Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

Vote of the week: What is the best hotel/resort restaurant at Walt Disney World?

February 27, 2009, 9:57 AM · Following the story yesterday about Disney World food and beverage VP Dieter Hannig leaving the company, I thought I'd ask about readers' favorite hotel or resort restaurant at Walt Disney World.

I know from the site's ratings which restaurants you like inside the parks (Le Cellier Steakhouse, Tokyo Dining and The Hollywood Brown Derby), but this week I want to learn which restaurants outside the parks you think the best. [Update: I messed up and put Artist's Palette below, where I meant "Artist Point". So consider a vote for Artist's Palette a vote for Artist Point.]

FWIW, I left the Downtown Disney restaurants out of this vote because I wanted to limit it to restaurants that we do not include in our regular ratings and reviews.

I'm expecting a lively debate in the comments about these restaurants this week. Have at it!

Replies (21)

February 27, 2009 at 11:50 AM · I'd have to give it to Ohana - the food is delicious, the portions massive and the surroundings lovely.
Only minus is the kids coconut race bashing you in the ankles if you have a rinkside table...
February 27, 2009 at 12:01 PM · You should have put others. My beloved resort Old Key West's Olivias was not on the list! Its fine, I wasn't going to vote for it anyway. As soon as I saw the subject of the vote, I went for Yachtsman!

Its a tough one for sure! Jiko and Whispering Canyon Cafe come in close seconds for me!

February 27, 2009 at 12:38 PM · I went through the Disney World public and PR websites to craft the voting list, since I didn't remember all the restaurants off the top of my head. So, my apologies for missing some.
February 27, 2009 at 12:48 PM · Oh come on people! ESPN club top 5 votes as of now? Those are some goooood burgers I guess....

I chose Jiko. Animal Kingdom Lodge is arguably one of the best hotels on property. Jiko is a Disney "signature" restaurant. The decor is cool. They have a wood fire oven in the center that bakes wonderful flatbread right in front of you if you are lucky enough to have a seat there.

Don't let the "Africa cuisine" designation scare you. I had a wonderful spicy shrimp dish. My daughter's pizza (ok, not African) was cooked in the wood fire oven. The wine selection was great, but I went with an African beer. Service was excellent as you'd expect. Worth double dining points!

February 27, 2009 at 1:20 PM · My vote goes to Artist's POINT lol...I havent eaten at all of them yet...I still reallly want to eat at Flying Fish, which may become my new favorite

I love the entire decor of Wilderness Lodge, and Artist's Point follows that beautifully...the restaurant is very elegant and very homey at the same time, with great paintings and light fixtures and furnishings that make it feel like a beautiful Rocky Mountain restaurant..and I love that the menu has so many unique dishes....when I ate there I had quail, buffalo, and an excellent dessert....I love this place!

February 27, 2009 at 2:04 PM · I'm in favor of whispering canyon. Even though they are not ever remembered for the food, but the atmosphere and craziness that goes on. I always thought that would be a great place to work cause you can be straight ignorant to people and they think its part of the show. And if your a bad waiter/waitress you can just yell for more ketchup.
February 27, 2009 at 4:08 PM · The best meal I've had in the World was at Jiko - fantastic service, food, and surroundings.

Whispering Canyon gets my vote for the most interesting choice - what a way to wake up.

February 27, 2009 at 9:52 PM · I agree with Joshua. Whispering Canyon Cafe is truley an unforgetable experience. When you ask for a fork, they bring you a three foot tall fork. They scream at the top of their lungs as well as provide 25 bottles of ketchup when you ask for some ketchup!
February 28, 2009 at 5:54 AM · So far, in my quest to get to every dining area in the park, the winner is the Yatchmen's Steakhouse. The food, the service, the ambiance is all absolutely perfect. Admittedly, I have not visited all, so far, this is tops.
February 28, 2009 at 9:50 AM · Come on guys, the California Grill is the best! You got the view, excellent food, nice quiet atmosphere, you get to dress up and not have to worry about seeing a hot dog, hamburger, or chicken fingers on the menu (unless you are a kid). This is by far one of the greatest restaurants at WDW.
February 28, 2009 at 11:23 AM · I thought the Grill was excellent, but still not as good as Jiko. Additionally, my mom's seafood (can't recall what it was) was poorly prepared and made her sick.
February 28, 2009 at 7:43 PM · They are all great! Most of them are top resturants in Orlando.

I will say that the Boardwalk has the best food overall. Flying Fish, Spoodles, and ESPN Club are good places and all in one place.

What makes Whispering Canyon so great is its a good family resturant with some excellent food.

Still, my vote goes for Yachtsman. The finest steaks in Disney World.

March 1, 2009 at 2:13 AM · This is my first comment here, please be gentle.

I was going to say Jiko, but I've really only been there twice. For decor and mood, it's certainly a keeper, but I really think that Boma is more my style. Being able to sample all those different foods really makes it well worth the price. And I love the African Curry Stew (which you can also get at the Mara downstairs). So, Boma, you've got my vote.

Kona Cafe's citrus salad and bananna crème brûlée almost made me vote that way instead. Artist's Point has excellent food, but it felt too bright and open. It made it feel cafeteria-esque in a way.

Really there's so much to be said about resort dining. I've never really had a bad experience.

March 1, 2009 at 6:53 PM · Yachtsman is really out of this list's league. Not everyone can afford it's price points so the comparison is subjective.

$100 is just about the bare minimum you can expect to spend there and that doesn't even include a relatively decent bottle of wine and the cheapest dessert.

Order the Chateau Breon for two and you will never eat in the parks again!

The only thing really better than this is Palo!

March 1, 2009 at 9:51 PM · Expensive? Yes, but all of them are pretty expensive. Victoria and Alberts? I think its actually more. Its a steakhouse at Yachtsman. People should expect to pay top dollar for a good steak, but you are not wrong: Its expensive!
March 1, 2009 at 11:50 PM · I'm really surprised that Cape May Cafe has gotten so few votes. It's not that expensive, the kids love it, it has such a good variety, and we found that even without a reservation - that was the one restaraunt we could always get into. And it's also one of the FEW restaurants that we could find on the REGULAR food plan. We were quite disappointed with our first and possibly only trip to Disney World all the way from Oregon. It's a long way to go and a lot of money to spend to find that you don't get what you paid for.
March 2, 2009 at 4:16 AM · I love this vote because restaurant reviews always polarise opinion and this has been reflected in the scores. Trouble is I can't give a totally true vote because I haven't managed to eat at all of them to make a proper comparison.
What I can do is lend my vote to Citricos ahead of those I have tried and that are on the list. It will be a biased judgement because it was Christmas Day so the ambience was , perhaps, different from a normal day. However the food was excellent , the staff attentive and friendly and , in the scheme of things , not overly expensive.

Had Tchoup Chop at Universal's Royal Pacific been on the list then that would have got my vote for being one of the better restaurants inside or outside of any of the Parks.

But it's limited to WDW Resorts so it's Citricos for me.

March 2, 2009 at 5:57 AM · The California Grill is always a great dining experience. The view overlooking the Magic Kingdom is spectacular.

Flying Fish Cafe rates a close second.

March 2, 2009 at 8:25 AM · Some good comments here :)
March 2, 2009 at 4:54 PM · Heck, I'm using this list to help plan my trip next summer!
March 3, 2009 at 1:50 PM · I didn't get the opportunity to eat at too many non-park restaurants during my most recent visit in late January/early February of this year. And I excluded all the signature restaurants since I was traveling alone. (I think creating a vote splitting them the way Disney splits them in their dining plans would help readers choose both the best "2 credit" and "1 credit" spots.)

Anyhow, eliminating those Signature spots, I chose the relatively new "The Wave" inside the Contemporary Hotel. Maybe because it was my first night after a day of car/plane/bus travel, but I found the food to be incredible with an interesting variety and relatively reasonable prices. I had the braised lamb shank, which was absolutely perfect. It was the start to a great park-hopping, good-eating (but extremely cold and wet) week-long visit.

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