Hey y’all! Today I’m back with another Disney World post, and this time I’m talking about food. Yum! Rides, shows, and character greetings may come to mind first when thinking about a Walt Disney World vacation. However, food at Disney World is also an integral part of the experience. There is such a wide range of dining opportunities at Disney World. Honestly, there’s no right or wrong way to do food at Disney World. It all depends on your preferences and priorities. In this post I am going to share some general info about Disney dining and different approaches to doing food at Disney World. I’m also going to share some of my favorite foods from my most recent trip to Disney World.
Food at Disney World: The Basics
So two main types of food places exist at Walt Disney World: table-service and quick-service. Table service restaurants include places where you sit down and either order off a menu or go to a buffet. Even if it’s a buffet, a waiter or waitress will still check in on you and serve/refill drinks. At a quick-service place, you walk up to a counter and order. Your food is ready shortly after ordering, and you can then take it to a table. Reservations are required for table-service restaurants at Disney World. You can always walk up to a table-service restaurant and see if they have anything available, but be prepared to wait awhile. And if it’s during a busy season at Disney World, there will likely be no walk-up seating.
Quick-Service vs. Table-Service
The primary question to consider when planning a vacation to Disney World is: do I want my meals to be table-service, quick-service, or a combination? Time and budget are the two main priorities to weigh when deciding if you want your food at Disney World to be table-service or quick-service. If you’re on a tight budget, quick-service is definitely the way to go. The meals are less expensive to begin with, and you won’t have to pay tip either. If money isn’t an issue, you still need to take time into account. Enjoying a table-service meal takes longer than a quick-service meal. If you only have a few days (or even less time) in the parks, then you might decide having more time to enjoy the rides and shows you want is a greater priority than having a table-service dining experience. Also, having reservations for table-service restaurants limits the flexibility of your schedule. You will have to take into account whether you want to have to stop and estimate whether you have enough time to wait and ride a certain ride and still make it on time to your reservation.
Even though table-service dining at Disney World requires more time and money, and limits flexibility, many of the table service restaurants provide a unique experience that is an attraction in itself. However, if table-service meals don’t fit into your budget and/or schedule, definitely don’t feel like you’re missing out. There is some DELICIOUS quick-service food at Disney World!
Dining Approach on My Most Recent Disney World Trip
On my most recent trip to Disney World (September 2015), my bestie and I decided to eat mostly quick-service meals, with a couple table-service meals mixed in. We wanted to save money, and we also only had three full days in the parks, so wanted to maximize time for going on rides. In addition, we didn’t want to be tied down to a restaurant reservation while trying to check as many rides off our list. So the three full days in the parks we did all quick-service restaurants. We did one table-service meal at Planet Hollywood the evening of our arrival day (click here for more tips on the perfect arrival day at Disney World). Then our last morning we enjoyed a character breakfast buffet at Cape May Cafe. This was honestly the perfect dining plan for us. It worked with our budget and enabled us to go all-out conquering rides in the parks without worrying about making it to a dining reservation on time. In fact, one night at Hollywood Studios we realized it was after 8:00 and we still hadn’t eaten dinner yet. Oops!
Personal Restaurant Recommendations
Now that I’ve shared our general dining approach, I’m going to share specifics places where my bestie and I ate on our girls’ trip to Disney World. I would recommend any of these!
Paddock Grill (Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort)
We enjoyed lunch by the pool at our hotel shortly after we arrived. I had a delicious grilled chicken salad, and unlimited refills of Diet Coke in my refillable souvenir mug at The Paddock Grill. If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan, you get a souvenir mug with a micro chip that entitles you to unlimited refills on fountain drinks, coffee, and tea at any Disney Resort (not just the one you’re staying at). They will NOT work in the parks, so definitely take note on that. If you aren’t on the Disney Dining Plan, you can still purchase a refillable resort mug by itself. It makes a great souvenir, and is definitely worth the cost if you plan on spending any amount of time by the pool at your resort. We did not do the Disney Dining Plan because we determined it wouldn’t be cost-effective for us. You can read more about the Disney Dining Plan here and decide if it might be right for you.
Planet Hollywood (Disney Springs)
As I mentioned earlier, we ate dinner at Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs our first night. They have movie memorabilia all over the restaurant, and we had fun looking around after we finished eating. Planet Hollywood underwent renovations after our visit, but I’m sure it’s just as good! PS. I know I ate two salads in one day, but I definitely had a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar for a snack to even things out! It’s all about balance and moderation.
Sunshine Seasons (Epcot)
The food court in The Land Pavilion at Epcot, Sunshine Seasons, has always been one of my favorite places to eat at Disney World. The atmosphere is aesthetically pleasing, and the food is delicious. In fact, a lot of it grows in the greenhouse right there in the same building! Sunshine Seasons has different stations with a variety of sandwiches, salads, flatbreads, and more.
Tangierine Cafe (Epcot)
Epcot definitely has the best food of all the theme parks at Disney World. We had a park hopper pass and visited more than one park each day. But we timed a lot of our meals so they would be at Epcot since so many tasty options exist there. Tangierine Cafe is the quick-service restaurant in the Morocco Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase. The food here is very similar to what you would find at a typical Mediterranean restaurant. My friend and I both got a plate that had hummus, pita, a couscous salad, green salad, olives, and falafel.
Catalina Eddie’s (Hollywood Studios)
We grabbed personal pan pizzas with Caesar salad from Catalina Eddie’s quick-service restaurant at Hollywood Studios. This was the night we realized it was after 8:00 and we still hadn’t eaten dinner, so we tried to find a place as quickly as possible. I didn’t take a pic of my food here (probably because I was so hungry, haha!), but I definitely recommend for a quick-bite at Hollywood Studios park!
Cantina de San Angel (Epcot)
Cantina de San Angel is probably my favorite restaurant inside the parks that my bestie and I ate at on our Disney World trip. In fact, we ate there twice in one day. Mexico food is always a good idea, and this place has multiple great menu options I got tacos with rice and beans for lunch, and a salad for dinner that day. Also, the frozen margaritas where are amazing! All the seating is right beside the World Showcase Lagoon. We were fortunate to be able to grab a table right beside the water. I find myself constantly craving the Mexican food from here.
Cape May Cafe (Disney’s Beach Club Resort)
Our last morning at Disney World, we headed over to the Beach Club Resort to have a late breakfast with the characters at Cape May Cafe. This was definitely my favorite meal we had during our entire trip, and was perfect for something fun to do on our last day when we weren’t going into the parks. The breakfast was buffet style, and all the food was delicious, especially the Mickey waffles! Minnie, Goofy, and Donald walked around the dining area, and they were wearing beach gear. It was super cute! Also, the characters came to our table twice and Minnie even begged us for a second photo opp even though we took plenty of pics her first time around. I will do another post later on where I share character pictures from this breakfast, because the experience was just as amazing as the food. I highly recommend Cape May Cafe for a character breakfast because it is a little less expensive and easier to get reservations than some of the other character meals.
Hope y’all enjoyed reading this post. Hopefully y’all found it helpful and gave you some ideas for your meal plan the next time you go to Disney World! I also plan to do posts in the future on favorite Disney snacks, as well as my Disney Dining Bucket list, so stay tuned!
What is your favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World? Have you ever eaten at any of the places I mentioned in this post?