Avoid Making These Five BIG Disney Dining Mistakes

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.

Homecomin' Fried Chicken

Homecomin’ Fried Chicken

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.

Grilled Strip Steak at Be Our Guest

Grilled Strip Steak at Be Our Guest

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.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse!

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.

Because. Donald.

Because. Donald.

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.

Family Breakfast Platter at 'Ohana

Family Breakfast Platter at ‘Ohana

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.

Meatloaf Meal at The Plaza Restaurant

Meatloaf Meal at The Plaza Restaurant

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.

Peanut Butter Fudge

Peanut Butter Fudge

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.

Classic Poutine

Classic Poutine

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.

Duo at Les Halles in Epcot's France

Duo at Les Halles in Epcot’s France

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.

Le Cellier Filet

Le Cellier Filet

Explore the flavors of Africa at Jiko, Sanaa, or Boma. Or enjoy the pinnacle of fine dining at Victoria and Albert’s. The sky is the limit.

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.

Epcot Food and Wine Festival

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.

Frozen Daiquiri Ice Pop from France Booth

Frozen Daiquiri Ice Pop from France Booth

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.

The Set Up

The Parisian Breakfast

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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Avoid Making These Five BIG Disney Dining Mistakes

Don’t Miss Out on Any Disney Fun!

The 2018 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining, is now available for Pre-Order!

2017 DFB Guide to WDW Dining Cover March 6

With more than 650 pages, the 2018 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining is full of tips and planning tools developed by Disney World experts over 20+ years of visits. We’ve done the research for you, so you’ll know just which spots will uniquely suit your family’s needs!

With mini-reviews of every single restaurant, bar, lounge, kiosk and more; an entire chapter on the best snacks in Disney World; full Disney Dining Plan analysis (and how to get FREE dining); and a full chapter on discounts and deals; you’ll have everything you need to plan your best vacation yet. Click here to pre-order your copy of the 2018 DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining E-book with code WDW2018 to save 25% today!

But there’s MORE! Just like all DFB pre-order deals — when you pre-order your DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book, 2018 Edition today for 25% off the cover price, you’ll also get our fully updated 2017 Edition immediately for FREE immediately, so you can start planning TODAY!

Use code WDW2018 at check-out for a 25% off the cover price, AND get the 2017 edition for free!

Our guides are backed by a 100% money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose. :-)

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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!

Comments

  1. Dona says

    I agree about the character meals. I took my husband to the Garden Grill for dinner for his 60th birthday. He loved all the attention he got. He even got a piece of birthday cake and a card from the characters.

  2. Geri says

    I bought this guide but was unable to download it….how can I download it again???

  3. says

    Geri — I’ve sent your question to our customer service specialist. Someone should be in touch with you at the email you provided shortly.

  4. Peg P says

    Two things to note about the Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs). DON’T assume that getting a reservation at a resort will be a walk in the park, so you don’t need to reserve those in advance. I’ve been trying since my 180 day mark to get a reservation at Beaches and Cream (Beach Club Resort) and now we’re down to six weeks before our trip. Still can’t get a reservation there. Same with Cape May (also at the Beach Club resort).

    Two, don’t give up! Even at the 180 day mark you might still not be able to get into Be Our Guest. Just keep trying. Check in a day or two again….and again. It took me a month to get a reservation for a Quick Service meal, but I got one! A friend of mine also couldn’t get one but I kept checking for her. She’s now going for breakfast.

    But I have to disagree on the character meals. Might not matter on the dining plan, but if you’re paying cash, these are very expensive. Expect to pay close to $100 for one adult and one child after tax and tips. And the food is bad. You’re paying for the characters, not the food. My child wouldn’t even eat the scrambled eggs at Hollywood & Vine because they “didn’t taste right.” The breakfast wasn’t so bad at Chef Mickeys, but the dinner there was pretty bland and tasteless.

    A small caveat to that, though. There is one character buffet that has great food and Mickey – Tusker House in Animal Kingdom. It offers a combination of standard American fare as well as African dishes that are quite tasty. As an added bonus, this restaurant is part of the Rivers of Light package, so you get the characters, great food, and reserved seating at Rivers of Light.

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