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 By Fantasmic Diva 

       Welcome to a series on how to truly experience the Walt Disney World Resort! I have been living in the Orlando area as a Cast Member on the Disney College Program since August and thought this was a great way to share what I have learned so far about making the most of your Disney vacation! This time I am focusing on dining! 

I have seen many a family at the Walt Disney World Resort since I began working here; and I have come to a simple conclusion, some of them were experiencing their vacation and some of them were not. Some of them were rushing around the park just trying to hit all of the rides and “get the most for their money.” I am here to tell you that I have finally learned how to experience my time here. Now, the main difference is that I have a lot of time to do these things, but I have also seen families have amazing experiences even if they only had a limited time or budget. I believe that there are several keys to experiencing this amazing resort and not just speeding through it and missing all that it may have to offer you and your family: dining, entertainment, interaction, FASTPASS and Resorts!  
In my experience, the best way to make the most of dining is to head to the parks when they are offering the free dining plan! It allows you to branch out without worrying about the price of the food you are ordering. But beware—make the most of your snacks!! Bring a bottle of water and don’t waste your snack credits on that!! Why get a bottle of water or a soda when your could get popcorn to munch on as you stroll down Main Street USA or a Mickey Ice Cream bar to cool you down while you watch the fireworks? There are also other not so classic ways to use your snack credits! There are some amazing desserts at the Confectionary on Main Street or the Seasons at the Land at EPCOT or Sleepy Hollow at Liberty Square!! There are so many different ways to spend your snack credits!! Check the merchandise stores and not just the stands throughout the parks. BONUS TIP: During the Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT, many of the small portions that guests can get at the various stands throughout the World Showcase count as snacks. How many other times in your life can you get filet mignon from Le Celier for a snack credit!? As a personal recommendation…I highly suggest going to the candy store in Japan…it’s a great way to expand your taste in candy! 
I also highly suggest booking reservations for dining in advance! After several trips to trying to save money on dining, my family finally learned the value of sitting down to a lovely meal together. It allowed us some time to relax and just stop going and going for a while and the good food just made a world of difference in how we felt for the rest of the day. Pick a nice relaxing restaurant with your cuisine of choice in EPCOT or celebrate an early Thanksgiving at the Liberty Tree Tavern! I highly recommend a character dining experience at least once during your vacation, I have been to the one in Camp Minnie Mickey for breakfast, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and the Garden Grill in EPCOT and love them all! I have heard nothing but good things about interactions at the dining experiences. It prolongs the interaction with the guests and the characters and prevents the guests from having to wait in line for certain characters, and having them come to you while you are enjoying a lovely meal with your family. Dinner or a nice lunch is a wonderful time to sit down, relax, and spend some bonding time with your family.
Don’t forget about the out of park dining!! There is amazing dining outside of the parks as well as inside. While there is great ice cream at the shop in France in EPCOT and at the ice cream shop on Main Street USA, there is also incredible ice cream at the Beaches and Cream restaurant at the Yacht and Beach Club resort near EPCOT. If you love dinner and a show, why not head to the Hoop dee Doo Revue at the Fort Wilderness  Resort or the Ohana Dinner and a Show at the Polynesian! And definitely don’t forget about the amazing food to be found at the Port Orleans Resort. There are SEVEN areas to eat between the Port Orleans French Quarter and the Port Orleans Riverside. Last but not least of my resort dining experience, the Kona Cafe at Disney’s Polynesian Resort! I ate breakfast there and did not need to eat again for several hours. I have never loved my breakfast experience so much! I also never forget to stop at the Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney or the Ghiradelli ice cream shop in the same area. 
And lastly, I shall leave you with a list of my all time favorite places to dine from all across the Walt Disney World Parks! I have eaten at all of these places and have always loved the experience! In EPCOT I love…the Season at the Land Pavilion, The Garden Grill at the Land Pavilion, the Rose and Crown in the U.K, Sommerfest in Germany, and  the Poland, France, Belgium, Canada, Ireland,

Scotland, China, Germany, and Italy pavilions at the World Showcase during the Food and Wine Festival! At the Magic Kingdom I love…BE OUR GUEST (sorry…I really loved that one!), Liberty Tree Tavern, Cosmic Rays, The Market Place in Liberty Square, Casey’s Corner, Pecos Bill’s Tavern, Gaston’s Tavern and Cinderella’s Royal Table. At Hollywood Studios…I love the Sci-Fi Drive In, Pizza Planet, The Market Place across from Fantasmic, the Writer’s Stop, Backlot Express and ABC Commissary. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom I love…Pizzafari, Yak and Yeti, and Restaurantosaurus. 

Next time I will be writing about the art of experiencing character and cast member interactions at the Walt Disney World Resort!