Dining in Walt Disney World can be a real treat – if you know where to go and what to eat. There’s nothing worse than a disappointing meal during an expensive vacation. As someone who frequents Walt Disney World, I can help ensure that your dining experiences will be as memorable as your days and nights at Walt Disney World’s four major Theme Parks.
The most logical place to start is breakfast. Whether you’re staying at one of Walt Disney World’s deluxe resorts or not, I’d suggest dining at one of them each morning for breakfast. From there, it’s just a short monorail or bus ride to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, MGM Studios, or whatever your destination. The most pleasing attraction for the kids is dining with the Walt Disney World characters. At Disney’s Polynesian Resort, you and your family can enjoy Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast with Lilo & Stitch. At Disney’s Contemporary Resort, share breakfast with Goofy and his pals at Chef Mickey’s. At Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, dining is made elegant as you enjoy a meal with a Princess at 1900 Park Fare. Wherever you decide to dine for breakfast in Walt Disney World, I highly recommend the Mickey Waffle. Adults, I learned the hard way that if you’re ordering the waffle for yourself you may have to request that it be shaped like Mickey, or you may find yourself sadly pouring syrup over an ordinary non-Mickey waffle.
After breakfast, you’ll be heading over to one of Walt Disney World’s four major Theme Parks. Rather than interrupt your fun at the parks, I’d suggest dining at one of the park’s casual dining or quick service restaurants. If you’re at the Magic Kingdom, head over to the World of Tomorrow, where you can enjoy a Blast-off Burger, Hot Dog, or Cosmic Chicken at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Dining at Disney’s Cosmic Ray’s is a fun experience, and the food is very good too. If you happen to be at Epcot Center, head over to the World Showcase and find the good ol’ USA. There, you’ll spot the Liberty Inn, which boasts terrific quick service food, which you can enjoy outside or in.
At MGM Studios, I’d suggest trying something a little more fancy. The Hollywood Brown Derby offers signature dining and a great atmosphere, not to mention some very fine drinks. Last time I was there, I spotted Michael J. Fox with his family. If you’re at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, try some prehistoric dining at Restaurantosaurus. Great burgers and great fries, fast so you can make your way over to Expedition Everest, the Animal Kingdom’s newest and wildest ride.
Your options for dinner are even greater. If you’re willing to head back to one of the resorts, my best suggestion is to make reservations at Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. A variety of grilled meats, including steak, turkey and pork, are served off a skewer until you’re full. Polynesian music is played while you sip tropical drinks and soak in the view of the Magic Kingdom. You’ll want to try Ohana early in your trip, because chances are you’ll want to come back. Prices are very reasonable. Well, except maybe for the drinks.
If you have a big appetite and a full wallet, then dining at Walt Disney’s Grand Floridian is hard to beat. Nestled on the waterfront, Narcoossee’s serves some of the best seafood in Central Florida. If you can’t get a reservation at Narcoossee’s or if your MasterCard is almost maxed out, try Citricos, which offers excellent Mediterranean cuisine.
Another fabulous dining opportunity in Walt Disney World can be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Jiko – The Cooking Place is a stylish restaurant offering familiar foods with an African flair. I found myself returning early to the resort just to eat at Jiko several times during my most recent trip to Walt Disney World last year.
There are also a few dining experiences worth trying at Walt Disney World’s four major Theme Parks. At the Magic Kingdom, make a reservation at Tony’s Town Square for terrific Italian cuisine. At Epcot Center, travel the length of the World Showcase to discover which restaurant at which country best suits your needs.
There are also a few dining experiences I’d recommend you skip on your visit to Walt Disney World. I found dining at Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Show at the Polynesian wholly unsatisfactory as far as food goes. The show was fine, but for that price, please don’t insult me by serving only Budweiser beer. Overall, not worth your time or money.
I’d also skip the Concourse Steakhouse at the Contemporary for dinner. The food is sub-par, the service is poor, and you’d be much better off at the California Grill at the same resort. You’ll pay more, but at least you’ll enjoy your meal.
Finally, for the price, the Coral Reef Restaurant at Epcot Center’s Living Seas Pavilion doesn’t do it for me. In fact, the attraction itself isn’t really worth your time. If you absolutely must experience “dining under the sea,” I’d recommend finding a decent shipwreck before you try the Coral Reef Restaurant.
There you have it. Everything you need to know about dining in Walt Disney World. I’ll be writing more articles on Walt Disney World, such as what attractions to see at each park, in the days to come, so check back soon.