There is a boundless array of reasons to love Walt Disney World Resort. On top of the awesome theme park scene, the countless classic attractions and optimal Resort stays are all counted among the unending list of Disney endeavors, one can find a fantastic array of magical culinary offerings. And Disney certainly has a plethora of palatable picks as far as food quality goes, along with the wonderfully themed eateries and dining establishments that carry out an impressive motif.
But not all Disney dining is created equal, nor are each diner’s specific interests and personal experiences. Sometimes you can’t help but get enough of what you expected to be a satisfying meal the very first time around, leading you to arrive at the conclusion that once was enough and you will not be returning to the scene.
Taken from personal experience and examining the multiple factors for arriving at the conclusions I have come to, I’m sharing seven different restaurants at Disney World that my family never needs to try again. Keep in mind… this is just one writer’s opinion! Sorry in advance if your favorite Disney restaurant lands on this list.
7. Cinderella’s Royal Table
Don’t get us wrong. This is a wonderfully themed dining destination that we would recommend to anyone who wants a fully immersive fairy tale-themed meal that every Disney Fanatic should experience at least once! In fact, it really is a rite of passage for so many folks. The concept of dining within the walls of the one and only Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park is a pretty big deal—one of those bucket list to-dos you’ll get to tell friends and family about for years to come. But, if we are, to be honest about the whole thing, most of the hype really rests within the action of what you are doing rather than the meal itself–especially if you are a Disney World first-timer.
Sure, there are quite a couple of fabulous menu features. Some are even rather unique, like the “Royal Avocado Toast” or “Caramel Apple-Stuffed French Toast” for breakfast, or the decadent desserts, such as “Coffee Pots de Crème.” But most of their offerings for lunch and dinner are disappointingly underwhelming and sorely limited, to say the least. There are not enough callouts that deviate from the usual, standard quality fare you’d expect of a lesser, more casual venue. In all fairness, they do well at handling dietary requests and specific alterations splendidly, which does elevate the overall experience somewhat, especially where service is concerned. All the same, you only ever need to come here one time so that you can cross that must-do experience off your list and then go on about your merry way.
6. Cape May Café
At the risk of offending any contested, diehard fans of this well-renowned all-you-can-eat buffet at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, I should probably explain that my reasons for never going back are very specifically connected to the fact that I happen to adhere to a strictly plant-based diet. While I understood beforehand that this was a seafood-dominated venue, I naturally assumed that, like all great buffets, there would be various other offerings as well, like salads and sides, the likes of which would allow me the same opportunity to get my fill while the rest of my party got theirs. Sadly, this was not the case. The salad fixings were already pre-made with dressing and other non-vegan components, as were even the few vegetable sides, which were slopped in butter.
Seafood lovers do take note, though. This is indeed the place for you if you like endless feasting that includes freshly caught fish of the day, snow crab legs, and other maritime medleys. And I also hear great things about their breakfast buffet, although the offerings look to be fairly traditional and nothing too overly unique (aside from their Salted Caramel “Beach Buns” feature).
As for me, I really must say that I was personally disappointed by the overall experience I had at dinnertime, even though the chef did do well to rectify my meal. Still, for the price I paid, paired with my initial disappointment, it was more than enough to discourage me from ever returning.
5. Le Cellier Steakhouse
Unlike the disappointingly limited buffet options at Cape May Café, this steakhouse over in EPCOT’s Canada Pavilion within the World Showcase Pavilion actually does feature many plant-based and allergy-friendly offerings, surprisingly enough. And we have to say that it really is a very nice signature dining experience to take in with a wonderful ambiance that works well with all other components of the meal you will undoubtedly enjoy.
What you may not enjoy, however, is the surprise of discovering just how expensive the meal you just consumed ends up being. Years ago, my family dined here with the then-offered Disney Dining Plan. And I must say that the whole bit about the meal taking two Disney Dining credits was a bit of a shocker—one that left a bitter taste that no decadent dessert could remedy. All the same, it was a very nice meal and a lovely experience to write home about, but it was a one-time thing all the same—one we will not be reprising in light of the far more affordable options that exist.
4. 50’s Prime Time Café
Perhaps you must have a sense of humor and a willingness to take a side order of jesting, teasing, and ridicule with your meal to truly enjoy the experience of eating at this hoot over in Hollywood Studios. But I happen to have none of the above, so for me, such a dining experience is downright obnoxious.
I will admit that the nostalgic décor and overall setup do give one reason to want to venture into the atmosphere and check out the scene here. And the Cast Member waitstaff really does do well in playing out their roles of disciplinarians. But again, they are nosey, annoying, and nit-picky. That’s enough to ruin any meal, regardless of how delicious it may be. That’s really saying something considering that they are, in fact, known for dishing out some pretty good custom takes on traditional American comforts. They also have many surprising allergy-friendly offerings worth noting, and their prices are reasonable. Still, having someone looking over your shoulder, commenting on whether or not you cleaned your plate or happen to be slouching or placing your elbows on the table is just too much. Give me a break, I’m on vacation!
3. AMC DINE-IN Disney Springs
Dinner and a movie is a classic concept. But in more recent years, the idea to combine the two has started to emerge at various movie theaters worldwide. And because Disney is always at the forefront of all the latest trends, it goes without saying that their property-based movie theater—AMC DINE-IN Disney Springs 24, would offer such an opportunity.
This may seem like an awesome option to check out sometime. Perhaps you are spending the entire day at Disney Springs, and it works perfectly into your schedule and may even be time-saving and advantageous. But seriously, doing much more than once in your life while on a vacation at the one and only Disney World seems like a little too much, don’t you think? And while the menu options may present some enjoyable staples for certain people, I do not find the choices very consistent, personally.
2. Rainforest Café
You will find versions of this wildly elaborate themed restaurant at two Disney World locations. One is right in the heart of Disney Springs, and the other is situated directly at the entrance to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. Even though Rainforest Café is an independently existing chain of restaurants from those of the Disney brand, owing to their impressive animatronic creatures, not to mention all those nicely timed thunderstorm effects that occur consistently throughout the day, we think it fits in just perfectly with all things Disney.
While there is plenty of praise to go around in regards to its elaborate motif and in-house effects, I’m sorry to say that the menu just doesn’t keep to the same impressive standards. We’re not saying that the food is bad, but it just isn’t all that great if we are being truthful. After such an impressive ambiance, you can’t help but expect something equally as impressive in the way of food. Instead, you end up with a rather underwhelming, ordinary entrée that’s nothing special and mediocre at best. Yet somehow, the bill you end up with doesn’t reflect the less-than-stellar cuisine. Maybe if the food had matched the overall restaurant experience, it would be worth an encore, but when you consider all the way more affordable yet still impressive options at the Animal Kingdom as well as the many exciting eats at Disney Springs, we really don’t have much reason to return to Rainforest Café at either location.
1. Victoria & Albert’s
This is undoubtedly the most premium, high-end, top-notch quality dining experience you will ever find at Walt Disney World Resort, on location at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. Not only do the unending credentials and accolades speak loudly in affirming such is true, but you’d be hard-pressed to find any diner who has ever experienced Victoria & Albert’s and didn’t enjoy it with the stunning décor, overall charming atmosphere, and of course the phenomenal food which upholds the impeccable standards the restaurant has established so perfectly.
Why then would we be so quick to say that once is enough and that we will not be returning to the scene ever again, anytime in the future? Our reasons can simply be summed up to price and the amount of time you need to invest in such an endeavor. While private dining options entail, even more, any experience at Victoria & Albert’s calls for a couple of hours out of your day. And unless you are on an extended vacation, most of us don’t really desire to waste a single moment of our desired Disney time on something like this. And unless you are a true foodie—which I am not—I just don’t think any culinary experience, regardless of how good it is, would be worth it. Furthermore, Victoria & Albert’s is a novelty experience that needs no redo. Just cherish it as a one-time memory to look back on fondly as you get to tell people that you once did it.
Everyone has their own personal standards to refer to when making the ultimate decision about whether a past dining experience at Disney World is worth a repeat or should be scrapped from the running for any future reprisals. Just remember that with such plentiful options at Disney World, you need never be stuck with limitations or locked into a mundane set of choices that aren’t right for you. It’s wonderful to explore new options each and every vacation, try something new, and make traditions accordingly out of those options you did try before and have come to regard so highly.