Eating at Disney World:
There are so many ways you can go when you’re visiting Disney when it comes to food-these are the pros and cons to each of them.
Bring your own: Long ago when I was a kid you weren’t allowed to bring outside food into the parks (or so I’ve been told… I don’t actually remember), but REJOICE you can legit go to Chick-fil-A before you go to the parks and walk right in with your food and large drink (not gonna lie, I’ve done this a few times). In the summer it is incredibly important to stay hydrated, bring a book bag and keep a water bottle, gatorade, coke, whatever you don’t mind getting a little warm. By now, you’ve probably heard that you can get complimentary water at any quick service that has running water ie, no a drink cart is not going to have it. Water cups are often small and filled ahead of time sitting at the window, you don’t have to wait in line for the cup but you may want to so you can request a few glasses of water. (fyi, MK water all tastes weird… not sure why it is only MK but it is). Packing sandwiches can be a great thing for vacationers on a budget or for large families, find couple tables and feast! Sides usually don’t cost that much (especially for the money) so you can get a side order of fries to split for about 4 bucks to go with your sandwiches and enjoy.
Dining Plan: ALWAYS PLAN AHEAD. The Disney Dining Plan can be an amazing convince and work so well in your favor money wise if you plan ahead. However, the dining plan is not for a family who wants to wing it, reservations are required for a lot of restaurants so keep this in mind. In 2017, there are 3 dining plans to choose from: quick service dining plan, Disney dining plan, and the Deluxe. Each location varies in what you can get with each meal, and each dining credit (table or quick service) vary in where you can go when.
Look for this symbol when you’re looking to use your snack credits! (If you happen to be in Epcot during the Food and Wine Festival, it is a great use of snack credits) My personal favorite snack is starbucks and basically ALL the cupcakes. To avoid burning snacks on water all day you an use the trick of getting water at any QSR restaurant that has running water or you are also entitled to a drink with EVERY meal even at the resorts when you have a mug, so just get the water bottle or juice or whatever.
Reservations: To use table service credits most of these will require a reservation anyway so go ahead and pick what parks you want to do on what days (you’re going to have to for fast passes anyway) and go ahead and make a couple reservations. “But none of the restaurants I want have any reservations available!” Depending on how far in advance you are planning your vacation, there may not be anything available a month or two (maybe even three) early. Restaurant reservations open 180 days in advance and places like “Be Our Guest” “Cinderella’s Royal Table” and “Ohana” book that far out in a day. Reservations have a cancelation policy of 24 hours ahead of time, so check a few days before and often you’ll get what you want. Any hard-to-get reservation I have ever gotten I got the night before. So have a general plan of what you want to do and plan accordingly to if you get it or you don’t (I bet you get it ;)).
*when you make a reservation for a table service, check on the Disney website to see how many credits that meal will require per person. Some, such as the California Grill, require 2 Table service credits per person*
If you’re an annual pass-holder there are some places that offer dining discounts! Use this link to find out what discounts you get before you even get there. Pass-holder Discounts
Tables in Wonderland is a membership that offers 20% discounts at select restaurants in Walt Disney World and attend some events throughout the year. This discount is unique because it can be used on alcohol too. (If you enjoy using the dining plan this discount is not for you as you can not layer them). A cool perk also offered to Tables in Wonderland Members is complimentary resort valet and theme park parking when you’re there for dining purposes. Cost varies depending on your other holdings $175 for Florida Residents $150 for Walt Disney World Resort Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members (based on this information I would assume you either have to be one or the other (a DVC or pass holder/ FL resident considering this is only going to be useful if you’re eating at Disney A lot).
Disney Vacation Club also has some dining discounts available, use this link to find out where DVC discounts