By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

The Comprehensive Guide to Walt Disney World Dining

By Dave Shute


The Comprehensive Guide to Walt Disney World Dining 3-14 from yourfirstvisit.netThe image rates the Walt Disney World table service restaurants based on both appeal to kids and appeal to adults.

Click the image to open it; when open, click again to enlarge.

This information allows you to pick your dining choices based on kid appeal, adult appeal, or both!




1 Melissa { 04.09.14 at 12:53 pm }

You helped me with 1 question, so now I have another. We are planning on doing the dining plan with the sit down dinner for our family of 4- 2 under the age of 3. In order to get the most for our money, we want to do buffets primarily. Which buffets to you recommend?

2 Dave { 04.10.14 at 11:23 am }

Melissa, all the breakfast buffets are similar, also you’d pick among those based on theme. For lunch/dinner Crystal Palace, Chef Mickey’s, and Biergarten would all be great choices…

3 DisneyDiningAgent { 04.23.14 at 3:13 pm }

A tip on when to call to get your best shot at getting a great dining agent:

Dining agents get graded on their performance. There are many factors that go in to the grade, but the ones most relevant are: 1) Guest satisfaction survey and 2) Reservations per hour. The agents that score the highest in those two categories get to “preselect” their hours posted for work a week at a time. Disney Dining is open 7:00am-11:00pm EST and the top agents get their choice of hours before anyone else can post their hours. The most coveted hours are between 7:00am until 10:00am or 11:00am. Those hours are usually gobbled up by the top agents at “preselect” time and everyone else gets to fight for the scraps later. So very few of the lesser agents are working during that time. This isn’t necessarily true during our peak times, but as an overall statement if you call between 7:00am-10:00am your chances of getting a top quality agent are very good.

I’m sharing this information for two reasons: 1) I want the guests to get the best experience possible and 2) I want guests to understand how important the survey is that I offer after our call is over. I know it takes a while to take the survey, but if guests don’t take the survey then there is no way to reward good agents and punish bad ones.

I know that many of you (especially travel agents) call DD all time, so let me give you a tip about the survey: on all questions choosing option #1 is excellent, going all the way down to option #5, which is the worst. The survey covers many different aspects of the call, including the automated system, Disney itself and the agent. ONLY QUESTION NUMBER FIVE counts in the grading of an agent. If you were to take the survey and rate EVERY QUESTION a “5” (the worst), but on question number five you rate that a “1” (the best) then the agent will receive a good score on the call. This is important to know because as agents we get rated poorly for many factors beyond our control. For example, the system goes down occasionally and guests get upset about that. They take their frustration out on the survey and don’t think about Question #5, which states “How helpful was the agent?” They then give a “5” on that question, which wasn’t fair because the system being down is beyond the agent’s control (and BTW, when the system goes down Disney doesn’t tell us when it will come back up, it just happens at some point).

As guests you need to understand that we want to help you and do a great job for you. It makes us feel good and our job depends on doing a good job. Please be supportive and take the survey so our best agents can be rewarded and so the lesser agents are exposed and weeded out. And when taking that survey remember that we will do everything in our power to help you, but that sometimes we can only do so much. ANYTHING below a “1” score for an agent on question #5 reflects negatively on the agent. If you score a “2” for the agent it might as well be a “5”.

4 Dave { 04.24.14 at 8:35 am }
5 Ed { 09.23.14 at 2:07 pm }

Dave, I missed the 181 day dead line for making dining reservations for our trip Nov 29th – Dec 10th…ish. I know that Cinderella’s royal table won’t happen, but Akershush was easy to get reservations to last time i was there the week of our trip, now its totally booked out. Are there any alternative ways to get reservations if we try to use an agent like “ears”? Character dining was a highlight of our trip in 2012 and I really want to do at least a few while we are there this trip. Any insight is appreciated. Thanks in advance!

6 Dave { 09.24.14 at 7:27 am }

Ed, no, no one has any better access than you do. Suggest 1900 Park Fare– Cinderella and her fam at the Grand Floridian, great food, reasonable prices compared to CRT.

7 Rose { 10.12.14 at 6:51 pm }


So confused by dinning plan. We are going first week of February 2015…. Do I need to make reservations before I arrive? We have two boys 6 and 9 so not sure if there is a cool character dinner…. We are not schedule people and would rather plan each day as we feel, can we do this or do I need to plan every day and every meal?

8 Dave { 10.13.14 at 8:43 am }

Rose, you don’t need the dining plan to make reservations. The best loved Disney restaurants start filling up six months in advance, so if you want to eat at those you need to make reservations soon/now. This is more important if you buy the dining plan, as otherwise you will have credits to use and nowhere to use them at. You need to plan your “table service” meals–typically one a day–and also what parks you will be in each day, as otherwise you can’t select your FastPass+. See this for an example:

9 Marcy { 01.13.15 at 10:14 pm }

Hi, what is your thoughts on the luau show at the Polynesian? We are staying there so thought about attending the 5:15 showing one day. Also, we have one 1/2 day in Mk and I can’t figure out where to eat. I tentatively booked Liberty Tree but not crazy about the menu or the price (oh, and I’m traveling with my husband and a 2-year old). Thanks!

10 Dave { 01.14.15 at 1:46 pm }

Hi Marcy, I am not keen on the luau. At MK I would aim for the Crystal Palace.

11 Marcy { 01.14.15 at 8:36 pm }

Thanks Dave! We already have a Crystal Palace reservation (for 8:15am, so we can be in the park early one day). Think we may just have avocados and bread for dinner in our hotel room that night!

12 Dave { 01.15.15 at 8:14 am }

OK! Or you can scan through the dining reviews in my book! The easy Guide to Your First Walt Disney World Visit 2015

13 Kim { 01.21.15 at 9:26 pm }

Looking to visit Disney 11-28-15 to 12-5-15. What do you think the odds are that a free dining offer would be available?

14 Dave { 01.22.15 at 7:13 am }

Kim, those dates have been excluded the last several years…

15 Mike { 04.14.15 at 12:29 pm }

Which resturant has the very best sushi on property at WDW ?

16 Dave { 04.15.15 at 9:21 am }

Mike I dunno, as when I go raw it’s for Carpaccio! I hear good things about the sushi at California Grill, Kona Cafe, Tokyo Dining, and Kimono

17 mike { 04.15.15 at 3:55 pm }

thanks Dave, my daugher had this question since she is the sushi eater. e do plan on eating at the Cali Grille when we visit in November. Thanks again and we will have more questions

18 Emily { 05.08.15 at 4:06 pm }

Hi Dave, Loved your book! I have already recommended it to several friends!
I was hoping you could help me with a Hollywood Studios dining question. We will be at WDW the week of Nov 8th. Fantasmic is at 7pm each night. How long is the show? We are wondering whether to eat before or after it since you have to be there quite a long time in advance to line up for Fantasmic. What would you suggest? We are thinking 50s prime time cafe and have a 8yo and 5yo. Thanks so much!

19 Dave { 05.09.15 at 8:30 am }

Hi Emily and thanks!!

Fantasmic is about 30 minutes…Either Prime Time or Sci Fi would be a good dining choice!

20 Mike { 05.12.15 at 8:32 pm }

Dave how and when can you get a reservation for Wishes fireworks ? We are looking for the reservations on the terrance with cookies and all that.. I know it is expensive but can never get it. Thanks

21 Dave { 05.14.15 at 7:58 am }

Mike, see this.

22 Shelby { 06.27.15 at 5:23 pm }

Wonderful Information and very user friendly site!!!!!
I am researching in hopes of planning my dining choices for our upcoming visit. We are using the dining plan option and would like to use our table service for the Fantasmic dinner option and the Luau at the Polynesian. What recommendations do you have for us? We are a party of 3. Myself (40 + visits), Spouse (1st time visiting) and 13 yr old daughter (10 visits =/-) and we are going on December 26th – January 2nd. I have reviewed the suggested itinerary but the options we wanted were not mentioned. I am open to all advice!

23 Dave { 06.28.15 at 5:18 pm }

Hi Shelby, and thanks!!

The Luau is so-so but expensive, so you won’t find it highly rated by me.

The Fantasmic dinner option is a good approach given the mobs and mobs of people who will be in the parks those dates. The problem with it are the the restaurants in it (so-so Mama Melrose and Hollywood and Vine, great but expensive and dull dining at the Brown Derby.)

24 Jennifer Vernetti { 07.10.17 at 11:59 am }

Hi I am going to Disney in late January and staying not on the resort. Can we still do character meals if we don’t have a dining plan?

25 Dave { 07.11.17 at 7:31 am }

Absolutely, Jennifer. Anyone can book anything, so long as seats are available.

Leave a Comment | Ask a Question | Note a Problem

My response to questions and comments will be on the same page as the original comment, likely within 24-36 hours . . . I reserve the right to edit and delete comments as I choose . . . All rights reserved. Copyright 2008-2024 . . . Unless otherwise noted, all photos are by me--even the ones in focus--except for half a dozen from my niecelets . . . This site is entirely unofficial and not authorized by any organizations written about in it . . . All references to Disney and other copyrighted characters, trademarks, marks, etc., are made solely for editorial purposes. The author makes no commercial claim to their use . . . Nobody's perfect, so follow any advice here at your own risk.