While at Disney over the past week, I saw an older couple strolling around Epcot who stopped to get a photo taken by a Disney Photopass photographer, beers in hand. In all of my trips to Disney as an adult, I have never heard any Photopass employee say what this one said to the couple: “Hide your drinks behind each other’s back so they don’t get deleted.” Puzzled. I’ve held a delicious margarita in my hand while getting a photo taken there before. Why would that need to be hidden?
I’m sure I don’t need to say this for it to be known- I love Disney World. I FRICKIN’ LOVE IT! My love is only partially because I have Peter Pan syndrome and refuse to grow up, so I feel like a kid again and get to be a kid with MY kids- but because I’m an adult, and adults get treated to a pretty magical experience too! One that apparently, Disney doesn’t want you to know about- so I am here to expose it!
Fun for parents/adults doesn’t have to end at rides with the kids, and isn’t only limited to Pleasure Island (aka Downtown Disney, aka that name gives me the creeps). I look forward to Disney EVERY year not just to have a great time with the kids, but for the FOOD, and yes- the drinks! I was shocked to learn that Disney is food & drink heaven. When it comes to theme parks, I’m used to dry flavorless burgers and hot dogs on stale buns. Bummer. Disney is different, and I have spent 4 years finding the best (in my humble opinion, of course). To keep this from becoming a book (because it could totally get that long) I am going to share pictures of my favorites in each park, and list a few more that are worth checking out during a stay at the land of the giant rat.
(editor’s note: most of these photos are ones I took myself!)
Breakfast- Tusker House
This is by far the best food of all the character breakfast buffets that my family has tried (that only cost 1 table service credit, for those on the DDP). It’s a double win, because not only do you get some great food to start your day (and you HAVE to try the jungle juice), but your kids get to see some of their favorite characters.
Lunch/Dinner: Yak & Yeti
From what I am told, this is not a Disney restaurant, but it is still included on the dining plan, so no worries! Y&Y has some of the BEST food I’ve EVER had- in or outside of Disney World. My recommendation? The Maple Tamarind Chicken, and the Fried Wontons in Mango drizzles for dessert. Those Fried Wontons will CHANGE YOUR LIFE. The kids menu has a great variety, the decor is awesome, and the wait staff is fantastic.
Drinks: The Dawa Bar at Tusker House
This is my favorite adult drink stop in ALL of Disney. They have a seasonal special menu that changes, and you really can’t go wrong with ordering off of it- but my favorite drink (on or off the menu, you can still get it!) is the Dawa Colada.
If you aren’t booking Donald’s Safari Breakfast at Tusker House, stop by the Kusafiri Bakery in Africa (near the safari). Their baked goods are delicious, and there’s a nice quiet spot to chow down.
For a quick bite to eat at lunch or dinner time- Pizzafari (surprisingly good for “fast food” pizza), and big enough for 2 to share. Tamu Tamu Refreshments is a place we just stumbled upon during our last trip, and they have some light lunch fare to offer that was DELICIOUS! Mmmm the roasted chicken salad. Wish we’d found it sooner!
With the MOST choices of delicious things to eat from many countries, it’s hard to nail down favorites because it would take years to try everything (especially during Food and Wine, and the Garden Festivals), but I do have a few favorites.
Breakfast: Sunshine Seasons
This is a quick service in The Land (where Soarin’ is). We like to stop in and grab a breakfast platter to share. It’s nothing to brag about, but it’s quite tasty. The french toast was pretty darn yummy.
Lunch/Dinner: San Angel Inn (Mexico)
Not only do you get to eat next to an Aztec temple and active volcano, but the food is amazing. Try the tostadas! The drinks aren’t too shabby either. If you aren’t a fan of even mildly spicy food- this may not be the place for you. I’m not too big on scorching my tongue, but for San Angel I make an exception. It’s that good! You do not need to dine there to hit the bar, you can visit it when you enter the temple- just hang to the right!
Drinks: The Mexico Pavilion Margarita Stand
You can drink around the world at Epcot; there are stands in every country offering something booze-filled, but we always find ourselves stopping at this place. Three different kinds, not prices don’t induce nightmares, and man are they good!
Quick Service: Katsura Grill- Japan Pavilion
Our first trip, we were wandering around the world pavilion when we got hungry and started searching for somewhere to eat that the kids wouldn’t fake-gag at (they were little and picky!) and we found this place. It’s so small you just might miss it, but it does NOT taste like “fast food”. Worth stopping by to check out, but seating is very limited.
America Pavilion– Funnel Cake Stand. Every now and then, they have a PUMPKIN SPICE funnel cake. Holy what the??
I have read reviews that say there is NOTHING good to eat at Hollywood Studios. Ummm… I’m calling BS. Hollywood Studios is one of my favorite places to chow down!
Breakfast: Starring Rolls
Huge bagels, muffins, and cupcakes as big as your frickin’ head. I list Starring Rolls as breakfast, even though Hollywood & Vine has a Disney Jr. Breakfast buffet, because of how yummy their baked goods are; not just for breakfast, but you can stop in for a snack or for lunch, because they also have sandwiches!
Lunch/Dinner: 50’s Primetime Cafe
Hands down the best fried chicken I’ve ever had- and I’m from the south! I look forward to this meal EVERY year! You will get warped back in time to the 1950’s, where you’ll sit in your aunt or uncle’s kitchen while they serve you and expect your to mind your manners and eat your veggies. Don’t be surprised if you get a spoonful of greens flown into your mouth while the entire restaurant makes airplane sounds.
Oh, and get the Peanut Butter and Jelly milkshake. You’re welcome.
This bar is located IN the 50’s Primetime Cafe, and it is almost always packed because it’s one of the best. If you aren’t able to get a reservation at the restaurant, this bar also serves the full 50’s Primetime menu.
Anaheim Produce (near Tower of Terror)
What can I say, Disney has some great margaritas!
Quick Service: Fairfax Fare
Gourmet hot dogs. Hot dogs are just about the LAST thing I expected to eat at a theme park (because they’re so stereotypical and boring) but these are YUMMY and worth the stop. The Macaroni and Cheese dog was my personal favorite.
I told you, I REALLY love the food at Hollywood Studios!
Mama Melrose- The best Margherita Pizza I’ve ever had, not to mention, you can set it up to where eating at MM will get you in early to Fantasmic with a dining package!
Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater Restaurant- Watch clips of old black & white sci-fi movies while you eat. In a car! The kids absolutely loved it. I recommend the steak dinner!
Look, don’t ask me why Disney made the most crowded, frustrating, and insane (yet wonderfully magical) park DRY, but it’s dry. Not a drop of booze to be found…unless you can get a table at Be Your Guest in Beast Castle for dinner and then you can order wine with your meal, but good luck with that! You may need to purchase a flask. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. There are still many good eats to be had!
Breakfast: Gaston’s in the new Fantasyland
There are plenty of character dining experiences you can book for breakfast in the magic Kingdom, but my family loves to stop by Gaston’s (previously we stopped by the Main Street Bakery. I miss that place!) and get a GIANT ooey gooey and warm cinnamon roll. For those on the DDP- this qualifies as a snack credit. They also have a mysterious LeFou’s Brew which I’ve not yet been brave enough to try, some kind of large pork turkey-leg lookin’ monstrosity (aptly named the “Shank Du Jour”), and other breakfast fixins and coffee.
Lunch/Dinner (Table Service):
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant- Just like the one in Lady & The Tramp, Tony’s offers an array of Italian food. I’ve read mixed reviews on Tony’s in the past, but we have always enjoyed it; ESPECIALLY the desserts!
Be Our Guest Restaurant in Beast Castle (Dinner only)- If you can manage to snag a reservation, take it! Beast Castle is gorgeous and you HAVE to see the inside. I have yet to snag a reservation here, but no Disney dining blog could be mentioned without bringing up this place. Their table service is ONLY for dinner, and is tradition French cuisine; you can even try “the gray stuff”- I hear it’s fantastic.
Drinks: NONE!! BUT- you can get a Dole Whip in Adventureland, and that’s basically just as good. You CANNOT leave the Magic Kingdom without having a Dole Whip. It’s blasphemy. (The Dole Whip is a famous Disney concoction- fresh Dole pineapple juice over pineapple ice cream. You can also get orange and vanilla whips). It counts as one snack credit. I’ve been known to spend 3-4 snack credits on the delicious Dole Whip.
Quick Service/Fast Food:
Columbia Harbor House
I’m not a HUGE fan of Magic Kingdom quick service, I’ll admit, but Columbia Harbor House’s Tuna sandwich scores them pretty darn high in my book. Yes, a tuna sandwich. It’s awesome!
If you couldn’t manage to book “Be Our Guest” for dinner, head on over to Beast Castle for lunch! You might not get to chow down on the gray stuff, but their quick service is TOP NOTCH. Just seriously delicious. I get the prime rib sub with green beans and eat until I feel like exploding. Their Lemon Meringue dessert is to die for.
Snacks- Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and Restaurant
The ice cream cookie sandwich. Two giant homemade chocolate chip cookies (or oatmeal) with icecream smooshed in the middle. Yum!
Man. This took me ALL DAY and these aren’t even ALL of my recommendations! Disney World is a big place. Take advice of those you know (or this blog!) and step out on your own a little, too! You never know what delicious morsel or refreshing beverage you might find!
**Other than food, my best Disney advice for those with young children can be found here.
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