my favorite places to eat in Disney World

my favorite places to eat in Disney World

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When my mom and I are planning our next trip to Disney World, we spend more time on eating than on anything else. With so many Disney World restaurants to choose from, where do I eat? That’s a controversial topic, for sure, but I will share my opinions and want to hear yours in the comments, too!

Most importantly: I don’t think there are any awful places to eat. There are places I avoid because it’s not my jam, or because I can get similar food at home, but in general, Disney World has good food and good snacks. You will leave with a happy tummy.

Everywhere I feature on this list, I’ve eaten, with a few small exceptions that have come so highly recommended that I have to include them. Remember, I’m no expert on dining. I’ve only been to Disney World three times in my adult life, but my mom and I take food very seriously. We haven’t eaten everywhere there is to eat in WDW, although it’s on our bucket list.

[make the most of eating in Disney World]

As usual, remember that I make most of my dining decisions with the help of my guidebook / Disney Bible: The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. New ones for the upcoming year come out in the fall, so I bought the 2019 edition in October before our trip and used it to plan that trip and will use it to plan our trip in December, too. (Although I will make some changes when the 2020 edition comes out.)

A quick debrief on Disney World restaurants and dining lingo

  • DDP – The Disney Dining Plan. Pay in advance and receive credits for your meals.

[my tips for the Disney Dining Plan]

  • Quick Service – also known as a counter service or fast casual restaurant. Think Chipotle, but Disney World style. You order at a counter and find your own seat.
  • Table Service – also known as a sit-down restaurant. Usually, reservations are recommended or even required.
  • Signature Dining – These are the higher tier restaurants at Disney World. If you are on the DDP, they require two table service credits, when most table service restaurants only require one.
  • Snack – A snack is a snack, yes, but I might also refer to a snack as something that could be paid for with a snack credit on the DDP.

My favorite places to eat in Magic Kingdom

There is a dearth of table service restaurants at Magic Kingdom, if you ask me. I recommend taking the monorail to the nearby hotels for lunch or dinner, if you want to stay in the area and eat at a sit-down restaurant, and pass on eating at a table service.

But if you do want to eat in Magic Kingdom…

  1. Be Our Guest is Magic Kingdom’s newest restaurant and is Beauty and the Beast themed. Mom and I had lunch there (it’s a quick service restaurant at lunch) and I don’t recommend that as much for value, although the food is tasty. But I have heard dinner at Be Our Guest is great and the wine list is amazing. Get a reservation.
  2. The Crystal Palace is a classic in Magic Kingdom. The food is solid – it’s a buffet, so there’s something for everyone. We always did breakfast here. The best part, though, is breakfast with Pooh and friends. We’re big fans of Tigger.
  3. If you’re looking for a quick service or snack spot, I like Gaston’s Tavern, which has great cinnamon rolls, and Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe, which serves Tex-Mex style food.
  4. When Mom and I were in Magic Kingdom, we were too full from lunch at Be Our Guest for much in the way of snacks, but I always recommend a churro from random stands throughout the park or, of course, a Dole Whip from Aloha Isle.

My favorite places to eat in Epcot

Epcot is THE PLACE to eat, OK? If you are not eating in a resort, eat at Epcot. Head straight to the World Showcase and do not pass go.

My recommendations (with the caveat that I haven’t eaten at any of the Signature Dining spots in Epcot personally) are:

  1. Via Napoli for solid pizza and pasta. It gets loud, though.
  2. Teppan Edo, especially if you’re on the dining plan. Major value, because you do get soup and/or salad with your entree and dessert, unlike any other restaurant on the DDP. This is hibachi-style Japanese.
  3. The best quick service restaurant is, hands down, Sunshine Seasons which is near Soarin’ in The Land pavilion. You can get pretty much anything here.
  4. Tangeriene Cafe is also a great quick service spot where you can get large portions and delicious Mediterranean food.
  5. Get your snacks from Kringla Bakery og Kafe in Norway or Les Halles Boulangerie-Patisserie in France. Everything they have in the glass case is worth eating.
  6. If it’s the Food & Wine Festival, take advantage of the many, many, many booths and redeem snack credits on food from all over the world. It’s all good.

My favorite places to eat in Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom does have a few table service restaurants now, but I’ll be honest – we never make it to dinnertime in Animal Kingdom.

But even so, we grab something to eat every time we’re in AK. Here are a few recommendations for quick service spots and snacks:

  1. Yak & Yeti used to be an amazing deal on the DDP. It’s less so now, because you get a lot less food than you used to, but it’s still delicious, easy and filling. Plus, they have lemon ice cups, and we love those.
  2. I haven’t personally eaten at Flame Tree Barbecue but it comes highly reviewed and is great for splitting.
  3. You can get a Dole Whip with Rumin Animal Kingdom, if that’s your jam.

My favorite places to eat in Hollywood Studios

I hate eating in Hollywood Studios these days. The quick service options, excluding Woody’s Lunch Box, are… awful. Plain and simple. I ate popcorn for lunch when we were there in October. And the table service restaurants are fun for the atmosphere, but not the tastiest.

  1. We like Mama Melrose‘s OK, but it’s nothing you can’t get at home or in Epcot. If you want Italian, go for Epcot’s choices.
  2. 50’s Prime-Time Cafe is fun. The food is only fine, but the atmosphere is great. Also, I love the PB&J milkshake!
  3. I didn’t eat at Woody’s Lunch Box for lunch while we were there because we didn’t want a heavy meal that day, but it comes highly reviewed. So, I would recommend that.
  4. There is an ice cream cart by the Indiana Jones ride that has root beer floats. They are the best.

My favorite resort restaurants

Ah, yes. The real place you need to eat: in the resorts. This allows you to explore resorts, while also eating some of the best food in Disney World. I haven’t explored as many resorts as I want to – ‘Ohana is on my list for our next trip! – but I have read many, many, many reviews and roundups, and bring that advice to you.

Tip: There are two options for getting to these restaurants. Take a bus to the nearest park to you, and then get in line for the bus to the resort. If you’re already at a park, just hop on the bus to where you need to go. You can also take a Lyft or Uber. I definitely recommend using ride-sharing services to get back from the resorts, because… it’s exhausting after a long day and a good meal.

The best resort restaurants I’ve gotten to enjoy or have heard great recommendations for are:

  1. California Grill at the Contemporary Resort. Great view, delicious food. It’s a Signature Dining restaurant, so you have to use two credits on the DDP, which isn’t worth it – pay out of pocket if you want to go to California Grill.
  2. Sanaa at the Animal Kingdom Lodge is delicious and has a huge menu. Jiko and Boma are also equally highly rated, although Jiko is a Signature Dining restaurant. And if the sun is still up when you go, the views can’t be beat.
  3. We haven’t been to ‘Ohana but it’s on our dream list. The bread pudding! It comes highly reviewed from our friends.