So I’ll admit, while working for Disney, I got to try many restaurants that I would otherwise not have been able to get a reservation to or be able to afford. But it goes without saying that Walt Disney dining has something for everyone and it has become quite the culinary destination (Hello Epcot Food and Wine festival) in the past decade. That said, when I went to the parks, I usually had kids in tow so my restaurants of choice were not those on the higher end, but rather those that could keep us all entertained, well fed, and interested in the detail . Keep in mind that there are many wonderful dining experiences at Walt Disney World but this posting is about my personal favorites. These made the cut based on the meals themselves, the theming, and entertainment factors. I’m a sucker for the whole package.
Be Our Guest
Love, Love, Love this restaurant! The food. The ambiance. The immersion into the Beast’s Castle. This is my number one, go –to place when heading to the Magic Kingdom. It’s a hard reservation to get, especially last minute, but well worth the price of admission. Your experience starts as you enter the beast’s castle complete with…. There are 3 dining rooms to choose from: The Grand Ballroom, The Castle Gallery, or The West Wing. I’ve dined in both and I highly recommend the Beast’s lair. It’s dark and in the corner is the vase covered rose. Above the fireplace is the tantrum torn picture of the prince, which magically transforms into the Beast with each clap of thunder. This dining room definitely puts you smack dab into the movie so if you can score a table here, I recommend it. The Castle Gallery experience is a nice option, especially for the little ones who may be scared of the dark. The center of the room features a statue of Belle and the Beast during their iconic first dance. The Grand Ballroom is also quite magical with its magnificent domed ceiling, chandeliers, and snow laced arches. Anywhere you sit, will be spectacular and will make you feel that you are immersed in the movie itself. The food is French themed and while I have not tried everything, everything that I have tried, was delish! The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can order from the touch screen menu at your table or online. I tried the online option while on the monorail because we were late for our reservation. It worked out beautifully. You can even make online orders up to 30 days in advance, however, order ahead dining is not available for dinner reservations. Again, everything on the menu is wonderful. The shrimp and scallops, pan-seared chicken, veggie quiche and roasted pork tenderloin are popular. My recommendations are the French onion soup, the veggie quiche, salad….. the strawberry cream cheese cupcake and yes, the grey stuff.
Whispering Canyon Café at the Wilderness Lodge Resort
Located in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge resort, this fun restaurant is what I call interactive. The theming is in line with the rustic setting of the Wilderness Lodge and there are even Lincoln logs for the kids to play with while waiting for the table and hobby horse races while waiting for your food. Be prepared to be a bit sassed by your wait staff though. It’s the Wild West in here! The menu consists of family sized platters of “chuck wagon” favorites such as pork ribs, Applewood smoked turkey sandwiches, good ‘ol fashioned apple pie for dessert. By the way, try asking for some ketchup. Just be prepared to yell. You’ll see. This place is super cute and fun for the kids. My son liked this place because of the interactive meals and fun in having to deliver items to other guests i.e. the ketchup. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served here.
Le Cellier Steakhouse
Need I say more? Located in Epcot’s Canadian Pavilion, this is one of the higher end, 4 star restaurants at WDW. It’s certainly a special occasion place, in my mind, but the food is excellent. We made reservations for my dad on Father’s Day and let’s just say, he was extremely happy with this steak. This restaurant boasts a wine cellar theme similar to the grand chateaux style hotels of Fairmont Le Chateaux. Recommended items include the cheddar cheese soup, mushroom fillet mignon, coq au vin, or the bouillabaisse seafood stew. Of course, you must save room for the maple crème brulee as well. There are, of course, the standard lunch items for the kids but it was a good opportunity for them to dine in a restaurant where they weren’t entertained by Mickey and were required to put their napkin in their lap. Our server was wonderful and kept them very much engaged throughout the meal. Le Cellier makes for a good stopping point at Epcot as well. Future World in the AM, lunch at Le Cellier, World Showcase in the afternoon (and it allows you to walk that rich meal as well.). Please check your dining plan as this meal service is worth 2 dinner dining options.
Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Resort, buffet style restaurant features both American and African cuisine. The chefs have prepared an enormous spread of grilled seafood, vegetables, roasted meats, and fresh salads. The kids can still enjoy their chicken nuggets but I must say, you are better than I if you can make it past the dessert table. Ok… yes, I went back twice. Shhhh…. Don’t tell anyone. The food is absolutely delicious and there is so much of it that you simple could not get around to trying everything even though you will probably want to. This was a nice stop after a day at Animal Kingdom. The restaurant continues the theme of the African safari with thatched roofs, vibrant colors, and impeccable woodwork throughout. Boma serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
T Rex Café
Located in Disney Springs, this is a hard restaurant to get into at night without a reservation. If you’ve been to The Rainforest Café, then image it with dinosaurs and wholly mammoths. My son loved it! It’s visually appealing and the food is good. They even offer educational tours and outings for the youngsters throughout the restaurant which provides for a fun learning opportunity (more info on the website). The entrée names are inventive, reasonably priced, and my son even branched out and tried the Mini Mess- O-Bones Ribs, available on the kids menu. I enjoyed the Prehistoric Pasta but we both couldn’t resist the Shark Water. Sprite with blue coconut. Gotta try this one again when we go back. Great for the kids.
Tusker House Character Dining at Animal Kingdom Park
With some planning, this is a pretty easy reservation to get and a nice break on a hot day while at Animal Kingdom. The food is along the lines of Boma and like all other character dining, Mickey and friends stop by for a meet n greet. While here, you will meet Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Daisy. The food is served buffet style and includes a mix of African flavored meats, veggies, and salads. We’ve eaten here several times and I’ve always enjoyed that the food is excellent and it’s one of the more “laid-back” character dining experiences in the parks.