If you've already had the pleasure of visiting Walt Disney World, you know that a big part of the Disney experience includes its wonderful dining options. If you are still in the planning phase of your vacation, I hope you find this article useful.
If you have decided to stay on Walt Disney World property, a good dining option may be to include the Disney Dining Plan on your reservation. There are a few to choose from depending on how much you think you will eat, which types of restaurants you prefer to dine in (fast food or sit-down), and whether or not you'd like alcohol included in your plan. While getting a dining plan will help ensure that you get the most of what Disney dining has to offer, you can choose to eat off property and venture back into the Parks for a few meals and still be able understand how great eating in Disney World is.
I could go on and on about the restaurants in Walt Disney World that my family enjoy, and last week's entry pointed out our absolute favorite. However, this week, I want to talk about venturing out of your comfort zone to enjoy a few meals while vacationing with the Mouse. I know from speaking with friends with young children who have gone to Disney that they want to eat somewhere fast (read last week's post on the benefits of buffets!), and close, so as to minimize the need for inconvenient transportation to and from the restaurant. Well, besides eating at the restaurant(s) at your resort (and a lot of people do actually eat at their resort's restaurant each night!), the next most convenient option would be to eat at a restaurant in one of the Disney Parks or Downtown Disney.
The Disney Parks have many great dining options: Crystal Palace, Tony's Town Square, 50's Prime Time Cafe, Brown Derby, and Tusker House, to name just a few. There is also the abundance of wonderful restaurants in Epcot's World Showcase that can't be missed! However, what about the more "inconvenient" options? Namely, the restaurants found at other Disney World resorts. Why am I referring to these restaurants as inconvenient? The reason lies in the fact that if you are relying on Disney transportation, there is no direct way to get to another resort from your resort. You must go to a Disney Park first, then catch a bus or boat to your resort of choice. The exception to this is, of course, the monorail resorts. If you are staying at a monorail resort and looking to dine at another monorail resort, the transportation would be direct.
So, at this point you may be thinking that it is a lot of work to lug strollers, back-packs, and children on such a long journey to dinner, especially when you have perfectly delicious dining choices available to you at your own resort. Well, you're right. It may take some time to arrive at your final destination, especially if you are travelling by bus. However, if you stop to change the way you are thinking about this trek, you may see the advantages, as well. In keeping with the Fairytale Family Column's main theme of changing the way you think about vacationing when bringing along young children, this aspect is really no different. I would like to offer up an example from my most recent trip in May 2011. We are owners at Disney's Animal Kingdom Villas and we had reservations at Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney's Wildnerness Lodge. This wasn't going to be a short trip. Think the distance between Animal Kingdom Park and Magic Kingdom Park. However, we decided to have some fun with the trip over. We took a bus to Magic Kingdom and then caught a boat from Magic Kingdom to Wilderness Lodge. No regrets whatsoever! My two and a half year old was so excited at the prospect of taking a boat, and the boat ride itself did not disappoint. She loved it so much, for the rest of the trip she kept asking when we could go on the boat again. In fact, she still talks about that boat ride 3 months later. My husband and I really enjoyed our first Disney boat ride, too. It was a serene and picturesque way to travel to dinner.
In sum, I hope this article encourages you to change the way you think about Disney transportation and try something new. Instead of counting the minutes of travel time, incorporate them into your overall Disney dining experience and enjoy each moment with your family. Bon appetit!