Skip the Sit-Down dining options at Disney Parks, save money

Going to Disney World or any theme park can be exciting and exhausting and inevitably you are going to miss out doing something you want. Eating shouldn't be a regret.
Inside the Mayan inspired building is the Three Caballeros ride. Photo by Brian Miller
Inside the Mayan inspired building is the Three Caballeros ride. Photo by Brian Miller /

Attractions, rides, shows, Disney characters, and of course, food await every guest that comes into a Disney World park or any Disney park. Food is the staple of every park and if you think about it, there are more places to eat than attractions to ride.

In World Showcase at EPCOT, each country has at least one sit down restaurant and in some cases, two. Each Disney park has its own places to dine and most can be upscale or at least expensive.

Over my years of visiting the Disney World theme parks, I no longer bother with the sit down dining options that any park offers and frankly, I don't miss it. You probably shouldn't either because you could spend your money somewhere else but don't think if you skip it you are missing anything.

There are plenty of Disney related websites around that will tease you with "The 5 restaurants you can't miss when visiting Disney" but they are all lies. You can miss them. It'

If you are a "foodie" do you think you are going to find something here that is going to absolutely blow your mind? Probably not, you will find that the sit-down dining options are a couple of steps ahead of the quick bites and kiosks.

I have eaten at Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom. It was good but it wasn't worth the $52.00 per person family style dining. I mean, the food was good and was well seasoned but it was still just food. Over at EPCOT I have eaten at the Mexico Pavilion and in the France Pavilion, they were, good. They did not blow my mind.

Over the last five years, I have skipped the sit-down dining options entirely and when my family wants to eat, we grab a bite, grab a bench under a tree somewhere and enjoy the time together. What we don't do is break the bank on something that we will only remember as being good, bad, or just o.k.

I like to eat and my 54-year-old figure shows it but in 20 years of going to Disney I have never said, "Wow, I wish I would have eaten at..."

Many guests I have spoken to over the years have told me about their experiences with character dining and how it was so much fun during the meal but then simply became an expensive dinner experience more centered on the characters than the actual food.

Others have told me they had dined at some of the specialty restaurants only to say later they could have saved a bunch of money and just bought a hamburger. Honestly, I have to agree.

I'm often asked about dining options at Disney World parks when friends are heading down to visit. I tell them that it always will come down to personal taste. I tell them that if eating is a priority and the quality of the food is a priority then spend the money and eat at a nice restaurant. Most of the time, they return with an experience that they enjoyed but could have done without.

The next time you are wondering if a higher-end dining option is right for you, ask yourself why it matters before you make the decision.