Very rarely, if ever, do I venture off Disney World property when I am on vacation. There is just no need to as I’ve got everything I could ever want right at my fingertips. Even if I’m not soaking up sun at the Disney resort pools or playing like a kid at the Disney Parks, I never, ever run out of things to do whilst at the Walt Disney World Resort. Disney resort hopping is a favorite pastime for me (especially during the holiday season!) and because there is an “open-resort” policy (*see special note below) anyone can check out the myriad of different Disney resorts and all the fun things they have to offer. Regardless of whether you are staying on property or not you can dine at the different Disney resorts, experiencing world class cuisine by renowned award-winning chefs at the table-service restaurants or simply tasting the fun flavors available at the quick-service spots. Need some advice on where to point your compass the next time you want to grab a quick meal while exploring the resorts? Here are our top 10 picks for quick-service restaurants at the Disney World resorts!
10. Roaring Fork — Wilderness Lodge Resort
Why We Love It: This lesser known, stone-walled quick-service eatery features gourmet sandwiches, burgers, flatbreads, pasta, soups, and delicious, made-to-order salads. If you enjoy a good salad, the Wilderness Salad featuring chicken, walnuts, apples, cheddar cheese, croutons and apple vinaigrette always satisfies. Another favorite meal of ours is the hearty barbequed pork and slaw sandwich. A refreshing cucumber salad and house-made chips offers the perfect side accompaniment to many of these dishes. I love trying the different eats here, and always make sure I save room for some of the baked goods for dessert. The Magic Cookie Bar (a squared dessert consisting of chocolate and butterscotch chips, graham cracker, M&M’s, coconut, condensed milk, and nuts) is a MUST each and every visit. Though the food is never a let-down, the location and overall atmosphere is why this is one of our favorites. The Wilderness Lodge Resort is one of the most relaxing, coziest places to find yourself in and you get this comforting, woodsy feel at Roaring Fork as well.
Favorite Eat: The Magic Cookie Bar
9. Riverside Mill — Port Orleans Riverside
Why We Love It: This food court styled in the image of a working cotton mill is large and spacious. This eatery offers half a dozen counters offering a variety of plates such as pizza, pasta, chicken, burgers, barbequed ribs, salads, sandwiches, and baked goods. The carving station is a hit with guests, and you’ll probably find the longest line here at this counter. The create-your-own pizza station, create-your-own pasta station, and the create-your-own salad station ensure that your food is made-to-order just the way you like it. You’ll also find unique eats that you won’t find at other quick-service locations, such as the muffaletta, shrimp salad po’boy and the house-made vegetable burger with a spiced Cajun cream sauce—all giving you an authentic taste of New Orleans. And if you have a sweet tooth, the baked goods offered here put many other quick-service spots to shame. Trust me, you’ll have a very hard time choosing between the variety of delectable desserts. If you are popping into this food court at night and time it just right, you’ll get to hear the incredible piano skills and sing-along talents of the hilarious Yee-Haw Bob Jackson, performing select nights at the nearby River Roost Lounge. Grab a snack at Riverside Mill and then mosey on over to the River Roost to join in on the rowdy festivities—it’s appropriate for every member of your group, young and old!
Favorite Eat: Any Create-Your-Own Pasta Combination
8. Gasparilla Island Grill — Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Why We Love It: I’m a sucker for this resort. In all my years visiting Disney World and staying at nearly every resort on property, I’ve yet to stay here. I’m still dreaming of that day (it WILL happen!) but until then, I make sure I pop on over for a visit or two when I’m anywhere in the vicinity. The location is one of my favorites. Located on the Seven Seas Lagoon, neighboring Magic Kingdom, you get the opportunity to experience one of the BEST fireworks viewing spots outside of the Magic Kingdom itself. Often, my family will head over to the Gasparilla Island Grill for a quick dinner before we move outside to watch the Electrical Water Pageant and fireworks show. This quick service spot has come a long way since it first opened. It’s expanded, offering ample seating, some booths even somewhat private—tucked away in the recesses of the restaurant (providing a somewhat rare “quiet” meal in a quick-service setting). Another bonus is that it’s open 24/7, so those late night/early morning cravings can be satisfied. The extensive menu features made-to-order salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, paninis, burgers, and strombolis. You can also purchase grab n’go items here as well as a selection of baked desserts. I’ve yet to order something that I don’t like here. The Margherita Flatbread was fantastic on my last visit, as was my husband’s Cuban Panini (I may have taken a bite…or four). The Gaspy Burger is also a favorite, and the Stromboli’s are tasty and huge, perfect for those with a bigger appetite.
Favorite Eat: Hot Turkey Sub
7. Landscape of Flavors — Art of Animation Resort
Why We Love It: Though there are always exceptions, I find this quick-service eatery to be almost always busy and bustling with hungry guests. The energy is palpable and the atmosphere is alive with colors and light. The unique eats found here are quite impressive, pleasing every palate—or should I say “palette”—imaginable! Smoothies galore, build-your-own burgers, and non-traditional sides like the Naan bread or cheesy pesto bread make this a fun place worth visiting. There are Tandoori entrees, Mongolian grilled fish and stir-fry, drool-worthy sandwiches, and piping hot fresh pizzas. There is truly something for everyone here.
Favorite Eat: Surf and Surf Burger
6. Captain Cook’s — Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Why We Love It: This is my favorite quick-service breakfast stop but this place is also worth a visit for lunch or dinner. The menu here is brimming with unique dishes, chockfull of flavors that are knock-your-socks-off delicious! Island-inspired cuisine can be found here in dishes such as the Thai Coconut Meatballs, Aloha Pork Sandwich, Fish Tacos, Hawaiian Flatbread, and Pho Noodle Bowls. They also have tasty burgers, lobster rolls, filling salads, and pork nachos. The dessert options don’t look like much, but the cookies here are dynamite! I don’t know how they do it, but I’ve never tasted a yummier oatmeal raisin cookie than at this delightful place. The legendary Dole Whip used to be found here as well, but they now have their own stand at the outdoor Pineapple Lanai, just a hop, skip and jump away from Captain Cook’s.
Favorite Eat: Hands down, the Tonga Toast!
5. Everything POP! — Pop Century Resort
Why We Love It: Not the place to go for a quiet, laid-back meal, but with the restaurant’s title, you probably wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) expect that, right? Fun, bright, and eclectic, this quick-service spot draws guests in with the vivid, loud colors, fun billboards, and POPular, all-American eats with a twist. There are a few ethnic dishes mixed into the fare, because hey, variety is the spice of life. The create-your-own baked potato station is a hit, and the Poppin’ Nachos are a must-share for your table. They’ve got Sloppy Joes, Meatball Subs, Sweet or Tangy Barbequed Pork Sandwiches, and Chicken Parmesan. There is a create-your-own-salad option (with a million or so toppings), rotisserie chicken, beef brisket and chicken pot pie. You can also create-your-own burger, hot dog, and chicken sandwich too! For dessert, there are creamy handspun milkshakes and several ice cream flavors with a wide variety of toppings. You can also order a fun tie-dyed cheesecake, guaranteed to wow the little ones in your party with the mish-mash of eye-popping colors. With such a large variety of food, one might expect the quality to be sub-par but that couldn’t be further from the truth! We love this loud place and thoroughly enjoy the food!
Favorite Eat: The King Cupcake
4. The Mara — Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort
Why We Love It: I won’t beat around the bush—I come for the Zebra Domes every time, but am always fascinated at the delicious African-inspired flavors found in the dishes at this quick service restaurant. If you come for the cheeseburger, you probably won’t be too impressed but if you order one of their African plates, you’ll probably be wowed. The Chicken Pita, with a mint yogurt sauce, is a winner in my book. You’ll find Coconut Curry Chicken Stew, Falafel Pitas, Mater Paneer, Hand-Carved Beef Sandwiches, unique salads, and so much more. Picky eaters need not worry—I guarantee you’ll find something here to enjoy. But I definitely recommend venturing out and trying something different—this place rarely disappoints!
Favorite Eat: African Stew
3. Hurricane Hanna’s Grill — Disney’s Beach Club Resort
Why We Love It: Located outdoors next to the winding waters of Stormalong Bay, this bar and grill is a hidden gem in my book. The signature cocktails make this place a perfect option on a hot day, but stay for the food and you might never want to leave. The appetizers are incredible—choose from Sea Salt fries with Malt Vinegar, house-made popcorn shrimp, pulled-pork sliders, seared tuna, and even a fresh-roasted turkey pizza slice (made with oven-roasted turkey, Craisins, mozzarella, fresh sage, parmesan and white sauce-yum!). The lunch menu is somewhat limited, but the offerings are all so delicious that settling on one meal is still quite complicated. Featured on the menu is a muffuletta-style grilled chicken sandwich, Angus-Beef burger, lobster, shrimp and scallop roll, quinoa-vegetable wrap, pulled pork sandwich, and chopped field greens salad.
Favorite Eat: Quinoa-Vegetable Wrap
2. Picabu — Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort
Why We Love It: Featuring a cafeteria-style setting and the selection of a full buffet, this quick-service restaurant located at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort is open 24/7. The menu is extensive—offering filling breakfast options and a mile-long list of tasty lunch and dinner options. If you are craving it, you’ll probably find it here. Burgers, salads, hot dogs, tacos, lasagna, pastas, loaded nachos, seafood, roasted chicken, burritos, pot roast—the menu just goes on and on. The service here is impeccable—even though you bring the food to your table yourself, there always seems to be a Cast Member nearby to clear your empty plates and get you anything you need. The downside: because this restaurant is located in a resort that is operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts under the Sheraton Hotels brand and not owned by the Walt Disney Company, you are charged a pricey parking fee. But the good news is that this resort is within walking distance of Epcot, the other Epcot resorts, and Hollywood Studios.
Favorite Eat: Picabu Breakfast
1. Boardwalk Bakery — Disney’s Boardwalk Resort
Why We Love It: You just can’t beat the location, and if you can stroll past this quaint seashore stop without being drawn indoors with the smell alone, you are a better person than I am! You might mistakenly believe you can only order sweet treats here and while that alone is reason enough to make a visit, you will be pleased to know that the Boardwalk Bakery offers quite a few savory options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hearty sandwiches fill their lunch menu including the lobster roll, fresh mozzarella sandwich, roast beef sandwich, oak-grilled salmon sandwich, smoked turkey sandwich, and pork loin sandwich. You’ll also find a wide variety of fresh, seasonal salads and soup. And be kind to yourself by ordering one of their mouthwateringly delicious desserts before you leave…you simply MUST!
Favorite Eat: Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie
Please Note: There are certain times of year where Disney restricts outside guests entrance into select Disney resorts due to special events, conferences, etcetera IF you are trying to park there with your own vehicle. If you have a table-service dining reservation you will never have a problem gaining admittance, but there is never a guarantee that visiting a quick-service dining spot will get you past the guard gate. For example, if you are trying to park at an Epcot resort hotel without a dining reservation during Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival, you might be turned away due to the high capacity of guests during this time of year. It is always a good idea to check out the schedule of major events and/or call the resort itself prior to trying to park there with your own vehicle. If you are relying on Disney Resort transportation, visiting the resorts will not be an issue.
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