For the purpose of this article we will assume that you want to take in a bit of it all – ride some attractions, check out the shops for souvenirs, and enjoy some full table service meals along the way.  If this sounds like you, then planning your time carefully is important.  Not in the sense of micro-managing every minute of your vacation agenda with a mega-spreadsheet, but instead coming up with an overall approach and schedule that helps you make the most of your time.

Looking For Quality Food

Disney World has plenty of options for quick service dining (also known as fast food), and most everyone wants to enjoy those options to some extent.  However, many folks also want to enjoy a nicer, slower, better quality restaurant experience as well – at a sit-down Disney World restaurant where you are served by a waiter or waitress, and when you get to enjoy better food in a nice environment.

So what could be bad about enjoying a sit-down dinner at Disney World?  And why would you need a trick to deal with the situation?

Not Enough Hours In The Day

The problem is time.  When you factor in the time you have to wait for a table, the time you have to wait to be served, and the time you need to enjoy your meal, you could easily be talking about a three to four hour experience.  And while to some extent this might be a nice break from non-stop attractions and shopping, this dining experience can also take up a huge part of your day – maybe too much.

Dining Tricks

So what can you do to still enjoy nicer meals but also save time?  This is where the tricks come in.

1 – Make an Advanced Dining Reservation

Even during slow times of the year you can find yourself waiting for a long time to get seated at a Disney restaurant if you don’t have a reservation, which Disney calls an Advanced Dining Reservation.  Most reservations open up 180 days in advance.  While it might sound a little crazy to make plans for a meal six months in advance, it is a very good idea – especially at the popular Disney restaurants and Disney character dining locations.  So plan to mark your calendar and call 407-WDW-DINE or use Disney’s web site to make your reservation.

If you want to enjoy nicer dining, like at Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot's Morocco, be sure to make reservations 180 days in advance.

If you want to enjoy nicer dining, like at Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot’s Morocco, be sure to make reservations 180 days in advance.

One way to cut back on the hours you spend in sit down meals is to cut back on the number of sit down meals.  This doesn’t mean not to enjoy them.  It just means enjoy one big meal each day instead of two big meals each day.  This allows you to still enjoy the nicer Disney restaurants and still not spend huge amounts of time dealing with meals.

Also, plan the time for the meal at the start or end of the seating window.  This means you might eat lunch at 11:30 or dinner at 5:30.  However, this will help you get in and out faster since the restaurant servers and kitchen won’t be behind.

3 – Plan to eat breakfast and your ‘other’ meal at a Quick Service location

Just because you will plan a single table service meal doesn’t mean you should plan to starve.  Running around Disney theme parks expends lots of calories, so you should plan to replace them!  Just don’t replace them in long, drawn out meals.  Plan for a simple breakfast, either with food you bring to your Disney resort hotel room or with on-the-go food you purchase at a quick service location.  And plan your “other meal”, either the lunch or dinner that isn’t your big meal, at another quick service location.

Great Disney Dining Tips

Of course, if you are a foodie and going to Disney is all about the food and not about attractions and shopping, you can probably skip all this advice.

However, if you want more time to do it all, these are solid ideas.  By ensuring you have a reservation for one big meal each day, by planning the time at the beginning or end of the seating window, and by eating your ‘other’ meals at quick service locations, you will get to enjoy some great meals and still have time for many other great experiences too.