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Disney Food for Families: Great Disney World Restaurants for Boys

Much fuss is made about the ballyhooed princess dining experiences at Disney World. So much fuss, that parents of young boys sometimes find themselves wondering, “What does Disney have that’s special for me?”

The down and dirty dino loving boy will be right at home at the T-Rex Cafe.

Well, never fear sports fans; I’m here to tell you that while, yes, the girly girls are pretty visible in the parks (it’s hard to miss the Florida sun glinting off a tiara), there are plenty of Disney dining experiences where the men in your family will feel right at home.

Let’s break it down …

Character Meals

There are 10 different character dining venues at Walt Disney World proper. Of these, only three and a half of them have princess themeing. The rest are totally gender-neutral.

Boys are certainly welcome at any of the princess meals, and many boys love them just as much as the other character meals (PLUS they’re given a neato plastic sword at the Royal Table); but honestly, they do skew more heavily toward girl interests.

All of the other character dining restaurants appeal equally to boys and girls. Your best options for boys in the character dining department are the following (characters are always subject to change):

Cape May Cafe, Beach Club Resort, characters at breakfast only. Goofy, Minnie, Donald Duck and others.

Chef Mickey’s, Contemporary Resort, breakfast and dinner. Mickey (natch), Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Pluto.

Meeting the Chef

Garden Grill, Epcot, dinner. Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale.

Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger.

Bounce with Tigger

Hollywood & Vine, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, breakfast and lunch. Disney Junior characters Handy Manny, Agent Oso, June & Leo.

‘Ohana, Polynesian Resort, characters at breakfast only. Lilo, Stitch, Mickey, Goofy, and others.

Say Aloha to Mickey and Friends at 'Ohana

1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian Resort. Serving breakfast and dinner with characters. As noted above, the dinner service is princess oriented. Breakfast is more general storybook characters including Mary Poppins, Alice & the Mad Hatter, Pooh, and others.

Tusker House, Animal Kingdom, breakfast and lunch. Donald, Daisy, Goofy, Mickey.

Tusker House

Use our “What Character Meal is Right For You?” section to find out what Disney World spots fit your family best.

None of these spots have even a perfumed whiff of princess about them. There will be no uncomfortable “too girly” squirms from your he-men.

Now, in addition to the gender neutral character meals, there are many other dining opportunities that appeal to boy interests.

Wild West

Four dining spots at Walt Disney World and one table-service location in Disneyland have a frontier feel to them. If you’ve got rootin’ tootin’ cowpokes in your clan, here’s where to take them.

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, Fort Wilderness resort. This is technically a dinner show, but functions in many respects as a character meal. Your little men can line dance with Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Chip & Dale, then feast on chicken, ribs, hot dogs, and corn.

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, Fort Wilderness resort. Americana songs, unbearably silly jokes, and all the fried chicken you can eat.

They're even looking for boys to be in the show at the Hoop Dee Doo Revue.

Trail’s End, Fort Wilderness resort. Biscuits and gravy in a log cabin. It’s like camping, but without the clean up.

Whispering Canyon Cafe, Wilderness Lodge. This is a humorous take on the old West, with lots of jokey servers and an obligatory hobby horse romp through the dining room. Try a manly skillet with all-you-care-to-eat BBQ and fixin’s.

The Whispering Canyon Cafe breakfast skillet is manly enough for any big boy.

Science Fiction

Sci-Fi Dine-In, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Sci-Fi guys will love watching clips from campy 50s and 60s alien and robot movies while sitting in a replica convertible car. It doesn’t get any cooler than that.

Sci Fi Atmosphere

Dinosaurs

T-Rex Cafe, Downtown Disney Orlando. You’re transported back in time to when dinosaurs roamed the earth. It’s loud (did we say it’s LOUD), and prehistoric.

Wooly Mammoth at T-Rex Cafe

The Great Outdoors

Rainforest Cafe, Animal Kingdom or Downtown Disney. You are eating In. The. Jungle. It’s loud here, too, so if you’ve got kiddos who don’t like noises or thunder, you might want to skip this ’til they’re older.

Dine With Furry Friends at Rainforest Cafe

Sanaa, Animal Kingdom Lodge Kidani Village. Many of the tables over look the African savanna. You may view zebras or other wild creatures while you eat (as long as it’s light outside).

Coral Reef, Epcot. Sit by the side of a GIANT aquarium while you dine. Watch out for the sharks!

Proximity of Animals to Diners at Coral Reef

Sports

Turf Club, Saratoga Springs Resort. When you’re done with your meal, you can shoot some pool or check out what’s happening on the big screen TV in the lounge.

ESPN Club, Boardwalk Resort. THE place to watch the big game and the best chicken wings in town. There are even TVs in the restroom, so you don’t have to miss a play — even if nature calls. And don’t forget, there’s a big ol’ arcade next door!

ESPN Club

Movies

Planet Hollywood, Downtown Disney. You never know what cinema memorabilia you’ll be seated next to.

Boys Love Movies

Counter Service Choices for Boys

Beyond all these wonderful table service options for boys, there are also numerous counter service venues that have a machismo element as well. Your boys may enjoy the counter service themeing at:

Casey’s Corner, Magic Kingdom. Hot dogs and Disney baseball cartoons. Score!

Hot Dog and Fries at Casey's Corner

Flame Tree Barbeque, Animal Kingdom. Substantial meaty dishes, and while you eat, you can watch the folks screaming on Expedition Everest.

Restaurantosaurus, Animal Kingdom. Basic fare like burgers and dogs, served amidst dino bones and fossils. Let them run around in the “basketball court!”

Basketball Dining Room at Restaurantosaurus

End Zone Food Court, All Star Sports Resort. Standard food court offerings, but the dining room is decorated with giant renderings of sports figures.

Pizza Planet, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Who doesn’t like a giant Arcade + Pizza?! (Well, “who” under 12 years old, that is?)

Coming Attractions

Splitsville, Downtown Disney. Opening in Fall 2012, we’re expecting the new food offerings at Splitsville will be a great addition for families with boys. You can eat and bowl a few frames! Perfect for a rainy day.

Gaston’s Tavern, Magic Kingdom. Opening in late 2012, Gaston’s Tavern will surely be the manliest of counter-service locations! After all, Gaston is a “man among men!”

Just in Case…

Sometimes your guys will like the attention they get from the princesses, so don’t rule that out… ;-)

Royal Table with Jasmine

But if you don’t think your guys are ready for all of that pixie dust, I hope you’ve found a few places here where you think they’ll be comfortable dining in the Disney parks and resorts!

Parents of boys, where have you found that appealed to your hungry crew? Have we missed any man-friendly spots? And if you’ve taken your family of boys to a princess meal, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.

Erin Foster is the Disney Food for Families columnist and a behind-the-scenes guru here at Disney Food Blog! Check out more of her posts here.

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23 Comments

  1. Lenore says:

    I love this! My little guy still isn’t old enough for dining experiences, but I’m already excited to share these options with him when he is!

  2. Kim says:

    Thanks for this awesome article geared at dining with boys, Erin!

  3. Shayne says:

    Thank you for this! As the mom of 2 boys, we sometimes struggle with princessification of Disney Parks. We have eaten at many of these spots, and the boys have loved it. Other favorites of theirs are Les Chefs de France, Tutto Italia, Via Napoli. There’s nothing particularly masculine (or feminine) about any of these places — they just love the food!

    The first time we went to Cinderella’s Royal Table, my boys were 4 and 2. The 2yo was pretty oblivious, but my 4yo chatted up the princesses like they were his BFFs. He bragged to them how brave he had been to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. It was adorable.

    The last time we ate there was when my boys were 7 and 5 and before dinner included princess meet & greets (it was just the Fairy Godmother, who did not visit each table, and the two mice). The boys complained mightily about the meal beforehand, but I told them that Mommy needed some princess time! When we arrived and they got to take photos with the suit of armor in the lobby (I think they also secretly enjoyed meeting Cindy herself) and then were presented with swords and referred to by the wait staff as “My Lord,” they changed their tune quite a bit!! It was a good time, but I’m still not sure I could get them to go now that they are older (10 and 8).

  4. LeeAnn says:

    My son (age 10) is so excited about this list! He is glad you provided options for HIM, since we often go to very princessy locations for my daughter! He is adding these choices to his list (especially Sci-Fi and Whispering Canyon)! Thanks!

  5. Sneezy says:

    Are you kidding? If people have a hard time finding “boy themed” places at Disney World then I suggest you haven’t been looking AT ALL. And I’d like to point out that up until about 10 years ago, MOST places were definitely boy themed, and not just at Disney. Until the Princess theme came along, there was practically NOTHING girly for girls to enjoy. They just had to endure either masculine or neutral themed places because the powers that be thought they could make more money at it. Girls were a lot more likely to shut up and put up with the boy themed places, while boys simply would not put up OR shut up about having to do anything girly. I say it’s about time that girls have their day and I’m thankful that Disney caters to BOTH genders now.

  6. Beth says:

    At our last visit in 2010, my then 10 yr. old son absolutely LOVED breakfast at O’Hana with Stitch! Stitch was hilarious…he decided to “pick my son’s nose” and wipe it on his shirt, which got my son howling!

    This November, I’ve scheduled meals at Chef Mickey’s (breakfast) and Akershus (dinner). To be honest, now that he’s almost 12, he’s *really* looking forward to meeting the beautiful Princesses! Especially his favorites, Snow White (who planted a big kiss on his cheek last visit when he politely bowed and kissed her hand!) and Jasmine. He tells me that the Princesses aren’t girly…they’re HOT! LOL!

  7. Alex says:

    LOL @Beth. I think there’s often a turning point in boy’s lives where princesses go from being “girly” to “hot.” Right around the same time girls go from having cooties to being pretty! Haha

  8. jeanie says:

    i’d like to add to Sneezy’s post…when did gender-scripting become so absolute? why wouldn’t a girl like “substantial meaty dishes?” i get so irritated every time i have to set foot in a place like the Target toy aisles, which are so clearly “BOY” and “GIRL” and there’s NOTHING gender-neutral. ugh.

  9. David says:

    Last year on out first visit we took our 3 yr old son and 2 yr old daughter to Royal Table, they both loved it. My son at first did not want to go at all. When we got there he was a little shy at first but warmed up to them quick. We are going back in Sep (106 days to go) and going to eat at Royal Table is something very high on his list. He wants to get his picture Bell and get a sword. So i think some boys like it just as much as some of the girls.

    We will also be going to Hollywood and Vine so we can eat with Jake from Jake and the never land Pirates.

  10. AJ says:

    Lenore — Which ones do you think he’ll like best?

    Shayne — I love the story of your little one bragging about conquering Pirates! That’s great!

    LeeAnn — I’m so glad he’s happy and adding some of these to his list! I think he’ll love them!

    Sneezy — Great observation that prior to princesses, there was very little that was “girl-centric!” So interesting since Walt was mainly trying to create a place where his daughters could have a great time. I guess that gender-ification (probably not a word, eh? :-) ) has really taken over as a marketing tool these days.

    Beth and Alex — Ha ha!! I love that story about Stitch (gross, but definitely in character). And, yes, I think Alex is right that princesses suddenly become much more of an option when they pass that 12-year-old age! ;-)

    Jeanie — That’s why I think many of the character meals are so great; they are definitely gender-neutral. Boys and girls are going to be equally excited to see Mickey, Pluto, Eeyore, and the others! (And trust me, I’m a girl who can definitely tuck into some substantial meaty dishes!)

    David — Yep, I agree! Some boys — especially the little guys — are just as happy (and possibly less scared) when it comes to princesses since they’re face characters and not fur characters. Would love to hear your review of Hollywood and Vine when you return! :-)

  11. Jenny says:

    I would have never thought of most of the locations that you gave. Thank you for showcaseing them. My sons favoraite is the Sci-Fi, he loves the classic cars and watching sthe movies.
    :)

  12. MUGger says:

    You missed a few my boys enjoyed:

    Raglan Road — Irish music, fried sausages on a stick!

    Biergarten – oompa band, buffet choices including sausages.

    50s Prime Time Cafe — funky decor, TVs at every table, plenty of opportunities for Mom & Dad embarrassment, homey kid food like fried chicken and meatloaf.

  13. Jen says:

    We are planning our first trip as parents, having been there when we were first married. We are taking out twin boys for their 3rd birthday in october. I was kind of bummed when I was looking at character meal options and saw it was so overwhelmingly princess-y. I really wanted a Toy Story character meal, my kids would be bananas for eating with Buzz and Woody. Them and every other boy I know. We settled for a breakfast with Mickey at Chef Mickey and Crystal Palace with Pooh and friends.

  14. Maria says:

    Great article, thank you!
    I can’t get my boys (now 8 and 11) to go to a caracter meal at all, DH is on the same agenda :(
    But they really liked Biergarten (the 11-year old ate so much that he felt sick and the 8-year old danced and sang).
    Their all time favourite is dinner at O’hana! Nothing beats the food, the theaming and of course the coconut races.

  15. mandy mackley says:

    We took my boys (along with grandparents) to the royal table when they were 8 and 10 and they loved the grandeur and all of the “disney” bits to it. The characters at that time were the fairy Godmother and the 2 mice. We went again in Oct 11, this time they were 12 (exactly as it was his birthday) and 13 and a half. They were a little embarrassed at this point about Cinderella putting their arm around them for the photo – but loved being in the restaurant again, this time with all of the princesses. We asked one of them questions about the names of the all the princes that were their partners which they were able to supply without hesitation. They were referred to as “my lord” and talked about as being brave etc and insisted they stood up for photos and my boys got into the whole disney side of things. We loved breakfast at O’hana (when they were 8 and 10) and they enjoyed dinner at 12 and 13 with chip and dale at the one that turns – name escapes me. Love this article as next return visit (October ’13 when they are 14 and 15 and a half) we will try out the Sci-Fi, Coral Reef and probably Backyard BBQ.
    Thanks for all the details they are great. Must say I agree with previous poster that I hate that all of the items are branded “boys” and “girls” why not just say if you prefer something without princesses… etc. This seems to be worse in the US than UK. I complained to McDonalds over here when my kids were little that they asked if I would like a “boy” toy or a “girl” toy with their happy meal. I actually took one of each as the “boy” toy had lots of little pieces and was not suitable for the youngest, yet the “girl” toy was one piece no small bits and more suitable.
    Love disney and love ALL disney dining.

  16. Catherine says:

    I think most of those who are disappointed that there is nothing “for the boys” expected a Toy Story or Star Wars character meal.

    Wdw went so far as to issue a casting call for a Toy Story character meal destined for Hollywood & Vine, apparently someone decided it would be better to have a character meal aimed at preschoolers and showcasing what is now Disney Jr.

  17. Heather K says:

    Now, we need this version for Disneyland as that is where we are headed in November for my son’s 10th birthday..

  18. Kristina says:

    My husband’s absolute favorite is Boma. The soups, meats, variety, and unique flavors make it one of my favorites as well. We also went to Be Our Guest a week ago for dinner. Everything was delicious (right down to the Grey Stuff)!! I like my steak cooked well, so honestly, I don’t usually order steak out. I asked the waitress and she encouraged me to order it. I did, it was beautifully well done and cut like butter!! As if exceptional servers, unique and beautiful decor, and top not notch menu weren’t enough, Beast himself was there to thank us for coming. My 10 year old and almost 6 year old boys loved it!!

  19. Laureen says:

    We took my 4 year old son to the VERY princess’s breakfast at Akershus – along with his twin sister, 5 year old sister, and 4 girl cousins aged 3-10. He ADORED the attention the princesses all gave to him! Of course, he’s quite the accomplished flirt, and already knows that a cute smile goes a long way (boy, I’m in trouble when he hits his teens!). This past November he wanted to go find the Little Mermaid, and he eagerly waited for Belle – the cast members do a fantastic job of making every child happy with the surroundings. Of course he also knows that there will be plenty of rough and tumble play, or opportunities to play pirate or with Tigger! Right now I’m enjoying watching him finagle big kisses from the Princesses!

  20. ChrisTy says:

    My son loves the 100 park fare with Cinderella…..he thought the stopmom and step sisters were the best! He thought it would be girls, but ended up really enjoying it!

    Another favorite for him was just leaving mk mid day and going to the contemporary and watching the monorail while he ate.

  21. Trish says:

    What about Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Future World? The food is great, especially for a quick service and what kid wouldn’t love stepping into a space station to eat?? I try to get there every time we go.

  22. Trish says:

    Sorry, not Future WOrld, I meant Tomorrowland! Whoops! =)

  23. Marty says:

    During our last Disney vacation we dined at Chefs de France. All three of our kids enjoyed the experience and loved the interaction with Remy. We are going to dine at the Akershus Banquet Hall in June. My boys are looking forward to dining in a castle.

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