Eating Around WDW

Edited: February 19, 2020, 10:31 AM

There are so many restaurants in WDW that it’s impossible for the average guest to eat at every single one in a lifetime. With new eateries popping up seemingly every 3-4 months and older restaurants revamping their menus every few years, even those of us that visit every year or 2 can eat for days without duplicating any meals from a previous trip.

When we started planning our most recent WDW trip late last year, we were hoping that EPCOT’s Space 220, the fantastical orbital restaurant under construction next to Mission Space, would at the very least be in its soft opening period during our recent visit. Unfortunately, the restaurant that was already months behind schedule, was still another 2+ months from serving guests when we visited a couple of weeks ago with a projected opening pushed even further into April based on recent rumors. Since Space 220 was off the table, we looked around WDW to find some other restaurants that would be new to us while still finding time for some of our favorites. I have already written about our meal at Tiffins that was part of the Festival of the Lion King Tier 1 Dining Package. We additionally ate lunch at Satuli Canteen, which for my money is one of the best in-park counter service restaurants. My wife and I split a combination grain bowl while our son got a kids shrimp and noodles bowl.

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Both were perfect examples of why this counter service restaurant earns such high marks with solid flavor profiles and flexibility to tailor dishes to any taste. Being able to mobile order through the MDE app is icing on the cake, though one of these days Disney will add an option in the app to allow guests to pay with a Disney gift card.

However, aside from those 2 meals, everywhere else we ate during our 8 days at WDW (6 park days) represented a new experience including a number of dishes at the EPCOT International Festival of the Arts that I’ve already detailed.

The first meal of our trip was a late dinner at Jiko, which is located at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We have eaten at Boma, the resort’s African-themed buffet restaurant, a couple of times previously, but had been pining for a meal at Animal Kingdom Lodge’s original Signature Dining Experience (necessitating 2-table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan) for many years. Unfortunately, a series of flight delays caused us to push back our reservation all the way to 9:25 PM (and even with that, we barely made it), but even the late hour was not going to deter us from what many regard as one of the best dining experiences at WDW.

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While we were the last party seated for the evening, we never felt rushed through our meal, which would have been completely understandable given that less than half of the dining room was occupied when we arrived. We started the evening with Jiko’s traditional bread service, which includes a round loaf of focaccia-style bread with an oil-based dip.

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As an appetizer, we ordered the iconic Tour of Africa to share between us. The plate included duck biltong, boerewores sausage, goat cheese, and a number of spreads to pair with fatir and lentil chips. There’s so much variety here with each item being of high quality that it’s difficult to pick out a favorite. However, I personally enjoyed the fatir and olives, though I’m not normally a big fan of the fruit. I suppose the one miss on the dish was that the dark colored mustard blended in with the sausage on the wooden serving platter that it was difficult to differentiate the two, causing us to inadvertently miss the sausage and get a spoonful of the bitter mustard. The mustard was not necessarily bad, just that I would rather not taste it alone.

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For entrees, I chose the Cape Malay seafood curry, while my wife got the beef short ribs, and our son ordered the shrimp with kushari from the kid’s menu along with a side of macaroni cheese. We usually steer our son away from mac and cheese, but reviews of Jiko’s version of this typically generic side revealed that it’s a far departure from Kraft Dinner. Indeed, the side was clearly made from scratch with a creamy sauce and fancier shells than you would find in boxed mac and cheese served elsewhere in WDW.

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My seafood curry was excellent with plentiful portions of various aquatic delicacies such as scallops, shrimp, mussels, squid, and lobster. The sauce probably could have been a little spicier for my taste, but it’s more than enough zip for most guests.

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My wife’s entrée lived up to its reputation and was fork tender and well-seasoned.

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While my wife and I skipped dessert, our son’s meal included a choice of desserts which ended up being the African Shield, a build-your-own dessert with a brownie, paintable cookie, and scoop of ice cream. Being so late in the evening, Zach was not overly hungry, so we asked for the dessert to go (sans ice cream). Unfortunately, we found out after getting back to our room that while the dessert was packaged without the ice cream as requested, it was also missing the paint (icing) even though a paint brush was included. It wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, and the brownie/cookie combo was nothing spectacular, which is fine for a kid’s dessert.

While we sampled a good cross-section of Jiko’s menu, there were plenty of other dishes I would love to try. Given the quality and flavors of the dishes we experienced on this visit, we would definitely like to eat here again on a future trip, though I think Tiffins still edges it out as one of our favorite table service restaurants in WDW.

While we started our trip on the exotic end of the spectrum with Jiko, we finished our time at WDW with a down-to-earth classic Southern meal at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. The Disney Springs restaurant showcases the recipes of one of Florida’s most famous chefs. Walking around the space, you can see the roots of the recipes served here, and some of the humble origins of Mr. Smith such as his acceptance letter to the Disney Institute.

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The restaurant is truly a homecoming for the former Disney cast member, and the menu exemplifies his southern roots including his famous fried chicken. This restaurant can be one of the hardest places to get a reservation to in all of WDW, but we were able to secure a time to have lunch on Saturday before our flight home later that evening. With a reservation at 1:30, my hope was that we would have the option between the weekend brunch menu (served until 2 PM) and the standard lunch menu (starting at 1 PM), but we were only presented with the lunch menu. That was fine, because there were plenty of tasty options to choose from that would have usurped most of the brunch choices.

Prior to our meal, I ordered a moonshine sampler. Guests have over a dozen different choices to form a 3-stage flight of spirits that are paired with candied pecans and a pickle juice chaser. I randomly chose 3 ‘shines based on the brief menu descriptions and proofs, and was not disappointed. I did stick with the classic unflavored choices, avoiding the fruit-based concoctions that have been growing in popularity but mask the subtle flavors and aromas of traditional moonshine. I primarily had the accompaniments separate from the shots (Zach probably would have eaten all of the pecans had I let him), but most would probably not want to drink the pickle juice by itself, which is more of a bread and butter-style marinade than classic dill.

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For our meal, I decided to go with the classic fried chicken, while Zach ordered the Art Burger, eschewing the kid’s menu, and my wife went a la carte with the thigh high chicken biscuits from the appetizer menu and a side of mac and cheese. My fried chicken was really good, though not the mouth-agape out-of-body-experience some fans extol to this dish.

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I was most impressed with the way the chicken was served as a nearly boneless presentation (just a single wing bone and the leg bone in the half-chicken portion), but the flavor was not anything out of the ordinary. Zach really liked his burger, and the chips served with it were some of the best restaurant potato chips I’ve ever tasted.

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My wife’s chicken biscuits were good, but the hot honey wasn’t very spicy at all.

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To make matters worse, the hot sauce provided at the table is not a traditional, southern-style hot sauce. It’s more of a sweet-chili sauce often seen in Asian dishes, which didn’t really work with the chicken in my opinion. Perhaps the promise of “hot honey” on the chicken biscuits made us think “Nashville Chicken”, which caused this dish to miss the mark. Also, while the biscuits (also served with my fried chicken) were pretty fabulous, they aren’t the best base for a sandwich as they crumble very easily. The chicken biscuits ended up being chicken AND biscuits pretty quickly, with my wife eventually succumbing to using a fork and knife. The mac and cheese though was exemplary with a creamy, complex blend of cheese with just enough crunch on the top to give the bowl some texture.

I’d probably give Homecomin’ another try on a future visit, but it’s not at the top of my list of must-visit restaurants at WDW as it is for some guests. There were some other dishes on the menu that I’d like to taste (namely the shrimp and grits and country fried steak), but there are other restaurants just at Disney Springs I’d like to eat at before I return here (like Morimoto and Frontera Cocina).

During our trip, we were staying at the Pop Century Resort, which meant that we spent quite a bit of time traveling around WDW on Disney’s Skyliner. One of the stops along the trip between the Caribbean Beach hub station and EPCOT is the brand new Riviera Resort. This recently opened DVC resort evokes the look of the French Riviera (duh), and while I didn’t think the exterior was as opulent as it should be, the interior definitely hits the theme. The theme even extends to one of the newest counter service restaurants in WDW. Most WDW resort counter service restaurants are standard food court-style affairs with multiple stations serving different cuisines, typically with at least one dedicated to the cuisine emblematic of the resort’s theme. However, Primo Piatto is fully immersed in the Riviera Resort’s theme with a menu featuring a wide variety of French and Italian dishes exemplified by the region along the Mediterranean Sea including hearth-baked pizza, shrimp pasta, risotto, caprese, and more. While it’s only been open for less than 2 months, the restaurant is quickly earning the reputation as one of the best counter service restaurants in all of WDW (especially if you’re on the Disney Dining Plan). We decided to stop by for a light dinner (Zach wasn’t hungry, but wanted some gelato) to see if the resounding praise for a resort counter service restaurant was warranted. I ordered the grilled hanger steak (yes, you can get a STEAK with a DDP counter service credit here, though we paid cash - $17.99), while my wife chose the croque monsieur. My steak was freshly prepared to the requested medium rare, and served with a delicious red wine sauce along with mashed potatoes and carrots. While a hanger steak is not the most prime cut, the way it is prepared here conceals the deficiencies of the more fibrous, stringy cuts of beef. The charred slices of steak were fork-tender, and ably absorbed the dense, earthy sauce. The mashed potatoes (whipped with mascarpone cheese) are some of the tastiest I’ve ever had. This is quite possibly the absolute best counter service dish I’ve ever had at WDW.

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My wife’s croque monsieur might be the second best. The sandwich is very similar to the Monte Cristo found in Disneyland’s Café New Orleans and Blue Bayou (both table service restaurants), but is served open faced and broiled instead of deep fried. While the Monte Cristo has its crispy batter and jam, Primo Piatto’s croque monsieur has its melty, gooey, buttery cheese. This sandwich (just $12.99, which includes a side – we chose the delicious Romano herb fries) is every bit the equal to its west coast cousin, and is alone worth a trip to the Rivera Resort.

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We did see a few pizzas come from the kitchen (an open concept so guests can see their food being prepared), and while they were a little on the small size (though just $11.99), they looked quite good, and something we might try on a future visit. The only drawback of Primo Piatto is its location outside of the parks, though with the Skyliner, it would only take @10-15 minutes to get here from EPCOT or DHS.

In addition to these notable meals, we tried a few other new dishes and restaurants during our trip to WDW. We ate at Dock Bay 7 when we visited Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland, so I made it a point to try Ronto Roasters on Batuu-East. We got the traditional Ronto wrap, and as Robert noted during his initial review of Galaxy’s Edge, it is solid choice. I’d say that at $12.99, it’s a bit overpriced for some meat and slaw in a pita (with no fries, chips, or sides), but the flavors are far more bold than you would expect from a Disney mass-produced counter service item. I also got the Trandoshan Ale here, which cannot be found in California. The Concrete Beach Brewery spiced wheat ale stays away from the holiday flavors found in many spiced beers and ciders, like Spice Runner at Oga’s Cantina. I also tried the Milk Stand, which I avoided in California. However, in WDW, the Green Milk can be served with tequila (the Blue Milk is served with rum), which makes it more than just an overpriced slushie IMHO. The only problem is that the tequila is constantly floating to the top of the dense milk, so if you don’t remember to stir it as recommended by the Milk Stand CM, you’re liable to get nothing but tequila in your first sip.

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Since Toy Story Land is new to us since our last visit to WDW in October 2017, we wanted to try Woody’s Lunchbox. We had an evening snack here of “Totchos” which are essentially nachos with tater tots (or potato barrels as the counter service restaurant calls them) instead of tortilla chips forming the base for the chili, cheese, and other toppings. These were pretty decent, though I think the chili could have been a little spicier or been kicked up a notch with the option of adding jalapenos in lieu of the green onion garnish. We also got a grilled cheese kid’s meal (I actually ate this one since Zach wanted to eat the Totchos), where we substituted tomato basil soup instead of the mandarin orange. While the portion was appropriately small (it is a kid’s meal after all), the grilled cheese was served fresh with still melty cheese inside. The soup was clearly not from a can with a smoked pepper aroma that added depth to an otherwise mundane dish, and was a perfect dip for the grilled cheese.

Over the course of our 6 days in WDW, we found ourselves eating the most in DAK. In addition to Tiffins and Satu’li Canteen, we also grabbed a dish from one of DAK’s numerous food carts. When we visit WDW, we usually plan large formal meals, even if we're eating at counter service restaurants except when noshing around the world during an EPCOT food festival. However, my son was complaining about being hungry in advance of our dinner at Tiffins. He can never get enough shrimp, and so we spotted a sweet chili shrimp mac and cheese at the Eight Spoons Café on Discovery Island. I was hesitant about the combination of flavors, but it was surprisingly good, especially for a small, yet filling snack that costs just $6.99.

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We also had lunch at Nomad Lounge, which is the bar/lounge for Tiffins. While it shares some menu items with Tiffins, it does have a distinct menu and a more laid back atmosphere. In fact, it might be the most relaxing place we’ve ever experienced in all of WDW, particularly the exterior terrace space that overlooks one of the park’s waterways. I ordered the bread service, which included 3 different African-style bread/crisps with a variety of dips: coriander yogurt, ginger-pear chutney, and red-pepper hummus.

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My wife ordered the poutine, while my son ordered octopus. The bread service was the best of the bunch, though I especially enjoyed pairing the different breads with the squid ink aioli on my son’s dish.

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My wife enjoyed the poutine, though the way it was constructed was strange with the gravy and cheese curds lingering well below the ample portion of fries. This helped keep the fries from getting soggy, but made it hard to get a bite with a full cross-section of flavors offered by the dish.

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Over the course of our 8 days in WDW (with 6 park days), we explored lots of new restaurants and food stands throughout the resort. While not every restaurant and dish lived up to their billing, we did come across some new favorites. While it’s easy to stick with familiar tastes and surroundings, we have found that exploring the diverse food offerings around WDW can be as fun and exciting as the rides, shows, and attractions.

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Replies (11)

February 19, 2020, 4:52 AM

A massive +1 for Nomad - it's probably my favourite place on property, particularly seated outside as you recommend. The ribs there are divine, and not having to worry about getting an ADR is a plus.

Useful to see a less hyperbolic review of Homecoming than I've read elsewhere, thanks for sharing that. Definitely one that I've had my eye on for a while. (It also has the novelty factor for us as foreign visitors, rather than the plethora of European restaurants that hold little appeal.)

February 20, 2020, 7:30 AM

Despite my extremely massive disdain for how incredible unfun FP+ has made WDW, its dining is one of the things that elevates it to a wonderful vacation spot, especially if you can get the free dining plan. I know the value is questionable, but my group eats, and every park has some gems and EPCOT is a gold mine for dining, even if you can’t get the good places. I know that Mythos at Universal wins best restaurant here each year, but I am not sure it would even made my top twenty in Orlando. The signature places in the deluxe hotels are all very good, but the theming in many places are a blast.

February 20, 2020, 8:32 AM

I think what Mythos has going for it is in its value. There's nowhere at WDW where you can have a 3-course table service meal for 2 under $60.

However, WDW definitely has the market cornered in variety and a continuously changing landscape of options around the parks and resorts. In fact, they just opened Regal Eagle Smokehouse at EPCOT yesterday, and Space 220 is rumored to be less than 2 months from being ready to open. UO has some great restaurants in its own right, but WDW is an ever-changing cornucopia of culinary exploration even before you consider the seasonal festivals at EPCOT.

February 20, 2020, 10:41 AM

That is certainly true about Mythos. And I will say Universal is most definitely the theme park king on fun per dollar spent. Disney is ridiculously expensive for the effort you have to put into it for what you get out of it, and I am only talking about the quality of the restaurants only, not value. I find the food at Universal to be consistently average to below average and the food at Disney to be consistently above average to really good. Nowhere would I say you would get extreme fine dining, but the Disney dining is fantastical and fun. Disney is not a good value. The theming at the Potter restaurants is amazing but the food is not great at them (except for the ice cream shop and butterbeer). Granted, I am a food snob, so please take my responses with a grain of salt (Hawaiian Sea Salt).

Edited: February 20, 2020, 11:05 AM

"Nowhere would I say you would get extreme fine dining"

I guess you've never been to Victoria & Albert's. I've also heard that the Omakase Service at Takumi Tei is near the pinnacle of fine dining in addition to the chef's table at Morimoto (haven't been to either, but both receive very high marks). Granted, all of those are extremely expensive experiences, but are in line with exclusive dining experiences in highly rated ("starred") restaurants around the world.

I actually think the newer Universal counter service restaurants are really good. The Simpson's Food Court and WWoHP eateries are prime examples of UC pushing the envelope for food that has caused Disney to up their game. Counter service was an area where Disney was seriously lacking just a decade ago with only a handful of decent options despite over a hundred locations across the 4 theme parks and dozens of resorts. Flame Tree BBQ used to be the only WDW theme park CS location worth a darn, and even though the quality there hasn't declined, it wouldn't even rank inside my top 10 around WDW today. Disney has kicked it into another gear with their CS locations (though DHS still needs help despite the decent Woody's Lunchbox and solid Galaxy's Edge offerings), which may force UC to improve/replace their older locations that are lagging behind (like Monster's Cafe and Richter Burger).

I consider myself a bit of a food snob too, but I also try to take everything into account when eating at a theme park. The food has to be good, obviously, but the overall experience and value take on increasing importance when we're talking about restaurants in theme parks and resorts.

February 20, 2020, 11:19 AM

Great post, Russell. I love your take on food at Disney, and I couldn't agree more with your take on Satuli Canteen.

I highly recommend that you guys try Sanaa on your next WDW trip, which we consider a "must-do" pretty much anytime my family visits Disney. It is the 3rd restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, located right off the Kidani Village lobby. The bread service here is simply legendary, and the Potjie Inspired is one of the best menu items I've ever had on property. You can customize this selection by choosing a meat/seafood option "from the Journey," as well as a plant-based option "from the Harvest." The flavor combination possibilities are seemingly endless, and all of the ones I've tried are just delicious. The Tandoori Chicken is tremendously flavorful as well.

That being said, I would love to get your opinion on the "Mt. Rushmore" of Disney restaurants (both WDW and DLR offerings can be chosen). Can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Edited: February 20, 2020, 1:14 PM

Yup - Sanaa is definitely on the bucket list, and we did consider it but chose Jiko because we had been wanting to dine there since we stayed at AKL all the way back in 2007.

"Mt. Rushmore" - Hmm, that's a tough one. Though I think it would only be fair to have one for CS restaurants and a second for TS restaurants...

Table Service

Victoria & Albert's - Yup, it's expensive (REALLY expensive), but is worth every penny for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I've only dined at the Chef's Table, so my opinion of it is based solely on the most coveted theme park dining experience in the world.

Tiffins - The best food we've ever had at a theme park table service restaurant. It's also a bit on the pricey side, but the decor, theme, and modern cuisine solidify its Rushmore status.

Akershus - Yes, it's a character meal buffet, but I'll dare anyone to find a comparable value in terms of quality, quantity, and character interaction. We dined here less than a year after a trip to Sweden, and even the buffet offerings (guests choose a plated entree and dessert to go with apps and salads from the buffet) were as good as what we had in Scandinavia.

Blue Bayou - It's hard to not include one of the most iconic Disney restaurants. The setting is pure perfection, and the food is top notch.

Honorable Mentions

Flying Fish - We had a great experience here at the chef's counter, but I couldn't include it on the Mount since the menu has drastically changed since our last visit.

Jiko - I really enjoyed our meal here, but having Tiffins during the same trip probably affected my evaluation of a it.

LeCellier - This is another restaurant that's gone through some changes since we last dined here, and has fallen out of favor with those that regularly track and rate WDW restaurants. However, the meal we had here was exceptional (and only 1 DDP TS credit at the time), and the dishes exported to the nearby Canada kiosk during the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival always rate among our favorites.

Raglan Road - Call me a sucker for a meal served with entertainment, but this Disney Springs restaurant is a great option if you've got some time to kill and want to stretch your dollar with dinner and a show. The menu isn't terribly inventive, but the combination of good food and beer with great live entertainment is worthy of praise.

Counter Service

Primo Piatto - Talk about an amazing first impression. We ate here on a whim, and wish we could have worked in another meal or 2. I still can't get over that you can get a steak with a DDP CS credit, and a REALLY good steak at that.

Satu'li Canteen - The vaguely alien look to the dishes is a bit kitschy, but the food stands up to repeated visits with the flexibility of the menu. It might be the Chipotle of Pandora, but it's really really good.

Pecos Bills - I know a lot of people trash this place because it's loud and in the end it's really just a burger joint with some Tex-Mex options, but if you really want a burger, this is easily the best on property (though I've never eaten at d-Luxe Burger). The toppings bar is what gives this restaurant Rushmore status.

La Cantina de San Angel - By far the best fast-casual Mexican food I've had ANYWHERE (inside or outside a theme park).

Honorable Mentions

Be Our Guest (lunch) - This restaurant continues to change its procedures, making it more trouble than its worth most times (if you can even get in here). However, if you can get in during lunch when it's a counter service restaurant, the food is quite good and affordable.

Docking Bay 7 - Maybe they're trying a little too hard to keep this restaurant in theme, but it doesn't change the fact that the food that we had here in Disneyland was really good.

Wolfgang Puck Express (Disney Springs) - Before Primo Piatto, this was the go-to place if you were on the DDP. The pizzas here are GREAT (and just 1 CS credit for a pie big enough for 2 people) and the entrees are all solid, including a meatloaf dish that I could eat every day of the week.

Columbia Harbor House - The fish and chips might be a slight notch below Rose and Crown (and Yorkshire County Fish Shop next door), but it's still a solid facsimile. With MK still lacking in good CS options, this is a worthy option if you're on the DDP.


Of course, in addition to Sanaa, we still have yet to eat at a number of iconic WDW restaurants (I think we've hit all the biggies in DL though) including: Narcose's, Citrico's, California Grill, Monsieur Paul, Spice Road Table (would have probably eaten here this last trip if not for the Festival of the Arts), Yachtsman, and Takumi Tei.

February 20, 2020, 5:53 PM

The only high end I have not been is V&A, and we almost did so last time. I will eventually get there. I think Columbia Harbor House is very underrated for as much food as they pump out. Satu’li is terrible. Wolfgang Puck below average. Boma is another hidden gem that I think is great. I think if you go to Disneyland the monte cristo is mandatory as is the restaurant in the California hotel. I liked the BBQ place in the Wilderness Lodge, and I hate to hear that they have made the wait staff behave. I loved the rudeness. Yes, that Japanese is very good that was mentioned. While many don’t tend to prefer the German or Marrakech, I have always had great meals there with some authentic items on the menu. Another thing we always do is the Tusker House breakfast. I thought the Be Our Guest was above average to really good as was Cinderella’s Castle (do they still serve food there?).

I bet you could get a better burger out of a dumpster in the rain than the one I had at the Simpsons food court. It was hideous. The high end places as the fancy hotels at the Universal Hotels were downright bad. I suspect Universal has issues with food transportation and vendors, but it is a theme park with volume.

Understand, I like to vacation in many cities with the express purpose to find the finest places to dine. Gastronome I suppose. There is no way a theme park can meet the standards of these places, but for the volume and speed, Disney does a very good job. One other thing: if you ever had a member of the family with a food allergy, Disney is amazing, especially if the person is a child, who is usually crestfallen that they can’t have a specific dessert. We have had chefs make elaborate handmade desserts crafted for the particular tastes of the child. That is the kind of customer service that makes people return. The fancy places at the Universal Hotels completely ignored all our food allergies. But we had Unlimited Express Passes, so we were willing to risk death for those.

February 20, 2020, 9:29 PM

Great report, Russell. You've given me a few ideas for the top end restaurants to try out on my next Disney visit.

One place I'd stay away from - Chef Art Smith's Homecomin'. It had the worst fried chicken I've ever eaten in over 45 years of living in the South. If you're from outside the States and you want to try good authentic fried chicken for a fraction of the price, go to Church's, Popeye's, or Po Folks.

Edited: February 21, 2020, 9:43 AM

@JC - I can't say that I've ever had the burgers at the Simpsons food court (I typically avoid burgers anyway since they're usually pretty mediocre in every theme park), but the chicken and other menu items are quite good when compared to similar dishes at other theme parks. Also, the Bumblebee Man Taco Truck just outside, which I consider part of the food court, is excellent and authentic. While I haven't eaten at The Palm (Hard Rock Hotel), I have eaten at all of the other resort restaurants at UO. Bice, while not quite as fancy as Victoria and Albert's, is a top level experience on par with some of the best high end restaurants in NYC and other major cities. The Kitchen is a highly underrated mid-level table service restaurant with some inventive dishes and quality offerings. Royal Pacific Resort is kind of in limbo right now, but Tscoup Chop was a really good Asian Fusion restaurant.

Restaurant Marrakesh is definitely a hidden gem (truly hidden in the back of the Morocco Pavilion), especially if you are able to dine when there's a show. It's been a while since we've been to Biergarten, but we're a bit spoiled for German theme park food with our frequent visits to BGW.

I haven't been to Whispering Canyon Cafe (Wilderness Lodge) - seems to be a place that's more style over substance, but I did have a really nice meal at Artist Point, though the Signature Restaurant has drastically changed its menu (and added a character meal) since I last dined there.

We have been to Napa Rose at the Grand California (though quite a long time ago - 2005 if my memory serves), but while it's menu is more adventurous than Blue Bayou, Napa Rose doesn't quite measure up to the top DL table service restaurant in terms of overall experience.

Tusker House is probably one of the best in-park buffets, especially for breakfast, which is quite a bit cheaper than lunch or dinner, though a step below Akershus IMHO, and I agree that Boma is a hidden gem (though getting all the way over to AKL can be tedious, so you might as well go for the gusto with Jiko or Sanaa).

Cinderella's Royal Table is another style over substance experience that has just gotten so expensive and difficult to book that it's not really worth it anymore if you've already experienced it (though definitely recommended for first timers, especially families with little girls). I think Be Our Guest is going down the same path, and the fact that it's gone to table service for so much of the day that it's just not worth the ever increasing cost and hassle to dine there outside of lunch, which is almost as difficult to secure a reservation as a table service breakfast or dinner.

My family doesn't have any allergies or aversions to any ingredients (we're all pretty adventurous eaters, especially while on vacation), so I cannot speak to the accommodations afforded to guests by Disney or Universal. I have read about Disney restaurants frequently going out of their way to make sure guests' allergy requests are accommodated, but have not seen any reports of Universal establishments not making similar accommodations when requested.

I think when any restaurant is concerned, guests are going to have positive and negative experiences based on a number of different factors. I still cannot believe the number of negative reviews I see for restaurants where guests complain about the menu, even though the menu can be view long before you choose to eat at the restaurant. Seeing people complain about an exotic-themed restaurant not having chicken strips, pizza, and cheeseburgers on the kid's menu is a common yet perplexing refrain. I tend to evaluate a restaurant on its ability to develop menu options that are not only of high quality and on-theme, but also accessible, which both Universal and Disney have gotten a lot better at over the past decade.

February 21, 2020, 7:58 PM

As to the chicken strip issue, I agree. I think Disney has gotten much worse recently in this regard. If you go to an exotic restaurant, you should expect to get that. I do think Universal is getting a little better, and while I am being harsh, I fully realize that this is a theme park, not Commander’s Palace.

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