Tips from the DFB Guide: How to Avoid Crowds When Dining in Disney World

If you’ve ever eaten at a crowded Disney World restaurant, you KNOW it’s not something you want to repeat.

Endless lines, deafening volume, long waits for tables (or sometimes even having to sit on the floor at counter-service restaurants)…it’s definitely not a “magical moment.” After all, vacations are for relaxing — especially at meal times!

We know that you want to make the most of every moment of your trip, and that means eating when the restaurants aren’t crowded — and taking advantage of rides and attractions when restaurants are busy. You need stress-free Disney Dining!

Our recommendations will give you a chance to unwind, enjoy a great meal (or quick and tasty pick-me-up), and get you back to the Walt Disney World attractions! We’ve done the meal time research for you! After years of touring the parks and countless meals at Disney World, we’ve gathered tips to avoid the crowds!

Book an early ADR to get a great table without the crowds!

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have a whole section dedicated to avoiding crowds in Disney World. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2013 for a limited time!

With our in-depth DFB Guide, you’ll learn tips for avoiding the crazy in Disney World — and ensure  you have a relaxing and nourishing meal so you’re ready to get back out to the parks. Don’t go on your vacation without these tips for stress-free dining!

3 Awesome Tips to Avoid Disney World Dining Crowds

Let’s get right to our meal time strategies that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to make the most of your Disney Dining without the crowds.

We found Tortuga Tavern empty at 11am during a June visit! An hour later, there were no seats available!

1. Dine at “Off-Times”

If you’re visiting Disney World during a busy time (yes, Spring Breakers, Summer visitors, Christmas Folks, that includes you!), finding a restaurant without a wait will be difficult.

Still, crowds thin after the throngs depart during major meal rushes. We suggest avoiding 8-9AM, noon-1:30PM, and 6-7PM. We’ve found that booking meals for “brunch” at 10:30 or 11AM, late lunch at 3 or 4PM, or late dinner at 8 or 9PM works well for avoiding the crowd crunch. For counter-service restaurants, we [Read more…]

Review: Non-Alcoholic Sangria at Magic Kingdom’s Tortuga Tavern

Sometimes, when you’re in Magic Kingdom and you’ve had your fill of Dole Whip Floats (I know…sounds impossible), you just might be looking for something else refreshing, you know?

Well, just in case, here’s something to try! I’ve been eying the Non-Alcoholic Sangria at Tortuga Tavern for a loooong time, and since I was in the MK on a very warm day recently, I decided it was finally time to give it a go.

Tortuga Tavern -- Outside

“So….non-alcoholic sangria?” you’re thinking, “What could that possibly be?” Well, I wasn’t sure, either. Is it some sort of “near-wine” with fruit in it?

Beverage Menu -- Click to Enlarge

I know, I agree — the name could use some work. “Punchless” Sangria? “Where’s the Rum” Sangria, maybe? Ah, well. It’s a work in progress. :-) But it sounded yum, so I took the plunge.

And I…really liked it!! Like, reeeeally liked it! With a taste of [Read more…]

Guest Review: Tortuga Tavern in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Ahoy me hearties! Let’s welcome back Julie B. with a review of Tortuga Tavern in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland. Isn’t it fun when you find this place open?! And we love that Julie found the place empty. Wow.

If you’re like me, you can never get enough pirates! You love the ride, the movies, and the hilarious, charming Jack Sparrow (pardon me… Captain Jack Sparrow). But you may not know you can eat like a pirate too!

Tortuga Tavern Sign

Enter Tortuga Tavern! Formerly known as El Pirata Y El Perico, the restaurant was refurbished and updated a while back.

The menu is basically the same, but the restaurant was renamed to match the island of Tortuga known from the Pirates series.

Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern Code of Conduct


Tortuga Tavern is a calmer retreat from the busy Pirates plaza. With outdoor and covered seating, you can get a little reprieve from the Florida heat.

It also offers a mild Caribbean theme mixed in with a pirate tavern.

Pirate Theme

Courtyard at Tortuga Tavern

Tortuga Tavern Outdoor Seating

The tables are all spread out and the [Read more…]

The Hidden Laws of the Magic Kingdom

On a visit through Adventureland and Frontierland last month, I noticed that some of the local restaurants had rules I wasn’t even aware of… . Figured I’d share them here with you so that you can avoid finding yourself in a sticky bind in the future…

Should you find yourself wandering into Tortuga Tavern, remember the Code of Conduct below (be sure to click to enlarge — you’ll need to read it all), including “Every man has equal right to fresh provisions (iffin he has the gold),” and “A witness shall be present for gaming at cards or dice. (Short drop and sudden stop for cheatin’ scallywags.).”

And, of course, no monkeys.

Tortuga Tavern Code of Conduct

Next door at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe there is a shorter list of rules, but they’re no less important (after all, this is the Code of the West). Methinks the last one is likely the most [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Condiments Make the World Go Round

Disney Food for Families columnist Erin Foster knows what’s important for her family when it comes to Disney counter-service…

It’s a rare child that doesn’t feel passionate about condiments. Here are a few of the examples you might have heard from your kids… “I won’t let any type of sauce touch my food.” Or,“I’ll eat anything, as long as it’s covered in ketchup.” “Hot sauce is heavenly.” “Relish looks like alien slime.” “Plastic cheese makes everything better.” “Salsa, not ketchup.” “Mustard, not salsa.” “French fries are fine, but only if dipped in maple syrup.”

Yep, condiments are the weird and wonderful place where kiddie crazy food idiosyncrasies come out to play. Luckily, Disney has the condiment basics covered at most places.

You guys know AJ can't live without her plastic cheese

At any of the counter service restaurants where burger/dog/nugget staples are served, you’ll find traditional accompaniments like ketchup and mustard. And while they may not be out on the table, you can ask for these items at nearly all of the table service restaurants on property. But if you keep your eyes open, you’ll find many more options available.

So, if your child, or you, will ONLY eat food covered in soy sauce (hey, it happens), I’ll tell you where you’ll be able to get your fix.

Topping Bars

A few Disney counter service restaurants, such as Cosmic Ray’s and Tortuga Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, offer what Disney calls a “toppings bar.” This is code for a salad-bar-like spread of fresh fixin’ add-ons.

Tortuga Tavern toppings

Once you get your burger (at Cosmic Ray’s) or taco salad (at Tortuga Tavern), you can head over to the toppings bar to get unlimited embellishments to enhance your entree. The toppings typically include items like [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: February 13, 2011

It’s hearts week in the USA as Valentine’s Day approaches! Happy Hearts Day everyone! In Disney food news, we’ve got a few interesting tidbits to share:

And now, on to the round-up!

WDW for Grownups has compiled some great Disney World dining tips from their facebook fans.

Progress City USA shares the news about a new book, Four Decades of Magic: Celebrating the First Forty Years of Disney World, written by some extraordinary Disney historians and bloggers.

Main Street Gazette heads to Yak & Yeti in Disney’s Animal Kingdom (and doesn’t quite [Read more…]

Tortuga Tavern Opens in Disney World’s Adventureland

Let’s all take a deep breath and prepare for the dramatic changes at Tortuga Tavern in Disney World. Okay, maybe you don’t need to breathe that deeply because it doesn’t appear that much has changed.

As you may know, the rarely open, El Pirata y El Perico has been recently re-named the Tortuga Tavern. What other changes await us? Here’s the new menu:

Tortuga Tavern Menu -- click image for larger version

You may notice some distinct similarities to the menu from this guest review by Sarah Holodick (who also provided this new picture). In fact, let me know if you notice any dissimilarities. As far as we can tell [Read more…]