Dining at the Resorts
Although you’ll appreciate the good restaurants in the parks during the middle of the day, you need some good food at night, too, and probably a bit closer to your hotel room. Listed here are some of the best dining options throughout the resorts, either because of the food, the price, the convenience, or the experience.
Most of the deluxe resorts also have counter-service restaurants that offer a consistent selection of burgers, pizza, and sandwiches. When you check in, the resort map will point these out. The deluxe resorts also offer some interesting table service dining options as well.
BomaFlavors of Africa
Breakfast is standard American fare, intended to power you up for a day at the parks. But at dinnertime they take the best of the African continent and serve it up buffet style so that you can experiment with several different flavors. This is a great place to get kids to try new things, since the food isn't too exotic.
JikoThe Cooking Place
Taste the flavors of Africa, tempered to meet North American tastes via a blend of Indian and Mediterranean influences. You may hate the word "fusion" when referred to cooking, but they have really fused the flavors together well for a unique and tasty experience at this more formal of the hotel's two African restaurants.
Disney's Beach Club Resort and Villas
Cape May Café
Breakfast is a character meal, served buffet style, with all the standard American offerings. The characters don't appear at dinner, but the buffet offers a variety of seafood options, as well as a good selection of meats and other goodies.
This is, hands-down, my favorite restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. The food is exceptional, the service is some of the best I have ever experienced anywhere, and the views are breathtaking. Yes, it is expensive, and they do require resort casual attire (no bathing suits or t-shirts), but that is part of what makes it nice. You sit in the penthouse floor of the hotel with a bird's-eye view of the Magic Kingdom, and can watch it come to life (and light) in the evening. Time it so that you finish dinner just before the fireworks show from the Magic Kingdom, which you can take in with an after-dinner drink on the outdoor deck. Try the pork with polenta, and the sushi that is served with real wasabi. If you are on a romantic getaway and don't come here, shame on you!
Always a full-blown character experience, Chef Mickey brings better-than-average buffet food into a chaotic but fun environment. There are so many Disney characters that you almost don't notice the monorail whizzing by overhead. The selection is very kid friendly, but adults can find something special, too. If you are not up for the character experience, don't even think of coming here.
A more casual steakhouse than most, this open-roofed restaurant looks up at the hotel's vast atrium, monorail and all. The breakfast is traditional American fare, while lunch and dinner change to a steakhouse menu. The prices are more reasonable than most upscale steakhouses, but the noisy interior, and the fact that guests can look down on you while you eat makes it a less than elegant experience.
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
1900 Park Fare
Breakfast is with Mary Poppins and friends, while dinner is with Cinderella and her entourage. These buffet meals are on the pricier side, but the characters, particularly at dinner, are focused on what many little girls dream of when they come to Walt Disney World. There is also an afternoon tea with the characters from Alice in Wonderland. Check with the hotel for details.
Citricos is an elegant locale with great food that is perfect for a special evening. The food is Spanish and Italian inspired, and brings a pleasant and relaxing conclusion to a hectic day at the parks.
Grand Floridian Café
A casual lunch and dinner place, especially for families and those looking for a faster meal, but tired of grabbing burgers in the park. The lunch offerings lean toward salads and sandwiches, while dinner offers more elaborate entrées.
This pavilion offers a superb array of seafood, and a view of the lagoon that is hard to beat. The environment is decidedly less formal than the rest of this resort hotel, but it is still quite elegant and provides a romantic backdrop to the fantastic fare.
Victoria and Albert's
Expect a tab upward of $100 each at the most elegant and high-end restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. The chefs here are extremely accommodating to special dietary needs and special occasions. Just let them know the particulars before you get there, and they will make you a meal that you will never forget. The prix- fixe meal (one standard price for the meal, and your choice from three or four sections for each course) changes daily and is customized to your party, including a personalized menu. A jacket is required for gentlemen, with appropriate similar attire for women as well. I know plenty of people who would never consider coming to Walt Disney World without eating here.
Disney's Polynesian Resort
There are some Asian-inspired foods here, with favorites like the Tonga Toast (banana stuffed toast), but the selection is pretty American in its approach. The décor is a bit more upscale and elegant than the rest of the resort, so it can be a nice change.
There is something fun about the locale that makes this a great place for a character breakfast, even though only the characters from Lilo and Stitch really fit with the décor. The food is basic American, served family style. The dinner is good, too, even though there are no characters. Skewered meats (kabobs) give you a lot of choices and new experiences.
Disney's Spirit of Aloha Show
This replaced the old luau that was a long-standing popular experience at Walt Disney World. The show is better and the food is, too. This is an especially fun event for kids, as they can be part of the show. And the music, dancing, and other performances are truly spectacular. Since the meals are all-you-can-eat, you might plan for it to be a big end to a day where you did not have time for a large lunch. Priority Seating is a requirement, as they basically just have a few seatings per day.
Disney's Wilderness Lodge
Dinner overlooking the rock formations, geysers, and babbling brook of the lodge's courtyard will make you forget that you are in Florida. The selection of fish and meats includes some more exotic options, such as bison. This is a nice place for a semi-formal, semi-casual dinner.
Whispering Canyon Café
Tired of character meals, but want some fun for the kids? This is the place for you, where kids are part of the show, and the entertaining and energetic wait staff keeps you on your toes. The high-energy, family-style dining experience is not used as an excuse to cover up mediocre food. The barbecue is really great, and all the sides are good too. Just don't come here looking for a sedate and fancy time. This meal is highly recommended for families.
Disney's Yacht Club Resort
Yacht Club Galley
The galley offers à la carte dining for all meals, but also offers a standard breakfast buffet option as well. This is a good multi-purpose restaurant with a selection of soups, sandwiches, and other traditional American entrées.
This is a casual steakhouse, offering an array of steaks, as well as seafood entrées.
The moderate resorts all have food courts that offer a good selection of fast foods, usually including burgers, chicken, and pizza. These courts are somewhat festive and the food is good, so take advantage of them as a way to keep your budget in check, and to enjoy meals where you don't want to get dressed up and go out. Below are some table service selections that you can also find at these resorts.
Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
Shutters at Old Port Royale
Several Caribbean-inspired entrées join American favorites to make this an affordable and fun dining experience.
Disney's Coronado Springs Resort
Don't let the name fool you; this is not a Mexican restaurant, though there are some Mexican entrées on the menu. The breakfast is a buffet; the dinner à la carte.
Disney's Port Orleans Resort
Boatwright's Dining Hall
A great selection in a casual dining environment makes for a nice, relaxing environment to start or end a day. Southern breakfast specialties make breakfast more than just another à la carte experience.
All of the Disney Value Resorts (All-Star Movie, Music, and Sports, and Pop Century) have cafeteria-style food courts that offer a great variety of food choices, changing throughout the day to match different hungers at different meal times. There is also a pizza stand that stays open late for carryout, and all offer in-room pizza delivery.
Many of the other resorts in and around Walt Disney World have some interesting dining options. Here are just a few
Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review
This is one of the longtime favorite dinner shows at Walt Disney World, and it is one of the restaurants where an Advanced Reservation is a must. This show features a festive western theme that is perfect for the whole family. The food is basic American, featuring barbeque, chicken, and traditional sides.
Mickey's Backyard BBQ
Technically not a character meal, you might get to see Mickey and Minnie at this covered outdoor dinner experience. Barbeque, chicken, and other picnic favorites are served under a covered seating area while an entertaining musical show keeps your toes tapping. This is only open from March to December, and can be cancelled if the weather gets nasty.
Trail's End Restaurant
This buffet restaurant offers standard American fare, and is a great place for a larger group that has a million different tastes in mind.
Walt Disney World Dolphin
Shula's Steak House
This national chain of upscale steakhouses may be the best steak you can get in all of Walt Disney World. The price tag is high, but the posh atmosphere and excellent beef justify the expense.
Todd English's bluezoo
This is the most hip and modern club/restaurant at Walt Disney World, and a trendy haunt for some of the locals as well. Seafood selection is excellent, and the presentation and flavors match the suave interior. This is a great romantic getaway with a stylish flavor.
Walt Disney World Swan
Garden Grove Cafe
Breakfast is a buffet, lunch is à la carte, and both bring a predictable spread of selections. At dinner time it is transformed into Gulliver's Grill for a character meal. This dinnertime buffet has not gotten very good marks as a character meal, and might not be your best bet for thrilling your kids.
This serene restaurant is perfectly matched to the quite ambience of its host hotel, the Swan. In addition to traditional southern Italian cuisine, Palio also offers select specials from other regions, all prepared with a modern and elegant twist.
The décor sets the mood with elegant black lacquer and colorful kimonos on the walls. The sushi is great, and the restaurant turns into a lively bar scene later in the evening, complete with karaoke.
Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
The Artists Pallette (Counter Service)
Counter service and shopping to provide you the basics without having to leave your resort.
Disney's Old Key West Resort
Olivia's has a basic menu with a slight leaning to seafood entrées.
Grovesnor Resort at Walt Disney World
The Grovesnor's Baskerville Restaurant hosts character breakfasts three times a week, and a murder Mystery dinner every Saturday night. Call (800) 624-4109 for reservations.
Hilton in the Walt Disney World Resort
The Hilton has a Benihana's and Finn's Grill, which is a great seafood experience. Call (407) 827-4000.
Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa in the Walt Disney World Resort
The Wyndham has several great restaurants, including the Watercress Café, where there are character breakfast buffets on Sundays, and Arthur's 27, an award-winning restaurant that gives great views of Walt Disney World.