Disney World Dining

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Disney World Dining

Get ready for your next trip to Disney by getting an overview of dining at Disney World, taking a peak at Disney restaurants reviews including which ones are don't miss and which should be avoided.
Disney World Dining! Everything you need to know about eating at Disney including how much it costs, where to eat, dining plan tips, the best character meals, best quick service restaurants, best disney world snacks, and so much more! GREAT INFORMATION!

 Post updated April 2017

Dining at Disney World

There are LOTS of dining options at Disney World! 

As you can imagine, food is more expensive than you might find at home - probably 15% more. But it will enhance your trip and the quality at most Disney restaurants is so much better than you might find at home with way better service. 

Here are some ways to eat for cheap at Disney World: 

  • FREE (Snag a free Disney Dining Plan offer – these have been around a lot especially in the fall for the last several years. Just remember to get your table service restaurant reservations 180 days out as many locations will be booked solid way before the free offer comes out!) 
  • Cheap by bringing in your own food (one year we packed a whole suitcase with breakfast bars, PB & J for lunch, and snacks for the kids) and supplementing occasionally with a warm meal 
  • Thrifty by eating mostly at counter serve locations with only an occasional sit-down meal (which although a lot of fun, can take up precious park time too!)
  • Extravagant by eating at 1-2 sit-down places a day and enjoying all the scrumptious options available. Lucky you!

Disney Dining Plan (standard)

If you are on the Disney Dining Plan you get 1 counter service, 2 snacks, 1 sit-down meal a day (these included character meals!), and refillable mug per person.  You may say there aren't three meals in a day, but you can easily stretch this to cover all meals and most people have snack credits left over! Here are some hints & tidbits if you use the dining plan:
  • The dining plan credits are automatically loaded on your magic band – no need to have tickets or anything 
  • All the credits show up at once and you can use them in any order you want. So if you are staying 5 nights, 6 days you would get 5 snacks, 5 counter service, and 5 sit down meals credits all on your card. You could eat all your snacks in one day if you like, but then they are gone.
  • Table Service meals require reservations & they book up REALLY fast!! You can book 180 days in advance and YOU SHOULD! You can always cancel later for no fee up to 24 hours in advance.
  • You need to arrive 15 minutes early to check in. Your reservation time just pencils you in, but when you actually check in you will be put on the wait to get a table. You still may wait 15-30 minutes to get a table.
  • Allow extra time to get to out-of-park restaurants as transportation times can vary greatly! We allowed 90 minutes to get to the Wilderness Lodge for lunch and we were still late! (Note: most restaurants are very accommodating if you talk to them and you are late because of a reason)
  • There are a few places that require 2 sit-down credits: Cinderella’s Castle, dinner & a show, and some fancier restaurants like in Epcot. See the brochure for full details. There aren’t very many, but I wanted to make you aware of them.
  • Not all snacks you see may be included on the plan. Look for the DDP logo, but it never hurts to ask.
  • A counter service meal includes your entrĂ©e (with side) and drink (As of 2017 they no longer include a dessert, but you get an extra snack a day - so you have more flexibility!! Trust me you will get tired of the dessert – as the same carrot cake and chocolate cake show up at many, many restaurants.)
  • Gratuity is NOT included for your table service meals and it will be figured off the total of food you order. You can figure about $10/adult per day to cover your tips. (does not apply to snacks or quick service meals)
  • To make your plan stretch to all 3 meals you can
    • Use snack credits for bakery items in your hotel or Gaston’s Tavern – think giant cinnamon rolls YUM!
    • You can share meals - There are a few locations that have particularly large portions that can be easily shared! Especially on a day when you are eating at a sit-down buffet! Plus you have snack credits to fill you up!

Refillable Mugs

These are now included with the standard Disney Dining Plan.  Basically it means you can get unlimited soda and coffee at YOUR HOTEL for the duration of your stay.  The mugs themselves are cute and we love using them once we get home. There are several colored lids/handles so you and your family members can tell each others apart.

If you don’t get a dining plan, consider how many times you will use it before shelling out about $15 each. If you are a big coffee drinker (like my hubby) you may need this to get you going in the morning. Then when we’d come back to swim in the afternoon or evening we’d fill it up with lemonade, tea, soda, or even hot chocolate. Milk is not a refill option.

Note: If you aren’t there long or don’t plan on going back to the hotel to use the pool these are probably not worth it for you!

Best Snacks at Disney World

EVERYTHING you need to know about Disney World Dining - the plans, best snacks, best character meals, best value, and so much more!
Disney has some GREAT snacks to enjoy while you are on vacation. From baked goods to frozen lemonade, huge sundaes to pretzels and so much more!

Whether you are on the Disney Dining Plan and have some snack credits to use or are just looking for the best snacks for your next trip you’ll want to check out:
  • 8 BEST Snacks at the Magic Kingdom
  • Epcot Snacks: Eating Around the World (coming soon)
  • Best Animal Kingdom Snacks (coming soon)
  • Best Hollywood Studios Snacks  (coming soon)

best quick service restaurants at Disney World

Best  Quick Service Meals at Disney World

Take a peak at the Best Quick Service Restaurants at Disney World including an at-a-glance view of the other 30+ restaurants in all four parks.

best table service restaurants at disney world

Best  Table Service Meals at Disney World

Take a peak at the Best Quick Service Restaurants at Disney World including an at-a-glance view of the other 30+ restaurants in all four parks.

Disney World Planning

  1. When to take your kids (what is the 'perfect' age)
  2. Planning for your trip (time of year, how long to stay, Disney hotels, and affordability/deals)
  3. Tidbits (20 tips from the best place to see Mickey to strollers to super cool Disney features you may not know about)
  4. Dining: My top picks for snacks, quick meals, and reviews on 12 restaurants (including character meals)
  5. Magic Kingdom
  6. Animal Kingdom
  7. Hollywood Studios
  8. Epcot
  9. Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland, CA


Where to Book Your Disney Vacation

Magical Moments Vacations - the best place to book your Disney vacation

When you’re ready to book your next magical Disney vacation, allow me to recommend Magical Moments Vacations. MMV is a full service travel agency with over 160 travel agents who are ready to help you plan a seamless trip.  You’ll get the same prices as booking direct, but with the added benefit of having ONE agent who is looking out for YOU! They will take care of everything to make your trip the best trip ever! They even price match and are on the lookout for new offers to help their booked customers save! Trust me, I’ve booked through them and you are going to love the personalized service! You can also follow Magical Moments Vacations on Facebook.

Contact Magical Moments Vacations for your FREE, no-obligation quote now!


    1. Wow this is a bunch of useful information. We will be in WDW next month and we are all so excited. Thanks for the pointers. We are bringing the twin on strollers too so it sure will be fun.

    2. Wow! This was super helpful. I've been to Disney twice in the last 3 years and I always feel like the food lets me down. We've done the character breakfast at Chef Mickeys and Cinderellas castle. Chef Mickey's doesn't wow me. But the castle was cool.
      We will be there Thanksgiving week so I'm sure it's going to be beyond crazy. I've heard something about a special viewing area for the fireworks in Magic Kingdom with desserts...know anything about that?

      1. Went in August 2012 on our honeymoon and we did the Fireworks in Magic Kingdom with desserts:The view is amazing, but the desert is average. It is $50 a person.

    3. Flame Tree BBQ is located on Discovery Island before the bridge to Dinoland USA.

    4. We have this on our wish list! I'll definitely return to your post. Thank you.

    5. very helpful...my friend & her family will be going there soon. (No offense intended, but I think it should be spelled "dining".)

    6. Bigreader3 - thank you! I am a terrible speller, no offense taken! Thanks!!
      Beth =-)

    7. We are hoping to go to Disney in October for the first time, and this was great! Thanks for all the tips :D

    8. I've been reading so many of your Dreaming of Disney posts. They are extremely useful.
      Do you think it's possible to eat well (my husband likes good food, as in at least 1 daily table service) without getting the meal plan and not breaking the bank?

      We're getting an incredible peak season rate on one of the premier resorts, but since it's tied in with a group, we can't get the dining plan. My other option is to switch to a cheaper resort after our group function is over & purchase a package & dining plan.

      Thanks for any insight you can provide! I also understand if you're too busy to respond. I see you have a crew to keep you busy :)

    9. Garrett - So much depends on how long you are there & how much you want to eat out. We went in 2009 and did not do the dinning plan. We brought breakfast items from home, made PB&J for 1 meal a day, and had 1 hot meal (1/2 quick serve 1/2 sit down), plus 5-7 snacks total (only when really HOT!) for the 10 days we were there. We spent about $500 total for food in the park. The meal plan would have cost $1000. So you can save money, but we also had to pack food to bring with us & spend time making sandwiches.

      You can also do a little math if you have 45 minutes or so and check out http://allears.net/din/dining.htm and add up the cost for yourself. You can see menus & pricing and figure out if it is going to be a good deal for you or not.

      It is such a personal choice. But I hope that helps. Do remember you still have to tip with the meal plan (sit down meals) which averaged us $200 total for 10 days.

      Have a GREAT time!
      Beth =-)

    10. Are these all of the places you've eaten, or just your favorites? I would love to eat at all the Disney restaurants some day! :)

      1. Elisabeth these are just favorites or places I had strong opinions about. We are booked in TONS of new restaurants for our trip in several months. I look forward to updating this with at least 7 new restaurants + snack & sitdown!

        Beth =)

    11. Cosmic Ray's is my kids favorite, they like that they have a a condiment bar with cheddar cheese sauce for fries :)

      1 Crazy Daisy and 3 Pokey Joes