Walt Disney World Resort Vacations #2

Walt Disney World Resort Vacations #2

Walt Disney World Resort Vacations


If you had a chance to read my previous Walt Disney World Resort Vacations post, you may be wondering… what exactly is Free Dining at Disney World? Disney World has dining plans that are available for on-site guests to add to their resort packages. You receive dining credits that are loaded to your Magic Bands to be used at any time during your stay for delicious food around the World! Not only is it convenient, but you can save a lot of money too!  With this offer, you would get your dining plan at no additional cost. This can save you $75.49 per adult per night of stay. For a family of 2 adults and 2 children ages 3 to 9 years, that is a savings of well over $1000 for a 7 night vacation!  Availability is limited for Free Dining offer, and resorts are filling up quickly…not to mention the need to book your restaurant reservations as close as possible to 180 days before check-in.

Dining Choices at Walt Disney World Resort Vacations

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The two most popular dining plans are the Quick Service Dining Plan and the Plus Dining Plan. The Quick Service dining plan allows you two counter service meals and two snack credits per person per night of stay. The Plus dining plan allows you one counter service meal, one table service meal and two snack credits per person per night of stay.  A counter service meal is where you order at the register and take your food back to the table with you. A table service meal is a full service, sit down meal; it can be buffet, a la carte, or family style. All character meals are table service meals. A snack credit can be used on a variety of items- smoothies, ice cream treats, fruit, soft pretzels, popcorn, cinnamon buns, drinks, pastries, cupcakes… the list is endless!

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For this offer, the Quick Service Dining Plan would be free if you are staying at a Value resort while the Plus Dining Plan would be free if you are staying at a Moderate or Deluxe resort. You can always pay the difference to upgrade your dining plan if you would like.

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There are many different types of Table Service meals at Disney World. You can read summaries of character meals here. You can find a list of all-you-can-eat meals here. If you are using the amazing Disney planner Skye Durrer (skye@skyesthelimitvacations.com) who I mentioned in my first post, she will not only suggest which meals would be best for your family based on your preferences (food, atmosphere,  and character) and park touring schedule, but she will also book all of the dining reservations for you and include all your confirmation numbers along with directions on how to get to each restaurant as a part of your personalized travel guide.

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Here are our favorite Table Service meals (though be warned that I have the taste buds of a 5 year old; we are not adventurous eaters) as listed here, broken down to closest park access:

Magic Kingdom




Animal Kingdom


Disney Hollywood Studios


Given that Disney World spans 47 square miles, you will need to plan carefully. Here you can view the Table Service restaurants by location. Schedule your meals that are inside Magic Kingdom or at “Magic Kingdom resorts” (i.e. easily accessed from Magic Kingdom by boat, foot, or monorail) on the days you will be visiting Magic Kingdom, likewise for the other three parks as well.


As for meal times, here are some tips:

  • Do not under any circumstance schedule a Table Service meal during the first two hours any park is open: that is prime touring time when crowds and lines are lowest.
  • To gain entry into an empty park before it opens, schedule an in-park meal an hour before the park opens (ex: Crystal Palace or Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom or Tusker House at Animal Kingdom)
  • If you like breakfast foods but don’t think you will be up early enough for the one-hour-pre-park-opening meal time, schedule a breakfast Table Service meal at 10:30/11am; by the time you are seated and eating, this will serve as your mid-day meal and offer a refuge from mid-day crowds and heat
  • Consider a late dining time at a World Showcase restaurant in Epcot that allows for Illuminations viewing from your dinner seat (like Rose & Crown at 7:30 when Illuminations is scheduled for 9pm)

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Tangent: Your Daughter’s Makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

If you are interested in scheduling a makeover for your daughter(s) at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, I recommend you do so at Magic Kingdom (thus this would need to be on a Magic Kingdom day on your chart), not Downtown Disney. We normally start each day at rope drop and tour the morning away until we begin to wilt, which is usually around noon or 1pm, at which time we head back to our resort for some refreshing pool time. Because we swim mid-day, we schedule our makeovers for post-swim at 3:30, which works perfectly for having the 3pm parade greet us as we re-enter Magic Kingdom to head to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (which is housed inside Cinderella Castle). You can schedule (or having your Disney planner book for you) the appointment for Crown Package makeovers (bring fancy dress or costume from home to save nearly $150) by calling (407) 939-789.  I always schedule a special dinner for our makeover night –either at 1900 Park Fare, where your daughter(s) will be announced as “princesses” upon entering the ballroom, and Prince Charming may well ask them to waltz, or at the Wave which my daughters think is uber-fancy and very grown-up.

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Now, we have gotten the most pressing part of your planning done. I will return later with recommendations on Counter Service restaurants, wise uses of Snack credits (NOT on bottled water!), and packing lists. Until then, pump up the “Disney” in your house to build excitement (we have a “Disney-only” policy when it comes to movies once we are inside our 180 days)!

Happy Planning!

 Make Sure you read all our posts about planning your Walt Disney World Resort Vacations.