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Disney Dining: Review of DiningatDisney.com's ‘Epcot Dining Guide’

Dining at Disney's "Epcot Dining Guide" is a convenien guide, in e-book format, that covers dining and drinking options at the Walt Disney World Resort theme park..
Dining at Disney's "Epcot Dining Guide" is a convenien guide, in e-book format, that covers dining and drinking options at the Walt Disney World Resort theme park.. Kristin Hoetzel-Go, DiningatDisney.com

“DiningatDisney.com’s Epcot Dining Guide” is an e-book written by Kristen Hoetzel-Go. Hoetzel-Go is a travel agent specializing in Disney and cruise vacation and the owner and editor of DiningatDisney.com. By her own count, Hoetzel-Go has visited the Disney Parks more than 40 times and has been to every restaurant.

Subtitled “Everything You Need to Enjoy Dining at Epcot,” the guide focuses on one theme park at the Walt Disney World Resort (WDW). It offers an overview of the park’s Epcot dining options, food-related annual events and other experiences.

For the first-time WDW guest, or a returning guest, seeking a focused food guide, the “Epcot Dining Guide” is a very portable option – and a quick, easy read.

“DiningatDisney.com’s Epcot Dining Guide” is also very affordable. The e-book costs $11.99. For the Disney a foodie, the investment works out to be approximately the cost of one adult meal at an Epcot counter-service restaurant.

Should you invest in this guide? Regular readers of Dining at Disney will not hesitate to do so. The site presents Epcot food-related information in its e-book, keeping its reviews and other more extensive, evaluative posts on the site. In a sense, the “Epcot Dining Guide” extends the site’s relationships with its readers, offering yet another planning resource in another form. Given the close relationship between the two, I recommend visiting DiningatDisney.com in making the decision whether to buy the guide.

Disclosure: I was given a copy of the “Epcot Dining Guide” for the purposes of review. I was not compensated for this review, nor was the guide provided in exchange for a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Format and organization of Dining at Disney’s “Epcot Dining Guide”

An e-book, “Epcot Dining Guide” is a substantial 83 pages, but concise and straightforward. It includes some color photos, and introduction, and ancillary material. The guide’s tone is upbeat and mostly positive toward Epcot dining.

The guide offers general information on WDW dining and travel planning and various Disney Dining Plans. Most of the guide addresses Epcot dining and drinking options: snack and beverage spots, counter-service places and table-service restaurants. It provides overviews of food events and special experiences. Interspersed throughout are brief tips, most of them specific and useful.

“Epcot Dining Guide” is clearly, if not always efficiently, organized. For example, the “Booking Your Dining” section mentions Advanced Dining Reservations (ADRs), but details come several sections later in “Planning Your Dining.” This organization requires some back-and-forth reading, but isn’t a big obstacle once readers are familiar with the book.

The e-book format makes the guide portable and accessible. The e-book format allows the addition of external hyperlink, more of which would enhance future edition: links to Dining at Disney’s restaurant reviews, for instance, or detailed discussions of events.

Coverage of Epcot dining options

“Epcot Dining Guide” presents itself as a starting point for Epcot dining. Its descriptive coverage of restaurants focuses on types of food and/or beverages, locations, hours and price ranges. The guide occasionally touches on food quality and ambience, and one section offers dining recommendations (62-63). These comments are brief, not full reviews or presented as such.

Hoetzel-Go does inform readers reviews are available at DiningatDisney.com. She recommends visiting the site and doing research via other Disney blogs and using social media.

Readers familiar with Epcot dining can quickly browse the guide’s restaurant descriptions. They are organized in an easy-to-read format addressing type of cuisine, location, hours, price range, the Disney Dining Plan and any specialties. Table-service locations add information about service, reservations and the Tables in Wonderland discount.

Coverage of Epcot and the Disney Dining Plan

“Epcot Dining Guide” addresses issues that can make dining a complex, time-consuming and expensive element of a Disney vacation. The guide provides information on the Disney Dining Plan (DDP), questions to help readers evaluate plans, and tips.

The DDP overview is complemented with “best use of DDP snack credits” (16-18) and “DDP pros and cons” (18-19) sections, among the guide’s strongest elements. They provide clear recommendations, and the guide is at its best when Hoetzel-Go offers such specific strategies.

Generally, the guide seems to promote the DDP. Readers questioning the DDP’s value may wish the guide had offered more analysis, and it might be worth future editions to do so. The 2014 version does acknowledge DDP’s value depends on many factors and varies according to different guests’ needs. Hoetzel-Go encourages readers to “do the math.” Still, the guide might offer hypothetical calculations, or links to site posts, as a starting point for evaluation.

Future editions might also cover the Disney “Free Dining” promotion or compare the DDP with other Disney dining discount.

Coverage of Epcot dining strategies, food events and special experiences

Several sections introduce strategies for Epcot dining, some which may be applied to all of WDW. Specific to Epcot, this guide mentions the park’s food-related events and experiences.

“Drinking Around the World,” an informal challenge in which guests consume alcoholic beverages at all Epcot World Showcase pavilions, is covered fairly comprehensively. “Beverage Carts” (39-46) provides a bullet list of available beverages, while “Drinking Around the World” (64-65) offers recommendations.

The guide introduces theme park’s major dining-related events: the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, the latter which has begun to add food and beverage booths. These sections are overviews and DiningatDisney.com sells separate e-books on these events.

The guide also mentions Candlelight Processional Dining Packages, the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party, the new-ish Epcot After Hours experience, wine walks, Club Cool and the Behind the Seeds Backstage Tour. This coverage helps readers plan a variety of dining experiences – and subtly re-emphasizes why Disney foodies focus on Epcot.

“DiningatDisney.com’s Epcot Dining Guide” ends with general dining strategies for counter-service and table-service options. As with many of the guide’s advice-oriented portions, this section is useful, but could be longer or include hyperlinks to the site.

The “Epcot Dining Guide” provides an easy-to-understand overview of Epcot dining options, and this e-book accomplishes that goal. But it’s Hoetzel-Go’s specific advice that makes guide stand out – and what this reader would like to read more of in future editions.