Several Questions

My family and I, 3 adults 2 children are planning on going to Disney world November 26th-December 3rd. We  have our 7 day park hopper tickets and we also got the free dining plan. We are staying at he Caribbean beach resort for our stay. My questions are:

  1. How can I make the most out of my park hopper tickets
  2. On the first day of arrival I want to just kind of take it easy maybe hang by the pool, go to Disney Springs, and catch some fire works at one of the parks. Does that sound like a good idea?
  3. I don’t even know where to begin for dining reservations lol. What do you all recommend?
  4. How do I make the most out of my free dining plan?

We usually arrive about 6ish and like to check in and maybe have reservations for a nice meal. I haven’t eaten at your resort restaurant but I think Epcot is fairly near? Maybe here for dinner and fireworks? There are lots of eateries here to choose from have a look at the UG book…we tend to go to rose and crown because it reminds us of home :slight_smile: nice to sit on terrace to watch fireworks…


Sounds like you are in for a fun time. Congrats on being one of the few that got the Free Dining deal. I have stayed at CBR a couple times and enjoyed it very much. The kids will love the pool areas for sure, mine did. I will give some answers, but I am sure there will be others that chime in too, so take the bits of what you like from each of us and make it your own.

  1. Be flexible. People use these in different ways. If you are an early riser, you can pick a park that will be low on crowds and rope drop it to get as much done as you can before lunch. Then you could switch to another park for a few rides that maybe you have fastpasses for. Then you can end the night watching the nighttime show in whichever park you wish. It all depends on how much moving around you want to do. Remember though that every time you change parks, you are probably taking an hour out of park time. There are a bunch of ways that people use Park Hopper, thats what makes it valuable in my eyes, you can change plans on the fly and visit the park you want, when you want.
  2. We do the same thing on our trips, Maybe a dinner at a resort hotel could be an option. Unless you arrive real early in the morning, it may be best to rest up and start your next day fresh and ready to go.
  3. So…many…choices. If you are going to do Character meals, I recommend booking those first, they are generally some of the ones that will fill the fastest, especially if there is a certain time you want. You will want to have an idea of which park you will be in on which day before you make reservations. But no worries, you can change your dining reservations as often as you want up until the day before your meal. I am going in the end of October and have already made reservations, and changed some about 10 times.
  4. Again, for me its character meals, they tend to be the most expensive. If you are at any other restaurant, the simple answer is to order the most expensive stuff. But make sure it is something you will eat, or it will be a waste. When it comes to snacks, again, pay attention to price. Don’t waste a snack credit on a piece of fruit or a bottle of water (Good rule overall is to not ever buy water at WDW, bring your own in, or ask for free cup of water at QS), Use your snack credits on more expensive snacks, the big pretzels, smoothies, something like that.
1 Like

Park Hop? Or is that too simplistic? What we like to do is go to a park in the morning, go back to the resort to rest/recover & then Park Hop somewhere for Dinner - usually Epcot just because there’s a great selection of dining there. We will also Park Hop over to the MK often at night as the MK at night is special. You’ll need to target certain nights to dodge the Xmas parties as the MK will close to non-party guests at 7PM those nights. You can also Park Hop to catch fireworks somewhere etc. Last year we park hopped over to HS to see the Osborne Lights one last time.

Sounds like a great start. Depending on your travel to get there etc., a low key start may be wise. Our usual start is to go eat at Le Cellier while waiting for our room to be ready, we may do a ride or 2 at Epcot & then back to the hotel to unpack, chill and maybe swim. Since we usually arrive on Saturday when MK is open late (no parties) we then head over there.

There are lots of good places to eat - much varies on what your tastes are. Basic recommendations - eat often at Epcot as it has a wonderful collection of restaurants and you’ll find something you like there somewhere. Some feedback on food you like could help with suggestions.

To maximize free dining - make sure you schedule out all your TS meals so you’ll use all the credits during your stay. Make reservations at 180 days (which is soon). Character meals are usually high $ buffets and very DIS so I’d schedule a few of those (maybe more if you think you’d like it). QS credits are all the same so the kids can order off the Adult menu.

1 Like

@Damavs as far as food goes we like anything from your all american hot dog to ribs. When it comes to international food we love Chinese and Japanese. We would also like to try new things and have different experiences instead of doing the same ole same ole we do at home.

@AllmadhereUK what is the UG book?

Unofficial guide to Disney :))

Sounds like much of Epcot’s TS restaurants would be ideal fits for you then. Both China & Japan have well regarded restaurants (have done Tappon Eddo in Japan & enjoyed it - heard good things about China, but avoid w/my son due to peanuts) and there’s a lot of unique experiences available there. Germany is a good buffet (several meat options) with a live band in a Biergarten setting although note you often sit with other parties at a big table. Both Italian sit downs are good food. Le Cellier (Canada) is our personal fave (good steaks - but note it’s 2 TS credits so we typically paid out of pocket when on meal plan). Frankly it’s tough to go wrong in World Showcase and even Coral Sea was a good steak/seafood option and Garden Grill is one of our favorite character meals in Future World.

At Hollywood Studios I’d probably suggest Mama Melrose’s - good New York strip and Italian options. Brown Derby is better, but costs 2 TS options - a Fantasmic! Dinner Package is a good option if you plan on seeing the show. Animal Kingdom we like the Tusker House breakfast, although I’ve heard good things all day. Yak & Yeti is well thought of for Asian cuisine and Flame Tree Barbecue gets high marks for Quick Service. Tiffins will also be coming on line soon & it will be worth watching reviews to see if its worth checking out - there may also be show packages available there once the AK night time shows start rolling, but that’s something to monitor. For MK TS, Crystal Palace is a solid buffet with fun characters (Pooh, Tigger, etc.) that’s good DIS experience, but not great food. Be Our Guest is the tough to get restaurant of late although I see many mixed reviews, but probably worth doing once for the atmosphere. BOG is TS for dinner & QS for breakfast/lunch. Skipper Canteen is probably the exotic option, but it’s allegedly going thru a menu change and doesn’t offer ADRs currently - although it’s been easy to land same day reservations allegedly.

Plus there are good options in many of the resorts - although some are tough to get to depending. Any of the MK monorail resorts are relatively easy though as well as the Epcot hotels if any of those appeal. Lots of great choices…

1 Like

Got to say the LeCellier is fab…we also like the coral reef…kids loved the inside aquarium and its quire novel especially a table up close to the glass :grinning:

Oh yes I have been reading that religiously.

Makes doing Disney a whole lot easier :)) best on the market…

I AGREE 100%. :grin:

1 Like

Don’t feel obligated to park hop every day to get your money’s worth. For us, just having the PH is worth it for the added flexibility for unplanned moments.
We just tried Morimoto Asia on our last trip and I vote it as not-to-be-missed. Get the pork buns! We love exotic food so we also tried Skipper Canteen, but were disappointed. I’m glad to hear it’s going through a menu change. We’re meat-eaters, but we found it too meat-heavy! There weren’t a lot of light options when having lunch out of the heat of the day.
If you like exotic food, we’ve also really loved Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge) and Tusker House (Animal Kingdom park), both buffets with a wide variety of African and Asian food. Jiko, a TS at AKL, was also a huge winner. We haven’t tried Sanaa yet, but we hear it’s fabulous.

1 Like

We rarely get Park Hoppers as it isn’t worth it for us (I do remember when PH was free). For “non-full” day parks - we use the extra time to relax and enjoy the pool etc or do other things that take a while such as Hoop Dee Do or something else. However - you can maximize it by taking advantage of EMHs. So if something has an EMH in the morning - go there for the morning and then go to another park later in the day.

Love the fact that you are going to take it easy the first day - that is a good idea

The food in WDW for the most part is ok - but not fantastic. BOG is WAY over rated in MHO. The character meals come down to - do you want to see those characters? Don’t expect fine dining as a rule (although you will be paying premium prices).

There are a few exceptions. Personally I don’t like buffet. JIKU in AKL is awesome - but a pain to get to. Keep in mind that you are doing the meal for the experience in most cases and a good meal is just a bonus (sucks I know - but this is my expectation as of late). France in Epcot however is very good. Chefs de France has always been consistently good - but you have to be a bit adventurous. I had the escargot the last time - and it was perfect. The Patisserie in France is also very good. The court in Living with the Land is nice (and healthy as well). Plaza in MK is simple - but always delivers.

To make the most out of the free dining plan is simple
1 - Order the most expensive item - not to be rash on that. But to have it and then order the chicken or pasta - is a waste
2 - Also use it for Character meals - that is where it really pays off
3 - If it is a 2 credit - pay cash instead and use your credits elsewhere.
4 - Have your sitdown during lunch for 1 credit instead of dinner for 2 credit

1 Like

At work so haven’t been able to read all answers thoroughly so sorry if this repeats, but on first day what time do you arrive and what time do you depart on last day? Not sure I would use a day’s ticket just to see fireworks. How old are children? Is a mid day rest in the plans?

My family of five went to WDW in July 2015 and used the DP. We figured out at the end of our 10 day trip that we liked to use our snack credit to get a yogurt for breakfast. We also had the refillable mugs. For lunch, we ate at our resort and used a QS meal. We got an orange juice for the beverage and filled up our mugs. We put the orange juice in the fridge in the room and used it for breakfast the next morning. So we really ended up eating breakfast as a snack, QS for lunch, and and a nice TS for dinner. I hope this helps.

1 Like

Our flight lands at MCO on the 26th at 11:30. We would probably get to the resort roughly around 1. Our scheduled flight time for the 3rd is 12 pm. So we would have to leave the resort at roughly 9 am.