We all know that you book your trip to the Most Magical Place on Earth for the Themed Attractions. However, it would help if you also considered how and where you would eat while enjoying this fantastic venue. You need to set yourself and your family some goals and limits for your dining experiences.
Where should I Eat in Walt Disney World?
You can eat at many different levels of dining experiences. These venues are broken into the following categories:
Quick-Serve or Counter Service Locations – cafeteria-style foods and dishes, including grab and go options. This option is the least expensive.
Bar and Grills/Lounges – Limited offerings, but include quick and tasty alternatives to share amongst the family
Table Service Options – Found in each Moderate or Deluxe Resort. Good quality food options at reasonable prices
Signature Dining Locations – Found in Deluxe Resorts. These locations offer upper scale and quality dining options at increased prices
Buffets – Found at the Theme Parks and several Deluxe Resorts. They offer all-you-can-eat character dining options
This list may be a little overwhelming for you for your first trip to Disney. The above options all have pros and cons and come with a given price tag. If this is your first trip, you need to consider what you will spend on your family dining and what experiences you want to take in during your trip.
So, let us start by giving you some information on each of the above. Typically, you will choose a combination of the different types and styles of dining options. Sometimes you will eat at your hotel, and at other times you will want to eat in the parks or at Disney Springs.
What is the Least Expensive Way to Eat in Disney World?
There are two best ways to eat within a budget when visiting Walt Disney World. Quick-Serve or Counter-Service locations. Additionally, Bars and Grills and lounges will also offer you affordable dining options.
The first way to eat on a budget in Disney is to eat in the Value Resort Quick-Serve Dining Locations. These locations offer fair to good quality dining options at reasonable prices. You will not find a Filet Mignon on the menu, but you will discover family-style dining like chicken, meatloaf, sustainable fish, burgers, pasta options, and even soup and salads.
Please also know that each resort's menu options as menus usually follow the resort's theme. Every resort on Disney property has some type or version of this quick-service dining within the resort. Even Deluxe Resort maintains a quick-service dining option. These locations may be smaller or more condensed than a quick-serve dining location in a value resort. No matter, the food quality and pricing are fair and affordable.
Here in these locations, you can share with the table. You can split three items for four people, especially if there are smaller children involved. This method is a great way to keep within your dining budget. Yes, it is imperative to have a dining budget as you can easily wipe out your cash filling your tummy.
What dining locations offer a fair price as a Table Service in Disney World?
Table Service locations can be found in Disney Moderate and Deluxe Resorts. Here you will get good quality entrees in a pleasant dining atmosphere. Entrees offered will typically include a steak, chicken, fish, and plant-based option. There may be a broader range, but these items will be found as a starting point in any location.
Portion sizes here are good, and some meals can even feed two members of your family. Locations that we frequent in this category include:
The Grand Floridian Café
Whispering Canyon Café
The Mayan Café
The Boat House
House of Blues
Do Bar and Grills offer you a dining value in Walt Disney World?
I will start by saying that several of my favorite dining experience at Disney are at either Bar and Grills or Lounges. These locations will offer you great food, almost always prepared in the parent locations kitchen. This practice means that you can get signature quality foods at affordable prices in a relaxing environment.
To be specific, entrees at The Wave Lounge are prepared in the same kitchen for The Wave. Similarly, Citricos at The Grand Floridian will prepare the entrees and appetizers for The Enchanted Rose Lounge. This practice confirms the quality of the appetizers and entrees that you will enjoy.
Some of our favorite locations include:
The Wave Lounge
The Three Bridges Bar and Grill
Victoria Falls Lounge
Geyser Point Bar and Grill
The Enchanted Rose Lounge
Jock Lindsay's Hangar Bar
What is a Disney Signature Dining Location?
The top-level of Disney Dining is what they refer to as Signature dining. Here in these locations, you will find the highest quality foods, elegant plating, and atmosphere. You will also experience the highest prices for this designer food.
Many of these locations will specialize in a particular style of food. A Location such as Narcoosees specializes in seafood, while Jiko offers a menu based on Africa's flavors. Most of these venues will also require appropriate attire, no bathing suits.
The Chefs in these locations take great pride in the culinary dishes. They work to aim for perfection in the flavor and the appearance of the plate. You will have an excellent opportunity to experience new flavors.
Over the years, we have managed to try many of these locations within Walt Disney World. The most prominent restaurants include the following:
The Flying Fish
The Yachtsman Steak House
The California Grill
Victoria and Alberts
What are other dining options available in Disney World?
The above items cover a large amount of the dining options available to you and your family. However, a couple of additional options can offer you affordable food in a never-ending quantity. I am referring to Buffets and Family-Style Dining locations.
As we all know, at this time, Disney has altered several of their buffet locations to either prefix or family-style dining options. No buffets are currently open, and this means no Character experiences. However, these locations will offer you good quality food for the family to share, and you won't go away hungry.
Some of these locations can be found in the Theme Parks, while others are located within various resorts. This list will help you to navigate where our favorite venues reside.
Liberty Tree Tavern and The Crystal Palace – Magic Kingdom
Chef Mickey's – The Contemporary Resort
O'Hana – The Polynesian Resort (not currently open)
1900 Park Fair – The Grand Floridian Resort (not currently open)
Tusker House – Animal Kingdom Park
Chip and Dale's Garden Harvest – EPCOT
These locations have been reopening slowly, so if they aren't open yet, hopefully, we will be enjoying their foods in the near future. No matter what, the remaining locations will not allow you to leave hungry.
Should I consider Theme Park Dining Options for my family?
My answer to this question is a reserved "yes." The Theme Park quick-serves is an excellent alternative for that quick bite during lunch. Cosmic Ray's, located in the Magic Kingdom, is the world's largest quick-serve dining experience. Here you can get burgers, chicken, and plant-based items quickly so you can get back to the magic with little wait.
You will even find some Table Service Restaurants within the parks that are a great option and experience. However, keep in mind that you are in the parks and pay a premium, limiting these locations on your dining plan.
Locations that we love to visit in the parks include the following:
Skippers Canteen – Magic Kingdom
Tutto Italiana and Rose and Crown Pub – EPCOT
Mama Melrose and The Brown Derby – Hollywood Studios
What Disney Springs Restaurants are worth the trip while in Disney World?
There are so many places to eat while in Disney Springs. Here you can encounter signature dining down to quick-serve style locations. You can find grinders, burgers, and food trucks. Also, you can eat Italian, Irish, Southern Comfort, and Asian Foods.
Yes, many different offerings for many different flavors. Also, the prices range widely, so you should do a little research to see how you can make the most of your visit to Disney Springs. We have many favorite restaurants here that offer great prices, quality, and portion sizes.
These are just some of your options:
Morimoto Asia – Food based on Asian Flavor
The Boat House – seafood
Raglan Road – Irish Food
Chef Art Smith's Home Comin's – Southern Comfort Food and Moonshine
House of Blue's - Southern BBQ
Paradiso 37 – Mexican
These are all a taste of the restaurants that we frequent regularly. You will find quality food at fair prices. These locations are comfortable and relaxing, just what you need after a hard day walking through the parks.
Finally, as I stated earlier, you need a budget for your dining when visiting Disney World. Once you have this number, you can start choosing where and when you will eat. Typically, you will find the best pricing and value at resort table service restaurants or Disney Springs.
To further spread the money out, you might want to consider a couple of dinners at a food-court at one of the resorts. This practice will undoubtedly save you some money. Next, plan a couple of days at table service locations. You can head to the Moderate or Deluxe Resorts for this option, or you can schedule some time in Disney Springs.
Finally, You need to experience a fine dining location. Citricos at The Grand Floridian is an excellent choice as The Grand is one of the most elegant Disney World Resorts. If you're looking for a great view, you need to go to The California Grill located on the top of the Contemporary Resort. Here you will have fantastic views of the Castle and great food.
It would help if you also remembered that you could survive on two meals daily, with a snack for either breakfast or lunch. This method will also save you money and allow you the opportunity to experience some of the best dining options that Disney World has to offer you. Choose your style and make a wish list. Then, fill in your list with dining reservations. Be sure to place these long before your visit, as many dining venues will book up before you arrive at Disney World. When you book your vacation, you will be made aware of booking dates for dining and Fast-Pass if it becomes available.
We are Theme Park Fantasy, and we have tried to give you some tips and information on dining affordably while you are on your Disney World vacation. These tips will help you to experience a wide range of dining possibilities within Disney World.
To offer you additional dining experiences, we have many Disney Dining Reviews on many different dining experiences. These and many other articles are located on our website at www.themeparkfantasy.com. Head over and see what additional information and tips you can use to simplify and improve your Disney Vacation.