Disney Dining Tips: The Disney World Restaurant Search Tool!

Have you ever wished that with the push of a button you could figure out the PERFECT dining spots for your next Disney vacation?

Well, guess what? We’ve got you covered with the Disney Food Blog Restaurant Search Tool!

We LURVE Dining at Disney World, and we know that you do, too! But – wow! – with SOOOO many choices of where to eat, how in the World (ha!) do you narrow it down and make a decision?

We have taken 18 important Disney Dining search criteria and created a tool that will give you selections for the perfect Disney dining experience. And once you’ve narrowed down your restaurants, you can check out reviews, menus, and expert tips for each of them! Let’s take a look at how it works…

It’s incredibly easy (and actually pretty fun!) to use this tool.

1. Choose Criteria

You have 18 choices, so you can be as specific or as general as you

[Read more…]

56 Must-Read Disney Dining Secrets from Disney Food Blog

Disney may be the Happiest Place on Earth, but nothing can wreck the happy faster than poor planning.

This is especially true when it comes to one of the most important parts of your trip — eating!

After decades of Disney dining, we’ve perfected some expert tips and advice to get the most out of  your Disney World visit.

Today, we’re sharing our 56 Must-Read Disney Dining Secrets to ensure that you have the magical visit of your dreams!

Top Disney Dining Secrets

Let’s get started!

1. Make dining reservations. Even if you don’t follow any other piece of advice, we can’t say this emphatically enough. To fully appreciate the truly entertaining and delicious array of Disney Dining offerings, you must make advanced dining reservations. If you wait until you arrive at Disney to make table service arrangements, you may miss out on many of your top picks because they will be booked.

Book Dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant 180 Days in Advance to Guarantee a Table

2. BYOP (Bring  Your Own Pepsi). Yep. Those of you who are die-hard Pepsi drinkers will be sad to note that any and all Disney establishments will not carry Pepsi products. It’s a Coke-only zone here! So either bring your own Pepsi, or plan to take a trip to a nearby gas station, convenience store, grocery store, or drug store to pick up your stash. You can also order it and have it delivered directly to your hotel from Garden Grocer.

No Pepsi Here.

3. Don’t miss the must-eat items! After years of eating Disney goodies, we here at Disney Food Blog have amassed quite a list of “must-eat” treats in Disney parks and resorts. Cult favorites like Dole Whip Floats, Zebra Domes, School Bread, and Mickey Bars are high priority when you’re visiting the Happiest Place on Earth. To read up on our favorites, head over to our Best Disney World Restaurants Page for some great “Best Of” posts like Best Cookie Snacks in Disney World, favorite Disney ice cold snacks, Disney’s best grilled cheese, and more! And if you’re headed to Disney World for the first time, you must read our Best Disney Restaurants for First-Timers article — very helpful!

Dole Whip Float! A Must-Eat snack for every Disney guest.

4. Make your reservations 180 days prior to your visit whenever possible. Nope — it’s not enough to just make reservations; you need to make them as early as possible. For most restaurants, that’s 180 days prior to the date you’re seeking. If you’re staying in a Disney hotel, you can book all of your reservations for up to 10 days beginning exactly 180 days before the first day of your trip.

5. Don’t pay for food you don’t want. One of my favorite Disney Dining tips is to be a squeaky wheel when you need to be. Disney is very good at customizing meals, and at counter-service restaurants, your customized meal might even save you some money! For example, [Read more…]

Disney Food Blog Dad’s Day Sale!

My friends, It’s been a loooooong time since we’ve had a sale on our 2012 edition of the Disney Food Blog Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book. And because my Dad’s so awesome (many of you know him as “AJ’s Dad” of course), we’re doing a big ol’ sale for Dad’s Day!

I also think you’re awesome, and I don’t want you to miss ANYTHING on your next trip to Disney World.

Soooooooo… starting today, for one week only, use code “DAD” to get 20% off this 300-page, fully portable e-Book. (It looks great on your iPad!)

The best part is (well, no, the best part is all of the detailed info and incredible food photos — if I do say so myself — but this next part is pretty cool too…) that the book is guaranteed to give you your money’s worth or we’ll give you your money back! No questions asked! (Well, I’ll have silent questions about why you didn’t like it, but I won’t actually ask them. That’s between you and you.) ;-)

SO, snap up the book and DON’T MISS ANYTHING on your next Disney World trip! Especially not the sweet money-saving tips…those things are awesome…

In summary:

  1. DFBGuide.com
  2. Code “DAD” at check-out
  3. 20% off the purchase price ($14.95 instead of $18.95!)
  4. Don’t Miss Anything in Disney World

(I feel like the guy at the beginning of Soarin’…) [Read more…]

**Memorial Day Weekend Sale!** DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book

Great news as we start up this Memorial Day Weekend! If you need a Disney World food fix, are planning a trip to Disney World, or are wondering about the best places to eat in the World, we’ve got the perfect weekend activity for you.

If you don’t have your Disney Food Blog Guide to Walt Disney World Dining e-Book yet, this is the time to buy! We’re having a SALE!

The Disney Food Blog’s Guide to dining in Walt Disney World features 250 full-color pages of information, planning suggestions, tips, and details about eating in Disney World.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, “This comprehensive e-book is a valuable tool for both first-time visitors and Disney World veterans.”

DFB Guide Sample Page

This weekend, you can get your Guide for 20% off the regular purchase price using code: Memorial on the check-out page! The best news: it’s risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee! If you’re unsatisfied with the book for any reason, you can receive a refund, no questions asked. This discount will last for a limited time, so get your copy today :-)

To see more testimonials and recommendations, sample pages, and details on BONUS items when you purchase, visit http://DFBGuide.com!

Breakfast at the Bakery…the Main Street Bakery

As you know, I think that anything cinnamon roll related in Disney parks and resorts is a breakfast of champions. So when I was headed to the Magic Kingdom to meet a friend at the Main Street Bakery for breakfast recently, I decided I’d get a cinnamon roll.

Main Street Bakery Window in Magic Kingdom

When I arrived a bit early, I took my time scoping out the goodies available, which included these beauties:

Main Street Bakery Pastries

…and realized that I haven’t really done a review of the Bakery, per say. It was part of the bakery throw down (speaking of, head over to that post to see lots of pics of atmosphere at the Bakery), of course, but as for really digging into the food options there, it’s been a while! So I took advantage of the situation.

I suppose it should have been a warning when the cast member at the check-out counter started pulling out the take-out containers, but when I got over to my table, I had this:

Breakfast at the Bakery

I got some pretty weird looks from folks, but I’m pretty used to that by now. ;-) And don’t worry, I took the food I didn’t eat back to the hotel room. And I subsequently found out that a cinnamon roll from the Bakery tastes surprisingly good even [Read more…]

New Disney Food Blog Mini-Guides: Tell Us What You Want To Know!

Hi guys! We’re working on another brand new Disney Food Blog project, but we need your input and thoughts to make it happen.

So Here’s The Plan

Remember when we asked what you’d like to see in our DFB Guide to Walt Disney World Dining? One of the responses we heard quite a bit went a little something like this…:

“I…tend to plan where I’m eating based on where I am going to be, or vice versa, so I’d love something like “if you are at Animal Kingdom, eat dinner at …”

We got several responses similar to this one, and since we often plan our dining to be close and convenient to where we’ll be that day, too, we thought it was a great idea. So we included in the DFB Guide several one-day dining strategies for specific circumstances (see a sample dining strategy below for guests staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge).

DFBGuide.com Sample Dining Strategy -- Animal Kingdom Lodge p1

DFBGuide.com Sample Dining Strategy -- Animal Kingdom Lodge p2

The Disney Food Blog Mini-Guide Series

We knew we had many more of our one-day strategies to share, and we wanted to add week-long strategies including some of our favorite restaurants, but the large size of the DFB Guide meant we had to cut it off somewhere!

So since we know there’s still a lot of in-depth info to cover in that area — and other areas — we’ve decided to produce Mini-Guides dedicated to specific aspects of Disney dining! Several of these mini-guides will focus completely on turn-key one-day, one-week, and two-week dining strategies for your vacation. We’ll give you our favorite suggestions for breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND snacks based on where you’re staying, what park you’re visiting each day, and even what special dining criteria you have to manage.

And we’ll take the guesswork out of travel/transportation planning for you! Our strategies will focus on making getting from “here” to “there” easy, quick, and convenient.

We Need Your Suggestions

To make sure we’re putting out the right Mini-Guides for you, tell us in the comments below what you want to know more about. Here are a few examples to get your brainwaves going:

  • Are you staying in a Magic Kingdom resort for a week and want to know the best places to eat and how to get to them?
  • Will you be spending several days in Epcot and need to ensure you get some variety?
  • Are you (or is someone in your party) eating vegetarian or gluten-free on your trip?
  • Do you want to be able to walk to your dinner restaurant from wherever you are that day?
  • Do you have three kids, two grandparents, a sister-in-law, and four cousins who all have a different wish-list when it comes to food…and refuse to take the bus?

Share with us what kinds of dining strategies would make your vacation planning 110% easier!

Other Disney Dining Topics You’d Like to See Covered in More Detail?

And let us know if there are other in-depth Disney dining topics you’d like to hear more about. The Mini-Guide series is slated to include a volume about planning for the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival, one focused on the ins and outs of the Disney Dining Plan, a guide dedicated to dining with Special Diets in Disney World, and more! And don’t worry…we’re already working on a new Disney Food Blog project all about snacks!

I can’t wait to hear what YOU want to know!

Review: Plaza Restaurant at Magic Kingdom

I love the Plaza. Here’s why:

  • It’s less expensive than many other table-service restaurants
  • It’s good quality
  • It’s easy

What more could you want in a restaurant when you’re fighting Magic Kingdom crowds, dying to use your Splash Mountain fastpass before the parade, and coping with your tired and hungry troops?

The Plaza offers less-expensive, but delicious, food right in the middle of the Magic Kingdom. And, believe it or not, it’s not all that difficult to get an Advance Dining Reservation here!

Atmosphere

The Plaza is a tiny little restaurant located between Tomorrowland and Main Street USA in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

Plaza sign

It’s right next door to what some folks call the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor, but is actually — according to the sign — the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. Which [Read more…]

WDW Moms Panelists on Best Dining Values in Disney World

I’m really excited about this post in the Walt Disney World Moms Panel mini-series! You’ve met some of the moms and heard about their most magical Disney dining moments, but today we get into the nitty gritty of Walt Disney World planning: what restaurants offer the best value for the money?

Looks from the answers that the Picnic in the Park at Animal Kingdom, the Flame Tree Barbecue, and Teppan Edo were big winners in this category, along with Whispering Canyon Cafe’s skillet!

From Mom Erin F.

I’d suggest any of the buffets – particularly if you go for lunch. Have a bagel or coffee breakfast, and chow at a buffet lunch; that will get you through the day. For counter service, I’ve had good experiences with Tangierine Café – you get a variety of food and great vegetables. And my kids love flame tree barbecue.

From Mom Anna S.

A Full Plate at Teppan Edo

A Full Plate at Teppan Edo

Good food at a worth it price for table service is Teppan Edo. Plus you get the show the chef performs in front of you to boot! We’ve always gotten very generous portions here, more than enough to share with each other without feeling like you’re sacrificing half the meal for the kids to each have a taste, and I can’t remember a time when we’ve eaten here and not had something leftover!

I’m not sure this technically counts as counter service, but I could talk all day about the Picnic in the Park at Animal Kingdom. My husband and I went with our two younger children, ordered the rotisserie chicken for three, and left with our desserts in the nifty bag they give you, we were so full! This was an awesome Disney dining experience, and we can’t wait to do it again!

From Mom Kara B.

I’m totally cheating here and going for the non-counter/non-table service restaurant: the picnic in the park at the Animal Kingdom. What a smashingly brilliant deal. We had a TON of food for a family of 5 — so much so that we brought nearly half of it home with us (glad we were at a resort with a fridge) and were left with a shopping bag that I still use all the time. I love having comments about it as clerks bag my groceries. The park is filled with all sorts of fun places to picnic; we opted for the secret path by the Tree of Life and nearly had the area to ourselves (just a few people walked through). Not to mention, ordering the picnic is simple and with little to no wait.

From Mom Joanne M.

Hands down, for me the best counter service for taste, selection and value is Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney. The menu selection has something for everyone, from pizza and pasta to sandwiches and rotisserie chicken. The food and service are consistently excellent. We often stop in on our last day and pick up a pizza for the flight home!

If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, Le Cellier in the Canadian Pavillion at Epcot (I’m really not biased) offers one of the best deals for one dining credit. The mushroom filet absolutely melts in your mouth, and similar meals are two credits at some of the other resort restaurants. And the chocolate moose dessert is super cute
and soooo good!

For overall value, I always recommend going to some of the more expensive restaurants for lunch. This way, you get to experience the finer restaurants at reduced prices. One of my new favourites is Epcot’s Chefs de France in France. They currently have an awesome table d’hote special for $20, which includes decadent
lobster chowder or the best French onion soup ever, a main course selection (including a rich quiche), and dessert. Service is fabulous, and the setting is very francais!

From Mom Amber V.

I think a great table service that offers good food at a value is the Plaza Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. Granted, the food is nothing fancy, but the portions are plentiful and we have always enjoyed excellent service here. You really can’t go wrong with any of the sandwiches, and there are occasionally chef specials as well. The desserts alone are a reason to visit the Plaza, and they are definitely
large enough to share!

For a great counter service value we go to Cosmic Rays at the Magic Kingdom. Their combo meals are absolutely large enough to share. I also love Columbia Harbour House. It is one of my favorite counter service restaurants at Disney. I feel that the menu selection is diverse and the food is good quality and decent portion sizes.

From Mom Heather R.

The Plaza Restaurant and the Trail’s End Restaurant both fall into that category. Really, any buffet will offer bang-for-the-buck, particularly if you have big eaters (or teenage boys!) in your family.

While not the least expensive option out there, I’d highly recommend the Canyon Skillet at the Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge. It’s a family-style meal that is both delicious and bottomless! If you’re watching your budget, consider booking a late lunch for a $9 savings over dinner price.

At that same price point, for dinner I really like the clam bake at the Cape May Cafe in the Beach Club resort. It’s a buffet so you can eat till your heart is content, and I’m particularly fond of their miniature desserts (so yes, you finally can sample one of each!)

Lots of Choices at Cosmic Ray's

Lots of Choices at Cosmic Ray's

For counter service, I think that the Bacon Double Cheeseburger at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in the Magic Kingdom is a very good value. It’s served with fries and is really quite large, easily split between two people. Although the price point is higher, the 1/2 chicken and BBQ rib combo there is also a large meal, and a step up from typical counter service restaurant offerings.

I also found that I was unable to finish my counter service lunch of Honey Chicken from Yak and Yeti, as the portion was larger than I was expecting. When eating there the next time I’ll plan on sharing it with one of my children so we don’t have as much waste.

From Mom Whitney P.

I see “value” through two different lenses: the food plus experience and just the food. If we’re talking food plus experience, three top my list:

If you’re a parent, you may have been urged by friends to seek a Character Dining meal while at Disney. I’ve seen many parents get stressed over these meals, especially with the inability to get advanced reservations for last-minute trips. A comparable memory-making dining experience for many children can be found, however, at the animatronic restaurants of T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe. In fact, Rainforest is probably the most-requested restaurant by my kids! PLUS: the menu is more affordable than the Character Dining buffets.

A close third is Sci-Fi Dinner Theatre. It gets panned by many who are on the dining plan, and rightfully so, because you could spend that same dining credit on more expensive fare. But when I go to Disney without the dining plan, and I’m looking at paying for both the experience as well as the food, Sci-Fi fits the bill for creating a memorable theme with food that’s comparable in price to some counter-service combo meals! My husband loves the Reuben.

Your View From the Flame Tree Barbecue

Your View From the Flame Tree Barbecue

If we’re talking food value sans experience, I tend to lean toward the counter-service restaurants. Again, three come to mind, all in different parks:

1. Flame Tree BBQ, Animal Kingdom: Our family of six can order two 1/2 slabs of ribs and the 1/2 chicken combo and we’re good. Top this off with a seat under the tree canopy down by the water behind the restaurant and you’ve got my number one value for food and experience for family-eating in the parks.

2. We can do the same thing at Cosmic Ray’s with its 1/2 Chicken and BBQ Rib Combo, but because the food is so similar, we usually don’t eat at both Flame Tree and Ray’s on the same trip. (By the way, while my family is gorging themselves on the ribs, I’m eating all the delicious green beans–YUM!)

3. Sunshine Seasons, Epcot: What I call their “blue-plate special” line (The Grill) offers up some pretty hefty
meals that can satisfy big appetites for under $10! The rotisserie chicken can be split between two of my boys. The seared-tuna salad is large enough to share, also!

From Mom Jo Y.

We are normally on the DDP so don’t tend to choose restaurants for the best value, rather where we’d like to dine. Saying that, though, for counter service I would say Wolfgang Puck Express in Downtown Disney offers great value for money. Although you need to stand in line to order your food like
at a regular counter service a waiter actually brings your food to the table, so it feels like a table service. The portions here are huge and the choice is extensive!

For table service I’d choose the Cape May Clam Bake; for under $30 adults can eat as much as they want from a large selection of foods including soups, salads, prime rib, shrimps, clams, vegetables etc

From Mom Kay B.

My husband insists the answer is Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner, since they will keep bringing the platters of food until you say no more! He loves the turkey and roast beef and all the “fixins” that go with that! I think there are several spots in EPCOT where you get a lot for your money and those are Nine Dragons in China and Marrakesh in Morocco.

For counter service spots, Flametree Barbecue comes to the front, and then also Cantina De San Angel in Mexico….good portions, full meals, decent pricing.

From Dad Doug I.

For table service I actually think you get a lot of good food for your money at Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge.

Mosey On Down to the Whispering Canyon Cafe

Mosey On Down to the Whispering Canyon Cafe

You have to be hungry to take advantage of it, but the Skillets really work out to be a decent deal in the world of Walt Disney World dining.

For counter service I think there is no better choice than Flame Tree BBQ at the Animal Kingdom. The BBQ is fantastic, and the seating area, down in the riverside grottos complete with a dense, jungle-like tree canopy, is a real treat. I think it is a better dining experience than many table service restaurants!

From Mom Jodi G.

I think the Tangierine Cafe [in Epcot’s Morocco] is a great value — my personal recommendation for those who want to try out some new foods and fill up at a great price. As for table-service, I love the Crystal Palace buffet (especially dinner) because the buffet has some great food at a good price.

From Mom Beth C.

Teppan Edo in Japan is my choice for the best value for its price. The food is fresh, delicious and cooked to order. The food is served as soon as it is cooked, which is awesome. You have a lot of food for a reasonable price and you get a “show” for free. This is also one restaurant where everyone eats everything and we have no room for dessert (and we love dessert).

For counter-service, Animal Kingdom offers the All American Family Picnic. This is a unique idea on an American classic. Guests can preorder their lunch at Island Mercantile Shop before 1:30. You have a choice of sandwiches or roasted chicken. Everyone recieves their own sandwich, dessert and drink. The sides and roasted chicken are portioned to the number of people in your party. You pick up your lunch at the Tusker House in a reusable tote you get to keep. You can then take it to one of the many picnic spots located throughout Animal Kingdom. We ordered sandwiches for four and we had food leftover. The food is from Tusker House which buffet is very good and the picnic lunch is just as yummy.

From Mom Kim L.

We get the best value at the Boma breakfast buffet. Great food, awesome atmosphere and no one leaves hungry. For counter-service, I think Earl of Sandwich at Downtown Disney provides a great meal at a value price.

Liberty Tree Tavern's Pot Roast Lunch

Liberty Tree Tavern's Pot Roast Lunch

From Mom Margaret F.

I think the best deal for counter service on property has to be Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios. For approximately $10, each guest can choose an individual pizza, salad and drink and for just a few dollars more a yummy dessert,. The pizza is a great portion size and easily fills us up, plus it is actually very yummy. My kids love the salad and t is just the perfect size.

For table dining locations, we love the value of the Liberty Tree Tavern lunch menu. The menu offers a great selection of hearty home cooked favorites like pot roast, the pilgrim’s feast of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing and the catch of the day all under $20 and most around $15. The food is delicious and quite filling. The dinner menu is also a great selection of turkey, roast beef, potatoes, vegetbale and dessert served family style at approximately $30 per guest. Still a great price compared to some of the menu prices at other Disney dinner locations and my kids never leave food on the plate here.

Thanks again to all the “moms” who are participating in the interviews!