Even surrounded by Disney magic, youve still got to eat, and at Walt Disney World, not all food experiences are created equal.
If you have children in tow at Disney World, youll need to think of meals in two separate categories. There are regular restaurant meals and then there are meals that also count as entertainment (and a way to see characters or shows without crowds). Once your kids know that Mickey, Minnie or the princesses can join them for dinner, youll have to choose between an affordable meal and creating lasting memories over a pretty pricey meal.
Heres a quick round-up of the best restaurants at Disney World. If you want the meaty details, read on.
- Best Table Service: Takumi-Tei
- Best Character Meal: Cinderellas Royal Table (dinner)
- Best Character Brunch: Chef Mickeys
- Best Meal for Teens and Tweens: Storybook Dining at Artist Point
- Best High-End Meal: Victoria & Alberts
- Best Quick Service: Satuli Canteen
- Best Snack: Dole Whip
How to Make Disney Dining Reservations
Steel yourself: You have to book some Disney World restaurants six months ahead. Reservations can be made exactly 180 days before the day you arrive at Disney.
The hardest-to-get reservations are at Be Our Guest, Cinderellas Royal Table, Chef Mickeys, Victoria & Alberts and Ohana (for dinner).
The My Disney Experience website and app are your best friends for dining availability, though Disney World maintains a phone line to answer your questions (407-WDW-DINE or 407-939-3463). The phone lines open each day at 7 a.m. ET, but the website starts taking reservations at 6 a.m.
Best Disney Restaurants
Upscale Japanese omakase in a theme park? Yes, please. Opened in summer 2019, Takumi-Tei and its five themed rooms (water, wood, earth, stone or washi paper) immediately transport you out of theme park mode and into a calm, serene environment with extremely attentive service, very solid food and great attention to detail. Besides the $130 seven-course omakase menu option, you can choose to order a la carte as long as you didnt select the Chefs Table in the water room. There, you must order a nine-course $180 meal that takes place over three hours.
Among the individual dishes, we recommend the chefs sushi assortment, served in bite-sized pieces ($37), the telen-garden salad with watermelon and tuna sashimi ($20) and, of course, the wagyu beef is melt-in-your-mouth fantastic.
There is a childs menu but it is comprised of items such as roasted duck and sea bass, so this restaurant may be one you save for date night or when the children are older its that good.
In the heart of Italy in Epcot, this favorite may have slipped a notch since opening but still features legitimate Italian food thatd pass muster in New York Citys Little Italy. The prices are reasonable by Disney standards, with most entrees under $30. Pizza is more expensive than youd expect but great for sharing. (Go for the Mezzo Metro.)
Though we recommend making reservations, its a big enough place that you can often find a table at the last minute. If youre in a bind, ask if you can sit at the big family-style table in the middle of the dining room; this can cut your wait considerably.
The Hollywood Brown Derby
This Hollywood Studios replica of the California icon has an air-conditioned dining room thats an ideal lunchtime escape from the Florida heat. It isnt cheap and you wont find Mickey roaming around, but the excellent Cobb salad is worth it and you can have a mixed drink before hitting the parks again. You can reserve seats at the Brown Derby for the Fantasmic! nighttime spectacular.
Quick service at its Disney-fied finest, this mess hall is next to Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom. The beef, chicken and fish bowls make a great fast and cheap lunch or dinner and the blueberry cream-cheese mousse is a highlight.
Theres wine and beer to help you wind down after the Avatar experience. Coincidentally, this place is not only a yummy quick-service selection but also a good choice if you are trying to eat healthy while at Disney World.
Victoria & Alberts
If you simply want the best food at Disney World, head for this posh restaurant in Disneys Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. Just dont expect to roll in straight from the parks, as men must wear dinner jackets and women are expected to don a nice dress, fancy pantsuit or skirt with a blouse. Children under 10 are not permitted. Expect to spend a few hundred dollars on a meal for two.
Best Street Treats
Looking for the best snacks at Disney World? The list begins and ends with Dole Whip. Among a host of good and even excellent snacking options, Dole Whip reigns supreme.
Whats Dole Whip? It starts with tantalizingly cold pineapple-flavored soft serve and then (if youre smart) theres added pineapple juice. On a hot day, its perfection.
Disneyland and Disney World were, for some time, two of the very few places you could find this treat, though nowadays its available elsewhere. The original is in Disneylands Adventureland. At Disney World, you can get your Dole Whip on at the Florida version of Adventureland, just past The Magic Carpets of Aladdin at Aloha Isle.
You can also find Dole Whip in Animal Kingdom at Tamu Tamu, where you can add a shot of alcohol, and at the Polynesian Village Resort just behind the main building as you head toward the pool. Use mobile ordering on the My Disney Experience app so you dont have to wait in a long line for a Dole Whip.
A similar (and extra sugary) cool Disney treat isLeFous Brew, available at Gastons Tavern in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.
The opening of Star Wars: Galaxys Edge also gives us a few interesting and memorable snacks. For a shot of protein, Nuna Turkey Jerky is a tad pricey (over $7) but a good-sized portion. The sweet version might be a touch too sweet, but the the spicy version is tame enough for most.
And the craziest popcorn in the galaxy is right around the corner. Swing by Kat Sakas Kettle for The Outpost Mix, a not-quite-sweet/not-quite-spicy bag of colorful treats.
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Best Disney Character Dining Experiences
Do you want a side of Mickey or Cinderella with your bacon and eggs? No problem, but itll cost you dearly.
Having a Disney World annual pass, DVC membership and Tables in Wonderland dining discount will lighten the bill at our favorite character meals, but theres no two ways around it: Disney World character meals are expensive.
Cinderellas Royal Table
Any conversation about Disney character dining starts and ends with Cinderellas Royal Table, served in the iconic Cinderella Castle, the epicenter of the Magic Kingdom, but this may be a meal too far for your budget.
Breakfast here is almost $70 per adult. Dinner is actually the better overall value at roughly $80 and the food is also better in the evening, with items including braised pork shank, pan-seared chicken, a charcuterie plate and amaretto cheesecake.
Despite the price, youll quickly see the value inside the castle. You meet Cinderella herself for a photo opportunity as soon as you enter. Upstairs, youll get a seat in her castle dining room, along with a magic wand or a sword for your little ones. While you sit and eat, a host of Cinderellas friends, including Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Rapunzel, stop by for table visits.
The actors own their roles and are warm, personable and engaging. Your little princesses (and princes) will leave with lasting memories. If you can get seats near the windows, you can use the natural light (shooting with the light behind your back) to get better photos with the princesses and enjoy a great view of Fantasyland during your meal.
Outside the parks, Ohana at Disneys Polynesian Village Resort offers family-style dining in a Hawaiian-themed restaurant with breakfast visits from Lilo and Stitch as well as a certain mouse and his friends in Hawaiian shirts.
Breakfast at Ohana is $40 per adult and roughly $25 for kids 3 to 9, and you dont need park admission. Ohana at dinner is one of most coveted Disney reservations, so book this one 180 days in advance. The characters are not present during dinner, but there is still a fun parade and they dim the lights and play music with the evening fireworks!
At night, bring your appetite for the all-you-care-to-enjoy Ohana pineapple-coconut bread, pork dumplings, sweet-n-sour chicken and teriyaki noodles. Save room for the grand finale Ohana Bread Pudding la modetopped with caramel sauce and bananas, topped still further with vanilla ice cream. Trust us, its really good and you will leave (beyond) stuffed and smiling.
This might be the best combination of food and kid-oriented fun. If youre looking for a (potentially) healthy meal that tastes pretty good and also keeps your kids occupied, look to Chef Mickeys inside the Contemporary Resort. It offers buffet-style breakfast, brunch and dinner.
Our favorite meal is brunch, which features everything from eggs and bacon to pot roast and salmon. And of course, there are iconic Mickey waffles!
While youre dining, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy dance to music, sign autographs and keep your children mesmerized. Weve dined for an hour at Chef Mickeys and our kids didnt complain one bit.
Youll spend about $40 per adult on breakfast, $50 on brunch and $60 on dinner. Kids 3 and up cost a little over half that amount.
The newest character meal at Disney World is also one of the best and most unique. Inside Disneys Wilderness Lodge (so no park ticket required), the full three-course meal at Artist Point goes well beyond burgers and fries to unique offerings such as a shrimp cocktail starter and main course options that include butter-poached snapper and a truly amazing vegetarian dish that features butternut squash, arugula and gnocchi.
Theres also a trio of included desserts (with a poison apple theme, naturally) and the very best part a visit with the Evil Queen herself.
Best Dinner Show
If you want to laugh until your belly hurts or maybe your belly hurts because of the all-you-can-enjoy fried chicken and fixings head to one of the longest-running dinner shows in the country. This dinner show at Fort Wilderness is a Disney classic and a ton of fun for kids and adults, as long as you like singing along to American classics and laughing at corny jokes. Or just come for the strawberry shortcake and bottomless sangria, wine and beer.
There are three shows each evening and prices range from $64 to $72 per adult (depending on your selected seating tier) and $38 to $43 per child, ages 3 to 9.
These places get overlooked but are good choices for a lunchtime break in the parks.
In the Magic Kingdom on the way to Adventureland from Main Street USA, this restaurant offers good food and a few characters. Some even say the food at Crystal Palace is better than Cinderellas Royal Table. The buffet features dozens of items, including shrimp cocktail, pasta and freshly carved meats such as roast turkey, ham and ribeye steak.
Winnie the Pooh and his friends will stop by your table and, if your kids are feeling adventurous, lead them on a march around the dining room. Plan on spending about $60 per adult after taxes and tips, with kids about half that price.
Work with usfor just a minute. We know that Ogas Cantina is really light on actual food items. That could make it tough to classify as a restaurant. But the experience is so over-the-top we had to make an exception. Youll find Ogas Cantina in Batuu, the land of Star Wars: Galaxys Edge. And if youre there on a day that ends in Y, youre likely to encounter a line of people waiting to get in (unless you were lucky enough to score a reservation in advance). If youre hungry, you might try a Mustafarian Cinnamon Roll or some Batuu Bits with your Blue Bantha or Yub Nub. But, youre not really here for the food or the pricey drinks. Youre here because its a one-of-a-kind experience in Disney World. With DJ R-3X spinning tunes and your bartenders in full costume and character, the vibe will turn even the most anti-Star Wars person into a smiling participant.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
Cool and atmospheric, this restaurant is on a less-traveled walkway in Hollywood Studios. You can dine in your own car while watching old movies. Better yet, let your kids have their own car and eat in relative peace. The menu is a la carte, ranging from hamburgers to pasta and shrimp. Its fairly gentle on the budget at about $20 an entree. And the cast members really get into their roles.
Liberty Tree Tavern
Just past Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square, this is a sit-down restaurant for lunch or dinner with turkey, pot roast and healthy salads, all with a New England theme. At dinner, it switches to an all-you-can-eat, family-style service.
Rose & Crown
This Epcot take on U.K. fare serves up an authentic plate of fish and chips or bangers and mash.
If you want an upscale Disney dinner but not quite Victoria & Alberts level of fancy (or expensive), try California Grill. Check-in for this meal is on the second floor of Disneys Contemporary Resort, but the actual dining room is on the 15th floor. This elevated location gives it a five-star sunset and fireworks view of the Magic Kingdom and surrounding resorts.
There is a dress code at California Grill but it isnt as strict as at Victoria & Alberts jeans in good condition are permitted, though men are asked to wear collared shirts. Here you will find fresh foods inspired by the Pacific coast such as sushi and sashimi, goat cheese ravioli, yellowfin tuna, oak-fired angus filet, rack of lamb and a truly amazing chefs garden heirloom-tomato starter.
Our Least Favorite Disney Meals
Even with all the magical pixie dust at Disney World, there are misfires.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Character dining is a big part of the Disney experience and you might think you can save a few dollars by dining with the princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot rather than Cinderellas Royal Table, but its a poor substitute (unless you just need a bite near the Frozen ride in Norway). Although your favorite princesses will join you for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the food just isnt on par with the other Disney eateries. That said, it is an easier reservation to snag than Cinderellas Royal Table, so keep it in your back pocket if you need a last-minute princess meal.
This spot in the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot is another relative downer, especially compared to the spectacular Takumi-Tei. The food here is decent, but theres not a lot of performance factor at this teppanyaki place. Frankly, weve seen better performances at a more reasonable price point in teppanyaki restaurants in strip malls closer to home. At Disney prices, there are definitely better values for your hard-earned dollars, with themes you cant easily recreate elsewhere.
Be Our Guest
Surprised this perennial favorite made this list? Consider it a victim of its own success. Were not saying that its a bad place to eat watching the rose petals fall when the lightning crashes is a nice effect but the crowds at lunchtime can be brutal.
Consider making a reservation for dinner, when its calmer and offers a prix fixe signature dining menu. If you do dare to go at lunch, at least pre-order your food in Disneys app to help with the process. Regardless of when you eat, ask for the Beasts dining room, as its by far the coolest of the three.
To give you a better idea of what we mean by lunchtime crowds, below is the stock image for Be Our Guest and then what it actually looks like at lunch.
Our Final Tip
Remember that plenty of quick-service restaurants at Disney will allow you to order food ahead of time via the mobile app. You can also charge Disney meals to your room (using your Magic Bands) and then earn a bonus on all of your in-park meals by paying with a card at resort checkout that gives you a bonus on travel. Paying with Disney gift cards you purchased at a discount is another great idea to save a bit while dining at some of Disney Worlds best restaurants.
If you pay for your Disney meal on the spot with a credit card, use one that gives you the best payout on dining. Most Disney World restaurants do code as dining charges, even within the parks. This makes the four points per dollar awarded on dining with the American Express Gold Card our top choice. We confirmed this recently at Marrakesh Moroccan, Ohana and Takumi-Tei.
What is your favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World?
Featured photo courtesy of Walt Disney World.
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