Step 6 Plan Where to Eat

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When hunger strikes at Walt Disney World, what will you do? There are different dining options for everyone while staying at Walt Disney World.

Bring Food into the Parks

There are lots of options for dining at Walt Disney World. Some guests bring food into the parks to save money and time. Yes, Disney allows you to bring food into the parks. No need to stuff your pockets with food or hide it buried in your backpack. The only restrictions that Disney has is that you cannot bring glass bottles, alcoholic beverages or oversize coolers. I do bring in frozen water bottles and snacks. That does saves me a lot of money.

Cooking at your Resort

Some guests rent the cabins at Fort Wilderness and other resort rooms with mini kitchens and they cook their meals at their resort. This is a good way on saving money on your vacation. You can order groceries online and then have them shipped to your resort. I have used Garden Grocers in the past and I highly recommend their service.

Counter Service

At Walt Disney World a Counter Service restaurant also known as a Quick Service restaurant is like a fast food restaurant. These type of meals are offered either in a cafeteria-style (like at your resort) or Counter Service venues (like at the parks). You can order your food at the ordering podium or take the food items that you want and pay for it at the cash register. Once you pay for your meal, find a seat and sit down enjoy your meal. Counter Service meals are pretty pricey for fast food. However, it is cheaper than a Table Service restaurant. You do not need reservations for Counter Service restaurants except for the Be Our Guest restaurant.

Be Our Guest is a quick service restaurant for breakfast and lunch. Due to the popularity of the Be Our Guest restaurant, it is highly recommended that you make a dining reservation 180 days prior to arrival for the breakfast and lunch quick service.

Table Service

Table Service restaurants are sit down restaurants where you are seated, you order what you want and your server brings your meal to the table. At Disney, buffets are also considered Table Service meals.

Signature Dining

At Disney, Signature Dining is an upscale restaurant serving  supreme cuisine and stellar service in an elegant restaurant. Signature restaurants are pricier than a Table Service Restaurant.

Character Dining

Character Dining is a lot of fun. It is a good way of meeting your favorite character without the long lines and you get to enjoy a meal too. It is a win win situation! If your family enjoys character meal, I strongly suggest that you book your reservations 180 days before your arrival. If you cannot get your desired reservation time, try changing the time to a less popular time. For example, if you want to eat at Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner at 5:00 PM but it is all booked, try searching for 8:00 PM. Just have a late lunch that day. 5:00 – 7:00 PM is prime time for dinner. This strategy can really help.

Dinner Shows

Dinner Shows are live entertainment show performances that you can enjoy throughout the meal. The Dinner Shows have different seating categories: Category 1, Category 2 or Category 3 . It is important to make Advanced Dining Reservations for Dinner Shows because they fill up fast. Gratuities are included in all Dinner Shows.

Advanced Dining Reservations

Advanced Dining Reservations (ADR) are dining reservations make in advanced. Disney’s Advance Dining Reservations are not “real” reservations. It is more like a place holder. They don’t hold a table for you. When you make Advance Dining Reservations, Disney guarantees that you will be seated as soon as a table becomes available. Disney recommends arriving 15 minutes prior to your Advanced Dining Reservation time. When you check in, you might be seated right away or you might have to wait a while depending how busy the restaurant is.

If you need to cancel for any reason, make sure you cancel 24 hours prior to the reservation. If you miss your reservation, Disney will charge a cancellation fee to the credit card you used to guarantee the reservation. Disney charges $10 per person for no-shows and cancellations within 24 hours of the reservation.

If you are running late to a reservation, Disney will hold your reservations up to 15 minutes.

Advanced Dining Reservations can be made from 7 A.M. – 10 P.M. EST,  seven days a week  by calling 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463). You can also make Advanced Dining Reservations online beginning at 6:00 A.M. EST . Visit My Disney Experience , sign in or create an account, find the tab on the top labeled “Things To Do,” move your mouse down to “Dining” and click on “Make Reservation.”

If you are not going to cook your meals at your resorts, you should start to make plans where you would like to eat. It is imperative that you make your advanced dining reservation 180 days prior to your trip if you want hard to get dining reservations like Chef Mickey’s, Cinderella’s Royal Table or Be Our Guest.

Before the 180 days, look at the places you will eat. I like to use TripAdvisor and Yelp to read through the reviews and get an idea of what the restaurant is going to be like. Look at the pictures that travelers post to see if the dishes and environment of the restaurant appeals to you.

Make sure that if you want to eat at a restaurant at Magic Kingdom, that you are actually visiting the Magic Kingdom that day. If you are at Epcot in the morning but want to dine at the Magic Kingdom for dinner, get the Park Hopper option on your ticket.

When planning where to eat, look at your daily plan that you previously made.  Read more on how you can make a daily planIf you are spending the day at the Magic Kingdom, try not to make reservations a Boma located at the Animal Kingdom Lodge because it is far out of the way and you will have to allow about 90 minutes of travel time if you are taking Disney transportation. I have done this before and it can be very overwhelming. I try to stick to places closet to the theme park that I am in that day.

Disney Dining Plan

If you are on a Disney Dining Plan, you definitely need to plan where you want to eat every day and how you are going to spend your snack credit. You do not want to have left over credit on the day that you check out.

Free Dining

Free Dining is an extremely popular promotion in which Disney offers free food with the purchase of a room and ticket package. In order to maximize your Free Dining credits you will also have to plan where to eat. Learn more about the free Disney Dining Plan and how to get it.

Disney Springs

Disney Springs has many wonderful dining options, in which some accept the Disney Dining Plan. With over 50 dining venues, there is something for everyone there. Children would love to dine at T-Rex and see the dinosaurs in its environment. You can make it a day of shopping and dining. Click here to see a list of Disney Springs dining options .

Disney World Restaurants

Here is a list of Disney World restaurants. It is imperative that you make your advanced dining reservation 180 days prior to your trip if you want hard to get dining reservations like Chef Mickey’s or Be Our Guest. I recommend that you download a free countdown app to remind you when to make your advance dining reservations.


Before the 180 days, look at the places you will visit. I like to use TripAdvisor or Yelp, sometimes both, to read through the reviews. I want to make sure that I pick the perfect place  for our family meals. Plan which restaurants you would like to eat at and what is your preferred meal time. Make sure that if you want to eat at a restaurant at Magic Kingdom, that you are actually visiting the Magic Kingdom that day. You will have to use a ticket to get into the Magic Kingdom even if it is just for dinner. If you have a Park Hopper ticket then you can visit 2 parks in one day. However, to keep things easy and to run around less, it’s better to stay at one park.

Now, onto Step 7 Make Touring Plans

Planning for Disney in 10 Easy Steps

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Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

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Step 7

Step 8

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Step 10