Navigating the crowds of fellow diners to find a table when and where you want can be challenging. However, a little planning and a little know-how will help you to save money, and have a dining experience as great as the rest of your vacation.
Tips for Saving Money
Order Individual Items or Share Meals
The portion sizes at many Disney World restaurants are very large, and most counter service restaurants serve meal combos that include a main dish and one or two side dishes. The main dishes alone are usually plenty of food, and most restaurants will sell the entrée alone without the side dishes for a cheaper price.
If you want to add variety to your meal, sharing food with another member of your party is also a great way to go. A salad, entrée, and dessert at many restaurants is more food than most people can eat in a single sitting, and sharing with another person allows you to have a multi-course meal without the painful food coma.
Take a glance around at what fellow diners are eating, or just ask your server, if you are unsure whether the portion sizes are large enough to split. Most of the time, you will find yourself with plenty to eat and the satisfaction of saving a bit of cash.
Choose Table Service Lunches
Table service restaurants typically have similar or identical menus for lunch and dinner, but lunch time is invariably less crowded. While some of these locations server the expected burgers and fries, others server interesting food choices from around the world – allowing you to try a dining adventure without a huge investment.
Tips for Getting a Table
Make Advance Reservations for High Priorities
Disney allows guests to make table dining reservations 180 days in advance, and it’s wise to take advantage of that for the restaurants you don’t want to miss. Character dining meals and other popular places can fill up quickly, so reserve in advance if you want to be certain they are part of your vacation.
You may prefer not to plan all of your meals ahead of time, which means you will need to be flexible with the meals you do not reserve. One option is to stick to counter service restaurants, which are both a time saver and less expensive than table service.
Eat at Out-of the-Way Restaurants
If you do want to squeeze more table service meals into your vacation without reservations, try to find restaurants that are off the beaten path. Restaurants at Disney resort hotels away from the monorail line are often less popular since they are not as easy to get to, and are usually just as good as their more popular counterparts. Consider Trail’s End the Disney’s Fort Wilderness or the Roaring Fork at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – both just a short and pleasant boat ride from the Magic Kingdom.
Restaurants are usually less busy right after they open, so planning on early meals will help you to get a table at more popular destinations. Eating on the late side may also find restaurants less busy after the prime time crowd has cleared, but this can be more challenging to pull off for families with children.