Published: March 27, 2013 at 8:48 AMwe typically travel with a big group (12 to 14) and to this day our favorite place to eat in all of wdw is ohana's
traveling with a big group requires some planning in terms of your meals especially if you re on the dining plan
Published: March 27, 2013 at 1:49 PMI feel that Disney dining is overrated. For the same food served outside, you're paying up to 50% or more for the Disney experience. Certainly, there are some great experiences, thus I advise to not miss one or two dining experiences, but you're not going to die if you don't have any. Instead of breaking the bank for a "must have" Disney table service, why not do a side excursion or show?
Published: March 27, 2013 at 11:41 AMExcellent article Anthony! I can't tell you how many folks ask about how to make reservations and why it is important to do so as soon as possible. I too think that booking the dining online is the way to go.
Published: March 27, 2013 at 4:38 PMI am glad people like the article!
Big groups do really need advanced reservations. One thing I noticed was that each restaurant appears to have a "max reservation" meaning if your party is over a certain number, you need to call the restaurant directly. I believe they gave a really high number (like over 20). Ohana is a great option, especially for big groups, but my family tries to stay away from the Magic Kingdom resorts. I guess its the age of our group.
Disney food is overrated? I understand the cost problem. My family has gone "off grounds" multiple times and besides the Ale House, the rest of the options are chain restaurants. That's why we also usually skip Rainforest Cafe. There are three in the Chicagoland Area.
What do people think about the dining options?
Published: March 28, 2013 at 5:46 AMNice work, Anthony, comprehensive and helpful!
At Magic Kingdom an overlooked gem (IMHO) is the Plaza Restaurant. Reservations are not hard to get and the food is underrated. Plus, you can feed a family of five for less than $80 including dessert. Not bad for in park, full service dining.
At Epcot, you did well to point out the nearby Boardwalk area. Just a short walk away you can take a break from the crowds, relax, and grab a No Way Jose at Beaches N Cream!
I second your Prime Time Cafe choice at DHS. Food is good, service is fun, and the prices are decent.
At DAK, the Yak & Yeti counter service area is a great deal. You get sit down quality food at quick service pricing and speed.
Above all, and as you stated, folks should never forget that dining at the resorts is generally easier and better than dining in the park. Taking a midday break and heading to a resort for food is one of the best ways to keep your hungry family happy, healthy, and harmonious!
Published: March 28, 2013 at 7:42 AMThis is a well composed how-to guide. Personally, I find that we typically condense or combine meals unless we're on the Disney Dining Plan, so unless we have table service credits to use, we only usually will book one table service meal during a week-long trip. Leaving the parks and travelling off-site for a meal can be quite a hastle, especially with kids. It's not as easy as it sounds, and if you're paying $70+/day to be in the parks, it's difficult to validate the time (2+ hours) to leave the parks midday for lunch that would probably take less than 30 minutes in the park for counter service or around an hour for table service. Also, while many people recommend leaving midday with kids to go back to the hotel to take naps, many don't consider the actual nap time that would need to be added to lunchtime. A midday nap with lunch off-site could consume 3-4 hours depending on where you go and how long your kids need to nap. That's up to a third of the time that the parks are typically open each day, so if going off site to eat maybe saves you $20 for a family of 4, you're losing valuable park time for an incremental savings.
For DHS, I'd also recommend making reservations at their table service restaurants with the Fantasmic! Dinner Packages. The package gives guests reserved seating in the stadium, and can save as much as 30+ minutes that you would ordinarily need to stand in line to get a decent seat for the show.
I do like the new online reservation system (very much like Open Table), but I feel that some of the more exclusive experiences can be difficult to find if you don't know where to look. Also, the website is still a little clunky and can be slow to load, causing some guests to miss very popular ADRs because the site gets slammed.
I'd also like to give a little publicity for the WDW buffet restaurants. Many people think they're just food troughs for the obese, but I've found that many feature some really interesting dishes and are relatively well maintained considering the circumstances. I would rate most of the WDW buffets well above the average Golden Corral, Ryans, or Sizzler (if they still exist). For guests on a budget, the buffets offer a meal to fill up so you can just get snacks and small counter service items while in the parks.
Published: April 1, 2013 at 5:16 AM#6, keep checking back, is a great tip for everyone! Better yet, give them a call!
On our last trip, we tried to make a reservation one particular morning for 1900 Park Fare but there was nothing available. We checked again on the day of, still nothing. My wife called up and they said to come on over and they could squeeze us in. Sure enough, we got there, waited all of 3 minutes and suddenly our group of six was sitting at a table, eating delicious breakfast food and posing for pictures with the characters.
So in short, when all else fails, pick up the phone!