Walt Disney World is world renowned for its theme parks, but more and more people are visiting the parks and resorts for the food. Yes, the food. At a theme park. Disney has done a lot to hype up their culinary offers through trendy “instagrammable” snacks, but true foodies know that the gourmet offerings at some of the most exclusive park and resort restaurants is where the true food paradise is found. Here are 8 of those exclusive dining experiences:
8. Yachtsman Steakhouse
Located at Disney’s Yacht Club resort, Yachtsman Steakhouse offers next level meat and potatoes to please any steak aficionado. Here you will find choice cuts of aged beef, enhancements including bone marrow and lobster, and delicious sides that you would expect to accompany a great steak like truffle macaroni and cheese, creamed spinach, braised mushrooms or onions, and grilled asparagus. This restaurant is not extremely difficult to find a dining reservation for, especially if you are prepared to start booking 180 days before your vacation. It is one of Disney’s signature dining locations, so if you are on a dining plan it is 2 table service credits, and if you are not on a dining plan expect a hefty check once you’ve finished your meal.
Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my favorite resort destinations for great dining. They offer dishes with an ethnic African flair, but many of them are familiar enough that it isn’t too intimidating. Jiko is located in Jambo House and it is the signature dining location for the resort. The cuisine here is superb with the fan favorite being the Oak Grilled Filet Mignon, but a short rib, seafood curry and lamb shank also round out the menu of excellent options. But don’t forget the appetizers, and of course the extensive South African Wine List. All of these combine to make it a very exclusive dinner reservation. I highly recommend allowing some time to walk around the Animal Kingdom Lodge before or after you dine if you are not staying there—it is spectacular.
6. Highway in the Sky Dine Around
Knowing how popular their restaurants have become with foodies, Disney has put together a special event dining experience to help guests sample dishes from around the Magic Kingdom monorail resorts. This exclusive event is for guests age 21 and up as it includes alcohol. The first stop is the Contemporary for a cocktail, then a hop on the monorail and off at the Polynesian for some appetizers and another drink. At the Grand Floridian guests enjoy wine with their entrée course, and an after dinner cheese plate. Back at the Contemporary for the end of the night desserts are served with an outdoor view of the fireworks. If you are interested in this event you will want to make sure you reserve the experience as soon as you are able. It is a great way to experience a variety of cuisines, and a fun way to spend the evening.
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5. Monsieur Paul
Over in Epcot’s World Showcase is an often overlooked exclusive dining experience: Monsieur Paul in the France pavilion. This restaurant is located upstairs above Les Chefs de France and offers a separate entrance. The relaxed setting can be fooling, but gourmet, upscale French cuisine is found in this exclusive location. Everything is classically French from the menu to the wine list. Monsieur Paul has a lot of history built in from its connection to the Chefs who started the restaurants in Epcot’s France pavilion to their reputation in France for delicious food. This is definitely a spot to try for a quiet date night in World Showcase.
4. Be Our Guest
Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom is one of the most sought after dining reservations, and it can be very difficult to get particularly for the dinner service. Breakfast and Lunch are quick service options here, but also require reservations. Dinner is perhaps the most popular time to dine here and it can be very tricky to get that elusive reservation even if you try 180 days before your vacation. Remember that if you are a Walt Disney World resort hotel guest you can make reservations through the end of your vacation when you are 180 days from your check-in/arrival date, so you may have more success getting tough ones like this if you book it for later in your vacation. The Prix Fixe Menu here includes your choice of an appetizer (the French onion soup is popular, but I can’t pass on a cheese plate), an entrée (seafood, steak and chicken options are available), and a trio of desserts that includes a taste of the iconic “grey stuff” served in a white chocolate “Chip” cup.
3. California Grill
California Grill located high atop the Contemporary Resort is my current favorite signature dining restaurant at Walt Disney World. They serve a Brunch on select days, and a dinner service. This exclusive location has a fantastic seasonal menu, and offers impeccable fireworks viewing as a bonus. Even if you eat at a time different than the fireworks (I prefer to watch the sunset while I eat), you can come back up to the viewing platforms with your receipt to watch the show. My favorite dishes here are the Pork or the Steak, but I always start out with the amazing Cheese Plate.
2. Victoria & Albert’s
The Grand Floridian is Disney’s “flagship” resort so it is only fitting that the keystone of their signature dining restaurants, Victoria & Albert’s, is located there. You have several dining experience options at Victoria & Albert’s—and I say experiences because when you dine here you are in for an evening full of multiple courses, so plan to be here for a while. The most exclusive of the dining reservations here is the Chef’s Table which can be nearly impossible to get because of the limited availability. If you are able to score this reservation you are in for an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime culinary fantasy with each course catered to you.
1. Club 33
By far, the most exclusive dining experience at Walt Disney World is the brand new Club 33. Recently “imported” from Disneyland, this members-only dinner club has a price tag for membership and dues that most of us can only dream about. Membership allows you the ability to dine here, so it stays very special for its guests. The current locations include Adventureland in Magic Kingdom, The American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot, and above Hollywood Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios. Even the entry to these locations is exclusive with a simple MagicBand reader and doorbell. Though I’ve never had the privilege of dining at these locations (or at the Disneyland location), I am sure that the service is impeccable and the menu options delicious.
Have you dined at any of Walt Disney World’s exclusive dining locations?