Theme Park of the Day: Disney's Animal Kingdom

What's your dining philosophy at the parks?

Where on the totem poll of things to do during your vacation does dining sit?

From Mark Fairleigh
Posted September 11, 2011 at 10:06 AM
I was doing a little research for our upcoming trip, concentrating on dining in particular. Just seeing if there was anything new. My wife and I prefer quick service to table service, since it's faster and usually less expensive. We do enjoy a good meal, but don't really rank it as a major part of our experience. Arguably, we're missing out on some nice experiences, but the few times we have done table service we haven't been blown away enough to become obssessed about it. That being said, just curious what everyone's dining habits are. Do you take time for a table-service meal or two per trip? Is the usually higher-scale experience of table-service something you see as being a huge part of your vacation experience? Do you look at eating as simply fueling up and taking a breather?

From Andrew Mooney
Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:43 PM
Our family like to experience fine dining at WDW. Being foreign our trips don't comprise of short vacations to Disney. As it's our main holiday we like to enjoy nice dinners. Our most recent trip involved Artists Point, Le Cellier and O'hana. We also ate at Crystal Palace and Hollywood and Vine but they aren't "proper restaurants". We only spent half days in the parks, either morning or evening usually, so the quick service was to fill a gap where we would share our food.

Off course O'hana and Artist Point are hotel restaurants so aren't part of the theme park dining.

From chris cona
Posted September 11, 2011 at 1:54 PM
It depends when going to disney there are far more choices sitting down then anywhere else. Usally we grab a quick lunch, then followed by a snack then a quick burger and to top it all of eat at a decent sit down meal.

From Robert Niles
Posted September 11, 2011 at 2:01 PM
I find I don't truly enjoy visits to parks that don't include a dining option that I would consider an attraction unto itself.

That sit down and rest break in the middle of the day's important to me and my enjoyment of the day. I hate having to spend that with mediocre food court food. If I do, I feel like I've wasted part of my day.

I think food is one of the reasons why Disney, Universal and SeaWorld parks dominate annual attendance and revenue. Their food is just so much better than Cedar Fair or Six Flags.

That said, I'd like to give some credit to Legoland and Holiday World, both of which have some excellent food options. That's a large part of why those two parks are my favorite parks outside the Disney, Universal and SeaWorld chains. (I'd throw Dollywood in that group for goos food, as well, though I've only been there once in the past 20 years so I don't have as much experience with that park.)

From Zackiel Marsh
Posted September 11, 2011 at 3:59 PM
Dining isn't very important to my family. Usually we go to a cheap quick service place when we are hungry and eat some fast food. I have high taste so if their is anything different than the regular burger or chicken nuggets that is what I get. The only time we ever ate at a sit down restaurant is the Bistro De Paris on our one (and only so far) trip to Epcot. It was a treat for me since I love French food and it was absolutely exquisite. But other than Epcot everywhere else is just regular fast food.

From Anthony Murphy
Posted September 11, 2011 at 7:47 PM
Dollywood has some good food too!

I am one for table service at Disney and Universal, but it depends on the park. I really can't think of a time I ate counter service at EPCOT as a meal (usually its a snack). However, my family does tend to go to certain places for lunch vs dinner.

Here are my lunch picks for EPCOT:

Italy (Via Napoli)

Dinner Picks for EPCOT:

Mexico (Hacenda)

As for the other parks, its usually counter service at both AK and MK (though Yak and Yeti, the only park we eat only one meal, is starting to take its place at AK). DHS is the only one where we mix between counter and table.

Still, I fully agree with Robert. At many of the theme parks, the table service is part of the attraction (especially at EPCOT).

From Carrie Hood
Posted September 12, 2011 at 6:25 PM
Food for us depends greatly on the day and the park we're visiting. For example, Magic Kingdom:
Breakfast before the park.
Brunch: Quick Service (popcorn, pretzel, eggroll)
Lunch: Liberty Tavern
Snack: Dole Whip, Frozen Orange Juice.
Dinner: Turkey Leg (shared).

Another good example is our last trip to Kennywood in May:
Breakfast before the park.
Snack: Ice Cream (Shared)
Lunch: Potato Patch Fries (One each)
Snack: Double Cone Ice Cream (Shared)
Dinner: Corndog (Shared)

Normally we don't put much emphasis on food at a theme park unless it's someplace themed we want to see. Epcot is a totally different ball game for my husband and I. We always end up having lunch in either Mexico or Morocco. Dinner tends to Japan or China. This always holds true unless it's Food & Wine, in which case it's all fair game. I sincerely recommend the lamb at Australia's pavilion!

From Lauren Hayhurst
Posted September 13, 2011 at 2:55 AM
Me and my family always schedule in a couple of proper meals out. Our top fav is JIko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Since we always stay in villas (like the freedom and space) we like to visit the Disney hotels and dine there.

Jiko is extremely well priced for the quality of food and we were blown away by how many wine options there were. The decor is also amazing, and there has always been a very relaxing, luxurious atmosphere.

We generally don't use up time in our park-days for fine dining, but dedicate certain evenings to enjoying a long and fulfilling meal!!!

From Brent Moody
Posted September 13, 2011 at 6:15 AM
In my younger days (not that I am that old now) I would always eat quick service meals because I wanted to get back out riding the rides, but now I have started going to the full service places and love them. It gives you a chance to sit down and enjoy a nice meal while recharging your batteries for the rest of the day. For the most part I have not found it to be that much more expensive than getting the quick food. My wife and I ate at Mythos last time we went to IOA and I think our total bill with tip and all was about $45 with a dessert. I realize a quick place probably would have been $25 but to me the extra $20 is worth the experience of eating at a really cool restaurant.

From Anon Mouse
Posted September 14, 2011 at 2:20 PM
While atmosphere is important and I'm sensitive to decor and crowds, table service isn't a priority. Disneyland offers many locations for fast casual dining. You get the atmosphere without the high cost. I don't order hamburgers and fries as much as I used to. That's because they cost nearly as much as a good meal in a fast casual restaurant. Only once or twice on a trip do I visit a table service restaurant; however, I don't have high hopes for the food. They are merely hotel quality food. Gourmet dining at Disneyland or any Disney theme park varies on quality. I think overpaying for food when I'm already gouged on theme park tickets to be something I will definitely regret.

From M. Ryan Traylor
Posted September 14, 2011 at 3:12 PM
If it isn't Disney, dining doesn't come into the planning for the visit inside the park.

Since I'm a SoCal resident, I don't even concentrate on DL food either. And now that there is a DoleWhip shop within walking distance of my place.....

When it comes to WDW, I opt for the dining plan, especially if I go when it's added for free. (But I'd pay for it if I had to) And we stay for about 8 nights to enjoy as many dining options as we can. My last trip was in 2007 and all the rides/attractions were completed in 4 days. Next trip will be in 2014 or 2015.

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