By Paula K
Time can be a major issue when you are on a Walt Disney World vacation. The last thing that you want to do is to waste one moment of your trip. You will already feel like you are wasting time while you are standing in line for a ride or waiting for a show to start. You do not want to waste time when you eat! That is what this list is for. While you still might have to wait at any of these restaurants, the wait could be less than at many other places.
Remember that the time of day that you eat will make a huge difference in how long you will have to wait. If you show up at any counter service restaurant listed here at noon on a peak day you will probably still end up waiting in line. Another tip; if you’re in a hurry and plan to eat at a restaurant that is full service or a buffet, make a reservation. Without one you will most likely have to wait for a table.
This list covers only the four theme parks and Disney Springs. The resort hotels, which do have some great fast options, are not included because that information would only be helpful if staying at that particular resort. I’ve also tried to give a variety of choices. No one wants to dine on burgers for each meal.
There are a few Honorable Mentions that didn’t quite make this list. Believe it or not, Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios almost made the cut. If you’re in a hurry while you’re there don’t look at the menu. Order “Our Famous Cobb Salad”. It is available as an entree as well as an appetizer and it is filling. Since it has already been made it will arrive quickly to your table. Another Honorable Mention is Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe at the Magic Kingdom. The food is good and filling, but the restaurant does tend to get crowded so the lines grow long, which is why it’s not in the Top nine. Finally, pretty much any counter service option in Epcot’s World Showcase deserves an Honorable Mention. Whether you’re in the mood for fish and chips or sushi, you’ll find something tasty that won’t waste your time. Two World Showcase options are so extraordinary that they did make this list. They stand out because they are fast, delicious, and unique.
9. Tusker House Restaurant, dinner only
Africa, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
When you think about it, buffets are great when you are in a hurry. The food is right there in front of you, there is no reason to wait to eat. A quick breakfast or lunch will not happen at Tusker House. You would not want to schedule a character meal if you are trying to get in and out of the restaurant quickly because character meals need to be savored and enjoyed. Dinner at Tusker House is a different story, there are no characters. Enjoy American and African foods like carved meats and Peri-peri Marinated Baked Salmon. End your meal with Warm Banana-Cinnamon Bread Pudding. It’s all prepared ahead of time so you can get in and out quickly. Reservations are strongly suggested if you plan to enjoy all that Tusker House has to offer.
8. Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
Frontierland, Magic Kingdom
While most burger places did not make this list, Pecos Bill is different. Some people claim that the 1/3 Pound Angus Cheeseburger is the best that you will get on Walt Disney World property. The Fixin’ Bar is spectacular, with everything that you’ll need to turn that burger into a filling meal in a hurry. If you’re in the mood for something else you can order a BBQ Pork Sandwich, the Southwest Chicken Salad, or maybe try the Taco Salad. At Pecos Bill you’ll walk away full, and if you time your meal right you won’t have taken too much time out of your day
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7. Future World, Epcot
There is a trick to getting in and out of Sunshine Seasons quickly. You and your party need to all agree on which station you want to order from. There are five different stations and they each carry different items. You can’t mix and match stations, so if everyone wants something at different stations you will end up wasting time instead of saving it. There are plenty of great choices at each station, so agreeing should not be too difficult. You can feast on Asian specialties, sandwiches, soup and salad, wood-fired grill selections, or pick “Grab & Go” if you’re really in a hurry. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served, so you can save even more time if you decide to eat during off hours.
6. Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes
Asia, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Yak & Yeti Restaurant is a casual and relaxed full service dining option that features delicious Asian food. Yak & Yeti Local Food Cafes will allow you to grab some of your Asian favorites without taking a lot of time out of your schedule. You can start with a Pork Egg Roll and an order of Chicken Fried Rice. For the main course try the Sweet and Sour Chicken or the Beef Lo Mein. You don’t have to take a large chunk of time out of your day at Animal Kingdom to have a delicious traditional meal.
One quick note about dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom; if you have food allergies stop by Gardens Kiosk as soon as you arrive. A friendly cast member will give you information on which dishes you will be able to eat for any restaurant in the park. That can take some of the guess work out of your dining options.
5. Tangierine Cafe
Morocco Pavilion, Epcot
Where else can you get hummus in a hurry? Tangierine Cafe is incredible. You can enjoy the unique flavors of Morocco and still make your Soarin’ FASTPASS time. The food at Tangierine Cafe is a step above most counter service restaurants, on or off Walt Disney World property. You can enjoy the Shawarma Chicken and Lamb Platter or try a Mediterranean Tabouleh Wrap. There is a large selection of entrees and you will want to take a look at the sides. What other quick restaurant has Marinated Olives or Lentil Salad? There are also specialty coffees on the menu, as well some alcoholic choices. At Tangierine Cafe you can try dishes that you aren’t even sure how to pronounce and you will love every bite. The restaurant is proof that eating in a hurry does not mean that you have to settle for the same old thing.
4. Fairfax Fare
Sunset Boulevard, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Many guests walk right by Fairfax Fare on their way to either Tower or Terror or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and don’t even realize that it is there. What you can find at the restaurant is comfort food in a hurry. Breakfast is simple, cereal with milk or an egg and cheese muffin. The rest of the day you can order chicken, spare ribs, gourmet hot dogs, or barbeque pork with cole slaw. There is plenty of outdoor seating in the area. Fairfax Fare is one of several counter service options in the area, any of them are great when you want something quickly. Just remember to eat after you have hit the thrill rides, not before.
3. Columbia Harbour House
Liberty Square, Magic Kingdom
The variety of choices sets Columbia Harbour House above many other fast Walt Disney World restaurants. At this counter service option you might have a hard time deciding what you want to order! New England inspired dishes are featured, like the Lighthouse Sandwich, the Lobster Roll, or the Fried Shrimp Platter. Of course New England Clam Chowder is on the menu, as is Vegetarian Chili. End your meal with the Seasonal Cobbler. For just a few minutes you’ll think you’re in Coastal New England instead of Central Florida.
2. La Cantina de San Angel
Mexico Pavilion, Epcot
At La Cantina de San Angel you can get delicious Mexican food when you’re in a hurry. The food is fresh, it’s much better than the fast food Mexican that you might be used to. Try the Cheese Empanada, the Nachos de Mexico, or the Taco de Carne. Order a traditional Mexican soda to drink or, if you’re not in that much of a hurry, sip a margarita. After a meal at La Cantina de San Angel you’ll rethink what fast Mexican food is supposed to taste like.
1. The Express at Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, Wolfgang Puck Express at Downtown Disney Marketplace
West Side and Marketplace, Downtown Disney
Fans of chef Wolfgang Puck have a lot of options at Downtown Disney. If you want a romantic dinner try Wolfgang Puck’s “The Dining Room”. For a more casual, relaxed meal you can dine at Wolfgang Puck Cafe. For an unforgettable meal in a hurry stop by one of the two locations of Wolfgang Puck Express. You can order some of the same great dishes that are served inside the full service restaurants but you will not have to wait. Make sure you try the Butternut Squash Soup, it is a melt in your mouth classic. You can also order sandwiches, wood fired pizzas, and other dishes. The Marketplace restaurant serves breakfast, the West Side location does not. Wolfgang Puck Express is faster and less expensive than the other Wolfgang Puck restaurants. You will save time and money while enjoying the flavors that made the chef so famous.