How To Choose Which Disney Restaurants You Should Experience – 6 Things To Consider
Walt Disney World Resort is home to a plethora of phenomenal dining options. Choosing just a few from the dozens of choices can seem daunting. Here are a few tips for choosing the right dining options for your traveling party. Bon Appetit!
6. Consider the time you want to spend dining
Walt Disney World offers two types of dining choices. These are quick-service and table-service. Quick service restaurants involve ordering your meal at a kiosk or counter. At some quick-service locations, guests wait at the counter for their meals. At others, the food is brought to the table by waitstaff. Table service locations offer complete “sit-down” dining. You will be seated by a host or hostess, and a waiter or waitress will then take your order and bring your meal. If time is of the essence, quick-service locations will always be your best bet. As the name suggests, food service is “quick”, offering efficient dining. If you have time in your schedule for more leisurely dining, table service restaurants may be a consideration. As a general rule, a quick-service meal will take about 30-40 minutes, including the time you wait to order, the time you wait for your food, and the time you spend eating. Table service meals will take considerably longer, particularly at character meals.
5. Consider your budget
As a general rule, a table service meal will be more expensive than a counter service meal. The entrees are generally more expensive, and there is the additional expense of the tip that should be left for your server. If you’re trying to dine on a budget, quick-service restaurants are the way to go.
4. Think about the type of food you want to eat
Disney’s dining options include cuisine from all over the world. If you have a hankering for a specific type of fare, you can probably find it somewhere in Walt Disney World. The following is a list of restaurants organized by cuisine. This list includes both quick and table service options, indicated by QS for quick service and TS for table service.
Boma – Flavors of Africa (Animal Kingdom Lodge) TS
Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar (Animal Kingdom Lodge) TS
Jiko – The Cooking Place (Animal Kingdom Lodge) TS
The Mara (Animal Kingdom Lodge) QS
Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge) TS
Tamu Tamu Refreshments (Animal Kingdom) QS
Tusker House Restaurant (Animal Kingdom) TS
Katsura Grill (Epcot World Showcase) QS
Kimonos (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Morimoto Asia (Disney Springs) TS
Nine Dragons Restaurant (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Teppan Edo (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Tokyo Dining (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Lotus Blossom Café (Epcot World Showcase) QS
Kabuki Café’ (Epcot World Showcase) QS
Yak & Yeti Local Foods Cafe (Animal Kingdom) QS
Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Epcot World Showcase) QS
Rose and Crown Pub (Epcot World SHowcase) TS
Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (Port Orleans – French Quarter) QS
Bongo’s Cuban Café’ (Disney Springs) TS
Bongo’s Cuban Café Express (Disney Springs) QS
Be Our Guest for LUNCH (Magic Kingdom) QS
Be Our Guest for DINNER (Magic Kingdom) TS
Les Halles Boulangierie-Patisserie (Epcot World Showcase) QS
Chefs de France (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Monsieur Paul (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Sommerfest (Epcot World Showcase) QS
Biergarten Restaurant (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Cookes of Dublin (Disney Springs) QS
Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant (Disney Springs) TS
Il Mulino (Swan Hotel) TS
Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano (Hollywood Studios) TS
Portobello Country Italian Trattoria (Disney Springs) TS
Ravello (Four Seasons Resort) TS
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant (Magic Kingdom) TS
Trattoria al Forno (Boardwalk) TS
Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Tutto Italia Ristorante (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Tangierine Café’ (Epcot World Showcase) QS
Citricos (Grand Floridian) TS
Fresh Mediterranean Market (Dolphin Hotel) TS
Restaurant Marrakesh (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Spice Road Table (Epcot World Showcase) TS
La Cantina de San Angel (Epcot World Showcase) QS
La Hacienda de San Angel (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Pepper Market (Coronado Springs) QS
Maya Grill (Coronado Springs) TS
San Angel Inn Restaurante (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Tortuga Tavern (Magic Kingdom) QS
Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe (Epcot World Showcase) QS
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot World Showcase) TS
‘Ohana (Polynesian Village) TS
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto (Polynesian Village) TS
Capt Cook’s (Polynesian Village) QS
Columbia Harbor House (Magic Kingdom) QS
Cape May Café (Beach Club Resort) TS
Coral Reef (Epcot Future World) TS
Flying Fish Café (Boardwalk) TS
Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian) TS
Todd English’s bluezoo (Dolphin Hotel) TS
Le Cellier (Epcot World Showcase) TS
Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club Resort)
Shula’s Steakhouse (Dolphin Hotel) TS
The Boathouse (Disney Springs) TS
3. Consider your “audience”
Will you be dining with a large family including young children? If so, you may want to choose one of the many themed or character dining options offered at Disney. “Character Dining” is a meal that includes appearances of one or more Disney characters. These can include Mickey and Friends, the princesses, or even Winnie the Pooh among others. “Themed Dining” is typically an immersive restaurant experience. At some of these restaurants, the theme is a particular culture (like Biergarten, which is a German themed restaurant) in which the decor is typical of that found in a particular country and the wait staff will hail from that country. Another “themed-dining” option is a restaurant that more closely resembles a movie set and the wait staff is “in character”. For example, at 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios, the theme is “mom’s kitchen” in the mid 20th century. The entire restaurant is a collection of formica tables surrounded by 50’s kitchen decor. The menu is themed around food from the same time, and the waiters and waitresses will insist that everyone “eat your greens” (even feeding you if necessary) and “keep your elbows off the table”. You might even be scolded for any impolite behavior! The following is a list of all the character and some of the themed dining options available with brief descriptions.
2. Character Dining Options:
1900 Park Fare – Buffet dining with Cinderella, Lady Tremaine, Prince Charming, and the Stepsisters
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – A great alternative to Cinderella’s Royal Table. Belle, Ariel, Snow White, Aurora, and Cinderella appear here.
Cape May Café – Buffet dining with characters at breakfast only. Goofy and Friends appear in beach attire.
Chef Mickey’s – Buffet dining with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Donald, and Goofy
Cinderella’s Royal Table – This restaurant doubles as character and signature dining, promising an upscale meal in addition to appearances by Cinderella, Jasmine, Aurora, Snow White and Ariel.
The Crystal Palace – Buffet dining with Pooh and Friends
The Garden Grill – Family-style “harvest-inspired” fare with Chip, Dale and friends!
Garden Grove – Located in the Swan hotel, dinner offers two characters, usually Goofy and Pluto.
Hollywood and Vine – Breakfast and lunch buffets offer encounters with Disney Junior favorites like Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ – Mickey and Minnie wear their finest “hoe-down” attire at this buffet featuring typical barbecue fare
‘Ohana – Family-style breakfast offers encounters with Lilo, Stitch and Friends in Polynesian attire.
Tusker House Restaurant – Donald Duck and Friends are clad in safari attire at the breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets.
1. Themed-Dining Options:
50’s Prime Time Café – Mid 20th-century kitchen is the theme here, with traditional foods from that era including meatloaf, pot roast, and fried chicken
Biergarten Restaurant – Meant to evoke a traditional Bavarian village, the buffet selections are German classics including bratwurst and schnitzel
Bongo’s Cuban Café – As the name suggests, the food and décor here are strongly influenced by Cuban culture.
Coral Reef Restaurant – One full wall of this restaurant is a wall of The Seas – a massive saltwater aquarium that is home to over 4000 sea creatures. The menu features seafood but also offers “turf” favorites.
Kimonos – Japanese-themed décor featuring sushi and other favorites.
La Hacienda de San Angel – Located in the “Mexico” pavilion in Epcot World Showcase, this restaurant features traditional Mexican favorites.
Maya Grill – The décor here is strongly influences by Mayan themes with a Tex-Mex inspired menu
Nine Dragons Restaurant – Located in the “China” pavilion of Epcot World Showcase, the menu here offers traditional Chinese fare in many styles, including Mongolian, Cantonese, and Szechuan.
Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant – Traditional Irish dancing accompanies the traditional Irish menu at this location in Disney Springs
Restaurant Marrakesh – Moroccan food and belly dancing make this location in Epcot’s World Showcase a truly entertaining experience!
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant – You’d never know you’re actually indoors at this restaurant featuring car-shaped tables facing a large movie screen featuring clips of sci-fi movie classics. The ceiling even twinkles with “stars”.
Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto – This new lounge at the Polynesian Village Resort is the epitome of Disney Magic in a restaurant. With each themed drink order, the room comes alive with special effects.
T-REX – Where else but in Walt Disney World can you dine with dinosaurs? This all-American menu pairs with animatronic dinosaurs that come to life while you eat.
Whispering Canyon Cafe’ – The food here is “country-style” at its best. Offerings include ribs, sausage, beans, and mashed potatoes. The sassy wait staff doesn’t always mind their manners. Be sure to ask for ketchup!
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Jessica is a mother of one and an elementary school teacher in New Jersey. She enjoys musical theater and loves to cook. Jessica is a Disney Vacation Club member and is perpetually planning her next Disney vacation.