Understanding Walt Disney World’s Dining Categories

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One of our favorite parts of a Walt Disney World visit is the food! With over 200 dining locations throughout the resort, there’s too much to try in one visit (although we’ve tried!). For guests who are new to Walt Disney World, the designations for dining categories can be a bit confusing. Walt Disney World separates their dining experiences into two main categories, Table Service and Quick Service, with even more variations within them. So to make your Walt Disney World dining a breeze, we’ve put together this handy guide explaining a bit more about the different dining categories and what to expect from them.

Quick Service

Quick Service dining at Walt Disney World is the most ubiquitous style of dining available at the resort. As the name implies, Quick Service dining locations are basically considered fast food. Quick Service dining can be found at the parks as well as onsite hotels and Disney Springs. These locations usually offer a counter area where you will place and pay for your order and then take your food yourself to a table in an open seating area. The seating areas can vary by location, and there are some that offer outdoor seating. Quick Service dining locations do not require reservations and are eligible for Mobile Ordering. There are some places that are exceptions to the reservation rule though. Some Quick Service restaurants like Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom feature different dining categories depending on which meal you are enjoying. At Be Our Guest, breakfast and lunch are served as an upscale version of Quick Service with waitstaff available to assist after you’ve seated yourself, while dinner is a full Table Service experience. There are also a number of walk-up kiosk dining locations and even food trucks at Disney Springs that offer smaller items like snacks and beverages but do not usually have ample seating. These spots are best for grabbing something on the go.

Regal Eagle Smokehouse EPCOT

Regal Eagle Smokehouse, EPCOT

While many people think that Quick Service dining at a theme park only offers burgers and hotdogs, Walt Disney World has become well known for taking fast food to the next level at some of their restaurants as well as offering healthier menu options. From French-inspired cuisine at Be Our Guest to dishes with African flair at Harambe Market in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You can still easily find those standard park staples, but you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t seek out some of the more interesting Quick Service offerings. Most entrees at Disney Quick Service dining locations run from around $14 to $16 for lunch and dinner, with breakfast menus usually running a bit less.

Table Service

If the fast food of Quick Service isn’t to your liking, or you just want to take a break from the intensity of the parks for your meal Walt Disney World also offers Table Service dining options. Table Service in Disney terms refers to a restaurant that seats you at a designated table and all of your needs are met by a member of the waitstaff. Dining at a Disney Table Service restaurant requires a reservation that can be made up to 60 days in advance as well as a credit card to secure your spot in case of a missed reservation. While this category may seem straightforward, there are actually a number of variations within the Table Service designation that vary the pricing and experience.

Victoria and Albert's

Victoria and Albert’s, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Table Service dining at Walt Disney World comes in a variety of styles. The top of that list is what’s known as Signature Dining. Signature Dining restaurants offer the best cuisine, the highest level of service, and some of the most elegant settings at the resort. These restaurants may rank on the highest level of pricing for dining at Walt Disney World but also rank as some of the best restaurants in Florida with many receiving awards for their work. Many Signature Dining locations require a dress code. This doesn’t mean you’ll need to pack a suit or your best red carpet dress, it usually just means that t-shirts and cut off shorts aren’t allowed. Luckily the Signature Dining restaurants located within the theme parks do not require special attire, so you won’t have to go back to your hotel to change before your meal, and then go back to the park.

Walt Disney World Character Dining

Breakfast à la Art with Mickey & Friends – Topolino’s Terrace, Disney’s Riviera Resort

Table Service dining also includes Character Dining. Character Dining at Walt Disney World consists of a Table Service meal accompanied by visits from favorite Disney characters. Each restaurant offers a different lineup of characters that can include classics like Mickey and his pals or more contemporary characters like those from the Disney Jr. channel. These are some of the most popular dining experiences at the resort and almost always require making reservations as soon as your booking window opens at 60 days prior to arrival.

Liberty Tree Tavern, Magic Kingdom

The other categories within Table Service include buffet and family style dining. Buffets are as you would guess, large serving areas offering a wide variety of options that guests may enjoy for a set price. Family style dining is along those same lines, but a bit different. Instead of everyone grabbing a plate and retrieving their own food from the serving stations, each table is served with large platters of all menu items that everyone in your party may take from. The entire spread is included in your meal price and any dishes you run out of are replenished by the waitstaff. Currently, during the phased reopening of the resort after the outbreak of COVID-19, all buffets have been suspended until further notice. Some of the buffet locations have reopened as family style though.

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