Our Top Five “Affordable” Table Service Dining Locations at WDW in 2019!
While at this point it may be relatively common knowledge that we aren’t Disney World locals, one of the most frequent questions I get asked is how we afford to travel to the parks so frequently. Truthfully, we aren’t a “trust fund” family and we’re not independently wealthy or anything anywhere close to it (lol). The secret to it all is knowing your priorities and striving to make the most of every dollar. Over the years, it’s something we’ve gotten incredibly good at and it also helps that we typically travel with family so we’re not footing the entire cost every trip. However, the costs do still add up so we save money whenever and wherever possible. For us, one of the best ways to do that is in the dining realm.
I’ve waxed poetically (ok in all honesty my writing is likely the farthest thing away from waxing poetically… its more like a train wreck that you feel obligated to watch lol) about how we typically avoid the dining plan. It’s not that the dining plan is inherently bad, but it’s no secret that 90% of people using the dining plan will spend more on food that they would if they would have simply paid for their meals or select meals out of pocket. I know that’s not the only reason so many people use the dining plan time and time again, but that is the main reason we avoid it and have done so for so many years.
Also, we’re known to cut costs by “combing meals” and doing something like a late breakfast and a counter service dinner and bridging the gap with a mid day snack or one of the incredible festival booths at Epcot when the festivals are running. At this point in the course of Epcot there are very few times of year when a festival isn’t running which is always a huge benefit for the guest experience.
Returning to the topic, it is interesting to note how many value oriented options you can find available at WDW if you know what and where to look for them and how to order at the restaurants when you do. So, without further ado, here’s a closer look at our top suggestions in 2019. Obviously this isn’t our favorites list because “affordable” and the “absolute best dining offerings” available don’t always fall hand in hand. Then again, these are still incredible “value” oriented offerings in the dining realm. You’re not going to get a $10 steak dinner (unless you want to head to the Golden Corral up the block… not recommended lol) or anything but if you’re looking for great food at reasonable price, these are our top picks.
Perspective is a Function of Location
As a last word of warning, our idea or “reasonable” and yours may vary. Affordable is a vastly subjective term and it’s also important to note that perspective is a function of location. Something that may seem expensive elsewhere may not be all that pricey in relation to other dining options at WDW so your perspective does become a little skewed.
So far, Via Napoli has been our greatest surprise of this year. It was a near perfect experience and one that I spoke in great detail about in our Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria – A Near Perfect Epcot Dining Location post a few weeks back and I still stand by every word of that article. In my opinion, if you go here and order a reasonable amount of food you can get a near perfect meal for around $80 for four people. I mentioned in our full review that most people are going to tend to over order at Via Napoli. We did just that ourselves and while I would 100% order all the same things again, you could easily order far less if you really want to maximize your budget and minimize your costs. If you have four people, split one large pizza (or two individual pizzas) and you will have plenty of food in most cases. Order water to keep your costs down and you could get out of the meal for under $60. For table service at Walt Disney World that’s going to be hard to beat. It’s value at its finest and personally my current number one pick for table service at Epcot. The only thing coming close is Le Cellier or Teppan Edo but those meals will easily cost you at least 50% more that this one.
Whispering Canyon is a location I talk about time and time again on this site because I personally think the food is vastly underrated. That atmosphere is an acquired taste and truthfully it’s not going to be an environment everyone enjoys but if you don’t mind being the focus of a few light hearted jokes along the way, it’s well worth a visit. The food is actually quite good, and even if you order the largest item on the menu, the Canyon Skillet (which is literally an all you can eat family style “skillet”), you’re looking at a cost of $24 at lunch time. Dinner is a bit higher at $33 per person, but other items on the menu are far cheaper and just as great if you’re not looking for a family style meal. We even reviewed breakfast here a short while back in our Whispering Canyon Breakfast – A Closer Look and Review post and it’s the most budget friendly option of them all.
For lunch, a personal favorite of mine is the pulled pork sandwich which is only $14! The sandwich is plenty of food for one person and at that price you’re not going to find much better value per dollar spent anywhere on property.
If you’ve not been to Whispering Canyon, it’s worth a visit at least once. It’s a little out of the way over at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, but it’s about a 10-15 minute free boat ride over to the resort from Magic Kingdom.
Homecomin is, without a doubt, one of my favorite picks for dining at Disney Springs. The food is great, the portions are large, the people are incredibly nice, and the setting makes you feel at home as soon as you walk in the door (that may just be the southern person in me, but it feels like home… but we’re from KY so if the shoe fits… lol). If you’re looking to stay budget friendly, split meals or order appetizers and you’ll have plenty of food while still remaining at or near the $60 mark for a family of four. You may have to be somewhat careful what you order if you’re being truly price conscious, but if you stay away from the pricey drinks and incredibly tempting desert menus, this can be a quite budget friendly meal in the table service realm of Disney dining.
Again, it’s all about what you order and how much food you really want to eat, but I will say that if you’re leaving Homecomin’ hungry, you’re doing something wrong along the way! If you’re looking for a great server, ask for Brooke if she’s still working there and you’re set for a near ideal meal at the springs.
The Boathouse is a restaurant that I’m guessing very few people expected to see on this list. It’s no secret that it’s known for it’s high end steaks, elaborate seafood menu, and the insanely large Baked Alaska dessert, but you can find quite a few entrees for well under $20 on the menu as well. Dining here on a budget is kind of taking into consideration the “best of both worlds.” You get the incredible service, spectacular theming, and world class views, while at the same time you can avoid being startled by your bill if you choose to order carefully. I know I keep saying that same phrase over rand over again but that’s kind of the key to it all when trying to dine in a budget friendly manner at WDW.
You’re not necessarily receiving a lesser experience, but you’re spending far less that what you may expect from the outside looking in. This is especially true if you’re a guest that typically eats counter service everywhere you go while on vacation in the parks. The difference in cost to get better food (in some cases), better theming, and ultimately a more memorable experience is actually quite negligible at times.
When it’s all said and done, we go to the parks to create memories and for us so many of those memories come from a great meal gathered around the table with friends and family recounting the stories of the day and simply enjoying a moment together that more often that not gets lost in the hustle and bustle of daily life when we’re back home. We are to that point in life where it’s not always easy to coordinate a “real meal” with everyone all in one place at the same time so that needed time together and that experience at WDW is one that is so vastly important to us on vacation that we will often do whatever it takes to make it a feasible possibility on each and every one of our vacations. It all seems so simple but some of the greatest memories I have of the parks are as a result of telling stories around the table, interacting with an incredible waiter or waitress, or enjoying the flavors of a meal we can’t find back home. It’s those little moments that make all the difference and as I always say we’re all here in life trying to make the most of every minute and this is likely one of the best ways to do just that!
Yak and Yeti
To round out our list we have to head over to Animal Kingdom in our minds to Yak and Yeti. Truthfully, we put off trying Yak and Yeti for years because we’re not the most adventurous folks in the realm of dining. We always assumed the menu would be odd or we wouldn’t know what to order, but about a year ago we made the jump almost out of necessity to escape the heat one brutally hot summer day and gave it a shot. Our Landry’s Select card got us priority seating and the cards all seemed to fall into place on that particular day. At the end of the meal we were shocked to say the least and every hesitancy we originally had about this restaurant was long gone. Without a doubt, it had moved towards the top of our list of places to return to and since then we’ve been back a few times and it’s met or exceeded our expectations each and every time.
As with anything on this list, your cost is going to vary based on what you order. However, every time we eat here, we order around three entrees or two entrees and a nacho or a side of house fried rice or some combination of the group and split everything. Not only do you get to try a variety of the menu but you also get the chance figure out what you really want to order next time.
The menu isn’t all that adventurous when your food actually arrives at your table and I’m pretty picky when it comes to out of the ordinary food. Nothing on this menu is off-putting or so odd that it makes you feel like you’re “in Asia” despite the incredibly well appointed decor that puts you in the heart of the Animal Kingdom experience.
Long story made short, if you’re concerned about trying this because of the menu, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with your dining experience if you decide to give it a chance.
At this point, it’s not very difficult to notice a trend in our recommendations. Inevitably, this whole dining conundrum comes down to what you order and how much of it you order. Your bill will reflect your entree decisions and that’s not only true for these dining locations but also many many others across property. If you’re not careful you can end up spending $20 on a counter service meal and sitting outside in the heat when you could have spent $22 on an entree for one and spent an hour or two enjoying the air conditioning and the added benefits of table service dining.
I’ve always been a huge proponent of table service dining and that’s likely the main reason I made this list in the first place. So many guests overlook table service options and write them off simply because of preconceived ideas of high costs when that isn’t always the case.
If you’re considering a Disney vacation, consider at least one table service meal. It may not be for you, but you never know until you try it at least once. Everyone has their preferences. but I’m a firm believer in the fact that a good meal can change your day, refresh you for a few hours, and ultimately better your overall vacation experience. That’s the key to all of the tips on this site. Everyone’s ideal vacation experience is going to differ but it’s my goal to provide you with opportunities or thoughts that may change the way you view parts of your vacation experience. In the end, if I can help just one person create a new memory with family or a life long friend, then I’ve done what I hope to do! If this helps even one person, it’s a vast success in my book and well worth every minute put into the process of creating this content. As always, thatks for reading and we appreciate you taking a few minutes out of your busy lives to share a moment here with us. If you ever have questions, comments, or just want to join a group of like minded Disney fans I invite you to join us in the Guide4WDW Group on Facebook or to follow us on your favorite social media platform!
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A few short years ago, I was sitting in a college apartment trying to figure out what was "next" and came up with this idea to share my accumulated knowledge of the Disney Parks and Resorts with others. The end goal was to help others make the most of their Disney experience and it's been quite the journey!