Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Disney Dining--Where To Eat

Before I ever went to Disney I had always heard how the food was no good there. I decided to really research and look into all of the dining options because we most definitely did not want to eat bad food all week. The key to good food at Disney is to make reservations. There is about a zero percent chance you will be able to get a table at a good restaurant without making a reservation before hand. There are several "quick service" restaurants all around the park where you don't make reservations and can walk right up and order food. However, this food gets a huge thumbs down from yours truly. It is equivalent to ball park food and perhaps why so many people think the food at Disney is no good because if this is all you eat, I can absolutely see why you would feel that way!! The first time we went to Disney I had two quick service meals planned for us. I thought it would be easier to just grab a burger and fries in the park quickly vs having a nice sit down dinner. Needless to say, while we were eating our food, we were on the MyDisney Experience App looking to see if we could get a reservation to anywhere because we were absolutely not going to eat that food one more time. LOL.

You are able to begin booking your dining 180 days before your arrival at 6 am (Disney time). Because we booked our most recent vacation so far in advance, we did make our reservations six months out and we were able to book all of the restaurants we wanted and get the times we wanted too. We didn't book our previous trip to Disney until about 60 days out but we were still able to get into a lot of great restaurants. The best way to book reservations and see what restaurants are available is through the MyDisney Experience App. And if you don't book your trip until closer to when you go, continue to check the app several times a day if you're wanting to get into a certain restaurant because people are constantly canceling their reservations and if you get lucky you may be able to snag a great one! When we went to Disney the first time, we were able to book Be Our Guest, which is a very hard restaurant to get into, while we were literally at Disney. We just kept checking the app and someone had canceled their reservation so we took it!

We really enjoy doing the character dining at Disney. It's a great way to be able to interact with the characters without waiting in lines at the park to meet them. All of the character meals are buffets and I always tell people that the food reminds me of a country club buffet. The character meals are the most expensive meals at Disney but the food is good and I always walk away from the experience feeling like it was most definitely worth it! Here is a review of all of the character meals I've done at Disney:

1900 Park Fare - 1900 Park Fare is hands down my favorite character meal. We have only done this meal for breakfast and the food is amazing. The characters at breakfast include Mary Poppins, Alice, The Mad Hatter, Pooh and Piglet. This character meal is in the beautiful Grand Floridian hotel. We always do this meal when we are at Magic Kingdom because we can take the monorail to the Grand Floridian. I cannot recommend this meal enough. The unique blend of characters, the incredible food, and the lovely location make this my favorite dining experience at Disney.

Tusker House - Tusker House is a must if you are in Animal Kingdom. The food is some of the best I've had at Disney. The characters are Mickey, Donald, Daisy and Goofy and they're all dressed in safari clothes. We were all raving about how amazing this food was and I cannot recommend this restaurant enough!
Crystal Palace - Crystal Palace is located inside of Magic Kingdom and the characters are all from Winnie the Pooh. We have done breakfast and lunch at Crystal Palace and I prefer their lunch over breakfast. This dining experience is really nice because of the location. You can't beat being right inside of Magic Kingdom and the view from the restaurant is of Cinderella's castle! The building itself is so beautiful. I recommend this restaurant mostly for the location but I do give their food a thumbs up.
Cape May Café - Cape May Café is a delicious breakfast! It isn't quite as good as breakfast at 1900 Park Fare but it comes in at a very close second. The atmosphere at this restaurant is beachy and fun. The characters are only there for breakfast and they include Minnie, Daisy, Donald and Goofy. This restaurant is walking distance from the hotel we always stay at so it makes it an easy option for us. If you are staying near Beach Club, which is where Cape May Café is located, then I highly recommend giving this meal a try!

I definitely recommend doing a character meal or two while you're at Disney. We typically do one a day for breakfast or lunch. If we do a big breakfast, we usually make it for later in the morning so we skip lunch and do an early dinner. There are several non-character meals that we love at Disney and we usually eat at these restaurants for dinner. These are my favorites:
Le Cellier Steakhouse - Le Cellier is located in Epcot--Canada to be exact. The interior makes you feel like you are inside a wine cellar and the food is phenomenal. We all got a steak and commented that it may be the best steak we had ever had. This restaurant is an absolute must if you are in Epcot!

Beaches and Cream - Beaches and Cream is located in Beach Club (same as Cape May Café) and this is such a fun place to eat. It looks like an old soda shop and they serve burgers and the most amazing desserts ever. They were undergoing refurbishments while we were there this last time so we weren't able to eat there and we were so disappointed. If you go to Beaches and Cream you must get their famous kitchen sink--vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, cookies and cream and mint chocolate chip ice cream smothered with every topping in the house. It's MASSIVE and serves four very hungry people. A pic of my Campbell with the kitchen sink at Beaches and Cream!

Be Our Guest - Be Our Guest is a meal everyone should do simply for the experience but the food is not my favorite. It isn't bad by any means but for the hype this restaurant gets, the food could stand to be better. This restaurant is a one and done for me but I still recommend it for the experience. The restaurant is located inside Magic Kingdom and it is so very beautiful...the pictures don't do it justice. The Beast walks around at dinner but doesn't interact with the guest although you are able to take a photo with him if you like. The star of this restaurant is dessert--The Grey Stuff. Try the grey stuff--It really IS delicious.

Flying Fish - Flying Fish is located on the Boardwalk and it has excellent seafood. The interior is modern and cool and you can see the chefs preparing the food in the open kitchen. This restaurant does not have a Disney feel to it at all, which can be refreshing. We went with our waiters recommendations on what to eat and everything was delicious. Highly recommend, especially if you're staying near the area like we were.

Via Napoli - Via Napoli is located in Epcot, Italy obviously. You instantly feel like you are in Italy the moment you arrive. This is authentic Italian cooking and the wood burning ovens are brought in from Italy. They even import the flour and water from Naples to make the pizza dough. This is the meal I was most excited about for our most recent trip but unfortunately I left just a tiny bit disappointed. I do still recommend it because the pizza was very yummy but it was not the best pizza I have ever had in my life, like I had imagined it would be.

Shulas - Shulas is quite possibly the best meal I've had at Disney. It is located inside of the Dolphin hotel which is where we stay, making this an easy restaurant for us to dine. The award winning steaks are phenomenal and the atmosphere reminds me of a more lively Ruth's Chris vibe. As if the amazing food and service wasn't enough, this restaurant cut up my kids food for me, and that alone is worth going.

California Grill - California Grill is located on the top floor of the Contemporary Hotel making this an easy restaurant to get to if you're in Magic Kingdom because of the access to the monorail. We really enjoyed this meal and I most definitely recommend it. The food was really, really good but the blackberry cocktail was even better. I'd go back just for another one of those!

The Hollywood Brown Derby - The Hollywood Brown Derby is located in Hollywood Studios and a play off the famous Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood. I was really looking forward to this meal because the menu looked delicious but ended up being disappointed. They had a special menu due to us being there during the holiday season which could have been the problem. There were no handhelds and the only lunchy item on the menu was a cobb salad. Everything else offered seemed more appropriate for dinner. I did enjoy the location and atmosphere however, I would try something else the next time I went to Hollywood Studios.

Restaurants that I've heard good things about but haven't been to yet and plan to try the next time I go are:
Liberty Tree Tavern (Magic Kingdom)
The Plaza (Magic Kingdom)
San Angel Inn (Epcot)
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Hollywood Studios)
Yak and Yeti (Animal Kingdom)
Ohana (Polynesian Resort)
Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)

Disney has a wide range of restaurants and there are so many to choose from. You can do anything from a cheap, quick meal, to buffets, to ordering off menus.....there's even a super fancy restaurant that requires cocktail attire. If good food is important to you then you'll want to plan ahead and make reservations. You will not be able to walk into a restaurant to sit and eat without waiting a very long time for a table...if you can even get in at all. The MyDisney Experience App is the best tool for finding a reservation and you can view the menu for each restaurant on the app. If you're concerned about your kids getting antsy at a sit-down restaurant, don't be. You get in and out pretty quickly and they bring the kids food out as soon as it's prepared and ready. We always reserve two meals for each day we're at Disney--late breakfast and dinner or lunch and dinner--and it works perfect for us.
I hope this was helpful when choosing where to eat at Disney World!

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