What are your best places to eat in Disney World without the Dining Plan and without ADR’s if possible – don’t like to be restricted as to when and where we will dine that day and that time.
You can usually get into this one
Photo by Express Monorail
Dad’s you’ll find something Answer
There are loads of great places to eat in Walt Disney World, with or without a reservation. If you want the freedom and flexibility of not having to eat at certain places and times on your trip, more power to you! But, make sure you adjust your expectations (and those of your family) – you can’t expect to be seated as a walk-up at every WDW restaurant, but don’t worry, you’ll still have plenty of choices!
On the Disney Dining Plan you’ll be able to eat at any Quick Service restaurant whenever you choose, no reservation necessary. There are some great options. At every hotel you’ll find a Quick Service location – some are counters, some are food courts, but they all have plenty of options. In the parks you’ll find lots of Quick Service restaurants, counters, and kiosks, but here are some of Dad’s favorites:
In the Magic Kingdom, Casey’s Corner is a classic but they have a limited menu and limited seating. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe have larger menus (especially at Cosmic Ray’s) and lots of seating indoors and outdoors. At Epcot, Sunshine Seasonshas lots of menu options and seating. Toy Story Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios and Flame Tree BBQ at Animal Kingdom are great value and have plenty of space to sit. Plus, any of the Quick Service locations in Epcot’s World Showcase will be a good bet for something different and delicious.
Table Service restaurants at Walt Disney World will be a little trickier. You can make Advanced Dining Reservations 180 days in advance for these, and lots of families do just that. Many restaurants cannot accommodate walk-ups because of that, but as long as you understand that it’s not likely you’ll be seated at popular spots like Cinderella’s Royal Table, O’hana, or Le Cellier, you’ll be fine. If you want to participate in character dining, you should really consider booking an ADR.
The key to getting into a Table Service restaurant without a reservation is flexibility. If you get turned away at your restaurant of choice, move on to the next one. You’ll get in somewhere eventually! In many cases, walk-ups will be asked to take a seat and wait just like at a regular restaurant – you may wait 10 minutes or over an hour, and the Cast Member at the podium should be able to give you an estimate.
Another option: you can always pop in the day of and ask if there are any reservations available within the next few hours. You’ll get a time to return if you’re lucky, and then you can proceed to enjoy yourself around the park and return at your designated time. Think of it like a FASTPASS if the word “reservation” scares you off!
Some of the best Table Service spots that you should try for a walk-in seating include: Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian resort, Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, Biergarten, Rose and Crown Pub or Restaurant Marrakesh at Epcot, and if you’re really lucky you just might get in at Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom. Try arriving at the very beginning or end of the service time (if lunch runs from 11am-3pm, try arriving at 10:45am or 2:30pm) to increase your chances of being seated.
Downtown Disney also has lots of table service options and getting a seat without a reservation may be easier there (there are certainly lots of places to pick from if you do get turned away). But keep in mind that not all of the Downtown Disney restaurants participate in the Dining Plan, so check the informational pamphlet you’ll receive at check in to be sure!
Dad’s Bottom Line
Shendl, there’s no shortage of delicious food at Walt Disney World, so don’t worry, you won’t go hungry. Be prepared to be flexible and patient and you’re in for some good eats!