Top Five Disney Restaurant Tips (with toddlers) –
Walt Disney World has great restaurants that are appropriate for children of all ages… especially your toddler. You will be hard-pressed to find anywhere else that makes families feel more welcome.
You really don’t be worried about bringing your toddler to a sit-down restaurant at Walt Disney World. In fact, it is a good place to teach your child how to act in a restaurant, without being nervous about other diners being disturbed. With the exception of the very fanciest restaurants on Disney property, everyone expects children to be present and probably has their hands full with their own kids.
These tips can be applied to families with older children too!
1. Think carefully about your dining times. Try to keep your kids on the same dining schedule that they are on at home. If you normally eat dinner at 5pm, don’t try to have dinner at 8pm in the Magic Kingdom… you are just asking for tired, hungry and grumpy kids.
Also, since touring the parks can over-stimulate children, consider reserving sit-down restaurants for Breakfast or Dinner… and not for Lunch. Hopefully, your children are rested at Breakfast and also refreshed for Dinner after an afternoon break at the pool or nap at the resort. Lunchtime can be tough because kids have had a morning full of fun and the last thing they want is to be strapped into a high chair and have a relaxing lunch.
This is what can happen with a late dinner at California Grill… asleep in the booth before dessert!
2. Choose a restaurant with some entertainment. Character meals and the dinner shows are obvious favorites, but how about enjoying the traditional “Oktoberfest” entertainment at the Biergarten Restaurant (with an invitation for the kids to dance in front of the stage), participating in coconut races at ‘Ohana, or watching film clips inside you “car table” at Sci-Fi Dine In? Kids can also view the marine life in the huge aquarium at Coral Reef, see a belly dancer perform at Restaurant Marrakesh, watch their food being cooked right in front of them at Teppan Edo, see the Irish stepdancers at Raglan Road and interact with the “in character” servers at Whispering Canyon Café and 50′s Prime Time Café.
Here is one of the dancers at Raglan Road (Downtown Disney)…
3. Just like at home, be prepared with some small toys in your bag (Fisher Price Little People Disney Princesses and Thomas Trains work best for us) and books to keep you kids occupied while waiting for your meal. The kids’ menus have activities and pictures to color, but they don’t change very often and your child may be bored if they have to color the same picture at each meal during your trip.
4. If you think your child may need to nap in their stroller during the meal, ask the hostess to park allow you to park it at the table with you. When my child was very young (8 months old), she couldn’t make it through a whole dinner in the high chair, but would happily lounge in her stroller while we finished our meal.
A Mommy-Daughter lunch at the Brown Derby. While I enjoyed a Cobb Salad… she was comfortable in her stroller… and with her book…
5. For your Character meals, consider Family-Style or Plated meals instead of Buffets. Buffets are great because you do not have to wait for your food… it is ready when you are. However, they can be a logistical nightmare. If you are lucky to have two adults in your party, you will have to have one “food runner” and one adult stay at the table with the children. This means that the food will arrive a bit at a time, and it is difficult for everyone to eat together. If you only have one adult and more than one child, I don’t recommend the buffets at all. It is no fun to maneuver through a buffet line with children and multiple plates of food.
The Family-Style and Plated meal Character restaurants include Cinderella’s Royal Table, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (there is an appetizer buffet here, but the entrées and desserts are brought to your table), Garden Grill, and ‘Ohana Character Breakfast. At these restaurants, you can have a seat… all together… and relax as your server brings you your meal and you wait for the Characters to greet you.
Dining at Walt Disney World with your toddler(s) is actually a lot of fun… there are a ton of entertaining restaurants and it is the most family-friendly place you can visit. Does anyone have any tips to add to this list?