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How to Plan Disney World Dining

Next in the How to Plan Series we’re discussing how to plan Disney World Dining! It’s one of the hardest parts of a Disney Trip to plan, in my opinion.  With such a large variety of options to choose from, it can be an overwhelming task. Here’s the 411 on dining in Disney World!

How to Plan Disney World Dining:  The Options

There are 4 main types of dining you can experience at Disney World.  Each provides quality food options for all your dietary needs, but differs in price and offerings.

  1. Character Dining:  Meet beloved Disney Characters while you enjoy a family-friendly dining experience.  Reservations Recommended.
  2. Fine/Signature Dining:  Enjoy top of the line menus from award winning restaurants.  Reservations Recommended.
  3. Casual Dining:  a relaxed, sit down dining experience that offers a variety of dishes. Reservations Recommended.
  4. Counter Service:  a quick and tasty meal for on the go travelers.  Order at a kiosk or counter, then seat yourself in the dining area.  No Reservations needed.  Mobile ordering available.  Also referred to as a Quick Service or QS meal.

For more information on the available Disney World Dining options click here.

How to Plan Disney World Dining:  Planning Your Meals

There are key questions you can ask yourself to determine your best Disney World Dining options:

  1. What are the dining needs of my travel party?  What do they require and how can I be sure to meet those needs?
  2. Where will we be each day of our trip?
  3. When do we have time for a sit down meal vs a counter service option?
  4. How many meals will we budget for per day?
  5. What are our must do dining experiences and how will those fit into our schedule?

After you’ve answered all of these questions, you’ll start to see a pattern emerging for the dining needs of your travel party.  For more on budgeting for this key portion of your trip read Blog #2: Set Your Budget and download our Budget Template.  The Template breaks down your Budget into savings buckets and helps you plan for each portion of your Disney World Trip.

How to Plan Disney World Dining:  Aligning with your Schedule

An aligned schedule and budget can make all the difference when it comes time to plan your Disney World Dining.  If you’re staying on-site at a Disney World Resort your dining reservation window opens 60 days prior to your trip.  At the 60 day mark you can make ALL your reservations for your entire trip.  If you’re staying off property you will still make dining reservations 60 days out, however you can only do one day at a time, this could drastically reduce availability to popular restaurants like O’hana, Topolino’s Terrace and Cinderella’s Royal Table.

The first step is creating a specific plan, below are the key steps I take to plan out my Disney Trip Schedule:

  1. Lay out each day of your trip by day and date, inputting key details like arrival and departure times or pre-planned events, such as Halloween or Holiday after hours.
  2. Create your schedule.  Input what you intend to do each day, I like to include a location or main activity, such as a Theme Park, Disney Springs Shopping or Pool time. 
  3. Input Character or Fine Dining Reservations that are your top priority first, this will ensure they have a spot within your schedule.
  4. The answer to this question is often yes, simply because Disney makes it so eaPlan downtime within your schedule for counter service meals or snacks.  These are great ways to break up the day and rest your feet.
  5. Be prepared to be flexible.  Have a list of all the options you’d like to enjoy a meal at so you’re ready to shift while on the go.  Consider things like sleeping children, rain and other shifts that could derail your plan.  When you have options at the ready you can be more nimble with your schedule.

For more details on how to start planning check out Blog #16: How to Start Planning a DIsney World Trip.

One of the benefits of working with a travel planner like myself is that I help you secure these hard to get dining reservations.  All you need to do is let me know what you’d like and I’ll be the one getting up early and working with cast members to secure your dining reservations. Pretty cool right?  Get a free travel quote and let’s get planning together!

If a VIP Planning Experience where I create your entire schedule for you is what you’re looking for then book a Happy Haunts Hour and let me do all the work for you!

Planning doesn’t have to be overwhelming or hard, it can be a fun and exciting experience.

We celebrate this process in our Facebook Community, we love welcoming Happy Haunts! Inside you can grab our 50th Anniversary Sips & Bites Guide which features all the limited time dining and drink options available to highlight Disney World’s 50th Anniversary!

“Good food is like music you can taste, color you can smell” – Remy, Ratatouille


Greetings Foolish Mortals!

I’m Melissa, a self professed Disnerd and Ultimate Planner!   After taking my family on their first trip in October 2016, I found a passion for helping friends and family plan their trips.

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