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The NYC Magic Traveler: Disney World Dining Tips

Updated: Oct 29, 2023



Eating at Disney World is just as much fun as going on the attractions! There's counter (quick) service, casual dining, fine/signature dining, and even a few rooftop experiences. You can eat your way around the world at Epcot, sit courtside at certain nighttime spectaculars and enjoy dessert with your fireworks (subject to weather, health and safety concerns) or pose with Disney characters.

Here are a few tips for your trip:

1. Fine dining is very popular at Disney World. They say reservations are recommended but it can extremely difficult to walk in. Sometimes, you can join the standby waiting list via the My Disney Experience app. Take our advice, make reservations. You can make dining reservations well in advance, but if the restaurant is in one of the theme parks, you will need a ticket for that park and you might need a reservation for the park when you make the reservation (or not, procedures keep changing). Download the My Disney Experience App or make them on the Disney World website. TIP: Use the filters to narrow down your location.

2. You can order your fast food for pick-up on the app for many places in the parks. Not only can you order what and where, but you can pick a time and actually tell them when to start preparing your order.

3. When ordering a mobile pick-up, scroll down through the menu for special needs such as gluten free, plant-based and more. Usually, you can't pre-order the snacks from the carts.

4. Definitely check out the character dining, a dining experience when Disney characters come out to greet you while you eat. These spots will almost always need a reservation. Sometimes, these locations are buffet. They have special areas for children, with foods kids like and lower serving areas for children to serve themselves (with supervision, of course). Each theme park has one: The Crystal Palace and Cinderella's Royal Table (Magic Kingdom); Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Norway, Epcot); Tusker House (Animal Kingdom); Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios). All locations and offerings are subject to availability, current safety concerns and schedule changes.

5. The popcorn experience is really special! If you buy the bucket, you can get low cost refills for the duration of your stay (meaning the whole trip, at all parks). There have been theme buckets and people have been collecting them for years. This is not included in the Disney Dining plan (see #9).

6. You have to have a park ticket (and currently, a park reservation) to eat in the parks. This includes breakfast that might be scheduled before the park opens, and of course, the famous festivals in Epcot.

7. You do not have to be a guest to eat (or shop) at the resorts, which also have their famous restaurants. If you are driving into a resort, you must show your restaurant reservation to park at that resort. Otherwise, you can "resort hop" from the parks using the Disney transportation (buses, monorails, ferries or skyliner). Allow enough travel time to get to the restaurant in time.

8. Disney Springs, the shopping, dining and entertainment district, is not a park per se. However, it is one of the busiest places to eat and I would recommend reservations highly. In my opinion, they are a must. But if you can't get a dining reservation, check out their food trucks!

9. The Disney Dining Plan will take another whole article, but briefly, you can prepay for your meals. Certain meals, beverages and snacks qualify in the categories. Gratuities are not included.

10. If you are an annual passholder or Disney Vacation Club member, ask about a discount at the table service locations.

All in all, the food is not to be missed at Disney World!!


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