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Disney Orlando experts please help!! Planning advice...

(14 Posts)
MtnBikeChick Mon 09-Oct-17 16:24:41

Hi there
I am planning our first trip to WDW. We are staying in Animal Kingdom Lodge in Dec/early and I am trying to plan dining reservations...ugh. wondered if any Disney aficionados here had any tips for how to schedule days with relatively young kids (ours will be 4.5 and 7.5) and where you made your dining reservations? I.e. did you decide on a park for each day and make dinner reservations at that park? Or did you do parks early in the day and then head back to hotel for swim/chill in afternoon and back to a park for dinner? Or somewhere else for dinner? So confusing...and tricky to plan....

froomeonthebroom Mon 09-Oct-17 16:26:39

Are you on FB? There's a great group on there called Disney and Orlando for the brits where you'd get loads of responses.

We stayed off site so didn't do any disney dining I'm afraid.

2014newme Mon 09-Oct-17 19:18:43

Dibb is brilliant for restaurant advice.
We found by even we were quite tired so we ended up waiting and around our resort and cancelled some other reservations we had. We stayed at beach club so we generally ate there, yacht club, epcot, boardwalk and studios

Rudedog Mon 09-Oct-17 20:08:14

I listed where we wanted to eat and then spread them around (so wasn't at same parks 2 days in a row)

It will be worth reserving with small children as they eat at the busiest time

GeekyWombat Mon 09-Oct-17 20:21:54

We've been twice with young children and found quickly that short trips into the parks worked best, not least because of the number of exhausted, frazzled families we saw who'd tried to do from park opening to closing fireworks. Also it felt like we had more of a traditional holiday at times - splashing round the kids water play areas, eating ice cream etc outside of the park environment (which we all love but could be quite intense for the kids, especially in the heat).

We found into a park at opening, three hours or so of rides with breaks for snacks (sharing a cinammon bun in Gaston's Tavern is a family highlight), back to the resort for siesta, swimming or down time and then out for dinner was the way forward - although ours were a lot younger so we did early dinners.

Really jealous you're staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge - Boma was one of the loveliest places we ate and great with kids cause it's such a broad buffet of unusual things.

Do you have the dining plan? If so try and book some really good stuff that takes advantage of it, you can eat world class food for the cost of tip. We love Narcoossees because we love lobster and seafood, the steak place at the Yacht and Beach Club is phenomenal too. Because of the dining plan we did we did a fair amount of character breakfasts - e.g. Tusker House in Animal Kingdom, Crystal Palace etc which means you can get into Magic Kingdom early. In part it was because the meals were effectively free (bar tip) but if you get an early reservation you can get into parks early which worked for us. Also, the first time the kids met the characters they were a bit freaked out, by the end DD was bellowing 'hey Goof!' across the restaurant because of course Goofy was her friend and just making small talk with these other folk before he got to her.

What kind of food do your kids like? And what characters?

Ohana in the Polynesian is good food but amazing atmosphere - also they do a dancing competition type thing for children which our DD loved and which meant dinner lasted a bit longer than it might have otherwise. We ate a lot of buffets too, really worked well and minimised waiting, although to be honest barring the really posh signature dining the meals come out really fast in American style.

You're going to have a fab time!

Daisy03 Mon 09-Oct-17 20:36:16

We generally do half days in the park, either early or late, depending on magic hours, then the rest of the day in a water park or pool.
Disney springs has many lovely restaurants to eat in the evening, but often we'd make our table reservations for lunch or breakfast so we wouldn't feel so tied to them, one particularly good day was being at magic kingdom for magic hours, spending a few hours there, then Crystal Palace for lunch before leaving. Or we'd do it the other way round, water park in morning, nice dinner then parks for shows and fireworks in evening.
As far as quick service meals go by far the best value is to be had I Wolfgang express in Disney springs marketplace, full proper meals ordered at the counter but they bring the food to your table

MissBeehiving Mon 09-Oct-17 20:36:47

You'll have a fab time 😊 We go back next week with an 8,9 and 13 yo but when they were younger we didn't book many evening ADRs until they could readjust to the time difference, so we ate our table service meal at lunchtime.

Buffets are a good choice particularly with characters for younger children.

We very rarely do full days - we do the mornings then head back to the pool or a water park for the afternoon.

Quartz2208 Mon 09-Oct-17 20:38:42

Unless its something that does not suit a lunch reservation (Be Our Guest dinner or Disney Springs evening) I always book in a lunch reservation or a breakfast one.

Couple of reasons for me

1) We eat less - if I have my big meal for lunch its easier and I know how much I want for dinner (portions are big)

2) Breakfast/lunch buffets are cheaper

3) It means that if we want to have a rest after lunch we can and are not tied to a particular place

4) It ties in with fastpasses so I have my park picked and I do them in the morning and then lunch which means the rest of the day can go with the flow (after you book 3 fastpasses at one park you can change parks)

sunnydazed Mon 09-Oct-17 20:52:07

Blaze pizza in Disney Springs is amazing, you can use a quick service credit on the dining plan.

We’ve just come back from Disney and we did full days at the parks for the first few days and then did mornings by the pool, heading out to the parks late afternoon/evening. My children are 8 and 11.

We booked character dining and restaurants we wanted to go to as soon as we could and then booked other meals whilst we were there.

MtnBikeChick Mon 09-Oct-17 20:54:49

Thanks everyone so much. What I think I am worried about is not having a reservation and the not being able to eat anywhere!! Also if it says buffet does that mean it is a "quick service" for dining plan purposes?

Quartz2208 Mon 09-Oct-17 21:15:33

In Disney terms you will not get a table without a reservation via the app or website but you can do these on the day for the majority of restaurants. Some you won't be able to get now as they do go at 180 days but they are the headliners and reservations are cancelled

With one exception (be our guest breakfast and lunch) if a restaurant needs a advance dining reservation (adr) is (at least) one table service credit. Anything sit down with waiters is (and that includes buffets). Most of the buffets are character.

With the dining plan gratuity is extra so you need to add on 15-20% of the bill price

Have you linked your hotel reservation and tickets on my Disney Experience? That should be your first call. Then look at the dibs website and it's Orlando time Facebook group

Rudedog Mon 09-Oct-17 21:55:24

You can eat without a reservation but you might have to wait a long time for a seat - I've heard people being told they will have to wait 45 minutes for a table.
You can't eat in Be Our Guest without one I'm sure as so popular

Making reservations seems like a pain until you are there, then you're glad you've done it

Quartz2208 Mon 09-Oct-17 22:16:45

I have seen people turned away from tutti Italia! If the tables are all booked they cant find on! You certainly cant do be our guest (though reservation for that will be gone)

2014newme Mon 09-Oct-17 22:18:53

I made my reservations as soon as I could, I think 180 days in advance. But I did cancel and rearrange some while there.
I think buffets at reading 1 x TS credit per person. Drinks, tax and tips add in a lot to the bill even with dining plan. We had deluxe plan and I would get stand plan next time

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