By Kristin, Director of Magic at Celebration Shirts
Everyone has a favorite restaurant, and Walt Disney World is no different! There are so many options with restaurants inside the parks, in the resorts and at the newly-updated Disney Springs (formally known as Downtown Disney) that it could make your head spin when it's time to make a decision! Below are my personal Top 5 favorites to try and help you with making a decision!
1. Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom
Be Our Guest is relatively new (opened in 2013) and is located in New Fantasyland inside the Magic Kingdom. At first glance of this restaurant, you are immediately blown away by the theme! It looks exactly like Beast’s Castle from the movie Beauty and the Beast! Inside the castle is even more breathtaking! There are three themed dining areas you can sit in... West Wing, Grand Ballroom and The Castle Gallery, each perfectly and meticulously detailed. You can have breakfast, lunch and dinner at Be Our Guest, with breakfast and lunch both being Quick Service and dinner considered Table Service. I currently only have experience in eating dinner in the Grand Ballroom, but it was so magical! I was truly transported into the world of the Beast just from one step into the castle, from “snow” falling outside the windows, ornate paintings on the ceilings and even the Master himself walking through the dining room. At dinner times you are also able to greet the Beast in his study after you have completed your meal. All this and we haven’t even talked about the food! The food here is top notch! I have not had a bad meal here in my many visits to Walt Disney World. Also something to note... the chefs here are FANTASTIC with food allergies! This is truly one of my personal favorite dining experiences. I highly recommend eating one meal here and try the grey stuff… it's delicious!
2. Tusker House at Animal Kingdom
Tusker House is one of my personal favorites at Animal Kingdom. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner here and it's a Character Dining experience as well. You can join Donald Duck and his pals for a fantastic safari-themed meal. My personal favorite time of day to visit Tusker House is for an early breakfast, before the park even opens. This allows you early access into Animal Kingdom and to be some of the first people into the restaurant. The theming of this restaurant is amazing. It looks like you are in an outdoor market getting ready to go on safari! The breakfast here is your typical breakfast buffet fare (eggs, pastries, breakfast meats, Mickey waffles, carvery, etc.) with some African flavors (beef bobotie, quiche, etc.) added in. The Jungle Juice (Pineapple, Guava and Orange Juices) that is served here is my absolute favorite! It is so refreshing and flavorful that I always have several glasses. I think the character interaction here is top notch as well! It is a great location to meet some of the Fab 5 in one location without any lines. Tip: after eating an early breakfast at Tusker House head over to the Kilimanjaro Safari ride for a little to no wait.
3. Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom
Crystal Palace is located inside Magic Kingdom right at the end of Main Street, USA. It is also a Character dining experience with Winnie the Pooh and Friends joining you for your meal. As with Tusker House, I enjoy coming to Crystal Palace for an early, pre-park open breakfast. There is nothing better than walking down Main Street, USA with very few guests, taking in the sights, sounds and a chance for you to get one of those often sought-after family pictures in front of the castle with no one else in the shot; which is the perfect opportunity for your family to wear your matching Celebration Shirts! Crystal Palace is a gorgeous restaurant. It's bright and full of sun shining through the windows which correlates well to the Friendship Day Celebration theme with Pooh and Friends. The food at Crystal Palace is standard buffet fare throughout the day so you are sure to find items to suit every taste bud in your family! The character interaction is also very good! The pacing of the characters is well thought out and not rushed at all. A hit for all ages!
4. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot in the Norway Pavilion
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is my choice for a Princess Character dining experience. You can meet several Princesses in one spot with no wait! Akershus resembles a Norwegian Castle on the inside; very regal looking. Breakfast at Akershus is not your typical breakfast buffet; they serve you eggs, hashbrowns, bacon/sausage family style directly to your table while at the buffet is pastries, fruit and some Norwegian specialties (i.e. smoked salmon, capers, peppered mackerel, etc.). For lunch and dinner reservations you can expect some more Norwegian specialties but still find several options for all taste buds! The character interaction here is wonderful. The pacing is great in allowing you to eat your food in leisure and not have to rush as each Princess stops by your table.
5. ‘Ohana at the Polynesian Village Resort
‘Ohana is probably my absolute favorite restaurant on Disney property! The atmosphere, food and location are ideal in my mind! ‘Ohana offers breakfast and dinner seating times. Breakfast is a Character Dining Experience which features Lilo and Stitch and has an all-you-care-to-eat family style offering. Dinner is also served all-you-care-to-eat family style. Allow me give you a tip… go hungry! There is so much food that comes your way over the course of the meal, and in my opinion, it’s all so good! Your wait staff is referred to as your “cousin” which really helps with the atmosphere. Inside the restaurant, the theming of the Polynesian Village Resort carries out with giant tiki statues, cast members wearing Hawaiian-themed attire and dark wood fixtures. Beyond the amazing food and atmosphere, the location is perfect! The Poly is located on the monorail line so it is quick access to/from Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Because of its proximity to the Magic Kingdom, if you time it just right, you can catch Wishes while enjoying your wonderful meal! There are several tables located along the windows in ‘Ohana that overlook the castle, which provides a great view of Wishes, if you are lucky and can get one of those tables. If your dinner time doesn’t align with watching Wishes from the restaurant, the beach at the Polynesian also is a great location to watch the fireworks! No matter what time of day you decide to visit ‘Ohana, how can you beat a view of Magic Kingdom while you eat? Nothing better in my eyes!