With over 300 restaurants to choose from at the Disney World Resort and reservations opening to motivated guests 180 days in advance of a meal at one of the resort restaurants, Disney fanatics have a lot of decisions to make in advance of their trips and a lot of competition from other guests in making them. The days of simply walking up to a table service restaurant and being seated are long past, unless you are extremely lucky or eating at very odd times. And if you are trying to make reservations for your family, with the added difficulty that finding food for picky eaters presents, it can be even tougher. A few minutes of research ahead of time will spare you hours of headaches on your Disney vacation. To help you out, here are some of the top Walt Disney World restaurant reservations for families:
1. Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
If your family wants to meet characters while dining, you pretty much can’t beat Chef Mickey’s. On most days, dining here will give you access to the full Fab Five – Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto. Serving breakfast, brunch, and dinner, Chef Mickey’s features contemporary American cuisine with familiar favorites that allow even the pickiest eaters to find something they love.
2. Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom
If it’s princess characters that your family hopes to meet, Cinderella’s Royal Table is the place to be. You are guaranteed to meet Cinderella before your meal for a nice photo opportunity, and the other princesses who make regular appearances during the meal include Ariel, Aurora, Snow White, and Jasmine. The Fairy Godmother makes an occasional appearance as well. The options are more limited for children here, but what they do serve is very good and you’re really here to see the princesses anyway!
3. Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom
For children (and their parents) who want to immerse themselves in one of Disney’s most beloved movies, Beauty and the Beast, a meal at Be Our Guest is a must! Step inside Beast’s enchanted castle to enjoy the detail that went into the design of the 3 dining rooms – The Grand Ballroom, The West Wing, and The Castle Gallery. Children should be able to find at least one item on the menu that appeals to them, but be advised that breakfast and lunch are quick service affairs and Beast only makes meet and greet appearances at the dinner service!
4. Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort
For children (and their parents) who hate seeing the same old boring choices on the kids’ menu like burgers, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets, the kids’ meals at Yachtsman Steakhouse are a refreshing change. In addition to macaroni & cheese, they have less traditional options including grilled chicken breast, oak-grilled steak skewer, baked fish of the day, or orecchiette pasta and meatballs!
5. San Angel Inn Restaurante in Epcot’s Mexico
San Angel Inn Restaurante is a Mexican restaurant located inside Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, which looks like a Mesoamerican pyramid. That’s pretty cool all on its own, but there’s a smoking volcano and another pyramid inside the pavilion providing more amazing ambience for diners. As if that’s not enough, tables located near the water have a view of riders on the boats of the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring the Three Amigos attraction. San Angel Inn Restaurante is Disney World’s answer to Disneyland’s Blue Bayou restaurant, which overlooks part of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Between the amazing sights of this restaurant and the Mexican cuisine, which has a number of items that children generally like, your family will love this restaurant!
6. Garden Grill in Epcot’s The Land
A meal at Garden Grill is a unique experience in a number of ways. First of all, it is a character meal with Chip ‘n’ Dale and their Disney pals (Mickey, on the night we ate there) in attendance. Second, the restaurant rotates – making a complete turn in about the time it takes you to eat your meal. And finally, the restaurant serves many food items that are grown right there in The Land Pavilion. In fact, you can ride the attraction Living with the Land before dining there to get an up close look at your food being grown! This provides a lot of dinner discussion for families that eat here. And Garden Grill also holds a place in my heart for being the first place that my children described vegetables as “delicious”!
7. The Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom
Returning to the theme of dining with characters, Crystal Palace is a very popular restaurant for parents with young children thanks to characters from Winnie the Pooh making the rounds. Tigger, Piglet, and Eeyore join Pooh at this bright and airy buffet restaurant featuring a selection of American favorites that will definitely suit picky eaters.
8. Coral Reef in Epcot’s The Seas with Nemo & Friends
If your family is looking for a restaurant with a view, Coral Reef is guaranteed to make waves among your whole crew. In fact, your meals will go quite swimmingly! Everyone in the restaurant has a great view of the aquarium and the amazing fish and other sea creatures who make their home on the coral reef inside it. Naturally, there are a lot of seafood options to be found here, like shrimp and grits, seafood scampi, or their “sustainable seafood catch of the day”. You may even catch sight of a very special scuba diver in the aquarium!
9. Whispering Canyon Café at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
For pure family fun, most guests would agree that Whispering Canyon Café is the place to be. A meal here is truly an interactive experience! From “horse races” around the restaurant to other games and gags, if you’re looking for a quiet dining experience, this is not the place for you! A wide selection of items on the menu make it easy for everyone to find something great to eat, and if you’re feeling adventurous be sure to ask for ketchup, a large Coke, extra napkins, or have the audacity to speak on your cell phone at the table. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you!
10. Akershus in Epcot’s Norway
If your children’s greatest wish is dining with the princesses, but you can’t get into Cinderella’s Royal Table or you won’t be visiting Magic Kingdom, Akershus gives you another opportunity to make those dreams come true. And while your children may turn up their noses at gravlax or gjetost cheese… or even salmon, there are plenty of options that will appeal to their palates. And of course, there are princesses! Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Belle, Ariel, and Mary Poppins make frequent appearances here.
11. 50s Prime Time Café in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Rivaling Whispering Canyon Café where fun and interactive dining are concerned, 50s Prime Time Café is a blast from the past served up with classic American good eats. Chicken pot pie, pork chops, meatloaf, fried chicken, and pot roast highlight the menu, but don’t get too comfortable! Resting those elbows on the table is a big no-no! Ask for a TV table if it’s available, and be sure to eat your vegetables!
12. The Plaza Restaurant in Magic Kingdom
When even Disney calls a restaurant “inconspicuous” and a “hidden gem”, you know that it’s going to be a little different than the usual Disney World eatery. What makes this fact even more amazing is that this restaurant isn’t tucked away at the back of a resort, it’s located right at the end of Main Street U.S.A. in Magic Kingdom! In this case, I’ve included The Plaza for those families whose children need a bit more peace and quiet during their meals. The kids’ menu is as basic and unoriginal as can be with the likes of burgers, grilled cheese, and chicken strips on the menu, but I can attest to the much lower level of noise found here. For some families, that is a blessing on its own. As is the fried green tomato sandwich!
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13. Cape May Café at Disney’s Beach Club Resort
As an alternative to Chef Mickey’s, Cape May also serves up breakfast with a side of great characters – Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Chip & Dale have been known to make appearances here. And while the characters only appear during breakfast service, many guests feel that the experience at Cape May Café not only compares well with Chef Mickey’s, but is actually better! And if you like seafood, the Cape May Café Clam Bake at dinner service gets great reviews.
14. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Campground
If corny jokes and a show to view is definitely the thing to do for your crew, then take your zoo to the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue! There’s BBQ and fried chicken to chew; endless wine, sangria, and brew; and no queue to walk through ‘cause they’ll bring it to you! So don’t feel blue and say boo-hoo looking for an experience that’s new! No need to rue being caught in a stew. Get a clue and take my cue – you know what to do! You’re due for a do that’s fun through and through and will make your family say woo-hoo! Whew!
While many otherwise wonderful restaurants were left off this list for one reason or another, you know your family best and what might not work for one family may be a perfect fit for yours. Do you recommend the restaurants on this list? Or does your family have other favorites?
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 Walt Disney World deal, share expert advice and their services are totally FREE! It’s genius!
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