Eating at Disney: Table service vs. Quick service?

As I mentioned before, on our first family trip to Disney World, we purchased the Dining Plan. This gave us 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal, and 1 snack per person per night of our stay. In other words, we stayed 4 nights, and although we were actually at the parks for 5 days, we only had 4 days’ worth of Dining Plan meals and snacks. This might sound like it wouldn’t be enough, but with the food portions, it was plenty! Plus, as we usually do when traveling, we ate breakfast in our room each morning, which definitely helped stretch our allotted Dining Plan meals.

Did we like the Dining Plan? Sure, it was fun to take a break and sit down for a nice meal once a day, but doing this every day of our vacation made for too much sitting around restaurants. It was our family’s first trip to Disney, and we wanted to go go go!

On our second trip to Disney World, which was in June of 2011, we didn’t buy the Dining Plan, and things worked out great! We ate breakfast in our room each morning, had quick service meals for lunch and dinner, and took plenty of ice cream breaks to beat the heat. We believe in small portions, so we were able to do a lot of quick service meal-sharing amongst the 7 of us (my parents went along on this particular trip). It generally worked out so that 5 quick service entrées were enough to feed all of us. We were all satisfied without being overly-full, and had the energy to get right back to the fabulous attractions right after dining!

The one table service meal we had during our 2011 trip was at Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios. We ate there as part of the Fantasmic! Dining Package. By making special reservations ahead of time, we received designated seating vouchers for the Fantasmic fireworks show. If you don’t have a seating voucher, I’ve heard that you could possibly have to get to the venue hours ahead of time in order to get a seat for Fantasmic. With our seating vouchers, we were able to walk right into the special entrance, take our seats, wait a few minutes, then enjoy this amazing show!

If you’re going to do a special dining experience, book it well in advance of your trip (you can make reservations up to 180 days in advance, and I would recommend doing so). Other than for special events and maybe a table service meal or two during your stay, I would recommend quick service dining for the majority of your vacation. It saves both time and money, and lets you get the most out of your day at the park!


About Heather Brainerd

Intuitive healer + meditation guide
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