By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor







Category — g. How to Eat at Walt Disney World

Where to Eat at Disney World

Chapter 7, Where to Eat, is one of four core chapters in The easy guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit—the 2017 edition of the best-reviewed Disney World guide book series, ever. (The other core chapters are When to Go, Where to Stay, and How to Spend Your Time.)

chapter-7-of-the-easy-guide-where-to-eat

We—and especially my co-author Josh of easyWDW.com—put a lot into this chapter, as of the more than a hundred options you will be able to dine at only a few restaurants at Disney World, so understanding your alternatives and picking just the right ones for your party are one of the ways you optimize your Disney World experience.

There’s been a dozen major restaurant openings or major-redos in the past year or so, and of these a least half a dozen are profoundly significant. So the 2017 easy Guide, updated as of early August and with more free updates yet to come, is a handy way to sort through all of what’s new to pick just the best for you.

Chapter 7 of The easy Guide begins with the basics of Disney World dining, with a particular focus on suggestions that might make sense for various types of visitors.

chapter-7-of-the-easy-guide-where-to-eat-contents

We then cover a couple of peculiar features of dining at Disney World, Advanced Dining Reservations and the Disney Dining Plan, and after some thoughts on saving money, turn to the meat of this chapter—overviews of dining in the parks, and individual reviews of all the table–service options in the Disney parks, Disney Springs, and the Disney-owned hotels. (See the excerpt above from the table of contents; If you don’t know yet what “table service” means, you really need this book.)

For example, here’s part of the overview of dining at Magic Kingdom, with some thoughts on the new table service restaurant here, Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen:

skipper-canteen-from-dining-overview-from-the-easy-guide

And here’s the full review of this restaurant later in the chapter:

skipper-canteen-from-the-easy-guide

This is an example of the kind of care and detail you’ll find in our reviews. And note that last lines of the first bit “Disney is expected to make changes that make the menu more appealing to the unadventurous.” In fact, Disney just made some changes here, and they simplified the menu much less than we thought they would. (See Josh’s note here.)

Because our is the only major Disney World guide book that offers free updates, buyers of The easy Guide 2017 will get for free the updated versions of the 2017 easy Guide that we’ll be publishing later this year and in 2017, including changes to this text! See the image for how to get yours:

Updating your easy Guide

Disney Springs—the old Downtown Disney—has seen a particular renaissance in fine and fun dining. Josh’s reviews of all the new and re-imagined offerings here are, for returning visitors looking to try something new, well worth the entire price of the book.

Here’s some brief excerpts of a few Disney Springs reviews from Chapter 7:

  • Planet Hollywood: “Planet Hollywood is set to later in fall 2016 with a planetarium theme and new menu, though little else is known about what exactly will be offered.”
  • Paddlefish: “Paddlefish replaces Fulton’s Crab House in the same location in a riverboat on the water and it will be operated by the same company that elevated it into becoming one of the 15 most profitable restaurants in the country.”
  • Morimoto Asia: “Officially helmed by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto Asia opened in October 2015 to great fanfare. The restaurant is sleek and stylish, with impressive chandeliers said to resemble jellyfish.”
  • Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar: “Jock Lindsey is Indiana Jones’ longtime pilot and his bar is ornately themed to his hangar which was recently converted into a bar for the enjoyment of his fellow members of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers.”
  • Homecoming—Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar: “Chef Art Smith is perhaps best known as the personal chef of Oprah Winfrey, but those that appreciate his history with Disney will remind you that he completed a Disney internship as well. Homecoming Florida showcases the state’s fresh flavors with appetizers like house-made pimento cheese hushpuppies served with red jalapeño jelly and deviled eggs.”
  • Frontera Cocina: “Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless, who operates around ten Mexican restaurants mostly in the Chicago area, brings what is easily Disney’s best Mexican restaurant to Disney Springs”
  • The Edison: “Themed to a 1920s-period electric company, The Edison celebrates an era of invention, excitement, and imagination. Much more than just a restaurant, The Edison is expected to bring live singing, dancing, palm readers, contortionists, and a lot more.”
  • The BOATHOUSE: “Offering picturesque waterfront dining, multiple bars inside and out, and a number of diversely themed dining areas, The BOATHOUSE brings upscale cuisine wrapped up in a casual atmosphere to Disney Springs.”
  • STK Orlando: “STK is a significant departure away from anything else at Walt Disney World, blending an ultra-modern steakhouse aesthetic with an atmosphere that resembles more of a Las Vegas club than a traditional steakhouse.”

For the rest of these reviews, and all kinds of great advice on Disney World dining, buy the book!

Ok, that’s it for now. More to come on other changes in the 2017 easy Guide later! Meanwhile, buy the book, OK?
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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October 17, 2016   2 Comments

The Best-Ever Free Dining FAQ in the History of the World

Free Dining FAQ from yourfirstvisit.netFree Dining is the favorite deal of many Disney World fans, and I get questions about it all the time.

In an unusual attempt to actually provide good answers, I put heads together with DISboards.com legends Smitch425 (Sarah) and Black562 (Joe Black–Joe’s also on the web here and here; Sarah’s shy) and we–well, mostly they–came up with the following FAQ.

WHAT IS FREE DINING AND WHY SHOULD I CARE?

Q: What is free dining?
A: Free dining is a Disney World deal where, if you buy other stuff, you can get one of the Disney World dining plans for free. Most recently, those staying at a value resort have gotten the quick service dining plan for free, and those staying at moderate or deluxe resorts have gotten the regular dining plan for free.

Q: Is this a big deal?
A: For many families, it really is. The regular Disney Dining Plan costs $64.58 for people ten or over, and $20.48 for kids 3 to 9. So a typical family of four with one younger kid and one older who would have otherwise paid cash for the dining plan will save more than $210 per night. Savings are less but still substantial for the quick service plan that’s free for value resort stays—at $44.72/$17.07, the same family would save $150/night.

Q:  Blah blah blah on that typical family–how much will my family save?
A: See the table below:

Free Dining Savings from yourfirstvisit.net
Q: Is it the best deal?
A: Not always. The value of any deal is the difference between it and your next best option. Room rate deals are usually out for the same dates as free dining, and for some families—especially smaller families with younger kids staying at more expensive deluxe resorts—the room rate discount saves more money than free dining. The least expensive Grand Floridian rooms during the September 2014 value season at 30% off generate savings of $165-$175 a night. From the chart above, you can see many family types will do better here at 30% off than from free dining.

Q: What’s the Disney Dining Plan, anyway?
A: See below!

HOW TO GET FREE DINING

Q: OK, I’m sold. Now what?
A: First Disney has to announce the deal. Then you have to be willing to stay at an eligible resort, with an arrival date within the announced deal’s eligible dates, for (most likely) a minimum of three nights, and you have to buy (most likely) a minimum of two days of tickets for all in the room 3 and older.

Q: I already have a reservation just like that! Will Disney automatically convert it to the deal?
A: Disney don’t do nothin automatically. To get the deal, you have to either call and change your current reservation, or make a new free dining reservation online and then call when that’s set to cancel your old reservation.

Q: Tickets? But I already bought tickets!
A: That’s a whine, not a question. But yes, to be eligible for free dining, a new minimum 2 day Magic Your Way base ticket is typically required for each person on the reservation age 3 and up. However, you can save your tickets for a future trip–Magic Your Way tickets which have not been activated by first use will remain valid forever. Annual Pass holders can use the un-activated extra 2 day ticket toward renewal costs when it is time to renew. Or you can just use both tickets to get 6 FastPass+ per day.

Q: Are all resorts and rooms in the deal?
A: All recent Disney World deals have excluded some resorts and room types—mostly those for which demand is high enough that no deal is needed to get heads in beds at full prices. Recently, most commonly excluded have been the campsites at Fort Wilderness, Little Mermaid standard rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, the Villas at the Grand Floridian, and one or the other of the Port Orleans resorts. Moreover, even when not excluded, it seems that a limited inventory of rooms at resorts is made available for the deal. It’s always best to have a backup resort and room type in mind should your desired location be excluded or sold out.

Q: When should I book?
A: As soon as you hear about the deal. Since there are a limited number of rooms in the free dining inventory at each included resort, the sooner you book once a deal goes live, the better your chances are of getting your preferred location. Note that because so many know this, people can be on hold for hours when these deals are first released.

Q: My arrival date is before free dining but part of my stay is during it! Boo!
A: If you check in prior to a free dining promotion, you can do what is referred to as a “split stay.” For example, if you check in the day before free dining begins, you can book a room only stay for the first night, and a free dining package to begin the following day. This would require you to check out and check back in, and it is possible that you would have to switch rooms. However, Disney can link the two reservations, and they will do everything possible to avoid a room switch.

Q: When is free dining offered?
A: The most common time for free dining is September through later in the month. For 2014, the current guess is eligible arrival dates will be late August–e.g. August 31th or so through very early October–e.g. October 3. As part of its strategy for recovery from the recession, 2009 through 2011 Disney offered free dining many other months. The last couple of years, this has been wildly scaled back. Select dates after September have been available through 2013. Rumors are that we’ll see this in 2014 again. If later 2014 is offered, it likely will exclude at least the two weeks surrounding Columbus Day and dates around Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Q: When is it announced?
A: See this for the variety of announcement dates. It’s widely expected that free dining for September 2014 will be announced in  early May—current forecasts are for free dining for September 2014  to become available to the general public May 5 or May 7.

Q. I’m a proud DVC point owner! Can I get free dining?
A: Sorry—DVC rooms booked using points (either by the point owner, or for someone who is getting DVC rooms by renting points) aren’t eligible. However, DVC rooms paid for by cash are eligible.

Q: Can I upgrade from the quick service to the regular plan, or to the deluxe plan?
A: Yes you may. Simply pay the difference between the plans and you can upgrade all you wish.

Q: Should I book in advance for free dining?
A: Don’t book in the hope of getting free dining later. Book only if you are committed to a certain resort and set of dates, whether or not free dining emerges. First, if bookings are up, Disney has no reason to offer a discount at all. Second, if people book up certain resorts, they are more likely to be excluded. Third, if you book in advance, you must add the discount by phone, not online. Disney’s website has been known to go live before the phones even open, sometimes many hours ahead. Then callers can be on hold for hours. This means new reservations made online are grabbing the limited free dining inventory ahead of those who must call in. Having an advance reservation has no benefit in any way over a new booking on release day. It doesn’t hurt you—but it doesn’t help.

Q: Can I have a puppy?
A: Perhaps.

WHAT’S THE DISNEY DINING PLAN, ANYWAY?

The following is an excerpt from my and Josh’s The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit from Theme Park Press:

Disney World dining is expensive. For some guests, it may even be the priciest component of the vacation, eclipsing the cost of lodging and theme park tickets. The three versions of the Disney Dining Plan (Quick Service, Regular, and Deluxe) are a way to prepay some of these dining expenses.

Years ago, when the Regular Dining Plan had a lower price and included an appetizer and tip at sit-down restaurants, you could actually save some money by buying these plans. These days it’s hard for us to recommend them–unless you get them for free!

  • The Quick Service Dining Plan is priced so high that it’s only possible to break even or come out ahead if you use the credits solely for lunch and dinner. From there, you’ll need to order only the most expensive items to eke out a potential savings of a dollar or two per day.
  • At a cost north of $64 per adult per day, the Regular Dining Plan is expensive and saving money with it requires planning only the most expensive meals.
  • The Deluxe Dining Plan comes with three quick or table service meals per day at a cost of more than $115 per day per adult. Users either spend three or more hours per day eating table service meals or use their credits on faster quick service meals, in turn reducing the value of each credit.

With only a couple of exceptions, we suggest skipping the dining plans. Exceptions include:

  • If you take comfort in pre-paying some of your dining expenses as a budgeting tool (even if this means you spend more money), the Quick Service or Regular plans may make sense for you—the cash loss may be worth the budget comfort. It’s nice knowing that food is pre-paid and users are free to order whatever entrees and desserts that they like, even if those prices are higher than they’re accustomed to paying. As an alternative, consider loading a Disney gift card with the amount of money you plan to pay for meals.
  • Pricing on the Regular Plan is advantageous for groups with kids under the age of ten that plan multiple buffets and character meals. The cost of a child buffet at many character meals exceeds the child cost of the Regular Dining Plan for that day.
  • Getting it for free!!

With or without a dining plan, the typical family eating their meals on property should budget $35-60+ per adult per day for dining, and somewhere between $15 and $40/day for the kids–depending on their ages and appetites.

DINING PLAN CREDITS AND WHAT THEY COVER

The Dining Plans are only available to guests staying at Disney owned and operated resorts. All guests on a single reservation (except children under three—not covered on any plan) must opt for the same Dining Plan if you elect to purchase it. There’s no such thing as having four people on a room reservation and only three people on the Deluxe Plan. And it isn’t possible for one person to purchase Deluxe, while the other chooses the Regular. Everyone over the age of nine must pay the adult rate, regardless of how much they plan to eat. And kids three to nine must order from restaurants’ Kids’ Menu if they offer one.

Those on the Dining Plan receive a number of credits based on the number of nights they’re staying. The Dining Plan and credits are not connected to theme park tickets or anything else – just the number of nights on the reservation. The credits are usable as soon as the guest checks in through midnight on the checkout day. Credits can be used in any order on any of these days. On a three night stay, a guest could conceivably use all their credits on the first day, the last day or space them out.

Quick service meals generally consist of one entrée or combo meal, one dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage. Virtually every quick service on property participates in the Dining Plan and all quick service meals cost one credit.

Table service meals, comprised of one entrée, one dessert, and one non-alcoholic beverage, cost one or two credits. Two credit meals are signature experiences at the most expensive dinner shows, buffets, and restaurants like Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, Cinderella’s Royal Table and California Grill. The Deluxe Dining Plan credits also include an appetizer, in addition to the entrée, dessert, and non-alcoholic beverage. Snack credits can be used on most food items under $5.49. Examples include ice cream bars, pastries, and bottles of water and soda.

The credits don’t always cover everything you might want at a meal and no credits cover alcohol (except beer and wine at the dinner shows) or tips. Most guests have some additional dining expenses, in addition to the cost of the Dining Plan.

THE QUICK SERVICE DINING PLAN

Quick Service Dining Plan includes per person, per night:

  • Two quick service meals, and
  • One snack

In addition, each guest receives a Refillable Mug for use at the resort quick service and, if available, pools.

So a family of four staying for five nights would receive ten quick service meals, five snacks, and a refillable mug each. At press time, after-tax pricing is:

  • $44.72 per night for those ten and older
  • $17.07 per night for kids ages three to nine

Adult quick service entrees are typically $8 – $11 in the theme parks. Add a $3 fountain beverage and a $4 carrot cake and your average meal comes to around $17. Eat two of those, in addition to a $4 Mickey Ice Cream Bar, and add about $2.50 for a day’s worth of the refillable mug, and you’ve come out just about even. Kids’ Picks generally come in around $7 each. Eat two and add a $3 popsicle and the use of the refillable mug and you’ve covered the day’s cost.

While technically possible to eke out a savings of a dollar or two per day, those savings evaporate whenever you eat breakfast, when prices are usually lower and dessert isn’t included, or whenever someone is forced to order something they ordinarily wouldn’t. It also makes it difficult to schedule a table service meal or character buffet since they aren’t included on the Plan. You can pay cash for such meals, but if doing so pushes you to using a credit for breakfast—or worse, ending your vacation with unused credits—the Quick Service plan will cost you money.

THE “REGULAR” DINING PLAN

The “Regular” Dining Plan—often known simply as the Disney Dining Plan—includes per person, per night:

  • One quick service meal
  • One table service meal
  • One snack

In addition, each guest receives a refillable mug for the duration of the stay.

At press time, after-tax pricing is:

  • $64.58 per night for those ten and older
  • $20.48 per night for kids ages three to nine

Child pricing is advantageous with a cost just $3.50 more than the Quick Service Plan. With several character buffets priced over $20, it’s relatively easy for kids to come out ten dollars or more ahead each day they dine at such a venue. For those older than 9, the price of $20/per day more than the Quick Service is harder to justify. There are meals where you do well—Akershus for dinner, after tax, is around $50. A day for family members older than 9 with a typical counter service lunch, a snack, and Akershus for dinner will cost less under the dining plan than cash. Dinner at the Crystal Palace approaches this cost, as does Chef Mickey’s.

Outside of buffets, it’s difficult to find restaurants with average entrée and dessert prices high enough to cover the cost of the Plan. Let’s assume you’re spending the day at Hollywood Studios and select 50’s Prime Time Café for dinner. You select the second most expensive entrée, the $22 pork chop, in addition to the most expensive dessert (Traditional Warm Apple Crisp A la Mode for $7.49) and order a $5 milkshake as your beverage. With tax, the meal comes out to $36.75. That puts you $27.83 away from covering the cost of the Dining Plan with just a quick service meal and snack to go. At our recommended Studios’ quick service, Studio Catering Co., the most expensive quick service meal you could put together is $19 with tax. Add a $4 Mickey Ice Cream Bar as a snack and you’re still $5 away from covering the cost of the Dining Plan after already ordering the most expensive items.

The economics of two-credit meals are even worse. Signature restaurant prices generally are about 1.5x the cost of regular restaurants, but cost twice the number of credits, resulting in a lower per-credit value. For example, the most expensive meal you could put together on the Dining Plan at California Grill is a $49 Bone-In Veal Chop, $13 Pudding Cake, and $4 Coke. That’s $66 or just $33 per credit for the most expensive meal at one of the most expensive restaurants on property. To compare, Teppan Edo in the Japan Pavilion at Epcot offers several entrees for $28 – $32. Add dessert and a drink and your single credit has a value of about $10 more than California Grill.

THE DELUXE DINING PLAN

The Deluxe Dining Plan includes per person, per day:

  • Three meals per day – either quick service or table service. Table service meals include an appetizer where applicable.
  • Two snacks

In addition, each guest receives a refillable mug for the duration of the stay

At press time, after-tax pricing is:

  • $116.65 per night for adults
  • $31.19 per night for kids ages three to nine

On paper, there is a lot of value potential here, particularly for kids under the age of ten. To maximize that value however, you could be spending more than three hours a day dining—even more if you avoid two-credit meals– and building an itinerary largely around being at specific restaurants at specific times. And let’s not forget the actual cost. A family of two adults, a 15-year old, and a seven-year old would cost a whopping $380 per day. For that, Josh and Dave will cook and serve your family of four both lunch and dinner, while intermittently breaking out into song and dance. A word to the wise though: Josh’s specialty is Hot Pockets and Dave’s favorite ingredient is Sriracha.

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April 16, 2014   20 Comments

First Time Visitors and Dining at Walt Disney World

(A slightly different version of this first appeared in WDW Magazine.)

Dining at Disney World for First-Time Visitors from yourfirstvisit.netFirst time family visitors to Walt Disney World need to know three things about dining:

  1. Some dining venues are among the best family experiences Walt Disney Word has to offer
  2. The most popular of these can sell out months ahead, so planning really pays off in helping access them—you can—and should– start booking them 180 days before the day you plan to eat
  3. Disney World dining in general is expensive, and some of the best experiences even more so, and there’s no perfect way to cut the cost

The best rides at Walt Disney World are often called “E” Ticket rides—from the old days, when it took a most-expensive “E” Ticket to get on them.

Dining—particularly at certain “table service” restaurants that have offerings beyond the food itself–can be an E-Ticket experience as well!

(“Table service” is Disney World lingo for venues with seats, waiters, and scheduled times. Venues without waiters are called “quick” or “counter” service, may or may not have seats, and can’t be reserved.)

Guide to Disney World Dining from yourfirstvisit.netThe most fun and best-loved family dining contains some or all of the following features in addition to the food:

  • A fun setting
  • Some kind of show and/or interactive play-along elements, and
  • Visits by Disney characters like Mickey, Tigger, or the Disney Princesses.

On almost everyone’s list of the best among these are

  • The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, a silly dinner show with interactive elements at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  • The Princess meals Cinderella’s Royal Table at the Magic Kingdom and Akershus at Epcot.  The first has the better setting, the second is much less expensive
  • Dining with Tigger, Pooh and friends at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom
  • Dining with Mickey and friends at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
  • Various degrees of wait-staff induced silliness at 50’s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Whispering Canyon at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
  • Exotic settings in the local versions of national chain restaurants the Rainforest Café, in both Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney, and T-Rex in Downtown Disney

That’s why you’ll find most of these on each of this site’s itineraries.

San Angel Inn at Epcot from yourfirstvisit.netBut, because the best dining options have limited capacity and are wildly popular, these restaurants can be filled almost as soon as reservations open for them—180 days before.

The importance of dining experiences is the Disney World topic that most surprise first-time visitors, and is where their doing some advance thinking and planning pays off most.   So you should pick your table service dining choices as soon as you can, and reserve them as soon as reservations open.

Disney World calls these reservations “Advance Dining Reservations—“ADRs” for short.

Reservations currently open 180 days before the date of dining—online at 6 a.m. and over the phone at 7 a.m. (If you are staying at a Disney World hotel, once 180 days from your arrival dates rolls around, you can make ADRs for not just that day but the first ten days of your visit.  You’ll sometimes see this referred to as “180+10.”)

Disney World dining is expensive.  The Disney Dining Plan, which has a couple of variants, is a way to prepay some of these dining expenses.  Years ago, you could save a lot of money by buying the “Disney Dining Plan,” but at current pricing levels you won’t save much—or anything—by buying it.

The Disney Dining Plan is a handy budgeting tool, and it does relieve some anxiety (because you already paid for it…) about the cost of meals in the parks.  So I do still recommend it.  But with or without it, the typical family should budget about $50+ per adult per day for dining, and somewhere between $25 and $50/day for the kids–depending on their ages and appetites.

The best way to save money eating at Disney World  is to buy ingredients and build some of your own meals.  This works best for cold breakfasts in your hotel room, and packing some lunches and/or snacks into the parks.

But these ingredients aren’t cheap (if you have a car, you can hit an off-site grocery store…but that costs time you could be spending vacationing) and may not even be available in your hotel.

Food at Disney's Grand Floridian from yourfirstvisit.netThe availability of such ingredients—lunch supplies especially– varies widely across the Disney hotels.

The best selections of such food for sale in shops are found at Fort Wilderness and in the Disney Vacation Club resorts, and the weakest are the value resorts.

The example is from a shop at the Grand Floridian after its new DVC Villas opened.

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December 23, 2013   No Comments

New Dining Cancellation Policy at Walt Disney World

NEW $10 FEE PER PERSON FOR NOT CANCELLING TABLE SERVICE RESERVATIONS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Dessert at Akershus from yourfirstvisit.netCrack commenter DisneyDiningAgent weighed in a few days ago with the new Disney World table service cancellation policy that will kick in for reservations made beginning 10/31.

He quotes the new policy:

“…Adjustments will be made to the Walt Disney World Resort cancellation policy beginning October 31.

At that time, all table-service locations at Walt Disney World Resort (including Operating Participants) will begin using the cancellation policy already in place at select restaurants on property.

Beginning October 31, when booking a reservation at these restaurants, Guests will be required to provide a credit card to hold a reservation. A charge of $10 per person will be applied if the cancellation is not made at least one day in advance.”

(Emphasis added; “Operating Participants” means restaurants on property not owned by Disney who let Disney reserve for them; restaurants that require pre-payment of the entire meal will continue to penalize the entire cost for no-shows.)

DisneyDiningAgent further notes what the memo says about how to cancel:

A special phone line that only handles dining cancellations is available for Guest convenience: 407-WDW-CNCL.

Dining reservations may be booked or cancelled by visiting any table-service restaurant podium, Walt Disney World Resort Hotel concierge or Guest Relations, or by calling 407-WDW-DINE or DVC Member Services (for Members only, 800-800-9800). Guests may also make and cancel reservations by visiting http://www.DisneyWorld.com/Dining.

This new policy, I suspect, is partly related to FastPass+.

WHY DISNEY IS CHANGING ITS TABLE SERVICE CANCELLATION POLICY

Dining with the Stars at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom from yourfirstvisit.netDisney has been fine-tuning its dining cancellation policy for a while now.  Savvy travelers know that they need to book the most popular table service venues months ahead.

This means committing to a location, and some people, unwilling to do so, make multiple reservations at different locations instead.  This takes possibilities for other people out of inventory, limiting their ability to have the best trip. So Disney for a while now has had cancellation penalties at its most popular and most expensive restaurants.

The new cancellation policy broadens penalties to everywhere, and is meant–I suspect–to reduce double booking even more by creating an across-the-board penalty for forgetting to clean them up.

Disney could have made this change a while ago…so why now?  Two reasons, I suspect.

  1. First, the linking of everything into MyDisneyExperience has made it more clear just how much double booking there is
  2. Second, since Fastpass+ lets people commit to a park 60 days ahead (or at least it will when fully operational) more people will understand the value of making these dining choices early…and will be annoyed with no availability

The most popular Disney World table-service restaurants will still largely book out more than 60 days ahead…but with fewer double bookings, more people will get to enjoy them…whenever they book them!

October 14, 2013   8 Comments

The 2012 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival at Walt Disney World

(This page is one of a series explicating Walt Disney World lingo, abbreviations, and FAQ for first time family visitors to Walt Disney World.)

DISNEY’S 2012 INTERNATIONAL FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL AT EPCOT

Every year from October through mid-November, Walt Disney World presents the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival.

In 2012, the dates are September 28 through November 12.

There are two components to the festival, one available to all Epcot visitors, and another made up of a bunch of events which have limited capacity and require reservations.

Neither has an extra ticket admission cost–you get to participate by virtue of your theme park ticket–but there are cash costs for the food, wine, and for entry to some special shows and events. [Read more →]

March 18, 2012   3 Comments

Disney World Free Dining Dates Shifted, Shortened

AJ of the Disney Food Blog is reporting here on changes to the dates of Disney World’s free dining offer.

Those who have already booked free dining are fine, even if their dates aren’t covered any more; new bookings MUST follow the new dates.

I’ve got both the old dates and the new dates here–the old dates are slashed through, like this.

Analysis shows that with one exception  the Disney World free dining arrival dates now begin a day earlier (on Saturdays rather than Sundays) and in all cases end two days earlier, on Thursdays rather than Saturdays.

The effect is to add 9  Saturday arrival dates and subtract 20 Friday and different Saturday arrival dates, for a net reduction of 11 arrival dates.

Shifting the end of each arrival date period from Saturdays to the Thursdays two days before will make it harder for many families to take advantage of these deals during some popular weeks.

(Note: Not all of the black-out dates are popular weeks–for example, the October, early December, and early February blacked-out dates should all have low crowds.)

Again, according to AJ, if you’ve already booked, you are fine–the changed dates apply only to new bookings.

For more on the free dining offer, including both the new and old dates, click here.

August 26, 2011   No Comments