The best restaurants at Disney World in 2021
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Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the most recent information.
Even when surrounded by Disney magic, you’ve still got to eat. And at Walt Disney World, mealtime can actually be an entire experience. I probably spend at least as must time thinking about what I’ll eat at Disney as I do which attractions I’ll ride. But, not all food — and experiences — are created equally.
At Disney World, you’ll truly need to think of meals in two separate categories: There are regular restaurants or meals that just serve as fuel and a brief respite to sit and then there are meals that also count as entertainment (and a way to see characters or shows without crowds). Once your kids know that Mickey, Minnie or the princesses can join them for dinner, you may have to choose between an affordable meal and creating lasting memories during a pretty pricey meal.
That said, things are a little different at Disney World right now because of the pandemic — especially when it comes to certain dining experiences.
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Namely, some of our favourite sit-down restaurants have yet to reopen and the character meals that have resumed are modified. We’ll do our best to note these changes as they come up, but be sure and double-check directly with Disney, especially since the situation is constantly changing.
Here’s a quick roundup of the best restaurants at Disney World.
- Best table service: Takumi-Tei (currently closed)
- Best character meal: Normally, Cinderella’s Royal Table (dinner). Currently, Garden Grill takes our top spot.
- Best character brunch: Topolino Terrace
- Best meal for teens and tweens: Storybook Dining at Artist Point (currently closed)
- Best high-end meal: Victoria & Albert’s (currently closed) but a good substitute is California Grill.
- Best quick service: Satu’li Canteen
- Best snack: Dole Whip
- Best grab and go item: Ronto wrap
- Best outdoor meal: The Boathouse at Disney Springs
How to make Disney dining reservations
Steel yourself: In normal times, you had to book some Disney World restaurants six months ahead. Now, reservations are accepted just 60 days before your trip starts.
Typically, the hardest-to-get reservations are Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Chef Mickey’s, Victoria & Albert’s, Topolino Terrace (for brunch) and ‘Ohana (for dinner).
The My Disney Experience website and app are your best friends for dining availability, though Disney World maintains a phone line to answer your questions (407-WDW-DINE or 407-939-3463). The phone lines open each day at 7 a.m. ET, but the website starts taking reservations at 6 a.m.
Best Disney restaurants
Upscale Japanese omakase in a theme park? Yes, please.
First opened in summer 2019 (though still closed for now due to the pandemic), Takumi-Tei and its five themed rooms (water, wood, earth, stone and washi paper) immediately transport you out of theme park mode and into a calm, serene environment with extremely attentive service, solid food and great attention to detail.
Besides the $130 seven-course omakase menu option, you can choose to order a la carte as long as you didn’t select the Chef’s Table in the water room. There, you must order a nine-course $180 (about £129) meal that takes place over three hours.
Among the individual dishes, we recommend the chef’s sushi assortment, served in bite-sized pieces ($37; £27), the telen-garden salad with watermelon and tuna sashimi ($20; £14) and, of course, the wagyu beef is melt-in-your-mouth fantastic.
There’s a children’s menu, but it comprises items such as roasted duck and sea bass, so this restaurant may be one you save for date night or when the children are older — it’s that good.
When Takumi-Tei reopens, it’s a spot we can’t recommend enough.
Don’t worry, we aren’t going to only list restaurants you can’t go to right now.
Via Napoli has reopened and is located in the heart of Italy in Epcot.
This longstanding favourite may have slipped a notch since opening but still features legitimate Italian food that would pass muster in New York City’s Little Italy. The prices are reasonable by Disney standards, with most entrées at or under £25. Pizza is more expensive than you might hope (the large, shown below, was $44.50; £32), but good for sharing as it can serve a family of three or four. The Piccante Pizza with added pepperoni is a great choice.
For now, you will need to make reservations due to capped capacity, but sometimes there is a walk-up window to order a slice if you are in a pinch.
The Hollywood Brown Derby
This Hollywood Studios replica of the California icon has an air-conditioned dining room that’s an ideal lunchtime escape from the Florida heat.
It isn’t cheap, and you won’t find Mickey roaming around, but the excellent Cobb salad is worth it and you can have a mixed drink before hitting the parks again.
Quick service at its Disney-fied finest, this mess hall is next to Avatar Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom.
The beef, chicken and fish bowls make a great fast and cheap lunch or dinner, and the blueberry cream-cheese mousse is a highlight.
There’s wine and beer to help you wind down after the Avatar experience. This place is not only a yummy quick-service selection but also a good choice if you’re trying to eat healthy while at Disney World.
Victoria & Albert’s
If you simply want the best food at Disney World, head for this posh restaurant in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa.
Just don’t expect to roll in straight from the parks, as men must wear dinner jackets and women are expected to don a nice dress, fancy pantsuit or skirt with a blouse. Children under 10 are not permitted. Expect to spend a couple hundred pounds on a meal for two. Also, know that as of this update, this high-end joint has yet to reopen.
Until Victoria & Albert’s reopens, try California Grill (in the honourable mention category, below) for a relatively upscale meal.
Best street treats
Looking for the best snacks at Disney World? The list begins and ends with Dole Whip. Among a host of good and even excellent snacking options, Dole Whip reigns supreme.
What’s Dole Whip? It starts with tantalizingly cold pineapple-flavoured soft serve and then (if you’re smart) there’s added pineapple juice. On a hot day, it’s perfection.
Disneyland and Disney World were, for some time, two of the very few places you could find this treat, though nowadays it’s available elsewhere. The original is in Disneyland’s Adventureland. At Disney World, you can get your Dole Whip on at the Florida version of Adventureland, just beyond The Magic Carpets of Aladdin at Aloha Isle.
You can also find Dole Whip in Animal Kingdom at Tamu Tamu, where you can add a shot of alcohol, and at the Polynesian Village Resort just behind the main building as you head toward the pool.
Use mobile ordering on the My Disney Experience app for your Dole Whip. If you want to change things up, and they have coconut soft-serve available as shown above in the Kakamora Float, that’s a really fun way to try a twist on the old favourite.
A similar (and extra sugary) cool Disney treat is LeFou’s Brew, available at Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.
If you are a cookie person, the hottest new thing on the Disney block is half-pound cookies from Gideon’s in Disney Springs.
These are the sort of treats where if you need to see the nutrition facts before you order you shouldn’t bother, because … they are massive, decadent and there are not printed calorie facts. On the regular menu, you’ll find the iconic original chocolate chip flavour cookie, peanut butter crunch, triple chocolate and a few other more exclusive and limited-time options that can and do sell out early in the day. Rumour has it that the peanut butter iced coffee is a can’t miss if you are into that sort of iced treat.
If you want one of these cookies (max purchase of six), you’ll probably need to join the virtual queue as soon as you get to Disney Springs by going to Gideon’s and adding your number to the list. It is often an hour or two of virtual waiting, followed by 10 – 20 minutes in the physical line once you are texted that it’s your turn to join. The cut-off to get in virtual queue can be a few hours before closing at times, so plan to join the line before 7 p.m. to have a good shot at cookie bliss.
If you ask me, there’s no doubt that the best food within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is actually a grab-and-go wrap from Ronto’s Roasters.
There are two versions of a Ronto Wrap — and both are around $13 (£9) and taste great with grilled pork sausage wrapped in a warm pita at its base. The breakfast version adds eggs and cheese while the post-breakfast version has peppercorn sauce, roasted pork and slaw.
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Best Disney character dining experiences
Do you want a side of Mickey or Cinderella with your bacon and eggs? That’s usually no problem, but it’ll cost you.
Having a Disney World annual pass, DVC membership and Tables in Wonderland dining discount will lighten the bill at our favourite character meals, but there’s no two ways around it: Disney World character meals are expensive.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Any conversation about Disney character dining has to include Cinderella’s Royal Table, served in the iconic Cinderella Castle, the epicentre of the Magic Kingdom. But it has drawbacks — namely, it’s pricey. And, currently, only Cinderella makes “surprise” appearances while you dine to wave from a safe distance.
During normal times, breakfast here is almost $70 (£50) per adult. Dinner is a bit of a better overall value at roughly $90 (£65) all-in, with much better selections in the evening, including braised pork shank, pan-seared chicken, a charcuterie plate and amaretto cheesecake.
Right now, only lunch and dinner are being served with price points a bit lower than normal ($62;£45 for adults/$37;£27 for kids) due to the absence of the regular line-up of princesses.
Despite the price, you’ll quickly see the value inside the castle if this is on your bucket list.
Normally, you meet Cinderella herself for a photo opportunity as soon as you enter. Upstairs, you’ll get a seat in her castle dining room, along with a magic wand or a sword for your little ones. While you sit and eat, a host of Cinderella’s friends, including Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Rapunzel, stop by for table visits.
The actors own their roles and are warm, personable and engaging. Your little princesses (and princes) will leave with lasting memories. If you can get seats near the windows, you can use the natural light (shooting with the light behind your back) to get better photos with the princesses and enjoy a great view of Fantasyland during your meal.
Cinderella has a run for her slipper in the top spot, because Disney’s Topolino Terrace offers a very good character brunch — and it’s currently fully operational. Located at the top of the new Disney Riviera Resort, Topolino has top-notch service, delicious food and some pretty famous characters in unforgettable costumes.
The breakfast at Topolino Terrace features a pastry basket, juice, coffee and an entrée from a selection including smoked salmon, quiche gruyère, sour cream waffles or a wild mushroom scramble for $42 (£30).
Meals for kids up to 9 years old will cost $27 (£19) and come with options such as Mickey waffle dippers, eggs or fruit and yoghurt.
But while the food is very good, the characters are downright adorable. Minnie, Mickey, Daisy and Donald are in their finest Mediterranean outfits and are introduced to music. These days, the characters have to keep their distance from people but do a great job stopping at multiple points around the room.
Located in Epcot’s Land Pavillion, Garden Grill doesn’t look all that interesting or impressive at first glance. In fact, for years, we just walked right past it.
But if you’re after some relaxing time with classic characters, I’d actually call Garden Grill a sleeper hit.
Priced at $55 (£40) for adults and $36 (£26) for kids, the all-you-care-to-enjoy “Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast” has a family-style platter of sliced turkey, seasonal veg, grilled beef, salad, cheesy mac, fluffy rolls and more. The restaurant actually rotates, and at some points, you can see scenes from the Living with the Land ride … which is where some of the ingredients may have been grown!
But while the food here is solid, the characters steal the show. While you dine at your booth, Chip, Dale, Mickey and Pluto make regular socially distanced visits.
Just be sure to not over-stuff on rolls and macaroni, as dessert awaits at the end of the meal.
Located outside the parks, ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort offers family-style dining in a Hawaiian-themed restaurant. Polynesian Village is undergoing renovations and has only partially reopened, and ‘Ohana remains closed for now. But in normal times, breakfast includes visits from Lilo and Stitch as well as a certain mouse and his friends in Hawaiian shirts.
Breakfast at ‘Ohana is $40 (£29) per adult and roughly $25 (£18) for kids ages 3 to 9, and you don’t need park admission. ‘Ohana at dinner is one of the most coveted Disney reservations, so book this one as soon as the booking window allows when it reopens.
The characters are not present during dinner, but there’s still a fun parade and they dim the lights and play music with the evening fireworks!
At night, bring your appetite for the all-you-care-to-enjoy ‘Ohana pineapple-coconut bread, pork dumplings, sweet-n-sour chicken and teriyaki noodles. Save room for the grand finale — ‘Ohana Bread Pudding à la mode topped with caramel sauce, bananas and vanilla ice cream.
Trust us, it’s terrific, and you will leave (beyond) stuffed and smiling for only about $10 (£7) more than breakfast.
This meal is one of the best combinations of food and kid-oriented fun as long as you aren’t looking for a quiet meal. If you’re looking for a meal that tastes pretty good and also keeps your kids occupied, look to Chef Mickey’s inside the Contemporary Resort.
It normally offers buffet-style breakfast, brunch and dinner, but right now it’s only open for breakfast and food is served family-style at a price of $42 (£30) for adults and $27 (£19) for kids.
Breakfast includes everything from eggs, bacon and sausage to salmon, Mickey waffles and the famous loaded potato-cheese casserole.
While you’re dining, Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy dance around to music and keep your children mesmerized. We’ve once dined for an hour at Chef Mickey’s and our kids didn’t complain one bit.
Storybook Dining at Artist Point
One of the newest character meals at Disney World is also one of the best and most unique. Located inside Disney’s Wilderness Lodge (so, no park ticket required), the full three-course meal at Artist Point goes well beyond burgers and fries to unique offerings such as a shrimp cocktail starter and main dishes that include butter-poached snapper and a truly amazing vegetarian dish that features butternut squash, arugula and gnocchi. There’s also a trio of included desserts (with a poison apple theme, naturally) and, best of all, a visit with the Evil Queen herself.
This restaurant hasn’t yet made a comeback, but mark it down for when it does reopen.
Best dinner show
If you want to laugh until your belly hurts — or maybe your belly hurts because of the all-you-can-enjoy fried chicken and fixings — head to what was one of the longest-running dinner shows in the country. This dinner show at Fort Wilderness is a Disney classic and a ton of fun for kids and adults, as long as you like singing along to American classics and laughing at corny jokes. Or just come for the strawberry shortcake and bottomless sangria, wine and beer.
While it’s still on pause for now, when it’s running there are three shows each evening and prices range from $66 (£47) to $74 (£53) per adult (depending on your selected seating tier) and $39 (£28) to $44 (£32) per child, ages 3 to 9.
Best outdoor meal at Disney
If you prefer to eat outdoors, you’re still in luck at Disney as there are some great outdoor options beyond just getting your fish and chips to go and finding an open bench within the park (though that fully works, too).
The Boathouse at Disney Springs
A fantastic outdoor dining option is located on the water at Disney Springs, which means you don’t need a park ticket to enjoy it. The Boathouse has plenty of indoor seating but also has ample outdoor dining options.
Not surprisingly, the Boathouse has very good seafood, including crab cakes, fish, poke, lump crab and more. The complimentary honey butter rolls are ridiculously tasty.
But, the burgers, fries and “Yacht Club” club sandwiches are all also hits. Prices here start under $20 (£14) for some of the sandwiches and burgers and top out around $30 (£22) for most entrees, making it more affordable than several other top spots for a nicer meal at Disney.
The kid meals, $10 (£7), were kid-taste-test-approved by my little eaters and come in cute containers.
Spice Road Table
A good walk-up option in Epcot that almost always has availability is Spice Road Table in the Morrocco Pavillion. Here you’ll find Mediterranean-inspired options such as hummus, lamb, naan, shrimp and calamari by the water with an open-air, covered patio.
There are a few restaurants that might not be as popular as our absolute favourites. Still, each of these should be on your list, especially if you can’t secure one of the more coveted, hard-to-get reservations.
I’d argue that, outside of character meals, Skipper Canteen may be the best restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. This is especially true if you enjoy the Jungle Cruise ride and slightly more adventurous eating than just fries and burgers.
On the lunch or dinner menu, you will find dishes such as Falls Family Falafel ($10; £7), Tastes like Chicken (because it is!) which is crispy fried chicken served with jasmine rice, chilli glaze and seasonal vegetables ($24; £17). There’s also a sustainable fish course ($31; £22).
If you like spicy noodle dishes, the Perkins Thai Noodles served with tofu and/or chicken, vegetables, rice noodles and spicy chilli-garlic sauce is fantastic and unlike anything else you’ll find in Magic Kingdom.
Yak & Yeti Restaurant
Yak & Yeti is both a sit-down and quick-service venue in Animal Kingdom. The quick-service window is a stripped-down version of the menu offered inside. Yak & Yeti isn’t cheap, but the pan-Asian cuisine is quite good — one of our favourites at Animal Kingdom. The decor will give you a bit of the feel of eating in a Nepalese market.
One way to keep your total check affordable is to order one of the shareable plates (ahi tuna nachos are our favourite). The portion size is plenty generous for two or more. Skip the barbecue and burger in favour of the duck or one of the bowls. Make sure you finish with the dessert wontons — you’ll be glad you did.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse
Regal Eagle is the new kid on the block in Epcot.
Replacing the Liberty Inn in the American Adventure pavilion at Epcot, Regal Eagle features a variety of barbecue plates and draft beer. Purists hailing from barbecue meccas like Texas won’t necessarily fall in love with the fare. But, the barbecue is good, if not legendary for a theme park. And, it’s an exceptional value (especially by Disney standards) for families who can share.
A kid’s meal consisting of a chicken leg or barbecue rib and two sides along with a drink is around £6 and can feed a pretty hungry child. And, for less than £15, you can order a combination platter that features your choice of three different types of meat from the menu. If you’re a family looking to stretch your dollars, an air-conditioned meal at Regal Eagle may be the perfect Epcot lunch.
In the Magic Kingdom on the way to Adventureland from Main Street USA, this restaurant offers good food and normally a few characters. Some even say the food at Crystal Palace is better than Cinderella’s Royal Table. The buffet is now gone and some say that has made the food even better. Here you’ll find seasonal salads, homestyle buttermilk biscuits, blackened catfish and a dessert platter.
During normal times, Winnie the Pooh and his friends will stop by your table and, if your kids are feeling adventurous, lead them on a march around the dining room. Plan on spending about $40 (£29) per adult and $25 (£18) per kids, plus tax and tip.
Stay with us for a minute: We know that Oga’s Cantina is really light on actual food items.
That could make it tough to classify as a restaurant. But, the experience is so over-the-top we had to make an exception. You’ll find Oga’s Cantina in Batuu, the land of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Make a reservation in advance, even if just for a drink.
If you’re hungry, you might try a Mustafarian Cinnamon Roll or some Batuu Bits with your Blue Bantha or Yub Nub. But, you’re not really here for the food or the pricey drinks. You’re here because it’s a one-of-a-kind experience in Disney World. With DJ R-3X spinning tunes and your bartenders in full costume and character, the vibe will turn even the most “anti-Star Wars” person into a smiling participant.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
Cool and atmospheric, this restaurant is on a less-travelled walkway in Hollywood Studios.
You can dine in your own “car” while watching old movies. Better yet, let your kids have their own car and eat in relative peace. The menu is a la carte, ranging from hamburgers to pasta and shrimp. It’s fairly easy on the budget, at about $20 (£14) an entree. And the cast members really get into their roles. Fair warning, the old movie clips shown aren’t likely to hold your kids’ attention, but it’s still a cool experience to try once.
Rose and Crown
This Epcot take on U.K. fare serves an authentic plate of fish and chips or bangers and mash. If you can’t or don’t want to sit down in Rose and Crown, there’s often a to-go counter next to Rose and Crown where you can get your fish and chips on the run.
You can often find some adorable nooks and crannies with tables around the U.K. pavilion to eat your to-go order with a side of ambience.
If you want an upscale Disney dinner but not quite Victoria & Albert’s level of fancy (or expensive), try California Grill.
The check-in desk is on the second floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, but the actual dining room is on the 15th floor. This elevated location gives it a five-star sunset and fireworks view of the Magic Kingdom and surrounding resorts.
There is a dress code at California Grill, but it isn’t as strict as at Victoria & Albert’s — jeans in good condition are permitted, though men are asked to wear collared shirts.
Here you’ll find fresh foods inspired by the Pacific coast such as sushi and sashimi, goat cheese ravioli, yellowfin tuna, oak-fired angus filet, rack of lamb and a truly amazing chef’s garden heirloom-tomato starter.
Our least favourite Disney meals
Even with all the magical pixie dust at Disney World, there are misfires. Granted, most of these haven’t reopened or haven’t reopened in this form, but it’s still good to know what might not be a good fit for you when it does come back.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
Character dining is a big part of the Disney experience and you might think you can save a few dollars by dining with the princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot rather than Cinderella’s Royal Table, but it’s a poor substitute (unless you just need a bite near the “Frozen” ride in Norway).
Although your favourite princesses will join you for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the food just isn’t on par with the other Disney eateries. That said, it’s an easier reservation to snag than Cinderella’s Royal Table, so keep it in your back pocket if you need a “last-minute” princess meal.
This spot in the Japanese Pavilion at Epcot is another letdown, especially compared to the spectacular Takumi-Tei. The food here is decent, but there’s not a lot of performance factor at this teppanyaki place. Frankly, we’ve seen better performances at a more reasonable price point in teppanyaki restaurants in strip malls closer to home. At Disney prices, there are definitely better values for your hard-earned dollars, with themes you can’t easily recreate elsewhere.
With a few exceptions, it’s hard to find great food in Magic Kingdom, but you should avoid the worst of the worst, which has recently been Pecos Bill’s quick service. The menu looks somewhat interesting with a mix of rice bowls, nachos, fajitas and burgers, but in the end, the service can be curt, the food a bit disappointing and recently, even our mini churros were hard and almost inedible.
Be Our Guest
Surprised this perennial favourite made this list? Consider it a victim of its own success. We’re not saying it’s a bad place to eat — watching the rose petals fall when the lightning crashes is a nice effect — but the crowds at lunchtime before lunch changed to a sit-down service during the pandemic could be brutal.
Right now, Be Our Guest is a fine choice if you’re OK with the high price tag, but if it goes back to a la carte dining for lunch, think twice if you want to avoid crowds. Regardless of when you eat, ask for the Beast’s dining room, as it’s by far the coolest of the three dining areas.
To give you a better idea of what we mean by lunchtime crowds, compare the stock image for Be Our Guest with a photograph of what it actually looked like at lunch before the coronavirus pandemic:
But for now, we fully support a fancy sit-down meal at Be Our Guest while both lunch and dinner offer set menus.
Just know a lunch for two adults and two children will likely cost about $250 (£180) when you factor in tax and tip.
Our final tip
If you want to enjoy a Disney World sit-down meal (and we recommend that), be sure and make your reservation well in advance. You can cancel or modify if you change your mind, but it’s good to have the option of being waited on in the air conditioning. Services like Mouse Dining can help you keep an eye on availability if you don’t want to refresh hundreds of times per day looking for a spot at one of your favourites.
If you are ordering from a counter-service restaurant, you’ll need to have the My Disney Experience app downloaded as you can’t even enter quick-service restaurants right now until you’ve placed your food order in the app and have been notified that it is ready.
Featured photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy
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