Theme park food is generally thought of as being burgers, fries, and various other forms of fast food. That might be the case at most amusement parts around the world, but Walt Disney World likes to break the mould. I’ve had some of the best meals of my life on Disney property (and it’s even more incredible on Disney Cruise Line), much to the surprise of most people.
While Disney do provide the traditional fare of pizzas and hotdogs, they also have gormet restaurants where you can sit down after a busy day of meeting characters and going on rides. Some are in the parks themselves, and others are located in the 25 Disney resort hotels as well. With so much choice, it’s hard to know what’s amazing and what’s average. Here are my top five Disney table service restaurants – when you sit down and a server brings food to your table – to help you pick where you want to eat on your next trip.
5. Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom
Disney say: Feast with some favorite friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood at this whimsical, all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet.
I say: There is one reason I love this place above other buffet breakfast restaurants, and that’s because Piglet is there! He has been my favourite Disney character since I was about six, and he’s rather elusive around the parks. This is the one place where he’s guaranteed to be, so it’s always worth a reservation for me. The buffet selection at breakfast is also delicious, with everything you could possibly want; from bacon and egg to Mickey waffles and fruit. Plus, if you can secure an early reservation you can enter Magic Kingdom before the park opens and stroll down a virtually empty Main Street USA, snapping some amazing photos on the way.
4. ‘Ohana, Polynesian Resort
Disney say: Hang loose with Stitch and friends at breakfast and enjoy games, storytelling and a Hawaiian-style feast at dinner.
I say: I love the atmosphere in this resort restaurant. It’s energetic, friendly, and has beautiful Hawaii-influenced decor. Kids run around playing games encouraged by the servers, which is really fun. The food is unlimited here, but it’s brought to your table instead of you having to collect it yourself. Servers come around with huge skewers of steak, chicken and shrimp – and they’ll keep coming until you’re too full for another bite! It’s also the perfect location to chill out after a long afternoon in Magic Kingdom and to revive you before heading back for the fireworks.
3. Yak and Yeti, Animal Kingdom
Disney say: Travelers can relax and replenish with a pan-Asian feast in this beautiful Nepalese-style restaurant.
I say: While I haven’t actually been to the sit-down version of this restaurant, they sell very similar food at the quick service section next to the entrance. If you love Asian-inspired food, then you can’t miss this restaurant. The theming and decor looks incredibly well-themed and completely ties in with the idea that you’re in the foothills of the Himalayas near Expedition Everest. I really hope I can go inside soon, but if not then the quick service option is a fantastic alternative.
2. 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Hollywood Studios
Disney say: Classic American comfort food,’50s kitsch and a good old-fashioned family gathering take you back to a bygone era.
I say: This restaurant has made it onto my top five list because of the unmissable experience it gives all the guests. Unlike anywhere else on Disney property, servers here are allowed to tell-off the diners. Put your elbows on the table? Expect to be given a stern talking to. Won’t eat your vegetables? You might have to stand up and make a declaration to the room. The only concern here is that some servers get really into the act, while others are a little more reserved. The food here is like traditional home-cooked American fare. It’s good, but probably not my favourite in Disney.
1. Boma, Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort
Disney say: Resembling a lively African marketplace, this restaurant features all-you-care-to-enjoy buffets at breakfast and dinner.
I say: You’ve probably already realise that I love a good buffet, and Boma is on a whole other level. Everything in this African-themed restaurant has a distinct taste of the continent. They have extensive seafood, chicken and red meats, as well as kids and vegetarian options. The desserts are a big highlight. Fill up your plate with bitesize sweet treats and then see how many you can eat. Don’t forget to include a few of the uniquely coloured Zebra Domes. It’s a lot of fun to explore the stunning Animal Kingdom Lodge before and after your reservation, too. They have a full savannah with a host of animals to discover, too.
In my October 2016 trip, I’d love to try some of these places: Cinderella’s Royal Table, Tusker House, Mama Melrose’s, San Angel Inn, and Beaches and Cream.
This list only involves the restaurants I know a lot about or have been to, so please share your favourite places to eat as well.
Restaurant image credit: Walt Disney World