I received a free copy of the 2015 Edition of Dining at Walt Disney World, The Definitive Guide by Rick Killingsworth and Paula Brown to review. As a Disney Foodie, I was thrilled to be able to check out this book and the day it arrived, I ripped open the package and began reading. I had high expectations, considering that I follow DisneyDining.com, Rick’s website, and love the information it provides.
I am going to start with this caveat. If you are looking for food and restaurant photos, menus, pricing or restaurant hours – you will NOT find them in this book. I was initially very disappointed with that. But then I took a step back and looked at this book for what it is – a comprehensive listing of restaurants, food courts and kiosks at Disney World, and with that being said, it does a good job. The descriptions are brief, providing few details, but do give a good overview of the food offerings at Disney World.
The book is broken down into sections of tips and general dining information, theme parks, water parks, downtown Disney and the resorts. I was also very happy to see that ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, Shades of Green, The Swan and The Dolphin were included in this guide. There is also a helpful chapter on tipping. I also enjoyed that they touched upon the food trucks area coming to Downtown Disney. They even wrote about my personal obsession, Disney cupcakes – which I truly believe should be their own food group!!!!
There is a brief section for those who have food allergies. It is not a complete or all-inclusive guide, but more of an overview. I realize that this is not their area of expertise, nor is that the focus of the book. It is more wishful thinking on my behalf that someone will come out with a really great guide for those with allergies and other specialized dining needs.
The book explains that its organization was broken down into full service and character dining, quick service, and snacks and beverages. However, the format in which it was presented, kept changing in each section and made it difficult to follow at times. Breaking down the parks’ information into a section for snacks and a section for beverages was a little redundant and could have been better presented as one section. There is a change of format when you get to the water parks section where the snacks and beverages are combined (which I prefer) and then another change of format at the resorts section, which was just a straight listing of all of the offerings.
While every restaurant, food court and kiosk is listed in this book, the descriptions are highly general. Often signature dishes and even the location of snacks and treats with cult like followings (i.e., the Skol Bread in Norway) are not listed. There was some information missing that I would have liked to see. Some examples: there was no mention that Tables in Wonderland card holders can get free valet parking when dining, provided that they show their receipt, and while they did cover that Be Our Guest is a quick service for lunch and a table service for dinner, in the Magic Kingdom dining section, there was no mention that the Beast is only at Be Our Guest during dinner. I will say that I was pleased that they mentioned information about the Landry’s Select Club – this tidbit of information is a well-kept secret and happy that they shared this money saving tip. Also included were the room service hours at the various resorts, a definite plus.
Something that really stuck out for me was that the book only talked about quick service dining being offered during Disney World’s famous free dining promotion. As a frequent Disney traveler, who LOVES free dining, I am well aware that the plus dining plan is also offered during free dining.
There was also some contradiction in the information provided, such as stating that alcohol is never included in the dining plan. Those who use the dining plan know that alcohol is included in shows such as the Luau, Hoop Dee Doo Review and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ. Later in the book, they do state that alcohol is included with the dinner shows.
Overall, this book provides brief descriptions of the food offerings throughout Disney World. It is a full listing of food locations, but does not provide much detail on the actual food. If you are an experienced Disney World traveler or food lover, this book will not provide you with much new or helpful information. If you are a first time traveler to Disney World or someone not familiar with the various food offerings, this book will be helpful in getting you organized to make your Advanced Dining Reservations and provide some basic dining tips.
Mary Morales is a Travel Specialist with Mad Hatter adventures and can be found at https://www.facebook.com/MaryMoralesDisneyTravel. She is an avid Disney Traveler and spends at least 4 months a year on property. A Disney Foodie, Mary runs the Disney Food Fans group on Facebook. Specializing in special needs and special diets travel, but plans for all, Mary enjoys making magic for everyone!!! You can follow her on Instagram (tinksthinks123) or Twitter (@tinksthinks123) to see her many Disney adventures.