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  • [Question] dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

    We've finally settled on dates and resort and I'm trying to plan our days in the park on what I feel is pretty short notice since we are already well within the 90 day window to reserve things.
    I'm overwhelmed with all the choices and it is an absolute sea of information to me and I feel a huge sense of pressure. So wanted to ask the Disney experts out there on what is definitely recommended and what I need to book asap.

    I'm OK if we miss Cinderella's table since DD (20 months) will probably not remember anyway, but I would like to do some character dining. Buffets are a great option so that everyone can choose what they want. We will be there 5 days total and while I obviously do not expect to try everything "good" there is, it will certainly be great to make at least some choices to look forward to.

    What would you recommend to book/try? And do we need reservations EVERY day for every meal? Its hard to have rigid schedules around a toddler so I'm concerned about that...

  • #2
    Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

    I would recommend Garden Grill at Epcot. We ate there for the 1st time this last month and we were surprised. The food is served family style and you get to meet, Mickey, Pluto and Chip and Dale!





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    • #3
      Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

      Ohana! It's served "family style". They bring out a few different platters of stuff to try/eat and if you like something they will bring you endless bowls of it. It's not a buffett, but they alwyas had a few different selections and if you have food allergies they chef works with you.

      When we ate there this was how our meal went:

      First: salad and chicken wings (with 3 different sauces to try)

      Then we had noodle and potatoes (fantastic!)

      Then we had vegtables and five different types of meat (served on skewers). The meats were chicken, sausage, steak, turkey and shrimp

      Then we had their fantastic dessert!
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      • #4
        Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

        For character meals....try:

        * Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort. And I suggest breakfast. You meet Goofy at the door, and head in where you will sit, place drink orders and then head to the buffet. GREAT buffet. Minnie, Donald, Mickey and Chip/Dale come around to your table to say hello and snap pictures/sign autographs. They also dance around the restaurant while waving napkins over their heads.

        *Crystal Palace in MK. Here you will find Poof, Eeyore, Tigger and Piglet. This is a buffet. We did breakfast and enjoyed it very much. The food was great, and the characters were a blast. They all came around to the table and then led a conga line around the restaurant for all the kids to join in.

        *Storybook Dining in Epcot. We did breakfast here too (see a pattern?). Here you will walk in, and find a princess in a little alcove. She will pose for pictures with you and later, the pictures will be brought to your table. The photos are included with your dining. Jasmine, Belle, Snow White, Mulan and Aurora come to your table and greet the little ones. This is a mix of a buffet...where you will find fresh fruit, and pastries. And a family style restaurant. They will bring yummy scrambled eggs, bacon, buscuits and potatoes (which my family LOVED) to your table on a big platter, and replinish whatever you want at your request.

        *Ohana's Breakfast at Polynesian Resort. Here you will find Stitch, Lilo, Mickey and a few other characters. It's family style, so the food comes to your table on a big platter...and you can request more of whatever you want. The food is great, the characters are fun...and the fresh juice...well, I'm still dreaming about that.


        We are hoping to try the Donald breakfast in AK on our nezt trip, Jerren tells me it's great fun and great food. Can't wait.



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        • #5
          Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

          Also...as soon as you decide on what you want....call the line and reserve a table. We made our Ohana breakfast reservation just two days before our trip....but, I admit..that was just a blessing. Don't expect to be able to do the same. And if you REALLY want to go to Cinderella's Castle. Call a couple times every day. Do this if a meal you want is booked. Call everyday, and you might get lucky. We got reservations for CC the day we left for the trip. They had just had someone cancel. If you still haven't gotten what you want..try the day you are going to that park, or the day you wanted to dine there. Someone may have cancelled that morning.



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          • #6
            Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

            Originally posted by tayakaleb View Post
            I would recommend Garden Grill at Epcot. We ate there for the 1st time this last month and we were surprised. The food is served family style and you get to meet, Mickey, Pluto and Chip and Dale!
            Plus it moves! Around and around spinning... at a very slow speed though. At certain points you can hear and see part of the "Living With the Land" attraction, still one of my favorite rides/attractions at Epcot.

            Loved the food at the Garden Grill.

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            • #7
              Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

              The last I heard about Garden Grill was that it was only serving dinner. I think they stopped serving lunch right after our last visit in Oct 08.



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              • #8
                Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

                The only other suggestion I have is the Playhouse Disney lunch at Hollywood and Vine in DHS if you have a toddler. We took our daughters there last summer when my youngest was 3. She had a ball and the characters(Leo, June, JoJo and Goliath at the time) were very interactive with the kids. It is a buffet and I was pleasantly surprised at the adult offerings.
                Originally posted by larasound
                am I the burrito man?

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                • #9
                  Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

                  Originally posted by janmom View Post
                  Its hard to have rigid schedules around a toddler so I'm concerned about that...
                  We tended to be conservative about our reservation times, meaning we booked them later than we thought we needed to, and we got there when we got there. In every case they were able to seat us early, usually within 5 minutes. I wouldn't necessarily expect this, especially if there are crowds, but it worked out really well for us.
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                  • #10
                    Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

                    I made our reservations for California Grill 2 weeks ago for when we will be there in April, and they were almost full. If you plan to go to this restaurant, get your reservations as soon as you can.
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                    • #11
                      Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

                      Originally posted by FantasticDuck View Post
                      Ohana! It's served "family style". They bring out a few different platters of stuff to try/eat and if you like something they will bring you endless bowls of it. It's not a buffett, but they alwyas had a few different selections and if you have food allergies they chef works with you.

                      When we ate there this was how our meal went:

                      First: salad and chicken wings (with 3 different sauces to try)

                      Then we had noodle and potatoes (fantastic!)

                      Then we had vegtables and five different types of meat (served on skewers). The meats were chicken, sausage, steak, turkey and shrimp

                      Then we had their fantastic dessert!
                      They have the most amazing shrimp I have ever eaten...

                      Ohana is my personal favorite on-site restaurant!!!

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                      • #12
                        Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

                        These are my favorites - I can't comment on character meals or dining with a toddler, but these are great restaurants:

                        EPCOT:
                        - Le Celler
                        - Rose and Crown
                        - 9 Dragons

                        Hollywood Studios:
                        - Sci Fi Drive-In
                        - Prime Time Diner

                        Animal Kingdom:
                        - Flame Tree (Quick Serve but grab some cheap food and walk down the path all the way to waters edge and sit in one of the covered patios. Lovely)

                        Magic Kingdom:
                        - Liberty Tree

                        Magic Kingdom area hotels:
                        - Polynesian - O'Hana - WONDERFUL!!!
                        - Wilderness Lodge - Whispering Canyon - fun and funny dining
                        - Contemporary - Wave - Great new restaurant
                        - Contemporary - California Grill - Expensive but has beautiful views of the Magic Kingdom, book your reservation just before the fireworks start and you'll be able to see them while you eat.

                        There are lots of great restaurants all over the resort. These just happen to be my favorites.

                        Make ressies as early as possible. But in a pinch you can always call Disney Dining day of and just ask which restaurants have availability. I do that a lot and have discovered all sorts of places that way. Not as safe, but usually works. If you can't get reservations for a restaurant you want, show up very early for lunch or dinner and put your name on the waiting list.
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                        • #13
                          Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

                          Originally posted by janmom View Post
                          We've finally settled on dates and resort and I'm trying to plan our days in the park on what I feel is pretty short notice since we are already well within the 90 day window to reserve things.
                          I'm overwhelmed with all the choices and it is an absolute sea of information to me and I feel a huge sense of pressure. So wanted to ask the Disney experts out there on what is definitely recommended and what I need to book asap.

                          I'm OK if we miss Cinderella's table since DD (20 months) will probably not remember anyway, but I would like to do some character dining. Buffets are a great option so that everyone can choose what they want. We will be there 5 days total and while I obviously do not expect to try everything "good" there is, it will certainly be great to make at least some choices to look forward to.

                          What would you recommend to book/try? And do we need reservations EVERY day for every meal? Its hard to have rigid schedules around a toddler so I'm concerned about that...
                          I recommend at most one time-scheduled meal per day.
                          How many in your party? More generally means harder to get reservations, or it might mean unusual times. But, at least everyone will know in advance when to be hungry.

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                          • #14
                            Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

                            Originally posted by Stitchy View Post
                            The last I heard about Garden Grill was that it was only serving dinner. I think they stopped serving lunch right after our last visit in Oct 08.
                            You are correct, they only serve dinner now and they also removed the characters from Liberty Tree Tavern at the same time last fall.

                            I would strongly recommend making all of your Dining reservations in advance, especially if you are on the Disney Dining Plan. If you don't you run the risk of not using all your meals or having to use a table service meal at a counter service restaurant. (yes you can do this if your out of counter service coupons but it's a waste of money) Not using all your features when on any dining plan is probably the worse thing you can do from a money saving perspective.
                            Hi I'm Jerren and I'm a Disneyholic...

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                            • #15
                              Re: dining - which reservations should I ABSOLUTELY make in advance?

                              I just tried calling Le Celler.. they are booked solid for early April already.
                              Growing older is manditory
                              Growing up is however, optional

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