I’m a BIG Disney fan as you may all I know. I had asked my friend Kate (who I met on a Contiki tour to Europe back in 2008) and who is also a Disney fanatic as well and is actually lucky enough to work for the Mouse at Walt Disney World if she would like to write a guest post here while I am in South Dakota for the rest of the week for my cousin Erin’s Wedding (Yes, I know we have the same name! She was actually named after me and has a middle name after another cousin or so we say anyways 😉 Who better to ask than her about tips on places to eat while at Disney World? I would LOVE to take a trip to Florida and visit Disney World again (as well as go on a Disney Cruise again!!!) I hope you enjoy her ideas and tips on how to plan out your dining adventures while in the parks at Disney World! Thanks Kate for the great ideas!
Disney World Dining Tips
Planning a trip to the Walt Disney World Resort can at times be a daunting task. This is with good reason, with 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, a shopping district, over 20 resort hotels and countless (and I mean countless) numbers of dining options, it’s no wonder people sometimes get overwhelmed. After countless family vacations and years of working at the parks, I can offer one small piece of advice. If you are anything like my family you will treasure this little nugget like it is real gold. Base your day on food. I’m serious. I know, Florida’s hot and the thought of eating a big, heavy meal before going on Space Mountain might not sit well with some, but trust me. The dining options the Walt Disney World Resort offers are some of the best meals and experiences your family and you will have while visiting. The only sad part is, as one of my friends said on her first visit, you can’t hit them all.
Regardless of the vast options, there are simple ways to go about eating your way through the parks. First, know that several dining options are available, from fast food to fine dining. With something that will please everyone’s palette, from traditional Italian, to world class steak houses, authentic Japanese sushi and even standard mac and cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the kids, everyone can walk away happy and satisfied. Second, when planning, don’t automatically assume that Day 1 will be at Magic Kingdom, Day 2 at Epcot, etc., check out what dining options are available and plan your day in that park. For example, if you choose to eat in Italy at Epcot’s World Showcase on Day 3, plan on visiting that park as well so that you aren’t running from park to park just to make a dining reservation. Speaking of Italy, the dining options in Epcot’s World Showcase offer some of the best and most authentic cuisine. Here’s another tip, I always ask my waiter or waitress what their favorite dish is, or what on the menu seems most like “home” to them. In Norway I once tried a dish that resembled a personal meatloaf all because the waiter said it reminded him of home and his mom. It was delicious! Remember the waiters and waitresses are from that country. They will not steer you wrong, I promise!
While some of the sit down restaurants offer pricey dishes, even the thriftiness of vacationers can find something to revive their energy after a long day of park hopping. One way to get the most “bang for your buck”, is combining dinner and a show such as the Fantasmic Dining Package. The set price includes an appetizer, entrée, dessert, beverage and priority seating to the nighttime show Fantasmic for each person in the dining party. What better way to introduce a first timer to the park than a filling, gourmet meal followed by an exciting show? The savings comes in the combination of paying a set price versus a la carte pricing¸ and you also get the benefit of preferred seating.
Big sit down meals are not the only option. If that’s not on the agenda, no worries, there are still plenty of tasty options throughout property that you can enjoy. At the Magic Kingdom don’t miss getting a Dole Whip in Adventureland. This tasty pineapple treat is refreshing and one of the most popular items in the park. Casey’s on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom offers delicious hot dogs and fries (cracker jacks too!) at a reasonable price and right across the street in the ice cream parlor is the most delicious sundae served with a mountain of hot fudge in a waffle bowl. That’s a great meal! If you had to ask me what my favorite find in the Magic Kingdom was though, I’d have to say a hot baked potato at the fruit stand in Liberty Square. At just around $3, this potato comes with all your favorite toppings and is definitely satisfying. Even the resorts have great options. The Polynesian has a fantastic sushi bar on the upper level of the main building and the new quick service restaurant at the Art of Animation Resort puts a new twist on a sandwich with the Surf and Surf burger. It’s a crab cake topped with fried popcorn shrimp. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
I could really talk for days about all the wonderful dining options the Walt Disney World Resort offers. While I might have glossed over the options, there is some advice that will work much better than any restaurant recommendation I can give. Sift through the menus on the Walt Disney World website, most restaurants offer them. Choose something new and exciting for at least one meal. If you’ve always wondered about escargot, then book that reservation at Chefs de France! The Cast will do everything in their power to make sure you have an enjoyable dining experience and I can bet you won’t be sorry for exploring something new on vacation. Bon appetit!