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Dining at WDW: The Real Magic of Disney World

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This chapter is from the book

In this chapter:

  • Find out about restaurants all around the World (Walt Disney World that is!)

  • Figure out what choices are the best for your taste and budget

  • Learn how to meet your favorite Disney characters at meals

If your idea of theme park food variety is having cheese added to your hamburger, you are in for a big surprise. Walt Disney World has grown over the years to include an amazing array of dining selections. There are counter service fast food joints, elegant fine dining, and food stands with everything from soft drinks and ice cream to fresh fruit and roasted turkey legs. You can select cuisines from all around the world, or some really great American classics. You may also be surprised by a growing effort to bring healthier choices to the parks and to meet specialty diet requirements.

Making your dining arrangements ahead of time is very important. Since the right meals can make a vacation, underestimating your true food costs could just as easily ruin it. So why is planning important? Well, some restaurants are so popular that you have to make an advance reservation weeks before you arrive if you want to get in. You also want to be sure to budget out what you are going to spend on food. While there are dining options to fit all cost ranges, it would be easy to overspend if you don't pay attention.

So what you should do with this chapter is get an idea of where you want to eat, what it will cost you, and for which meals you will need to make an advance reservation arrangement ahead of time.

In this chapter, the restaurants are organized by location, and then by type. At most places throughout Walt Disney World you have the option of dining at a Table Service restaurant, a Counter Service restaurant, or to simply pick up a snack along the way, so I have organized them in those categories. So pick your favorites, plan your dining, and bon appétit!

To Do List

  • Review the dining options based on where you plan on being for each meal during your vacation

  • Select the restaurant that best suits your group's appetite and budget

  • Schedule the advanced reservation arrangements for all your meals

Scheduling Meals: The Disney Advanced Reservations System

Walt Disney World restaurants now accept reservations, but they are a bit different than what you might be used to. The system is easy. Simply call 407-WDW-DINE, which translates to 407-939-3463. Tell them what restaurant you would like to go to, party size, desired time, and so on. Your advanced reservation schedule means that when you arrive and check in, you are placed ahead of anyone who is waiting for a table but doesn’t have an advanced reservation arrangement. And since they only accept a limited number of advanced reservations per hour, it is in most respects exactly like a reservation. You can write down your confirmation number on the Trip Card in the back of the book, and you should plan to arrive at the restaurant 10–15 minutes before your seating time. You can make an advanced reservation arrangement for most Disney restaurant as early as 90 days ahead of time.

If you know of a few restaurants where you really want to dine, make those advanced registration calls from home before you leave on your trip. In the cases of these more sought-after restaurants, you will want to call in exactly 90 days ahead of time, and as soon as the phone lines open at 7 a.m. Eastern time:

  • Once Upon a Time Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table

  • Lunch at the Crystal Palace

  • Dinners on certain holidays (New Year’s, Christmas, Thanksgiving)

  • Dinners at restaurants with a view of fireworks

  • The Disney Spirit of Aloha show at the Polynesian Resort

  • The Hoop de Doo Musical Review

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