So, you wanna know the Best Disney World Restaurants? I don’t blame you! Because let’s be honest, a full theme park day isn’t complete without a satisfied stomach!
So today, in typical ThemeParkHipster fashion I’m going to give you a comprehensive guide of the DOs and DON’Ts of Disney Dining…aka the 5 Best Disney World Restaurants, and of course, the 5 WORST Disney World Restaurants!
Are you ready? I thought so! Let’s get started!
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The Top 5 Disney World Restaurants
1. Victoria & Albert’s
I really only need six words to sum up this first restaurant on our Best Disney World Restaurants List: Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
Why? Well the Grand Floridian Resort happens to be the highest rated, most luxurious place to stay on Disney property… so the fact that that’s where Victoria and Albert’s is located should already clue you in to just how good it is.
With multiple fine dining awards, including the only Orlando, FL restaurant to receive a AAA Five Diamond Award, five star rating from the Forbes Travel Guide, AND through the roof Zagat reviews, save your pennies because this one’s worth it!
Another clue into just how good this restaurant is? A dress code. The official Victoria & Albert’s website says:
A dinner jacket is required for men, along with a collared shirt, dress slacks and dress shoes (tie optional) and elegant evening attire, such as a dress or pants ensemble, is required for women. No jeans, t-shirts, shorts, capris, flip flops, sneakers or casual wear please.
So yeah, basically this is not your “after a sweaty parking hopping day” type of restaurant. Instead, think of this as your classy, high-end foodie experience that you don’t even need a park ticket to enjoy.
TPH Restaurant Round Up:
- Type of Food: “Modern American cuisine with exquisite products sourced from around the world” including tastes of Italy, Japan, and the world’s best caviar.
- Price Point: $$$$ ($235 per guest for the 7-course tasting menu that changes daily, plus $150 for the optional wine pairing)
- Rating: 5 Stars
- Things to Note: Their list of awards goes on and on. If you’re an international foodie, then this restaurant should top your eat around the world bucket list, not just your Disney World Restaurants bucket list. And of course, it should go without saying, a reservation is 100% required!
ORDER NOW to secure your Walt Disney World theme park ticket! GET MY TICKETS.
2. California Grill
All the way on the top floor of the Contemporary Resort, just walking into this restaurant feels exclusive and exciting!
And of course, in true California fashion, this restaurant specializes in seafood and sushi – so if you’re a lover of all things under the sea, then this is one of those Disney World Restaurants you simply must try!
However, if seafood isn’t your thing, or you have shellfish allergies, don’t fret.
There are also a lot of plant-based and allergy friendly potions, like the Plant-based Forbidden Sushi Roll and Four Cheese Wood Burning Pizza with Roasted Forest Mushrooms, Sottocenere, Taleggio, Burrata and Parmesan Fonduta (for Egg, Fish/Shellfish, Peanut/Tree Nut, and Soy Allergies).
So our overall take on California Grill as compared to Victoria and Albert’s? Less pricey, but still plenty tasty and fancy (dress-code still required)!
TPH Restaurant Round Up:
- Type of Food: Mostly Seafood (but other options available)
- Price Point: $$$ (Entrees range from $45 – $72 each, with the average appetizer and dessert costing $14 – $25)
- Rating: 4.6 Stars
- Things to Note: California Grill is only open for dinner time (5pm and later) and requires a reservation, so keep this in mind as you gather your finest clothes to enjoy one of the best meals Disney World Restaurants have to offer!
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An amazing, exotic dinner with an exotic view… THAT’S what you’re signing up for when you dine at Sanaa!
Located in the gorgeous Animal Kingdom Lodge, Sanaa has floor to ceiling windows so you can gaze out at the savannah while you eat!
Oh, and what are you eating by the way? DELICIOUS asian selections, including
African-inspired Biryani, Tandoori Chicken, and Quinoa Vegetable Tabbouleh Salad.
And remember, it’s not a trip to Sanaa if you don’t order the Indian-style bread service ($18 appetizer) that includes five different styles of warm naan with a variety of hummusses and chutneys! Can you say YUM!
TPH Restaurant Round Up:
- Type of Food: Asian (More specifically, African and Indian)
- Price Point: $$ (Entrees range from $20 – $35; Open for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner)
- Rating: 4.7 Stars
- Things to Note: Get to your reservation early, or be prepared to stay late, so you can do some window gazing outside of the Animal Kingdom Resort. Why? Well, because at this resort you’ve got a front row seat to animals grazing, napping, and playing on a 30+ acre savannah!
Worried because you want to go for dinnertime but don’t want to miss the amazing safari views? Don’t sweat it!
Ask for night vision goggles at the front desk to still get up close and personal with the giraffes, zebras, and exotic birds, even once the sun has set!
ORDER NOW to secure your Walt Disney World theme park ticket! GET MY TICKETS.
4. Cinderella’s Royal Table
Sometimes you have to eat at a certain restaurant or have a certain experience just to say, “YEAH, I did THAT!” And eating in Cinderella Castle is just one of those.
While the food may not be STELLAR and the princess character interactions may be brief, it’s still an amazing experience! (ESPECIALLY if you can snag a reservation during fireworks!)
Cinderella greets you in the lobby, and then you enter the glamorous restaurant through a stone spiral staircase adorned with stained glass windows and chandeliers fit for royalty.
So basically, this restaurant is the perfect excuse to bring your cameras and empty stomachs… and maybe even get a royal princess makeover!
TPH Restaurant Round Up:
- Type of Food: High Quality American Selections i.e. Duck, Beef Tenderloin, and Scallops
- Price Point: $$$ (Fixed Price of $62 for adults, includes your choice of one appetizer, entrée, and dessert)
- Rating: 4.3 Stars
- Things to Note: This is possibly the HARDEST of all the Disney World Restaurants to get a reservation for. Be sure to call WDW Dining or check your My Disney Experience app EXACTLY 180 days before your desired dining date. And if you’re still out of luck, keep checking back daily for reservation openings due to cancellations!
5. Tusker House
Now, if you’re anything like the typical ThemeParkHipster, you might be seeing this on a Best Disney World Restaurants List and scratch your head.
“Tusker House?” I can hear you say, “Isn’t that buffet character dining?”
You bet it is! And that’s why I put it on my list.
Oftentimes, character dining, especially those in a buffet setting get a bad rap (just see a few options on our Worst Disney World Restaurants list below). However, the truth is, this trope just doesn’t hold true with Tusker House.
Tucked away in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom, it’s sort of a hidden secret, especially because it doesn’t serve the typical tired Disney buffet food i.e. powdered scrambled eggs, chicken fingers, and frozen pizza.
Instead, Tusker House has a delicious, fresh buffet full of flavors from Africa, like curry, basmati rice, roasted pork, tabouli, and hummus.
Oh… and did I mention the African Blood Marys, Ngumu Jungle Juice, African Mimosas?!
Yup! All that yummy food, PLUS top notch themed décor and Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy in the cutest safari outfits you ever did see!
You know, in case you had your fingers crossed for some high quality character dining.
TPH Restaurant Round Up:
- Type of Food: African Buffet (with child menu options available)
- Price Point: $$ ($55 for adult lunch/dinner; and $42 for breakfast)
- Rating: 4.2 Stars
- Things to Note: As this restaurant is located in Animal Kingdom, you will have to have an Animal Kingdom park ticket to enter, but theme park clothing is A-OK for this character dining buffet!
The 5 WORST Disney World Restaurants
1. Chef Mickey’s
Alright, alright, we know this classic Disney character restaurant is a barrel of fun, however…the same can’t really be said for the food.
Lackluster, cold “scrambled” eggs, probably frozen breakfast pizzas, and a ridiculously high price tag are just a few of the reasons we wouldn’t recommend you flock to this restaurant.
Sure, it’s in a cool location (the Contemporary hotel, next to the monorail tracks and overlooking Magic Kingdom depending on where you’re seated), and of course the characters are in their cute chef outfits.
Aside from that, you’re not missing much.
The price tag is ridiculously high and the food is less than subpar, so I’d recommend skipping this buffet and considering Cape May Cafe instead if you want a delicious character dining breakfast buffet with less traffic and wayyy better food.
2. Hollywood and Vine
Similar to Chef Mickey’s, this restaurant concept is cute and all, but as far as food options go, we give Hollywood and Vine a hard pass!
In this Hollywood Studios restaurant, Disney Junior characters greet you by day, and the fabulous four (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy) greet you at night in seasonal outfits.
And even though those are some cool character opportunities, the food is about the same as you’d get at Chef Mickey’s – hastily prepared kiddie food that’s been left out for WAY too long.
So, if a glorified kid’s menu isn’t what you had in mind for your theme park hopping day, then we’d say skip Hollywood and Vine, and maybe instead consider the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant for a fun, themed dining experience with food you’ll actually enjoy!
3. Tony’s Town Square
Described by some as a below par Olive Garden, the problem at this Italian restaurant may honestly just be that it gets too much traffic.
Being located on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street is a lot of pressure, and food has to be turned out at a crazy fast rate, which can lead to some less than desirable meals.
From a too fishy Caesar salad to a nearly inedible chicken parm, Yelp reviewers tell us to stay away from this Lady and the Tramp themed restaurant, and instead try Trattoria al Forno on the Boardwalk (just a boat ride away from both EPCOT and Hollywood Studios) if you want some high quality Italian food during your magical stay!
4. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano
Yet another overpriced Italian restaurant on property, Mama Melrose is located in the Muppet section of Hollywood Studios.
Some Guests comment that they enjoy the location (tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the park) while others say they like to eat here for dinner as it comes with a Fantasmic seating package that guarantees great seats for the amazing nighttime show).
However, the ratings on the food itself are quite inconsistent.
Some guests say the pizza has a delightful “wood fired” taste, while others say it’s nothing better than a frozen pizza from home. So if you’re one who likes to take a gamble, then sure, maybe Mama Melrose is for you and you’ll get lucky on the night of your reservation.
However, if you like to bet on more of a sure thing, then we’d recommend Hollywood Brown Derby.
The menu is a bit pricier, but it might be worth it to ensure that you enjoy your meal, plus this restaurant has a Fantasmic dining package available too!
5. Crystal Palace
Alright, let’s start off our review of the fifth and final WORST of the Disney World Restaurants with this comment: if you are a HARDCORE Winnie the Pooh fan, then disregard what I have to say.
Because, this is the ONLY location on Disney World property that you can see Eyore and Tigger, and that in and of itself might be worth it for you.
However, if the Hundred Acre Woods crew really isn’t a selling point for you, then we’d have to give this restaurant a big NO THANK YOU!
The buffet options can leave a lot to be desired, and because this restaurant is Winnie the Pooh themed, it attracts LOTS of little ones and lots of traffic aka: long wait times and crying babies.
Not to mention that the tables are rather close together, so that combined with small children and characters on the go can make for quite the lack of elbow room (and peace in general) while you’re eating.
And besides, you can always visit Pooh and Piglet next to the Mad Tea Party teacup ride to get your Winnie the Pooh fill without the crowded atmosphere and subpar food that is Crystal Palace.
What to Know Before You Go
With all the Disney World Restaurants on property, sometimes navigating all the ins and outs can feel overwhelming. Let us help you with our FAQ: Disney Dining themed edition!
Should I make dining reservations for Disney World Restaurants ahead of time? And if so, how?
You should ALWAYS make a reservation when dining at sit down Disney World Restaurants. In fact, some people make multiple reservations and then decide a few days before which to keep.
This is a great tactic because there’s no penalty for cancelling reservations, so long as you do so more than 24 hours in advance.
And remember, you can make reservations up to 180 days (or 6 months prior to) your park visit by calling (407) 939-3463 or using the My Disney Experience app.
Should I get the Disney Dining Plan? Is it actually worth it?
Believe it or not, this is a highly debated topic among online bloggers and Disney chat rooms. And as is with most complicated issues, the answer is: it depends.
The first and most simple question you have to answer to figure out if the Disney Dining Plan makes sense for you is: “Am I staying on Disney Property?”
And that’s because the Disney Dining Plan is only open to resort guests. So, if you’re not staying on property, then this question has already been answered for you.
If you ARE staying on Disney property, and still don’t know what to do in terms of the dining plan, keep reading.
In recent years, the Disney Dining Plan has become a better deal, as they have added alcoholic drinks into the mix, a plus for those adventurous ThemeParkHipsters out there!
If you don’t use the Disney Dining Plan strategically, you will end up losing money.
The first strategy I recommend you follow to make it worthwhile?
Use up ALL your daily credits! Don’t let any go to waste.
From snack credits to table service credits, every single one counts, so even if you’re not hungry, try and order something for later because you only get a certain amount of credits per day.
Additionally, Disney Dining Plan enthusiasts recommend the following strategy for getting the most bang out of your buck: eat breakfast at a table service restaurant, use snack credits for lunch, and get dinner at a Signature Table Service restaurant.
This ensures you use all credits every day in a wise way.
How to get the most out of your Disney dining budget?
But the best strategy of all? Do a little math. Look at the different tiers of dining plans (some cost $35 per day, while others $65) and ask yourself: would I spend this much money on food daily at the park anyway, or am I not really a big eater?
If you find that in a typical park day you’d only really spend $20-$30 on food and snacks, then a Disney Dining Plan might be a big NO for you!
At any rate, the Disney Dining Plans are frozen until further notice, so you still have time to make this big decision!
HELP! The restaurant I want has NO reservations!
Don’t worry ThemeParkHipster, you’re not alone! When it comes to Disney World Restaurants, especially the BEST ones, it can be hard to snag a reservation.
But luckily, I’ve got some tips and tricks to help. Our first trick is to become BFFs with the My Disney Experience app. This allows you to reload reservations in real time, which is great.
Because, sometimes, people hold multiple reservations and make cancellations last minute.
And believe it or not, that’s GREAT news for you, because you might even be able to snag one the day of, as long as you constantly refresh your app!
Another tip? Try “upping” the amount of people you want a reservation for. Really only have 2 guests?
Try checking reservation availability for 3 or 4. This will bump you up to a different table seating category which may have some availability, and there’s no penalty for showing up with less people than you reserved for.
Basically, so long as you still keep the reservation and show up, Disney Cast Members understand if one or two less people show up for your table.
And finally, remember to be flexible. You might really want dinner at Be Our Guest, but maybe only lunch time reservations are available.
Take the lunch option and you can always check back everyday and switch out the reservation if a better time comes up.
Overall Theme Park Hipsters, I hope you enjoyed our Best … and Worst… Disney World Restaurants break down!
Do you agree with our list? Got anything else you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below, because when it comes to theme park planning, knowledge is power!
Until next time, Happy Park Hopping Hipsters!
About the Author
Gina is a former Walt Disney World and Disney Cruise Line Cast Member who enjoys reliving the magic by writing helpful tips and tricks for future guests!
Check out more about her Disney adventures and writing endeavors at www.ginaarfi.net.
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