Food may not be the top thing that comes to mind when planning a theme park vacation, but at Disney, food really is an attraction all it’s own! From the finest of fine dining to the perfect snack on a hot day, there are so many wonderful choices.
But as you start to plan your dining experiences, you may notice that Disney has a few unique terms it uses to describe its dining experiences. Here’s a rundown so you can understand what each experience offers:
Table service vs. Quick Service… also seen as Counter Service
The two largest categories you’ll see at Disney are table and counter service restaurants. All parks have several of both, and most resorts have at least one of each (the exception being Value resorts, which only have counter service dining). Table service venues are what you generally think of when you imagine a restaurant. You are seated and a waiter comes to take your order and brings your meal. This makes for a nice, leisurely meal and often features some really fantastic dining options. Several of Disney’s table service restaurants are dubbed “Signature” and feature fine dining. These come with a higher price tag, but offer impeccable food and service. It’s definitely worth securing a reservation for one of these locations if you are celebrating something special, or just want an extra treat during your trip.
At a Quick Service… also seen as Counter Service restaurant, you go up to the counter and order, and are given a number or just wait there for your food to be ready before finding a place to sit down. Many counter service locations are also utilizing mobile ordering, which allows you to place an order earlier in the day, choose what time you want to pick it up, and then alert the restaurant when you arrive so they can make your order. While much more casual than table service dining, these locations still have a ton to offer! Many feature creative cuisine and are a great option for when you don’t have quite as much time to spend eating.
Some of Disney’s table service restaurants fall into the special category of “character dining”. This is a great option for folks who want to meet characters, but don’t want to wait in huge lines! Instead, you head in for your delectable meal, and characters come to visit you at your table. This can lead to some hilarious and magical times, especially if you have children in your party. Your little princess can hug all of her favorite princesses, or kids of any age can have a moment with Mickey and friends. Each meal features a different character line up, so if you are looking for someone special, let us know! We’re happy to help you find the perfect meal for your group.
If meeting characters isn’t your thing, but you are still looking for a unique dining experience, themed dining may be for you. These restaurants have an extra bit of Disney Imagineering that transport you to a different experience. You can go back in time to the 50s with a waiter who reminds you to eat all your vegetables and keep your elbows off the table at the 50s Prime Time Café. Get your fill of corny jokes and imagine you are an explorer at the Jungle Navigation Company Skipper Canteen. Or take an elevator into outer space at Space 220. All themed restaurants offer great food and a cool experience! The newest themed dining experience is Roundup Rodeo BBQ in Hollywood Studios where you magically shrink to the size of a toy.
This is just Disney’s fancy way of saying “all you can eat”. These meals tend to fall into two categories — buffet or family style. Buffets allow guests to take as many trips as they like and sample a wide variety of foods. At a family style restaurant, the menu is more limited, and all dishes are brought to you at the table. You can then order more or whichever items you would like. Often times, these dining experiences also include characters!
Snack stands and carts
Of course there are plenty of delicious bites to keep you going outside of meal times! Disney has many counter service locations that serve snacks and beverages, including pop up carts during festivals. These can feature classics like Mickey pretzels and ice cream bars, exciting adult beverages, or out-of-this-world creations at locations in Avatar’s Pandora or Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Coming back in 2024 is the Disney Dining Plan when you book a Disney World Vacation Package. There are two different plans to choose from. Let us help you pick the right one for your style of dining. There’s something for everyone!