From quick snacks to dinner shows, fun dining experiences and great food are an essential part of every Disney World vacation. Here is everything you need to do Disney Dining the Right Way including all your dining options as well as how to make Dining Reservations at your favorite restaurants.
So, read on and learn about all the deliciousness Disney has to offer!
Disney World Snacks
If you don’t stuff yourself as big as Winnie the Pooh at a meal, Disney World offers snacks galore. Sit down and take a break from the heat by grabbing a snack inside a Quick Service restaurant. Otherwise, you will find food carts and walk-up windows throughout the parks as well as bakeries and ice cream shops. Here is just a short list of some of the snacks available: fresh fruit, hummus, popcorn, cupcakes, chips, cinnamon rolls, funnel cakes and smoothies.
Or grab one of these iconic Disney snacks.
- Dole Whip – soft serve vanilla ice cream swirled with pineapple
- Mickey Bar – Mickey-shaped vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate
- Mickey-Shaped Pretzel – served with or without cheese sauce
- Turkey Leg – eat one as a snack or make it a meal
Quick Service Dining at Disney
Quick Service dining is what the world outside Disney calls Fast Food. Guests order their meal at a cash register, find a seat, and are responsible for bussing their table.
I suggest visiting the Disney World website to make a list of the Disney World quick service restaurants at each park that serves food that you know your family will eat. The list will save you a lot of time (and whining) at meal time. My kids are very picky eaters, so I even go so far as to write down a list of what I know they will eat at each of the restaurants.
How to Order at the Quick Service Window
I admit it. I’m a Disney Quick Service snob. I pride myself on my ability to quickly and correctly order my food. Cast Members have even thanked me for the way I order. Yes, I know I’m a Disney nerd.
Here are my Quick Service tips so you can order like a pro.
- Send only 1-2 people to place the order. It is too crowded for the entire family to stand in the line. In most restaurants, you can send the remaining members of your party to find a table. However, some restaurants will require you to have your food tray before sitting down.
- Line up on BOTH sides of the cash register. The cast member will alternate between the two lines to take orders.
- Tell the cast member if you are on the Disney Dining Plan. They will make sure that you order everything included in your meal.
- Keep the receipt in your hand. The cast member at the counter will need to see the receipt to verify your order.
- Condiments and napkins are located at stations in the seating area.
- Please throw away your trash when you finish your meal.
Disney World Table Service Restaurants
Make sure to include a few table service meals in your vacation budget. Not only is the food good, but most of the restaurants are themed, and many offer entertainment. If you have a picky eater, do not hesitate to request an alternative meal for your child. If there is an item on the adult menu, then it probably can be made into a child-size portion.
Information on each restaurant is in other posts based on location – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, Moderat Resorts, and Deluxe Resorts.
These are the types of dining you will find at Disney World.
“Traditional” Disney Restaurants
At “traditional” Disney table-service restaurants each person orders a separate meal from the menu, and the waiter delivers the plated meal to your table. However, at Disney, restaurants are anything but “traditional.” For example, at Sci-Fi Dine-In you can sit in a car and watch clips from 1950’s Sci-Fi movies play on a large screen.
At family-style restaurants, waiters bring the food on large platters, and each person serves themselves. The meals will include several choices of protein and side dishes, and some may even include appetizers and dessert.
Disney excels when it comes to buffets. The selections are vast, and there will always be a selection of children’s items available on a kid-sized counter. Make sure to save room for the multiple dessert options.
Disney Character Dining
There is no easier way to meet your favorite characters than at a Character Meal. While your family eats, each character will visit the table to sign autographs and take a picture. Each character meal has a theme and will feature related characters such as Princesses, Winnie the Pooh and Pals, Disney Junior, or Mickey Mouse and Friends.
Disney Dinner Shows
If the entertainment at regular restaurants isn’t enough, Disney World also offers Disney Dinner Shows.
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue– Fill your belly with barbecue while watching a wild west inspired vaudeville show. Hoop-Dee-Doo is located at Fort Wilderness Campground.
- Mickey’s Backyard BBQ – Enjoy all the barbecue you can eat, because you can work it off by line dancing with Mickey and his friends at a western hoedown. Fort Wilderness Campground hosts Mickey’s Backyard BBQ.
- Spirt of Aloha – Indulge in a Polynesian feast while watching hula dancers, fire dancers, and more. Spirit of Aloha takes place at the Polynesian Village Resort.
Disney Dessert Events are a fun way to celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or nothing at all. The parties are usually associated with a firework show, special location or holiday event. Dessert Events are ticketed events that include a dessert buffet and exclusive views of the entertainment. An example is the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party in Epcot. Participants get a clear view of the show and a dessert buffet filled with items from around the globe. Please check the Walt Disney World website to find out what Dessert Parties are offered during your visit.
Allergies and Special Diet Requests at Disney World
Disney World excels in accommodating dietary restrictions. Ingredient information is readily available at all Disney dining locations. – Just ask a cast member. Make sure to note all dietary restrictions on your Dining Reservations. Remind your server, and they will bring the chef to your table to discuss an alternative meal. You can learn more about Disney’s Special Dietary Requests website.
Disney Dining Reservations (ADR)
You need to make Dining Reservations if you want to eat at a table service restaurant.
You need to make your ADRs 180 days befoe your trip, or as soon as you make your vacation package reservations, whichever comes first.
What About Spontaneity?
Making ADRs six months in advance removes spontaneity, but it will save you a lot of stress and aggravation. Many people wait and choose a restaurant at meal time only to end up hungry and angry. It is almost impossible to walk up to a restaurant and get a table unless you are prepared to eat your meals at odd hours. (Lunch at 3:00 pm, Dinner at 9:00 pm, etc.) The longer you wait to make your dining reservations, the fewer choices you will have for dining times – Especially if your reservation is for a large party.
Disney Dining Reservations are Not Really a “Reservation”
Dining Reservations are not a “reservation” in the traditional sense. You will not arrive at your restaurant to find a placard sitting on a table holding the spot for you. What a reservation means is that you get the first available seat AFTER you have checked in. Disney recommends that you check in about 15 minutes before your scheduled reservation time.
How do I Make Disney Dining Reservations?
Make a List of Disney Restaurants
The first thing you need to do is make a list of restaurants that your family might enjoy.
Make a Disney Schedule
Before making your reservations, make a tentative schedule of what you plan to do each day you are at Disney World. This way you can choose a restaurant in the right location.
Schedule around Disney Parades and Shows
In addition to deciding which park you plan to visit each day, you should note the times of parades and other attractions you do not want to miss. It is not fun to be stuck in a restaurant when the parade is starting outside.
Mix it Up
We suggest mixing up your reservations to include not only dinner but also breakfast and lunch. This will free up your schedule for evening activities and let you enjoy a variety of Disney dining experiences.
Make reservations at a variety of restaurant types – buffets, family-style, and traditional.
Make Your Disney Dining Reservation
After doing your homework you can make your ADRs online, on the phone at 407-WDW-DINE, or by contacting your travel agent. We recommend using the online system. It is user-friendly and allows you to experiment with dates, times, & restaurants.
Which Disney Dining experience are YOU looking forward to trying?