Planning the First Time Visit Part 3: Dining at Disney and Disney Dining Plan or To Eat or Not to Eat

disneylibrarian (NDD#270) (17 Posts)

Riley McDaniel grew up in Corpus Christi, TX in a low-socioeconomic household and one of the favorite family activites was to watch The Wonderful World of Disney (along with it's other reincarnations) on Sunday nights. Although the family couldn't afford to take a trip to Disney World made it his dream to one day see that magical world. This dream served as one of the many aspirations to do well in school and attend college. Today, Riley has a masters degree in Library Science and serves as a librarian at Red Oak High School in Red Oak Texas where he continues to give Disney as a source of inspiration to students. His family, a lovely wife, eleven year old son and seven year old daughter, lovingly refer to themselves as Disney Geeks. They can regularly be found hosting Disney parties whether it's for simply the premier of the Phineas and Ferb movie or a child's birthday party. As members of the Disney Vacation club (Wilderness Lodge home resort) the family can be found at Disney World once a year and Riley gives mini-seminars on planning the perfect Disney vacation.


Christopher Robin and his little sister sit at the table for the hundred acre wood feast eagerly awaiting for Pooh, Tigger, and Eeyore to join them. Once they arrive, with Pooh laughing, Tigger bouncing, and Eeyore pondering, the smiles are as large as the pot roast and the hugs as sweet as the banana pudding. Only, this isn’t Christopher Robin this giggling brood is your family playing along with Pooh and Pals at Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. Only with the magic of Disney.

First, let’s talk about dining reservations; I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to make your dining reservations ASAP, that means as soon as you are within 6 months of your reservation. Do not plan (or lack there of) to walk in to one of the sit-down restaurants without a reservation and expect to sit at a table within five-ten minutes. With one of the reservations you can usually be relaxing at a table in under 15 minutes time. The importance of booking early is the prime eating times fill fast especially during peak seasons and weekends; also many of the best restaurants, especially Cinderella’s Royal Table, fill to capacity months ahead of time. To make dining reservations you can call: 407-939-3463. Or visit the site below:

Click To Make Your Online Dining Reservations: Reservations

Fun Tip: Make the latest possible reservation at a restaurant and be one of the last people out of the park well after closing time. One night we were the very last people out of Magic Kingdom and had a 4 person escort (they were very nice) straight from eating to the gate. They were on their radios informing everyone the last guests are exiting the park, a cool experience.

Please do a little research on your dining choices. Like any other time you are going to eat your Disney Dining experience will depend on your tastes and wants. Here are a couple of web locations to help you do just that:

A Break Down of All Restaurants by Location: Intercot Dining Guide
Discussion Board of Disney Dining: Restaurant Discussion Board

BIG TIP: Character Meals are the best way for your family to get personal and photo time with Disney Characters. This beats spending long periods of time in line when you would rather be seeing shows or screaming on some rides. Before making reservations check character availability times; some are meal specific. See Character meal guide at web site below:

Character Meal Guide

Now one of the more controversial topics of Disney veterans, the Dining Plan. I will first say I like the dining plan and here are a couple of reasons why: 1)Convenience at the parks and convenience on cost expectations. When I order the dining plan I know pretty close to how much my entire trip will cost 2) By using the Deluxe Plan I am giving ourselves two opportunities during the day to sit and rest our kids for a decent amount of time. This gives them a nice recharge, and we are able to stay at the parks later for more Disney fun.

One of the main arguments against the dining plan is you lose money. I have found this isn’t the case, but could be if you don’t use your dining plan to the fullest extent. Be sure and use all your sit down meals, get the priciest snack options, and make your quick service meals count. The same can be said for your sit down meals, if you have the opportunity for steak don’t order the hamburger. Again, the value of the plan comes down on how you view it: you can save money without it but you can eat better food for the money with it.

If you want to save some money but still want the convenience of the Dining Plan consider this: purchase the Quick Service Plan, use your snack option for breakfast, and bring your own snacks in your backpack.

Disney Dining Plans and prices for 2012

Here is a very good breakdown and review of the Disney Dining Plan: Dining Plan Review

Click for the Best Dining Plan Snacks

View this site for an analysis on whether the Disney Dining Plan is worth the cost. Warning: Uses 2008 prices but you can make the adjustments and anyways as the prices of the dining plans has risen so have the prices on the menus.
 Is It Worth It

Here is a video from our own site giving some very useful tips for your Disney Dining Plan: Watch Video

A last word about the Dining Plan: Pick the best restaurants for you and your family and get the most bang for the buck and I think you will appreciate the purchase.

I need all my fellow neurotic Disney folks to chime in with your favorite restaurants and opinions on the Disney Dining Plan.

Breakfast with Mary Poppins is perfect in every way.

Next in the series I will present some tips for planning your days.

disneylibrarian (NDD#270)

Riley McDaniel grew up in Corpus Christi, TX in a low-socioeconomic household and one of the favorite family activites was to watch The Wonderful World of Disney (along with it's other reincarnations) on Sunday nights. Although the family couldn't afford to take a trip to Disney World made it his dream to one day see that magical world. This dream served as one of the many aspirations to do well in school and attend college. Today, Riley has a masters degree in Library Science and serves as a librarian at Red Oak High School in Red Oak Texas where he continues to give Disney as a source of inspiration to students. His family, a lovely wife, eleven year old son and seven year old daughter, lovingly refer to themselves as Disney Geeks. They can regularly be found hosting Disney parties whether it's for simply the premier of the Phineas and Ferb movie or a child's birthday party. As members of the Disney Vacation club (Wilderness Lodge home resort) the family can be found at Disney World once a year and Riley gives mini-seminars on planning the perfect Disney vacation.

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