Disney World Food Tip #10: When to Schedule Table Service Meals to Save Money

Updated for 2017!

Headed to Walt Disney World? Chances are, you have several special restaurants you want to visit for a memorable meal. Table service meals, where a Cast Member brings food or drinks directly to your table, are a great way to add to your Disney dining experience, but it doesn’t come cheap. Table service meals are more expensive than counter service meals, sometimes by a rather large amount, and that’s before you even add in the tip. For what you will pay for a table service steak surrounded by fantastic architecture and soft lighting at Le Cellier, I could buy three hamburgers meals, with fries and a drink, at a counter service restaurant like Cosmic Rays, ambient sounds provided by an audioanimatronic space alien. Steak for me or hamburgers for three members of my family?

And you thought planning out what days to visit the parks were your toughest decisions.

If you are clipping coupons and saving money for your vacation, then you want to get the most from your money. Here is a Cheapskate Princess money-saving tip that could get you that pricey table service meal at a price reduced enough to make it worth your while.

Eat Table Service Meals during lunch rather than dinner…

  Read: Free Disney Dining…Is It Really Always Free?

Having just said to dine at around noon, making your reservations at lunch rather than dinner will not always save you money. You will have to do your restaurant homework if saving money is a determining factor in when you make reservations. At certain restaurants, lunch and dinner have the exact same prices, so the time of day you dine there will make no difference to your Disney Visa bill. How will you know this?

Use this link to the Disney World dining page. Choose your restaurant and click on the menu.

For our comparison, let’s start with the Coral Reef Restaurant.

Epcot Coral Reef

Coral Reef Restaurant     2017 Prices

Lunch or dinner, the prices at Coral Reef are exactly the same. This is why it pays to look at menus before you make dining reservations (ADRs), because at some restaurants, the time of day will not matter as far as prices. 

(just a few quick examples)

Charbroiled Octopus – Nori Sushi Rice, Sesame Slaw, and Soy Reduction $13.00 (appetizer)

Seafood Salad – Gulf Shrimp, Mahi Mahi, Citrus Marinade, Serrano Peppers, Mango Sorbet, crisp Plantain Chip $12.00 (appetizer)

Seafood Scampi – Seared Skewer of Sea Scallops and Shrimp, Prince Edward Island Mussels, Diced Tomatoes, and Pasta with Scampi Butter $32.00

Tuna Bowl – Spice-crusted Tuna, Rice Noodles, Charred Bok Choy, crisp Shiitake, Pickled Vegetables, Ramen Broth $27.00

Shrimp and Grits – Sautéed Shrimp, Cheddar Grits, Local Corn Succotash, Andouille Sausage, Creole Spice Emulsion $30.00

Grilled New York Strip Steak – Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, Bercy Butter $33.00

Pan-seared Verlasso Salmon – Seasonal Risotto, Baby Greens, Pinot Noir Reduction $31.00

Again, these prices are the same for lunch of dinner. 

Can a Cheapskate Princess Afford the Disney Dining Plan?

Step over to Be Our Guest Restaurant, and lunch and dinner, while not the same food items, have two distinct price ranges. Lunch is less expensive than dinner.

Be Our Guest Restaurant

Be Our Guest Restaurant  2017 Prices

This restaurant does not offer the same menu items for dinner and lunch. So this is a comparison of lunch versus dinner prices.

Several Lunch Items:

Braised Pork (Coq Au Vin Style) Eight Hour Slow-cooked Pork with Mushrooms, Onions, Carrots and Bacon served with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans Jardiniere $16.99

Carved Roast Beef Sandwich – Served on a Baguette with Horseradish Bleu Cheese Cream Sauce and Pommes Frites $16.99

Tuna Niçoise Salad – Seared Tuna with chilled Green Beans, Fingerling Potatoes, Olives, Roasted Bell Peppers, Tomatoes, and a Hard Poached Egg. $16.99

 

Several Dinner Items:

Grilled Strip Steak with Garlic-Herb Butter and Pommes Frites $35.00

Roasted Rack of Lamb Served over Golden Couscous, Niçoise Olive Tapenade, Sautéed Snow Peas, and Red Wine Gastrique $32.00

Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops with Lobster, Mushrooms, and Seasonal Vegetables in a creamy Lobster Sauce $29.00

If you are a serious foodie, then you just might prefer steak over pork, but if you just want to experience the restaurant itself as an event and an experience, then choose a lunch reservation for lower prices.

Read: Who Would Pay $27 for a Disney World Dessert? You Should!

 

Captain’s Grille Restaurant at the Yacht Club Resort

2017 Prices

Several Lunch Items

Grilled Chicken Salad Kale, Spring Greens, Artichokes, Cannellini Beans, Roasted Red Onions, Feta Cheese, Olives, and Lemon Vinaigrette $15.00

New England-style Lobster Roll served chilled on Butter-toasted Roll with a choice of Vegetable Orzo Salad or House-made Chips $19.00

Blackened Fish Tacos Chilled Cucumber Slaw, Sliced Avocado, Chipotle Rémoulade, and Flour Tortillas $14.00

Several Dinner Items

12-oz Prime Rib Potato Gratin, Horseradish Cream, Seasoned Greens, Au Jus $34.00

Lump Crab Cakes – Old Bay Chips, Stone-ground Mustard Cream, Lemon Emulsion, Succotash, and Greens $29.00

Cabernet-braised Short Rib Corn Risotto, Pan Jus Reduction, and Corn Cream $27.00 

Those prices are almost double for dinner versus lunch. Similar to the comparison for Be Our Guest Restaurant, the food items will not be the same, but these three examples are almost dinner = two lunches. That’s a big savings for eating in the exact place, just hours apart.

Hop over to Biergarten Restaurant…

Want to Save Money on Food at Disney World? Ziplocs Can Save You Cash!

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Biergarten Restaurant       2017 Prices

Disney gives you a range for meal prices at some restaurants, most notably buffets with and without characters, and they explain this on their online menus. 

“Range reflects the average price of adult dinner entrées (breakfast and lunch generally cost less), except Character Dining locations, buffet locations, dinner shows, and special dining events where range reflects the average adult price of entire meal and non-alcoholic beverages. Range excludes alcoholic beverages, taxes and gratuities except at dinner shows where beer and wine, taxes and gratuities are included.”

Adult breakfast/lunch buffet, $15 to $34.99

Adult dinner buffet, $35 to $59.00

That’s a pretty big difference in price. The food selection will be different, but are you dining here for specific items off the menu or for the experience? Your answer will be specific to your family and your budget.

Ride a monorail over to Chef Mickey’s..

Read: Want to Save Money on Drinks at Disney World? Order This Drink for Free!

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Chef Mickey’s Restaurant 2017 Prices

The Disney website just provides a range – these prices range from $35 to $59.99.

Read: Want FREE Drink Refills at Disney World Theme Parks? Then Choose These Restaurants

Doing homework on restaurant prices can seem difficult now because starting back in 2013, there were no longer specific prices posted for buffet meals on the Disneyworld.com web site. What you see is the range. When I phoned Disney directly, the Cast Member I spoke with said that the prices she was quoting me may not be accurate by the time of my visit, because they were having a price increase soon. Disney prices are always subject to change without notice, which can be helpful to remember if you bring gift cards or cash to pay for meals.

So the deal now is that prices for some Disney meals vary based on the time of year (seasons – peak is more expensive) and day of the week (weekend is more expensive).

Sometimes when you price meals, in addition to breakfast and dinner you will find a “brunch.”  My Cast Member said they serve Chef Mickey’s lunch and brunch only during busy times of year, like during Christmas holidays, and breakfast, brunch, and lunch prices are all lower than dinner.

It’s pays to do your homework before your trip, and if you can’t find what you need online, give Disney a call. Or have your travel agent price and book your meals for you when they make your reservations.

Read: There is No “Bad Time” to Visit Walt Disney World. True or False?

Disney restaurants, Disney ADRs,

Food or experience? If the actual food items you ingest are important to you, then a diner reservation may be the route for you to go with no thought for prices. But if saving money is part of your vacation equation, then scheduling table service meals early in the day can save you money. I have a family of  five people who all are of age to qualify for adult meal prices. Eating breakfast brunch or lunch rather than dinner can save me enough money to pay for a counter service meal later that same day.

And possibly a cupcake or two for dessert.

To see more of our Cheapskating Guides, use this link.

Amanda Major Cheapskate Princess

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Disney’s Cheapskate Princess

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Call Mike at 919-606-6725 or e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

Amanda Major CheapskatePrincess.comAmanda Major is the creator of cheapskateprincess.com. She remembers her first visit to Magic Kingdom like it was yesterday, because she had a ham sandwich tucked in her shorts pocket. The whole family snuck in their lunch; you can’t make that kinda stuff up. 40 years worth of trips to Orlando later, she is still trying to save money on vacations.

Amanda is a Disney Vacation Club Member and Annual Pass holder. Her amazing husband, band director Carl Major, plus three teen children and two dogs keep her busy. Amanda teaches Leadership to high school seniors in the almost-coastal town of Foley, Alabama. Read about her cheapskating local vacations with this link. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, walking somewhere, or paddling a kayak. Life is indeed a blast. 

We hope we can help save you some money too. Use this link for a free no obligation vacation quote from our Travel Consultant with Pixie Vacations, Mike Ellis. You can also e-mail him at mike@pixievacations.com.

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