While I always enjoy a good meal in one of Disney’s theme parks, I think the resort restaurants have a more relaxing atmosphere, and many offer up some very good grub. You can find anything from AAA Five Diamond award-winning meals to loud cowboys to beloved characters when you choose to dine in a resort. Many people ask if they are allowed to dine at a resort where they are not staying, and the answer is Yes! In fact, dining at various resorts is a great way to see all of the different resort atmospheres that Disney has to offer and to plan for your next vacation.
10. Chef Mickeys, Contemporary Resort
Chef Mickey’s in the Contemporary Resort is the quintessential character meal. Featuring the Fab 5 (Mickey & the gang) in their “chef” costumes, this meal is easily accessible from the Magic Kingdom. As you sit in the open restaurant with the monorail gliding by overhead, you will feast on a buffet of American favorites at breakfast and dinner.
9. Whispering Canyon Café, Wilderness Lodge
This loud and rowdy spot is so much fun for the entire family, and everyone should pay a visit to the Wilderness Lodge to admire the stunning lobby and architecture. Whispering Canyon is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and serves up Western and American favorites like Barbecue. Dinner features a build-your-own family platter with a choice of several meats, and the real fun here comes with the antics of the servers. You can participate in stick pony races around the restaurant, may be served an extra large drink or a long straw, and don’t forget to ask for ketchup!
8. ‘Ohana, Polynesian Resort
This family favorite (‘Ohana means family) serves up tasty all-you-care-to-eat Polynesian-inspired dishes at dinner time and a fun breakfast with Mickey, Lilo, and Stitch. At dinner, the meats are prepared over a fire and served to you off of huge skewers. A beautiful view looking over Seven Seas Lagoon is a plus here. Family fun includes live entertainment and coconut races in the evening. Between Whispering Canyon and ‘Ohana, you can’t get a more interactive dinner setting to keep your kids happy.
7. Kona Café, Polynesian Resort
Kona Café is actually my favorite for breakfast. It is close to the Magic Kingdom so that you can get to and from the park easily, and it is a great way to kick off your day. The Tonga Toast is my go-to menu item here–Banana-stuffed Sourdough French Toast rolled in Cinnamon Sugar and served with a Strawberry Compote—but I always have to share it with someone else (or I might slip into a sugar-induced coma 90 minutes later). The Macadamia-Pineapple pancakes come in a close second. The restaurant is also open for lunch and dinner, providing a nice midday or evening escape from Magic Kingdom. You can have a fan favorite, Sticky Wings, in addition to other entrees.
6. Sanaa, Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village
Sanaa gets rave reviews for its unique food offerings, including the Indian Style Bread service, where you can pick three breads and three accompaniments for an appetizer. Lunch and dinner entrees and sides include Indian and African-influenced flavors and some nice vegetarian options. Like Wilderness Lodge, I think everyone should pay a visit to Animal Kingdom Lodge to enjoy the architecture and the animal viewing areas—Sanaa offers views of the savanna right from the restaurant.
5. TIE: Citricos & Narcoossee’s, Grand Floridian
These two Grand Floridian eateries have a lot to offer guests for dinner. Both offer innovative menus (with Narcoossee’s focusing more heavily on seafood) in beautiful settings. You can even see the Happily Ever After fireworks show from the deck outside Narcoossee’s. While this may not be the best restaurant choice for children, they do offer a children’s menu with staples like mac & cheese, hamburgers, and chicken fingers.
4. Yachtsman Steakhouse, Yacht Club
If you are serious about your steaks, this is the restaurant for you. Open only for dinner; steak obviously dominates the menu with everything from a filet to a strip steak to a whopping 28 oz. Porterhouse. Typical steakhouse accompaniments like creamed spinach and sautéed mushrooms are available to add. You get a glimpse into the steak trimming room and the open kitchen to get you ready to consume your red meat. The interior of the restaurant itself is traditional and understated, but right outside is the Stormalong Bay pool area of the Yacht Club. This one is an easy walk to and from EPCOT, so if you can’t get that Le Cellier reservation, this is a great alternative.
3. California Grill, Contemporary Resort
The California Grill offers a wonderful culinary experience. Flatbreads, sushi, and seasonal entrees fill out the delicious menu—and don’t forget the wonderful desserts. The highlight of an evening at the California Grill is the view. High above the Contemporary, you can see all areas of the Walt Disney World property, and the view of the Magic Kingdom Fireworks from this location is truly spectacular!
2. Victoria & Alberts, Grand Floridian
I know this choice as number 2 is going to be controversial. As one of only two AAA Five Diamond award winners in Florida, the culinary experience here certainly would rank it as the number 1 resort restaurant at Walt Disney World . . .but the price makes it prohibitive for many, and children may not dine here, so that moved it to number 2 on my list. Victoria & Albert’s offers several dining experiences, including the difficult-to-get exclusive Chef’s Table, where your gastronomic desires are catered to directly by the chef with a 10-course meal, the Queen Victoria Room with a 10-course prix fixe menu, and the 7-course prix fixe menu in the dining room. This is a fabulous choice for a special celebration meal, a proposal, or a honeymoon.
1. Jiko, Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House
Mix the exotic atmosphere of Animal Kingdom Lodge with amazing food, and you have my number 1 selection for resort dining: Jiko. Here, you can bring your children, and though the prices aren’t inexpensive, it is a great meal for a splurge. In addition to dinner, Jiko offers a wine tasting. The seasonal dinner menu highlights African, Mediterranean, and Indian tastes and includes the fan-favorite oak-grilled filet monsieur. Although no longer listed on the menu, you can request the white cheddar macaroni and cheese as a substitute unless they have changed that policy. Everything is prepared in a show kitchen, so you have some entertainment while you eat. This is a definite must-do for “foodies.” After you finish your delicious meal, take some time to walk around the Lodge and take in the architecture and artifacts, and step outside to see the animals or enjoy the fire pit.
There are several other delicious resort restaurants at Walt Disney World—what is your favorite?