You want to go to Disney, you need to have a plan!
Dining reservations fill up fast, people are often booking at the first open window for their trip. No one wants to wander from restaurant to restaurant with a hungry family to be told they are full all evening. We have seen it happen countless times. A little preparation will make your trip go as smooth as possible.
We have on several occasions purchased the dining plan. The basic magic your way plus dining plan, not the counter service or the deluxe plan. You still need to pay gratuity but we like the idea of the all inclusive vacation feel. And when I am not looking at prices I order what I truly enjoy, not what is more affordable. I will get the steak instead of the chicken if that is what I want.
To make my dining reservations I locate what my 180 day window is. That tells me what day I am either calling Disney or booking my dining online. I also have a rough idea of what parks I am visiting on what day. IF you have the park hopper ticket option this is less of a big deal. But on shorter trips with no park hopper I need to make sure my reservation is for the park I plan to visit. If I am dining at a hotel it does not matter, if I choose Chef Mickey I can go on any park day since its at the Contemporary hotel.
I often will give my family a couple of menu options so they can help plan our dining. For Hollywood Studios I will give my husband and daughter a look at the menus for 50’s Prime Time and Sci-Fi. They chose which one appeals to them for either lunch or dinner. If I am paying we often eat lunch table service and dinner quick service. If I am on the dining plan its counter service lunch and table service dinner unless I throw in a character breakfast. (Often lunch is cheaper than dinner when dining out. And quick service menus as the same price for lunch and dinner.) I find AllEars to be a priceless site for planning information. Here is a link to all the menus they have listed: http://allears.net/dining/menu
Once you have your selections made, often I have made a spreadsheet to make it easier, then you either call Disney or book online. Have a credit card ready as dining reservations now require a credit card hold. You can call Disney at 407-939-5277 from 7am – 11pm Eastern time. Or online https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/#/reservations-accepted
Here is an example of my spreadsheet for dining. I also carry this with me in case there is ever a question at restaurant check-in. I have only ever once needed the reservation number but its good to be prepared.
IF you are closer than 180 days to your vacation as soon as possible make your dining reservations. You can change them if you need to as your trip gets closer. But have some place on the books for meals unless you are eating counter service the whole trip.
This was the cinnamon roll at Gaston’s Tavern, so yummy. $3.99.