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Grown Up's Guide to Walt Disney World - Eating in the Parks

Updated on March 24, 2015

Theme park food isn't anything to get excited for. I often worry before entering a theme park in regards to the food us grown ups like to eat. Bland hamburgers and chicken nuggets may cut it for the kids, but a normal adult's palette craves a little more excitement. Walt Disney World's theme parks luckily have some great options!

Lingo

  • Disney Dining Plan credit- Disney offers dining plans for purchase with vacation packages. Read here for a more in depth look at how Disney Dining Plans work.
  • Quick Service- typically called "counter service" outside of Disney World. This is a place where you order at the counter, pay at the time of order, and find a seat.
  • Table Service- A restaurant that you sit down and order from a full menu with a waiter.
  • Snack- Referencing a snack credit through the Disney Dining Plans.

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Magic Kingdom

Columbia Harbour House

This quick service location is located in Liberty Square near The Haunted Mansion. It is mostly seafood, but has non-seafood options as well, including vegetarian. It is open for Lunch and Dinner, but typically is not open during special events such as Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party or Mickey's Not-so-scary Halloween Party. It accepts Disney Dining Plan credits for Quick Service or Snack, based on your order. My favorite is the fried shrimp basket, but there are high reviews for the clam chowder as well.

Sleepy Hollow

Technically, most consider this a "snack" spot, but the waffle sandwiches at Sleepy Hollow are delicious and much different than the burger/chicken nuggets mundane madness. It is located in Liberty Square, near Cinderella's Castle. It does not accept Disney Dining Plan credits. There are both savory and sweet waffle sandwiches available, and the menu also consists of soup, funnel cakes, sweet treats, and beverages, including various coffees. This can be a breakfast or lunch/dinner spot!

Gaston's Tavern

This is another technical "snack" spot but the pork shank here is definitely a meal in my book. You can eat your pork shank with hummus and chips, or mixed veggies. You can also grab a warm cinnamon roll and LeFou's Brew for an extra course! This is located in the New Fantasyland and does not accept Disney Dining Plan credits. It's open all day.

Be Our Guest

The Be Our Guest restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, lunch being Quick Service, dinner being Table Service. Disney Dining Plan credits are accepted. You're able to use a Fastpass+ here for lunch, which is highly recommended, and you will absolutely need a reservation for dinner, if you're lucky enough to snag one. This restaurant is inside Beast's Castle and is very new, so it is currently all the craze. It is very grand and loud, but there are interesting food options that you won't see anywhere else in MK, like braised pork and lamb. Also, you should try the grey stuff. I hear it's delicious.

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EPCOT

EPCOT is a treasure trove of restaurants in the World Showcase and some great options with freshly grown food in the Land pavilion. It is also a short walk to the Boardwalk and Beach Club resort for even more nearby goodies. Here are some amazing options.

Sunshine Seasons

Without a doubt, the best Quick Service in EPCOT is Sunshine Seasons. Sunshine Seasons is located in the Land pavilion near Soarin' and Living with the Land. It and the nearby Garden Grill use the fruits and vegetables you see growing in Living with the Land, so the food here is wonderfully fresh. Another selling point is that there is amazing variety. There are salads and pastas and roasted chicken and mongolian beef, to name a few. It gets a bit hectic because it's pretty popular and it's also located right next to the park's most popular ride, but there is an enormous amount of seating so that shouldn't be an issue. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and accepts Disney Dining Plan credits.

Le Cellier Steakhouse

Le Cellier is a very popular fine dining restaurant located in EPCOT World Showcase. It is open for lunch or dinner and accepts TWO Disney Dining Plan table service credits. Le Cellier is quite expensive and reservations are highly recommended. It's one of the most popular table services in the entire resort. It's a typical steakhouse offering typical steakhouse options for a fairly high price, but is rated quite highly on all review sites. A nice steakhouse dinner is a nice change of pace, right? P.S. There's wine.

Via Napoli

Via Napoli is an Italian restaurant and pizzeria located in EPCOT's World Showcase. It is open for lunch and dinner and accepts Disney Dining Plan table service credit. Via Napoli is fairly new compared to others on this list but has fantastic authentic pizza and Italian fare, including plenty of beer and cocktails.

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Quick vs. Table

Do you prefer quick service dining or table service dining inside the parks?

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Disney's Hollywood Studios

Disney's Hollywood Studios is notorious for food options. There just aren't that many great ones, particularly quick service. There are a few table service stops that have great atmosphere and pretty good food, even if it isn't as good as other park options.

Sci Fi Dine in Theater

Sci Fi Dine in Theater is a table service restaurant open for lunch and dinner that accepts Disney Dining Plan credits. You're seated in a "car" under the star filled "sky" watching old movies at the drive in. It's a pretty great time. The food is fairly good, even if it's not top notch. The shakes are fantastic and you can't go wrong with a burger. Don't worry, it isn't the same mundane burger of the counter services throughout the parks. The atmosphere here outweighs any other downfalls. Reservations are recommended. Alcohol is also served here if you need some bite to your meal.

50's Prime Time Cafe

50's Prime Time Cafe is another uniquely atmosphered table service restaurant located in DHS. It is open for lunch and dinner and accepts Disney Dining Plan table service credits. Reservations are recommended because people love the vintage feel of the restaurant and the very meat and potatoes menu options, and also some adult milkshakes. Yum.


Note; All you Disney veterans will probably scold me for not including The Hollywood Brown Derby. I intentionally left it off because I feel the food isn't amazing, and the atmosphere is just so-so. The other two options above are much more fun!

Animal Kingdom

Tusker House Restaurant

The only character dining experience on this list, Tusker House Restaurant is my favorite breakfast in the parks. It is a buffet that is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and accepts Disney Dining Plan table service credit. This is more of a slow paced buffet and not crazy like other character dining. The African inspired buffet fare is a little different than typical eggs and bacon, but is supremely tasty! Don't worry, they still have Mickey Waffles. Go ahead and get your picture with Donald and Mickey, adult. You're at Walt Disney World after all.

Flame Tree Barbecue

This is officially my favorite quick service meal in all of Walt Disney World. It is open for lunch and dinner, accepts Disney Dining Plan credits and has outdoor seating with a view of the afternoon parade if you catch a good seat! The ribs are what you should order.


Have I missed anything? What are your favorites inside the parks? Leave in the comments!



Magen co-writes the travel blog Lost Girls Travel and frequently posts about Disney. You can see more Disney Dining Reviews here.

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