In this full-course book about dining at Walt Disney World, you'll learn how to master the Disney Dining Plan and get a taste of what's on the plate at Disney World's never-ending variety of food venues, from snack stands and quick service to signature restaurants and dinner shows.
Eating stress-free at Walt Disney World requires planning—just as much planning as it took to get you to the park in the first place. The victuals in the most magical place on earth are vast and varied; it's easy to feel overwhelmed, and to just settle for wherever you can find a table. You can do better!
Theme park veteran (and former Disneyland VIP Tour Guide) Andrea Keech breaks down your dining options into short, digestible chapters, with extensive coverage of the often confusing Disney Dining Plan. In addition, she shares proven tips and methods for getting the Advanced Dining Reservations you can't do without, how to eat where you want even if you don't have a reservation, and why Disney never holds a table in your name, even if you do have a reservation.
Sure, you've come for the Mouse, but it's the meals you'll remember. All the ingredients for the very best dining experiences at Walt Disney World are right here at your fingertips.
Chapter 1: Digesting the Disney Dining Plan
Chapter 2: About the Dining Reviews
Chapter 3: Magic Kingdom, Part One: Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, Frontierland
Chapter 4: Magic Kingdom, Part Two: Liberty Square, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland
Chapter 5: Epcot, Part One: Future World, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Morocco, Japan
Chapter 6: Epcot, Part Two: American Adventure, Italy, Germany, China, Norway, Mexico
Chapter 7: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Part One: Discovery Island, Africa, Rafiki's Planet Watch
Chapter 8: Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Part Two: Asia, Pandora, DinoLand U.S.A.
Chapter 9: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Part One: Hollywood Boulevard, Echo Lake, Muppet Courtyard, Toy Story Land
Chapter 10: Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Part Two: Pixar Place, Commissary Lane, Animation Courtyard, Sunset Boulevard, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Chapter 11: Disney’s BoardWalk: Disney Dining Off the Beaten Path
Chapter 12: Disney Springs, Part One: The Marketplace
Chapter 13: Disney Springs, Part Two: The Landing
Chapter 14: Disney Springs, Part Three: Town Center
Chapter 15: Disney Springs, Part Four: West Side
Chapter 16: Unique and Signature Dining: The Best of the Disney Resort Hotels
Chapter 17: Dinner Shows and Character Meals: The Best of the Disney Resort Hotels
Chapter 18: Getting Hard-to-Get ADRs: Twelve Tremendous Tips
To those who haven’t yet read the Walt Disney World Dining Guide, welcome. To those who’ve read an earlier edition, welcome back. In this latest addition, any new full service, casual, or quick service restaurants, as well as new carts and kiosks, will be reviewed; price and menu changes will be updated; and alterations to the Disney Dining Plan will be noted (for example, this is the first year alcoholic beverages and specialty drinks have been included as part of the dining plans). Pull up a seat, dig in, and don’t forget to bring your appetite…
Why in the Walt Disney World would you need to spend any of your valuable leisure time preparing six months (or more!) ahead of your vacation for exactly where, when, and what you plan to eat on your much-anticipated visit to the Most Magical Place on Earth? The fact that you’d even ask means you desperately need help—and fast! Without doing your homework many months before the first day of your trip, you’ll miss out on some of the best experiences that can make a vacation at Walt Disney World so memorable.
If you have never visited Walt Disney World, or if it’s been awhile since your last visit, you’ll be surprised to discover how important it is these days to make Advance Dining Reservations. That’s right, the phrase is capitalized and even has its own acronym: ADRs. Securing ADRs has become almost an art form. People across the country, and indeed the world, have their eager fingers poised above their keyboards ready to hit the “submit” button at the stroke of 6:00 a.m. Orlando time on the first day they are allowed to book those critical reservations. Don’t be left out! This guide will ensure that you have the best chance to dine when and wherever you want.
Sampling entirely new flavors and cuisines, participating in one-of-a-kind themed dining experiences, and enjoying some of those unique Disney snacks only available at Walt Disney World will add significantly to how much you and your family enjoy yourselves. It’s surprising how much a character meal, dinner show, or a memorable dinner will add to the pleasure and enjoyment of your vacation.
Some dining guides jump back and forth like a pinball between the four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios), the Disney resort hotels, the BoardWalk, and Disney Springs. You’re left spinning and overwhelmed. These guides are often divided into sections like “best kids meals” or “great snacks.” You need to flip back and forth a thousand times comparing offerings among the various venues. As far as I’m concerned, that’s not the easiest nor most useful way to get a good sense of where you’ll want to eat on any given day of your vacation. As a Disneyland Tour Guide and VIP Hostess throughout college, I learned the importance of organizing any visit one area at a time. You’ll be in one place at a time, not twenty, and that’s exactly how this simple, informative guide is organized.
I won’t often tell you what I like to eat because maybe, probably, you and I differ on our preferences. When a member of the wait staff says, “I’d suggest the scallops tonight—they’re excellent,” that doesn’t help me because scallops are never my choice. Likewise, when a reviewer advises trying the fresh sashimi (raw fish) at Morimoto Asia, count me out. Honestly, I don’t care what someone else likes; I want to know what a particular place has on its menu that I might like. A guide that gives you just one or two ideas from a menu, usually what the writer ate, simply isn’t enough information to inform my decision.
While I won’t list entire menus (you can see those online easily), I will tell you the types of foods, preparation styles, and special experiences you can expect at any given place. Food critics who detail just one meal at a restaurant miss the other fifty things I’d be willing to try before I’d ever choose the charred octopus or goat cheese ravioli. Therefore, I’ll give you a very good idea of what you’ll find at the many Walt Disney World places to dine. You decide which places have menu selections that are likely to please most members of your party.
Not only that, I’ve found some guides to be so extensive that unless you’re only going to Disney World to eat, and you’re not, they’re too unwieldy to navigate and contain more information than you could use in two lifetimes. There’s a limit to how many hundreds of pages you can wade through and how many hundreds of hours you’re prepared to spend searching for relevant bits and pieces of information online. How much time are you willing to devote to sifting through the scattered entries of individual restaurants and evaluating the confusing array of websites?
It would take months to uncover for yourself all of the information I’ve put right here at your fingertips. I’d like to make your search for great food easy. It simply shouldn’t require you to spend days, weeks, or months figuring out your vacation meals. Those of us who live in the real world are too busy with work and family to devote that kind of time to meal planning!
Whether your trip is an adults-only romantic getaway or a kid-friendly romp with an emphasis on the toddlers, tadpoles, tweens, or teens in the family, you will need to do some background research and make those key dining reservations six months in advance. Yes, you heard that last bit right: six months ahead of time. A full 180 days (and make that 180+10—see chapter 18, Getting Hard-to-Get ADRs) before your vacation starts, you need to have your fingers poised above the screen on your iPhone, iPad, or computer. Be ready to go the second you are allowed to do so because every other savvy guest you’ll be rubbing shoulders with during your upcoming vacation will be doing the exact same thing and doing it at the exact same moment.
Planning matters (more than you ever thought possible) when it comes to dining at Disney World, but it can be done with a reasonable effort. That’s where this guide will help you. It will group the many choices into manageable sections you can skim quickly. It will highlight the best places to dine that will satisfy all members of your party.
You are on vacation to enjoy the attractions and the ambience, true, but without some sustenance, it’s going to be a very rocky—and hungry—road, my friends. If you’ve ever been desperate to find a decent place to eat while starving children, famished teenagers, or peckish grandparents are complaining loudly in your ear and your own stomach is rumbling uncomfortably, you’ll appreciate how much knowing where you are going, when you need to arrive there, and what you can expect to eat at those three meals a day can make the difference between unfortunate family feuds and happy tummies that will allow your group to continue on its merry way.
Look around at those families who didn’t plan ahead like you to appreciate the value of having a workable meal-time itinerary. Those families aren’t difficult to find. They’re the ones with the tears, howls, and loud harrumphs. Luckily, that won’t be you and your family.
Whether it’s sitting down to Mickey waffles, bacon, and scrambled eggs with the kids at the Polynesian’s ’Ohana character breakfast, complete with a rollicking meet-and-greet session with Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, and Pluto, or toasting your sweetheart with vintage champagne at the Grand Floridian’s ultra-luxurious Victoria & Albert’s while savoring the 10-course chef’s tasting menu, careful planning ahead for your dining pleasure is absolutely key. Without some preparation, memorable meals at the best places in the resort with those you love best simply won’t happen.
Don’t get me wrong. There will be plenty of time during your visit for spontaneity, for grabbing something delicious on-the-go and savoring it as you head for the next attraction or shop for souvenirs. As long as you’think ahead and make a plan, however, you won’t miss out on some of the best dining options at Walt Disney World.
As Napoleon Bonaparte observed, “An army marches on its stomach.” Well, so does a vacationer, and you have a lot of marching ahead of you. Now, dig in and let’s get started!
Andrea McGann Keech was born in Southern California and visited Disneyland often, ever since the summer it opened in 1955. She fulfilled a life-long dream by working at the park when she became a bilingual Tour Guide and VIP Hostess during college from 1969 through 1972, experiences fondly chronicled in her first book The Cream of the Crop: Tour Guide Tales from Disneyland’s Golden Years (Theme Park Press, 2016).
After graduating, Andrea taught students in English and Spanish in grades K-12 during her teaching career. She was a member of the National Assessment of Educational Progress Committee that established Writing Standards, 2011–2018, for students in grades 3–12. She has written for a variety of national educational journals and presented at many teaching conferences.
She lives in Iowa City with Shadow and Sunny, a pair of boisterous standard poodles. After school, she plays Mary Poppins to beloved grandchildren, Katherine and Drew, and spends as much time as possible with joyful Will and baby Lucy, her newest grandchild. For the past few years, she has begun painting under the helpful tutelage of artist Lianne Westcott and is enjoying it tremendously.
Other Disney titles for Theme Park Press are The Indulgent Grandparent’s Guide to Walt Disney World; Treasure of the Ten Tags: A Disneyland Adventure; Walt Disney World Characters 101: Your Complete Guide to Perfect Meet-and-Greets; A Mouse for All Seasons: Your Month-by-Month Guide to Walt Disney World; 50 Fun, Fabulous Foods at Disney Theme Parks; and The Disneyland Resort Dining Guide 2020.