Now there’s a challenge! It’s really not fair to just list five restaurants because of the various types of table service restaurants available at Walt Disney World. It’s also a matter of personal preference and depends greatly on your dining style and the mood of the moment. Let’s look at the top five (at least based on my dining experience) in two groups – The more formal (mostly Disney Signature restaurants) and the more casual, just plain fun places to eat.I’ll try to be somewhat general and avoid specifics otherwise this article will end up ten pages long. Please remember these are my favorites and we have dined at all of them, your choices may be different.
MORE FORMAL (SIGNATURE) RESTAURANTS-
- Victoria and Albert’s (Grand Floridian) - Unquestionably the finest restaurant at Walt Disney World and in all of central Florida. They just picked up their 11th Five Diamond award and they absolutely deserve it. There are a number of dining experiences from the main dining room to the Chef’s Table and the prices vary with the experience. Be prepared to drop a chunk of change if you dine here but if you enjoy truly fine cuisine it is worth it. There are some restrictions here, no children under 10 years of age, ladies must wear appropriate evening wear, and jackets (ties optional) are required for men.
- Narcoosssee’s (Grand Floridian) - There are so many superb restaurants at the Grand Floridian that it’s almost unfair so I’ll make this my last on in this category. Fine Dining at it’s best and the location is unbeatable, it sits right on the water and many of the tables have an exquisite view of the Magic Kingdom so if your timing is good you may be able to watch the fireworks right from your table. Oh, and did I mention, the food is amazing.
- Hollywood Brown Derby (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – That’s right, it sits in the middle of a theme park. It’s modeled after the original in Hollywood and even though I have never seen the original I have been told that it is a reasonably close approximation. The food and service have always been outstanding. This is one restaurant where I will make a couple of food suggestions – the Cobb Salad is to die for and don’t dare miss the Grapefruit Cake (even if you are not a dessert eater) it’s amazing.
- Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge) – When you first enter this beautiful restaurant, the decor may seem a bit spartan. Take the time to look around and explore and you will find that everything is perfectly matched to the theme of the Wilderness Lodge. There are things on the menu that may be new to you but be sure to ask your server if you have questions, the staff is very knowledgeable. You will find the food prepared exactly to your liking and always delicious, don’t be afraid to try something new.
- California Grill (Contemporary) – This one is a huge favorite with a lot of people and it’s not just the food and service that draw the crowds, there is also an outside deck where you can get an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks if you are dining at the right time. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu and once again the staff is highly knowledgeable so when in doubt ask. The kitchen is an “open kitchen” so you can watch the chefs prepare meals from start to finish, you will like it.
MORE CASUAL FUN TYPE RESTAURANTS-
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – Excellent home style cooking served by your family members in a very accurate rendition of a 50’s style kitchen. If you dine here, please play along with the staff as they make sure you are using your best manners (there are consequences for bad manners) you will then have excellent food and a truly fun time. We will be dining here twice in October; best shakes at Walt Disney World.
- Whispering Canyon Cafe (Wilderness Lodge) - Lots of excellent food and a truly crazy staff. If you want loud and raucous fun while enjoying your mean, give it a try, you will not regret it if that’s what you enjoy. As I mentioned, they pile on the food but I think they do it to lull you into a stupor before they team up with the children in the room to liven things up. It’s a little loud, but if you play along it’s truly fun.
- Raglan Road (Downtown Disney) - An amazing Irish Pub that takes a bit of a different look at Irish comfort food. There is entertainment in an Irish Pub style and the entertainers truly are good. The food is excellent and even though they sometimes seem to overload their servers we have never had a bad experience, slow service, or a cranky server. Dine there a bit later in the evening and enjot the entertainment.
- Liberty Tree Tavern (Magic Kingdom) - We have never been to Walt Disney World without having our first lunch of the visit at the Liberty Tree, we never miss!!! The setting in a Colonial Inn is very well done, the menu is varied at lunch (all good by the way), and the staff remains in character to add to the experience. It’s a great way to get you in the mood at Walt Disney World. One word of caution, even with ADR’s this place is busy so you might want to consider dining at a less than prime time.
- The Plaza Restaurant (Magic Kingdom) – It’s like eating in an old fashioned ice cream parlor. The sandwiches are huge and the salads are excellent. This is another place to get an outstanding shake. This is a staff that pays attention to detail. As an example, on a recent visit as I was paying the check the Chef came out from the kitchen to visit with us. He didn’t come out to see if there was an issue but our server had gone to the kitchen to inform him that he and I had the same first and last name – we had a very nice visit!! That’s detail!!
SOMETHING A LITTLE DIFFERENT -
- Garden View Lounge (Grand Floridian) – Afternoon Tea is not for me! At least that’s what I thought before I tried it on our last visit. My wife talked me into it and we will be doing it again in October. There are several experience levels from just one of their wonderful teas to a full blown meal with wine and dessert. An incredibly attentive staff will cater to your every need and if you have questions about the origins or traditions of Afternoon Tea they will explain it all to you. It’s a different but very relaxing and rewarding experience.
As I mentioned, these are our favorites but yours may be different. Eat where you like and like what you eat, that’s what is important. As always, enjoy your visit to Walt Disney World!!
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