Enjoying a meal at Disney World is as much part of the excitement of the day as any of the attractions and rides. Busy families need to take a little time out to fully recharge and energize themselves so that they are able to get the most out of the whole of the day. But finding somewhere that offers a variety of meals to suit all tastes including fussy little eaters can feel like a challenge. If your family is as busy as mine, getting everyone around the table to enjoy a meal together can be a struggle in everyday life which is one of the reasons why a family dinner on vacation is an important part of your stay. Fortunately, there are plenty of places to eat in the Magic Kingdom that offer enough variety to please everyone and a relaxing atmosphere where you can relish each other’s company in a way that seems only possible on a family vacation.
Where are the best places to eat in the Magic Kingdom? With over thirty different restaurants to choose from, including snack bars, quick-service restaurants, and signature dining experiences, there really is something for everyone in the most magical place on earth. Some of the best include Columbia Harbour House, The Crystal Palace, Be Our Guest Restaurant and Cinderella’s Royal Table. For more options or quicker meals, Sleepy Hollow, Casey’s Corner, and Gaston’s Tavern all offer a range of snacks in inimitable surroundings that capture the heart of Disney.
- Columbia Harbour House
- The Crystal Palace
- Be Our Guest Restaurant
- Cinderella’s Royal Table
- Gaston’s Tavern
Eating out in Disney World can take as much planning as booking your favorite rides as some of the best eateries are booked up well in advance, It is worth making reservations even before you order your Fastpass tickets as so many of the best restaurants have limited availability after only a short time. You also need to think about the location of your restaurant in relation to your ride itinerary: walking from one end of Disney to the other then back again to access a ride can take up huge chunks of time and hungry little people are not the most enthusiastic about having to walk long distances past some fun-looking rides just to catch a food reservation. Some people say it’s easy to forget to eat at Disney World and, while there are plenty of snack bars and food stands where you can find a bite to eat, you will be missing out if you don’t have a reservation and filling up on snacks throughout the day can work out much more expensive. Disney Dining Plans mean you can budget your meals in advance, and there are some excellent Dining Packages that mean you can combine a great family meal with some key attractions in the Magic Kingdom. Disney has even done some of the groundwork for you with their Customised Family Planning Tips aimed at groups of different ages.
Columbia Harbour House
Lunch or dinner reservations are convenient at Columbia Harbour House as it is situated right in the heart of the Magic Kingdom at Liberty Square, The restaurant specializes in seafood with its clam chowder or fried shrimp and fish combo a popular choice, The restaurant itself looks a little like a New England home with its whitewashed walls and emphasis on wooden furniture and paneling. One of the best parts is the air conditioning and a seat upstairs gives you an excellent view of the busy Liberty Square so you can relax in a cool environment while you watch other guests explore the magic of Disney. The whole place feels airy and welcoming. Lobster rolls make for a quick but indulgent snack and the children’s menu includes traditional macaroni and cheese or chicken nuggets so even the fussiest eaters are catered for happily. Vegetarians and health-conscious eaters also find plenty of choice with a range of chili and salads or grilled salmon and chicken for a low-fat protein boost. There really is something for everyone here, and the Harbour House offers a great chance to step out of the sun and relax for a quick but enjoyable meal before you hit the next section of your itinerary with renewed vigor.
The Crystal Palace
A great choice for families, the Crystal Palace serves breakfast, lunch, or dinner buffet-style at Main Street USA. It is ideally situated to let you load up on a quality breakfast to get the day underway or can be a great place for a dinner reservation on your way back towards the entrance at the end of the day. It is also the setting for a popular character experience involving Winnie the Pooh and his friends who will visit your table as you dine and make everyone smile. They also pose for photographs, give autographs, and make the little ones feel special. If you are looking for a character meet and greet experience, this restaurant gives you all the best interaction without having to wait in a queue as the characters come to you while you enjoy your meal.
The restaurant itself is designed in the theme of a Victorian greenhouse with refreshing greenery and topiary abound to give the whole place a warm and bright feeling. High ceilings and plenty of natural light make the place seem airy and large while air conditioning and beautiful plants combined with wrought iron-style chairs help create the sense of an elaborate garden party. The huge glass structure is also beautiful from the outside and it is easy to see how the restaurant found its name. As you might expect from a buffet restaurant, there is a huge range of food on offer.
Children are served well with their own buffet section and a choice of plates and cutlery from Pooh’s Corner although they are just as welcome to select from the adult section if they prefer. Breakfast is one of the best meals, with a range of pastries and an omelet making station where you get to choose your own ingredients. Lunch and dinner offer freshly carved meats and traditional American favorites including seafood and salads, The desserts are also something special: based on the Winnie the Pooh theme, they remind you of Hundred Acre Wood and the coconut flans, key lime pie, and soft-serve ice cream offer something to please every palate.
Be Our Guest Restaurant
Situated in the heart of Fantasyland, this amazing restaurant transports you straight into a fairy tale as you dine in the Beast’s very own castle from Sleeping Beauty. The grand furniture, gilt decorated walls, plush drapes, and elaborate ceiling complete with chandeliers and cloud scene immediately make you feel you are in a royal castle. Despite the elaborate atmosphere, it is possible to have a quick-service breakfast or lunch here which gives you a taste of the chateau without taking too much out of your day. Alternatively, you could sit down for a long, leisurely evening meal. As you might expect, reservations book up fast, and it is very popular with families whose children love princesses.
The restaurant is huge and divided into three different rooms including the Grand Ballroom, the Beast’s study in the West Wing, home of his enchanted rose, and the Castle Gallery where you can see enormous paintings featuring Belle dancing with the Beast. The menu is the same in all three rooms. Quick service meals include breakfast with a range of pastries, eggs and a massive Croque Madame, a variation of a Croque Monsieur, which is an open sandwich loaded with ham, cheese, and a fried egg. Lunch options include braised chicken and a range of salads and sandwiches. Children can enjoy sandwiches, fries, or a range of signature dishes named after the Beast and some of the characters of his castle. If you are dining here, it is well worth paying a little extra for the souvenir castle goblet which can be filled with fountain drinks and lights up for extra novelty. Dinners include more elaborate French cuisine including lobster, lamb chops, fillet steak, and scallops. Children won’t be disappointed with their favorite macaroni and cheese or chicken, steak, and shrimp main meals.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
The stunning castle of Cinderella is a feature point of the Magic Kingdom that all guests can explore but only those with reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table get the chance to go inside, All princess lovers will adore this experience as they are greeted by Cinderella herself in the Grand Hall before going up a spiral staircase to the elaborate Banquet Hall which looks like an authentic magisterial castle complete with lofty banners, plush red carpet and soaring archways that lead up to a grand vaulted ceiling.
Many other Disney princesses take part in this dining experience as they visit you while you eat and make dreams come true for every little girl, or boy. Stained glass windows and huge chairs add to the medieval castle effect. The food here is expensive, but, after all, you are paying for the experience of being able to interact with so many Disney princesses at the same time. Breakfasts include some delightful pastries and the wonderful Caramel and Apple Stuffed French Toast which will fill you up for the day. Children have a wide range of options including tasty waffles and a number of egg dishes they can design themselves.
The whole experience is focused on making the most of the princess experience and many little girls like to dress up as their idols to make the most of the visit and feel like real princesses for a little while. The lunch and dinner menu contains staples such as roast chicken or beef tenderloin along with a signature fish of the day. Children can enjoy a turkey pot pie or stick to old favorites such as macaroni cheese or chicken nuggets. A meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table will transport the whole family to an authentic fairy tale castle. Booking ahead is essential and reservations fill up very quickly so you will need to act fast to be sure of a place.
If you are looking for a quick but filling snack, Gaston’s Tavern is well worth a visit. When you enter this bar you feel as though you have stepped straight onto the set of Beauty and the Beast. After being turned down by Belle, the dashing Gaston returned to his village and opened his own restaurant where he could serve all his favorite snacks and celebrate himself. Not one for modesty, Gaston has adorned his restaurant with huge portraits, statues, and souvenirs of himself. Only snacks are served here, although they are generous enough to fill hungry tummies. Gaston’s favorite cinnamon rolls are very popular while his sandwiches or hummus dip and vegetable sticks will are a tasty stop-gap between a large breakfast and dinner. If you go to Gaston’s Tavern, be sure to try its signature non=alcoholic drink, Le Fou’s Brew. Made to resemble a beer, this honey flavored drink can also be served in a souvenir mug for an even more authentic experience.
How Do Disney Dining Plans Work?
All of these restaurants offer at least part of their menu on the Disney Dining Plan. Guests have a choice of purchasing vouchers for a seat in a waiter-served restaurant combined with quick service options and snacks so that they have the chance to mix it up over their stay. This is a great way of keeping the budget in check as you can purchase all your meals in advance so you know how much you have left for other spending. Non-alcoholic drinks are included. A Disney Dining Plan is also a good way to organize food if your group decides to split up as you know everyone will be able to eat.
What About Dining Packages?
Like all the Disney parks, dining packages are included that combine great meals with other experiences. The character breakfast experiences are a great example, such as in Cinderella’s Royal Table, but there are also other options available in the Magic Kingdom. For example, the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package combines a tasty meal at Tony’s restaurant in Liberty Square followed by VIP tickets to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade.
What Are Disney’s Customized Family Planning Tips All About?
Disney has helped you take the pressure out of planning meals and activities as you can select from a series of different customized tips that help break down the activities into manageable sizes so that you can fit more into your day. There are sections for families with young children including groups made up of a variety of different age groups. You can also find some great deals including free dining options and they even offer help with your visa to give you top class service throughout your stay.