducks.  They are in every “theme” you can think of and only $20.  My kids LOVED the ducks and they were fun to see all the many different ones to choose from.

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If you are ready to eat at the new Downtown Disney/Disney Springs restaurants or float away in the Amphicar then: Please contact me at any time for a free quote or use the form below. 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!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, please feel free to use the contact form below.

The New Downtown Disney Parking Garage Finds Your Spot!

How crazy is it to get excited about a parking garage but I actually was when we were just there and I don’t think that I am alone. 🙂  The whole area of Downtown Disney is turning into Disney Springs and a lot is happening!

The Orange Garage for the West Side of DTD

The Orange Garage for the West Side of DTD

The first of two garages is open and I finally got to experience it first hand.  The smart technology is awesome!  As you enter you will find a sign to your right that tells you how many spaces are open on each floor!  The first floor was being used for valet (unless they change it in the future) and the main walkway down is on the second floor which is where we parked.

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Then as you reach each floor, the rows will tell you how many are open there as well.  Each parking space has a little green/red light above it to show if it is empty or full.  The only problem I found with this is that we came upon an open, green light and there was actually a motorcycle in the spot so I guess it did not “trigger” the light system (you can see hanging down in the picture).  However, it is a nice touch!

Inside the garage

Inside the garage

There are well marked stairs, escalators and elevators along with plenty of personal to help get you where you need to go.

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Marked well and easy to follow

Also, they recently had the opening of two new walkways that will give guests a direct connection to the West Side.  These new bridges are accessible on the second floor of the Orange garage.  You will come out from both of these at the intersection of Splitsville and Planet Hollywood and can take the bridge to your right towards the Marketplace or go left at the new huge Starbucks for  Splitsville and the many others on the Westside.  We went to the right because had dining reservations at the new Boathouse (it was wonderful) and came upon the Aquacar.  It was too cool and caused crowds but I will save that for another post.

Build another one for the Marketplace!

Building another one for the Marketplace!

Although the construction traffic is a inconvenience at the moment know that it will be worth it in the end and go experience these enhancements for yourself-you will love them.  There is so much new to explore so we hope your next visit is just around the corner and if not then we can help!

Just ask for your free quote today to get started planning your 2015 or 2016 Disney World vacation? Please contact me at any time for a free quote or use the form below. 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!) If you already have your vacation planned and are interested in transferring your vacation, please feel free to use the contact form below.