You’ve finally made it — you’re at the Most Magical Place on Earth, ready to have the vacation of your dreams.
But, you suddenly realize that making a ton of dining reservations actually isn’t the way to go. Things don’t happen too quickly in Disney World — wait times can be long, crowd levels can be high, and it can take you much longer to get from Point A to Point B than you realized. Taking precious time out of your day to sit down and eat a meal can make or break your trip — so we’re sharing why you should stop eating at table service restaurants in Disney World!
When it comes to dining around Disney World — we’ve been around the block a time or two. That means we know which restaurants are worth your time, money, and sanity. Sometimes, that means skipping those fancy, often-coveted table service reservations for quicker options. In fact, here’s why you might want to stop eating at table service restaurants in Disney World altogether!
They Take Too Much Time
We often stress how important it can be to take a break during a busy Disney park day. One of the ways we recommend doing that is by booking a table service meal — and for good reason. If you’re looking for a break, table service restaurants are a great option because they can take up a lot of time. Time is precious in Disney World — you’re paying a lot of money to be there and get the most for your money. Table service meals can often take multiple hours, with character and specialty meals taking much longer in some cases.
Instead, quick service locations can be a much better option if you’re trying to be efficient on your trip. Oh, and did we mention the Mobile Order option? You want to save time? Mobile ordering via the My Disney Experience app is an option at several counter-service restaurants throughout the parks and resorts. Not only will you save time by not having to sit down for a meal, but you can avoid waiting in more long lines by ordering ahead of time.
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They’re More Expensive
Disney World ain’t cheap — and food costs can really add up quickly. Table service meals are advertised as being “nicer” than your average quick service meal, and that comes at a “nicer” price tag too (by “nicer” we mean nice and expensive.) Don’t expect to get away with a low bill if you’re looking to be wined at dined at a sit-down restaurant in Disney World.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular table service spots in Disney World: Dinner at the Polynesian’s ‘Ohana will run you $59 per adult and $38 per child, while you could go next door to Tambu Lounge and get some of the same dishes for far less. At Le Cellier in EPCOT, an entrée can cost anywhere from $34 to $62, not including an appetizer, dessert, or drinks. Skip on over to Les Halles for delicious French baked goods instead!
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There Are Other Options
Listen, we’ve been doing this for a long, long time. Dining at Disney World has dramatically improved over the years, and that includes at quick service locations, too! Gone are the days when all you could order was a sad, boiled hot dog or dry, hockey puck burger (don’t worry, you still can if you want to, though!). Disney World quick service spots can be on par — dare we even say better in some cases — with their table service counterparts.
Unless you’ve been wanting to dine at a specific sit-down restaurant for the experience (like a character meal or dining package) or just really want to get a break from the hustle and bustle, opting for quick service meals can offer you the same level of delicious eats without having to stop everything you’re doing for a few hours.
Satu’li Canteen at Animal Kingdom features incredible build-your-own-bowls and the famous cheeseburger pods. At EPCOT, Regal Eagle Smokehouse is where carnivores should go for some smoked, barbecued meats and sides, or check out Sommerfest in the Germany Pavilion if you’re looking for some Bavarian eats. We’ve already mentioned Les Halles, and at Hollywood Studios, you’ll find out-of-this-world dishes at Docking Bay 7. There are some incredible fast food options if you know where to look!
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You Can’t Be Spontaneous
It’s not easy to have a spontaneous Disney World trip anymore, and it’s even more difficult when you’re worried about squeezing things in between your reservations. While you do still need park reservations, you may still find you want a bit of flexibility when it comes to choosing where to eat every day. Unless you luck out with a walk-up waitlist spot, you can’t really be flexible with table service meals.
On the other hand, the (Disney) World is your oyster when it comes to quick meals in most of the parks. Decide you’re hungry right after riding Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios? Head over to Woody’s Lunch Box for some totchos. Want to grab something quick before catching fireworks in Magic Kingdom? Corn dog nuggets at Casey’s Corner it is!
At the end of the day, only you can decide if skipping table service meals makes sense for your travel party. Consider booking fewer advance dining reservations and opting for quick-service meals instead. Not only can you save time and money, but you might discover a new favorite snack while you’re at it.
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With DOZENS of places to eat at Disney World, we know it can be tough to plan your meals. That’s why we wrote the DFB Guide to Dining at Walt Disney World. We have reviews, pictures, and details about every restaurant all in one digital download – along with ALL of our best tips and strategies from decades of Disney World trips. We’ve got a special discount code for DFB readers, too! Use WDW2023 at checkout for 25% off!
Stay tuned to DFB for the latest Disney dining tips and more!
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What’s your favorite quick service spot in Disney World? Let us know in the comments!
Laurel Lane says
Sorry, totally disagree! I love the table service restaurants and they’re one of the main draws to going to WDW for me. It’s an event. I can get fast food anywhere and you can only eat so many burgers, fries, chicken nuggets and pizza. I love to go back to the hotel in the late afternoon, take a nap, freshen up and then head to one of WDW fabulous table service restaurants.
I totally agree! I love a table service meal, though, and we always squeeze in a few where we can. I like to have one….at a resort…..on our arrival day. And we will do a TS breakfast toward the end, when we just can’t do another rope drop. Sometimes it is nice just to get off of your feet and decompress for a couple of hours.
But the QS are often just as delicious and with mobile order, so quick and easy!
While table service takes additional time, there are benefits that can’t be measured like the ability to completely escape the chaos of the Magic Kingdom and enjoy a meal with great service like at Skipper Canteen. After a great meal and a glass of two of wine, you leave refreshed and ready to take on the park again. Sometimes a quiet escape pays off more than eating quick.
Taking a solo trip is a great way to be more spontaneous in the parks, even when having to plan so much just going to WDW these days. I went in early December in 2021 as well as the same time frame in 2006, and I ate when I wanted in whatever land I was in at that time. So if I was in DHS in Toy Story Land, I ate at Woody’s. If I was in MK in Tomorrowland, I ate at Cosmic Ray’s. And if I was in Epcot’s World Nature area, I ate at Sunshine Seasons in the Land Pavillion.
Richard Mercer says
While your advice may be useful for some types of guest, I’m not one of them.
I live in Ohio, so when I go to Disney it’s for 7-10 days. Eating at WDW restaurants is one of the high points for me, and I nearly always have table service reservations for both lunch and dinner, lunch in the park of the day, and dinner at one of the resorts. I typically have a rental car, and don’t mind walking to nearby resorts, so dinner is seldom where I am staying.
I have eaten at 80 different WDW restaurants. Of course I have favorites, but also try to eat at one or two new places on each trip.
Ronald Bocker says
I agree with those that prefer sit down meals. Most of us rush around 51 weeks annually. We deserve sit down lunch and dinners when on vacation. With all the money we spend to get to and stay and enter Disney what’s a couple hundred dollars more once every five to ten years.
I disagree also. I’m 62.5 years old. At this stage in life, I’m done with rushing through life. I enjoy taking my time and enjoying a nice sit-down meal. Let them youngins do all that “rippin’ and runnin’”!