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Restaurant Hacks for Kids That Make Eating Out Easier

Eating out with kids can be an ordeal. You just want an enjoyable meal but often feel rushed and busy cutting food, entertaining the kids and wiping up messy faces (all while trying to eat a hot meal yourself!) What if you have a picky eater and have to pack food that they’ll actually eat? Then there’s the potential for mess. A BIG mess. Is it better just to eat at home? I like to eat out, especially when traveling, but sometimes I dread it with all the kids! Here are my travel dining hacks for kids, including products that can make eating out with kids easier!

I received free product for several of the items mentioned in this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I include affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

How to Take Young Kids to a Restaurant – Travel Dining Hacks for Kids

To be fully honest, when we’re at home we don’t really eat out in restaurants very often. Restaurant dining with kids is reserved for times when we’re traveling and far from our kitchen. Being able to enjoy a special meal out is something we don’t do often, but absoutely plan for when we travel. Since we have a toddler, kindergartener and two teens, I have a bag of tricks to keep them entertained and happy until the food arrives! (Hint: This doesn’t have to include electronic devices, keep reading!) I’ve included my travel dining hacks for kids with lots of tips on eating out as well as the must have travel items for babies, big kids and toddlers when restaurant dining is in your plans.

Choosing the Best Restaurants for Kids

Sure, you can take your kid to just about any restaurant you want, but do you really want to? I know I don’t want to eat in a fancy place with my noisy toddler and feel like I’m needing to shush her every 2 seconds when she uses her “outside” voice indoors! Personally when I’m eating in a restaurant with my kids I choose a place that might be just a bit more noisy and more on the casual side.

Before you step inside, check out the ambiance and weigh whether you think it’s a good place for your kiddos. Second, peek at the menu. If there’s something there that your kids will eat, then proceed! If you have a picky eater in the family, see my post with practical dining tips for at home or on the road.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

What to Order Kids in a Restaurant?

When we go out to eat (which isn’t very often), we usually encourage the kids to order something they don’t usually eat at home. Why get buttered spaghetti noodles when you can order steak and baked potato with all the fixings?!

My middle son always orders chicken nuggets and fries because we simply don’t feed him that at home. For him, that’s his special restaurant meal. I’m not going to spend dinner out arguing with him to try something new, especially if I may get push back. Restaurant dining isn’t the time to pressure your kids. And if nuggets and fries is something he’ll eat (and usually finish!) then that’s what I let him order!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Give ’em what they want! If ordering nuggets & fries will get them to eat, then so be it!

1. Table Covers Keep Food From Touching Dirty Tables

If you’ve been eating out with kids before, you know that the food doesn’t always stay on the plate. In fact, if given a plate of food my two-year old will immediately dump all the contents directly onto the table! Instead of giving your toddler an entire plate to herself, dole out a few pieces here and there to minimize mess. I use disposable table covers so I know her food stays away from germs.

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

The moment right before the pizza hit the table – thank goodness for the disposable table cover!

2. Portable High Chair for Babies and Toddlers

Dirty restaurant highchair? Skip toting around the bulky cover and consider the Totseat Chair Harness. Quickly convert a regular chair into a secure seat for babies on the go.

3. Drink Up! Kid’s Travel Cups That Are Easy to Clean

My baby daughter used to make the biggest mess when she tried to drink out of a cup. She never grasped how to drink out of a bottle and drinking from a sippy cup had been equally challenging. Fortunately she learned how to drink out of a straw very early on. But that still didn’t minimize the mess (she tended to let whatever she doesn’t swallow dribble down her chin!)

When we went on vacation, I brought along a set of Silikids Siliskin Silicone Sippy Tops. These silicone tops stretch over your own cup, turning it into a child-friendly sipper. While in the hotel room, I was able to convert a small drinking glass into a sippy cup for milk. And when taking her in the stroller, I placed a Siliskin Sippy Top onto a plastic cup filled with water.

The Siliskin Sippy Top has tiny holes that do not leak out liquid. The child has to gently bite on the top and suck to drink. This made it much less of a mess because my daughter only took in what she was swallowing. I really liked having these on-the-go to convert any cup into a sipper. They are dishwasher and microwave safe, though I just washed by hand in the hotel bathroom sink.

I also have the Silikids Siliskin Silicone Straw Cup. I’ve always been hesitant to purchase sippy cups with straws because of the cleaning aspect (tiny parts are challenging to get totally clean, even in the dishwasher).

This cup is only three simple parts and all can be boiled in water to sanitize. The straw is really quite big for my toddler daughter to use but my preschooler drinks from it perfectly (and I don’t have to worry about spills in the car).

4. Entertaining Ideas for Baby

I’ve taken my baby on a few trips by myself, including traveling alone to Walt Disney World. If you don’t have extra hands, make sure to pack a few things that will make your dining experience more enjoyable. A few toys for entertaining baby and a clever strap that keeps the bottle or sippy cup from falling to the floor.

If your baby is in the loud screaming-at-the-top-of-their-lungs phase request a seat on the patio where the extra noise may be better absorbed. If Disney is your destination, check out this post with additional tips for dining with a baby.

5. Keep ‘Em Clean with Disposable Bibs

Other than taking extra clothes with you (always a good idea anyway, I guess), a bib is the best way to keep clothes clean when eating out with kids. A disposable bib is even better! Pop it on, fold in the bottom to catch any food that falls and then toss it when done with the meal. So much better than toting around crusty clothes!

If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

Disposable bibs are a must in my travel bag!

6. Best Travel Snack Ideas for Kids

Despite your best efforts for choosing kid-friendly restaurants, some kids just won’t eat. Consider packing in a few of their favorite snacks that you know they’ll eat. I like the b. box Snack Pack. There are two separate compartments. And it comes with a child-sized utensil that snaps in to the lid!

In between meals or while on the road, try the Munchkin Snack Catcher. I use it in the car with my toddler and big kids! You can fill it up with an age-appropriate snack (fishy crackers for little ones, trail mix for older kids). This really helps to minimize spills and mess in the car when they drop it (because you know they will!)If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families!

7. Kid’s Restaurant Busy Bag (Aka: The Device-Free Dinner)

We went to a restaurant a few years ago and before my kids were even in their seats they were each handed an electronic tablet to play games. We weren’t even asked by the waitress if it was okay. Our kids don’t use devices at home so naturally it was a special occasion. Was the wait for the meal really quiet? Yep. They had their noses pressed against the screens the entire time, silently playing their individual games.

There are times that having the devices come in handy during travel (like on a boring road trip). But for me personally, I’m not a fan of having electronics at the dinner table. We let our kids play with them at this particular restaurant for about ten minutes before removing them and asking the waitress to take them away. My husband and I enjoy chatting with our kids together and while it was certainly quiet, it didn’t connect us as a family to have the kids playing games alone. However do what you have to do – if the kids are bickering and all you want is 10 quiet minutes, then maybe letting the kids use a device is what you need to do.

Waiting for food to arrive can make young diners impatient. Some restaurants will offer paper and crayons but not all. Consider having a restaurant “busy bag” to occupy kids. The contents inside the bag can be items that the entire family would enjoy. Supply a grab-bag of goodies to keep kids entertained while you wait. Here are a few mess-free ideas for different age ranges, from babies to big kids! Grown ups, set your phones down and pick up one of these family favorites.


If your vacation plans include eating out in restaurants, these are the must-know travel dining hacks with kids! Tips include the best products to pack and lots of helpful (device-free!) tips for families! #Restaurant #TravelWithKids #FamilyTravel #EatingOut #Dining

MORE Ways to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks

If you know me via this blog, you know that one of the BIG ways my family saves money at Disney Parks is at meal time. I’ve written about saving money on food at Disney on my popular post, 7 Tips to Save Money on Food at Disney Parks. I’m back with MORE frugal Disney tips! Check out these ways to save money on food at Disney parks.

Save Money on Food at Disney

Contrary to what you’ve heard, Disney vacations don’t have to be expensive. You can do a cheap Disney vacation and these ways to save money on food at Disney will help that vacation budget a lot! Using these tips (and the other advice I share in the links) you can do Disney on a budget.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase through my link helps me in a small financial way, thank you!


1. Customize Your Order

Even if the menu only shows “meal deals” that include a main dish, side dish and a beverage, you can (in most cases) request only the main dish at a reduced cost. So if you only want the burger but the deal comes with fries and a soda, request only the burger and ask about the cost (it should be lower!)

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

2. Be Choosy at Disney Special Events

Special dishes can be found in the kiosks at Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Festival of the Arts and Flower & Garden Festival and Disney California Adventure Parks Festival of Holidays. These plates of food are of high-quality and can’t be found outside of the event but for for that, you’ll pay a premium price!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

At the kiosks for these events you’ll be able to order fancy appetizers, small servings of a top-notch dish and alcoholic sips. And each one of these mini-delights could be almost the same cost as a full-sized quick service meal!  If you’re wanting to indulge in a few of these kiosk treats, stick to a set amount and choose wisely or else your meal budget could be eaten up very quickly. Many of these special Disney events offer a mini gift card on a wristband. Load the card with a set amount and it will help you stick to your meal budget.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Very expensive little dishes bought in Italy at the Flower & Garden Festival


CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE YOUR FREE DISNEY VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


3 & 4. Two Tips About Saving Money on Disney Kids Meals

Kids meal sizes and prices are smaller than full-sized meals. And that can be a both a positive and a negative, depending upon your needs!

When I last went to Walt Disney World, I arrived to my hotel late. I was hungry but didn’t want to eat an enormous meal. I opted to order a kids meal burger that came with a smaller amount of fries and chocolate milk. It was the perfect size meal for me and came at a much smaller cost than the full-sized adult meal ($6.50 versus $14). I was traveling solo, so ordering this made sense (both portion and price wise). Yes, an adult can order a kids meal!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

A kids meal burger ordered by an adult to save on cost and portion

However on the flip side of this, when it comes to ordering meals for my kids I very rarely order them kids meals. I have two kids who are almost the same age so we’ve always purchased them one full-size meal to split between them. Now that we have more kids, we tend to just order several plates of food and then share between us. This offers us a good portion for each person and a greater variety of food as well, as the menu for kids is often limited.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

A full sized burger meal to be shared (avocado on the side!)


Looking for Discounted Disneyland Dining?

My partner Get Away Today offers discounted Character Dining vouchers for Chip ‘n Dale’s Critter Breakfast, Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn, Surf’s Up Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the PCH Grill and Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast or dinner inside the Disneyland Hotel. Click under TICKETS for the DISNEYLAND RESORT. Enter the date of your trip, then click DINING on the left side to purchase discount dining vouchers!


5. Save Money on Disney Desserts

If you’re dining at a full-service restaurant, skip ordering dessert off the menu. The dessert prices are going to be considerably higher in the sit-down restaurants. Consider picking up dessert at a walk-up location that only serves sweets. There you’ll have a wider variety to choose from. Also the portions are often more generous as well, so you can share between two or more (but only if you want to share!)

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

These Lemon Meringue and The Master’s Cupcakes served inside Be Our Guest Restaurant are an astonishing $5.00 each! I can’t believe I spent $10 on these two (quite small) cupcakes! Especially when you can head over to the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and get two huge chocolate chip cookies with generous scoops of ice cream for only a little over $5.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

6. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner…in That Order

If you’d like to eat one meal full-service but are still trying to be budget conscious, consider sit-down dining for breakfast.When dining full-service, the prices of the dishes will increase at lunch and raise even higher for dinner (in particular when taking about buffets or character dining).


7. Beware the Disney Souvenir Cup, Straw or Ice Cube

Just about every dining location offers some sort of upgrade to your beverage in the form of souvenir cups, twisty straws shaped like Mickey’s silhouette or flashy glowing colored ice cubes. Naturally these add-on’s come at a steep price! Disney seems to hit pretty hard on the kids menu in this category.

While a standard pineapple Dole Whip in a cup is priced at just over $4.00, the same soft serve in a souvenir tiki sipper will cost you over $10. I bought the sipper in this case for my brother, who collects tiki items. Make sure you work these add-on items into your souvenir budget!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

8. Leave the Park

No reason to feel trapped with your park-only choices! You can leave the parks and head over a Disney Resort hotel for dozens of more options. Rather than eat inside Magic Kingdom, I hopped the Monorail and had dinner at Capt. Cooks in the Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. The Pulled Pork Nachos plate was huge and just over $9. I couldn’t eat it by myself it was a very generous portion. There is also a Dole Whip location here, so that was a plus!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips.

Downtown Disney District at Disneyland and Disney Springs at Walt Disney World also have loads of dining options with budgets that fit everyone. There’s an Earl of Sandwich at each location and you can pick up a sandwich for a great price (they have delicious breakfast sandwiches as well).

At Disneyland, it’s also pretty easy to walk outside the Park to grab a meal. Restaurants like McDonald’s, Denny’s, Mimi’s and Pizza Press are located outside the gate within a ten minute walk.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney!


9. Eat with Discounted Gift Cards

Purchase Disney gift cards at Target to use when purchasing your meals. When you use your Target Red Card to purchase the cards, you’ll receive 5% off! That may seem like small savings but if you’re eating a lot of meals in the parks and paying for them solely with these Disney gift cards, you’ll be saving good money! Sounds pretty sweet to me!

Image Credit: Target


More Ways to Save at Disney!

Disney vacations don’t have to be over-the-top expensive. There are lots of ways to have a cheap Disneyland vacation or a frugal Disney World trip! I have several other posts that outline how to eat cheap at Disney parks and other ways to save money at Disney during your trip.

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these frugal dining tips.


Save Money on Tickets at Disney!

Purchase discount Disneyland tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).


For more ways to save money at Disney,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Saving Money at Disney Loop:

How do you save money on food at Disney? Share your tips with me in the comments!

Dozens of ways how to save money on food at Disney! Save money on dining at Disneyland and Walt Disney World with these dining tips. #Disneyland #DisneyWorld #SavingMoney #BudgetVacation


What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

On top of lodging and Park tickets, food can be a very big cost factor when planning a Disney vacation. Everyone has to eat and when you’re away from home you need to eat what’s available. Yes, you can pack snacks in to the Parks. but when it comes to long-term sustenance, nothing beats a good hearty meal. Fortunately Disneyland has plenty of options that will fill you up! And if you share, these choices can also be very economical. What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? Read on for the Disneyland food tips – hope you’re hungry!

Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!

Famous Lobster Nachos. Big enough to share (but so delicious we should have ordered TWO!)

Why Should You Share?

Disneyland meal platters are often very large and might be difficult to finish on your own. Unlikely that you’ll want to walk around the Park with a “to-go” box of your leftovers either.

Kids meals are cute (Mickey shaped plates!) but for the price, you don’t always get the largest portions. And often the offerings for kids are nuggets and fries, which you can get anywhere. Why not try something new?

Not only is sharing a more budget-friendly idea, it’s also great to try more than one dish. As a family of six, we often purchase two platters and a side (like a salad or appetizer) to share between us when we’re at Disneyland. This way we can all try a little bit of everything and it’s more cost-effective.

If you plan to split a meal at Disneyland because you’d like to eat healthier, check out this post with ideas on How to Eat Healthfully at Disneyland (and Still Treat Yourself!).

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

In the mood for Mexican? Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill has traditional-style platters big enough for sharing.

Go for the Big Platter

A big platter shared between two or more is usually your best bet when it comes to Disneyland food prices and large portion-sizes. If there are more than two in your group, you might want to order more than one platter or an additional side dish to share between you.

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

Photo Credit: Jeff Holz

  • The Carnation Cafe serves big breakfasts like Country-Fried Steak and Eggs and a Ham and Cheese Omelet that are perfect for two to share in the morning.
  • Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill is a family favorite for us, with heaping portions of grilled meats, tortillas, tamales, rice and beans.
  • You can also opt in for Mexican at Rancho Del Zocalo Restaurant where you can order enchiladas and tacos.
  • Flo’s V8 Cafe is known for their homey cooking and large platters like BBQ Pork Ribs and Rotisserie Chicken.

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!

  • French Market Restaurant is another family favorite. We love to order the Cajun-Style Meatloaf and French Market Chicken and share it between us all.
  • Choose a few skewer platters from Paradise Garden Grill to split. Each plate also comes with rice pilaf, cucumber salad and pita bread.
  • The River Belle Terrace now serves platters large enough for splitting, including a Sausage Link Combo and Pulled Pork Sandwich.
  • The beautiful and bountiful platters of pasta from Wine Country Trattoria are easy to divide and you could always round out the meal with an Italian Insalata appetizer.
  • Plaza Inn is a perfect dinner spot with their enormous platters of fried chicken, potatoes, buttermilk biscuit and veggies.
What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

This is one third of a portion at Plaza Inn.

Head into Downtown Disney District for more platter-sharing options, like the Signature Barbacoa Nachos or Fajita de Tres at Tortilla Jo’s. Or a large plate of pasta, like the Penne Pomodoro with Italian Sausage at La Brea Bakery Cafe.

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!

Where to Share a Sandwich (or a Salad)

  • The Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square can be on the heavy side for one person to consume (turkey, ham, Swiss that’s been lightly battered, fried, drizzled with powdered sugar and topped with berry preserve). Don’t forget the pomme frites!
  • For a large variety of salads, Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney District has about 10 large salads topped with a good mix of fruit, chicken or extra veggies.
  • La Brea Bakery Cafe in Downtown Disney also offers large salads topped with seafood offerings like blackened mahi-mahi or grilled salmon.
  • My husband and I split a Roasted Turkey Sandwich from the Carnation Cafe for dinner last year. Along with fresh fruit (option instead of fries), it was a filling and delicious meal.
  • The salad at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill (shown below) is big enough for two to enjoy.

What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

  • Step outside the Parks into the Downtown Disney District at Earl of Sandwich for large sized sandwiches that are hearty enough to share. We’ve purchased several breakfast sandwiches here as well and cut them into quarters so that everyone have a few bites from each different variety. Breakfast sandwiches are under $3.50 and hot lunch sandwiches are around $6.99, so the prices are really right.
  • The prices at Fiddler, Fifer & Practical Cafe are a little higher but they also come with fresh fruit. Plates are a few dollars more at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe but the sandwiches come with popular house chips. And it’s all about the seafood at the Harbour Galley. Stop by for a Lobster Roll sandwich that’s sure to float your boat.

Where to Share a Disneyland Snack

Sometimes you just need a nibble and these snacks are great for sharing. Everyone gets a few bites and you’re good until the next big meal.

  • Grab a few skewers from Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland. Each skewer is under $4.50 so the price is right to order a few and share between you.
  • The corn dogs from either Corn Dog Castle or the Little Red Wagon Corn Dog Cart are over sized and nice for sharing between two (they come with either sliced apples or a bag of chips).What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?
  • Chili Cone Queso from the Cozy Cone Motel is also a good size for two to share.
  • Of course there is always the behemoth turkey leg sold at Edelweiss Snacks that is large enough for an army.
  • You can also pack in your own snacks into the Disneyland Parks, one of many top tips for saving money on food!
What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

Share a Cozy Cone – – Photo Credit: Disney Parks

Pass a Slice of Pizza

Order a whole pizza from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta or Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port. You can get pepperoni, veggie or plain cheese amd round out the meal with a salad to split.

My family and I ordered the 1/2 meter family-sized pizza at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria in Downtown Disney District. It was enough to feed six people (and there were a few slices left we just couldn’t finish!) For less than $50, this was a decent price to feed us all. They let us go 50/50 on the toppings to please everyone in the family.

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!


Save Even MORE Money at Disneyland!

Purchase discount Disneyland and Walt Disney World tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount).


Disneyland Desserts and Sweets

I’m usually way too full after my meal to indulge in dessert so I wait and get a treat later when I can more fully enjoy it!

  • The Golden Horseshoe is a favorite sweet spot because you can share one of the big sundaes and watch a comedy show.
  • The Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe has a large variety of desserts that you can divide between your group including cupcakes.
  • We usually indulge in homemade fudge or toffee from Main Street U.S.A. to share between us!

What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!

Disneyland Park Food Sharing Tips

  • If ordering at a quick-service counter restaurant, request a second or third plate up front. Grab yourself plenty of flatware and divvy the plates up at your seat.
  • If ordering at a full-service restaurant, note to the wait staff that you’ll be sharing the dish. They may even be able to divide the dish in the kitchen and serve it to you on two plates so you don’t have to do that yourself.
  • Some establishments have sharing restrictions. Buffet restaurants, Prix fix meals and Character meals are no-sharing allowed zones. Each person in your group will be charged up front for entry.
  • Certain restaurants (like Blue Bayou) charge a “plate splitting” fee if you order a platter to be shared. Keep that in mind when working out your food budget and determine if the fee is worth it or if you should just purchase an additional meal.
  • The exception for sharing is with children 2 years old and under. You are welcome to share your food with them from your plate or fix them their own plate from a buffet.
What Are the Best Meals for Sharing at Disneyland Resort?

A giant bucket of popcorn is ideal for sharing while parade watching- Photo Credit: Jeff Holz


CLICK THE IMAGE TO RECEIVE A FREE DISNEY VACATION PLANNING VIDEO


What are the best meals for sharing at Disneyland? These money-saving tips tell you where to dine & what to order!


How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

Though Advance Dining Reservations are a near necessity at Walt Disney World, you can eat quite well at Disneyland without needing to make too many dining plans ahead of time. From full-service restaurants, quick-service dining and even character meals, there are ways to eat at Disney restaurants without too much pre-planning. For the most part, you can walk up and eat at Disneyland without reservations, whenever you’re hungry!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

An elegant seafood lunch at Wine Country Trattoria can be accompanied by an adult beverage. Make an ADR to choose the specific time you want (but we were seated immediately without an ADR!)


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Disneyland Resort Dining Options

There are several different dining options at the Disneyland Resort. For variety, I like my visits to the Park to be a mix of these through the day.

Table service is at a more leisurely pace. Cafe Orleans, Wine Country Trattoria, Storytellers Cafe and Carnation Cafe are some of the places where you can sit and be served by wait staff. Advance Dining Reservations (ADR) is suggested but very rarely necessary for most of these full-service restaurants. There are several full-service dining locations that you should always book ADR (keep reading!)

Quick service is where you will order at a counter and be given your food, then choose your seating area. Boardwalk Pizza & Pasta, Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill, French Market Restaurant and the Golden Horseshoe are all examples of quick service dining areas.

How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

Lunch and a show at The Golden Horseshoe (they have huge sundaes, too!)

Nibble on the go? There are plenty of places to grab a snack. The Bengal Barbecue, Corn Dog Castle, Cozy Cone Motel and many of the snack carts that serve fresh fruits & cold drinks are examples of quick snack spots.

Character Dining – You’ll be able to eat while being greeted at your table by your favorite characters! We love this because we enjoy a delicious meal and are still able to get autographs & photos with characters as they come to your table. Keep reading about whether you should book ADR for character meals.

How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

Tasty sandwiches, salads and pastries at Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe at the end of Main Street U.S.A.


Save Money at DISNEYLAND!

Purchase discount tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today. Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 

https://www.getawaytoday.com/?referrerid=7529


Insider tips on how to eat at Disneyland without Advance Dining Reservations #ADR #Disneyland

No ADR needed to enjoy the Famous Lobster Nachos at Cove Bar (they don’t accept reservations & only have a stand-by line!)

Which Restaurants Accept ADR and Which Do Not?

In a nutshell, you can book ADR for most full service locations and all character dining experiences.

When you’re ready to book your reservations, head to the Disneyland website. Here you are able to not only view restaurant details and individual menus, you can also book ADR with the click of a button and entry of a credit card number to hold the Disneyland dining reservation.

A simple search of your preferred date and time (along with the size of your group) will reveal available slots for each restaurant around that time. If no ADR are available at that date or approximate time, the restaurant will show up under the section “no availability”.

How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

When Do You Need Reservations for Disneyland Restaurants?

As a frequent Disneyland vacationer, I only book reservations for table service in advance for weekends or very busy times of the year (like summer or holidays). There are a FEW exceptions!

  • Blue Bayou Restaurant is the exception, as this restaurant doesn’t often have walk-up availability. So if you have your heart set on dining inside the Pirates of the Caribbean, making an ADR is best.
  • Another exception is Goofy’s Kitchen. And truly if character dining is a MUST, then you should definitely book ADR for all Character Dining.

Advantages of ADR –

  • Plans made ahead of time so there are no concerns about when or where you’ll eat while in the Park.
  • Guaranteed seating at popular restaurants without fear of being turned away.
  • No worries about long waits for a table; Yes, you may still have a short wait even with an ADR but it shouldn’t be terribly long.
  • The ability to let Cast members know upfront when booking ADR over the phone if anyone in your family has a food allergy or special dietary request
Insider tips on how to eat at Disneyland without Advance Dining Reservations #ADR #Disneyland

No ADR needed for this amazing lunch at Storyteller’s Cafe inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel


You Can Eat at Disneyland Without Reservations

You do not need reservations for any quick-service dining location. So you can fly by the seat of your pants, reservation-free if you wish, knowing you can eat at any of these great locations. And in many cases you may even be able to dine full-service by walking up.

Advantages of Walk-Up Dining –

  • No need to plan in advance where you’ll be eating, you can decide on a whim.
  • More flexibility.
  • Counter service restaurants (that don’t accept ADR) are often less expensive than table service & Character Dining (that do accept ADR)
  • Faster service at counter service & snack carts when compared to lengthy table service & Character Dining meals
How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

No reservations needed for mint juleps or beignets…just walk up to the window!

“But I have to eat waterside at Blue Bayou!!”

If you simply must eat at a particular table service restaurant during your trip, booking the ADR is a must. Walk-up dining is very rarely available at popular locations like Blue Bayou Restaurant, Carthay Circle or Goofy’s Kitchen. You might get lucky (especially if you are a small party of 2) but these are locations you should certainly get ADR for ahead of your vacation.

How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

Smokejumpers Grill is quick service dining with a full toppings bar for your burgers.


Looking for Discounted Disneyland Dining?

My partner Get Away Today offers discounted Character Dining vouchers for Chip ‘n Dale’s Critter Breakfast, Breakfast with Minnie & Friends at the Plaza Inn, Surf’s Up Breakfast with Mickey and Friends at the PCH Grill and Goofy’s Kitchen for breakfast or dinner inside the Disneyland Hotel.

Click under TICKETS for the DISNEYLAND RESORT. Enter the date of your trip, then click DINING on the left side to purchase discount dining vouchers!


Tips for Walk-up Dining with Minimal Wait

Eat at “Off-times”

  • Lunch between 11 and noon and dinner between 5-6pm is your usual? Well, those are probably the most popular times for everyone else in the Park too.
  • Try dining 60 to 90 minutes before or after these times for better luck with walk-up dining. Choose snacks wisely so you can stave off the hungry beast until restaurant seating is better available.

Split Up

  • Maximize your time at counter or quick service dining by having one adult take all the orders and another adult grab condiments and find a table.
  • Enlist the help of one of your older children (or a willing Cast Member) to help you carry trays of drinks & food back to the table. So much better than everyone standing in line together and then wandering around searching for an open table.

Eat and walk

  • If you’d rather optimize your Park time and simply eat while in queue or while walking between attractions, consider purchasing food that can easily be eaten while walking.
  • Note that some queues will not allow food once you enter the building (but eating in outside lines is okay). There are always trash cans placed through the lines to discard trash.
How to Eat at Disneyland Without Advance Dining Reservations

The Disneyland popcorn carts are placed throughout the Park for quick snacking

Try Downtown Disney District

  • Hop aboard the Monorail and get your bites in Downtown Disney instead of inside the Park. There are a variety of tastes available to satisfy everyone in your group. Full-service restaurants include Tortilla Jo’s, Catal Restaurant, La Brea Bakery Cafe, Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria, Rainforest Cafe, ESPN Zone and Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen.
  • Just want something fast? Earl of Sandwich offers excellent sandwiches (naturally). Several of the full-service restaurants also have windows for quick serve meals. Grab a slice of pizza or a salad at Napolini. Jazz Kitchen Express offers popcorn shrimp, jambalaya and other New Orleans-style favorites. Yummy Mexican food from Taqueria at Tortilla Jo’s is served quickly alongside aquas frescas & beer. La Brea Bakery Express is a great place to fill up for brunch.
Insider tips on how to eat at Disneyland without Advance Dining Reservations #ADR #Disneyland

Enjoying the giant pizza at Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria

Nibble Poolside

  • The Disneyland Resort pool areas offer food, though some locations may be seasonal. I’ve yet to see The Sand Bar at Paradise Pier open, despite having visited on a weekend in late spring so check with the front desk first.
  • White Water Snacks at Disney’s Grand Californian offers hearty dishes like breakfast burritos, chicken nachos and veggie burgers for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We’ve enjoyed Tangaroa Terrace on our visits to the Disneyland Hotel pool (also open for three meals), including shrimp tacos and flatbread. You don’t have to be a Resort guest to enjoy the hotel restaurants!

Leave The Resort

  • Yes, there are local restaurants within walking distance of the Disneyland front gates that you could dine at instead of eating in the Park. Denny’s, Mimi’s and McDonald’s line Harbor Blvd and if you have the energy for a 10-15 minute walk, these are definitely an option (though they are probably just as busy as the restaurants in the Park since they are frequented by hotel guests as well). But you might save a few dollars eating off-site.

Insider tips on how to eat at Disneyland without Advance Dining Reservations #ADR #Disneyland

 


Walt Disney World Restaurant Review – 50’s Prime Time Cafe

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

A trip to Walt Disney World is a experience from the moment you step inside the Park. And in some cases that fun and adventure extends into your dining experience as well! On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, my mom, brother and three-year old son had the opportunity to dine at 50’s Prime Time Cafe. The restaurant is located inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so a valid park ticket is required to dine here.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Walt Disney World- Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Though Advanced Dining Reservations are available up to 180 days in advance, I was able to score dinner for a Saturday night just 5 days ahead. Guest often cancel, leaving openings available. So if you also have a last-minute trip planned, I recommend checking the Disney website several times a day to find openings just before your trip. Don’t plan to show up the day-of without reservations and expect to dine though; spots for popular restaurants are quite often full. On the day of our visit, I saw several guests turned away at the counter when they came in to request a table without an advanced dining reservation.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

50’s decor at every turn

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

My mom & brother…check out the nifty wallpaper and Jell-o molds on the wall behind them!

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

A cabinet full of 50’s kitch

 

The 50’s Prime Time Cafe is set up like grandma’s kitchen, complete with vintage knick-knacks and kitchy decor. Black and white televisions play snippets from classic favorites. Dad’s Lounge at the front of the restaurant serves up retro style alcoholic beverages like the Pina CoLAVA or Dad’s Electric Lemonade.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Opening day at Disneyland being aired on one of the televisions

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Our waitress referred to herself as “Cousin Lorraine” and set the ground rules for the evening, “No elbows on the table. No tattle-taling. And you have to finish your vegetables or no dessert!”

My son and I ordered a strawberry milk shake to share. It was plenty for the two of us and quite a yummy treat. While we waited for our food we watched some of the classic television shows being broadcast around us. Most of them I’d at least heard of but a few were unfamiliar. My mom, however was taking a trip down memory lane, recalling what had been old favorites.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Dennis the Menace

The waitress serving the tables in the room behind us kept sternly reprimanding her guests for putting their elbows on the table. She would glare at them each time she left the area. In this photo of me, I’m nonchalantly resting my elbows on the table just a split second before that waitress walks by. What the shot didn’t capture was the moment I caught her walking past me and I swiftly shot my hands into my lap! The waitress serving the tables next to us was a grandmotherly-type and sat down at the table with her guests to take their orders and offer her advice about the food. It was a lighthearted and playful atmosphere.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

Elbows on the table!!

The menu at 50’s Prime Time Cafe is chock full of classic and traditional homestyle dishes. My mom and I shared Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie. It came without the usual pie tin but served instead in a large shallow bowl. There was still a bottom crust and a flaky pie top. It was absolutely stuffed with large pieces of white meat chicken breast, chunky carrots, button mushrooms and peas all mixed in a creamy cheesy sauce.

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

A half serving of Grandma’s Chicken Pot Pie (my mom and I shared)

My brother ordered Cousin Ann’s Traditional Meatloaf. This was a tasty looking blend of beef and pork. I say “tasty looking” because my brother didn’t even offer a bite! I guess that tells you how good it was. It was topped with a thick tomato glaze and served alongside roasted garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. Veggies are not my brother’s thing and he had a few left at the end of the meal. He tried to cover up the leftover veggies but well, being the dutiful big sister that I am, I ratted him out to the waitress! She reprimanded ME for tattle-taling and gave my brother a sticker for the “Clean Plate Club”, saying he did “well enough” on his dinner. Hmph!

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe

About half of my brother’s meatloaf platter, he’d already started digging in!

It was all in good fun, of course. The food was quite tasty (though slightly overpriced, in my opinion). Portions were good sized but I probably could have eaten the dish by myself. The theme and decor is fantastic and really transports you to another time and place. It’s a good meal location for young kids as well, since it’s bright and noisy and there are televisions to watch (they also gave my son a coloring pages and crayons). 50’s Prime Time Cafe is a blast (from the past!)

Walt Disney World Restaurant Review - 50's Prime Time Cafe


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Kids Guide to Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

If you’ve ever been to Epcot at Walt Disney World, you might write it off as a place that only grown ups would enjoy. While kids might like some of the rides scattered around the Park, will they really enjoy the global aspect of World Showcase? I’ve taken my young kids and they’ve loved their visits to Epcot, especially during the springtime special, Epcot Flower and Garden Festival. This event in particular has a number of activities geared towards children. Keep reading for the kids guide to Epcot Flower and Garden.

During our previous visits to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival we were visually treated to incredibly detailed topiaries, had our taste buds tickled with international treats and were able to delight in the nighttime show, Illuminations. And all the usual Epcot attractions are still available during this time as well.

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

In 2018, the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival run from February 28 through May 28, 2018.

Portions of my visit including my Park tickets and a Disney gift card to purchase food were covered during my visit. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Tips for Taking Kids to the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

What I Saw, Ate & Drank at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

  • Park guests receive a pocket guide to the Epcot Flower & Garden Festival, including where to find topiaries, gardens, demonstrations, dining and shows. Kids can check mark off each item as you visit, eat and watch. The guide makes a wonderful souvenir too, as they can recall & reminisce about your trip.
  • While the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival is a special event, you do not need a special ticket to attend. You can see all of the gardens and topiaries during this event for the cost of your regular Park ticket. A select few experiences require a separate purchase or a separate admission fee (like some of the cooking demonstrations).
  • I recommend purchasing Walt Disney World discount tickets from my partner at Get Away Today.
  • I also highly recommend this FREE Disney vacation planning video (click the Disney image). It’s fun to watch pre-trip with your kids to get them familiar with all that Disney World and Epcot has for them to enjoy!


Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Festival Highlight – Disney Character Topiaries

Every kid is going to love seeing these amazingly detailed topiaries in the shape of their favorite Disney characters! The topiary displays are definitely a highlight of this special event. Topiaries vary each year so the images you see in my post might vary on your visit. The detail and expression of them are simply jaw-dropping. In the World Showcase area, the characters are themed to the country (Belle & Beast in France, for instance).

There are Disney PhotoPass photographers set up near many of these topiaries so you can capture your entire family with these amazing creations.

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

What I Saw, Ate & Drank at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festivalepcotcollage9

 

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Try New Foods During the Festival

During the Festival, guests can purchase food at outdoor kitchen locations throughout the World Showcase area of Epcot. These are taster (appetizer) sized portions so you can try a variety of different dishes. These small portions are a great way to introduce new flavors to kids. Just a bite to see if they like it (my son discovered he liked baklava!)

Kid-Friendly Tastes to Try:

  • Germany: Toasted Pretzel Bread topped with Black Forest Ham and Melted Gruyère Cheese
  • France: Macaron au Chocolat en Sucette: Large Chocolate Macaron Lollipop
  • Honey Bee-stro: Honey-Peach Cobbler Freeze (Non-alcoholic version)
  • Berry Basket: Lamb chop with Quinoa Salad and Blackberry Gastrique
  • Japan: Frushi – Fresh Pineapple, Strawberry and Melon rolled with Coconut Rice, sprinkled with Toasted Coconut and Whipped Cream with Raspberry Sauce on the side
  • Canada: Maple Popcorn Shake (non-alcoholic version)
  • Mexico: Chilaquiles served with Chorizo, Mexican Cream and Cotija Cheese
  • Morocco: Walnut Honey Baklava
  • Smokehouse: Pulled Pig Slider with Coleslaw
  • Caribbean: Caribbean Conch Salad with Mango, Papaya and Pickled Red Onions
  • China: Oolong Peach Bubble Tea

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Spike’s Pollen Nation Exploration

From February 28 through May 28, 2018, kids and adults alike can participate in a springtime scavenger hunt starring Spike the honey bee. Purchase a special scavenger hunt map for $5.99 plus tax then return it completed for a prize!

Outdoor Concerts to Get Up and Dance

If you have a kid who loves to move and groove, make plans to watch one of the Garden Rocks concerts. These concerts take place three times each evening from March 2 through May 28, 2018 at the outdoor America Gardens Theater. The cost of the concert is included in the price of admission. Older kids may roll their eyes at the more “classic rock” artists but you can be sure they’ll recognize some of the songs (like Y.M.C.A by the Village People and All Star by Smash Mouth).

Give Kids the Camera

Hand over your camera and you might be surprised with what amazingly detailed photos your kids snap. My son likes experimenting with the macro to get the detail on the tiniest flowers.What I Saw, Ate & Drank at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Get in the Garden and Play!

Several interactive play gardens encourage kids in active play. The Imagination Play Garden engages all five senses in a musical maze. In the How-To Garden, kids can learn tips for starting their own garden at home as well as building their own butterfly house or making botanical crafts.

My youngster loved the Road to the Florida 500, where Cars favorites are on display!

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

What is There for Babies to Do?

Babies will enjoy the usual things at Epcot like a few rides and character meet n’ greets. During the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, there are additional delights. Little ones will like the bright colored flower gardens. Make sure to point out the topiaries throughout the Park that are designed as familiar characters (like this adorable Winnie the Pooh).

Let Baby out of the stroller for a walk in the Florida Fresh Garden. They are invited to explore and play in a garden that was planted just for them! For more ideas, see my DisneyBaby post on what to do at Epcot with babies.

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Exploratory Gardens for Curious Kids

Curious kids love to learn at these detailed gardens at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. There are many gardens but these three really strike a chord with youngsters.

  • Learn about butterflies at the The Goodness Garden Butterfly House. You may even see them emerging from their cocoons.
  • Find out what herbs and produce are grown in the Garden Italiano that come together to make many kid’s favorite food – pizza!
  • Kids can find out more about which plants can be turned into spices inside the fragrant Urban Spice Garden. 

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!

Celebrating Easter at Epcot

From March 16 through April 1, 2018 kids can participate in Egg-stravaganza. This popular scavenger hunt in World Showcase will keep everyone in search of Disney Character-themed eggs. While you don’t have to purchase the map to search for the eggs, it is a fun (and reasonably inexpensive) activity for the kids. A map cost $5.99 plus tax. Return the completed map after spotting all the eggs for a special surprise!

After Dark at Epcot

Stay late during the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival and enjoy nighttime entertainment. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth is the evening show that takes place on the waters of the World Showcase Lagoon.

What I Saw, Ate & Drank at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

Photo credit: Eric Dill

What would you most like to explore with your kids at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival?

Wondering what kids can do at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival? This kid-friendly guide to the Disney World special event explains what there is for kids to do, eat and see!