Sunday, February 16, 2014

Our favorite Disney restaurants

After experiencing yet another snowstorm, I have the heat and humidity of Florida on my mind.  I've been thinking about the restaurants we'd like to eat at again and thought I would share our favorites with you all.  I also have a running list of restaurants (or dining experiences) we'd like to try out as well, but we've yet to fit them into our vacations.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Akershus is a table service restaurant in Epcot featuring a slew of princesses.  It's one of our favorites for many reasons:
  • It's less expensive than dining in Cinderella's castle.  If you are on the dining plan, a meal at the castle will cost you 2 table service credits, while Akershus is 1. 
  • The inside of the restaurant has a castle feel to it, which the kids enjoy, especially if you aren't eating at the castle.
  • I've always been able to score a dining reservation here, versus Cinderella's castle, which fills up quickly.
  • The food is good!  We've had both breakfast and lunch here.  For breakfast, the table receives plates of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage and potato casserole to share.  There is also a buffet with Norwegian items, along with American breakfast staples such as bagels and yogurt.  For my kids, who love waffles and pancakes, this wasn't a top breakfast choice.  (I'm sure that will change as their taste buds mature.)  Lunch was good as well and probably a better option for the kids.  
  • There's good princess interaction.  Both times we met Belle, Cinderella, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.



Tusker House Restaurant

This is a character dining restaurant in Animal Kingdom.  We ate breakfast here during our last trip and I'm planning on making a reservation for breakfast again for our upcoming trip.  There was a huge selection of food to choose from at the buffet, more than enough to satisfy both adults and little ones.  I thought everything I ate was delicious, most especially the frittatas, breakfast potatoes and the biscuits and gravy.  The character interaction was decent.  Goofy was a dud but Mickey more than made up for it.


Cape May Cafe

Cape May Cafe is a table service, character meal (at breakfast only) restaurant at the Beach Club Resort offering breakfast and dinner, both of which are served buffet style.  We ate breakfast here when we stayed at the Beach Club.  If you can't tell, I think breakfast is my favorite meal to eat out, especially at Disney. The character interaction was good as was the food.  My only complaint, and this was really Allie's complaint, is that the photo on the elevator advertising the restaurant clearly showed pancakes but they don't actually serve pancakes.  The poor kid was in the middle of her allergic reaction to Advil and just wanted pancakes, like she had seen in the photo, but none were to be found.


Beaches and Cream Soda Shop

Ice cream.  Need I say more?  This little restaurant (it's tiny inside, much smaller than I expected) is located at the Beach Club Resort.  It is a table service restaurant that also has a take-out counter for ice cream.  When we ate here, we could not make reservations but Disney's website now states that reservations are accepted.  It's a good place if you're looking for burgers, sandwiches and ice cream.


The Crystal Palace

The Crystal Palace is a buffet style restaurant at Magic Kingdom featuring Winnie the Pooh characters.  We've eaten lunch twice here and although there isn't a huge selection, the food is decent and it seems to be your best bet for table service dining, especially with little kids, in the Magic Kingdom.


Flame Tree Barbecue

I love barbecue and always insist on stopping here for lunch or an early dinner when we're in Animal Kingdom.  It's a quick service restaurant with outdoor tables.  We always head down to the little covered seating area that offers views of Expedition Everest to eat.



La Catina de San Angel

Even though this is just a quick service restaurant in Epcot, the food always seems really yummy.


Possible Future Dining Experiences

Chef Mickey's - I've heard mixed reviews about this restaurant so I'm still on the fence.  I suppose if we ever stay at the Contemporary, then we'll definitely try it out.  The fact that it's at a resort, although it is on the monorail, has been somewhat of a deterrent.

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue - I always mean to try to squeeze this into our itinerary but never do, mainly due to the location.

'Ohana - I think the girls would enjoy the Lilo and Stitch character breakfast.

Any other good restaurants/Disney dining experiences I'm missing?


Anonymous said...

Those are our favorites too! We also did 1900 Park Fare for dinner, but were not impressed. The restaurant was very crowded and none of us cared for the food. Cinderellas Table was great for dinner, but I would not go every trip. We did it for a birthday celebration this past time.

Sarah said...

We did 1900 Park Fare for dinner for our first trip. It was OK but we didn't think it was anything special. Maybe b/c we were in the back room too - we felt a bit disconnected.

Bernice said...

We have done 1900 Park Fare, and enjoyed it very much, we have done Chef Mickey's and did not like it at all,not impressed with the food, we were there for Dinner, Breakfast may be different,we also enjoyed this past trip Hollywood & Vine at the Studios, Agent Oso, Handy Mandy, and June from Little Einsteins were the characters, the first two are Grandsons fav's, rumor had it that this year they were eliminating June and adding Doc McStuffin, we liked OHana's with Lilo and Stich,and the Grandsons loved Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge,Hoop-de-Doo food was good, show was funny, Grandsons(8/5/3) I don't think enjoyed it that much.
Two more shows we have not been to but have heard great reviews from our daughter are Spirit of Aloha at the Polynesian, and Mickey's Backyard Bbq at Fort Wildnerness, both are seasonal, and very popular. We have enjoyed all the restaurants you have listed.
A little note the daughter I mentioned and her husband both work(11 years) for Disney,he as a area Supervisor in one of the parks, and she in their IT department working the "kinks" out of the new Magic Bands,that is how we have enjoyed so much..any questions I will be glad to try and answer questions:)

Farah said...

Love these posts! My family took my brother and me to Disney every year when I was a kid and we loved it. Your girls will have the best memories to look back on.

All the restaurant talk made me hungry! Is Pecos Bill still there? We ALWAYS used to eat there after riding Splash Mountain 10 times in a row (it's in Frontierland...I don't know if that still exists). I remember it being a quick-service restaurant with good chicken wraps.

Sara said...

I love living vicariously through your Disney trips and recaps! I'm dying to go back. I'll have to check out the barbecue- I love BBQ!

I'm single and have no children, and have never been to a character meal. Do you think you get more attention since you have a larger group? I have had friends visit before and say they've had trouble getting quality time with characters at meals, and one said that once her child was older,the characters seemed to pass by more quickly. Have you ever noticed this on your trips?

Brandi said...

We loved Tusker House for lunch… it had an amazing buffet.

My favorite meal from the trip was at Boma for breakfast at the Animal Kingdom Lodge…. amazing… so good we went back again in the same trip.

We also loved the Hollywood & Vine breakfast character meal. Breakfast was great and the interaction with the characters were great also!

We also loved Kouzinna…. great, no amazing food.

Anonymous said...

long time reader, first time commenting :) We have a 4 and a half year old boy and visit Disney often. He's been to Disney 7 times and we already have visits 8, 9, 10 and tentatively 11 on the books! I would encourage you to try ohana. We like family style character meals because we find the buffets harder to juggle with characters and little kids and ohana is a good one. Also if your girls are sofia, doc mcstuffins and/or jake fans i'd suggest hollywood and vine for breakfast or lunch. Not sure if they're a little old for those guys. anyways, really enjoy your disney posts! keep them coming :) We will be at yacht club in the next few months, since you stayed at beach club any suggestions/advice? fun stuff to do aside from the dining?

Emily said...

We went to a few you mentioned and loved them. We really enjoyed Ohana and also Boma at Animal Kingdom lodge. Sort of African buffet...very cool restaurant and you can step out on the observation deck to see the animals.

Anonymous said...

A lot of your favorites are our favorites as well. I love breakfast at Disney too!

Funny you say Goofy was a dud at Tusker House I guess that always depends on who is playing Goofy that day. We just took our boy for his first birthday the first week of December & had breakfast at Tusker. I swear it seemed Goofy stayed at our table fir ten minutes! We got some great video of Goofy tickling our boy & making him belly laugh so hard. Goofy became his favorite character on our trip :-D

Ohana is amazing for breakfast! We stayed at The Poly for the first time in Dec & had breakfast there on our last day-served family style & Tonga Toast is delish. Loved staying at The Poly there was always a boat waiting to take us to the Kingdom no travel time over 5 min to MK.

We had dinner at Chef Mickeys our first night loved it but not as much as the others.

You have to do Hoop Dee Do it's great!

Kristin said...

I am all over my husband to go to Disney next February. Our daughter will be 4, and I think it would be perfect. Our son would only be 1 1/2, but he's free, so I'm okay with it. I have 1900 Park Faire dinner and Hollywood and Vine breakfast on our list. I want to do Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, so we definitely have to eat with princesses, and Cinderella is her favorite. Plus, she loves Doc and Sofia, so H&V would be perfect. I really want a meal with Mickey and crew. I'm leaning toward Chef Mickeys on our first night, but only because all of the Big 5 are there. I definitely consider either Tusker House or Cape May instead though, as they are both cheaper. I really really hope I can talk him into this! Your girls might love Ohana dinner too. Tons of fun with lots of interaction!

Sarah said...

Love that you are starting to talk about Disney again! We are headed for our first family trip in June! We have booked a couple of the character meals you mentioned. We do have Chef Mickey's for breakfast booked, as well as both 1900 park Fare, breakfast and dinner (they are different characters). Hollywood and Vine has switched to Doc, Sofia and Jake, but your girls may be a little old for that (maybe not).

We are staying at the Caribbean Beach Resort. Keep the discussions coming!

Christina Becker said...

We just got back from Disney yesterday and had a BLAST! I have to say, I read ALL of your Disney blog posts while we were planning the trip and it was so, so helpful!! :) We stayed at the Contemporary, so we did do Chef Mickey's but I wasn't too impressed. It was SO crowded and the space is tight. We did do a lunch/early dinner at the Crystal Palace and that was by far my favorite. The characters came around multiple times and the food was delicious! :)

Marion said...

I second Boma if you havent tried it. Great food and cool atmosphere.

carrie s said...

I would try 1900 Park Fare for dinner. Prince Charming and Cinderella come around and Lady Tremaine and the Step Sisters are hysterical. The buffet has something for everyone.
I would also give Chef Mickey's a try. If you are going to the Magic Kingdom it really easy to connect. Ohana's is also good for breakfast and both times we have eaten there we have had great character interactions.
The Garden Grille in Epcot is also another good character meal.

sage.noela said...

Sanaa at animal kingdom Lodge is very good, but if you have picky eaters the flavors might be a bit much for them. The animals are right outside the windows your seated next to though and my three year old loves it.

If your at Hollywood studios for lunch or dinner you should try 50s prime time cafe. My dad works there :) it's classic at home comfort food type meals and the waiters act like members of your family. They will tell you to finish your vegetables or not to eat with your elbows on the table and when the kids see their parents being bossed around they usually quite enjoy it.

definetly try hoop de do, I remember going for my birthday as a child and loving it.

Sarah said...

Thanks, everyone! Bernice - good to know you're connected.

Farah - that restaurant still exists but we've never eaten there.

Sara - I haven't noticed any difference between our first trip when the girls were 3.5 to our last trip when the girls were 5.5. Not really much of an age difference though. There are some dud characters here and there. I know adults who go w/out kids and I haven't heard them complain about character interaction.

I think we're on the fence with Sofia and Doc McS. The girls wouldn't complain but they don't watch those shows anymore. Sometimes they watch Sofia, but it's rare now.

For Yacht Club - definitely enjoy all the pools! My girls loved the smaller pool with the little water slides.

Stacy - twin mom said...

Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney - by far a family Favorite, and not too bad on the pocketbook.

Boma is awesome - love the zebra domes & neat cultural vibe.

Pearls and Flip Flops said...

Hi Sarah! As a sort of local (we live a little over an hour from WDW & have season passes), I'll put in my two cents--

Cinderella's Royal Table- As you've mentioned, it can be tricky to get reservations but it is wonderful. The food was great with little touches like pumpkin seeds in the salad and we got a photo with Cinderella before going upstairs to dine and meet Snow White, Ariel, Belle, and Aurora. It was fabulous.

Liberty Tree Tavern- We stumbled onto this one evening when we were starving and we were able to walk in (reservations are recommended though). The food is served family style and it is like Thanksgiving dinner. Everything was delicious- it is truly a hidden gem. I would return there with or without the kids.

Pecos Bill- Quick service restaurant in Frontierland that was awful. The food was the worst I've ever had at Disney. Definitely skip it!

Be Our Guest restaurant- New Fantasyland- We lined up about 30 minutes or so before it opened (this was on a Saturday but in late Sept which is a less busy time) and got right in for lunch. Ordering was on a touch screen and you select your seats in either the West Wing (may be too spooky for your girls- it would have been too spooky for my 4 year old), the ballroom, or the gallery (which is where we sat). The food was brought out quickly on a cart and we had a great lunch. Not too expensive either. Highly recommend. You can make reservations for dinner but lunch is quick service.

Pinocchio Village Haus- Quick service dining in Old Fantasyland. Food better than Pecos Bill but the staff wasn't very helpful and the decor was a bit worn. They have a refurbishment scheduled that may help but I could have skipped this one.

Tony's Town Square Italian Restaurant- Main Street near entrance- Sit down casual Italian dining- just ok. I could have skipped this one too.

If you haven't tried the Dole Whip in Adventureland- definitely try it! It's great for a snack and so refreshing! I loved it!

Gaston's Tavern- Great for a snack and just to see- it is like stepping into the movie and LeFou's Brew was pretty good!

The Main Street Bakery is now a Starbucks. I like Starbucks as much as anyone but I was disappointed that all the baked goods were the same as in a typical Starbucks and there wasn't anything that was actually fresh or baked there.

(to be continued)

Pearls and Flip Flops said...

(part 2) hopefully part 1 went through!

EPCOT- Aside from the Food & Wine Fest in EPCOT (which is not to be missed if you ever visit in the fall), I've only really eaten at the Boulangerie and Patisserie in France. Great quick service and right next door is the ice cream shop which is good too.


As others have said, Hollywood & Vine now features Doc, Sofia, Jake, & Handy Manny. I'm planning on doing this character dining experience soon if I can get reservations because my kids will love it.

The Hollywood Brown Derby is a great sit down restaurant in HS. A bit pricey but I thought it was worth it.

AK- The Rainforest Cafe is our favorite (there is also one in Downtown Disney). Animatronic animals, a talking tree in the gift shop, and "thunderstorms" every so often make it exciting. The food is mediocre but it's fun and the kids love it.

Dawa Bar- I got a quick drink here on our last visit and it was ok. Slow service. I got a mojito and honestly I can make better ones at home. Good if you reallllly need a drink after a long day at AK!

Incidentally, we visited in January right before they closed Camp Minnie Mickey (so disappointing) to start work on Avatar land. That was my favorite part of the park! It was so cute! The Festival of the Lion King is closed until the summer when their new theater is complete.

If you are dining at Akershus, it is right next to where Elsa and Anna currently greet. They keep changing the hours the Frozen princesses are greeting as they tweak things but some people make early reservations at Akershus and then get right in line for the Frozen princesses before rope drop. We waited for over 2 hours in December to meet Elsa and Anna! The lines can reportedly get to 3+ hours sometimes. Not everyone has to stand in line though- you could have Rich or Grammy line up while you take the girls to meet other princesses, etc. We met Mulan in China, Snow White in Germany, saw Jasmine/Aladdin in Morocco, etc. Anyway, check out Kenny the Pirate's blog for updates on Elsa and Anna. I stumbled onto his blog and he is very informative. is his website. I also like the crowd calendars at to see which park to visit on which day.

Not to be weird but hit me up if you'd be interested in meeting up just to say hi when you're there!

Jenn said...

We love Tusker House. Last time we booked a late trip and were only able to make a reservation for the first lunch slot and when we arrived they still had breakfast items but were also putting out lunch items which were both yummy!

Anonymous said...

We LOVE the O'hana breakfast! Kona coffee and delicious food! We have had our kids' birthday breakfasts there. Stitch is always silly with the kids. And it is easy to jump on the monorail and head to the Magic Kingdom for the day.

Amie said...

Chef Mickey's is delicious, great food selection and awesome character encounters, Ohana breakfast is delicious as well and more great character encounters.