There’s pretty much food everywhere you look when at Disney World. Choosing dining is not an easy task. Without wasting my time counting I would say there’s at least 70+ locations that accept reservation for meals at Disney World and another 100+ that have walk up (or quick) service locations. Not to mention all of the booths and other locations that sell snacks.
As we planned for our first visit we didn’t know if we would be able to or want to come back. We purchased the Disney Dining Plan consisting of one table service meal, one quick service meal, and one snack per night of our stay. Although it is worded that the meals and snack are per night they are all actually lumped together into credits and can be used at any time during our trip. Even all in one day. We planned to pack in as much as we could to that trip. The majority of our meals were character dining where we could meet a few Disney friends right at our table. We had huge savings by using the dining plan in 2016.
We are a family of particular eating habits. Diva will eat just about anything. Peanut and I are very finicky about our foods. Grumpy prefers chicken and broccoli for every meal. Really! He just wants all the protein he can get.
In 2017 the trip was shorter. The dining plan also had some changes. Now, there are two snacks per day. It’s really not more food since it replaces the dessert that had been part of the quick service meal the prior year. There were some things we wanted to do again and we wanted to try some new options too. I did the math… well since I’m not actually good at math I let a spreadsheet do it for me. With the options I had selected the dining plan was still a savings. My go to source for menus with pricing is AllEars.net.
We got to see A LOT of characters at our meals. Most of the character dining meals at Disney are buffets with a few exceptions. They are also among the most expensive dining options.
Here is a list of our dining reservations for 2016:
- Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)
- Trattoria al Forno (on the Boardwalk)
- Donald’s Dining Safari (Animal Kingdom)
- Disney Junior Play n’ Dine at Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)
- Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano (Hollywood Studios)
- Be Our Guest (quick service) (Magic Kingdom)
- A Buffet with Character at Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)
Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney (now Disney Springs)CANCELLED
- Chef Mickey’s Fun Time Buffet Breakfast (Contemporary Resort)
- Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast at Trattoria al Forno (on the Boardwalk)
- Minnie’s Seasonal Dine at Hollywood & Vine (Hollywood Studios)
- Princess Storybook Dining Breakfast at Akershus Royal Banquet (Epcot)
- Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria Dinner (Epcot)
- Be Our Guest Dinner (Magic Kingdom)
- Donald’s Dining Safari (Animal Kingdom)
- Be Our Guest QSR Lunch (Magic Kingdom)
We ate at a number of quick service locations. Some of them we’re “planned” in the sense that I knew the location would be the best value on the Dining Plan. Others were based on convenience and/or the “I’m hungry now!” method. Some of our quick service dining included:
- Art of Animation: Landscapes of Flavor Food Court
- Port Orleans-Riverside: Riverside Mill Food Court
- Magic Kingdom: Liberty Square Market
- Magic Kingdom: Tortuga Tavern
- Ecpot: Electric Umbrella
- Epcot: Tangerine Cafe
- Hollywood Studios: ABC Commissary
- Animal Kingdom: Restaurantosaurus
In short, we ate a ton of food!
Here are just a few thoughts on our non-character meals and Be Our Guest dinner because while the Beast is there for a meet and greet it is not really a character meal at all.
Trattoria al Forno (dinner)
We made a same day change to our reservation moving our time to a few hours later. We need a park break and weren’t feeling hungry enough to eat early. The timing worked out well. We spent a little time in Epcot in the late afternoon and found out way through International Gateway to walk to the Boardwalk. It was a wonderfully relaxing walk. Diva had fallen asleep on the way. The restaurant has a patio and we were able to sit out there with her still in the stroller. It was a wonderful view of the Boardwalk as the sun was setting.
I ordered steak and Grumpy had chicken. These are pretty much our standards when going out. We were both happy with the meal and the service. Peanut also had a steak at this meal. On the next trip he’ll be able to read the menu so telling him chicken tenders aren’t available won’t be an option.
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano (Hollywood Studios)
So we’re not foodies. But my husband’s parents were both born and raised in Italy. I’m very spoiled when it comes to Italian food. Our reservation at Mama Melrose was part of our full day experience at Hollywood Studios. It’s one of three restaurants in the park that offer a Fantasmic Dining Package. This package provides preferred seating for the Fantasmic night time show. I wasn’t able to get a the package reservation.
We arrived a few minutes early for our meal time. It was actually pretty packed and we waited about 15 minutes past our reservation time. The kids were a little antsy and hungry. When we were finally seated the waitress greeted us and asked if we had heard of the Fantasmic Dining Package–and then changed our meal to it! We were now had a 3-course meal ahead of us.
I had Penne Alfredo with chicken, Grumpy had Chicken Parmesan, and Peanut and Diva shared a pizza. I did not love the Alfredo sauce. It was much too thin for my liking and I could have used some more chicken, but that did not stop me from eating about half of the giant bowl that was served. The picture below is an incredibly deceptive angle. It makes the serving look pretty small.
Grumpy loved his Chicken Parm and it was gone pretty quickly. The kids shared the pizza without any complaints. And they only like certain pizza. We were stuffed by the time we left.
Be Our Guest – Quick Service Lunch
We have now had three meals at Be Our Guest: lunch in both 2016 and 2017 and dinner in 2017. I love the atmosphere. I love the food. It’s a must do for us on our 2018 trip!
I still need to figure out the settings to take decent pictures in the castle. Here is an OK one in the ballroom.
There are three dining areas at the restaurant: the ballroom, the West Wing, and the Rose Room. We’ve had a chance to eat in each room. I’m a ballroom type of girl! The Rose Room is nice and a little quieter than the Ballroom. The West Wing is much too dark.
We pre-ordered our meals for each lunch service. You cannot go here and NOT pre-order. It is not a joke when I say the line for people to order food was out the door and lined along the bridge! We walked right past all of them, checked in, sat down, and our food found us within minutes each time. That’s right, I said the food found us! It’s a really cool experience to just see the tray rolling up with our order on it. It’s Disney magic– really it’s the Disney Magic Band! Technology in the Magic Band allows the server to know exactly where to deliver the pre-ordered food.
I was extremely nervous about this meal. I was worried that Peanut and I would hate our food and it would be a waste of dining. I ordered the roast beef sandwich. I fully customized the order removing everything except the meat from the sandwich. I’m always worried my special instructions at any restaurant are going to be messed up. It happens all the time. Not here though. The sandwich came out as plain as I requested. And it was delicious! It was also a safe choice for me on the second visit. Though I’m contemplating pork for the next time.
Peanut had a grilled cheese sandwich on both visits. Not his favorite food, but really the only option the menu he was agreeable to. He did not want the veggies and soup on the side so we were easily able to choose fries as a substitute when ordering.
Diva shared Peanut’s grilled cheese on our first trip and had mac and cheese on the second. It was a pretty good size serving for being on the children’s menu.
Grumpy did not have a chicken option so he went with a turkey sandwich for both of our visits.
And we couldn’t eat there without trying the GREY STUFF!! Yes, it’s delicious. It also makes Grumpy and Peanut burst into song at the mere mention of it. The only problem with these cupcakes is they are much too small and disappear way to quickly.
Be Our Guest – Table Service Dinner
Dinner is a very different dining experience. Obviously there are still three seating areas and the restaurant looks the same, but that’s the extent. We walked in and there was a slight wait to be seated. While we waited Peanut had some fun with the armored knights display.
When we were seated the table was nicely set up with silverware, a plate, menus, and cloth napkin in the shape of a rose. Even a candle at the center of the table. It was a much more formal experience than the afternoon.
Dinner was a much “safer” meal for our pickiness. There were many options but we had our go-to meals: steak for me, chicken for Grumpy. The steak was basically the same as what I’d had at Trattoria al Forno. I have no complaints. It was cooked just how I liked it. Peanut also ordered a steak here and Diva went with her favorite mac & cheese with veggies on the side. The dining plan does provide dessert with dinner. The grey stuff is also available but instead of a cupcake it’s on a creme dessert. We also ordered a chocolate-chocolate cupcake because in my world there is no such thing as too much chocolate.
The dinner meal is NOT a character meal, though The Beast did stroll through the restaurant once. Instead of having him table side he meets in a room near the exit. Once we finished our meal we lined up to wait to meet him. At our time it was a fairly short wait, about 10 minutes, but I’ve heard the line can get long. He was very proper. He bowed when he met us.
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria Dinner (Epcot)
Via Napoli was rather crowded on the night we had our reservation. We had to wait a short time for our seat and were in a corner close to the kitchen which made it a bit noisy. The menu was full of options for us. Grumpy still ordered chicken. Diva had pasta with a meatball. She didn’t like the meatball but ate most of the pasta. Peanut and I had pizzas. He did not like. I didn’t prefer it either. The sauce was too thin and the flavor was off. It was our second meal at in our of our dining experiences that we left feeling pretty underwhelmed.
Looks like an awesome experience!
Thanks! It’s been so much fun!!
This is such a fantastic post for families with young children. A lot of people are concerned about these things before booking. With these large places , quite often they are fully booked unless booked beforehand.
I like your layout colors work well and bring the writing out. A nice use of pictures. A lovely, warming family blog.
Thank you so much for your wonderful feedback!
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No problem at all. THanks for sharing on Community Pool. It is always a pleasure to read well written pieces!
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