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Spotlight: Magical Dining Month Returns


It's here! Visit Orlando's Magical Dining Month, which somehow defies all principles of the modern Gregorian calendar by running more than five weeks, runs through Oct. 1.

More than 100 restaurants are participating this year, up from 65 in 2016, including for the first time some well-known Disney restaurants. So even with 38 days, you're not going to be able to visit them all. (No. NO. Stop arguing, you just can't do it.) Also up this year is the cost, $35, two bucks more than 2016, and they're not even paying Emeril Lagasse an endorsement fee this year.

So you're going to have to do some research to narrow your decision. Here's how I go about choosing which Magical Dining Month restaurants I'll visit.

First, I go to the official MagDinMo website and look over the list of restaurants. I'm looking for newcomers, places I'm going to want to visit for a review anyway. (Hey, I like saving money, too.) I also look for the restaurants that I know to have higher price points. (I repeat, I like saving money.)

Each participating restaurant lists its three-course menu options. Once you find one you like, open another browser window and go to the restaurant's own webpage- and compare the rack-rate, a la carte prices. Make your choices accordingly.

I'm wary of those that have menus with dishes not on the regular menu at all. I'm not so concerned with different portion sizes, though many of the participating restaurants serve the full portion. This is an opportunity to show customers who may not be familiar with your restaurant what you can do. If they like it, perhaps they'll return some other time and pay full price.

A couple of boilerplate notes. First, you may have to specifically request the Magical Dining Month Menu if it isn't automatically offered when you are seated. Don't just go to your notes and order the MagDinMo items from the regular menu and expect to be charged only $35; it doesn't work that way.

Also, your check is going to be more than $35. That price does not include tax and beverages. Expect to pay more than $50 per person with a modest glass of wine.

And finally, please don't shortchange your servers. Take the total amount of the courses from the regular menu and tip on that figure. Happy Magical Dining.

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