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Had To Be There Blog

Vacations By Kelly

8 Must-Eat Restaurants at Walt Disney World

My favorite part of planning Walt Disney World vacations is helping families make their DINING choices! I love making suggestions and living vicariously through the decisions they make. This was a painful process, but I have managed to narrow my list of favorites to my EIGHT favorite table-service restaurants at WDW. These are the spots that I try to hit on my personal trips (give or take a couple). Feel free to share your favorites in the comments! *Please note, some dining selections may be closed or restricted due to Covid-19 regulations. Your travel professional (coughcough:me:coughcough) will have the latest updates for you!*

8) 50's Prime Time Café, Hollywood Studios

This is probably my favorite restaurant, anywhere. The theming and ambiance make it absolutely worth the visit. Step back in time to the 1950s, where the waitstaff are your cousins and each party is seated at their own "kitchen table." No burgers and fries on the menu here - entree options are things like Grandpa's Crab Cake and Mom's Old-fashioned Pot Roast. Don't forget to order a cocktail from Dad's Liquor Cabinet! Back in the day, you'd be scolded if you didn't eat all your veggies and while they've dialed back a lot of this type of interaction, the right waitstaff will still remind you to keep your elbows off the table.

7) Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom

A stroll down Main Street USA will lead you to my favorite spot to fuel up for a day at Magic Kingdom: Crystal Palace. I'm a big fan of breakfast buffets at Disney, much more so than dinner buffets (my father still tells the story of the $20 dinner roll from Garden Grill at Epcot in the early 90s) - and Crystal Palace has a wonderful breakfast spread to kick-start your day! PLUS, this is a great spot to visit with your friends from the Hundred Acre Wood: Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and my pal Tigger, too!

6) Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, Hollywood Studios

You'll notice this retro-style ambience is a recurring motif throughout this list. I'm a complete sucker for time travel and nobody does immersive theming like Disney! At Sci-Fi, you're lead to a car table where you'll watch clips from old B-movies. Stars twinkle down from you above and if you listen closely, you can hear crickets chirping in the distance. Your car hop will bring your food to you and while I typically it simple with a burger and shake - the menu is worth perusing!

5) Ohana, Polynesian Village Resort

I strongly encourage my clients to venture to the resort hotels for some of their meals. Restaurants in the parks are great and convenient but guess what - a resort hotel might just be a quick monorail ride or walk away and Ohana is one of them! You'll love the Polynesian-style cuisine and if you go for breakfast, you can even hang out with Lilo, Stitch, and some classic favorite characters in their Hawaiian attire. (We especially like to introduce my husband Willo - rhymes with "Lilo" - to Stitch!) Food is all-you-care-to-enjoy and is served "family" style, which is a nice alternative to buffet service. Don't be deterred by the lack of characters at dinner, there is still plenty of fun to be had - including coconut races for the kids and hula dancing for all!

4) Cape May Café, Beach Club Resort

As a Connecticut native, I've always been at my most comfortable at Disney's Beach Club which is completely New England-themed. If you're lucky enough to be staying at this resort, it's a no-brainer to add Cape May Café to your itinerary. Join Minnie and friends for breakfast before they head to the beach or enjoy a seafood buffet for dinner. Even if you're NOT a guest at the hotel, this is still a great option! Just a short walk from Epcot, it's the perfect addition. Beaches & Cream Soda Shop and Hurricane Hanna's Waterside Bar and Grill are just a couple other fabulous options at Disney's Beach Club Resort!

3) 1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian Resort

A quick monorail ride from Magic Kingdom, 1900 Park Fare is the perfect addition to any park day. The breakfast buffet is an absolute smorgasbord of characters, including favorites from Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and Alice in Wonderland. I always recommend the dinner alternative to Cinderella's Royal Table, which books quickly and is sometimes cost-prohibitive for clients. At 1900 Park Fare, they offer a "Happily Ever After Dinner" where you are the honored guest of Cinderella and Prince Charming themselves!

2) Hollywood & Vine, Hollywood Studios

Yet another step back in time (hey, I warned you!) will have you surrounded by Hollywood's golden age - the décor (the chrome!) is out of this world. Minnie Mouse hosts seasonally-themed dinners throughout the year that bring all the glitz and glamour of old Hollywood to life. You may even catch the characters cutting a rug during your visit! Hollywood & Vine also has a delicious breakfast buffet with characters from Disney Junior, which is a delight for younger guests.

1) Whispering Canyon Café, Wilderness Lodge

Whispering Canyon is perhaps known more for its shenanigans than its food, but the atmosphere is worth the trip. Like Prime Time, some of the shenanigans have been dialed back a bit in recent years, but the right server can have your party in stitches before you know what hit ya! Just to give you a taste, last time we visited Whipering Canyon (2015), my uncle ordered a large sprite and was delivered his drink in an enourmous mason jar and longest straw I'd ever seen! Whispering Canyon has added some enticing skillet options to their menu since my last visit and I can't wait to get back to check them out. Oh and while you're there, don't forget to ask for extra ketchup, wink wink!

I always try to sample one new restaurant every time I visit WDW so I'd love to hear your table-service suggestions below! What are your "must-eat" stops? What makes them so special? As a reminder, some dining options are currently limited so be sure to check with your travel professional when making these plans. To ensure the best experience, advanced reservations are highly recommended.

Kelly is an independent travel consultant and proud affiliate of Academy Travel and, an award-winning agency with over 25 years of booking magical vacations! Academy Travel is a Diamond level EarMarked Agency, the highest travel industry designation bestowed by Disney Destinations. They are also a Travel Leaders Network-designated President's Circle agency, which the highest possible recognition from the largest association of Travel Suppliers and Travel Agencies in the world.