The problem with the Walt Disney World restaurants is that there are so many incredible choices. It’s hard to decide where to go. That’s a good problem to have. We also tend to fall into patterns. We try a restaurant and like it, so we visit the same place the next trip. Often we also make the mistake of eating only in the theme parks. Time is precious on a Walt Disney World vacation, which makes the quick service restaurants more appealing. Hurrying through your meals will save you time, but you’ll miss out on some incredible dining opportunities.
Most restaurants at Walt Disney World are special in one way or another, which is why this list was difficult to come up with. A few are in the theme parks, and several are located in one of the resort hotels. Reserve dinner at one of these hotel restaurants the day that you arrive in Central Florida, and start your vacation off with a delicious bang. If you take a day off to relax, dine at one of these resort restaurants. They are all unique and special in their own way.
There are many other restaurants that could be on this list. A few others that you should consider trying sometime are Sanaa, Paddlefish, Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, Splitsville Luxury Lanes, Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, Be Our Guest Restaurant, and Shula’s Steak House. Even that list isn’t complete, the restaurants at Walt Disney World are that good.
10. Flying Fish Cafe
This signature dining experience has a whimsical theme. There are fish with parachutes that are based on real flying fish hanging from the ceiling, and there is also a carnival-type theme. You’ll see murals of a ferris wheel, roller coasters, and other items that will make you think of the boardwalks of days gone by. Even though the theme is fun, the food is taken very seriously. Open only for dinner, you’ll find a lot of seafood creations, steak, and other specialties. Flying Fish Cafe is also the home of two special events. You can make your reservation to Dine With an Imagineer, or you might want to sign up for the Chef’s Tasting Wine Dinner. You won’t be disappointed with either event.
9. Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
Italy Pavilion, Epcot
Take a break in the middle of a crazy afternoon at Epcot and enjoy a glass of fine wine. There are over 200 vintages to choose from. Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar does not accept reservations, so it can be hit or miss as far as getting a seat. The Wine Cellar is intimate and will transport you across the world, you won’t feel like you’re in a theme park. If you’re hungry, small plates of cheese or meats are served, or you can order pasta or a panini. Even though it’s a wine cellar, kids are allowed. You can relax and recharge for a while, and then you’ll be ready to hit the park once again. Just don’t drink too much wine right before your Mission: SPACE FastPass+ time.
8. Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
Disney’s Beach Club Resort
There are two words that you need to keep in mind when you enter Beaches & Cream; Kitchen Sink. Sure, the restaurant will remind you of an old fashioned ice cream parlor. True, they have delicious entrees such as burgers and sandwiches. Put all of that in the back of your mind and focus instead on dessert. The Kitchen Sink is the ultimate sundae. It contains eight scoops of ice cream, cake, brownies, candy bars, cookies, sprinkles, and “every topping we have”. It’s served in a bowl that is shaped like a kitchen sink. It is made for four people, but even with that many it’s hard to finish. You’ll also find other great sundae choices at Beaches & Cream, but it’s the Kitchen Sink that places the restaurant on this bucket list.
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7. The Hollywood Brown Derby
Hollywood Boulevard, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Fine dining in a theme park? The Hollywood Brown Derby will transport you across the country and back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The restaurant is a faithful recreation of the original Brown Derby restaurant. The walls are covered with caricatures of the rich and famous, and the food lives up to its reputation. If you can’t get a reservation at the restaurant, see if there is seating available at the lounge next door. There you can get a taste of “The Famous Hollywood Brown Derby Cobb Salad”, which is the restaurant’s signature dish.
6. 50’s Prime Time Cafe
Echo Lake, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Another throwback restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is 50’s Prime Time Cafe. Here you’ll be eating in the kitchen, while televisions play old black and white sitcoms. Mom (or another family member) will be your server, and you’ll be reminded that you can’t have dessert unless you finish your vegetables and that your elbows do not belong on the table. It’s all in good fun. Comfort food is served. The full menu is also available at the Tune-In Lounge next door, but try to get a reservation at the restaurant if you can.
5. Cinderella’s Royal Table
Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom
Everyone needs to feast like royalty at least once. Cinderella’s Royal Table will let you dine inside Cinderella Castle. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served all-you-can-eat. The food is not the star, it’s the location and the interaction with the most popular princesses that make this meal special. Your party will receive a complimentary picture with Cinderella when you arrive, and you’ll also be able to potentially meet Snow While, Belle, Aurora, and the Fairy Godmother. There is a reason why this is one of the most popular restaurants at Walt Disney World. You need to experience it yourself to truly understand.
4. Any Other Character Meal
There is a common misconception that character meals are just for children. That is not true, they are for the child that is in anyone. You’ll receive a filling meal in a great environment, and you’ll get character pictures that you’ll want to share with everyone back home. If you’re worried about the meal being loud and crowded, try breakfast at Cape May Cafe or dinner at Garden Grove. They tend to be a little less hectic than The Crystal Palace or Chef Mickey’s.
3. Jiko – The Cooking Place
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
This signature restaurant is one of the most unique on Walt Disney World property. The food is fresh, with a menu that changes seasonally so that you can have the most delicious food possible. The dishes have an African, Mediterranean, and Indian influence. The atmosphere is just as special as the food, the restaurant is designed to mimic an African sunset. There is an open kitchen and wood burning ovens. Jiko is a favorite of vegans and others with special dietary needs because the staff will go above and beyond to create an unforgettable meal for anyone. There is a huge selection of African wines to choose from, and the staff will be more than happy to make suggestions. The full Jiko menu is available at Cape Town Lounge and Wine Bar next door. The restaurant is also the home of Jiko Wine Tasting, which is held on Wednesday afternoons.
2. California Grill
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
There are two reasons why you need to try California Grill; the food and the view. You’ll take a private elevator to the 15th floor to reach this signature restaurant. Once there, you can enjoy sushi, beef, pork, seafood, and other dishes. The menu changes from time to time, and always features fresh California inspired dishes. There is an award winning wine list, so you’ll be able to find the perfect selection to compliment your meal. A few minutes before the nightly fireworks at the Magic Kingdom, head out onto one of two walkways and enjoy the view, complete with soundtrack. It is the best restaurant view at Walt Disney World. If you didn’t dine near the fireworks time you can still enjoy them. Keep your receipt and show it at the check in desk. California Grill Lounge features the full restaurant menu and fireworks view, but seats go quickly. Make a reservation for the restaurant instead of trying your luck with the lounge.
1. Victoria & Albert’s
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
For the most incredible dining experience that you will ever have, make a reservation at Victoria & Albert’s. If you have small children, you might want to wait or send them to a Children’s Activity Center for a few hours, all diners must be ten-years-old or older. Give yourself at least two and a half hours for your meal, it’s not to be rushed through. There are three different dining experiences to choose from; The Dining Room, Queen Victoria’s Room, and The Chef’s Table. There are over 700 wines available, and your meal will consist of seven to ten courses. If you reserve The Chef’s Table your menu will be created specifically for your tastes. After a meal at Victoria & Albert’s, you’ll see why the signature restaurant has won the AAA Five Diamond Award every year since 2000. The entire experience is that good.