One & Done: 10 Disney Restaurants We Don’t Need to Try Again
One of our favorite activities when we visit Walt Disney World is finding delicious food and snacks to make our trip even better. While there is never a trip that occurs where we don’t enjoy a delicious Mickey pretzel with cheese or sip on a refreshing grapefruit beer from the beer cart outside of Germany, there are a few culinary missteps at the Walt Disney World Resort — here are nine of our choices for restaurants that do not require a second trip from our tastebuds, stomachs, or our wallets!
It is hard to believe that Rainforest Café exists two places in Disney World, but when you consider that this isn’t technically a Disney restaurant, it is easier to understand. Rainforest Café serves lunch and dinner to guests who visit either Animal Kingdom (located to the left of the gates) or at Disney Springs. Regardless of the location, both locations offers generic options to diners with little innovation. If you’ve ever visited, it is obvious that much of the restaurant budget went to the design elements. The only time we would recommend considering the restaurant would be in a pinch if nothing else is available, but even in that situation, some of the quick service snack stands have better options for you to enjoy!
2. 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort and Spa)
We had a great experience at this restaurant when we went for the breakfast buffet — we got to take pictures with the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, as well as Alice. And how many other breakfast buffets offers gummi bears to go along with delicious pancakes and bacon? The reason we will pass on this selection again centers on its remote location — located out of the way in the Grand Floridian, 1900 Park Fare is also comes with a hefty price tag given that it offers all-you-care-to-enjoy meals, as well as an opportunity to meet and greet with some rare characters.
3. Tony’s Town Square Restaurant (Magic Kingdom)
I love Italian food. And I love Lady and the Tramp, but I do not love Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. The food offered by Tony’s is generally uninspired that doesn’t rate any better to me than food from any food court Italian restaurant. Given its prominent placement in the world’s most famous theme park, as well as guests being able to dine inside or outside, the menu needs to reflect the uniqueness of the location. It has been Disney’s practice in recent years to utilize Tony’s Town Square during special events for special dining and desserts. I’d love for Tony’s to emerge from its current slump, but I am also curious to see what Imagineers could do with a complete thematic and culinary re-theme.
Located in the center of Disney Springs, Paradiso 37 is a culinary mash-up of flavors from the Americas. Given the geographic reach of this restaurant, it isn’t surprising that the menu is not executed well. Chefs have to be proficient in grilling an Argentinean skirt steak, a classic American burger, flatbreads from California, Pennsylvania, and Cuba, as well as a southern po’boy, ribs, or a South American-spiced salmon. While this leaves the guest with many options to select from, the fact that Paradiso 37 constantly has dining reservations available in advance, as well as day of suggests that they need to re-center their focus.
5. PizzeRizzo (Hollywood Studios)
Another confession: I love pizza and the Muppets, so PizzeRizzo should be a home run in my book, but for a sit-down restaurant (it spans two stories!), the menu is relatively basic and we wish there was more for us to sample. However, PizzeRizzo does have some great things going for it (even though we are more likely to try and snag a reservation at Sci-Fi or 50’s Prime Time): it is a great waiting spot for when you are getting close to your boarding group to be called for Rise of the Resistance, as well as shining example of how Mobile Ordering is supposed to work at Disney.
6. Nine Dragons (Epcot)
Nine Dragons in the China Pavilion suffers from the same problem that Tony’s suffers from: a generic menu that does not justify the cost of a meal. The menu options at Nine Dragons does not differ greatly from what you would see at any other Chinese restaurant in your hometown. While I admit to loving sesame chicken, pork egg rolls, and fried rice from most restaurants, I want and expect more from a table service restaurant at Disney. If you are in the mood for Chinese food, we would recommend heading behind Nine Dragons to the quick service counter that serves fan favorites or saunter over to Animal Kingdom and consider getting a meal from Yak and Yeti.
7. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
I know — a chance to meet and greet princesses in the symbol of the entire Disney company. And to defame it makes me a target for scorn and derision, but in recent years, it has been very difficult to grab a reservation to dine here, even though it offers meals to guests for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Additionally, the menu is a little fancy — guests are currently offered an appetizer choose between roasted chicken breast, beef tenderloin, braised lamb shank, or the fish of the day. In addition to dessert that comes with the meal, the cost for one adult to eat here is over $60 per plate. It is a great place to eat at once to say you’ve done it and to have a unique view of the Magic Kingdom, we wouldn’t recommend it more than that.
8. Whispering Canyon Café (Wilderness Lodge)
I am always a fan of family-style skillets that offer me a bevy of homestyle sides with delicious barbecue-inspired dishes, but Whispering Canyon can be a little too much for some guests who are looking to relax and enjoy a delicious meal, but the atmosphere of the restaurant is a little rowdy. While some guests may appreciate that, we like meals where we can relax and recharge for more fun. And, unless you are staying at the Wilderness Lodge, it does take a little bit to get to the restaurant, so make sure to plan some extra time into your day!
9. Coral Reef Restaurant (Epcot)
Located in the Seas Pavilion, Coral Reef is a unique restaurant that offers stunning views into the aquarium, so guests can see an array of marine animals while enjoying their meal. The menu is limited (but does offer land-based options for guests who do not care for seafood) and the restaurant is relatively small which makes it somewhat difficult to get a table. We would recommend checking out this restaurant for a special occasion and not an ordinary day at the parks.
What do you think of the list? Any selection you disagree with? Or was there something that we left off of the list?
Tyler is a lawyer living in South Florida who visits Disney World at least once a month. He enjoys re-living classic Disney experiences and discovering new things about the parks when he visits. Friends and family always ask him to plan their trip for maximum Disney magic!