1st time to Disney

Hi. We are first time visitors to WDW and along with my husband we have two daughters aged 8 and 9. WE are staying on site and have the dining package but have no idea where to start with restaurant bookings. Ideally looking for suggestions for the best experiences, dining places to book. Whilst my children aren’t super little we would like to see some of the classic characters.

So planning for WDW can be daunting - but it is doable - and DON’t let the planing squeeze the magic out!!!

So with the dining plan - I find that the only time it is really valuable is when you do the Character meals. So I would be heavy on the Character Meals if I were you. To be sure - you are going to the meals to meet the characters and not the meal itself. So what characters do your kids want to see and then go to those experiences. And that will just come down to who you want to see and where they are located.

I would plan the PARK / MEAL together. Keep in mind that Contemporary / Grand Floridian / Wilderness Lodge and Poly are near the MK. So if you are eating at any of these places - it should probably be when you have a Magic Kingdom day.

So CHEF MICKEY (Contemporary), WINNIE THE POOH (Magic Kingdom), Cinderella (Magic Kingdom), Princesses (Norway in Epcot), Mary Poppins (Grand Floridian).

While in Epcot - just try the country that you want. We LOVE Chefs de France. It is a nice respite from the day. As a aside - Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie is also WONDERFUL. It is a counter service - but just fantastic. The macaroons are fantastic. Also the LAND has a wonderful / healthy food court.

Mama Melrose in Hollywood Studios is also very nice as well.

I do like PLAZA in Magic Kingdom - no characters but just a good solid lunch / dinner in a wonderful spot.

Look at the restaurants at the resorts - they are a step up from the park places - however they can be difficult to get to if you don’t have a car - so keep that in mind (with the exception of Contemporary / Poly / Grand Floridian and the ones around Epcot Yacht / Beach / Boardwalk)

Animal Kingdom Lodge has some wonderful places - but it can be a pain to get to

There are so many good options, it is overwhelming to many of us to pick. I agree with other advice, and I definitely plan my meals around my park plan. I would also consider Garden Grill as a good character experience in Epcot. If you get pre rope drop breakfast, that can also help you ride Soarin without a FP. Same for a pre-rope drop breakfast at BOG (although no characters there). I have heard Tusker House at AK is great – we are trying for the first time on our next trip. Classic characters there.

With that age, if they like animals at all, I would consider a meal at Sanaa at AK lodge. It is one of my kids very fav restaurants on property. Go before sunset or you will miss the animals.

Via Napoli is a fav for many here, with good pizza so a relatively reasonable dinner option at Epcot.

We have always enjoyed the Plaza too, but they don’t take reservations anymore.

Where are you staying? Happy to try to help with more ideas based on where you will be and what you like to eat.

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And Trattoria Al Forno (Boardwalk) has a new character breakfast opening soon that you might enjoy. We really liked the breakfast there before the change. I don’t think its available to book yet.

Welcome to the forum! Can you give us some details: how many days, what resort are you staying in and are you going to every park? Oh! When is your trip (some of our suggestions may be very hard to get if you do not book them 180 in advance).

It took me multiple trips before I felt like I could leave a park and eat at a resort I had never been to- is that something you want to do?

For in park suggestions with characters you could try Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom (Pooh and friends), Hollywood and Vine at Hollywood Studios (Mickey and Minnie and friends for lunch/dinner-Disney Junior for breakfast), Tusker House for Mickey and Friends in Animal Kingdom, or Garden Grill (Mickey and friends) or Akershus (Princesses) in Epcot. Cinderella’s Royal Table is two credits at the magic kingdom.

We will be in Poly for 7 nights and will do all parks. Our trip is in October so will be well within the 180 days time frame. The likelihood will be that we will eat within parks rather than other hotels but if there is a good experience , character meet at some of the hotels then willing to go…
Super overwhelming…
Some help with fireworks /eating establishments to get good views would also be welcome

Thank you


as you are on the monorail look - I would highly recommend taking advantage of dining in Poly, Contemporary and Grand Floridian. As you are by the MK that would be very convenient. If you go back to the hotel for a dip or just to relax - plan you dinner on your way back to the park.


You may enjoy an early 'Ohana breakfast (Mickey and Stitch) one morning. You could also walk of take the monorail to the Grand Floridian (1900 park fare maybe fun?). The new fireworks show may be best viewed in the park but until it starts there is no way to really tell. You can watch the fireworks from the beach at the Poly. A two credit dinner at the California Grill is a special experience. You may want to consider a Tusker House Rivers of Light dining package or a Fantasmic Dining package at Hollywood Studio (unless you decide the Star Wars fireworks are your priority).

Your first step should be to figure out which parks you would like to go to on which days. That will really dictate your ADR schedule. If you know that, we can definitely be of more help!

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Also have a look in the UG book or website for a low down on all the restaurants, so you can narrow down which appeal the most. Then when you have what days you will be where, you can start slotting in restaurants.
Some restaurants are better at different times of the day, so once you have an idea on where you want to go, ask on here for reviews etc.
@bswan26 has the heads up on restaurants and some of ,the trip reports have excellent reviews.
Good luck, it’s not as bad as you think!

My guru is Josh at easywdw,com I never leave home without him!
His touring plans (he calls them cheat sheets) are simply the best. Be warned he thinks this (TP) is
a nit of a con and is not complimentary about it. I use both as the TP plans can sometimes send you a bum steer.
i.e. You’ll see it puts the kiddie attractions at 11pm if you’re not careful. TP does have it’s place though. Live times are great and the FP+ availability is worth it alone.

ADRs need advance planning for some so if you’re less than 180 days out be prepared to be flexible or disappointed.
For example; Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table will likely be gone at 180 days. Plenty of other great places though.

Make the planning fun and do not be tempted to skip it! It is essential to have a great experience.

I would second Garden Grill, my kids 12 & 9 loved it and the food was very good.
If you want a Be Our Guest res, just keep trying. We got a lunch one a couple weeks before we left. (But honestly, one of the lesser meals of the trip)
Epcot has a lot of good uses for snack credits.

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It is my first time, as well. The first day, we aren’t doing any parks. I am thinking dining at Downtown Disney for lunch and maybe a resort for dinner. The next day, we are doing MK, so I am thinking breakfast and lunch there and dinner at our resort. The next day will be EP and I am thinking lunch and dinner there. Are there any suggestions for my plans? I do want to go to the AKL to dine even though I will be staying somewhere else. I see the previous suggestion for Sanaa. My kids may like that very much.

Please suggest restaurants in MK and EP.


I think many of the opinions above would be good choices for you at MK and Epcot. At Disney Springs, depends on whether you want table service or quick service. I’ve heard very good things about Blaze Pizza, Morimotos and Homecoming, and the burger place whose name I cannot recall right now.

The burger place at Disney Spring is Deluxe Burger. I like Ragaln Road at Disney Spring.

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Thanks. I have been YouTubing vlogs about Disney Dining. I’m at 185 days out, so I need to narrow it down soon.

I second raglan road, good food and fun music.