Eating at Disney World: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

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Planning a trip to Disney World? Food is an essential part of the experience, and navigating the Planning a trip to Disney World? Food is an essential part of the experience, and navigating the vast array of restaurants and snacks can be overwhelming. Fear not!  This guide equips you with everything you need to know about eating at Disney World, from budget-friendly options to unforgettable character meals.

To help you on your way, we’ve created this complete guide to Disney World dining, with links to articles that provide even more in-depth information on the most critical subjects.

What Are My Options for Eating at Disney World?

Disney World offers an array of dining options across its 4 theme parks, 25 resort hotels and even water parks. From scrumptious sit-down dining to grab and go eats, you’ll find a wide variety of food offerings.

To simplify things while providing the best guest experience, Disney also offers more than one type of dining experience. Below is a breakdown of the types of restaurants offered at Disney World.

Table Service Dining

Be Our Guest interior, one of the best Magic Kingdom restaurants
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The first category of dining available at Disney World is table service dining. Table-service restaurants run the gamut from formal fine dining to fun and quiry venues where drink straws are thrown on the table. At a minimum, you should expect a high level of service, even as your straw sails over your head. Plan to be seated at a table by your host or hostess and then to be served by dedicated wait staff. It’s a leisurely dining experience, lasting up to an hour or more.

Some table service restaurants offer special shows or experiences. For example, Biergarten located in the Germany pavilion at EPCOT, transports you far from Orlando right into the midst of Oktoberfest, through elaborate theming and regular performances.

Other restaurants exist solely for the purpose of offering entertainment. Disney’s Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue is a long time favorite, featuring Disney characters, corny jokes and all the barbecue and fixins’ you can pack away.

In a similar manner, some table-service restaurants allow you to dine with Disney characters. One of our breakfast favorites, Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom Park, offers African-inspired dishes paired with Mickey and friends dressed for Safari. Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom, let’s you visit with Winne the Pooh and friends over pancakes and waffles. Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary resorts is a festive party with the mouse and all his friends, just to name a few.

Quick-Service Dining

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While table-service reataurants invite guests to enjoy a leisurely meal, quick-service dining is designed to get you back to your magical activities faster. While these restaurants come in a variety of sizes, offering different food choices, you should plan on largely serving yourself as you would at any fast-food restaurant.

One modern marvel that will keep you moving on your way is mobile food ordering through the My Disney Experience app. This well-appointed tool allows you and your party to peruse the menu at any quick-service dining location and place an order from anywhere within the park.

We usually take care of ordering while standing in line for an attraction. Then, when we’re ready to eat, all we have to do is walk up to the restaurant, reopen the app and tap a button to let the staff know we have arrived.

Once the restaurant knows that you are there and waiting, they will start making your food, so there is no need to worry about your entrees getting cold. Best of all, there is no standing in line waiting to order, of for your food to be ready. Just grab a table and wait for the notification to pop up on your phone.

Eating at Disney World from Carts and Kiosks

Why order a meal when a simple snack will suffice? From churros to turkey legs, Mickey ice cream sandwiches and popcorn, you’ll find a large variety of snack options awaiting your dining pleasure at the 4 theme parks.

Some are available through small stand-alone locations, such as Storybook Treats in the Magic Kingdom. This outlet features a smattering of ice cream snacks and assorted fountain beverages.

In fact, menus are limited to grab and go items like these at most locations, and seating is limited or non-existent, so plan to eat as you walk.

This is particularly true when ordering from one of the carts or kiosks, around the parks. These can change locations, so you’ll need to approach snacking with a bit of a free spirit and a look at the park map.

Does Disney Have All Day Dining?

With only a few exceptions, most Disney World restaurants are open until park close. However, opening hours are dictated by the type of food the restaurant serves.

For instance, if the menu features burgers and fries, you shouldn’t expect to see this venue open during breakfast hours. The same holds true at Disney World resorts. For instance, many Disney value resorts and moderate resorts offer pizza delivery, a dining option you won’t be able to use during breakfast hours no matter how much you’re craving a slice of pepperoni.

The good news is, you will find plenty of restaurants offering food and beverages from early morning well into the nighttime hours.

Does Disney World Have Charcater Dining?

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Several of Walt Disney World’s best dining experiences are those that feature characters, such as Micky Mouse, Donald Duck or Cinderella. Character meals offer guests the opportunity to dine while visiting with their favorite Disney pals, but the experience is no longer the same as it used to be.

Characters walk around the restaurant and visit each table. They will pose for pictures with guests, sign autographs and even play pranks.

During one character breakfast at the Beach Club’s Cape May years ago, Goofy spotted my young daughter in her Red Sox t-shirt. He took her by the hand and led her across the room to introduce her to a boy of similar age wearing a Yankees shirt. More recently, Donald flirted shamelessly with the women in our party, earning him quite a rebuke from Daisy.

Character dining is a great way to earn some time with Disney stars and even allow for more personal interactions that you’ll often experience at traditional meet and greet locations. It’s also far more enjoyable to spend your time dining while waiting for your visit than it is to stand in line.

Charcter meals can be found at the following restaurants:

  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall inside EPCOT park: Belle and friends
  • Cape May Cafe at Beach Club Resort: Minnie and friends dressed in beach gear
  • Chef Mickey’s at Contemporary Resort: Chef Mickey and friends
  • Cinderella’s Royal Table inside Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom Park: Cinderella and princess friends
  • The Crystal Palace inside the Magic Kingdom Park: Winnie the Pooh and Friends
  • Garden Grill Restaurant inside EPCOT Park: Revolving restaurant featuring Mickey, Chip, Dale, Pluot and friends
  • Hollywood & Vine at Disney Hollywood Studios: Disney Junior Stars at breakfast or Minnie Mouse and Friends at lunch and dinner
  • O’hana in the Polynesian Village resort offers a character breakfast only: Lilo and Stitch with other Disney characters
  • Story Book Dining at Artist Point with Snow White located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort: Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs
  • Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort offers a la carte breakfast dining with characters: Mickey and friends
  • Tusker House Restaurant at Animal Kingdom park: Safari Donald Duck and friends

Essential things to Know About Charcter Dining at Disney World

While we highly recommend character meals for anyone who wants to commune with Disney stars, there are a few logistics to understand before heading out. First, these restaurants are insanely popular, so advanced dining reservations are a must (more on this below). If you pop into a character dining experience and asked to be seated, they may be able to accommodate you, but plan on waiting quite a bit for a seat. That’s time better spend in the park or relaxing poolside or over a round of golf.

If you do decide to head out for character dining, you’ll need to know how to get there. For restaurants located within a park, Disney’s transportation fleet is at your service. Simply hop on the the monorail, bus, boat or Skyliner heading to the necessary park. Just remember, you need to be there at least ten minutes early to check in.

If you’re heading to a Disney World resort for your character dining experience, logistics may be a bit more complicated. Disney does not offer complimentary transportation from one resort to another. However, there are times when the navigational routes of some Disney transportation options will work in your favor. For instance, anyone staying at a Magic Kingdom resort can easily hop on the resort monorail to reach another Magic Kingdom resort.

At other times, a short stroll is all it takes to reach your destination. Guests of Disney’s Caribbean Beach resort can walk to Topolino’s Terrace. The same can be said for guests staying at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn or Yacht Club, as both are within easy walking distance to Cape May Cafe at the Beach Club. If you have access to a car at Disney World, you can also drive to the resort. Parking is free for anyone dining at a Disney World resort restaurant.

When you can’t drive, walk it or jump on a monorail, you’ll need to get creative. Minnie Vans, Uber or Lyft are always available, and our preferred way to travel from resort to resort. Another alternative is to plan your resort character meal for a day when you will be attending a nearby park. That way, it’s easy to hop on the park transportation over to that resort and back again.

Speaking of Disney parks brings us to our last imporant point about eating at Disney World with charaters. If you opt to enjoy one of the experiences located within a Disney theme park, you will need a valid park ticket for the day you plan to dine. An advanced dining reservation alone will not get you in for your reservation.

This becomes a particularly important point if you are purchasing Disney World base tickets over the park hopper option. If you decide to eat at Tusker House for breakfast in the morning, you will not be able to attend another park that day. Once you are tapped into the park, the system registers you as a guest there, so your ticket won’t work anywhere else that day.

Likewise, if you visit Magic Kingdom in the morning and them plan to hit Tusker House at Animal Kingdom for dinner. You may have trouble getting through the gates. That’s because your base ticket allows you to visit only one park per day. By visiting Magic Kingdom in the morning, you’ve told the system that you plan to use your ticket in that park for the day.

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What Are My Choices for Snacking at Disney World?

As indicated above, the universe of Walt Disney World dining offers a plethora of snacking options. We tend to favor the Disney traditions, such as Mickey pretzels and ice cream sandwiches or a Dole Whip. For the unitiated, a Dole Whip has traditionally consisted of orange or pineapple soft serve, though in recent years a whole host of new flavors have emerged. In many cases, your favorite Dole Whip flavor can be paired with pineapple juice or another beverage to create a float. You can find out more about this icon snack in our ode to Dole Whip.

We’re also known for a pretty healthy popcorn addiction that seems to only get fed while at Disney World. During some past trips, popcorn cart cast members have even come to recognize us, and we have several empty souvenir popcorn buckets to prove our passion.

In more recent years, we’ve also become fond of some of Disney’s more creative snack creations. One of these is a nice cold LeFou’s brew from Gaston’s Tavern. When LeFou whips up his frozen drink concoction, he always uses fresh apple juice and tops it with his signature mango foam topping. We always pair it with a few of his barge-sized cinnamon rolls to share, for a sugar rush like none other.

The nice thing about some snacks at Disney World is that they can easily fill in for a meal. If you doubt our assessment, take a look at the size of the turkey legs peddled at the Magic Kingdom and EPCOT, or stop by Yak and Yeti café when in Animal Kingdom for some fried rice.

Snacks available through Walt Disney World Dining
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Speaking of EPCOT, this is where snacking becomes a cultural experience, particularly if you are visiting around the holidays or during the Food and Wine festival. Special food options are available at each country in the World Showcase during these events. The manu is filled with options that you won’t find at other times of the year. Each are loosely based on the cultural traditions of the lands.

Needless to say, if you’re looking for a snack at Disney World, you’re likely to find something that fits your appetite.

Can I Make Reservations When Eating at Disney World?

While Disney does offer you the chance to book a dining time in advance, it is not a hard and fast reservation. Instead, you’ll be booking a place in line. Here is how an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) works.

If you are a Disney resort guest, you may begin making ADRs 60 days before the start of your trip. Simply log into the Disney World website, hover over things to do in the top navigation, and select “make reservations” under dining in the drop-down menu.

You’ll be asked to select your restaurant and date. From there, you will be provided a list of available times. Select the timeslot that is closest to your preference and finalize the booking process. You will also have the opportunity to link guests on your My Disney Experience account so that the reservation shows up in their plans, and to record food allergies. From there, keep making reservations for the remaining days of your trip.

If you are staying at a good neighbor hotel or other nearby accommodations, you will be able to make advanced dining reservations 60 days prior to each day of your trip. In this instance, you may log into your My Disney Experience account 60 days prior to the first day of your trip and make reservations for your first day. The next day, you will be elibible for making ADRs for the second day of your trip and so on.

On the day of your reservation, you are asked to arrive ten to fifteen minutes before the start of your reservation window. Upon your arrival, you can check in through the My Disney Experience app or with the cast members at the podium.

Once you check in, you are placed in line for the next available table fitting your party size. Generally, the wait is no more than ten minutes, though we have had to wait up until thirty minutes when we traveled with a larger party.

You may be wondering why you’d want to go through the hassle of making a reservation if a table won’t be ready and waiting upon your arrival. The answer is pretty simple. Without an ADR, you won’t be able to get seating at many restaurants.

Some more popular locations, such as Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom, fully book up with advanced dining reservations, leaving no room for walk up diners.

What to Do if You Don’t Get or Make a Disney Dining Reservation?

If you decide you want to visit a certain table-service venue and haven’t made an ADR, don’t give up hope. You can check for immediate or upcoming availability through the My Disney Experience app or by checking with a cast member at the location.

At some restaurants, you may also have the option to join a walk-up line. In this case, simply find the restaurant in the My Disney Experience app. If a walk-up queue is available, you will see an option to join the wait list. Click on this, follow the prompts, and then wait to receive a push notification that your table is ready. You may also stop by the podium in front of the restaurant and ask about availability.

For more detailed information on ADRs, including steps for booking, you can visit our article covering the World of Advanced Dining Reservations.

What Disney Resort Require Reservations?

None of the Disney World resorts explicitly require a reservation, but you will find it much easier to gain a table on any given day if you make and advanced dining reservation. Advanced dining reservations can be made at nearly every table service restaurant located within a Disney theme park or resort or within Disney Springs.

While many Disney Springs restaurants do offer reservations through the Disney World Website, keep in mind that most are owned and operated by third parties. In some cases, you may be able to reserve a table last minute by calling the restaurant directly.

Does Disney World Have a Dining Plan?

Over a decade ago, Disney announced the Disney Dining Plan to ready vacationers. This special enhancement to the Disney World vacation experience was meant to simplify dining for the average traveler by prepackaging meals into a single price point.

Available in two separate tiers, the Disney Dining plan allows you to pay a flat per-person rate per day. In exchange, you’ll get two meals and a snack, plus beverages. Since many of the snacks could really fill in for meals, the plan can be stretched to include 3 meals a day with some advanced planning.

For a detailed description of the two dining tiers, including associated benefits and costs, you can read our Disney dining plan article.

How Much Is the Disney World Dining Plan?

While Disney doesn’t publish stand alone pricing for its dining plan, we can do some calculations of our own, comparing the cost of a vacation package with and without the dining plan. By our calculations, you can expect to pay the following per night for the dining plan;

Disney Dining PlanDisney Quick Service Dining Plan

Taking Advantage of the Disney World Free Dining Promotion

Over the years, a fascination has developed for the Disney Dining plan, centered mostly on promotions that offer free dining. While eating for free at Disney sounds like a can’t-lose proposition, taking advantage of free dining comes at the cost of other discounts which could prove to be more advantageous in the long run.

If free dining returns and you’re wondering whether a free dining promotion will benefit you, take a look at our complete free dining article to better understand the pros and cons and to determine what’s best for your budget.

How to Eat at Disney World on a Budget?

In the absence of the free dining promotion, you may be wondering how to save money on Walt Disney World dining. Fortunately, we have a number of tips to help shave your costs:

  • Research Disney World dining menus and pricing online. Then select the most cost-friendly restaurants that meet your tastes and budget.
  • Consider bringing items from home or purchasing upon your arrival. Simply buying your own water bottles and taking them to the park can save you a bundle.
  • Pack your own snacks from home or stop by a grocery store when you arrive and stock up.
  • Also, consider eating breakfast in your room with food you brought from home or purchased at a local store. We have brought instant oatmeal and made it using the microwave in the room or by heating water in the coffee maker. Since most rooms also include a mini fridge, cereal and milk is another option.
  • Did you know that a simple cup of coffee could cost you $4 or more at your resort or in the parks? Consider getting your caffeine fix in your room while everyone is getting ready. Most Disney Resorts provide a coffee maker.
  • Opt for quick-service meals over those served at a table-service restaurant. You could save half or more off the cost of a single meal.
  • Consider swapping a snack for a meal. As mentioned previously, some snacks are large enough to satisfy a modest appetite, especially if you’ve eaten at other restaurants during the day.
  • If you’re a Disney Chase Visa Cardholder, you can save 10 percent at select Disney World restaurants. To take advantage of this perk, be sure to know which restaurants are covered and remind the wait staff when you pay your bill. Likewise, Florida residents
  • Another option is to pay using discounted gift cards. At times, some retailers, such as Costco, will offer a modest price break on a Disney gift card. Purhcasing at a discount and using the gift card to pay for food is another way to reduce some of your food costs.
  • Consider eating offsite. Thanks to the convenience of ridesharing, it’s now easy to sneak away and enjoy a meal at a local restaurant. There are plenty to choose from in the area surrounding Disney World, and many will be far cheaper than eating at a park or your resort.
  • Choose breakfast or lunch over dinner. When dining at a Disney World table-service restaurant, prices for dinner can be higher than those set for other meals, so opting to enjoy the restaurant earlier in the day could save you quite a bit.

Can Disney Accommodate Food Allergies?

Disney World works extremely well with people who suffer from food allergies. We know from experience that Disney World seamlessly handles allergies to gluten, tree nuts and mangos.

Quick-service restaurants and most table-service venues will offer a special allergy menu for most common allergies. In many caes, you can even view these online before you leave home. We do this frequently to ensure that there will be items that appeal to the taste buds of our allergy sufferers before deciding on a restaurant.

Upon arrival, be sure to alert the cast member taking your order that you want the allergy option. This will tell the kitchen to provide your meal in a separate allergy-free area and to serve it on its own tray.

When dining at table-service restaurants, be certain to note any allergies when you make your Advanced Dining Reservation and then remind your server again on arrival. If the location does not offer an allergy menu, the chef is always available to personally discuss your options according to your particular allergy.

Experiencing the Magic of Eating at Disney World

Eating at a Disney World restaurant can be one of the most magical moments of your vacation. We’ll never forget watching the nightly fireworks over Cinderella’s Castle from our table at O’hana’s (Polynesian Resort) or special character moments. During our last visit to the Garden Grill, it was a treat to watch Pluto chase chipmunks Chip and Dale in true sport dog fashion.

We’ll certainly never forget the bad jokes from our waiter at the Skipper Canteen or finding members of our wait staff who once lived in some of the places that we did. Striking a connection and discovering all we had in common created special experiences during our trip.

We recommend that everyone plan to splurge on at least one table-service meal during their trip. If you are only doing one, we recommend that you make it with your favorite characters.

If you take the chance to explore all that Walt Disney World dining has to offer, you’re sure to come away with some magical experiences of your own.

Additional Tips for Eating at Disney World

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Mother daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S.

We're Kat and Ali, a pair of mother-daughter travel bloggers exploring the U.S. We're sharing our experiences, tips and insights to help you more easily get out and explore the beautiful landscapes and places of this nation.


Kathleen Hesketh

Kathleen is a travel agent with Mickey World Travel, a platinum level Authorized Disney vacation planner, where she helps people discover the magic of a Disney vacation and other travel destinations. She is also the chief author and editor for Seconds to Go - a travel blog where she shares experiences from traveling the U.S. with her daughters. Kathleen has been a professional writer for more than a decade, helping businesses craft compelling content to advance organizational goals.

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