This is our Military Family Dining Page where you’ll get an overview of the types of dining options at Walt Disney World, the discounts that are available for dining, and some ways to economize on your food costs.
You’ll find the listings of specific restaurants within the chapters pertaining to where they are located, those being the Theme Park, Resorts, and Other Entertainment chapters.
The range of dining options at Disney World is absolutely fantastic! There is everything available from grab and go locations, to Starbucks, counter service, sit down dining, and even signature dining. You can even dine with your favorite Disney character.
There is something for every taste and budget!
Dining Terms at Disney World
Any discussion of dining at Disney World requires the use a few Disney specific terms that Disney uses in regard to dining.
Disney classifies their restaurants by how the food is served, here are the Disney terms and what they mean.
- Quick Service – These are dining locations at which you wait in line to order your food at a counter, window, or freestanding cash register. You then wait for your food and carry it to the table of your choice.
- Table Service – These are dining locations at which you are seated at a table by a host or hostess and a waitress or waiter takes your order and delivers your food.
- Family Style – These are dining locations at which you are seated at a table by a host or hostess and a waitress or waiter takes your order and delivers your food. These locations may have one set menu or a variety that you can choose from. In either case, your food will be delivered to the table on platters and in serving bowls. Your family will then fix their own plates from the serving dishes. These locations are usually “All You Care to Eat.”
- Buffet Service – These are dining locations at which you are seated at a table by a host or hostess and a waitress or waiter takes your drink order. You’ll then go to the buffet area to fill your own plates, these meals are “All You Care to Eat.”
- All You Care to Eat – Disney for “All You Can Eat”, used in conjunction with Family Style and Buffet Meals.
In this chapter look for these keys to the rough cost of restaurants and the meals they offer:
- $ = Less than $15 per adult
- $$ = $15 – $30 per adult
- $$$ = $30 – $60 per adult
- $$$$ = Over $60 per adult
- B = Breakfast
- L = Lunch
- D = Dinner
- S = Snack
Disney Dining Overview
Most Disney World Table Service restaurants accept Advance Dining Reservations or ADRs. ADRs are slightly different from the reservations you are used to in the non-Disney World.
An Advance Dining Reservation time is a time at which you should be present at the restaurant (Disney recommends arriving 15 minutes prior to that time). When you arrive, you’ll check in and then be placed in the queue for the next available table. There may be others both with and without ADRs in this queue ahead of you.
Advance Dining Reservations are recommended even in the slower times of the year, especially for popular restaurants!
A credit card is required at the time you make your ADR. Nothing will be charged at that time, although Disney will authorize the card so you might see a pending $1.00 charge on your account that will drop off in a matter of days. There is a fee that will be charged to that card for no-shows or same day cancellations. You may only make one ADR per meal. The single ADR requirement and cancellation fee are due to the fact that in the past there were those who made multiple ADRs per meal at different locations to “cover their bases” no matter where they wound up they’d have a place to eat. These people blocked others from getting a reservation.
As mentioned, Advance Dining Reservations may not be cancelled same day. However you may reschedule them to a later day as long as you are not in the arrival window (15 minutes prior), which you can then either cancel or use.
Advance Dining Reservations may be made 180 days in advance. Those staying at a Disney resort may make ADRs for their entire trip (up to 10 the first days worth) on the 180th day prior to their arrival date. Non-Disney guests must make their ADRs day by day 180 days out from the desired ADR date. ===>Note: Currently Disney World has reduced the 180 days in advance to 60 days in advance.<===
Reserve with your My Disney Experience app, Disney World website, or by calling (407) WDW-DINE (939-3463).
Walk Up Queue
Since reopening in summer of 2020 with reduced dining availability a new feature was added to the My Disney Experience app. When searching for “Dining Near Me” if there are no reservations available you might be offered the option to digitally join a walk up queue. They will then try to fit you in.
Some restaurants offer this, but if they are really slammed it won’t be offered.
At Disney World you have the ability to meet and greet various Disney Characters during your meal at certain locations. Different restaurants feature different characters.
Character meals are served several different ways depending on which restaurant you choose.
- Traditional buffet-style — available at most of the participating restaurants.
- Family-style — the server brings large bowls/plates/skillets of food that you serve yourself and pass around the table.
- Pre-plated meals — These meals are served to each guest and each plate includes the same meal.
As a rule, you need to make Advance Reservations for character meals. However, during slow seasons it is sometimes possible to attend a Character Meal without an Advance Reservation. Advance Reservations are available for all character meals and can be arranged by calling 407-WDW-DINE (939-3463).
Theme park admission is required for theme park meals!
Character Meals by Location:
Cinderella’s Royal Table – BL$$$ D$$$$ – Cinderella and other classic Disney Princesses – When you arrive for your reservation, a photographer will be on hand to take pictures of your group in the lobby, before you are seated in the dining room.
Breakfast includes American favorites like stuffed French toast, steak and eggs, baked quiche, and pastries. Lunch and dinner offer items like pork tenderloin, steak and shrimp, pan seared chicken, and summer vegetable couscous.
Advance Reservations are a must. This is the hardest Character Meal to get a reservation for!
Crystal Palace – BL$$ D$$$ – Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore and Piglet – Meals are served buffet-style with a separate buffet for kids called “Pooh Corner.” Breakfast items include eggs, pancakes, breakfast meats, breads, fruit and more. Lunch offers a variety of hot and cold entrees and sides along with a dessert bar. At dinner carved meats and peel-and-eat shrimp are added. Advance Reservations strongly recommended!
The Garden Grill – B$$ LD$$$ – Mickey, Chip and Dale, and Pluto – Chip and Dale’s Harvest Feast – Located in the Land Pavilion in the Future World section of Epcot. Kids’ Breakfast includes Sticky buns, scrambled eggs, Mickey waffles, bacon and sausage, and hash browns. The lunch and dinner menu include chicken tenders, mac and cheese. Reservations are recommended.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion – B$$ LD$$$ – Snow White, Cinderella, Belle, Princess Aurora, and Ariel. A family style American breakfast is served while lunch and dinner are Norwegian style dining.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Hollywood & Vine – BLD$$ – Meet Disney Junior characters during breakfast and Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy during lunch and dinner. The buffet breakfast features pancakes and waffles, an omelet station, breakfast meats and potatoes, and fresh fruits and pastries. Among the lunch and dinner buffet selections are pastas, roast meats, seafood, salads, as well as a dessert and sundae station.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Tusker House – BL$$$ – Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Mickey – The Animal Kingdom features a character breakfast, called Donald’s Safari Breakfast, as well as a Character Lunch. All you can eat buffet. (Same day reservations may be available).
1900 Park Fare – Grand Floridian – B$$ D$$$ – Breakfast – Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Winnie the Pooh. Supercalifragilistic Breakfast items include omelet bar, pancakes, fruit, breads, meats, etc. Dinner – Cinderella and Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, Drizella, and the Fairy Godmother (some characters may only be in the lobby for photos). Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner price includes dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage.
Cape May Cafe – Beach Club – B$$ – Goofy, Minnie, and Donald – Buffet breakfast offerings include eggs, pancakes, meats, breads, fresh fruit and more.
Chef Mickey’s – Contemporary Resort – BD$$$ – Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald Duck -The breakfast buffet offers the usual items; eggs, breads, meats, fresh fruit, etc. At dinner there is a salad bar, peel and eat shrimp, soups, hot entrees, breads, carved meats, vegetables, desserts and an ice cream bar with a great variety of toppings. Advance Reservations strongly recommended.
Polynesian – ‘Ohana – B$$ – Lilo and Stitch, Pluto and Mickey. The meal is served family-style and features eggs, waffles, meats, breads, fruit and more. Advance Reservations are strongly recommended.
Storybook Dining at Artist Point – D$$$ – Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy (Guests may also encounter The Evil Queen) – Steaks, chops, fish, and chicken entrees are on the menu.
Trattoria al Forno – B$ – Ariel, Prince Eric, Rapunzel, and Flynn Rider – Plated breakfast includes items like pastries, fruit salad and yogurt, breakfast calzone, steak and egg torte, a frittata, scrambled eggs, and pancakes.
Walt Disney World Dining Discounts
There Are No Military Dining Discounts
Unfortunately, while Disney offers great military discounts on their resort rooms and theme park tickets, they do not offer any military discounts on dining!
But don’t worry, there are other discounts and options that you can take advantage of. And there are non-Disney locations at Disney Springs that do offer Military Discounts.
Let’s face it. Disney Vacations are Expensive! After travel, park tickets, and hotel costs you’ve still got to pay for your dining! Here is an overview of the various discounts that are available for you to use. They all have some sort of “buy in” as in they are not available to the general public. You need to be a member or purchase something in order to get the discount.
Walt Disney World Passholders receive Disney World dining discounts at many WDW restaurants. The list is long and ever changing, so be sure to ask before ordering!
Save 10% on regularly priced food and non-alcoholic beverages during various meal periods at select Walt Disney World Resort Table-Service locations. At some very limited locations the discount is more (15% and up to 20%)
See disneyworld.disney.go.com/passholder-program/passholder-benefits-and-discounts/ for a current a list of participating restaurants.
Disney Visa Discounts
Disney Visa Card Holders receive Disney World dining discounts at about 25 different WDW restaurants. These are typically the more expensive ones at each resort and in the theme parks.
Save 10% on regularly priced food and non-alcoholic beverages during various meal periods at select Walt Disney World Resort Table-Service locations.
Disney Vacation Club Discounts
Disney Vacation Club Members receive Disney World dining discounts at many WDW restaurants.
Save 10% to 20% on regularly priced food and non-alcoholic beverages during various meal periods at select Walt Disney World Resort Table-Service locations.
Disney Springs Restaurant’s Military Discounts
There are several non-Disney owned restaurants at Walt Disney World’s Disney Springs that do offer military discounts!
Note, all of these are not owned by Disney. Here are the restaurants and their discounts.
- Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop – 20% Military Discount
- AMC Fork and Screen Theatres – 4 Dollars off for military member after 4pm
- Cooke’s of Dublin – 20% Military Discount
- Paradiso 37, Taste of the Americas – Cuisine from North, South and Central America – 15% Military Discount
- Raglan Road – 20% Military Discount
- House of Blues – 25% Military Discount
Don’t just ask for a military discount at these locations, ask wherever you go! At locations where they do not offer one, cast members have been known to give you their employee discount just to say thanks. They do this without mentioning it, but you can see they did by checking the receipt for Cast Discount.
Note: these military discount locations and amounts are subject to change.
For the Full List Also See:
The Disney Dining Plan
Note: The Disney Dining Plan is coming back for 2024!
The Disney Dining Plan is offered to Disney Resort Guests (not Shades of Green or other non-Disney guests). The Dining Plan is added on to your Disney room reservation.
The Disney Dining Plan essentially allows you to pre-pay for your meals while at Disney. There are several different levels of the plan from the basic to the Cadillac version.
There are three basic dining plans. By basic I mean they just cover meals and snacks, there are other Premium Dining Plans which are very expensive and also cover bottle(s) of wine per day, fireworks cruises, and Spa treatments.
The three basic plans and what they cover are:
Quick Service Dining Plan – Two quick service meals (entrée or combo meal, dessert at lunch and dinner and a non-alcoholic beverage (soda, coffee, or tea)) and one snack per night on your package. Starting in 2018 with each meal guests under 21 receive a beverage including specialty beverages (milk shakes, smoothies, premium hot chocolates where offered) instead and guests 21 and receive a beverage including specialty beverages or one serving of a mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered). Plus, one Resort refillable drink mug per person. Cost: 2024 prices – $57.01 per night per adult ages 10+, $28.83 per night per child ages 3 to 9.
Standard Dining Plan – One table service entrée or buffet meal, dessert (lunch and dinner only), and non-alcoholic beverage; One quick service meal, including entrée or combo meal, and non-alcoholic beverage; and one snack per day. Starting in 2018 with each meal guests under 21 receive a beverage including specialty beverages (milk shakes, smoothies, premium hot chocolates where offered) instead and guests 21 and receive a beverage including specialty beverages or one serving of a mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered). Plus, one Resort refillable drink mug per person. Cost: 2024 prices – $94.28 per night per adult ages 10+, $29.69 per night per child ages 3 to 9.
Deluxe Dining Plan – Not offered for 2024. Three table service or quick service meals: (table service includes appetizer, entrée, and dessert (lunch and dinner), OR full buffet, plus non-alcoholic beverage); (quick service includes entrée plus non-alcoholic beverage, OR combo meal plus non-alcoholic beverage; and two snacks per day. Starting in 2018 with each meal guests under 21 receive a beverage including specialty beverages (milk shakes, smoothies, premium hot chocolates where offered) instead and guests 21 and receive a beverage including specialty beverages or one serving of a mixed cocktail, beer, or wine (where offered). Plus, one Resort refillable drink mug per person. Cost: 2019 prices – $116.24 adult/$43.49 kids; 2020 prices – $119.00 adult/$47.50 kids. 2020 $119/$47.50?
The Disney Dining Plan has those who love it and those who do not!
On the plus side you’ll be including the cost of most (but not all) of your dining needs into your room bill. You will have to pre-pay this package prior to arrival so the cost will be behind you.
On the Quick Service Plan you’ll generally break even, you’ll get what you pay for. As you move up into the more expensive plans it becomes harder to get your money’s worth, you generally have to order the most expensive items on the menus at all 3 meals to avoid losing money.
Also with the more expensive plans, especially the Deluxe Plan contain a lot of food and you will have to spend time (3 plus hours a day) in table service restaurants, you’ll need to plan ahead and have Advance Dining Reservations set up based on your park touring plans.
Note: Unknown if this will come back in late 2024.
Disney World occasionally offers “Free Dining” usually in the fall to increase guest volume during lower projected attendance periods. During Free Dining, the Disney Dining Plan can be added for free to reservations at select resorts on certain dates.
The offer requires that you pay full price for your room. You may not use the Armed Forces Salute room discount and all guests in the room are required to buy a full price Magic Your Way tickets for a minimum number of days (usually 2-day tickets).
Deciding if this offer is better than the Disney Armed Forces Salute room and ticket offer requires a lot of calculation. You’ll need to sit down and price out your vacation both ways to decide if Free Dining is right for you or not.
The Disney Armed Forces Salute is usually a better deal for: shorter stays (4-5 days), smaller groups, light eaters or non-foodies.
Deciding on the Dining Plan
Whether trying to decide on Free Dining or the paid Disney Dining Plan some calculation is required!
Free Dining – You’ll need to compare the full package, that’s full price room, required tickets, and any additional tickets plus your expected food extras to using the Disney Armed Forces Salute room and ticket rates plus what you think you would actually spend on food.
Paid Disney Dining Plan – You’ll need to compare the cost of the Disney Dining Plan plus any food extras to what you think you would actually spend on food.
How to figure what you’d normally pay for food. I use the menus at AllEars.net, which include prices. Decide the restaurants that you’d like to eat at during your trip. If you are not sure at least pick one of the type/price range you think you’d use and then price out every meal and snack for everyone in your party to use to compare to the Dining Plan price.
Keep in mind, Disney would not offer this if they weren’t making significant money doing it. Most people end up losing money for the convenience. You really have to plan ahead and work at it to break even or come out ahead. For a point of reference, with all of my many, many trips to WDW, I’ve only used it once!
Other Ways to Save
Bring and eat your own food. The Disney resorts and Shades of Green have mini fridges in their rooms. You can keep some basic items for breakfast and snacks, or even lunch in the parks.
There are several ways that you can stock your room stash:
- Bring your food with you (if driving)
- Coordinate a grocery stop with your limo service (if flying)
- Have food pre-delivered to your resort by Amazon or GardenGrocer.com
- Make a supply run to Shades of Green’s AAFES Store or the Orlando Navy Exchange
- Buy items at your resort’s sundries shop (more expensive and very limited choices)
Disney allows you to bring food and drinks into the parks. You can do so in backpacks or soft coolers; no hard coolers or glass items are allowed.
Once, years ago during a bag check at Epcot I was behind a family of four where both the mom and dad had full sized backpacks almost busting open they were so full. When they opened them up for security to check, tons of food and plastic ware came spilling out, there was a whole cooked, very big chicken in one! It looked like they could have fed three or four families with all that they had…
That was a little overboard, but some snacks, sandwiches and drinks will get you through your theme park day.
Stop by Shades of Green for a meal in one of their restaurants. Prices at Shades are cheaper than Disney restaurants.
Share meals. Disney portions are often very large. Share entrees and appetizers rather that getting one for everyone to reduce costs.
Kid’s meals. Order the cheaper Kid’s Meal at quick Service restaurant (if they appeal).
Quick service meals often are presented only as combo meals on the menus. But you can get the sandwich without the fries for less.
Free Soda, coffee, and tea refills. You will find that very few Quick Service restaurants at Walt Disney World offer free refills. But there are a few in the theme parks and at Disney Springs that do. Consider dining at these if you want a big volume of Coke products (there are no Pepsi products on property).
- Sunshine Seasons
- Backlot Express
- Cooks of Dublin
Cups of water/ice. All Disney Quick Service restaurants will give you a cup of ice or cup of water (tap water vs a water bottle) for free. You can just get the water for everyone (It will help with your hydration!) or you can get one large soda and cups of ice to split up the soda. In Table Service locations opt for tap water.
Eat off Disney property
The Lake Buena Vista/Kissimmee area has a huge number of restaurants. There is something for every taste and budget. There is even a McDonalds on WDW property. Shades of Green sells discounted tickets for many Orlando area Dinner Shows.
You can save at some Disney World/Disney area restaurants by purchasing discounted gift certificates from Restaurant.com ahead of time. Most certificates are for a specific amount (usually $25) and you get them at a discounted price (usually $10 or less). Most often you’ll find these for the restaurants at the Swan and Dolphin hotels.
Disney Dining Posts
As you can see there are more than a few ways to save on dining while on a Disney World vacation. This particular area takes quite a bit of calculation to determine ahead of time what it will actually cost you. If the cost for your dining is a concern for you, spend some time pricing out what you think you’ll spend using the menus at Disney.com or AllEars.net and the various ways of saving mentioned in this chapter.
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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Planning a Disney Trip? Want to get the best military discounts that are available? Feeling a little confused? See Our Great Disney Discount and Planning Info:
- Disney Veteran & Military Discount Eligibility Guide
- The Military Family’s Walt Disney World Comprehensive Vacation Planning and Preparation Guide
- Military Disney Tips Disney Packing Checklist
- Disney Military Tickets – Your Start to Finish Guide
- Resorts/Hotel Overview Page
- Dining Overview Page
- Transportation Overview Page
- Technology Overview Page
- Shades of Green, WDW’s Military Only Resort
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