So if you're like us, you're already trying to figure out how you can escape to Disney World this fall and what restaurants you would like to book since, after all, it's free; and if so, we have a few suggestions for how you can best use the Free Dining Plan to your advantage! After all, if Disney is giving away something free, let's milk it for all it's worth, right?
First of all, let's talk how talk about how to choose which restaurants to book.
1.) Expensive Restaurants-Yes, take advantage of Free Dining and book a meal at one of Disney's more expensive restaurants to enjoy fantastic food and an elegant atmosphere for nothing! However, Disney usually charges two Dining credits as opposed to one for some of the most expensive locations; but hey, for tender filet mignon or fine dining at one of Grand Floridian's restaurants for nothing is worth forfeiting a credit.
2.) Character Meals-Some of Disney's most popular meals are character meals, restaurants where a variety of characters stop by your table to visit while you dine! Obviously, this particular type of dining is in high demand and can produce pretty steep price tags; but with Free Dining, you don't have to concern yourself with that! In fact, you can book a character meal every day if you wanted to. What's the number one character meal you should aim for? Cinderella's Royal Table!
3.) Experiences-Some Disney restaurants offer unique experiences; and with the Free Dining Plan, you can enjoy these experiences without being concerned about the bill! For example, you can view Epcot's Illuminations while you eat at the Rose or Crown, or experience an empty Magic Kingdom with an early morning reservation at the Magic Kingdom's Crystal Palace or Cinderella's Royal Table. You can also take in some of Disney's unique restaurants that offer experiences within themselves, like the drive-in at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater or a blast back to a 1950s kitchen at 50s Prime Time Cafe!
Need help choosing? Here's what we suggest you consider before booking a dining reservation.
1.) Menus-The menus at Disney cover almost anything you can imagine! So when you go to pick a restaurant, do some homework and find out who serves what and which place has the best food. For some help, see AllEars.net's menus. Or, if you want to know what we think, we say to check out any of Epcot's restaurants. You really can't go wrong when it comes to menus there. Restaurants at the Polynesian offer really tasty Polynesian flavored dishes; and Kona Cafe is known for their dessert selections! If something unique interests you, venture over to Animal Kingdom Lodge to feast on African dishes and delights at Boma or Sanaa.
2.) Location-Believe it or not, location plays a big role in deciding which restaurant to visit because Disney World literally is a world. For example, you don't want to have dinner at Epcot when you want to catch the parade and fireworks at the Magic Kingdom. Or, if you have base tickets, you can't have a meal at Hollywood Studios when you're planning on visiting Animal Kingdom the same day. Therefore, location does have an influence.
3.) Characters-Some guests don't find out exactly which characters are going to be at their meal and can end up disappointed. Don't be one of them! If you're looking to eat with Mickey and the gang, check into Chef Mickeys or 'Ohana. However, if princesses is what you're after, consider Akershus Storybook Dining, Cinderella's Royal Table, or 1900 Park Fare (but for dinner.) Knowing who you want to see can help you make a decision.
Final Notes: Make sure you know which Free Dining Plan you're getting before you start booking reservations. This is because there are two being offer, the Quick Service and the Standard. Quick Service allows you to eat for free at cafeteria style restaurants only while the standard allows for sit down meals. With Disney's current offer, guests staying at Value Resorts receive only the Quick Service for free; but if you prefer the other, you can pay the difference to receive the standard.