Dining at Walt Disney World can definitely be an experience. There are plenty of different options – with choices available regardless of your budget. From Disney Character meals to quick-service restaurants, you definitely won’t go hungry on your family vacation. Here’s our guide to the best Disney World restaurants. If we left your favorite off the list, leave us a comment!
I am a former member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel and have been on some complimentary press trips at Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. A purchase through one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you.
In addition, due to the current environment, there have been changes and closures, including the suspension of the Disney Dining Plan. Please review the Disney website for the latest information.
The Best Restaurants in Walt Disney World
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Before you visit these Disney World restaurants, it’s important to understand the various restaurant options and dining experiences available to guests. Disney offers three levels of restaurants, and all of them offer good food. These include the following:
Signature Experiences: These are higher-end restaurants with a dress code. If you are on the Disney Dining plan, these signature restaurants will require two of your table service credits.
Table Service Restaurants: These are sit-down restaurants with waiter service. These restaurants can be a great break from the sun and from walking, but many of them do require reservations (or reservations are strongly recommended).
Quick Service Restaurants: These are counter service restaurants without wait service. There are no reservations required or accepted, and so they are great for a quick meal or snack. Because they can get crowded throughout the day, I’d generally recommend going early or later for shorter lines and more seating.
Character meals are extremely popular and are a great way to be able to see your favorite Disney characters. When my kids were younger, we always tried to do at least one or two-character meals on each trip.
Keep in mind that if you are planning to dine at a theme park, you’ll need valid park tickets. If you aren’t going to the theme parks on a particular day, you may consider eating at one of the resort restaurants, or a restaurant at Disney Springs.
Our Favorite Disney World Restaurants
We always enjoy eating at Epcot. Because we enjoy having dinner at Epcot’s World Showcase, we typically like to stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. It’s right near the International Gateway and is just a few minutes to these Epcot restaurants. It’s a great place to walk around in the evening as well.
We love Italian food, so we definitely enjoy eating at the two table service Italian restaurants within the Italy pavilion in Epcot. Via Napoli is the more casual of the two, and offers delicious pizzas.
If you’d prefer to have pizza rather than a larger Italian entree, I’d definitely recommend going to Via Napoli. It’s a fun restaurant, and the food is delicious. It’s definitely one of our favorites.
The other Italian restaurant in the World Showcase, Tutto Italia, is located adjacent to Via Napoli. It offers delicious Italian specialties, including pasta and meat dishes.
My favorites at Tutto Italia are the Antipasto Misto (which you’ll definitely want to share), the Osso Bucco entree, and the Lobster Ravioli. It’s a slightly more formal restaurant than Via Napoli, although it’s not a signature restaurant.
The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating, although we typically prefer the inside area. It’s a good way to get out of the Florida weather for a little while.
San Angel Inn
There’s something really magical about the ambiance at the San Angel Inn. Located inside the Mexican pavilion at Epcot, it’s also adjacent to the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros.
While you are in this restaurant, you’ll really feel like you are dining in the evening in Mexico, beside the river. It’s dark, but also very immersive.
The San Angel Inn offers lunch and dinner. My favorite items on the menu include the Tostadas de Carmarón and the Tacos al Pastor. While there are several other restaurants in the Mexican pavilion offering great food, I really prefer the ambiance at the San Angel Inn, because it’s so unique.
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
This princess character meal is our favorite on property. Located in the Norway pavilion in Epcot, it has a great selection of food, and the size of the restaurant makes it easier to get reservations than at Cinderella’s Royal Table (which is also lots of fun).
Akershus offers Princess Storybook Dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I prefer breakfast because you’ll have some all-you-care-to-eat items as well as a smorgasbord of Norwegian favorites to try. While the World Showcase generally opens later than the rest of Epcot, you’ll be able to enter the restaurant in time for your reservation.
There are many delicious restaurants and dining experiences in Disney Springs, and I haven’t yet had the opportunity to try all of them. My favorite, however, is the Boathouse.
I love seafood, and so I always seek out seafood restaurants when I’m on vacation. When the Boathouse opened, I was so excited to try it out. It’s located right on the water, and if the weather cooperates, I’d definitely recommend requesting an outdoor seat.
Menu favorites include the Yellowfin Tuna Poke and the fish tacos. There are also such meat and chicken dishes on the menu if one of your family members doesn’t enjoy seafood. For picky kids, the kids’ menu includes mac and cheese along with a few other slightly more adventurous dishes.
Paddlefish is another seafood restaurant located in Disney Springs. Located in the riverboat that previously housed Fulton’s Crab House, it offers gorgeous views of the water.
During the Pandora media trip a few years ago, I had the opportunity to sample a bunch of different menu items from the Paddlefish menu. My favorites included the lobster guacamole, the ahi poke, and the seafood boil, but everything I tried was delicious.
When I wrote this article, I asked my teens about their favorite places to eat at Disney World. My daughter, surprisingly mentioned the Crystal Palace, a buffet character restaurant located in the Magic Kingdom.
The Crystal Palace is absolutely beautiful and is right at the end of Main Street. It’s one of the more popular restaurants, so I definitely recommend making reservations. You’ll find families waiting outside for a potential opening, and it’s always good to avoid that.
The Crystal Palace features characters from Winnie the Pooh and friends. They will go from table to table, and they have a fun little parade around the restaurant that little ones love to participate in.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner is served at the Crystal Palace. They are all great, but I definitely prefer lunch. It’s a good break from the heat and walking around the Magic Kingdom.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
If you have princess-loving kids, you’ll want to check out Cinderella’s Royal Table. It’s located right in Cinderella Castle, so it’s probably the most popular princess character meal.
This particular restaurant fills up quickly due to its popularity and small size. You’ll get to see Cinderella first, and then you’ll be led up the stairs to your table. Other princesses will visit your table as you dine.
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
This newish restaurant at the Magic Kingdom is one of my favorites. It’s located in Adventureland, and it’s themed after the classic Jungle Cruise ride.
The cuisine is a sort of African/Asian fusion. While the food is a bit more adventurous than other Disney World restaurants, it’s still pretty mild. My favorite entrees are the S.E.A. Shu Mai appetizer and the “Tastes like Chicken” Because it is! entree.
With the lack of table service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom, this was a definite welcome addition to the dining scene. It does get full though, so definitely make a reservation.
The Wave… of American Flavors
The Wave is one of my favorite restaurants to eat at when I’m at the Magic Kingdom for the day. Even though it’s technically outside the Magic Kingdom, in the Contemporary Resort, it’s an easy walk from the park.
I like to make reservations at the Wave for an early dinner – around 5 pm. Then, we leave the park and take a nice evening break before heading back for fireworks and the parade.
The meals at Satu’li Canteen are absolutely delicious, and there are several things there that I love. Favorites include the Chopped Wood-Grilled Chicken Bowl and the Cheeseburger Pods. There’s also the popular Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse.
While there is lots of both indoor and outdoor seating, the secret is out about this spot. So, I’d definitely recommend going either earlier or later than the standard meal time if you’d like to avoid lines and find seating. t’s a quick service restaurant, so you’ll order at the counter and then find seating.
Flame Tree BBQ
Before Satu’li Canteen opened at Animal Kingdom, the Flame Tree BBQ was my favorite quick-service restaurant. It’s located in the center of Animal Kingdom. As the name indicates, it offers BBQ specialties.
I love Flame Tree for a few reasons. It has lots of outdoor, shaded seating, so it can be easier to find a place for your family to sit. Flame Tree BBQ also offers huge plates of food, so it’s a good value. You may even consider sharing a plate if you aren’t that hungry.
Jiko – The Cooking Place
Animal Kingdom Lodge is one of my favorite hotels on property because of the unique atmosphere. If you are looking for a delicious, special restaurant, then definitely consider Jiko – The Cooking Place.
Jiko is definitely a fine dining location and is listed as a signature restaurant. The food is delicious, and it’s an elegant atmosphere. My favorite menu items include the Oak-grilled Filet Mignon, the Bobotie Macaroni & Cheese, and the Peri Peri Chicken. It’s one of the more expensive restaurants with a higher price point, so I’d recommend it for a special dinner.
Hollywood Brown Derby
While I don’t necessarily love the restaurant options at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Hollywood Brown Derby is consistently one of my favorite dining experiences.. We try to eat lunch there at least once per trip. In my opinion, it’s one of the top Disney World restaurants.
My favorites from the menu are the iconic Cobb Salad and the Grapefruit Cake. I dream about them year-round, and can’t wait to eat at the Brown Derby to try them again. While the restaurant is a signature dining establishment, it can be pretty affordable if you get the salad as your entree.
The California Grill, located at the top of the Contemporary Resort, is definitely one of the best restaurants at Disney World. The location itself is worth the trip because you’ll have an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon. It’s also the best place for special occasions due to the menu and location. Don’t miss the observation deck where you may even be able to spot the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
The food at the California Grill is absolutely delicious. They offer brunch and dinner, and I definitely recommend dinner. If you love sushi, the selections at the California Grill are great.
Another favorite Disney World restaurant is the Kona Cafe, located in the Polynesian resort. This hidden gem has one of the best breakfasts at the Walt Disney World resort, along with delicious press coffee.
There used to be a sushi counter near Kona. Recently, that’s been combined with the restaurant, and you can order sushi from the Kona menu.
Other Delicious Restaurants at Disney World
While these are my personal favorites, there are other restaurants that are highly recommended from guests. These include the Victoria and Albert (located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, ‘Ohana, Be Our Guest (in the Beast’s castle in the new Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom), Le Cellier, the Flying Fish, and Morimoto Asia among others.
Mobile Ordering and Disney Dining Reservations
To make things easier for guests, mobile ordering and advance dining reservations are offered to guests.
Mobile ordered is done via the My Disney Experience app. It’s available for some quick-service restaurants, so you’ll have to look on the app to see if your choice offers it. With mobile ordering, you can place your order from your phone and then just go to the pickup area to retrieve your order.
Advance dining reservations are offered to guests 180 days prior to your hotel arrival (for onsite guests) or your dining date (for offsite guests). The window for booking opens at 6:00 am for online reservations. If you are calling, the reservation department operates from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm (Monday-Friday) and 8:00 am – 9:00 pm (on the weekends). All times are Eastern Time.