When you’re going to Disney, ya gotta eat. All that walking you do, you have to refuel. Once we had our resort picked out and figured out which parks we wanted to do and when, we had to decided on meals. If you are staying at Disney you can book your meals 180 days in advance of your arrival.That sounded so crazy to me. Who makes dining reservations 180 days advance? You do, if you want to actually be able to get in to the restaurant of your choice, especially if you want to go on a specific day and around a specific time.
Let me start with Dining at Port Orleans Riverside. I will tell you that we have no idea what table service food there is like. We seriously only at quick service food there, and it was good. There were burgers, pizza, fried seafood, an awesome little salad spot, and a sandwich area. There was also an area with just treats.We don’t have any regrets.
We knew we wanted to make Johanna’s 6th birthday extra special, so picking the right restaurant was key. Based upon her love for princesses, we narrowed down our options to Akershus at Epcot and Cinderella’s Royal Table (CRT) at Magic Kingdom. After much thought we chose CRT because at the time we were not sure if we were going to Epcot, but we knew that Magic Kingdom would be, well, magical, for her birthday.
CRT is expensive. When I called to book I didn’t have the dining plan yet. I had pay (yes pay in advance) $200 for 3 of us to eat. While that did include the tip, It was still a very expensive meal for such a little person. The plus was that she was guaranteed to meet 5 princesses, including the Princess of all Princesses, Cinderella (who she doesn’t care about at all mind you) and she would get to eat in the castle. What little girl wouldn’t love that? Once we found out we were going to Epcot I did make a reservation at Akershus, but we ended up cancelling it and here’s why. There is no guarantee of which princesses will be where for either restaurant. I believe the only given is that Cinderella will be at CRT and not at Akershus. In hindsight, I would’ve chosen Akershus for the princess experience because the food choices are much better than at CRT and Johanna could care less that she was eating inside the castle. Also, if you get the dining plan, CRT is 2 table credits. Not worth it. We went to CRT on Thursday and found out taht the exact same princesses minus Cinederella were going to be at Akershus on Friday, when we had our reservation. Because of that, we switched our reservation to Via Napoli.
I had heard wonderful things about the pizza at Via Napoli, but wouldn’t you know, pizza isn’t what I ordered. My husband and Johanna got pizza and raved about it. I got Candele, which is stick pasta, sausage ragu, polpettine meathballs, mozzarella, and ricotta. It was so friggin good. So good! But it wasn’t the best meal I had while there.
The best meal goes to 50’s Prime Time Cafe at Hollywood Studios. Oh my goodness! 50’s Prime Time is American comfort food in a 50’s kitchen/dining room. Johanna stayed boring and ordered chicken nuggets, but my husband and I ordered A Sampling of Mom’s Favorite Recipes which includes fried Chicken, Pot Roast, and meatloaf. When I tell you that is some of the best fried chicken I ever had! And that pot roast was super tender and flavorful. Even the meatloaf was yummy. And our waiter? Was super awesome. He not only had our area of the dining room sing happy birthday to Johanna, but he also has another family he was serving do the same. And although the specialty drinks are not a part of the dining plan, he brought Johanna one anyway and gave her an extra dessert for her birthday. He made it so special for her and we were so thankful. Also, when they call you to seat you, they call your name out like your mom would when she’s calling you to dinner. Love it!
Another fave of ours was Crystal Palace at Magic Kingdom. Crystal Palace almost didn’t make it on our list because Johanna isn’t a big Pooh fan at all, but hubby and I are! We love him! And I’m so happy we did it because it was our best character interaction experience. She even got to hold Piglets hand in a parade around our side of the dining room! All of the characters were as sweet as you would imagine they would be, and the food. The FOOD! We went just in time to experience breakfast AND lunch (11:15 reservation), but we only ate breakfast because it was plentiful and we were still full from the day before. My husband loved the breakfast lasagna and I loved this egg-sausage combo thing they had going on.
We at at Cosmic Ray’s one night for a quick service meal and it brought back great memories from the last time I was there in my early 20s! The burgers are still as yummy as they were back then.
I must mention that we LOVED the pizza at Blaze in Disney Springs and were over the moon when we learned that they have a few in our state. Can’t wait to visit them again!
Also, my favorite snack credit was that gigantic cinnamon roll from Gaston’s Tavern at Magic Kingdom. Not only was it hot and tasty, but all 3 of us were able to eat off of it.
Here are more restaurants that were recommended to me (QS – Quick Service/SC – Snack Credit/TS – Table Service):
- Mini kitchen sink dessert in MK (sc)
- The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor (sc)
- Liberty Tree (ts)
- Columbia Harbour House (qs)
- Skipper Canteen (MK)
- Electric Umbrella (qs) – Epcot
- Lotus Blossom Eggrolls or potstickers (sc)
- Chips and guacamole in Mexico (sc)
- Anything from the bakeries in France and Norway (sc)
- The Caramel Shop in Germany (sc)
- Garden Grill (ts and character meal – Mickey, Pluto, Chip and Dale)
- Rose and Crown (ts). Get a 7:30-7:45 reservation so you can watch Illuminations after your meal
- Hollywood and Vine only because you can meet Doc, Sofia the First, Jake, and Handy (ts)
- Sci Fi Dine In for good burgers (ts)
- Starring Rolls (sn)
- ABC Commissary (qs)
- Tusker House (ts)
- Rum Dole Whip (sc)
- Flametree (qs)
- Yak & Yeti (qs)
- Boma (ts)
Outside the Parks
- 1900 Park Faire (ts – character dining: evil stepsisters) – Grand Floridian Resort
- Chef Mickey for the character interaction (ts – the fab five) – Contemporary Resort
- Ohana (ts – Lilo and Stitch and friends) – Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Whispering Canyon Cafe (ts) – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
If you’re on the dining plan, order the most expensive item on the menu for your meal. Get the biggest bang for your buck. That’s the only thing that will make the dining plan worth it.
Use the dining plan calculator to see if it is really worth it for you to get the plan. It wouldn’t have been for us because we just don’t eat enough for it. In fact, we had to spend $170 more to make it worth it. However, with the stay, play, dine package , we ended up paying $20 less for the trip in total with the plan, so it worked out.
Double check that all of your dining reservations are actually listed on your account. Crystal Palace somehow fell off of ours and they had to go through some backdoor server to find it. It was a mess.If you don’t see your reservation call in to make sure they link it and follow up within 24 hours to make sure it was done!
Typcially the food at Character dining is not amazing, but the pay off is that you get to meet many characters at once, which is important if you plan on getting autographs or photos. Decide earlier which ones you are willing to stand in line to see, which ones you want to skip, and which ones you would like to get close and personal with in a dining situation.
Figure out where you may want to use your snack credits ahead of time (you can go here for more suggestions). You don’t have to have a schedule, but just have it in the back of your head so you don’t wander around aimlessly and just keep getting popcorn or nuts because you’re not sure where you can use your snack credit.
Figure out your reservations at least a week before your 180 days. It’ll make things go super smooth when you can make your reservations.
You have to call to make Cinderella’s Royal Table Reservations ((407) 939-3463). You cannot make them from your disney account.
Again, you can make reservations 180 days before your stay. Go to the Disney dining website at 6 a.m. Eastern time, ordo phone reservations at 7 a.m.
For more information on dining, go here.
What is your absolute favorite thing to eat at Disney?