Aaryn’s Best of the Best of WDW: Dining Edition

From the desk of Aaryn…

No matter how many times I have been to Walt Disney World, my primary focus, as a growing teenage boy, has always been on one particular part of the trip: the FOOD!   I have always found the food to be on my major list of concerns.  I make it a necessity to know where and what we are eating on vacation (to the point of driving my mother crazy during the planning period).   Our family’s tradition is to try new restaurants with every trip, but to include one eatery as a repeat visit.  Over the almost nine years I have had the opportunity visit WDW, I have developed a list of  several restaurants which have stood out to me as places where I would definitely want to go time and time again.  These places may have fantastic food and great service or they might just be a buffet that I like to enjoy for as long as they would allow me to sit there and eat.  Last post, I shared with you my best of the best with regard to attractions.  Today, I have created a list for you of my favorite two restaurants (table or quick) at each park.

PS – This is an ever evolving list as I hear there are new restaurants coming to many of the Parks over the next few months to years!   I will be sure to update you as I experience them.

The Magic Kingdom

1: The Crystal Palace

Tigger w/Aaryn at The Crystal Palace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Tigger w/Aaryn at The Crystal Palace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Walt and his birthday cupcake at The Crystal Palace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Walt and his birthday cupcake at The Crystal Palace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Allergy friendly meal at The Crystal Palace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Allergy friendly meal at The Crystal Palace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

This one is perfect for anyone who is a fan of Winnie the Pooh and his Hundred Acre Wood buddies.   This buffet-style meal features your favorite characters from the Disney classic, such as Tigger, Pooh and Piglet.    We have eaten dinner here and the selection is HUGE.  I actually think I walked away full.   What meant more to us as a family was how the chef took care of my younger brother and his food allergies.  It’s possible he ate more than we did!  During our one time eating there, we were also celebrating my father’s birthday a little early (sshh – we all do it!).    When Guests dine at The Crystal Palace, they enjoy pictures, autographs and more as the characters make their circuit from table to table.   I have not eaten here for breakfast, but it is on the bucket list for an early morning some trip.

2: Be Our Guest Restaurant

Try the Grey Stuff at Be Our Guest Restaurant ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Try the Grey Stuff at Be Our Guest Restaurant ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Be Our Guest Restaurant ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Be Our Guest Restaurant ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of the most recent additions to The Magic Kingdom’s dining opportunities.  Based off the timeless tale of Beauty and the Beast, this special dining experience will definitely satisfy your hunger needs.  The French  cuisine is delicious and the ordering style is unique in the Park.   Guests may choose to dine in one of three rooms within the castle – whether it be in the elegance of the Beast’s Grand Ballroom, the Library or even in the West Wing, where a storm brews every so often.   This restaurant recently added breakfast to their list of options, though we have not had the chance to eat breakfast here either.  However, we have done the quick service lunch and table service dinner, both of which were quite satisfying.  If dining for dinner, you may have opportunity to have your picture taken with the Beast himself.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

1: Tusker House Restaurant

Tusker House Restaurant at Disney's Animal Kingdom ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

This place is hands down my favorite place to eat in all the parks! This buffet-style meal features plenty of cultural options.  From unique and delicious African traditional food (mealie pap to plantains) to the good old American food we eat every day (gotta love those Mickey waffles!), this amazing experience will satisfy your craving for pretty much anything.   This is a character breakfast, too, so Guests have the chance to meet and take pictures with Safari Donald Duck and his friends!   Now, my absolute personal favorite item on the menu at this restaurant is the Jungle Juice.  Jungle Juice is a unique beverage created by Walt Disney World that blends several different types of fruit juices into one delicious drink.   I could chug this drink all day long!   Have you tried it yet?

2: Flame Tree Barbecue

Recently renovated, this eatery is fantastic for those who love… wait for it… barbecue! (Wow, what a surprise!)   While I recognize this is a quick service restaurant, while the others in this post are table service, I cannot recall our meal at Yak & Yeti, so I don’t feel qualified to really comment on it.  Flame Tree Barbecue, on the other hand, made an impact and offers delicious menus, savory foods and attentive Cast Members.  It may have been some time since we ate here, but I can remember it being very good and worth wanting to  repeat.  The barbecue served here is top of the line for quick service restaurants on the Resort.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

1: Dining with an Imagineer (The Hollywood Brown Derby)

This was an unforgettable experience for our family.  For those with an interest in the people who oversee all the activities or projects in the parks, this is a bucket list item!  It is offered at two locations, currently at The Hollywood Brown Derby and Citirico’s (which is located at The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa).   Over a multi-course meal (including their famous cobb salad), Guests fill both their bellies and minds as they meet and interact with one of the famous Imagineers.   You spend hours just listening to some of the backstage work that has to happen in order for the onstage productions to go so smoothly.   As a memento of the event, Guests can purchase a special plate with the autograph from the Imagineer who dined with them (we did).   We had the wonderful privilege of meeting Pam Rawlins, one of the Imagineers responsible for the development of New Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom.  My brothers and I asked quite a few questions and probably drove her nuts, but we had the time of our lives there and I would LOVE to do this again.

2: 50’s Prime Time Café

It has been a few years, but we are finally going to be eating at this restaurant again in the near future!  No matter how long it has been between visits, though, the memories are still fresh!   With delicious food (meatloaf, fried chicken, milkshakes and more) and servers with a comedic 1950’s humor, this place is sure to either bring Guests back to the good ol’ days or give us young ‘uns an experience we will never forget.  Black and white TVs play old 1950s shows and the servers make you feel right at home. – but mind your manners!  Elbows on the table can get you a stern “talking-to” from any of the servers.   For those with a strong backbone and a sense of humor, this is the place to eat!

EPCOT

1: Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria

Via Napoli / peanut, egg and tree nut free pepperoni pizza ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Via Napoli / peanut, egg and tree nut free pepperoni pizza ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

Pizza is one of my favorite foods and there are several places that serve it, but there is no one who does pizza better than Via Napoli in The World Showcase over at EPCOT.   If you are looking for amazing Italian with chefs that really care,  this place hits the spot.   We ate at this restaurant on one of our more recent trips and I really enjoyed the great food and atmosphere that went along with it.   The pizza they make in this restaurant is fantastic!   I hear they bring real ingredients over from Italy!  This was also one of those places where the chef really did his best to take care of my brother’s food allergies.   I really enjoyed my dining here and suggest it to all visitors going to EPCOT.  It truly is a great restaurant.  OH, even if you have a gluten allergy (which my brother does not), don’t hesitate to talk to the chef!  I hear they have some great options now!

2: The Rose and Crown

Rose & Crown Restaurant in EPCOT World Showcase ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Rose & Crown Restaurant in EPCOT World Showcase ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Fish and Chips at Rose & Crown Restaurant in EPCOT World Showcase ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Fish and Chips at Rose & Crown Restaurant in EPCOT World Showcase ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

During our most recent trip, my family and I had the opportunity to eat at The Rose and Crown restaurant, which is nestled right on the bank of the World Showcase Lagoon in the United Kingdom   We loved this place collectively!  Our orders came out nice and hot and made to perfection.   I myself ordered the Bangers and Mash dish, and was certainly not disappointed.   My mom had the fish and chips, which was served in a newspaper, something I found quite interesting. Even my younger brother, whose diet is restricted because of his food allergies, had a full meal that left him very happy.  The ambience and service have me wanting to do this one again in the future.

 Disney Springs

1: Raglan Road

Serious Steak at Raglan Road ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Serious Steak at Raglan Road ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Braised de Beef at Raglan Road ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Braised de Beef at Raglan Road ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

This is one of those places we have already eaten at twice and, both times, we walked away pleased with the food brought to us.  It was hearty, warm, delicious and made to perfection!  Our family enjoyed meals such as Keen Eye for the Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers & Booz (not me, of course) and the Braised de Beef – all mouth-watering and filling!  This place offers entertainment, as well, and we enjoyed watching the Irish Step dancers in the center before being seated; however, it was a bit difficult to enjoy once we were in our seats as we always seem to be placed out of view and far from the action.  Nevertheless, the food was good, and so was the service, so I do recommend this to people visiting Disney Springs and needing a place to eat.  From what my mom says, this is a favorite of many of her Disney Foodie friends.

2: Rainforest Café

Rainforest Cafe at Disney Spring Marketplace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Rainforest Cafe at Disney Spring Marketplace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs Marketplace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Rainforest Cafe at Disney Springs Marketplace ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

I know, I know.  This one is a chain restaurant and my mother has even taken my brothers and I to the one in Chicago.  However, nothing beats a Disney feel to a restaurant.  There are two of these restaurants on the Resort – one in Disney Springs and one at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  Set in the jungle, this eatery brings you into a whole new world deep within the Amazon.  Whether burgers, ribs or chicken, this place has a variety of options.  With delicious food and a wild, untamed atmosphere, this dining experience is sure to help you tap into your wild side.   I seriously love this restaurant; of course, I’m a bit biased because they served me the ultimate of birthday desserts when we ate there – The Sparking Volcano!   Holy lava!  I had a hard time eating the whole thing, but I sure tried!

Resorts

1: Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (Fort Wilderness Resort)

Boys at Hoop Dee Doo Revuew - photo taken by T.M. Brown
Boys at Hoop Dee Doo Revuew – photo taken by T.M. Brown

This is possibly my second favorite dining experience of all time at Walt Disney World.   Guests are served a  family-style meal packed with ALL-YOU-CAN-EAT fried chicken and smoked BBQ pork ribs, a tossed green salad, baked beans, fresh-baked cornbread and strawberry shortcake to boot!   The entertainment is a hilarious and zany two hour show filled with skits, songs and a whole lot of laughing!   Be sure to check our my actual personal review of this experience called Hoop-Dee-Doo: A Preteen’s Review (written before I turned 13, of course).  Now, I understand this place is not for everyone and there are those who do not care for it.  For our family, though, we had a lip-smackin’, darn tootin’ good time!

2: 1900 Park Fare (Disney’s Grand Floridian and Spa)

Character meet at 1900 Park Fare (dinner) ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Character meet at 1900 Park Fare (dinner) ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Strawberry Soup at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown
Strawberry Soup at 1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) ~ photo taken by T.M. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

There are two different experiences here at the 1900 Park Fare, both being character opportunities and buffet-style serving.  My mom and dad ate here for breakfast during one of their adult-only trips and they were visited by Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland and the Mad Hatter.  As a family, we enjoyed dinner together and enjoyed being visited by Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremain and the bratty step-sisters.   At this delicious escape, Guests enjoy a full out buffet featuring delicious options like strawberry soup.   There is a carving station, fish options (salmon, I believe), chicken and kid-friendly pizza and mac-n-cheese.   This was an experience I will never forget as I apparently caught the eye of one of the stepsisters.  I’m lucky to have come out alive.

Whew! Well, that was difficult.   There are just so many places to eat and so many great options that it was very tough to narrow down to just two places for each park on the Resort.  Of course, there are still many I have not tried and I do have each of those listed on my bucket list for future trips.  I guess I’m just an aspiring Disney Foodie at heart!

Anyways, be sure to tune in for my next blog, Aaryn’s Best of the Best: …Hmmm…maybe I’ll keep you guessing. 

Until the next step,  Aaryn

2 thoughts on “Aaryn’s Best of the Best of WDW: Dining Edition”

  1. You are a wonderful writer! I enjoyed your reviews of the restaurants. We have a personal plan to visit as many of the WDW restaurants as possible, but it seems like an impossible task as they add new ones all the time – plus each visit we want to visit some of our favorites.

    Have you tried T-Rex? That is currently my 11 year son’s favorite.

    1. Hi, Ms. Patty! Aaryn here. Thank you for reading my post. No, we have not done T-Rex yet, but we may just put it on our list of restaurants to try in the future. I think my older brother and I may have a misconception about it – is it geared more towards younger eaters? We have done Rainforest Cafe, but since it is a chain restaurant, it doesn’t seem to have as high a Disney value (if you know what I mean). Again, thank you so much for reading my posts! It means a lot to me.

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