Planning Disney dining is an art

One of the most important things to do when planning your trip to WDW…Making your dining reservations. If you are counting on enjoying character dining experiences, or meals at the better on-site restaurants at decent times, you will need to plan your reservations early.

From 180 days in, you can make your reservations online or by telephone (407-WDW-DINE) for most table-service restaurants. Luckily, you can modify and cancel your reservations so that you can create your touring plans, and ensure that your reservations fit in with your overall vacation plan. When planning our first trip back in May, and in a quest to plan a perfect trip, I probably made, edited and cancelled over 30 reservations. We ended up keeping six.

You will only need reservations for table-service restaurants, which offer a more formal dining environment. Quick-service restaurants are available too, and are great alternatives to a sit-down meal when you’re on the go.

Gasparilla Island Grill
Gasparilla Island Grill

We frequented a few quick-service restaurants during our recent stay–Gasparilla Island Grill, at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa; Pecos Bill’s in Magic Kingdom; and the new and elaborate Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom, which operates for lunch as a quick-service establishment (table-service by night–make your reservations early!).

Making your reservations for certain restaurants is more important than others. For example, if the Disney princesses are your kind of thing, you will want to make your Cinderella’s Royal Table reservations as soon as you have your trip confirmed. This is a “premium” character dining experience (at more than $50 per child, and even more for an adult!) that takes place within the magic of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom.

Breakfast at Cindy's
Breakfast at Cindy’s

A few other tips–I would suggest making dining reservations early for restaurants located within the parks. An 8 a.m. reservation at Cindy’s means that you will most definitely be able to beat the mad rush of families lined up at the entry turnstiles, waiting for rope drop at 9 a.m.

Another note about reservations–making them online can be a time saver, but can also turn into a source of insomnia for some die-hard planners.

Character dining is great if you are heading to WDW with small children (and even enthusiasts like me!). While it can be expensive, character dining provides you with an opportunity to meet with several Disney characters at one sitting, without waiting in the hot Florida sun to greet them.

Expect to pay $20 to $50 for breakfast, or $30 to $60 for dinner. In my opinion, it was worth it. We especially enjoyed our brunch at 1900 Park Fare (located at the Grand Floridian), which allowed us to “meet” Mary Poppins and Alice (of Wonderland fame) among others.

Mary & Me
Mary & Me

One last tip–making reservations for the night you arrive is not a good idea. I would suggest grabbing a quick bite at a table-service or quick-service restaurant at your resort so that you’re not bound by time and location. This will give you more time to enjoy the parks or the pool on your first day.

There are so many options to choose from when staying on property at WDW. A couple of my favourite restaurants included the Grand Floridian Café, Ohana at the Polynesian Resort, and Via Napoli in Epcot.

I’ll provide full reviews in future blog posts, so stay tuned!

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