Love the magnificent nighttime display of fireworks and lasers at Epcot during Illuminations? Here’s your guide to the best restaurants from which to watch Illuminations!
This is the second in our series of Best Disney World Restaurants for Fireworks Viewing! Today, we’ll discuss the restaurants with the best views for Illuminations fireworks viewing. (The previous blog post, Part I, has information about Happily Ever After fireworks viewing.)
Illuminations, Reflections of Earth, is shown at Epcot at 9:00PM every night, Saturday-Thursday. Friday nights vary between 9:00PM and 8:00PM depending on Epcot’s schedule.
Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room, patio table
Rose and Crown in Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion is the quintessential dining and viewing spot for Illuminations. If you’re lucky enough to get one of the coveted tables out on the covered patio, Rose and Crown’s view of Illuminations will offer you one of best experiences in Walt Disney World. There’s simply nothing like it.
That said, the fierce competition for these tables has made me forego even making a reservation for dinner at Rose and Crown over the past few visits to Disney World. While Rose and Crown cannot guarantee their ability to grant requests for patio tables, hopefuls begin crowding the podium before 7:00PM each night, willing to wait as long as it takes. The line of patrons waiting to check in can stretch all the way to Tudor Lane. As a result, Rose and Crown has instituted a policy (in my experience) that those checking in at the podium may wait only one hour for a table request; after an hour, they must take the table offered, or choose not to dine at Rose and Crown.
How can you improve your chances? Visit Disney World during a slow season (e.g. Winter or early Fall), book your reservation for around 7:30-7:45pm (it’s simply not fair to the servers to book earlier; unless, of course, you’re willing to pay three times the tip!), and tell the cast members when you check in that you’re willing to wait the hour for a fireworks-view, patio table.
Note that the Rose and Crown patio stretches around the Rose and Crown, meaning you might be seated at the side of the restaurant. You can still see the fireworks here, but the view will not be as good as from the back patio, directly next to the lagoon. You can specify that you’re requesting a back-patio, fireworks-view table, but patio is patio…
Rose and Crown is a casual restaurant; park-wear is acceptable. No reason to dress up. By the way, the potato and leek soup is to die for!
La Hacienda de San Angel
One of the restaurants in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion, La Hacienda de San Angel, offers — for the first time in Epcot history — an Illuminations view rivaling that at Rose & Crown! While many of the tables offer excellent views (the windows are expansive), those that are right up against the windows will be highly prized.
This high-end restaurant located on the second floor of the building housing Les Chefs de France in Epcot’s France pavilion has excellent Illuminations viewing. Again, you’ll want to arrive early and request a window table, but a steep price and nearly hidden entrance (the entrance to Monsieur Paul is hidden around the back of the Le Chefs de France building) mean that competition for seating is limited compared to Rose and Crown.
The dining here is top-notch, but the view from the second story windows can’t be beat. Dress up for this one, and make it a celebration.
Cantina de San Angel
The Mexico pavilion’s counter service dining option has been touted by some, panned by others, but everyone agrees that it’s a good option for watching Illuminations…assuming you can commandeer a table and stand your ground!
Because the tables are lined up along the World Showcase Lagoon, patrons have complained about kiddos squeezing themselves between tables and fence to get a better view. Also, folks who might not have as much need for personal space as you do may invite themselves to infringe upon yours by “sharing” your table.
This spot might be more hassle than it’s worth, but it’s an inexpensive way to get one of the best views in the park. And the food’s tasty, too!
Tokyo Dining, in Epcot’s Japan pavilion specializes in sushi and tempura, and the restaurant shares the second floor of the Mitsukoshi Department Store building with Japan’s other table-service restaurant, Teppan Edo.
This might be your best bet for getting an advanced dining reservation fewer than 90 days out, as many folks don’t yet know about Tokyo Dining, aren’t sure where it is, or simply don’t want to try the food. Luckily, this means that the floor-to-ceiling window views are up for grabs!
As with the other restaurants, make a reservation for an hour or so before Illuminations and arrive early. Request a window table (tell them you’ll wait if necessary). Once seated, enjoy your meal leisurely until the show begins.
Note that there is an outdoor, public walkway along the windows at Tokyo Dining. If people notice it’s there, they may crowd it before the show. You’ll still be able to see the fireworks, but this could possibly block the view a bit.
Tokyo Dining is a more casual restaurant; park-wear is acceptable.
Other Potential Viewing Spots With Dining
While I wouldn’t necessarily recommend either of these spots for Illuminations viewing, Tangierine Cafe in Morocco and Liberty Inn at the American Adventure might offer a decent place to sit to see the higher-up fireworks. At Tangierine Cafe, even if you’re sitting outside (the windows are too opaque to see from the inside), the crowds will likely mar your view of the action on the water. At Liberty Inn, the American Gardens Theater tends to block out the lagoon view. But both offer spots to sit, take a load off, and nosh a bit while you listen to the music and enjoy at least some of the show.
If you have other ideas and options, be sure to let me know in the comments section below!
Check out the other “Best Disney World Restaurants” in our series!