The main complaint I hear regarding the re-instated 180-day window for Disney World Advanced Dining Reservations is that it’s impossible to get a seat in a restaurant “on a whim.” I wanted to address that concern and add another challenge: what if you don’t have park tickets, either?
I thought it’d be fun to tackle this situation and suggest a few spots in both Disney World and Disneyland for those who find themselves in this “pickle!”
Walt Disney World
Nope! I’m not kidding. It doesn’t have to be a hassle to find a good, table-service meal in Disney World — even when you don’t have a reservation or a park ticket! Here are four of my favorite go-to locations at all different price points:
Beaches and Cream $
Welcome back to the 1950′s soda shoppe! Beaches and Cream is located at Disney’s Beach Club Resort and doesn’t even take reservations, so you won’t ever run into the no ADR problem! This spot serves simple, but delicious, diner fare, from burgers and cheese steaks au jus to the most incredible ice cream sundaes you’ve ever seen!
Trail’s End Restaurant $$
This moderately-priced buffet has quite the cult following among die-hard Disney fans, but luckily its out-of-the-way location makes it an easier table to get with no reservation. Located in Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, breakfast here has staples like Mickey waffles, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, and sausage; for lunch and dinner, expect stick-to-your-ribs grub like fried chicken, mac and cheese, seasonal vegetables, catch of the day, pork ribs, and home-made cobbler.
Portobello $$ to $$$
In the mood for excellent, rustic Italian food? Head over to Portobello! Located in Downtown Disney, Portobello has recently re-vamped their menu to include plenty of home-made Italian specialties including incredible antipasti platters, pastas, and even Osso Buco and grilled Tiger Shrimp. Don’t forget to try the new Meatball and Beer bar!
Artist Point $$$
Another favorite that usually doesn’t get the commendation it deserves is Wilderness Lodge’s Artist Point. This signature dining establishment features incredible flavors from the American Northwest, including a delicious Buffalo striploin, an incredible artisan mac and cheese, and highly-recommended cedar plank-roasted wild King Salmon, portobello mushroom soup, mussels, and berry cobbler. Try the venison pot stickers for something a little out of the ordinary!
By the way, two other mid-priced options to consider are Olivia’s Cafe at Old Key West Resort (try the Key Lime Tart!) and Turf Club Bar and Grill at Saratoga Springs Resort (the steak gets high marks, here)!
Click the link to see our index of Disney World table-service locations, including our reviews, links to Disney’s official menus, discount information, and dining plan information! Also, don’t forget to check out our related post about Best Disney World Restaurants When You Don’t Have an ADR, where our readers contributed their favorite suggestions!
While Disneyland doesn’t have nearly the same crunch for reservations as the Disney World Resort (guests can book most restaurants 60 days out), I still have some great recommendations for places I think will have seating for you even if you show up without a park ticket or a reservation.
Storytellers Cafe $$
This out-of-the-way restaurant features incredible decor and craftsman details throughout — which makes sense when you see that it’s located in Disneyland’s Grand Californian Resort! This location offers a character breakfast buffet and lunch and dinner menus that will make you want to sample everything you see.
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen $$
This classic cajun-creole restaurant has been a favorite of Disneyland visitors for it’s spicy, flavorful food and great entertainment. Sample muffellattas, catfish, and jambalaya, then head to the jazz club to continue your evening. On Sunday, hit the “Nawlin’s Brunch Fest” complete with a new Bloody Mary Bar! Find it in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney!
Naples Ristorante and Pizzeria $$
If Italian is what you’re craving, run — don’t walk — to Naples Ristorante & Pizzeria. Every dish we sampled here was outstanding, from the arancini appetizer to the pollo pasta dish to the incredible thin-crust pizza. The light, airy dining room offers the perfect location from which to watch the chefs scurry about around the massive pizza ovens. Again, you’ll find this spot in Disneyland’s Downtown Disney. Highly recommended.
Steakhouse 55 $$$
For a luxurious meal from a bygone era, head to the Disneyland Hotel’s Steakhouse 55. The Hollywood decor, including black and white photos of famous tinsel town stars, and the hushed atmosphere in this secluded restaurant will instantly make you feel relaxed and indulged. Of course, steaks are the specialty here, but save room for some delectable desserts as well.
Two Great Tips For Getting a Seat When You Don’t Have an ADR
Here are few tried and true tips for how to have a great sit-down meal on Disney property at the last minute:
- Timing is Everything: By heading to your chosen restaurant before or after prime mealtimes, you’ll have a better chance of getting seated as a walk-up guest. Our favorites? Late morning (usually too early for many to consider lunch, but too late for breakfast), mid-afternoon (catch that sweet spot between the lunch and dinner rush), late night (while most Disney crowds are hitting the fireworks, Extra Magic Hours, or the hay!).
- Sit at the Counter: Many Disney restaurants are offering counter seating these days, including Disney World hot spots California Grill, Flying Fish Cafe, and Wolfgang Puck Grand Cafe, and Disneyland’s Napa Rose. Read all about my favorite Disney World counter seating options here!
So what are your thoughts? Are there restaurants in your favorites list that you can recommend to folks with no park tickets and no reservation? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments section below!
Photo Credit: Buffalo Striploin courtesy DFB reader Megan Dorsey.