I have a confession—I get more excited about eating at Walt Disney World than going on the rides. Don’t get me wrong, I love and appreciate the brilliantly unique theme park attractions but there is just something special about dining at one of their many restaurants. Because they are such sticklers for detail, each restaurant, whether at one of their theme parks, resorts or Downtown Disney, not only offers a menu full of palate-pleasing plates but provides a distinctive theme that gives it that magical Disney touch. We all know that dining at these restaurants isn’t just about the delicious food, it’s about the experience as a whole.
That being said, we here at Disney Fanatic love giving insight into our favorites at Disney, and this list will shine a spotlight on our top selections for what we consider to be a superb Disney Dining Bucket List. What’s a bucket list you ask? Simply put, it’s a list of things/goals you want to accomplish at some point in your life. Carl from Disney’s Up had one—he and his wife, Ellie, had always dreamed about going to that elusive island in South America called Paradise Falls. Short of spoiling the movie, I’ll just tell you that he makes it a mission to get to this enchanting destination. Likewise, we feel that these stand-out restaurants deserve a visit at least some point during your Disney dining adventures. Here is our top 10 Disney Dining Bucket List!
10. The Hollywood Brown Derby
This elegant and convincing re-creation of the original Brown Derby restaurant is located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s famous for their Cobb salad (which is delicious!) and many a patron has indulged in their legendary Grapefruit Cake. The atmosphere is slightly formal, teaks and mahoganies predominant as well as gorgeously elegant chandeliers and perimeter lamps. Anything we’ve ever ordered on this tantalizing menu has been incredibly enjoyable and seriously satisfying. The ambience, excellent service, and tasty offerings make this a must-visit!
9. Raglan Road
A true Irish gem of a pub, this lively establishment located in Downtown Disney has a full-Irish menu with modern flair courtesy of one of Ireland’s most prestigious chefs (Kevin Dundon). It is all about the experience here, as you can chow down on some amazing grub and gulp down a Guinness while being entertained by stage and table-stomping Irish dancers or an upbeat, authentic Irish band. Their menu is spectacular, featuring dishes like Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers and Mash and the most amazing dessert I’ve ever tried, their Bread and Butter Pudding!
8. The Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room
Located inside Epcot’s United Kingdom Pavilion, this menu features traditional pub fare like cheese plates, fish and chips and meat pies. It’s all about rib-stickin’ comfort food here and if you time it just right, you will have a premium view of Epcot’s Illuminations fireworks show. The waterfront dining and nightly live entertainment coupled with the excellent menu make it a hotspot for hungry park goers, so there is typically a long line waiting to get in. Get yourself an advanced dining reservation for the dining room and see what the hubbub is all about! You won’t regret it!
7. Hoop De Doo Musical Revue
This dinner show is a hootin’ and hollerin’ good time, featuring all-you-can-eat southern favorites like buckets of fried chicken, ribs, beer and wine, and incredibly delicious strawberry shortcake! The stage dancers are enthusiastic to say the least and get the crowd going with funny antics and songs. This place located at the Fort Wilderness Resort’s Pioneer Hall is serious fun for the whole family and a definite must-visit that’ll have you laughing, clapping, singing and your tummy well-satisfied!
6. Le Cellier Steakhouse
This legendary and intimate dining spot tucked away inside Epcot’s Canada Pavilion is hugely popular (try scoring a seat without a reservation, it’s not easy!) and a steak-lover’s dream. The menu features hearty meals like filet mignon, free-range chicken, salmon and the fan-favorite, beer cheese soup, among other delicious offerings. The atmosphere is cozy and dark, giving the feel of dining inside a stone-walled wine cellar. Their dessert menu is eye-popping and drool-worthy, featuring mouth-watering favorites like the maple crème brulee or chocolate mousse. It’s a prime destination for a reason and a definite must-visit at some point!
5. Cinderella’s Royal Table
It should come without saying—feasting inside Cinderella’s Castle is a dining experience every Disney fanatic should have! This experience will have your little prince or princess feeling like royalty as they are given magic wands or sabers upon entering and get to meet the classic film’s favorites like the Fairy Godmother, Suzy and Perla and, of course, Cinderella herself (and perhaps even another princess or two!). Dining inside the castle will give patrons—addressed as “my lady” or “my lord” by the staff— the opportunity to gaze at the stained-glass windows, vaulted ceilings and regal décor. A majestic must-visit for all of us who enjoy a little fussing over every now and again!
4. California Grill
The upscale, fine dining restaurant located at the tippy-top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort gives the patrons an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks show and offers a menu of deliciously crafted offerings. The ever-changing menu is full of acclaimed and award-winning dishes like sushi, goat cheese ravioli and oak-fired beef filet. The cuisine here is fantastically fresh, sophisticated and divine, the culinary chefs going to great lengths to master each dish with taste and presentation. The spectacular desserts such as the warm, homemade fritters or the chocolate pudding cake will have you dreamily licking every last spoonful. This is truly an unforgettable dining experience!
3. Be Our Guest Restaurant
For so many reasons, this restaurant located in the new Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom is a must-visit for all! Between the immersive and intricately themed details surrounding you to the French-inspired menu you will be glad you experienced this uber-hyped and popular restaurant. Designed to feel like you are dining inside the Beast’s Castle, you will have the opportunity to feast on elegantly crafted dinners like pan-seared salmon and Ratatouille Confit Byaldi or tasty lunches like the Tuna Niçoise Salad. You can even “try the Grey-stuff” for dessert! It’s like stepping into a portal and being transported into the classic animated film, leaving you with a sense of wonder and a full and satisfied stomach!
If you haven’t experienced the Polynesian Resort’s ‘Ohana’s, you haven’t lived. Okay, maybe that’s a bit too much, but I feel very strongly that this is a dining experience you won’t want to miss. This hard-to-secure-reservation location features all-you-can-eat, family-style dinner feasts of pork, beef and shrimp all roasted on skewers up to three feet long! Course after course will be delivered to you right at your table right alongside an assortment of vegetables, salads, noodles and their warm, pineapple-coconut bread. Their legendary dessert of bread pudding a la mode is the stuff dreams are made of. Wonderfully amazing, that dessert. I cry with joy every time they place it in front of me. Okay, I don’t, but sometimes I do tear up a little. Kids will love this engaging dinner experience, where entertainers will often have them dancing about the room. The restaurant is even open for a character breakfast featuring Lilo and Stitch. Don’t miss out on this Hawaiian-inspired dining adventure!
1. Victoria and Albert’s
Slip into your fancy garb (strict dress-code here) and head to the intimate AAA 5-Diamond dining room at the Grand Floridian’s Resort. This is the only restaurant where children under the age of 10 are not permitted to enter and the seating only allows for 60 guests, making it a much-coveted and hard-to-get reservation. The menu is customized daily, featuring fish, fowl, red meat, veal and lamb selections all presented in a sophisticated manner by the award-winning culinary chefs. Guests may even choose to dine at the chef’s table in the kitchen (at an additional charge of course). The opulence and attention you’ll receive when you arrive comes with a hefty price tag, making it a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, but the exquisite and divine food selections guarantees you’ll be talking about it for years to come!
Other Disney World restaurants worth mentioning that barely missed our top ten bucket list include Epcot’s Coral Reef Restaurant, Boardwalk’s Flying Fish Restaurant, Animal Kingdom Lodge’s Jiko Restaurant and Grand Floridian’s Narcoossee’s and Citricos.