Walt Disney World serves a lot of food, an awful lot of food. There are over 6,000 food items available at more than 475 different locations. Amazingly Walt Disney World would be the 45th largest food chain in the world if it became a food service company. The number of dining choices can be bewildering for the first time Walt Disney World Visitor. Our Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 2020 is full of helpful information to plan Disney Dining Experiences.
Walt Disney World Dining Locations
There are several types of different restaurants & food locations available at Walt Disney World, which suit a range of budgets. The following are the most common terms used to describe dining options:
Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World
At Table Service restaurants, you are seated at a table and have an allocated waiter. There is a wide variety of Table Service Restaurants including a la carte, buffets, character meals and meals served family-style.
Tipping of staff at most table service restaurants is customary. For groups of 6 or more, tips will be automatically added.
Disney World Signature Dining
These are the most costly dining options at Walt Disney World. These restaurants serve the very best food in the most luxurious surroundings. Think Michelin Star Quality. If you wonder why none of these restaurants has a Michelin Star, The Michelin Guide currently does not cover Florida.
The majority of Signature Dining Restaurants outside of the theme parks have a dress code:
- Men: Khakis, slacks, jeans or dress shorts and collared shirts. Sport coats are optional.
- Women: Capri pants, skirts, dresses, jeans or dress shorts.
- Not permitted in Signature Dining Rooms: tank tops, swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, hats for gentlemen, cut-offs, torn clothing and t-shirts with offensive language and graphics.
The very best restaurant at Walt Disney World is the AAA Five Diamond Award recipient Victoria & Albert’s located in the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
Quick Service Locations at Walt Disney World
Quick-service or Counter Service is Walt Disney World’s Fast Food locations. However; don’t think of just burgers and fries as there is a massive choice of meals available.
Meals are usually cheaper than at table service restaurants, and you order your food, and typically collect, at a counter. Tipping is not required at Quick Service venues.
Dinner Shows at Walt Disney World
There are two long-established Dinner Shows at Walt Disney Wolrd
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at the Fort Wilderness Camp Ground. The longest-running show at Walt Disney World full of audience participation.
- Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian Village Resort. Enjoy Hula Dancing & more at this family feast.
Character Meals at Walt Disney World
Meeting a character while you dine could be your worse nightmare or a fantastic treat. There is a selection of great Character Meals at Walt Disney World that cover a range of budgets.
Character Meals are located throughout Disney World and are offered at each theme park and in several resorts. Whether it is Mickey Mouse, a Disney Princess or Winnie the Pooh, there is likely to be a character meal where you can meet your favorite character.
While they often don’t offer the best food, character meals are always great fun. Our guide to Walt Disney World Character Meals provides further information.
Dessert Parties have been popping up around Walt Disney World in recent years. These unique events provide premium viewing for parades or shows plus a buffet of desserts & snacks. Some of the parties also offer alcoholic beverages.
Dessert parties are not cheap and are in addition to your park admission. Currently, there are parties available at all four theme parks and cover premium viewing for:
- Magic Kingdom Fireworks
- Epcot Forever
- Fantasmic (The experience here is just a drink and a tray of desserts)
- Rivers of Light
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
In addition, there are 2 firework dessert cruises available at the Magic Kingdom.
Kiosks & Carts
Walt Disney World serves food everywhere.
Throughout the resort, you will find stalls and carts serving snacks and even small meals. Plus if you visit Epcot during one of its festivals, the temporary kitchens serve some unique culinary treats.
The Disney Dining Plan
The Disney Dining Plan is a prepaid meal plan offered at Walt Disney World for guests booking a Disney Resort Package. Meals are added to your Magic Band or Card, and you present your card to pay for your meal.
The plan must be booked before arrival with a valid park ticket and is not available to guests not staying at a Disney resort. It is also open to Disney Vacation Club members.
There are 3 Disney Dining Plans available offering the following per day:
Quick Service Dining Plan
- 2 quick-service meals
- 2 snacks
- 1 refillable mug
Regular Dining Plan
- 1 table-service meal
- 1 quick-service meal
- 2 snacks
- 1 resort refillable mug
Deluxe Dining Plan
- 3 meals (any combination of table-service and quick-service)
- 2 snacks
- 1 resort refillable mug
On occasions, Disney offers free dining packages to guests as part of their package.
Our Guide to the Disney Dining Plan offers further information.
Disney’s Advanced Dining Reservations
The most popular dining locations at Walt Disney World book up fast. Don’t expect to get a favorite dining location on the day, especially during periods of free dining. Standby lines often do not exist for guests without a reservation, and when they do waits can be very long.
However, the advanced planning of your dining at Walt Disney World is not stressful. Disney’s Advanced Dining Reservations, often called ADRs, are the system for making reservations for table service restaurants at Walt Disney World.
All table service restaurants at Walt Disney World accept Advanced Dining Reservations. Guests can book reservations for Disney restaurants 180 days in advance of their visit.
Guests of Disney Resort Hotels and the Disney Vacation Club have an extended window for making dining reservations. Starting 180 days in advance of your arrival date, you can book up to 10 days of reservations.
Reservations can be made either online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463). Also, you can use the My Disney Experience App to make your reservation. A credit card is required to secure your reservation.
We have created a guide with more information about Disney’s Advanced Dining Reservations.
Walt Disney World & Food Allergies
Walt Disney World is one of the best places to visit if you have food allergies or intolerances. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is the recipient of a FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) Award. The award was given for their dedication to proving a safe and enjoyable dining experience.
Our guide to visiting Walt Disney World with Dietary Conditions contains helpful further information.
Tables in Wonderland
Tables in Wonderland is exclusive to Florida Residents, Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members. The card gives a 20% discount on food and alcohol at over 100 restaurants.
Recently Quick Service restaurants at Disney World have started to allow you to order your food ahead of your visit via the My Disney Experience App. I wasn’t initially convinced about Mobile Ordering, but it is a fantastic time-saver.
The process is simple, via the My Disney Experience App, you can order your food, and prepay using the Disney Dining Plan or a stored credit card. Once you get to your restaurant, hit the “I’m here” button, and you will be notified where to collect your order.
Visit our guide to learn more about Mobile Ordering at Walt Disney World.
Tipping at Walt Disney World
Tipping when visiting Walt Disney World can cause guests confusion, especially for those guests visiting from countries where tipping isn’t customary. However, tipping is expected in several situations and should be budgeted for in your vacation planning.
Disney recommends tipping your server at table service locations, including buffets, between 18-20% of your meal cost. For groups of 6 or more 18% tips are automatically added to your bill.
Tipping is not expected at the majority of counter service restaurants. However, at a small number of locations, your meal will be brought to your table, and in this situation, staff will usually accept tips.
Walt Disney World Dining Tips & Tricks
- If you want to experience a table service restaurant, but are put off by the price, lunch menus serve the majority of the same entrees but often at a lower cost.
- The most popular restaurants do get full quickly. However, cancellations often do happen. Keep checking back regularly on My Disney Experience if you fail to get your booking.
- Obtaining reservations is usually easier if you are prepared to eat your main meal at lunch or outside of peak periods.
- Standby lines often do exist, but if you are on the Disney Dining Plan do not risk getting a table on the day. There is no refund available if you do not manage to use all your table service credits.
- Meals at Walt Disney World are massive. If you do not have the biggest appetite consider sharing an entree. Quick Service Meals can easily be shared between several family members.
- Make sure the restaurant know about any celebrations eg birthdays.
- Think carefully before buying the Disney Dining Plan. The Disney Dining Plan can work out good value but not for all guests. Examples of guests who might not find the Disney Dining Plan great value includes vegetarians, those with small appetites, guests who don’t drink alcohol including kids over 10.
- Don’t buy the Disney Dining Plan if you will be spending time offsite. If you are planning to visit Universal Orlando, the dining plan might not work out good value.
- Remember you need a valid theme park ticket to enter a park restaurant. If your ticket isn’t valid, you will not be permitted to enter the park. Entering a park for a meal will count as a park admission.
- Before deciding where to book, read reviews on Walt Disney World Restaurants. The majority of Walt Disney World Restaurants are excellent, but the food served will not suit all tastes at every venue.
Our guide Walt Disney World for Beginners is a fantastic place for more information to help plan your Walt Disney World Vacation.