Dessert At Jiko
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12 Restaurant Experiences You Must Have At Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

Dining at Walt Disney World Resort is anything but ordinary. With so many restaurant distinctions to choose from, each sporting its own unique theme and menu offerings, Disney knows no mediocrity. Even when looking at the most casual quick service stops around various parks and resorts you’ll find that many even include some sort of specialty house offering or do up a familiar favorite in a one-of-a-kind way. And let’s not forget about all those extra stellar dining experiences Disney is known for, from character meals to dinner shows, and even private dining exclusives, to name a few. While you’ll find several notable must-do dining endeavors all throughout the parks, resorts, and even at nearby Disney Springs, here’s a sampling of 12 such restaurant experiences you simply must have at Disney World Resort Hotels in particular.


Photo Credit Disney

12. Victoria and Albert’s (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa)

Signature dining at this AAA Five Diamond Award-winning restaurant is perhaps one of the most famous must-do experiences fans dream about. To dine elegantly in the stately dining room using their fine Bernardaud china and Sambonet silverware, under a large hand-painted dome and accompanied by a live harpist onsite is an elite epicurean endeavor. But some guests like to take it to the max and make their mealtime here into a once in a lifetime privately hosted royal feast. For this undertaking there’s the Chef’s Table—an intimate table setup for you and a select number of guests, right in the heart of the very kitchen that cultivates such stellar culinary masterpieces.

You’re in for a multi-hour and multi-course experience (approximately three hours and spanning a total of 11 courses) laden with small sampling accompaniments of all kinds, including champagne and other spirits. The chefs and sommelier will see to your every need personally, taking into consideration allergies and any other food specific requests or personalized omissions as well. Another intimate private dining suggestion is to reserve a table within Queen Victoria’s Room. Opportune for couples, this private dining room inspired by those of old-world London and Paris holds just eight people (four parties of two) at a time, in a lavish but comfortably quaint setting where you and your other half will enjoy a specialized chef’s menu and even drink parings.

Disney Shrimp
Photo credit Disney

11. California Grill (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)

It’s food with a view at this signature staple that sits high in the sky, topping the zenith to Disney’s Contemporary Resort. And from this vantage point, breathtaking views of surrounding Seven Seas Lagoon and neighboring Magic Kingdom Park are just the icing on the cake, because the scrumptious award-winning cuisine offered here is enough to soar this restaurant to new heights both figuratively as well as literally. Bountiful boastings on the menu draw on inspirations from the Pacific Coast. And it wouldn’t be a true salute to California wine culture without the profuse collection of over 300 handpicked selections available to you as you dine.

California Grill is a popular pick throughout the entire dinnertime duration, but many guests like to reserve seating in par to the Magic Kingdom’s nighttime spectacular, at which time the inside of the restaurant dims and the music from the show fills the dining room. There are also outside observation decks where you can watch the nighttime magic in an open-air setting. Even better, those who did not dine in accordance to the nighttime spectacular may still access the observation deck with proof of receipt from their earlier meal or reservation proof of their later slated mealtime. While signature dining for dinner is the main attraction here, also note that on Sunday mornings California Grill presents a special Brunch at the Top offering as well—a great option for families with children.

10. Spirit of Aloha (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)

Who doesn’t love a great dinner show? And when combined with an all-you-can-eat luau feast laden with traditional South Pacific Island fare, it makes attending Disney’s Spirit of Aloha an even more in-demand experience. Taking place most nights at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s open-air Luau Cove Theater, this three-hour dinner and show combo is themed after an island village going away party for one of the local girls college bound for the mainland.

So as a final farewell get together—one in which you and all the other diners are invited to—you’re in for a lavish buffet spread paired perfectly with live stage performances that include traditional Hawaiian dancing, music, drums and other instruments, as well as grand feats like fire dancing, knife performances, and so much more. It’s an ultimate experience in Hawaiian hospitality you’re not going to want to miss!

Bonus Tip!

BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Disney travel deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius! Discover More >


Hoop De Doo
Photo credit Disney

9. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort)

Another popular dinner show experience to take delight in, the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, is perfect for anyone looking to experience a little Wild West vaudeville entertainment combined with frontier feasting at its finest. In keeping with the western theme, your performers for the evening will arrive at Pioneer Hall via wagon and then get right down to business with their entertainment and antics, song, dance, and other enjoyments to keep your meal amusing. Fare is dished up in all-you-can-eat family-style fashion and includes countrified favorites like smoked BBQ, buckets of fried chicken, baked beans, cornbread, mashed potatoes, and even strawberry shortcake. The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue puts on three performances each evening, with options to pick your seating via seating chart upon making reservations. Showtime and dinner combos last for an approximate duration of two hours.

Donald Duck

8. Chef Mickey’s (Disney’s Contemporary Resort)

You just can’t do Disney without Mickey Mouse. And what better way to experience a little one-on-one time with the famous mouse himself than to share in mealtime magic with him and his pals—the Fab Five? That’s just what you get when you dine at Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. As one of the top family-friendly buffets featuring classic character meet and greets amongst Walt Disney World Resort Hotels, Chef Mickey’s has been a longtime favorite and continues its lasting legacy for new generations to come.

Dishing out all-you-can-eat American cuisine classics for breakfast, brunch, and dinnertime daily, each and every mealtime here is enhanced by the appearances of Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie, and Chef Mickey of course, stopping by your table to visit personally. Want that character photo you’ve been desiring without being subjected to waiting in a long line? Well now’s your chance. Remember to get them to sign your autograph book while you’re at it! Take time to savor your mealtime memories here, because if you’re in attendance long enough you may just get to experience one of many frequent restaurant-wide dance breakouts that Mickey is known to orchestrate at various times throughout the day.

7. 1900 Park Fare (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa)

Another all-you-can-eat character dining endeavor to delight in can be found once again at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, by way of 1900 Park Fare. Whether you come for breakfast or dinner, both engagements are magical for diners of all ages, though whichever one you choose depends on the experience you seek.

If you pop on in for breakfast, for instance, you’re in for a simply supercalifragilisticexpialidocious experience with their Supercalifragilistic Breakfast. Laden with all those classic staples you know and love so well (along with a few house novelties), your mealtime enhancements will include personal table visits from such characters as Alice and the Mad Hatter direct from Wonderland, Tigger and Winnie the Pooh straight out of the Hundred Acre Wood, and the practically perfect Mary Poppins, of course.

Dinnertime is an enchanting endeavor straight out of a fairytale, offering a happy ending to a happy day with Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner. As the name implies, for this engagement you will be sharing dinnertime magic with Cinderella and Prince Charming, along with the more sinister Lady Tremaine and her two daughters Drizella and Anastasia. Back and fourth banter and in-character deliveries in performance while visiting with guests make this mealtime event go off in fine fashion fit for a fairytale. And the decadent array of all-you-can-eat offerings, both traditional American and unique house specialties alike only add to the overall magic and appeal.

Storybook Dining Artist Point
Photo credit Disney

6. Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White (Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort)

There is another relatively new character dining must-do experience awaiting you at Artist Point—this one featuring the fairest maiden of them all. Artist Point has been a renowned signature restaurant at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, for many years, and now with the addition of such characters as Snow White, Dopey, Grumpy, and even the Evil Queen joining diners every evening, mealtime attendance is at an all-time high. In addition to meeting and mingling with such iconic characters from Walt Disney’s first animated feature film, newly inspired entrées, drinks, and desserts really encompass the overall fairytale experience. A magical meal for adults and children alike, Storybook Dining at Artist Point with Snow White is already a new classic celebrating Disney’s most classic princess—the one that started it all.

Trader Sams
Photo Credit: Disney

5. Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort)

While lounges aren’t typically included on the list of must-have restaurant experiences at Disney World Resort Hotels, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort isn’t by any means a typical lounge. For starters, the menu isn’t limited to libations alone, as guests frequently come out to enjoy traditional South Seas light bites the whole family can appreciate it. And that brings us to our next point—Trader Sam’s can be an experience the whole family shares in up until 8 p.m. nightly, at which time only guests that are 21 and older are permitted.

But it’s the interior décor and synchronized special effects happening within the walls of this intimate 51-seat establishment that are most worth noting. As you dine (or drink) you will notice a broad range of memorabilia, photos, and other nods to various Disney film, history, and attractions. But the hands-down greatest part about attending Trader Sam’s is undeniably the stormy special effects that are triggered upon command, depending on what a guest orders.

citricos _ Dining at disney world
Photo credit Disney

4. Dine with an Imagineer at Cítricos (Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa)

Another phenomenal fine dining experience awaiting you at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is savoring American-Mediterranean fusion enticements at Cítricos. A signature restaurant that’s already stellar in so many ways, various special dining engagements happening in-house within the establishment’s private area make personalized mealtimes even more memorable. One such example to delight in is signing up for the special Dine with an Imagineer option.

Similar to the Dine with an Imagineer engagement at The Brown Derby within Disney’s Hollywood Studios, these small group mealtime gatherings allow you and your guests a private and personal chance to enjoy a four-course dinner in the presence of one of Disney’s own magic makers. Throughout the meal you will gain a wealth of knowledge and insight into various behind-the-scenes happenings throughout Walt Disney World Resort, and come away with far more fun and fascinating tidbits than you ever imagined. Dine with an Imagineer at Cítricos is available every first Thursday of the month (unless otherwise reserved) and is suitable for guests 14 years of age and older.

Bonus Tip!

BONUS TIP: Consider planning and booking your next Disney trip with an Authorized Disney Vacation Planner you can trust like Mickey Travels. They’ll help you get the best Disney travel deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius! Discover More >


3. Dine with an Animal Specialist (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge)

Much like the aforementioned Dine with an Imagineer endeavor, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge has its own personal one-on-one offering to guests. Taking place within Kidani Village’s own scenic Sanaa Restaurant—a favorite dining destination with large viewing windows that allow you to see animals up close and personal as you eat, guests also have the opportunity to sign up for privately reserved Dine with an Animal Specialist offerings.

Available to just intimate gatherings of 12 or so guests at a time, you will enjoy a four-course African lunch feast with one of the resort’s own animal care specialists, who will enlighten your party with fun and interesting facts about the wild inhabitants here and all the ins and outs of daily care for these marvelous creatures. Dine with an Animal Specialist opportunities are available to anyone aged eight or older. Reservations well in advance are highly recommended.


2. Jiko—The Cooking Place and the Wanyama Safari (Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge)

Another wild epicurean endeavor to pursue at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is dinner at Jiko—The Cooking Place. A famed signature restaurant renowned for stellar fusion cuisine that encompasses the flavors of Africa, India, and the Mediterranean, mealtime here is an experience to savor. And it gets even better when you opt for the Wanyama Safari Dinner Package. By doing so, you get to not only enjoy dining at its finest, but take part in a privately-led 90-minute safari tour of the resort’s surrounding savanna lands and all its resident animals. The Wanyama Safari Dinner Package is available to groups of 12 at a time, ages 10 and older.


1. Highway in the Sky Dine Around (Magic Kingdom Area Resorts)

While plenty of Magic Kingdom Area Resort Hotels offer up refined restaurant experiences directly on premises, the most unique signature fine dining resort event to take in isn’t located in just one place—but many. Get ready to ride the rails of Disney’s world-renowned monorail system for the ultimate culinary endeavor via Highway in the Sky Dine Around. For this ultimate taste tour of world-class cuisine and splendor, you will enjoy a five-course dinner spread out among three of the Magic Kingdom Area’s most distinguished Deluxe Resorts—The Contemporary, Polynesian, and the Grand Floridian.

Tambu Lounge

Start the journey by treating your taste buds to appealing appetizers offered up at the Contemporary Resort’s Wave…of American Flavors. Next, you will break your journey at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for exotic island fare via light bites and libations. Next it’s on to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for champagne, artisanal cheese charcuterie, and then the chef’s main course selection at Cítricos. Then it’s back onboard to Disney’s Contemporary for dessert, cordials, and coffee and a sweet sendoff amidst taking in the Happily Ever After Fireworks display happening right next door within Magic Kingdom Park from a private patio.

These are just 12 of several stellar dining experiences to take in at Walt Disney World Resort. From other character dining engagements, upscale fine dining venues, dinner cruises, and even in-room dining and private butler services, the opportunities are seemingly endless. Just keep in mind that advance reservations are always recommended (and in some cases mandatory) for reserving a spot to whichever dining endeavor you choose to pursue. It’s also important to keep in mind that not all of the aforementioned experiences are covered by Disney Dining Plans, and some that are, require the equivalent of two Disney Dining credits. But with Disney, you are always assured that whatever meal, venue, and experience you so choose is sure to be magical.

About Laura

Laura Catherine aka “LC” is a writer who resides in Maryland with her family and several pets. She visits Walt Disney World whenever she can. Additionally, she is a published author of three novels, a children’s book, and has a passion for gardening.