Walt Disney World Dining Guide

Dining is one of the most important parts of a Walt Disney World vacation. If you think this is incorrect, you’re incorrect. While we all think about the fun we’ll have on attractions like Space Mountain, Soarin’ Around The World, Everest and Tower of Terror, there are other things to contemplate, like dining. For us in particular, dining is the one of the things that is constantly changing at the parks. It’s refreshed, there are new events with new things to try and to be perfectly honest, there are still places we’ve never been before.

You can see what we’re getting at here: attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad are always a blast; but they are always the same. And we get it, we’re seasoned park goers so what we’re saying doesn’t necessarily apply to first timers. Or does it? Guests who plan a vacation to Disney World will always pick out their hotel, buy their tickets, book their FastPass+ reservations and start planning out their day first. But what about where they are going to eat? That’s where this Disney World Dining Guide comes into play. Dining is definitely something that should be considered with everything else, if not before some of those other things.

Italian Dining indoor seating
Mama Melrose Restaurant

We want you to know about all your options as you look at where to eat including the best places, places to avoid, and places that cannot be missed. There’s a lot to consider when plugging in dining to your park plans as time is of the essence for most. If you find this is your scenario, we’ll show you how to eat well and still get in all the rides you want.

If you’re not in a rush to get things done but are really interested in trying out some fantastic table service restaurants, we also have a plan for you. Lastly, if you’re there for the food and ready to do whatever to try something new and delicious, we’ve got you covered.

DINING OPTIONS AT DISNEY WORLD

There are 4 dining options that guests can enjoy while at the Disney World Resort. It’s important to know about each one and how they function so that you can time your days better. As we mentioned above, depending on you timetable, some of these dining options will fit your schedule better than others.

Of experienced park goers like ourselves, we tend to plan our days around dining reservations. Since dining can be planned well before FastPass+, we like to choose our parks based on where we’d like to eat and make those table service reservations first. Then when the time comes to make FastPass+ reservations, we plan them around our dining reservations. We don’t typically plan more than one table service in a day unless there’s something new to try or were feeling fancy.

Brown Derby Dining Room
Hollywood Brown Derby Restaurant

So once we have these set, we’ll do our FastPass+ and basically have our plan put together. Any gaps in dining, where we didn’t schedule a table service is going to be filled in with a quick service meal or snack from somewhere. It’s nice to leave some flexibility here in case you come across something that smells amazing and you just have to have it.

The only times we don’t plan out dining is when we will be attending a festival with marketplaces. Events like the Food & Wine Festival, Festival of the Arts and Flower & Garden Festival bring out 15+ new places with new eats to try. So when we are spending our days there, we won’t plan anything and just tase our way around World Showcase and the rest of the park.

You’ve seen us mention several types of dining options and most of them are self explanatory but we’re going to go over them in detail just in case.

QUICK SERVICE DINING

This is the fastest and most convenient way to get a meal at one of the parks, resorts or Disney Springs. As the name suggests, it’s going to quickly served and there is no one waiting on you. You’ll look at a menu, decide what you want, order it, pick it up and go sit down somewhere. Every park has 10+ quick service locations in them so there are lots of options to choose from.

Chicken and Ribs on a plate
Flametree BBQ

Most quick service locations serve up basic food items like burgers, salads, nuggets, french fries and drinks. There are several that specialize in particular cuisine such as Italian or BBQ for example. Most plates here are pretty basic and they have to be because the workers need to be able to serve something that is quick to get out. What we’re getting at is don’t expect your food to be freshly prepared by a chef and then served to you. These places are bringing in items that are probably frozen or packed together by the hundreds as Disney serves at least this many everyday.

There are several places that we love to eat at that are quick service restaurants and we’ll go over those later. For now though, just know that these joints can be found at every park and are the timesavers of dining.

TABLE SERVICE DINING

For those looking for a chance to relax and enjoy some fantastic dishes, table service is what you’re looking for. Like quick service, every theme park, resort hotel and Disney Springs has table service restaurants available. Unlike quick service, where you can just show up and order, table service usually requires advanced reservations. That’s not to say that they don’t take walk-ins, it’s just that nothing is guaranteed this way.

Disney World allows guests to book dining 120 days in advance which is 60 more than FastPass+ reservations. There are several restaurants at the parks that we would recommend you book 120 days out including Be Our Guest Restaurant and Cinderella’s Royal Table. In general though, if you’re going to be booking, do it as far in advance as possible to ensure a table.

Old 50's kitchen with dining
50’s Prime Time Cafe

With table service you’re going to have someone wait on you and your meals are going to be much better quality than a quick service or cart. You’ll have your meals freshly prepared in a kitchen as well as better choices for drinks including wine and alcohol.

Of course this comes with a price. Table service is always going to cost more per plate plus a tip. This isn’t something new to anyone. We’re basically comparing ordering from Panda Express to PF Changs. We all know the meal is going to be more but the quality is going to be better, the atmosphere will be better and the service will hopefully be better.

CHARACTER DINING AT DISNEY WORLD

Everyone dreams of being able to eat a great meal and hang out with their favorite Disney characters. Thus, character dining is the way to achieve this dream. Every park and some resorts offer character dining for guests. If they are located in the parks, valid admission is required. For locations at resort hotels, nothing is required other than a reservation. Speaking of, because these dining experiences are so popular, you’re going to want to book them far in advance. Remember how we mentioned Cinderella’s Royal Table? That’s a character dining experience and would normally be booked 120 days out.

Almost all (if not all) character dining experiences are buffet style. Guests will be seated at a table, shown to the buffet and eat as much as they’d like. Sometime during your visit, Disney characters will come out and you’ll be able to get your picture taken with them.

Royal Table Dining Hall
Cinderella’s Royal Table

One of the most important things you can do when making a reservation to one of these locations is to check the theming of it and which characters will be there. It’s not always the Fab 5 or the Disney Princesses. For instance, the Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom is home to the Hundred-acre woods characters. At Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, Donald and Mickey are the stars of the show. So if you’re looking for specific characters, use the following guide to help you decide:

DISNEY WORLD CHARACTER DINING RESTAURANTS

Crystal Palace – Magic Kingdom Theme Park – Hundred-Acre Wood friends including Winnie the Pooh, Tiger, Piglet and Eeyore.

Tusker House Restaurant – Animal Kingdom Theme Park – Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.

Chef Mickey’s – Contemporary Resort – Mickey Mouse, Goofy and their pals.

Garden Grill – The Land, Epcot Theme Park – Chip ‘n’ Dale and their friends.

Ravello – Four Seasons Resort – Goofy and his pals.

Hollywood and Vine – Hollywood Studios Theme Park – Breakfast with Disney Junior characters and lunch and dinner with Minnie Mouse and friends.

Topolino’s Terrace – Riviera Resort – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Daisy Duck

1900 Fare Park – Grand Floridian Resort – Breakfast with Mary Poppins, Alice, The Mad Hatter, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh. Dinner with Cinderella, Prince Charming and their friends.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Norway, Epcot Theme Park – Disney Princesses.

Cape May Cafe – Beach Club Resort – Breakfast with Minnie Mouse and Friends.

‘Ohana – Polynesian Village Resort – Breakfast with Lilo, Stitch and Friends.

Artist Point – Wilderness Lodge – Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

SNACK AND BEVERAGE CARTS

Funnel cake with whipped cream and strawberries
Sleepy Hollow Snacks

This is the dining that everyone loves: the treats. There are so many options when it comes to grabbing a snack in the parks and at the resorts. There is definitely something for everyone. In fact, Disney has become quite notorious for their snacks including Mickey pretzels, churros and dole whips to name a few.

Snacks can be purchased at carts or stands throughout the parks and range from popcorn and hot dogs to ice cream and drinks. While most guests don’t consider this dining per se, it’s all part of your eating experience. Snacks are the cheapest part of dining at the parks (which isn’t saying much) but they start to add up when you grab popcorn here and a churro there.

Pro Tip: If you love popcorn, you can buy a refillable popcorn bucket that’s valid during your entire stay. It can be filled up anywhere popcorn is offered in any park. It’s about $15 for the bucket and $2 per refill. Considering a regular popcorn is about $5.50, you could get some serious savings if you go this route.

A lot of guests opt to bring in their own snacks which we love. It may come as a shocker but not everyone loves churros and Mickey pretzels. Thus snacks are easily replaced by you packing them in a backpack or diaper bag. Whatever you decide to do, you’re gonna get snacky so be prepared. More on this in a minute.

So those are the 4 main dining options at the parks. As we mentioned, they can all be found in all 4 theme parks, most resort hotels, Disney Springs and the 2 water parks. Because dining is such a big part of your vacation and day to day activities, making a decision before you arrive about how you want to handle dining to ideal. Obviously you can just choose to eat at the parks, make dining reservations, do quick service and snack.

BRINGING FOOD INTO DISNEY WORLD

A cooler full of food items

Yes, you can bring food into Disney World. You’ll have zero issues with park management when it comes to doing this. You can pack a cooler, backpack, diaper bag or fanny pack with your favorite foods. All will be checked at security, particularly coolers for any loose or dry ice; these are not allowed. Thus if you plan to bring in a cooler you’ll want to use ice packs to keep your food cold.

The challenge with bringing food into the parks is the packing and carrying that’s required. It starts at your hotel by putting your food together, making sure you can keep it cool if this is required and then packing it into something that you can carry around with you all day.

For most guests, this process is too much to think or want to carry out. They tend to opt to eat in the parks. The main reason guests choose to bring their own food typically has to due with saving money or special dietary needs. If it’s the latter, be sure to check with Disney as they do offer lots of food options that are dairy free, peanut free and gluten free. If it’s beyond this, packing your own food may be the best idea.

If you’re looking to save money, packing your lunches and dinners is a great way to save. If you’re willing to pack them around with you we say rock on. If you’re staying on property, many of the items you may be looking for like bread, chips, meat, jelly, drinks and snacks can be found at most resort stores. If you’re wanting to save even more money and grocery shop for everything, read on as we’ll go over this technique in detail.

GROCERY DELIVERY AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Assorted colorful vegetables at grocery store

For those looking to save on food or just wanting a home-cooked meal while on vacation will want to consider shopping at a grocery store to save money and for more options compared to resort stores. Grocery delivery services are available to all property hotels and local hotels. The process is quite simple as there are several grocers who are willing to deliver to you, especially when you’re buying over a certain amount.

Here’s a list of grocers who will deliver to Disney World hotels:

  • Garden Grocer
  • Instacart
  • Amazon Prime Now
  • Walmart+

For more details on how to use these services and for discount codes on your first orders be sure to see our complete Grocery Delivery Guide. We typically utilize these services for breakfast and snacks so our orders will include milk, cereal, bread or bagels, bananas, oranges, jerky and some cracker snacks. We think breakfast is the easiest meal to cover for the least amount of money. We certainly do not come back in the middle of the day to the hotel to cook lunch.

When you do have groceries delivered to your hotel, be sure to leave instructions for the driver that you’re a guest and what hotel you’re at. For property hotels, it’s okay to order groceries and you’re not there when they are delivered. The hotels bell services will accept them and store them appropriately until you call for them. This includes storing cold items in fridges. We typically order the day before we arrive and schedule delivery for the next day in the morning. If we get there and our room is ready, we have the groceries brought up. If not, we head out and get them later along with our luggage.

UBER EATS, DOORDASH AND POSTMATES DELIVERY

Small pepperoni pizza
PizzeRizzo

There have been many, many nights when we have gotten back to the hotel and are hungry but just want to sit around. Queue food delivery service. Uber Eats and Doordash delivery at Disney World is readily available to any resort hotel and is perfect when you A. don’t want to pay park pricing or B. don’t want to put any effort into going out.

We prefer to order through Doordash as we feel they have the better service and most restaurants available through their service. You can also get $30 towards your first 3 orders when you use this link. It’s kind of a no brainer. How the delivery service works is kinda like Mobile Ordering at the parks. Pick the place you want your food from, order it, and then wait for the delivery to happen.

A few tips when using these services. First, in the spot where you can add in additional directions or instructions for the driver, we always put what hotel we’re staying at. The more specific the better. Second, drivers typically cannot park and come into the hotel so we always meet them at the pick-up and drop-off outside the lobby. It makes things a lot quicker when you can meet them here then to have them park and try to find your room.

DISNEY DINING PLAN

Chocolate Ganache with toasted bananas
Tiffins Restaurant

This is something every guest who’s vacationing at Disney World should consider. The Disney Dining Plan is a pre-purchased plan with several different tiers of dining based on what you’d like to experience at the parks. Not everyone goes with the dining plan because it doesn’t always make sense for them. We explain all of this in our complete Disney Dining Plan Guide which you’ll want to take a look at.

The plan is broken down into 4 tiers:

Quick-service Dining Plan – Dine at over 100+ quick service locations throughout the parks, resort hotels, water parks and Disney Springs. Guests on the plan receive the following:

  • 2 Quick-Service Meals (per night of stay)
  • 2 Snacks/Nonalcoholic Drinks (per night of stay)
  • One Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

Disney Dining Plan – Guests can enjoy a mix of dining opportunities with the Disney Dining Plan which offers the following for each guest:

  • One Quick-Service Meal (per night of stay)
  • One Table-Service Meal (per night of stay)
  • 2 Snacks/Nonalcoholic Drinks (per night of stay)
  • One Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

Disney Dining Plan Plus – This is Disney World newest plan and offers a variety of dining options including quick service, table service and snacks in any combination:

  • 2 Meals – Any combination of Table-Service and Quick-Service (per night of stay)
  • 2 Snacks/Nonalcoholic Drinks (per night of stay)
  • One Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

Disney Deluxe Dining Plan – Breakfast, lunch and dinner is served in any fashion you want on the Deluxe Dining Plan. Choose any combination of the following:

  • 3 Meals – Any combination of Table-Service and Quick-Service (per night of stay)
  • 2 Snacks/Nonalcoholic Drinks (per night of stay)
  • One Resort-Refillable Drink Mug

As you can see the dining plan options can be a great way to pre-plan how you’re going to dine. However, this doesn’t mean you’re going to be saving money necessarily. If you want to do a dining plan but have flexibility you’re going to want to go with the Dining Plan Plus or higher.

Mickey-shaped brunch on plate
Chef Mickey’s

Of course there are some guests how don’t want to pre-plan anything and they’ll just eat wherever, whenever. We hear you. That’s the downside to the dining plan. You prepay for your meals so if you don’t use something, like a snack or a meal, you’re outta luck. Disney doesn’t refund what you don’t use. Like we said, most people don’t do the dining plan but sometimes it makes sense like when Disney offers a free dining plan with a package booking.

DISNEY WORLD MOBILE ORDERING

This has become a prominent way to get your food at the resort over the last several years, particularly during COVID. The concept is genius and tends to work very well for guests. While there are a few out there who don’t want to use modern-day technology to do things at the parks, most guests who have the Disney World App can and should take advantage of mobile ordering.

A guest can mobile order using the app on their phone from anywhere at the resort. The process is quite simple and it starts with deciding where you want to eat. Choose the quick service restaurant or snack location that you want. Then choose a window of when you want to pick up your food. Most guests are going to choose a time that’s now or fairly close to that. However, you can order for later on in the day.

Snow slushies
Kabuki Cafe

After choosing your window you’ll choose what you want to eat. The full menu of the restaurant is going to be available and so are any specialty items. You can even customise your food if you don’t want something like tomato or pickles. You can also add any drinks that you might want or desserts. Now you’re ready to checkout. You can pay with Apple Pay, credit card or Disney Gift Card.

You’ll notice that after ordering, based on your pick-up window, you can either tap “I’m Here, Prepare My Food” or you’ll need to wait till your window arrives and then tap that.

Pro Tip: If it’s busy in the parks and your window has arrived but you’re not at the restaurant, we recommend tapping the “I’m Here” button anyway. There’s a good chance that you’re food will take 5+ minutes to prepare before you can actually pick it up. Even if it does become ready and you’re not there, you’re food is still prepared fresh. You’ll also be able to skip the whole crowd outside waiting for their food part.

FOOD FESTIVALS AND SPECIAL EVENTS

Like us, there are countless people who travel to Disney World in Orlando to take part in the resorts food festivals and special events that include new food. It sounds strange to people who have never been before but Disney does such an amazing job with these that for us and others, it’s a must-do every year.

St. Patrick's Carmel Apples and Mickey's

The biggest food festival is held at Epcot Theme Park every fall: The International Food & Wine Festival. Epcot is already notorious for their variety of foods from all the country pavilions that line World Showcase (see our tasting around the world guide) so when they add 15+ new food marketplaces for guests to enjoy even more international cuisine, we say, “yes please!” It’s really something that everyone should experience once in their life. Sample dishes from Japan, Hawaii, France, Germany, Australia, the UK, Brazil, China and so many more.

As amazing as this sounds, the Food & Wine Festival isn’t the only time the parks add more food. Epcot holds 2 other festivals each year that include new food marketplaces including the Flower & Garden Festival and the Festival of Arts. Then there’s Magic Kingdom’s celebration of The Holidays and Halloween where special entrees, snacks and desserts make their way out into the park.

We’ll just wrap this up by saying that there are so lots of occasions where Disney celebrates food and they are all great events to try out. Be sure to follow our newsletter for updates and foodie guides to each one of them.

WRAPPING UP

Clearly Disney World is so much more than shows, attractions and shopping. Dining will always be a big part of the guest experience so we encourage you to take advantage of these tips and make a plan. We like to eat mostly quick service when we’re at the parks, pack our own snacks and then 2-3 times we will do a table service if we’re staying there for a week. We like to try new places and resort hotels are the best for this.

If you need additional help planning your vacation be sure to check-out our Planning Guide which goes over the in’s and out’s of planning the proper Disney World vacation. We also have the Best & Worst Months to Visit the parks which can help you choose the right time to visit. Need a hand packing? We’ve got the best tips and tricks for what to park for Disney. Lastly, are you considering going to Universal Orlando? We’ve got a fantastic Planning Guide for this resort all well!

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