Friday Five: 5 Things You Need to Know about Dining at Walt Disney World

IMG_9747One of things I love best about a Disney Vacation is the food and I tend to get more excited about thinking about all the amazing dining menus rather than the attractions when I am planning my Disney Trips.  Once your resort room and tickets are purchased, the next thing you will want to begin thinking about and planning is where you are going to eat.  Advanced Dining Reservations or ADRs are EXTREMELY important; I have watched many people try to walk up to a Disney Restaurant hoping to get a table only to be turned away.  Here is my Top 5 Things You Should Know about making dining reservations at Walt Disney World.

1.  2 Styles of Restaurants

Walt Disney World has 2 styles of restaurants (and variations within each style) to fit all of your dining needs, so if you are a guest that prefers more time for rides & attractions or a guest with a foodie heart, rest assured there will be dining to fit your needs.

Quick Service Restaurants (QS) offer great food and fast service. They are generally cafeteria-style or counter-service venues.  You order or take the food items that you want, pay for your food and sit down to enjoy your meal.  Walt Disney World even has a few Fast Causal style dining locations where you order from a counter and your food is delivered to you.  Reservations (other than Be Our Guest Breakfast & Lunch) are not needed, walk up only.  With a wide range of Quick Service options through the Walt Disney Parks, Disney Springs & Resort Hotels you will never be stuck eating burgers or chicken nuggets your entire vacation.

Table Service Restaurants (TS) offer great food, a chance to sit down & relax as well as great service. Generally you are seated and a Cast Member/Server takes your order from a menu.  Within this style of Disney Dining, you will also find many buffets with diverse offerings, most with character interactions.  You will also find Fine Dining within the Table Service style, called Signature Restaurants where food and atmosphere combine into a truly unique dining experience; perfect for a night out or a celebratory meal.

When you book your vacation with me, I will provide you with dining suggestions, feedback, and reviews.  I have created several documents with direct links to menus, pictures and information about each dining location.  Trust me, I have read every menu MANY times and know the hidden menu gems that are MUST TRY.

2.  Dining Plans Available

When you stay at a Disney Resort you can also add a Dining Plan to your resort/ticket 8 pizza abpackage.  These plans offer the convenience and flexibility of prepaid dining.  There are 3 plans available, one sure to fit your needs:

  • Quick Service Plan-Includes 2 quick service meals, a resort refillable mug and 2 snacks per number of night of stay
  • Disney Dining Plan-Includes 1 Quick Service credit, 1 Table Service credit, a resort refillable mug and 2 snacks per number of night stay
  • Deluxe Dining Plan-Includes 3 Table Service Credits, a resort refillable mug and 2 snacks per number of night stay

Dining plans are not for every trip or even for everybody, and they may not give you the best deal.  I will give you honest feedback whether a dining plan is good for your vacation based on what you have told me what you want from your vacation.  I have gone on Disney Vacations with and without of levels of the Dining Plans so I have personal experience what might be best for you.

3. Plan & Organize before Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) Booking Window Opens

There is a lot of planning that needs to be done to truly make your vacation a memorable one at Walt Disney World.  I suggest guests book at least 7 months in advance resort rooms and tickets, giving you ample to time to plan out a general idea of where you will be each day of your vacation and make dining selections before the 180 Day dining reservation window for your stay.

When you book your Walt Disney Vacation with me, I will provide you with information on which park is best on which day during your stay as well as offer personal suggestions to maximize your time, again based on what you tell me is important for your vacation.  Once you have determined Which Park, Which Day, I will then provide you suggestions for dining options that best fit that schedule and from there we will create a list of Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) to book and develop a plan of attack for getting the ADRs that you want. 

4.  Book 180 Days in Advance with Linked Credit Card

For guests staying on property you are able to make Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs) for the first 10 days of your trip beginning at 180 days in advance, while guests 2 choc waffleoff property can only book each day at 180 days prior to dining date, another added perk of staying at  Disney Resort hotel.

Booking your vacation after the 180 day mark?  Don’t worry I have you covered.  I have a few tricks up my sleeve to help you still get all of the dining reservations that you want, not a guarantee but I have a pretty good success rate at stalking and getting those hard to get ADRs at the last-minute as long as you are flexible.  I totally believe in pixie dust and making magic happen.

Online reservations open at 6 am EST on MyDisneyExperience-Walt Disney (MDE) or you can call beginning at 7 am EST.  Please note that there can be long waits on the phones sometimes, so you will need to make sure you call right at 7 am to get in the queue early.

Don’t want to get up early or this entire process stressing you out?  That is why you have booked your Disney vacation with me, an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner.  I will be happy to make all Advanced Dining Reservations for you so you can sleep in and not have to worry about it. 

All Table Service reservations require a “Good Faith“ credit card hold at time of booking.  Some reservations also require pre-payment at time of booking.  It is important to make sure that you have a credit card linked in MyDisneyExperience (MDE) or a card readily available when you speak with a Cast Member online.

5.  Know the Cancellation Policy

5A lot of guests book several Advanced Dining Reservations on specific day because they have not planned well ahead reservation time.  This is a total UNMAGIAL THING TO DO.  Disney has a 24 hour cancellation policy.  You must cancel your reservation 24 hours before your reservation or they will charge you a $10 fee, per person in your party.  This ensures that guests don’t hold onto reservations that they have no intention to of using, thus preventing other guests from enjoying the dining experiences.

Does planning and booking all these reservations sound overwhelming?  I can literally help you have your cake and eat it, too! When you book your Disney Vacation with me you will pay the same price as if you booked your vacation with Disney directly AND get complimentary concierge trip planning services that Disney does not offer, which includes making your dining reservations, if you wish.  I also know lots of tips and tricks to help you get everything you want and the times you want them. 

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