Looking for tips for your first Disney vacation? Look no further. This month’s Blogorail Blue Loop is sharing tips for your first Disney vacation.
A few weeks ago, I covered when and how to make dining reservations at Walt Disney World Resort, but in reality, that’s kind of the easy part. With so many choices, how does one decide where to make dining reservations? It really comes down to personal preference, the food is great at all of the table service restaurants, but there are a few tips that everyone should know.
First, there are a few restaurants where very early reservations are an absolute must. It is even possible that these restaurants won’t have any availability as soon as the reservations open up. This is because many visitors make sure to be on the Walt Disney World website or on the phone with dining reservations as soon as the 180 day mark hits. In addition, those staying in a Walt Disney World Resort hotel can book dining reservations once it is 180 days from their check in date, even for days later in their stay (up to 10 days), so reservations 181 days or even 190 days out could be taken by those guests. Even though reservations officially open at 7am Eastern each day, many advise getting on the computer earlier and trying prior to that if you’re looking for one of these extremely popular dining locations that include:
Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom – Dine inside Beast’s Castle as a guest of the Beast himself. Your table could be in the ballroom or even the west wing where you can dine while watching the rose drop its petals. While breakfast and lunch are quick service, not table service, they still require reservations. An important item to note is that if you are able to snag reservations for breakfast or lunch, you can save yourself some time by preordering your meal on My Disney Experience (a link will show up 30 days prior to your reservation). Dinner is table service.
Cinderella’s Royal Table in Magic Kingdom – There’s a restaurant inside Cinderella’s Castle! Be a guest of Cinderella and meet with her for photos prior to dining. Then, while you dine, her princess friends will visit your table.
Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – If you’re looking for the ultimate date night restaurant, look no further. This is the finest restaurant on Walt Disney World property having earned the AAA Five-Diamond Award since 2000. While it is difficult to get reservations for the dining room, getting into Queen Victoria’s Room or the coveted chef’s table are even more difficult. Please note there are a number of requirements at this restaurant such as a dress code and children under 10 are not allowed.
California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – This restaurant is located at the top of the Contemporary Resort and has floor-to-ceiling windows as well as outdoor catwalks that offer the perfect view of the fireworks at Magic Kingdom. Because of this, reservations around fireworks time can be very difficult to obtain.
‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort – Food is served family style and is all you can eat. Breakfast features Disney characters including Lilo and Stitch, of course. Dinner does not include visits to your table from characters, but there can be a great view of Magic Kingdom and the fireworks at night.
Le Cellier Steakhouse at Epcot – Located inside the Canada Pavilion of Epcot, this steak place is very popular. The interior is designed to look like the cellar of a beautiful chateau complete with flickering candles in sconces. Personally, I prefer the food at the nearby Yachtsman Steakhouse (at the Yacht Club Resort, which is within walking distance of Epcot) or eating in one of the other pavilions to get food I can’t get at home, but many love this place so if you want to try it, be sure to get reservations early.
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria at Epcot – The food here is great, but I think much of its popularity is due to the familiarity of Italian food as compared to the food offerings in the other pavilions. Like Le Cellier, I prefer to eat at places that I cannot at home and I find that the Italian food at Trattoria al Forno located at Disney’s Boardwalk (within walking distance of Epcot) is just as good so keep that in mind if you really want Italian and can’t get a reservation at Via Napoli.
Rose & Crown Dining Room at Epcot – This location is especially popular later in the evening because of the great view of Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, Epcot’s nighttime spectacular laser and fireworks show. Think typical British fare like shepherd’s pie, bangers & mash, and fish & chips.
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Beach Club Resort – This truly is a soda shop. It’s very cute. For a meal, the food is good, but typical. I think the popularity is due to the wonderful ice cream creations including the kitchen sink sundae, scoops of vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, cookies and cream, and mint chocolate chip ice cream covered in every topping they have.
In addition, any restaurant with character dining is likely to book early. For my family, I love this option to see the characters. There’s no line and the characters come to you while you’re dining, something you would have done anyway. What a time saver! Here is a list of the restaurants that have character dining options.
Cinderella’s Royal Table at Magic Kingdom – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Cinderella and other princesses (see above)
The Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, and Piglet
Akershus at Epcot – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Belle, Jasmine, Snow White, and Aurora
Garden Grill at Epcot – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale
Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Handy Manny, and Jake at breakfast and lunch, Minnie and friends at dinner
Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with Mickey, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy
1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Breakfast/brunch and dinner with various characters; breakfast and lunch often includes Mary Poppins and Alice while dinner is Cinderella and friends
Cape May Café at the Beach Club Resort – Breakfast with Minnie, Donald, and Goofy
Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort – Breakfast/Brunch and Dinner with Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto
Garden Grove at the Swan – Breakfast (weekends) and Dinner (daily) with Goofy, Pluto, and sometimes Chip and Dale
Wonderland Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – Lunch (tea party) with Alice and the Mad Hatter
Mickey’s Backyard Barbecue – Dinner with Mickey and friends
‘Ohana – Breakfast with Lilo and Stitch and friends
Where does my family eat? Like all frequent visitors, we have a few favorite places to dine. While you will likely find your own favorites, here are a few of ours if you’d like to try them.
Liberty Tree Tavern at Magic Kingdom – We enjoy the historical theming of the restaurant as well as the classic American food including roasted turkey breast and pot roast. If you dine here, try the Oooey Gooey Toffee Cake.
Restaurant Marrakesh at Epcot – I love the atmosphere of this restaurant that looks like it was transplanted from the city it was named after in Morocco. While dining, enjoy the belly dancer and the live music. For those less adventurous diners, I recommend any of the shish kabobs or the couscous. My favorite, though, is either the beef brewat rolls or chicken bastilla.
Biergarten at Epcot – This restaurant appeals to many because it is a buffet with lots of familiar food options like roasted chicken, pot roast, oven-roasted potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. It also has specialties one may not have tried before (unless you had a German grandmother like I did) like pork schnitzel, wurst salad, cucumber salad, German meat loaf, and spätzle. Personally, I like the entertainment complete with men in lederhosen playing German polkas, cowbells, and even alpenhorns. They really get the audience going and the atmosphere is quite fun.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – This has nothing to do with the food and everything to do with the atmosphere. The tables are designed to look like cars from the 1950s and all face the drive-in movie screen that shows clips and trailers from old sci-fi movies, Walt Disney interviews, Marvin the Martian cartoons, and drive in snack bar ads.
Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Villas – Kidani Village – This restaurant is worth a visit if for no other reason than to explore Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Dine while watching the zebras and giraffes or other animals just outside. Of course, the food is good, too. I highly recommend the Indian-style bread service.
Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs – This is actually my husband’s favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World. Fans of the Food Network’s Iron Chef will recognize the name. The specialty is Peking Duck and I recommend trying it. My husband’s favorite is the spare ribs.
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ at Disney Springs – If you’re into down home cooking like I am, then this is the place for you. How can you go wrong with fried chicken and donuts? While my waistline doesn’t like my favorites here, my tastebuds sure do.
Of course, there are many more restaurants to choose from and it’s rare to have a meal that isn’t prepared well on Walt Disney World property so don’t be afraid to try whatever interests you most. I’m sure you’ll find your own favorites that may or may not match mine!
For more tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!
Here is the map of our Blogorail Blue | Tips for Your First Disney Vacation
- 1st Stop – Adventures in Familyhood | How to Make FastPass+ Reservations
- 2nd Stop – My Favorite Finds | Five First Timer Tips for Character Meet and Greets at Walt Disney World
- 3rd Stop – My Dreams of Disney | Avoiding the “I’ve got to do everything” trap!
- 4th Stop – Magical Memories of the Mouse | Where to Book Early When Making Dining Reservations at Walt Disney World Resort – YOU ARE HERE