8 Walt Disney World Dining Mistakes to Avoid
The Walt Disney World resort includes more than 200 restaurants, many of which are better than the eateries near you. When you dine at Disney, you should have one of the best meals of your life. Unfortunately, you might not understand enough to pick the right place. Here are eight Walt Disney World dining mistakes to avoid.
Not Booking Advanced Dining Reservations
When you’re 180 days away from Walt Disney World vacation, you can book Advanced Dining Reservations. To the average person, this seems crazy. After all, you may not know what you’re having for dinner tonight. How could you possibly know what you want six months from today?
Alas, more than 100,000 people visit Walt Disney World every day, and all of them must eat…multiple times. When you’re at Disney, you’ll quickly learn that 200+ restaurants sounds like a lot but really isn’t for these sorts of crowds. The competition is fierce, and word gets around about what’s good.
The best places at Disney fill up quickly. Since you want to eat at these high-quality restaurants, you need to beat the crowd. And the way to do that is by booking Advanced Dining Reservations. Should fail to do that, you’ll sadly discover that many of Disney’s finest restaurants are sold out.
Failing to Understand the Disney Dining Plan
Sometimes, your Disney vacation will come with the Disney Dining Plan. It’s part of a package that the company offers occasionally. Until you’re familiar with it, you may not understand just how valuable this package is.
With the Disney Dining Plan, you won’t pay for a couple of meals each day. The basic package, the Disney Quick Service Plan, provides two Quick Service meals plus two snacks each night of your vacation stay.
Quick Service restaurants are counter service eateries that are akin to fast food, only Disney serves substantially better cuisine. You’ll receive this plan when you stay at a Value or Moderate Tier resort.
Guests spending a few nights at a Deluxe Tier resort get something even better: the Disney Dining Plan. It comes with one Quick Service and one Table Service meal plus two snacks each night. The Table Service restaurants are among the best at Walt Disney World and could cost as much as $65 per person when you pay out of pocket.
Clearly, the dining plans are important, and you should maximize the value. You should research each plan to understand its benefits. Also, please remember that you can always purchase a dining plan on your own. I generally choose the Deluxe Dining Plan, the most expensive one. Please read the link to understand my strategy here.
Miscounting Your Disney Dining Plan Credits
When you have a dining plan, you want to use every entitlement. Otherwise, you’re just throwing away money. I don’t care if you wind up buying a stranger’s meal just to guarantee that your account has zero entitlements remaining. I’ve actually done this, which kind of confuses people, if I’m honest. I’m breaking that rule that there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
Anyway, the point is that you should monitor your entitlements carefully. This wasn’t always a simple thing to do, but My Disney Experience now displays this information. Similarly, every restaurant receipt that you get comes with a listing of remaining entitlements.
Keep track of them so that you never pay for a meal unless you’re out of meal credits. It’s the entire purpose of the Disney Dining Plan.
Not Using Mobile Ordering
Sometimes, I worry that I sound like a broken record on this one. I repeat myself regularly on the subject because it’s such essential information.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT IN LINE AT MANY QUICK SERVICE RESTAURANTS!
Just pull out your phone and load the My Disney Experience app. You can order a meal straight from your phone. And you won’t feel rushed, either! You tell the restaurant when they should prepare your food.
Until you do that, they won’t start, which means that you’re in complete control of the timing. At Disney, that’s a rare form of power. The service is called Mobile Ordering, and it’s available at many Disney restaurants.
You’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t use Mobile Ordering. Period.
Believing You Are Too Old for a Character Meal
I don’t care if you were born in the 21st century or during the Herbert Hoover administration. Nobody is ever too old for a Disney character meal.
I firmly believe that the best times at Disney restaurants happen when cast members in character costumes walk around the tables. Places like Chef Mickey’s, Hollywood & Vine, Akershus, and Cinderella’s Royal Table all combine great food with wonderful character interactions. It’s impossibly addictive. Also, these meals lead to some of the best family photos that you’ll ever take.
I don’t care whether you’re visiting for a day or a couple of weeks. You simply must schedule at least one character meal for your trip. Importantly, you’ll need an Advanced Dining Reservation for these restaurants. It’s not a coincidence that they’re among the most popular places to dine at Walt Disney World. Everyone loves character meals.
Overlooking Disney Resort Restaurants
Disney park strategists are brilliant people. They’ve come up with so many great ideas over the years, but one of the simplest is also among the best. Disney’s opened hotel restaurants on a par with anything that you’ll find at the parks or even Disney Springs.
I’m not joking when I say that one of the best restaurants on the entire planet is Victoria & Albert’s, which you’ll find at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Similarly, one of the most popular places to eat at Walt World is ‘Ohana, an eatery on the second floor of Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.
These two places are the rule, not the exception. Every official Disney resort hosts at least one restaurant worthy of your time. Admittedly, the food gets better in the Deluxe Tier, but that’s okay! You don’t need to stay at a Disney hotel to eat there!
Best of all, many resort restaurants don’t draw a lot of attention. You may have an easier time getting a table at one of them than in the parks. And the food is better in many cases. Off my head, more than half of my 20 favorite Disney restaurants are at resorts.
Not Trying Festival Food
Some of the best cuisine at Walt Disney World is only available for a limited time. Yes, that sounds like a sales pitch, but it’s true. Epcot’s World Showcase hosts international festivals for more than 200 days each year.
During these festivals, food kitchens are open to the public. They’re little counter service kiosks with limited menus. However, the cuisine available for purchase at these places is astoundingly delicious.
Any self-respecting foodie will want to spend time at the food kitchens. Many Disney guests plan their travel dates around the festivals. Nobody would do that unless the food were otherworldly, right?
Whenever you travel to Walt Disney World, check the calendar. When there’s a festival in progress, make time to visit the World Showcase. In fact, I haven’t even told you the best part. Almost all of the food is $10 or less!
Ignoring Potential Discounts
Are you a member of the Disney Vacation Club? Do you own an annual pass to Walt Disney World? Are you a member of AAA?
You get the point. Disney offers discounts at many of its restaurants and merchandise stores. Most of them provide somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-20 percent off the regular price.
At a restaurant, that mitigates the cost of a tip. At a store, it’s enough to justify that expensive purchase while stretching your vacation budget. Look, any time that you spend less than the suggested price, you’re doing well.
You can save money at Walt Disney World as long as you think to research potential savings. Think about discounts you may have available. Alternately, check with an expert.
The agents at MickeyTravels are the best in the world at booking you the cheapest Disney vacation. Best of all, their services are free to you. Contact one of them to find out how to save money during your next trip.
Those are the 8 Walt Disney World dining mistakes you’ll want to avoid. Good luck!