My family is planning a big family trip to Walt Disney World during the holidays. When making our plans, my eldest daughter and I have sunk into the wisdom of making lunch reservations at the table service. For the record, I am in the professional lunch booking camp (for this trip) and she is in the anti lunch booking camp (for this trip), but there are pros and cons to either philosophy. Let’s break it down so you can decide what’s best for your family.
Reasons to make table service reservations for lunch
- You want a guaranteed place to rest during the day. Almost all table service restaurants are air conditioned and most table service meals take about an hour to eat. This provides a substantial respite from the heat and bustle of the parks. If returning to your hotel for a nap or a swim is not planned, a table service meal may be a good alternative.
- You cannot make a reservation for dinner. Some table service restaurants, especially those located in resorts, are less popular during the day than in the evening. If your favorite restaurant is only available for lunch, you may like it.
- During certain times of the year, table service may be faster than fast service. Most of the time, fast food will be, well, fast. But during busy times, such as July 4 or Christmas week, you may find yourself waiting for your fast food meal at the same time as your table meal, in a much less appealing environment.
- Your party members have food allergies. Overall, Disney is great at accommodating guests with food allergies in all circumstances. However, if you have complicated medical issues related to food, it may be easier to eat table meals where you can talk to a chef about your exact needs and you may be able to customize items.
- There are MANY restaurants. If you want to visit ALL of your favorite table service places during a trip, many have no choice but to prepare some of these restaurant lunches.
Reasons not to make table service reservations for lunch
- You don’t want to waste valuable tour time. If taking as many walks as possible is your top priority, then it doesn’t make sense to take time for a long table service lunch.
- Members of your group have no patience for table service. Traveling with a baby or toddler? Will a sitting lunch alter their nap time? Do they tend to get restless when asked to sit still for an extended period of time?
- You will incur a penalty if you do not show up for food. Most table service meals require a credit card withholding; if no one in your group shows up for the meal, you will be fined $ 10 per person. If you are not sure that you will arrive at your table service lunch, it is best not to make a reservation.
- Find fast service options more attractive. Some guests simply prefer the food offered at fast food places. My daughter’s objection to table service lunch is related to this: she wants to make a lunch tasting lunch at the World Showcase holiday booths.
- You have a budget. In most cases, table service costs more than fast service. If you are trying to save, skip the table service meals.
- You want to eat lightly. Not all table-serving meals are heavy, nor are all fast-serving meals light, but in general, if you don’t want to consume a lot of food, it’s best to eat a fast-serving meal.
- Not sure where you will be during the day. If you have the capacity to go to the park on your ticket, you may want to decide at the last minute where to have lunch. If it’s you, skip the lunch reservation.
- You already have reservations for breakfast and / or table service dinner. Many guests find that a daily table service meal is sufficient for their needs.
- You want to leave your options open for Genie + bookings. If you’ve decided to pay for Disney’s new Genie + service, you may want to keep your days as free as possible to make use of this paid service.
For my family, spoiler alert, we decided to part with some lunches, some opting for table service and others deciding to skip it. This will work for us because everyone involved is an adult, we are all very familiar with the parks and we have a long list of activities we have already decided to do together. However, if your group is made up of children, people who need a high level of attention at Disney World, or if your group will have no other opportunities for interaction, your decision may be different.
What do you think about the table service lunch at Walt Disney World?