Dining at Disney World – the sky is the limit. You can go for a romantic upscale meal, or a casual family counter service place. Maybe you are interested in meeting some characters during your meal, or perhaps just being entertained while you eat. You can do it all at Disney World, but all the choices can be overwhelming.
TIP 1- The very first and most important tip I can give you from my own experience is to make reservations as soon as you can. Reservations usually open up 180 days before the date of the meal. Call(407-WDW-DINE) on that day if at all possible, especially if you are looking to book some hard to get reservations like Cinderella’s Royal Table or Victoria & Alberts. In fact the dining line opens at 7am Eastern standard time. Start dialing a few minutes before that if you want a specific time for a hard to get reservation.
If you are trying to seat a large group there are two strategies, either be ready to divide your group into smaller groups that seat around the same time, or cal 407-WDW-DINE and ask for “group sales.” They can reserve for parties of 9 people or more.
TIP #2 –Because we chose to go to Disney World during a “value season” free dining was being offered for anyone staying on Disney Property. That opened up our dining options considerably. If you are staying on site, and during value season check and see if your reservation qualifies for this money saving perk! We ended up experiencing a lot more Disney restaurants than we would have otherwise, as money was no object so long as we used dining credits.
TIP #3 –Perhaps it would help you to hear about the places we personally went, and what we thought? If it would read on…
LE CHEF DE FRANCE – located in the French Pavilion in EPCOT, this authentic French restaurant is truly like you took a trip to Paris. And like Paris, it can be on the pricey side. You can have authentic french fare including escargot(hubby fave) and lot’s of other yummy adult choices, but options for kids aren’t really their strong suit, and our daughter didn’t end up eating much of lunch. Our meal itself was free because of the dining, but two adult drinks later and a tip was $80. So you can imagine how expensive the meal could have been out of pocket. This is one place I probably would not do again, with a child in tow. Certainly only if we again had free dining. TIP: They do bring around the tiny mouse star, Chef Remy from the film “Ratatouille” several times a day. This adorable animatronic mouse will charm the pants off anyone at the table. Find out when he will be around and make your reservation to overlap that time.
TUSKER HOUSE – located in the Animal Kingdom, this character dinning experience includes the “Fab 4” all dressed in their safari gear. We went to this eatery in the morning, the very first seating of 8am. Our strategy was to be finishing up eating around 9am when the park was just opening to guests without reservations. That meant we were already in the back of the park, ready to grab a fast pass to a ride and get onto Kilimanjaro Safariswithout any wait! That plan worked perfectly, and we loved Tusker. We also got to walk through Animal kingdom and experience the park with barely anyone in it. We have awesome pics of the Tree of life, and shots of the pretend African village that look amazingly real! We also LOVED the African themed breakfast food selections at this buffet. The kid classics are all around too, but adults could try some new tastes all while getting pics of characters and relaxing.
THE RAINFOREST CAFE – This chain restaurant is part of the Animal Kingdom Park. I sort of thought it might be lame to go there since it isn’t Disney specific, but I was proved wrong. Not only is it the Worlds largest Rain Forest Cafe, but it had great adult food selections, great kid options (my daughter got dino shaped chicken nuggets and a tropical fruit smoothie and was delighted) and a really fun vibe! It was also home to a gigantic mist area my daughter loved running through, as well as gigantic mushrooms and jungle foliage. We had a great time there and I would go back for sure.
THE CRYSTAL PALACE – located in The Magic Kingdom at the end of Main Street USA. We went to this popular character dinning spot at dinner time, and met all the characters from Winnie the Pooh. It was precious! Pooh acted shy, Tigger had all the kids jumping in a parade – and the food was pure American buffet style. It also had a childs size buffet line that was pretty cute, as well as sumptuous dessert bar included. If the characters from the Hundred Acre Wood are high on your list, this place wont disappoint. It was a bit crowded, but no one seems to mind. PS. They are celebrating “National Friendship Day” every time you visit;)
CINDERELLA’S ROYAL TABLE – We used the same early morning reservation strategy here, entered the park before it opened and walked down Main Street USA with no crowd around us. It was MAGICAL! Our daughter dressed as her favorite princess, as most kids did. So feel free to pack some shorts for walking around the park after! The food at this location was just okay. Very typical breakfast fare brought to your table, while the princesses make their way to each table. I still think this is a must do once in life. Walking into that castle you have seen all your life is really goosebump inducing. It’s beautiful inside and if you are a near a window you can see the rest of the park while you dine. Mommy may have enjoyed this place even more than my pumpkin. I truly got choked up as we walked up the medieval stairs that look right out of the film. I even caught a glimpse of Jaque the mouse scurrying on an eve, surely on his way to make Cinderella’s dress:)
Oh my gosh guys! I have at least 5 other places I want to tell you about! Here is a link to Part 2 – of Dining in Disney World!
If you have any specific places you’re wondering if we went, let me know below and I’ll happily answer you. And if you’re looking for information on where we stayed in Disney we have a post about The Contemporary Hotel as well. Have a magical day!