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

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Updated for 2018!

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.

Let’s say you ate breakfast in your room. Do you schedule your table service meal at lunch or dinner? 

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…

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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     2018 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. 

Again, these prices are exactly the same for lunch or dinner. 

Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Prices for 2018

Lunch or dinner, the prices at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ in Disney Springs are exactly the same. Check the menus before you make dining reservations (ADRs), because at some restaurants, the time of day will not matter as far as prices. 

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

Be Our Guest Restaurant

Be Our Guest Restaurant  2018 Prices

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

Lunch Prices:

Dinner Prices:

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 = almost two lunches. That’s a big savings for eating in the exact place, just hours apart.

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


Hop over to Biergarten Restaurant…

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Biergarten Restaurant       2018 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.”

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.

Lunch menu:

Dinner menu:

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

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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. 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.”  A Cast Member I spoke with said they serve Chef Mickey’s 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, Disney’s Cheapskate Princess


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