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Great Alternatives to Disney World’s Most Popular Restaurants!

Alternatives to popular Disney World restaurants
All Images Credit Disney

One of the best parts of a Walt Disney World vacation is all the incredible dining options that you have at your fingertips. That is truly one of the things that sets Disney apart from all other theme parks. From snacks to quick service and unmatched table-service meals, there is truly no bad option when it comes to dining at Disney.

Now, there are certainly some restaurants that are more popular than others, and some are very difficult to get reservations at. However, that does not mean all hope is lost. There are some absolutely wonderful alternatives to those hard to get into spots.

Couple enjoying beer at Rose & Crown

Credit: Disney

Here are some of the best!

Can’t Get Into Art Smith’s Homecomin’?

Our Recommendation – Boatwright’s Dining Hall/ The Polite Pig

Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ is one of the most in-demand restaurants, not just in Disney Springs, but in all of Walt Disney World Resort. Guests can’t get enough of the perfectly crispy fried chicken and southern staples like fried green tomatoes, Country Fried Steak, and Hummingbird Cake. But getting a reservation can seem nearly impossible.

Art's Famous Fried Chicken

Credit: Disney

Related: Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Has Donuts, and We Can’t Get Enough of Them!

So, we suggest you head over to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, where you can dine at Boatwright’s Dining Hall. The southern restaurant gives guests a real taste of the bayou, with a menu full of things like Blackened Ribs, Deep South Shrimp and Grits, Fried Okra, Mississippi Mud CrĂšme BrĂ»lĂ©e, and even a Lowcountry Seafood Boil!

If you are willing to switch out a sit-down restaurant for a quick service one — and want to stay in Disney Springs, then we also suggest that you head over to the Polite Pig! The Polite Pig has a menu that includes Cedar Plank Salmon, fall-off-the-bone ribs, cheddar bratwurst, and even moist and delicious Red Velvet Cake.

Boatwright's Dining Hall

Credit: Disney

No Availability at Cinderella’s Royal Table?

Our Recommendation – Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

One of the things that makes dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table is the fact that you are dining IN Cinderella Castle. Despite the high price tag (nearly $90 for lunch and dinner), Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of the most difficult dining reservations to get. Disney fans love being able to dine with some of their favorite Disney princesses.

Cinderella's Royal Table

Credit: Disney

If you can’t get into Cinderella’s Royal Table — or are looking for a more affordable alternative — then we highly recommend venturing over to EPCOT and dining at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall.

Located in the Norway pavilion, this beloved dining spot gives guests the chance to interact with a number of Disney princesses — this can include Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Snow White, Jasmine, Ariel, and Tiana. Even Mary Poppins has been known to make an appearance! The princesses greet each guest as they dine on American favorites, along with Norwegian classics like KjØttkake (Norwegian meatballs) and Kylling og Melboller (Norwegian chicken and dumplings).

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall Breakfast

Credit: Disney

Is Be Our Guest Completely Booked?

Our Recommendation – Chefs De France

Be Our Guest is a relatively new restaurant, opening at the Magic Kingdom in 2012. What makes Be Our Guest truly unique is that guests are able to dine inside the Beast’s castle. They can dine in the grand ballroom and even the West Wing! Despite the change to a price-fixed menu and a relatively high price tag, Be Our Guest remains one of the most popular restaurants on property.

Family enjoying dinner at Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom

Credit: Disney

Be Our Guest focuses on French-inspired dishes, so if French is what you want, then there’s no better place to head than EPCOT. There, you can head to the France Pavilion in the World Showcase and dine at Chefs De France.

Chefs De France is — in this writer’s opinion — one of the most underrated restaurants at Walt Disney World. The menu is full of French classics like French Onion Soup, Escargot, ratatouille, and beef bourguignon. And, of course, you can end your evening with a delicious crĂšme brĂ»lĂ©e or chocolate tart. And, you’ll definitely want to try the French Martini.

Chef's de France

Credit: Disney

Related: The BEST Choices For Drinking Around the World at EPCOT!

No Luck at Roundup Rodeo BBQ?

Our Recommendation – Whispering Canyon CafĂ©

If Be Our Guest is relatively new, then Roundup Rodeo BBQ is really new, opening back in March 23, 2023. The new barbecue spot can be found in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and has become an absolute hit.

Roundup Rodeo BBQ has many delicious all-you-care-to-eat options that are served family style. The menu is full of barbecue classics like watermelon salad, beef brisket, baked beans, barbecue chicken, and corn on the cob. Desserts include cheesecake, apple pie, and more.

Guests and cast member at Roundup rodeo BBQ

Credit: Disney

Unfortunately, getting a reservation at Roundup Rodeo BBQ can be quite a task. So, if you find yourself wanting some classic barbecue but unable to get into Roundup Rodeo, then we suggest heading to Whispering Canyon CafĂ© at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.

Whispering Canyon CafĂ© is also an all-you-care-to-enjoy dining experience, where guests have the option of several mouthwatering skillets. The traditional skillet comes with barbecue favorites like beef brisket, pork ribs, chicken, sausage, corn, and more. Then, for the meat lovers, there is the pig skillet — full of braised pork belly, pork ribs, chicken wings, pulled pork, sausage, and so much more.

Dinner Skillet

Credit: Disney

And Whispering Canyon has not forgotten about those who eat a plant-based diet. The plant-based skillet contains barbecue jackfruit, beefless tips, spicy ‘sausage’, “Trick’n Chick’n”, potatoes, carrots, green beans, and peppers. A smorgasbord of vegetarian favorites!

For dessert, you’ll want to try the chocolate cake and apple pie.

Chef Mickey’s and Topolino’s Terrace, Full to the Brim?

Our Recommendation – Tusker House

Character dining is one of the most popular — and most fun — dining experiences you can have at Walt Disney World. And who better to dine with than iconic characters like Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald Duck? Of course, a lot of people want to dine with those characters, so character meals like Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort and Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort are really hard to get reservations to.

Mickey at Topolino Terrace

Credit: Disney

So, we HIGHLY recommend going to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, where you can dine at Tusker House.

Tusker House offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets that are full of American classics, as well as many African-inspired dishes. Guests can enjoy international offerings like tandoori chicken, Berbere-marinated pork, Chermoula Salmon Filet, and Jollof Rice. Then there are the specialty cocktails like a Sunset Margarita, Ngumu Jungle Juice, and an Indigo Hibiscus.

Tusker House Mickey and Goofy

Credit: Disney

Of course, the big selling point of Tusker House is that it is an incredible character dining experience! Characters like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy will come to visit you at your table. And they are dressed in their safari best, ready to go on an adventure!

California Grill Unable to Accommodate?

Our Recommendation – Narcoossee’s

Disney’s California Grill is one of Walt Disney World Resort’s most signature dining experiences. High atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort, guests can dine on dishes like Pumpkin Ravioli, Fire-roasted Venison, Florida Red Snapper, and Fall Spiced Panna Cotta. Then, they can head out onto the balcony and watch the fireworks explode high above Cinderella Castle.

Fish and quinoa and vegetables

Credit: Disney

Related: Contemporary Dining with a View: Dinner at California Grill

California Grill might be one of the most expensive restaurants on property, but that does not mean that it is any less in demand. Reservations are limited and difficult to get.

If you can’t get into California Grill, we suggest heading to one of Disney’s other stunning deluxe hotels around Bay Lake — Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. There, you can dine at Narcoossee’s, which is nestled right next to Bay Lake.

Narcoossee's Filet Mignon

Credit: Disney

The menu at Narcoossee’s also features a variety of high-end dishes from land and sea. Some of the signature dishes include Plancha-Seared Scallops with Parisian gnocchi, Lobster Bisque, Gulf Shrimp Bucatini, and Prime New York Strip Steak.

After your dinner, you can head outside to the shores of Bay Lake, where you can watch the fireworks go off across the water. It will truly be a night you are sure to remember!

Narcoossee's Brisket and Ricotta Tortellini

Credit: Disney

Other Top Restaurants to Consider

There are nearly 400 places to dine at Walt Disney World. There is something for every age, every palate, and nearly every budget. You are sure to find something you will love and dream of going back to on your next Disney vacation.

If you are thinking about other great spots to dine at during your magical vacation, there are so many wonderful options.

If you are looking for a place to enjoy a delicious steak dinner, then you’ll want to consider Le Cellier Steakhouse. The beloved steakhouse is located in the Canada pavilion in EPCOT and the menu has mouthwatering options like Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup, Le Cellier Filet Mignon, and Maple CrĂšme BrĂ»lĂ©e.

Canadian cheddar cheese soup from le cellier epcot canada

Credit: Disney

For another incredibly fun character dining experience, you’ll want to book a reservation at the Crystal Palace, located in the Magic Kingdom. This buffet-style restaurant has delicious food and features your favorite characters from Winnie the Pooh! Each meal features Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore.

Be Our Guest and the Crystal Palace are not the only great sit-down options in the Magic Kingdom theme park. Over in Liberty Square, guests can enjoy an American feast at Liberty Tree Tavern.

winnie the pooh tigger crystal palace walt disney world meet and greet dining

Credit: Disney

There are no characters at this Disney Park dining spot, but the menu is top-notch. As with spots like Whispering Canyon Café, Liberty Tree Tavern is all you care to enjoy. The menu is full of roast turkey, pot roast, and pork with mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, and macaroni and cheese. And the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is to die for!

Snagging Those Coveted Reservations

While we have given you a number of great alternatives, sometimes you just really want to eat at the really popular restaurants, and we can’t blame you. So, if you want to have the best chance of getting a seat at a place like Art Smith’s or California Grill, then there are some things to know in order to have the best chance.

Desserts

Credit: Disney

You can book Disney World dining reservations up to 60 days in advance. Reservations open up at 6 a.m. Eastern time, so you may have to stay up really late or wake up really early if you want to be one of the first people to have a shot at snagging a table.

If you try and fail to get a reservation that you want, all is not completely lost. There are sites like MouseWatcher, which, for a small fee, will keep an eye out on all Disney World restaurants and their availability. You will tell them where you want to eat and when you want to eat there. They will then let you know if a reservation opens up. But you must always be on alert, because you might not be the only one who is looking for that reservation.

Steak at California Grill

Credit: Disney

We hope you enjoy a few of our best restaurant alternatives to some of Disney’s most popular restaurants. All of these restaurants are also on the Disney Dining Plan, so you can book to your heart’s content, knowing that you’ve already paid to eat there!

What is your favorite place to eat at Walt Disney World Resort? Let us know in the comments!

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

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