Disney World Tips and Tricks
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Definitely try the much-overlooked Plaza Restaurant at Magic Kingdom. It's a small venue, but the menu has some of the best offerings at Walt Disney World. Better yet: The prices are very reasonable. The Chicken Strawberry Salad and the Brownie Sundae come highly recommended by Guide2WDW.
When going to Animal Kingdom, make sure you make reservations for breakfast for before the park opens. That way you get into the park way early and get first in line onto awesome rides :) Also, make sure that you do that on a day the park doesn't open early for some guests. Thanks to Giraffegirl126 for this tip!
Save money at Disney World counter service restaurants throughout the parks by requesting the entree without the sides. By ordering a sandwich without the fries, you can often save over $2!
If anyone is ever wondering what to do after a long day at the park- head up to the Contemporary Resort to the California Grill. The atmosphere is so neat and the bartenders are great to talk with. Have some dessert and just relax! Thanks to Amber for this tip!
Head to the California Grill for a great atmosphere!
If you want to eat at a Disney World restaurant in the parks or at the resorts , you can make reservations 180 days in advance. Book online or call 407-WDW-DINE to make your Advanced Dining Reservation.
We always book the Character Breakfast at Chef Mickey on the day that we are departing. Our flight usually leaves Orlando around 3:00pm, which means you have to leave WDW around noon (or earlier). For us, it isn't enough time to visit a park, so we reserve that morning for our Character Meal. It gives the kids something to look forward to and gives us a fun event on a day that might have been wasted due to travel times. We take our time packing up, riding the monorail and enjoying breakfast with Mickey and Friends before we head back home. Thanks to Brooke for this tip!
We have been to Disney for longer 5-8 day trips but this year we are only going for 2 days/1 night which meant we'd only get one day worth of the dining plan. At first I booked us the standard dining plan with 2 meals, 1 snack per day. Since we're only staying one night, that meant we'd be paying out of pocket for most of our meals the second day at the park. Then, I realized for just a few dollars more, if I upgraded to the Deluxe Dining Plan we would each have 3 meals (they can all be sit down/character meals if we want), 2 snacks AND a refillable mug for our resort (usually around $12 each!). We plan on having 1 character meal the first day at Magic Kingdom, and then sharing a counter service meal for dinner (like the 1/2 chicken and ribs at Cosmic Rays!). We'll have another character meal the second day at the Studios and then share the pizza and salad meal at Pizza Planet! Talk about stretching your Disney Dining Dollars! Thanks to Michelle for this tip!
I was eating dinner at the California Grill one night (the restaurant above the Contemporary Hotel). I had just ordered desert when the lights suddenly went off. Then I heard Jiminy Cricket's voice through the speakers. I realized that they play Wishes on the California Grill speakers. It is a phenomenal view of the fireworks. It is also nice because you get to see the fireworks and hear the commentary without having to be in a crowd of people. Thanks to Henry for this tip!
Our family always waits for free dining to come around to book our trip. But, not only do we take advantage of that, we add on more food and park days than we are actually staying. It only costs a little bit more. Why would we add on more days if we aren’t staying that long??? You can reserve restaurants that take 2 table service meals and you don’t have to pay a lot more for a more expensive meal. Suddenly eating at Cinderella’s Castle doesn’t cost too much! Thanks to Bryan for this tip!
The WDW Dining plan is a big hit with guests!
One of the best ways to save money when going to WDW is to get the Disney Dining Plan. The price is great and you get 2 meals a day and a snack. You can pick and of the restaurants and that includes all of the character meals and nice places in all of WDW. We have done this 3 times already and will do it again this summer. This also includes tax and tips! Thanks to Dianne for this tip!
Disney Dining Plan is awesome! Always let the waiter know that you are on the dinning plan when you are seated, some places have unpublished menu items for resort guests on this dining plan, a little more magic offered by Disney World! Thanks to Blaine for this tip!
Epcot dining tip: If you don't mind leaving the park for a little while, head to Boardwalk outside of the French pavilion and eat at ESPN Club. The food is excellent and you can't beat the price! Make sure you head over before the lunch or dinner rush however, during the peak season you may wait up to 90 minutes for a table! There are also a lot of other great dining options at the Boardwalk. Thanks to Ryan for this tip!
We just came back from a six day trip to WDW and saved over $900 on food. We had a party of six adults and one child and we went on the Disney Dining Plan which I think is part of the Magic Your Way program. For $30 per person per day, we ate like kings. Each day we each got one counter service meal which could be used for lunch or breakfast, (we used them for lunch since it includes one drink, one entree, and one dessert), one snack (ice cream, popsicle, popcorn, soft drink or bottled water), and then one table service meal for dinner. There was a list of restaurants participating in this plan so you had to stick to these restaurants but we got to try so many of the restaurants that we wouldn't have gone to otherwise, including, Boma, the Rose and Crown and Cinderella's Royal Table. Thanks to Amy for this tip!
If you want to dine off Disney World property, call the restaurants first to see if they take reservations or if they make priority seating bookings - The Outback on 92 does. Thanks to Anne for this tip!
When making an Advanced Dining Reservation (especially during non-peak seasons), you should try making one as late in the day as possible. In many cases, priority seating is available around the time a park is closing. For example, when we were at the Disney's Hollywood Studios, it was to close at 7 pm, yet we got priority seating at the Brown Derby at 6:50. That allowed us to spend more time at the attractions, and by the time we left the park, we were almost alone as we walked to the exit and there were no crowds waiting to leave the parking lots. Thanks to Andrew for this tip!
Make ADRs for later in the day.
It is often noted that food inside the Walt Disney World parks is expensive, and it can be (especially the counter service options). Taking along a snack and drink in your backpack is indeed a good idea. But consider dining at least once a day at a sit-down restaurant. Although sometimes the meal prices are a bit high, typically servings are generous. If it's a dinner entree, take the uneaten portion back to your room and snack on it later (make sure you request a fridge and plastic utensils--a good money saving tactic). Often the prices at sit-down restaurants are quite comparable to the "quick" food places when you consider all you'd need to buy at the snacky places to make an ample meal, plus you get more food at table service restaurants. More importantly, you'll get a much-needed break to rest and relax, away from the crowds! Eat off-hours and you'll also have the traditional meal hours to take advantage of much shorter lines, while everyone else is busy eating or standing in line at the counter service places! I couldn't imagine going to Disney World and not having a sit-down meal break once a day. Disney restaurants are often very good (check reviews and menus), you can make Advanced Dining Reservations ahead of time so waits aren't usually bad, and they provide atmosphere. Thanks to Julie for this tip!
If you really want a reservation, keep calling up until the day before to check for availability. I called today for the Cinderella breakfast and got a reservation for next Wednesday, exactly what I wanted. :-) People who made an ADR two months ago are now canceling their reservations. Thanks to Aida for this tip!
Character meals are a great place to get young kids used to being around them. They come around often enough that the kids really relaxed. Thanks to Chris for this tip!
Save money for dining by requesting a fridge in your hotel room. Go to Downtown Disney or a local grocery store and buy a few snacks and sodas. Eat something before going to the parks, then eat lunch around 3:00 or 4:00. This cut down your meals in the park to one per day, and you'll have a late night snack available in your room. Thanks to Jennifer for this tip!
Time your meal around the parade at Magic Kingdom.
A tip for dining at Magic Kingdom is to put off eating a big supper until 1 hour before the night parade. While you wait for the parade someone can go get the food and bring it back. That way you can have a nice meal and a place to sit during the parade. Thanks to Amanda for this tip!
Everyone talks about how expensive the food is at WDW, but what we discovered was that though the price seem high the servings were huge. So buy one meal and split it between two people. No one will go away hungry. Thanks to Amanda for this tip!
If you want to see, take pictures, or otherwise interact with Disney characters, I highly recommend that you schedule a character meal. We did breakfast at both Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom. Although pricey, we got into the parks before other people, ate, interacted and took pictures of at least 5 characters at each venue. This will save an indeterminable amount of time waiting in line elsewhere in the park. Thanks to David for this tip!
Beverages at the park can get quite pricey. It's definitely worth packing your own drinks (i.e. sodas or reusable water bottles) to save a few dollars that are better spent on other things. Thanks to Stan for this tip!
Here is a good restaurant to try in Orlando: Boston Lobster Feast where they serve you lobster, prime rib, fish, shrimp, crab legs, oysters all you can eat! With a 20% off coupon (party of five) you get all this for $20 per person! It was very good. It's at South Orange Blossom Trail at Sand Lake Road in front of the Florida Mall. Thanks to Christine for this tip!
While we were in Orlando, Florida, we went to a Dinner Theater called Capones. It was really good. It is an interactive show, and they really brought the audience into the show. I had sent away for the "Orlando Magic Card", and I received a book with it that had a coupon for 50% of the tickets, so for $20.00 per adult and $10.00 per child (with the coupon) it was well worth it. We had a lot of laughs!!! Thanks to Cara for this tip!
There's entertainment to be found beyond WDW.
Very nice place to sit is behind Flame Tree Barbecue in Animal Kingdom. Just follow the path to the left of the counter. There is a lot of covered seating with ceiling fans. It was 90 degrees and we stayed very cool. Thanks to Toni for this tip!
This tip has to do with eating at Cinderella's Table for Lunch or Dinner. Make sure you make your reservations in advance but consider eating a late lunch as opposed to dinner. It is not quite as crowded. Your chances of getting a reservation close to your vacation time are much better (if not booked far enough in advance). Many of the menu items for lunch are on the dinner menu but are much cheaper on the lunch menu. If you book lunch around 2:15 you can see the 3:00 parade right after lunch. Dinner does not start until 4:00 but I believe the last reservation for lunch is 3:00. Thanks to Scott for this tip!
My wife and I went to Cinderella's Royal Table because she wanted to look at the menu for lunch. I told her that there was no way that we would get in because I thought that one could only get in by reservation. One of the hostesses came over and asked if we wanted to eat there. She just had a cancellation for 2! The meal was wonderful. The view was excellent. And it was worth every penny to get away from the crowds for a little while! So, the old cliché is true "It never hurts to try!" Thanks to Rusty for this tip!
Since we fly down to Orlando, it is not feasible to pack any great amount of food, and we never rent a car since Disney provides ample transportation to the parks. So to get groceries we send ourselves a care package of non perishable snacks like juice boxes, bottled water (an expensive Disney World commodity), crackers, cookies, and gum (you can't buy gum in Disney World). Basically anything you might find in a vending machine. I call the resort in advance and ask what I need to do to mail myself a package there and we have it delivered to our room upon check in. It works out great for those poolside snacks at the hotel. Just make sure you send the heavy stuff separate from the chips! We tried packing them together but the chips get crushed (However, Pringles work well). Thanks to a Guide2WDW user for this tip!
We love Jungle Jim's for dinner -- located outside of Disney at the CrossRoads.
Right before the parades start, the food lines are usually at their longest. If you really want to grab a bite to eat right before a parade and you are traveling with a family, split up. Someone find a spot while another gets the food. It's the best way to go! Thanks to Megan for this tip!
Split up to tackle the restaurant's line and find a table.
I booked a lot of reservations for meals in parks and hotels at Disney World before we went, but to be honest this was a waste of time. We only managed to keep about 2 of our reservations! If you do make reservations be aware that this really ties you down to time and I must say if we had kept all our reservations we would have found this very restricting. Also, Disney World now has a reservation cancellation policy, so if you don't cancel more than 24 hours in advance, you will be charged a fee! Thanks to Steve for this tip!
We were lucky enough to get the Disney Dining Plan included in our booking, this was a great bonus it saved us a fortune. If you can get the Disney Dining Plan during your trip to Disney World, I definitely would say get it! Thanks to Steve for this tip!
We just returned from Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and were pleased in particular with Storybook Treats in Fantasyland. The ice cream sundaes were to die for and the prices were great! If your family likes ice cream, then this is the place to go. It beats the pre-made ice cream stands found all over the park. Thanks to Breanne for this tip!
At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the 50's Prime Time Cafe -- made of small retro kitchen settings with tv's showing our fave sitcoms of the day -- was awesome! Fabulous service by our "cousins", lots of Mom's rules to follow, comradory among each kitchen's guests, and really, really good food. Try the chicken pot pie and S'mores dessert! Priority reservations highly recommended. Thanks to Sam for this tip!
Use the Fantasmic Dining Plan to save time and grab great seats!
It takes a long time to get into Fantasmic but if you eat at one of the restaurants with the Fantasmic Dining Plan at Hollywood Studios (Brown Derby, Mama Melrose, and Hollywood and Vine), they offer Priority Seating for the show so you don't have to wait in the line to see the show (which was worth it if you don't have to wait for 2 hours beforehand). Thanks to Michelle for this tip!
Make sure you try the bakery in Epcot's France pavilion. Sometimes the line is long but it is well worth the wait! Thanks to Frank for this tip!
In Epcot center, there is a nice spot called Club Cool (formerly known as Ice Station Cool). In addition to being a freezing cold building (for those extra-hot Florida days), there are soda fountains inside with Coke products from around the world. The best part? They don't charge to use the soda fountains! Grab a bottle from a gift shop (or from Wal-Mart) your first day in the park and head to Club Cool. Taste the different Coke varieties until you find one you like. My favorites are the apple from Israel and watermelon from China… and I would recommend to AVOID ITALY’S!. Fill up your bottle with soda from there (as many times as you like) and you won’t have to pay for any your entire time at Epcot. One downside is that you won’t have any ice, but in Florida the ice melts quickly anyway, so you can probably go up to any of the counter service restaurants and ask them for a cup of ice if you so desire. Thanks to Heather for this tip!
If you are spending time in another park and want to watch the fireworks from Illuminations in Epcot, drive to the Boardwalk. If you are not driving, take the bus there. Park in the visitor parking area and walk to the World Showcase entrance. (Don't worry, it's a pretty short walk). When you get into the park, head for the Bridge near France. Even if you don't get a spot on the railing, you can see most of the show because you are slightly elevated. When the fireworks are over, head back to the Boardwalk and you will beat all the crowds heading back to the Epcot parking lot and monorail. Grab a snack on the Boardwalk. The Beach Club has a great Ice Cream Shop called "Beaches and Cream"...awesome!!! Try the kitchen sink or the Reese's Pieces Sundae. Thanks to Sam for this tip!
When attempting to find a good location to view Illuminations: Reflections of Earth at Epcot's Showcase, some sources recommend snagging a lagoon side table at the Rose & Crown Pub in the United Kingdom pavilion. If you should decide to follow this advice, be prepared to eat more than just an appetizer. The Rose and Crown staff is fully aware of this tip and will only seat patrons who intend to eat a full meal. Thanks to Andrea for this tip!
We like to only eat in the Epcot country restaurants, but after our first trip to Disney World we discovered how expensive it was to have dinner there. Now, instead of having dinner, we have a late lunch. We try and book the last lunch seating, which works out great! You get a large portion of food at about half the price, Then in the evening we just grab a snack or eat after we leave the park. It has saved us a lot of money on our Disney World trips. Thanks to Patti for this tip!
Try to save money by getting a late lunch instead of paying full dinner prices.
An excellent option for lunch is the Fish and Chips in the United Kingdom at Epcot -- but don't go in the Rose and Crown Pub. Try Yorkshire County Fish Shop, the food stand located right next to it (towards France). It's a cheaper and faster option, which leaves you more time to experience Epcot!
To save time in the morning...I brought my own cereal, bowls and spoons. While I was showering, my husband went to the food court to buy milk (for the kids breakfast) and coffee's for us. By the time he was back, I was out of the shower, and one or both kids were out also. While he showered, we would eat and get dressed. This took us about one hour each morning. It sure beats sitting at a table waiting to place orders and get fed. The kids (10 and 7) thought it was fun too. We also brought along snacks (zip-lock baggies with trail mix) so that during the day we weren't spending a lot of money on junk food. We usually skipped a sit down lunch and opted only for a sit down dinner. It worked great! Thanks to Mike and Gina for this tip!
We just recently went to Disney World in the first week of February. Towards the end of the week Magic Kingdom was getting a little crowded and needless to say, so where the lunch spots. Since we had park hoppers, we took the train to Epcot and ate in the countries without hardly any crowd at all (we also caught Mailstrome and train of thought). Thanks to Rick for this tip!
Whenever I have visited Walt Disney World (always in July/August) it has been extremely hot. To save money on drinks...ask for ice!! The ice is free and cools you down!! Thanks to Karen for this tip!
Save by bringing your own snacks!
Disney & Universal aren't checking about food anymore. So purchase your pop and sandwiches outside and come prepared to snack your way through the day. Saves $$$ Thanks to Sue for this tip!
Our family just returned from our first trip to WDW. We stayed at the All Star Movies resort. The resort was nice and very kid friendly but there were no "perks" that you might expect to get by staying at a Disney resort. We had our own car so we were able to drive around for the cheaper food (don't plan on saving on food at any crossroads area. They don't offer the specials such as $0.99 hamburgers, etc.) Don't bother with super markets, they are high. We went to the local Super Wal-Mart for food and Disney T-shirts. We kept an ice chest in our room for soda and sandwich meat. This is the way to go. Thanks to Carr Family for this tip!
Food at the parks can be expensive, but there is a solution. Check out Crossroads at Lake Buena Vista (just across I-4 at Disney Downtown.) There's several options including a Taco Bell that won't tax your wallet. Thanks to Sue for this tip!
Input Tip HereI brought a backpack to the theme parks to carry extra water bottles and snacks. This way we could avoid some of the high prices for these items. Thanks to Karen for this tip!
Pack a small cooler - they didn't say a word to us for carrying ours in we took them into Universal as well. Go to Walmart and buy a case of water and freeze the bottles the night before and pack em in your cooler. I also packed some chex mix, fruit snacks ,and peanut butter sandwiches. This really cut down on the cost of food. Thanks to Mary for this tip!
We stayed on-site so we did not need a car. We did book Murray Hill's Transportation Company to pick us up from the airport. It was wonderful. Our driver was there when we got off the plane waiting for us. He helped us with our bags. For the cost of $50 you get a grocery stop at Publix which is the grocery store the locals use (far less expensive that some of the more touristy stores). We picked up bottled water and munchies as well as Styrofoam bowls and plastic spoons, milk and cereal. We brought along a collapsible cooler to keep the milk and water in and then just kept filling up the cooler with ice from the hotel. Having cereal in the morning was quick and easy and a real money saver! Breakfast at the food court will run you about $30.00 for a family of four. Thanks to Jennifer for this tip!
Publix is a great way to cut your food bill at Disney!
I have read several tips about sending packages to your hotel with snacks & other treats in the package. This is very costly even in comparison to buying treats at Disney World. What I have done in the past is pack another suitcase filled with snacks, crackers, candy, cereal bars, or whatever my children like for that moment. This way I haven't spent any money sending a package to the resort AND I have an extra empty suitcase for all the trinkets that are purchased in Disney World. Thanks to Molly for this tip!
Arlen shares a tip for saving some money while dining in the parks: "We pack our lunch in the morning and place it in collapsible cooler along with enough cold water bottles for our family. We then take the cooler with us to a WDW park and place it into a locker at the beginning of the day. We provide our own lunches to save money so we don't feel bad spending at dinner at a Disney restaurant later on." Thanks to Arlen for this tip!
The Disney Dining Plan can save you a lot of hassle and planning while you're at Disney World. Plus, if you get it as part of a Disney resort package, you can pay for it in increments before you arrive. Guide2WDW reader Kim writes, "Could my family eat a lot cheaper than what I pay for the Dining plan? Sure. But with the dining plan, we get more character breakfasts and more themed dining than what I would pay for when we got there. Not to mention, when I get there, my entire vacation is paid for and I didn't have to charge anything or worry about trying to save the money to pay for it when I arrive." Thanks to Kim for this tip!
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