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Dining at WDW


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  • [Question] Dining at WDW

    Planning a trip may 2012. I've been reading up on all of the things that WDW has to offer, and my question is. Does anyone have any recommendations as to where to eat? I just want the MC communities input. I'm looking at character dining and just great memorable experiences with family. It's all adults that are going, will be there for 10 days and please no sea food (allergies :/) so Reviews are greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

  • #2
    Re: Dining at WDW

    As far as character dining, I would suggest breakfast at a character buffet (you can do other meals but lunch/dinner at character buffets sometimes aren't the greatest food). The highlights are:
    • Crystal Palace at the MK (Pooh characters)
    • Chef Mickey's at The Contemporary (Fab 5)
    • Tusker House at Animal Kingdom (Fab 5)
    • 1900 Park Fare at The Grand Floridian (Alice in Wonderland and Mary Poppins)
    • Ohana's at The Polynesian (Lilo and Stitch)

    There are a few other character dining opportunities, but those are probably the highlights.

    Regarding memorable experiences, a few highlights I can think of are:
    • lunch at Chefs de France in Epcot where Remy (from Ratatouille) will briefly visit your table
    • dining at Whispering Canyon Cafe which has the rowdiest atmosphere of any WDW restaurant (can be lots of fun and very funny but depends on your server)
    • Bier Garten in Epcot which has a live polka band with a chance for audience participation
    • Sci-Fi Dine In at DHS which makes you feel like you're at a '50s drive in (not the greatest food)
    • Prime Time '50s Cafe at DHS where your server treats you like the children in a '50s sitcom (again, can be very fun/funny depending on your server)
    • Hoop De Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness Campground - A WDW classic dinner show that's been around since the '70s. All you care to eat barbecue along with a hilarious musical show. I know people who've seen it multiple times and still laugh hysterically every time they see it (myself included).

    Beyond that, here's some pretty extensive advice I posted on another thread. It's primarily geared for an adult audience. If you have any specific questions let me know and I'll be happy to help!

    Originally posted by PSUMark View Post
    Dining Advice
    For the most part, aakdisneydreamer gave you some really good advice, but I'm going to throw in my own $0.02. I'd recommend checking the menus at Disney World Restaurants | Walt Disney World Resort so you know both the menu options and pricing. For any table service restaurant, make reservations ASAP - they become available 6 months out. Here are some of the highlights as far as what to try and what to avoid IMO:

    Magic Kingdom - Table Service
    • Tony's Town Square - Probably the most universally poorly reviewed TSR at WDW. Food is just flat-out bad. Avoid this.
    • Cinderella's Royal Table - Pricey, atmosphere and food are both lacking. The only reason to eat here is if you have princess-obsessed children or to say you ate in the Castle. Again, one to avoid.
    • The Plaza Restaurant - Often overlooked, but a nice place for a relaxing lunch or dinner. If you're on DDP, avoid this as it's super-cheap for a TSR so you won't be getting your money's worth. If you have TIW, this is actually cheaper than a MK quick service restaurant but with better quality food and you get waited on.
    • Crystal Palace - Nice buffet, very similar to 1900 Park Fare and Chef Mickey's. The primary differentiation among all 3 is the location and the characters. This has Pooh characters.
    • Liberty Tree Tavern - Lunch is a la carte, dinner is family style fixed menu/price. I prefer lunch where they serve one of the best burgers on property. Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is a cult favorite WDW dessert.

    Magic Kingdom - Quick Service
    • Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn Cafe - Standard quick service, but good atmosphere and though they're really all the same everywhere, lots of people swear that the quick service burgers "just taste better here."
    • Columbia Harbor House - My personal favorite quick service restaurant on property. Good selection, but the highlight is the somewhat secluded second floor which is not accessible for those with strollers. This means it tends to be very quiet, peaceful, and relaxing - also one of the rooms on the 2nd floor forms a "bridge" over the border between Fantasyland and Liberty Square which is a great place to people watch.

    Epcot - Table Service
    • Tutto Italia - Overpriced and inconsistent as far as food quality goes. One to avoid.
    • Le Cellier - Very good but no longer lives up to the hype. It's impossible to get into, but if you're going to try, go for lunch when it's cheaper and the food is almost exactly the same.
    • San Angel Inn - Great Mexican food with great atmosphere.
    • Via Napoli - The best pizza on property. Pizza is expensive, but a large pizza will feed 4.
    • Biergarten - Great German buffet with live entertainment.
    • Chefs de France - Great food overall. Try to get in during lunch where you can see Remy (very entertaining) and it's a little cheaper.
    • Rose and Crown - Great bar, and not bad food.
    • Bistro de Paris - A personal favorite. The most expensive TSR in this park, and one of the more expensive ones on property, so not somewhere I go all the time, but for special occasions, you cannot beat the food, service, and atmosphere here. If this is in the budget, get a late reservation and ask for a window seat so you can watch Illuminations from your table. Superb.

    Epcot - Quick Service
    Anywhere that isn't Electric Umbrella or Liberty Inn (unless you're looking for just plain, standard American theme park fast food) depending on your tastes. You can't go wrong here.

    Hollywood Studios - Table Service
    • Sci-Fi Dine In - Really, really fun atmosphere themed to a '50s drive in theater. Decent food.
    • Prime Time '50s - Like the Jungle Cruise, the amount of fun you have here depends on your skipper, er, I mean server. They treat you like you're the kids in a '50s sitcom and they're the parents. Lots of fun with a good server, but the food isn't spectacular.
    • Mama Melrose - Often overlooked, but some of the best Italian on property.
    • Hollywood Brown Derby - Great food, nice atmosphere, pricey.

    Hollywood Studios - Quick Service
    • Sunset Ranch Market - Has a lot of variety but is outside so may be unpleasant depending on the weather
    • Pizza Planet - basic pizza and salad, but kids love it
    • ABC Commissary - has more adult tastes

    Animal Kingdom - Table Service
    • Yak & Yeti - Great Asian cuisine. Will not accept Tables In Wonderland. One of 2 TSRs in this park, the other being Rainforest Cafe. But seriously, why would you go to Rainforest Cafe in WDW when they're all over the place?

    Animal Kingdom - Quick Service
    • Flame Tree Barbecue - Great BBQ, between the food and the location/theme, it's generally considered the best quick service restaurant at WDW.
    • Pizzafari - The only quick service restaurant with air conditioning in this park
    • There really are no bad quick service locations in this park

    Out of Park Dining Highlights
    • Beaches and Cream - A "best kept secret," this TSR which doesn't take reservations has the best ice cream on property. Tucked away at the Beach Club Resort, this is walkable from Epcot. A great place to go for dessert after Illuminations. Ask a CM for directions.
    • California Grill - Dinner here offers great food and a gorgeous view of the sun setting over the Magic Kingdom from the top of the Contemporary Resort. Some people love to watch the MK fireworks here. They pipe in the music, but it's still not as good as seeing the fireworks from in front of the castle IMHO. On the pricey side.
    • Big River Grille & Brewing Works - Another TSR that doesn't take reservations; good food and the only microbrewery on property. At the Boardwalk Inn, also walkable from Epcot.
    • Whispering Canyon Cafe - Offers pretty good "all you care to eat" barbecue and some of the most fun atmosphere on property. It's hard to describe the experience but the word that comes to mind is "rowdy." Lots of yelling, screaming, and servers doing some flat out crazy things. In the Wilderness Lodge.
    • Portobello - Probably the best Italian on property. Not cheap, but incredible food. At Downtown Disney.
    • Yachtsman Steakhouse - Definitely not cheap, but fan consensus is that they have the best steaks on property. At the Yacht Club resort.
    • Victoria and Albert's - WDW's flagship (and most expensive) restaurant and one of less than five 5 star restaurants in FL. If you're a foodie, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Otherwise, it may be a little too fancy. Formal attire required. At the Grand Floridian Resort.
    Last edited by PSUMark; 12-11-2011, 10:38 PM.
    I knew if this business was ever to get anywhere, if this business was ever to grow, it could never do it by having to answer to someone unsympathetic to its possibilities, by having to answer to someone with only one thought or interest, namely profits. For my idea of how to make profits has differed greatly from those who generally control businesses such as ours. I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.
    -Walt Disney



    • #3
      Re: Dining at WDW

      My favorite restaurants are the Liberty Tree Tavern, the Crystal Palace, and Columbia Harbor House in the MK, and Sunshine Seasons and Chefs de France in EPCOT. The on;y character dining I've done was at the Crystal Palace, but Pooh and the gang were great fun.

      And if you have the cash for a dinner show, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness is worth every penny. Awesome all-you-can-eat barbecue, and one of the most fun shows on Disney property.

      You can look at a lot of the menus here: Disney Menus, Walt Disney World Restaurant Dining Menus -

      I've never had a bad meal at WDW.


      • #4
        Re: Dining at WDW

        We had a good lunch at Tony's Town Square. Nothing Magical, but decent nonetheless.


        • #5
          Re: Dining at WDW

          The food is definately better in WDW than Disneyland. I personally am sold even more on the atmosphere than the food, at times. Some of my personal favorites are:

          Cinderella's Royal Table in MK for character dining.
          Liberty Tree Tavern in MK, with or without character dining.
          Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, not for the food, but for the entertainment of the alien lounge singer.
          Columbia Harbor House in MK is nice lunch - fast food fare.

          In EPCOT:
          Rose and Crown Pub in United Kingdom
          Le Cellier in CAnada
          (I don't remember the name) but the Mexican restaurant in the Mexico pavilion. The atmosphere is incredible, the food is ok.
          Biergarten in EPCOT

          In DHS:
          Sci-Fi Dine-In
          50s Prime Time Diner.
          Both are incredible fun. You'll enjoy yourself.

          Animal Kingdom:
          Honestly, there was no food there that I remembered particularly. There is a Rainforest Cafe at the entrance, but if you're like me, you'll want to avoid it just because it's a chain and you can get that outside of WDW.

          My favorite restaurant in the resorts is Boatwrights Dining Hall in Dixie Landings. Yes, I still call it Dixie Landings.
          If you want to dress up and spend an OBSCENE amount of money, there is Victoria and ALberts at the Grand Floridian.

          Have a blast!

          No matter where you go, there you are.


          • #6
            Re: Dining at WDW

            Thank you all for the reviews. We will be there for the first time - with 2 grands - next month and appreciate some help in what is served where.
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            • #7
              Re: Dining at WDW

              When we went just recently my group went to the Garden Grill at Epcot in the Land Pavilion. It is pricey, but I believe it is totally worth it.

              They serve family style dinner which means that you each get plates and they bring around platters of food to each table.

              The best part, though, is that the restaurant spins! You even get to see the inside of the land attraction.
              Um yes this is my signature


              • #8
                Re: Dining at WDW

                Don't forget the restaurants at the resorts. I love Kona Cafe at the Polynesian. I've had dinner and breakfast there and both were delicious.


                • #9
                  Re: Dining at WDW

                  In terms of fine dining but not quite to the level of V&A, my favorites have been Jiko (at AKL), Yachtsman's Steak House (Yacht and Beach Club), and California Grill (atop the Contemporary). None are cheap, but I have dined at each several times, and was always pleased. These are also favorites of a CM business associate of mine, who introduced me to them.

                  We also have enjoyed lunch at Le Cellier, Restaurant Marrakech, the Bier Garten (all EPCOT), and Liberty Tree Tavern (MK).

                  My Avatar: Duck vs. Monorail, Disneyland 3/18/11


                  • #10
                    Re: Dining at WDW

                    Reguardless of where you go, you should probably get reservations in ASAP. My family always went in May and although the parks weren't as crowded as they are in the summer, the nicer dining places usually get filled fairly quickly.


                    • #11
                      Re: Dining at WDW

                      My top dining suggestions for fun and atmosphere:

                      1) Prime Time Cafe - a great unusual setting and, with a good server (which seems like most of them) it's almost a show as well.

                      2) Tony's Time Squaure Restaurant - but here's the key: arrive for lunch at 11:45 and request a patio seating. Enjoy great people watching, guests arriving in the park, characters interacting with guests, and the occasional trolly pass. Great view.


                      • #12
                        Re: Dining at WDW

                        Originally posted by harpist1991 View Post
                        Reguardless of where you go, you should probably get reservations in ASAP. My family always went in May and although the parks weren't as crowded as they are in the summer, the nicer dining places usually get filled fairly quickly.
                        ^Definitely this. Especially for character dining.


                        • #13
                          Re: Dining at WDW

                          Vic and Al's diner at the Grand Floridian. Yeah, it's a little expensive, but everything about it is right. Just make sure you look up the dress code before you leave for your trip. No T-shirts and flip-flops in this place


                          • #14
                            Re: Dining at WDW

                            Thank you all for your help and suggestions. Greatly appreciated!



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