The World of Disney Food is BIG. Planning a Disney vacation is serious business, and a big part of that is where, when, and what you’re going to eat. And there are a few Disney dining mistakes you should take care to avoid.
Making assumptions, or failing to properly plan for your meals and snacks when you visit Walt Disney World, can make for a less than magical experience. But there’s good news! We know a thing or two about dining in Disney and we are ready to share what NOT to do!
Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Book
If you only take one piece of advice from this list, make it this one. Do not wait until you get to Walt Disney World to plan your dining. In fact, make those advance dining reservations just as soon as you can — at the 180 day mark! This is especially true if you want to experience a super popular Disney restaurant, like dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant.
By booking your restaurants ahead of time, you get to choose from the largest selection of options (the closer you get to your trip, the fewer restaurants will be available), but you’re not locked in. For most Disney World restaurants, you can always cancel reservations or re-arrange your dining up until the day before your ADR.
Don’t Think You’re Too Old For a Character Meal
What???? You aren’t booking a Character Meal because there are no kiddos in your group? I would super urge you to think again.
Character meals are some of the BEST deals around in Walt Disney World. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, CHARACTERS. If any part of your vacation involves meeting characters, I promise you, this is the best way to do it.
That means no waiting in a line, in the hot sun, and then getting to the front of the line and having the character handler say, “Nope, Donald’s gotta rest now, folks. He’ll be back in 20 minutes.” Because, see, Donald comes to YOU at the character meal. AND — there’s air conditioning involved. So pack away that sunscreen and that portable misty fan thingy. You won’t need them.
Beside that, FOOOOD. Most of the time, character meals are either a buffet, or they’re all you care to enjoy family style.
Either way, it gives you an opportunity to fill up on a really big meal for usually one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan. (There are a few exceptions to the all you can eat set up, and Cinderella’s Royal Table is two table service credits. Be sure to review our Character Meal Page for the details.)
Don’t Waste Disney Dining Plan Credits
Believe it or not, we hear about this all the time. First timers, and even seasoned Disney veterans, fail to use all of their Disney Dining Plan meal and snack credits. How in the ‘World can this be? Truthfully, it often comes down to poor planning. And that’s why I refer you back to that top bullet point: make your plans ahead of time.
It is completely possible to arrive in Walt Disney World for your vacation without advance dining reservations and find that the bulk of the table service restaurants are completely booked. And if you’ve paid for a standard Disney Dining Plan, that can mean leaving credits on the table. (Ha! See what we did there?)
But it’s not just meals. Be mindful of your snack credits too.
And keep in mind that if you get to the end of your stay and have snack credits to burn, packaged candy and foods like Disney fudge travel well, and make swell souvenirs (or airplane snacks to keep that vacation going just a little longer).
Don’t Assume It’s All Burgers, Fries, and Mickey Bars
This is another biggie. If it’s been a while since you’ve visited Disney World, you may be extremely — and pleasantly — surprised at the sheer diversity of food offerings within the parks and resorts.
Sure, you can get all of those American classics and iconic treats here. But did you know that you can also get indulgent poutine at Disney Springs, incredible French pastries and bread in Epcot, and some serious sushi at — well — lots of places, and more? It’s a food lover’s paradise, regardless of your tastes and whims.
Beyond the international flair those eats represent (you could have authentic treats from more than ten different countries just from Epcot alone), Disney has some truly creative and top tier dining in their table service restaurants. Enjoy an incredible steak at Le Cellier or Yachtsman Steakhouse.
Don’t Miss the Epcot Food and Wine Festival
We’ve saved our best tip for last: Do NOT miss the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.
The annual Festival, which celebrates its 22nd straight year in 2017, takes place from August 31 through November 13. That’s a record 75 days!
The Epcot Food and Wine Festival offers something for everyone. International Food Marketplace Booths line the World Showcase Promenade, and even stretch into Future World.
Low Cost Culinary Demonstrations and Beverage Seminars offer guests the opportunity to try new things, while Special Events like Party for the Senses and special dining events throughout the Epcot Pavilions are indulgent and worth the splurge.
And don’t forget the Eat to the Beat Concert Series! It’s a great way to cap off a wonderful day at the Festival.
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Now, we wanna hear from YOU! What’s your best tip for avoiding Disney Dining Mistakes? Leave a comment and share with us below!