Many of you told me you want more information on restaurants, dining, and how to save money on food. As promised, I am taking the next several months….or however long it takes….to go through the different aspects of Disney World dining, which will hopefully provide you the help you need. But be sure to ask questions along the way! Simply comment below, or leave a message on our Facebook page, and I’ll do my best to answer.
So let’s get started with talking about Disney World’s sit-down restaurants…or as Disney likes to refer to them, the Table Service restaurants.
There are over 50 Table Service restaurants at Walt Disney World, with dining experiences ranging from casual and perfect for family fun to an elegant evening that would be appreciated by any gourmet. And with food representing nearly every type of cuisine you can think of, there is pretty much something for everyone.
Within the Table Service category, Disney further divides this group into 3 “experiences”:
- Fine or Signature Dining
- Casual Dining (Not to be confused with Quick Service which is basically counter food…and a subject for a different blog post )
- Character Meals (Our topic for next week )
Signature Dining is the best Walt Disney World has to offer…and that best is pretty darn good. It comes at a price though, with entrees for this tier typically being well over $20, usually more like $30+. Still, if you are looking for gourmet offerings, served in an elegant atmosphere where you may actually forget you are at a theme park, then you may want to check out one or two of these exceptional restaurants.
Be prepared to spend a good deal of money for a signature dining experience. Using Table Service credits from the Disney Dining Plan may make it a bit easier to justify, but be advised that most Signature restaurants will require 2 Table Service credits, so plan accordingly. Even so, we have found that we are typically paying less per person for one of these restaurants by using Dining Plan credits than if we were paying out of pocket.
Now are they worth the money? If you enjoy fine food, wine, and atmosphere, and don’t mind spending several hours on a meal while at Disney World, absolutely yes!
The vast majority of Disney World Table Service restaurants fall into this category, and there are many to choose from. Whether you wish to eat at the resorts, theme parks, or Downtown Disney you are likely to find a casual restaurant that serves the type of cuisine you are interested in. While the biggest concentration of Casual/Table Service restaurants is at World Showcase in Epcot, you will also find some great choices at both Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. And keep in mind that a number of the resorts have very nice restaurants but may not get the traffic that the theme park restaurants get which is kind of nice. And Downtown Disney also offers some excellent choices: a number of these restaurants are not owned by Disney however, so be cautious when booking here if you plan to use the Dining Plan and make sure your choice is on the Dining Plan list.
While these are also table service restaurants, they typically will be more “child friendly” than the Signature Dining restaurants. A bit larger, a bit noisier, service is also usually going to move the meal along quicker, since these restaurants are generally pretty busy. Keep in mind as well that the popularity of many of the Casual restaurants can make getting reservations quite challenging at times of the year…particularly those that are located in the theme parks.
The cost of an entrée at these restaurants will typically range between $10-$20, so while less expensive than a Fine Dining restaurant, you could still find yourself with a bill in the vicinity of $80 for two adults. This should be a consideration if you wish to eat dinner at more than one Casual restaurant, because again, buying the Disney Dining Plan will probably save you money.
Is it worth the money to eat at a Casual restaurant? I think that answer really depends on the individual family. Know your family’s likes and dislikes, and what everyone has the patience for, before you decide. Many families with small children who may not want to sit for a longish meal, or may not like the food choices find that Quick Service meals are best for them.
But….if you like to sit down and relax over a nice meal each day, and your family enjoys new food experiences…then by all means, plans for some Casual restaurants to be part of your Disney World dining.
You can learn more about the Table Service dining choices at the Disney World website. For more detailed information about Walt Disney World restaurant experiences, including reviews, menu information, pictures and more, I always recommend a visit to The Disney Food Blog.