Which Is the Theme Park Restaurant of the Year?

December 19, 2022, 7:34 PM · "Finals Week" continues on Theme Park Insider today with our vote for the Best Theme Park Restaurant.

Being honest, 2022 has been a tough year for the restaurant industry, and especially so at theme parks. Many parks literally cannot pay people enough to take food service jobs, leaving many lines understaffed and forcing restaurants to cut menus to both minimize the number of cooks and prep workers needed as well as to avoid getting strangled by a tight supply chain.

Mix reduced menus, smaller portion sizes, higher prices and - in too many cases - declining quality, and it's been tough year for hungry theme park fans. Still, beautiful and immersive dining spaces remain so even while kitchens struggle. To that end, some iconic restaurants made our short list this year, thanks to the enduring support from their fans.

Here are the 10 finalists for this year's Theme Park Insider Award for Best Restaurant. (Before anyone asks, last year's winner - Mythos Restaurant from Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure - claimed its 10th award last year, promoting it to the Hall of Fame and making it ineligible for future yearly awards.) Vote for your favorite below to help us pick the winner.

Be Our Guest Restaurant, Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest Restaurant

Blue Bayou Restaurant, Disneyland

Blue Bayou Restaurant

Carthay Circle Restaurant, Disney California Adventure

Carthay Circle Restaurant

Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen, Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

Jungle Navigation Co. Skipper Canteen

Lamplight Lounge, Disney California Adventure

Lamplight Lounge

Leaky Cauldron, Universal Studios Florida

Leaky Cauldron

Monsieur Paul, Epcot

Monsieur Paul

Plaza Inn, Disneyland

Plaza Inn

Satu'li Canteen, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Satu'li Canteen

Tiffins Restaurant, Disney's Animal Kingdom

Tiffins Restaurant

We will announce the winners of the 21st annual Theme Park Insider Awards on January 1, 2023. Feel free to campaign in the comments for your favorite, or just to leave your thoughts about the state of theme park dining at the moment.

To vote in previous categories: Best Hotel, Best Holiday Event, Best Halloween Event, Best New Attraction.

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Replies (6)

December 20, 2022 at 7:46 AM

I'm kind of surprised Space 220 didn't make this list with all the hype and difficulty guests have snagging a reservation for EPCOT's newest dining experience (maybe not enough TPI readers have experienced it to form an option). The omission of Le Cellier is also a bit surprising, though I've read recent menu tweaks and pricing increases have dropped the quality/value of what was a must-do meal for many in EPCOT.

For me, Lamplight Lounge was incredibly overrated and disappointing. We did only eat there once back in 2019, so maybe we caught it on a bad day or picked lesser items off the menu, but I was not terribly impressed - Carthay Circle and Blue Bayou, which we have dined at multiple times, are far superior IMHO.

I do appreciate that all of the nominees here are actually located inside theme parks, as I feel it's important to draw a distinction between theme park restaurants and themed resort restaurants (and yes TH, that would exclude Disney Springs restaurants from this award too).

With that said, my vote is for Tiffins. The food quality has always met or exceeded expectations for us, and the prices are very reasonable (particularly on the pre fixe menu used for various experiences/tours) for what I would categorize as a luxury dining experience.

December 20, 2022 at 9:46 AM

I'm going for Skipper Canteen. It's a great value, with a diverse selection of awesome dishes. And the puns, so many puns! This year I really gravitated towards the low & middle priced restaurants at Disney. The upper tier restaurants are fine, but I'm finding it difficult to justify entrees priced at over $40s when I can get food that is just as satisfying at skipper canteen or Steakhouse '71 for under $30.

Which brings me to Monsieur Paul.. I understand it has it's fans and a legacy, but it only reopened from the pandemic 2 months ago. That would make the attendance numbers over the past 2 years very low. I think it would be unfortunate if it wins, because it will not be an accurate depiction of the current experience and today's theme park restaurant scene. I'm also surprised that 9/10 restaurants on the ballot are from Disney, and none are outside of the US.

I think the universal table service restaurants are extremely underrated. Food is great & affordable, theming is fantastic, you can easily make a reservation in the same week, and walk in waits are rarely long. Honorable mention to Confisco grill!

One last thing- huge thanks to the restaurant staffs. I received amazing service & food at pretty much every theme park restaurant I visited this year. They were always friendly and welcoming, despite the challenges Robert mentioned. And speaking of challenges, I witnessed an unusual number of 'unruly guest' situations in the past year, and the skill & patience shown by wait staff was awe-inspiring.

December 20, 2022 at 9:25 AM

My family and I have always been extremely partial to the Liberty Tree Tavern at the Magic Kingdom. We go there at least once a year and have never been disappointed.

December 20, 2022 at 11:56 AM

My vote would be Blue Bayou Restaurant, at Disneyland. The food is always excellent. The ambiance is great. But the icing on the cake for me is that Pirates of the Caribbean begins, and rides past the restaurant.

December 20, 2022 at 12:27 PM

Russell: " ... and yes TH, that would exclude Disney Springs restaurants from this award too".

Me: Too bad for the beer cart near the east entrance of the AMC. Damn it!

December 20, 2022 at 12:54 PM

Lamplight Loungue wins for us because it has a full bar, several vegetarian choices (which can be hard to come by at Disney) and you can sit outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. Sure, Disney's food is never particularly good, but at least it isn't as overpriced as BB or Carthay.

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