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!

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Friday Five: 5 Restaurants in Epcot that are worth your money!

For today’s Friday 5, we’re going to Epcot! It’s a park that families with young children often overlook and adults love. When many people think of Epcot they think of World Showcase and not about everything the park has to offer (perhaps a topic for another Friday 5 in the future). Both inside and outside World Showcase there are some fantastic culinary delights. Today, we explore 5 of my favorites that are worth your money whether using a dining plan or paying out of pocket.

1. Via Napoli. Anyone that knows me or anyone that has booked a vacation with me knows that this is my favorite Epcot restaurant, so no surprise it’s on the top of my list. Pizza, pasta, what’s not to love? This Italian girl hasn’t found anything on the menu she doesn’t like! Both on and off the dining plan, this location offers a great value. When using dining plan credits, you may not share pizzas from the menu, off, you may. We often go here and have an appetizer, share a pizza, and get some delightful sangria. It often has leftovers available for breakfast the following morning (don’t judge – I’m on vacation

2. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Of any restaurant throughout Disney World, this is the best value for dining credits (at dinner). Breakfast and lunch value is also in the top 10. The biggest draw isn’t the food, it’s the princesses! The experience is similar to Cinderella’s Royal Table without the added expense, pre-payment, or the 2 credits on the dining plan. You’ll see a similar set of princesses here but the experience is a bit more unique at Cindy’s. The menu here is a bit unique. There are some authentic Norwegian dishes available for all 3 meals of the day. If you want your princess fix but have picky kids (or adults), try breakfast. Be aware that it’s a hike from the main entrance of Epcot!

3. Garden Grill. This location gets a nod because it is unique! Located in the land pavilion, you sit in a rotating dining area as servers bring your family style meal to you. The food is good, the characters (Chip n Dale) are fun and  some of the food is locally sourced from Epcot’s gardens. Cool, right? Disney agrees with me as they just expanded service from dinner only to breakfast, lunch, and dinner beginning in early November! This means you can potentially grab a reservation before the park opens to have a character meal and still enjoy low lines. It’s a great way to enjoy Soarin’ standby after your meal and still have a FastPass for Test Track (hint, hint!)

4. Coral Reef. This is a great location for the visual aspect. Many say the food can be hit or miss and I agree. Built around the world’s largest inland salt water aquarium/tank, it’s a great place for families with kids who like to stay busy. There is all sorts of visual stimulation without having too much noise inside the restaurant. Again, check the menu! Lots of seafood options here but some good non-seafood choices as well. Portions are large enough to share here. Sharing is allowed between adult and child, child and child, and adult and adult depending on your level of hunger! Stretch those dining credits!

5. San Angel Inn. The last choice is hard! I thought Le Cellier, Teppan Edo, Chefs de France, but I’m only allowed 5, so Mexican wins the race for now. San Angel Inn is another great “Share a meal” destination. We typically share an appetizer and entree here and skip the dessert. The chips and salsa they bring out is a great filler. I personally prefer the lunch menu over dinner (and the cost fits a little nicer as well). On the dining plan, consider the prix fixe menu to stretch your credit a bit further – you’ll get an appetizer, entree, and dessert (so the appetizer is a bit of a bonus). Enjoy the surroundings here as well while boats go by from the Grand Fiesta tour attraction. Ask nicely to sit by the water when you arrive.

What are your favorite Epcot restaurants? Did I miss something you truly enjoy? I’d love to hear about your favorites in Epcot!