Admit it – as much as you love Walt Disney World, there are certain WDW experiences you don’t need to enjoy more than once. Maybe it’s a novelty drink, a popular ride that made you motion-sick, or a splurge you made just for bragging rights. Or maybe it’s a restaurant. Here are 10 Disney restaurants we tried once, and don’t need to try again. Do you agree?
Admittedly top-notch when it comes to novelty or themed dining, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a must-do – once. Who wouldn’t love to experience dining in a booth shaped like a retro car, while watching clips of classic horror and sci-fi films on the drive-in screen, all under a sky that comes alive with hundreds of stars? However, once you’ve eaten here, there’s little need to return. The clips are on a loop, so you’ll soon start to recognize them; the food is fine but nothing special; and even with a reservation, wait times can be excessive.
While you won’t find another restaurant like this in Walt Disney World’s Epcot, the Rose & Crown Pub is the quintessential British pub, so chances are you’ve eaten in a restaurant like it and will again. You might want to come in to sample some typical British fare to complete your UK pavilion experience, but unless you’re a serious Anglophile, there won’t be much to bring you back.
3. Rainforest Cafe
If you or your little ones have never eaten at a Rainforest Cafe, you should absolutely head on by for a safari, but you probably won’t want to make a habit of it. You’ll eat amid a tropical rainforest, complete with all the requisite fauna, including elephants, gorillas, birds and even live fish. The animals move, and even make sounds, especially every 20 minutes or so when the rainstorm happens. But many guests find the food less than inspiring, especially given all of the alternatives on Disney Property, and with locations scattered throughout North America, your time and money are better spent on more unique dining experiences.
4. Chef Mickey’s
We ate at Chef Mickey’s, in Disney’s Contemporary Resort, once – and while it was pleasant, once was enough. You’ll enjoy appearances by Mickey and friends throughout your all-you-care-to-eat breakfast, which includes a variety of yummy food you’d expect at a family-friendly restaurant. For us, the main appeal was the presence of the monorail as it sped through the resort lobby throughout our meal. But once you’ve seen this, there’s hardly a need to return, especially with the steep price of the meal.
Full disclosure – we ate at The Edison at Disney Springs for two reasons: the fun steampunk theming, and the Bubblegum Whipped Cream. The restaurant is stunningly designed, and if you’re eating here, you should take the opportunity to wander around and check out all the themed areas that are made to look like an electric company from the 1920s. Part Gothic fantasy, part industrial-chic, the atmosphere is a novelty you’ll want to experience (much like the stilt-walker that made an appearance during our meal). But, like the Bubblegum Whipped Cream, its appeal really ends there, and you likely won’t miss dining here if you skip it next time you’re in WDW.
Located in the France pavilion at Disney’s Epcot, Chefs de France will certainly make you feel like you’re in Paris. From the vast list of French wines, to the soaring ceilings, to the menu featuring delicious dishes from France, you may forget you’re even in Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, that applies to the seating and service, too. We ate here before COVID-19, when the tables were so close together, weaving around them to find the restroom felt like an Olympic sport. And while the service was adequate, it was a little formal and frosty when held up to the legendary Disney service found elsewhere on property. All in all, if you can’t make it to France, this is an acceptable substitute to enjoy – once.
7. Crystal Palace
Light and airy, Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace lives up to its name, with its pretty greenhouse-inspired ambiance. It also enjoys prime real estate on Main Street USA – which is probably one of the reasons it’s so popular! We enjoyed our one meal here, but it wasn’t special enough to entice us to fight the crowds to dine here again (with or without Hundred-Acre Wood characters).
8. Planet Hollywood
Milkshakes brought us into Planet Hollywood. You may have seen pictures of the restaurant’s massive SuperNova Shakes, topped with amazing things like lollipops, pretzels, brownies, frosting and actual slices of cake. And it’s worth coming in for the experience (make sure you bring along a friend to share the sugar with – odds are you won’t be able to finish it yourself), but there really wasn’t anything either in the ambience or on the menu to bring us back again.
9. 50s Prime Time Cafe
Yet another Walt Disney World restaurant that earns high marks for its novelty factor, 50’s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios feels like a trip through time – minus the DeLorean. Whether you lived through the 1950s or want to experience it for the first time, dining here is a must, but you likely won’t need to return for a second helping. The restaurant features Formica tables, black-and-white tv clips from classic shows, pastel shades galore, and all-American comfort food like fried chicken, pot roast and apple crisp. There’s also a heaping of discipline by cast members (ahem, Mom and extended family) for any guest who doesn’t show the right table etiquette. Fun once? Absolutely! Will we be back? Probably not.
This entry may surprise some guests, since the charms of Cinderella’s Royal Table are widely extolled. And with good reason: how could a restaurant located inside Cinderella Castle NOT inspire? The ambience is majestic, and the beautiful stained glass windows overlook Fantasyland, a view you won’t get anywhere else. This is the castle interior you always dreamed you’d find inside Walt Disney World’s icon, and it’ll make you feel like royalty. But that feeling comes at a cost; this is one of the most expensive restaurants on property. While the food is amazing, this is a one-and-done dining experience for the average guest (so make sure you take plenty of pictures while you’re here!).