Category Archives: Top Eats
I remember in the 80′s when Epcot opened, my family visited the Living Seas. I remember thinking that it was one really huge aquarium as I descended in my hydrolater and then rode my seacab (does anybody remember those things?) to “Seabase Alpha”. In fact, the Living Seas IS a huge aquarium filled with 5.7 million gallons of salt-water and over 6,000 sea creatures.
The Coral Reef Restaurant actually opened in 1986 at the same time as the rest of the Pavilion. In the 26 years that it opened and all the many times we have visited Epcot in those 26 years, I have never made an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) at the Coral Reef.
However, on the “girls leg” of my trip in February, my daughter said she’d like to eat somewhere different. So I went on my smart phone to the mobile Disney Dining Reservations site and booked a table for two, for later that day so we could “eat with the fish“!
We arrived at the Restaurant and checked in. There was actually a bit of drama all around us, as a large family was trying to get themselves coordinated to celebrate their parents anniversary. They took up, I kid you not, most of the dining room. I stood and waited significantly longer than I thought I would.
For many people, the only way they can afford a Walt Disney World vacation is to stay at the Value Resorts, which is Disney’s least expensive group of hotels. I am part of this group, and I personally LOVE the Value Resorts, the decor is huge and tacky and right up my alley, the rooms are just enough for what I need, and there are a lot of food options to choose from!
They are all fairly similar in most ways, including in their dining offerings, each of the 4 Resorts has a food court, which is setup with several different stations each serving different types of menu items. There are also areas of pre-packaged meals, snacks, desserts, drinks, etc.
In my experience, it can be hard to eat ‘healthy’ while on vacation, and at Walt Disney World there are so many restaurants and yummy dishes to choose from, that it makes it that much harder to stay on track, food-and-diet-wise! Luckily, there are actually a lot of available choices that can give you the healthy nutrients you need to stay energized for a full day of touring the Parks!
Healthy Meal Options:
-Packaged sandwiches – they come without any dressing/mayo on them (packets are available)
-Packaged and fresh made salads with low fat dressing options
-Packaged Sushi that is made fresh daily (I know because I asked!)
-Yogurt cups – both regular and greek varieties
-Parfaits – a great fast breakfast of yogurt/granola/fruit
Healthy Drink Options:
-Juice – including 100% Simply Orange Juice, and other options that aren’t 100% fruit juice, but hey it’s still a better choice than soda in my book!
-Vitamin Water (regular and no calorie varieties available) and Powerade
-Milk options – including 1%, skim, and low fat chocolate
-Soda Machine – Minute Maid Light Lemonade, Diet Coke, and Sprite Zero were all found here
-V8 – because hey, it can’t hurt to get some extra vegetables in your diet while on vacation!
Healthy Snack Options:
-Fruit – mixed fruit salad, bowls of grapes or pineapple, and individual pieces of fruit – which can be used as a dessert if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan
-Celery/Carrot sticks packaged with ranch dressing
-Apple Slices packaged with caramel
-Fat Free, No Sugar added sorbet – available next to the frozen ice cream treats, I have seen Mango but I am sure there are other flavors too
Eating with Kids? All of the Kid’s meals available in the food courts (and most available at the Counter Service restaurants in the Parks too!) include a choice of 2 sides: grapes, carrot sticks, applesauce, yogurt, gelatin, pudding, or a cookie. They also include a choice of beverage: bottled water, 1% milk, 100% apple juice, or a soft drink. Obviously there are some healthier choices in there, which is nice to see, and Disney has been making an effort to push the better-for-you choices (it’s good to have choices for young ones that aren’t just chicken nuggets and fries!)
I don’t know about you, but Dessert can be tricky for me, as I LOVE baked goods, and will take any chance to try something new, be it a cupcake or a cookie, and I am a sucker for the Mickey Rice Krispie Treats! Having the option of getting a piece of fruit or a fruit salad for dessert is great, and it is something I try to take advantage of as often as possible (as long as the cupcakes don’t lure me in, that is!)
One great thing about this is that most of the items I have listed above are pre-packaged, which means not only are they helping you stay healthy, but they are fast and easy to grab on your way to/from the Parks!
I took all of these photos when I was staying at POP Century last month, but I have recently been to the All Star Resorts as well, and the selection they have is pretty much exactly the same as at POP. The Moderate the Deluxe Resorts will also have some of these items, but I personally find that the selection at their Quick Service eateries is not as large (perhaps because at the Value Resorts, there is no other place to eat but the food courts, so Disney makes sure they are stocked with a better variety of items? Just my personal theory!).
I can’t say enough good things about the Value Resorts, and I especially love their food courts, the food is always freshly prepared, the Cast Members are always polite and efficient, and the healthy food options help me stay on track while on vacation, which to me is the biggest perk of all!
- Gettin’ Your Sweat On – Where To Workout at WDW (chipandco.com)
- Top 3 Places To Get An “Adult Beverage” at WDW (livinginagrownupworld.wordpress.com)
In the final part of this 3-part series (Check out Part 1 and Part 2!), I’m taking a look at the rest of Walt Disney World’s 2-Table Service Credit Dining Options to answer the question, Are They Worth It?
The Restaurants I am reveiwing this week aren’t *technically* Signature Restaurants, BUT they are unique, special experiences that are more expensive than your regular sit down restaurants, and they all will cost you 2 Table Service Credits on the Disney Dining Plan. One nice thing about these is that unlike other Signature Restaurants, with the 2-credit character meal and dinner shows, gratuities are included, which makes things even easier on you when it comes time to pay!
So, Here We Go:
Cinderella’s Royal Table – Dine in none other than Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom, where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch or dinner and be treated like royalty! Cinderalla greets you as you enter the castle, and yout get to pose for a picture with her. Bonus – the picture package is included with the meal! Breakfast is an all you care to eat assortment of standard Disney breakfast items including pastries, eggs, meats, and french toast, while lunch and dinner include a prix fixe menu of options like prime rib, fish, and steak. While you eat, the princesses work the room for pictures and autographs. Reservations for this can be really hard to get, so I recommend that you are flexible when it comes to what time you want to dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table
Survey Says? If you have a Disney Princess fan in your party, I say book it! It’s a unique experience, I did it once and probably wouldn’t do it again, but it is fun and the food is high quality, plus once you go you can say you have been IN Cinderella’s Castle (which is pretty cool!)
Mickey’s Backyard BBQ – One of two Dinner Entertainment options at Fort Wilderness, this is your chance to party with Mickey, Minnie and friends as you dine on delicious (all you can eat!) picnic favorites like ribs, hamburgers and hot dogs, and corn on the cob. Enjoy live country western music, line dancing, and fun for kids, and you may even get a chance to dance with the Mouse himself! One difference to make note of for this character experience is that the characters don’t come around to all the tables, but rather they interact with guests on the dance floor. The BBQ is seasonal, and runs Thursday and Saturday nights from March – December, and is held outdoors
Survey Says? If you are a big fan of picnic food and fun, then you should look into joining the fun at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ! It’s a great time, but don’t expect the character interaction you would normally get at other character meals (since they don’t come around to all the tables)
Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show – Disney’s Polynesian Resort is the perfect setting for this luau-themed dinner show, which offers up all you care to eat fare like Polynesian-style rice, roast chicken, and best of all (at least for those of us over 21!) – unlimited beer and wine are included! The entertainment includes fire and knife dancers as well as music and dance, and the chance for your little ones to learn how to hula dance (I did it when I was little, it was a lot of fun!).
Survery Says: This is my favorite of the dinner show experiences, I love the food and the atmosphere, and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone!
Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue – Head over to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground for this rousing Wild West themed show, which features comedy, song, dance, and even some audience participation! While you are laughing and clapping along to the music, enjoy all you can eat fried chicken, ribs, baked beans, strawberry shortcake, and once again – all you can drink beer/wine/sangria for those guests over 21.
Survey Says: This really is a fun, entertaining show, when I was a kid I didn’t much care for it, but it has grown on me in my adult years (perhaps it’s the free sangria that has helped with that?), the jokes are funny and it’s over the top for sure, but it’s a good time, and a great way to spend an evening
Hopefully these posts have inspired you to book some Advance Dining Reservations or ADR’s for some Signature or Dinner Show Dining Experiences. These are some of the best food, drink, and entertainment options available at Walt Disney World, so I highly recommend you check some of them out on your next trip to WDW
- Signature Restaurants – Are They Worth It? Part 2 (chipandco.com)
- How Soon Should You Start Disney Planning? (chipandco.com)
If you’re looking for a character meal with maximum food and fun for minimum price let me suggest the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian.
My daughter and I ate there in February 2012 for the first time and really enjoyed the food as well as the opportunity to meet Mary Poppins, Pooh, Tigger, Alice & the Mad Hatter. Yep, that’s FIVE characters!
The photo is not included in the price of your meal. They bring it around while you’re eating to buy if you want.
Your host then calls your name and takes you into the dining room to be seated. The wait-staff then come and take your drink order and you’re dismissed to the buffet which is AWESOME!
This breakfast was not as crowded as many of the other character breakfasts I’ve been to, so we saw all of the characters twice AND they didn’t rush to get on to the next table. And it was so fun meeting the characters. Especially the Mad Hatter who you RARELY see in the parks.
We really had a great time and would recommend it to anybody wanting maximum time with characters and one really delicious breakfast!
Oh, one last weird thing. If you bring a stroller they take it when you go inside and put it on the OUTSIDE deck behind the Grand Floridian. So don’t be shocked when your stroller is gone. Just ask the person at the front desk to point you in the right direction or look for the signs.
- Table Service in the Parks vs the Resorts – Which is Better? Part 1 (chipandco.com)
- Is Disney World Character Dining Worth it or is it Overpriced? (chipandco.com)
Walt Disney World is FULL of amazing restaurants, and a select handful of them are good enough to earn the title of “Signature Restaurant”. These restaurants offer some of the finest food and drink options in the best settings in all of Walt Disney World.
So when it comes to picking where you will be making your Advance Dining Reservations (or ADR’s) for your WDW vacation, one question you will have to ask yourself when it comes to the Signature Restaurants is, Are they worth it? Is it worth the extra money or extra Table Service credit (as Signature Restaurants will set you back 2 table service credits apiece on the Disney Dining Plan)?
Last week I reviewed some of these restaurants in an attempt to answer the question of ‘are they worth it?’ (if you missed those reviews check them out here) and now I want to talk about the rest of the Disney Signature Restaurants in hopes that the information will help you make the right dining decisions for your vacation (because as we all know, food is one of the best parts of any vacation!)
So, here we go:
Yachtsman Steakhouse – Located at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, this New England themed restaurant offers a variety of dishes, but it’s main focus is – you guessed it – steak. And they do it well – from the braised beef ravioli, to the boneless Rib-eye, to the deconstructed Beef Wellington, they are all delicious. Some common complaints about the restaurant are that the service can tend to be slow and the food inconsistent, but I have not found those to be true. The setting is great, the Resort is beautiful, and it’s definitely worth the trip to have dinner here
Survey Says: If you like steak, you’ll like Yachtsman Steakhouse
Le Cellier Steakhouse – Head over to the Canada area of Epcot’s World Showcase for lunch or dinner here, where you can feast on Canadian Cheddar Cheese Soup (made with beer and bacon!), Filet mignon or king salmon or pan-seared cod, with a trio of chocolate to finish off the meal. An added bonus of this restaurant – they serve dinner AND lunch, and lunch is usually cheaper than dinner, plus lunch will only cost you ONE table service credit per person (whereas dinner will cost 2 credits)
Survey Says: The price for dinner is a little high, so I suggest grabbing lunch here (it’s the same experience, for less money!)
Bistro De Paris – Celebrate a special occasion in style at this intimate restaurant in the France pavillion of Epcot’s World Showcase. They do a Prix Fixe menu where you can select from scallops, beef, or or chicken for your main course with options for dessert and starters as well (you can also choose to have wine pairings included, for an additional fee). It’s the perfect place to enjoy a romantic dinner, as it’s a smaller, more upscale restaurant (and there tends to be fewer families and young children dining here), and it’s also a great spot to view the nightly Illuminations show. It’s main drawback? Price – it’s not cheap, and if you aren’t sure if you like French food this might not be the best place for you to dine
Survey Says: It isn’t cheap, but it’s a great place to celebrate!
The Hollywood Brown Derby- Head over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a meal at this restaurant that is a replica of the original Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood. Try the signature Brown Derby Cobb Salad, or the Duck Two Ways, and finish off your meal with their famous Grapefruit Cake (and it’s famous for a good reason – because it’s delicious!). They also have some amazing wines and martinis, and do wine pairings as well. The decor is fun, with drawings of Hollywood stars on the walls, and it has a great “old school tinseltown” feel to it
Survey Says: If you’re a movie fan, this is the place for you – you can grab a martini and relax in the elegant setting of the Brown Derby
Fulton’s Crab House - This restaurant’s location in Downtown Disney is unique – it is actually a replica of an old riverboat that is docked right on the waterfront! The location is a huge part of it’s appeal – who wouldn’t want to eat on an old riverboat? The food has appeal too – crab cakes, oysters, and mussels grace the menu, as well as a few non-seafood selections.
Survey Says: Seafood fans will love eating here, and even non seafood fans will love the old riverboat setting
Wolfgang Puck: The Dining Room – Guests who dine here will get to experience the chef’s truly unique Asian/Californian fusion in an upscale setting. Lobster risotto, a selection of sushi, and banana beignets are just some of the items you can expect to find here, as well as prix fixe menus of specially selected items, like the Austrian 2 Course Tour. Enjoy some wine and watch as your food is prepared in the open kitchen
Survey Says: If you are looking for something truly unique and different, this is the place for you
Whether you are celebrating a birthday, anniversary, wedding, engagement, promotion, or simply the fact that you are on vacation at Walt Disney World (reason enough to celebrate in my mind!), I urge you to check out some of these Signature Restaurants for great food, drink, and atmosphere – there are so many choices that chances are one will be perfect for you!
Stay tuned right here on Chip and Co for part 3 where I will be discussing the character meals and dinner shows that will set you back 2 Table Service credits (while they aren’t technically “Signature” restaurants, they are unique and therefore more expensive than other restaurants. What makes them special? Check back next week to find out!)
- Top 10 Romantic Walt Disney World Restaurants (chipandco.com)
- Signature Restaurants – Are They Worth It? Part 1 (chipandco.com)