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First visit dining questions


New Member
Original Poster
we will be visiting Disney in August this year, as my parents have paid for the family to go.
They bought it through virgin and we are staying at Disney all stars music, but they didn’t buy the dining plan, so my question is: should we eat on the resort/hotel or get a hire car and go out of resort to eat, and would we need to book months in advance, there will be 6 of us
So I’m trying what the options are for
lunch/snacks? At the resort?
Evening meals? Hotel or offsite?


Well-Known Member
Since its your first visit, you could do a bit of both if you are looking to save cost. Part of the fun of a Disney trip is experiencing the atmosphere and uniqueness of their table and counter service dining. Bringing along snacks and food will save you a lot. Look at the WDW Magic dining site for menus and see whats available for options, reviews and costs. That can give you an idea of possible places your family would enjoy. Some guests do all their meals onsite, others go off property. Each park has some combination of good and not so good places to eat. Pricing and availability of seating also varies. Arranging your meals a bit off times can help avoid longer lines. We typically eat breakfast at the resort, avoid lunch by grabbing some snack items and then dine at a table service.


Premium Member
For a first trip, I would consider a character meal. There are some in the parks and some at the resort. You don’t have to be staying at a resort to book a meal there. Which meal will partly depends on what characters you’d like to see. Most are buffets, some are “family style” which means they bring platters to your table and you can ask for more if you like. They are pricey, and the food isn’t fabulous, but buffets do all have a carving station, and I tend to stick to that for the entree. It is fun to meet the characters - who will come to your table with a CM. And if by the time you’ve finished you haven’t met one of them you can let a server know and they will sort it.

Thee is a food court at each of the value resorts, which serve a variety of options all day. Or you can look into ordering some simple breakfast items to keep in your room. The resort shop will sell milk and other essentials.

The QS places in the parks offer the usual expected fare, but there are also some decent alternatives, salads etc. Some are good for sharing platters, like the Flame Tree Grill at Animal Kingdom. Don’t rush to order one meal each until you see the size of the portions!

On the website, you can check out the menus. And you can filter the restaurants by park, resort, or by Table or Quick service. Oh and Casual = Quick service, think McDonalds. Order at a counter, go to a table and eat.

Feel free to ask more questions!


Well-Known Member
In the Parks
We ordered and got our snacks, cereal, milk, water, beer etc. from Garden Grocer and it was waiting for us when we arrived. That saves a bunch. If you don't order water, you can bring a few bottles with and fill up in the food court and keep in the fridge. That will save you 3.50 for each bottle of water. I also bring a plug-in kettle for hot coffee/chocolate in case I don't feel like walking to food court. Our favorite counter service is Columbia Harbor House in the MK.


Well-Known Member
Like others have said, do a mixture of dining on and off property. It's worth the savings, and I wouldn't be concerned about not having the dining plan. Also, definitely consider ordering in/going to a supermarket for bottled water/drinks and snacks.

Especially with a group of 6, I would always recommend making any dining reservations you think you MIGHT want at the 180 day mark. That could be 3 a day if there were that many meals you wanted on property. Then, ensure you cancel once you know you won't be using them, at least 24 hours before. This is imperative not only to avoid any charges ($10 per person on the reservation, officially), but to allow other guests to book in your place. You can modify and cancel reservations really easily online or on the app, so don't worry about how to do that.

I hope you have an amazing time! :)


Well-Known Member
Check out the menus -> https://www.wdwmagic.com/dining.htm If you are staying at All Stars, you will only have a food court to use at the resort, but you can also walk to the other 2 All Stars pretty easily if you see options there you like better.

But your options are totally up to you. Each theme park has plenty of quick service options if you don't make any ADRs, but also several table service restaurants if you do make ADRs. You can choose to eat breakfast at your hotel, and then do lunch/dinner at the parks. Disney Springs also has a plethora of dining options, as do the moderate/deluxe level resorts. There are also plenty of options off property if you do rent a car, but keep in mind that the time to leave the park, and drive to a restaurant could outweigh the cost savings by eating where you are. You would need to pay for parking at the hotel if you do a rental car, so if you weren't planning on renting one, that may further push you towards eating on property.


Well-Known Member
Our absolute must do when we go is yak and yeti in animal kingdom. We've gotten in without a reservation before with 5 of us but I'd not recommend trying that anywhere, especially on your first trip. First trips can be very overwhelming because there is so much to do and see and plan. The more you have ready to go the better (but I'm also someone that goes ever year and insists on planning the trips to a T 😁). Character meals are usually a little pricey but depending on the age of the kiddos it's always fun. We actually really enjoyed chef Mickey's because the buffet was HUGE and had everything any of us wanted and you get to meet all the big characters! I would probably not go off property to eat simply because it can be time consuming and exhausting. I always plan our park days and then plan our meals accordingly. We usually eat breakfast in our cabin, and then pack a small cooler with snacks and water. We've also learned that we are able to share our lunches just about every where we go so keep that in mind. Everyone may not need their own meal and often times meals don't include the drink so if your bring water or Gatorade or whatever you want, you can skip that. I was surprised when I actually looked at a receipt from cosmic Ray's. We always just ordered drinks with the meals assuming they came with, but they didn't. We always like ohana after a Magic kingdom day because it's an easy monorail ride over.
Definitely have a countdown or find the the calculator on here that will give you the exact date of when you can start making dining reservations (ADRs) and fast passes (FP). Unfortunately nowadays with Disney you've gotta stay on top of it or you are at the mercy of the pixie dust Gods 😂
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