Part 4 — Eating at Disney World
For many adults, one of the most anticipated events of their vacation is eating at Disney World! The Walt Disney World resort is home to fine dining restaurants of almost any kind of food you can imagine! While this can add much enjoyment to the trip, there are a few things you need to know before you book your reservations.
Many of the popular dining establishments are widely sought after. As such, you will need to call ahead far in advance. Some of the best places to eat at Disney are also the most difficult reservations to get! Now in our normal lives, calling ahead means picking up the phone at lunchtime for a dinner reservation. But this is Disney World. Things are different here!
The key to getting a good reservation is booking early.
If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can call up to 180 days in advance! You can also book for the entire vacation at that time, up to 10 days. This is one of the additional perks of staying onsite. If you aren’t onsite, you can only book 180 days in advance, which severely limits your ability to get the reservation times that you want. For a much more detailed look at how to get a dining reservation, please see our article on this HERE. If you are a Disney first timer, and are worried about the booking process, we highly recommend letting some Disney experts take control of the situation!
The key to making dining reservations is having a great plan. You need to know exactly when you want to eat at each place. With some of the more popular dining establishments, you may be forced to take whatever times they have available. But this can potentially cause many problems. How so?
Recall that we already discussed the need to get to Disney early. We also strongly advised you to pick a park based on the optimal crowd levels for each day. So any reservation that causes you to go against either of the previous guidelines is something you might want to avoid.
Also be wary of “inconvenient” times and “out of the way” places. A reservation at Chef Mickey’s at 9:30 AM might seem perfect! It might be perfect for your family. But not if you plan on that day being a full Magic Kingdom day. You will end up arriving at the MK around 11am, and as we previously discussed, your day will be much tougher.
By the same token, if you are planning an early start, it’s best to avoid late dining reservations the night before. Again, at times this can’t be avoided. Places like Le Cellier can be very difficult to get into. If 9pm is all they have, and you REALLY want to try Le Cellier out, don’t stress. Just make sure you schedule some downtime at some point that day so you aren’t too tired out.
Eating where you Play
If you aren’t prepared well, another problem can cause you to spend too much time travelling! Let’s say you grab a 2 o’clock lunch reservation for an Epcot restaurant. Then later on, you research your calendar and you realize that the AK is where you want to spend the day. You may figure “it’s ok, we have a park hopper”. While that is true, you have just given yourself an extra hour and a half of travel, traffic and stress that you didn’t need to!
I strongly recommend to know exactly which parks you will be in BEFORE you book your dining. You can usually get the crowd calendars about 7 months in advance. This gives you a month to plan out your trip before you need to call and make reservations.
Most people quickly realize the difficulties that travel at Disney present, and so when they arrive, they quickly notice the discrepencies between their dining reservations and their park plans. Since the dining reservations are set in stone, people will usually adjust their park plans, even if it means going to a park that might be very busy.
Does your family like to “wing it”?
Trust me, I’ve taken plenty of vacations where decisions are made in the “spur of the moment”. They can be fun and exciting. While it is possible to do that at Disney, it can create stress, unnecessary travel, long lines, and headaches.
I know it may seem like following a schedule creates stress, but short lines, minimal travel, rested children and full bellies will keep smiles on everyone’s faces!
For many people, Disney is not something that they can afford to do very often. That extra effort in planning can allow your family to see so much more of the park, and we highly recommend it! Again, if this makes you nervous, let us help you out!
In the final article of our 5 part series, we’ll help you understand the final piece of the puzzle, transportation!
Part 5: Disney Transportation