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What Disney Dining Spot Would You Expand or Change?

I think we can all agree that Disney parks and resorts are pretty great places. Still, I can always dream up ways to make them better… . ;-) After all, I did make my case for an Automat, right?

No automat yet, but I’d like to share another change that I’d love to see made: an expansion of the Banana Cabana pool bar at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort!

I’m including my thoughts on this below, but I’d love to hear YOUR ideas on what Disney World dining spots could use changes — whether they’re menu updates, expansions, or something else! Dream big — what would you do with an unlimited budget? Disney World, Disneyland, etc… everything’s on the table.

My Suggestion: Banana Cabana Expansion!

For my first joint project with Walt Disney World as a consultant for development (ha ha!), I’d make this fun and always-hoppin’ pool bar a little bigger!

Located adjacent to both the fabulously-themed (PIRATES!) main pool and the Old Port Royale shopping and dining mecca, Banana Cabana is the perfect place to grab a drink, keep an eye on the kiddos while they hang out in the pool, and watch the sunset.

The bartenders are well-known for being engaging and entertaining, and provide consistently fantastic experiences for guests.

Truly, this pool bar remains one of my favorite places to relax and unwind when I’m at Disney, and others clearly feel the same way: this spot is often packed. So how would I change it? Glad you asked!

1. Expand It
Currently, there’s no other bar or lounge at Caribbean Beach Resort — unlike other moderate resorts, which have at least an inside lounge, and sometimes two extra bars! This lack of a lounge area is really felt strongly at CBR, and the Banana Cabana is often overflowing as a result — even into the evening hours.

I would like to see them really expand the seating and provide some partial enclosure from the elements. Maybe the enclosure is just some rolled down, fabric walls; or maybe it’s a covered shelter with open sides that still lets the breezes in. Either way, some expanded structure and shelter would allow us to enjoy this jammin’ place even more.

Wouldn't an outdoor covered pavilion be a great addition to this fantastic bar?

2. A little Reggae, Anyone?
And speaking of jammin’, there’s another opportunity here for some great, themed fun: how about some evening entertainment?

Nothing says vacation like some island tunes and steel drums. The kids could even get into the action with some children’s parades. Conga line, maybe? (Maybe this is already happening!)

3. Bring The Menu Home
It’s great that you can head right into Old Port Royale for a bite to eat, but it would be completely rad if you could order a few authentic island flavors right there at the bar.

Small bites of Caribbean-inspired Flavors, Like These Appetizers from Bongos, Would Be Perfect!

Foods with Caribbean flavors — everything from mojo pork to jerk chicken to tostones and fresh seafood — are delicious and party-inspiring in their own right. And all that conga dancing is sure to work up an appetite!

I’d love to see some menu offerings that give guests that “I’m just island hopping” vibe. My suggestion? Stick with small plates and appetizers with an island flare.

We Could See Some fun Drinks like this Trader Sam's Uh-Oa Cockail adding a little fun to the Banana Cabana Party!

Wouldn’t that be awesome?!

What Disney Dining Spot would YOU expand or change?

So, now it’s YOUR turn to dream and offer your opinions!

What location do YOU think deserves to be expanded and updated with a little love and pixie dust — and why? Does your favorite counter service joint leave a little to be desired in decor? Or is there a spot that is always extremely busy that could use a little more space, or walls, or seating? Would you like to see more al fresco dining, or a little enclosure and a/c?

Leave us a comment below with your suggestions for improvements to your favorite Disney dining spots, and why you think they could use a little attention!

Thanks to DisneyCaribbeanBeach.com for use of some photos!

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47 Comments

  1. Andrea says:

    Olivia’s at Old Key West it is too small to accommodate such a large, and beautiful, resort

  2. Pudge the Fish says:

    Boardwalk Bakery has a definate lack of proper seating and if the shop has more than 8 patrons it is extremely tight in there.

    The Beach Club/Yacht Club needs a more proper quick dining area with indoor seating. Although I’d be tempted to expand Beaches and Creme into the arcade I think it would lose it’s charm. Probably a repurposing of the former Ariel’s would be better for a new quick service location.

    I know that the Boulangerie is about to be expanded but better seating at Sommerfest and the Fish and Chips Shop would be welcomed. I can think of a few others like Starring Rolls, Casey’s and the Main Street Ice Cream shop too, but again I think that they would probably lose their “character” if they were expanded.

  3. Brenda says:

    I second the Banana Cabana idea! I also think that Beaches and Cream could use an expanded seating area! Also, Scat Cat’s Lounge could be bigger, with a bigger menu. Go and listen to some jazz, have a hurricane and some yummy New Orleans style appetizers. Or maybe with an oyster bar….hush puppies….jambalaya…

  4. melissa sue says:

    I second the Olivia’s suggestion. I wish it were bigger, and though I respect the history, I feel like a charter DVC member threw up on the walls. It’s better than it used to be, but I still wish it were a bit less cluttered in there. (That said, I can’t wait to visit again in September!)

    Also, Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom desperately needs a better ordering/pickup situation. Waiting in a line that wraps around the building to place my order is fine, but then there’s an incredible scrum by the pickup window.

  5. Alan says:

    Great minds think alike. When I saw the headline for today’s topic, my first thought was music at the Banana Cabana. And low and behold, it was AJ’s idea also. We have stayed there several times and the evening vibe there is quiet and sedate. Contrast that with the party atmosphere at the Port Orleans Riverside resort when Bob Jackson is in the house. Add some caribbean snacks and maybe a roof as AJ suggested and WoW!

    I also think that Downtown Disney could use an afternoon bar type hangout, with maybe a happy hour for those afternoons that are too hot to walk around. Something themed like the lost but not forgotten Firework Factory bar. Frozen drinks and ice cold beer in a less “restauranty” venue.

    Brenda’s suggestion about the Scat Cat Lounge is on point. They need to erect a wall behind Elliot Dyson so that you are not distracted by all the folks returning from the parks and walking directly behind him and then stopping to stare. Very annoying.

  6. Mark D. says:

    No question about it, I would change the counter service at the American Pavilion in Epcot. America has such great food options that are just not represented in this pavilion. BBQ, lobster rolls, ciopinno, venison, buffalo, corn, microbrews, califonia wine…..

    The list could go on and on, but they choose to go with burgers…..and bad ones at that.

  7. Allison says:

    Would definitely expand the Tambu Lounge to make it more like Trader Sam’s at Disneyland! Then, we’d never leave!

  8. AJ says:

    Andrea and Melissa Sue — Great point about Olivia’s! They could also use a larger lounge, I think.

    Pudge — I love those ideas. The Boardwalk Bakery has an imperfect ratio of unique items to indoor ordering space. I think that if a bakery is going to offer fun, unique things, you have to give us room to actually get in there and order them. I also really like the idea of changing Ariel’s into a quick service location. Those resorts are sorely missing a Mara/Captain Cook’s-like counter service spot. Same with Boardwalk.

    Brenda — Fun options! I like the concept of making Scat Cats a broader destination — more like River Roost!

    Alan — I knew we were friends for a reason! I’ll meet you over at that expanded Banana Cabana! ;-) Great point on Downtown Disney as well; besides the Hole in the Wall, there aren’t really any lounge-only spots, are there?

    Mark D — Ah, I didn’t think of that one! Great idea!

    Allison — Yes!! Agreed! That would be so much fun. And it’s already a destination for so many folks; imagine if they made it that much better!

  9. Neil says:

    My thoughts also turn to OKW. I love the little bar but it’s too small and I don’t like drinking in plastic cups out on the tables that are also being used by people eating burgers from the neighbouring burger bar.

    If it was me I’d build a proper bar in the building where you check-in. At the moment there’s a ‘library’ there that’s used very rarely indeed. You could half-separate that off and make it into a lovely plush bar. Maybe open up one end so you could drink al-fresco. Maybe even have waiter-service tables down by the boat dock.

    You could then use the space where the present bar is to extend Olivia’s. And then we’d all be happy.

  10. I’d have the Dole Whip available at Disneyland. Unless it’s already there and I just missed it the last two times.

  11. Matt Narvaez says:

    MK’s Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant, while it’s not small it could be so much more than what it is. The theming is dreadfully minimal and makes it feel like one of the worst quick service spots in WDW. I think if they expanded it some and redid the look to really make it seem futuristic it could really be a destination dining spot that could handle a large crowd.

  12. Meghan says:

    I’d like to see Casey’s at MK be expanded. I love their food – no need for a change there – but there is such a lack of seating both indoors and outdoors. It’s always so crowded to be able to find a seat at lunchtime. I don’t know about you, but I find it difficult to eat my hotdog and cheese fries and walk around at the same time. I like to take 20-30 minutes to sit and enjoy my lunch (especially when the stage show is on!).

    The problem with expanding Casey’s is that with the space limitations they already have, they’d have to get rid of something else and I wouldn’t want to see that. It would make the historian inside of me die a little.

  13. Tink says:

    Le Cellier. Then we all wouldn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn on our 180th day out to desperately try to get reservations!

  14. John Grigas says:

    Ooh. I like the way you think! Caribbean Beach is one of my family’s favorite resorts, and I’d love the pool bar to be more interesting to hang out in. As it is, you kind of hover around the surrounding deck and feel a little disconnected from the bar.

    As far as other candidates for expansion/change, I’d bring back something in the old Bonfamille Cafe space at Port Orleans French Quarter. I think that a cajun themed restaurant can work, plus it’d be easy to do some “safer” food in the mix to compliment the jambayala, etc. And, if you wanted to theme or add characters, you could open it as “Tiana’s Palace,” for a Princess and the Frog tie-in.

  15. Tink says:

    Sleepy Hollow…Those waffle sandwhiches are so addicting, I wish they’d expand the menu and offer more waffley and Nutella combinations! Waffles as dessert = pure genius!

  16. Jenny says:

    I think we should add a whole new resturant to America in Epcot. I think a fine dinning would do well there. Give guest not just the quick service feel but a nice table service.
    :)

  17. Katherine Kruczek says:

    Bring back the Odyssey restaurant in Epcot Center. That would also be a great location for a new restaurant concept also. Something simliar to the land, but have a combination of different menu items from each location in world showcase. Due to the fact that the food and wine festival does so well. Visitors love to try food from many different locations.

  18. AJ says:

    Nanette — Yep; they definitely have Dole Whip at Disneyland! The stand is by the Tiki Room! :-) And they even give you a little umbrella with your float!

  19. Patty says:

    Oh we love the CBR! Our family stays there every time we go to Disney. 100% agree on the Banana Cabana expansion. A big tiki hut with a huge bar, lights, music, paper umbrellas in fruity drinks…aaahh! We’ll be there in November…how about a little fairy dust to get this going?

  20. David says:

    How about turning Toy Story pizza planet in to a Character dinning. It would be awesome to have some pizza along with being able to get a great photo op with Buzz, Woody and the gang! It could be turned into a table service, while still haveing pizza and games!

  21. Kris says:

    I would love to see a “real” American restaurant at the USA pavilion in Epcot. Something 1 TS not a signature but with fresh and local in season ingredients ala seasons 52 or Cali grill without the Cali grill prices. I can’t believe with all the great food we have in the USA Disney fill the US pavilion with burgers, fries, and hot dogs only.

  22. Gary K says:

    Yes I agree with all those requesting the Banana Cabana be enlarged. A great place to sit and unwind after running all over the Parks. It is a very difficult task to get a seat at the bar while the kids in the pool.
    Also several years ago the French Quarter had an outstanding Cajun resturant serving the best breakfast buffet ever, not to mention the diner menu with etouffee, gumbo,jambalaya OMG I wish it was still open. As far as I’m concerned it rivaled Chef Paul Prudhomme & Lagasse. I just wish it would reopen I miss it.

  23. heidi says:

    I miss the “cafeteria style” dining options. I use to love going to Crystal Palace and Hollywood And Dine when they were cafeterias. I also really miss The Land Grill being “a la carte” dining. I honestly believe there are way too many buffets (and plated dining options) now. I enjoy some buffets (especially breakfast) but I prefer just ordering off the menu for lunch and dinner .

  24. Tom Tesoro says:

    I would expand Beaches and Cream and fix the quick bite place in the Grand Floridian to match Beaches and Cream.

  25. Jrriddle says:

    I’m still petitioning for a deluxe dining restaurant at the Poly! And a copy of Trader Sams from DLR.

  26. SusieBea says:

    I also would like to see some re-working of the food service area at OKW. I don’t have a problem with the size of Olivia’s, but I think Good’s to Go is a sorry attempt at CS. And the Gurgling Suitcase – though fun and friendly – needs more seating, both inside and out. I like the previous poster’s suggestion about using the “den” area near check-in.

  27. Holly says:

    This is easy… Update the food courts at the All Stars! (And this comes from a gal who spent her entire College Program working at one.) They look really outdated compared to Everything Pop and the new one coming to Disney’s Art of Animation, and a lot of Guests thought that, due to the murals, they were built in the 80s (at least at All Star Music, that’s tragically the case). I’d love to see them get some TLC and give new life to the aging All Stars, that way Guests want to stay at them, too.

  28. Claire says:

    Ok, no one else has mentioned it, but I like the Plaza Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom, and it could definitely be a little larger. It always fills up so fast, and good luck trying to get a table for a large party. On the topic of DVC members, I would love an ACTUAL counter service restaurant at OKW not just the outside walk-up counter, with a bigger menu please. When I’m being greedy, lets just go all the way ;)

  29. melissa sue says:

    Claire: YES!! The Plaza should be twice as large.

  30. Andy says:

    Does this include bringing back oldies but goodies? I was pretty sad when the original Chef Mickey’s at Disney Village closed. It was a great family spot with yummy food, and that extra dash of pixie dust. I remember the red cups that would come with the kids drinks (and a rock candy stir stick!). Plus the great big baskets with balloons that would come for birthday parties. And of course, Chef Mickey himself!

    The return of the Character Breakfast to Electric Umbrella would be nice too :-)

  31. Brandy says:

    I Definitely the Dole Whip stand outside the Tiki Room at DL. Its in a horrible location,right at the entrance to Adevntureland so a)it can be missed if one isn’t looking for it but then again b)how can you miss it with a throng of people wrapped around the corner?! It just adds so much traffic blockage being smack right there. Like maybe moving it into the Aladdin meet&greet,that’s set back more and has plenty of milling around room off to the side. Am I the only one that says Le Cellier? I think the cave like atmosphere could still be kept by expanding it,Disney is amazing at making locations “feel” homey,cavernous,etc-whatever they want it to be while still packing em in! Bigger locale means more people means less of a mad dash to get an ADR. All of the other Sigs are larger right,no harm no foul?

  32. heidi says:

    How about making the American pavilion restaurant into a food court with different parts of the United States represented?

  33. Curtis says:

    At CBR, I’d love some re-theming of the counter service areas. The food is wonderful (pork and fried plantains!), but it feels like eating at the mall. Also, Cosmic Ray’s in MK is in desperate need of an update. The main dining room feels like Showbiz Pizza without cool carpet. Even the Wonderful Free Fake Cheeze Sauce isn’t enough to safe it.

  34. Jill D says:

    Tink- I agree with sleepy hallow!

  35. Amy says:

    I would expand San Angel Inn so the seating isn’t quite so cramped, though I also second Pudge’s Boardwalk Bakery suggestion.

  36. jenifer says:

    i agree w/ jenny about the american pavillion even if they did like italy and added something simple such as wine bar it would be a improvement i also would like to add a quick service or something to that effect to canada it has the room why not use it. maybe they could incorperate some of the simpler recipes used at le celliar hummm yummy :)

  37. Mark Hickson says:

    I would expand the Belle Vue Lounge @ BoardWalk Resort. I love the old radio programs and the comfy chairs. Just keep it secluded enough to keep the kids out!

  38. Chris UK says:

    What I would desperately like to see is Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway pavilion at Epcot change to a non-princess dining experience. I have always been intrigued and fascinated by Norweigan culture and history, some of which is displayed beautifully in the pavilion. But I’d love to try Norweigan food beyond what is available at the cute bakery. But princess dining just isn’t for me at all, and I feel a bit deflated that I’ll not experience the gorgeous interior of the restaurant and that I’ll not get to try genuine Norweigan fare.

    Otherwise, I’d like to see an expansion of the outdoor seating area of the quick service place in the United Kingdom. It’s always a mad scrum because of Illuminations.

    Also some outdoor dining seating in the Japan pavilion.

    I’ll stop now. :0)

  39. Jeff says:

    This article and some of the subsequent comments address 2 of my biggest 3 mysteries in all of Walt Disney World.

    1. Why doesn’t a Caribbean themed Resort have an actual inside bar?
    The Caribbean is all about partying and having a great time. I was stunned when I found there was no “real” lounge.
    I agree, the expansion of the Banana Cabana pool bar would help remedy this problem.

    2. Why on earth doesn’t Old Key West have a larger bar/lounge?
    Like it or not, Key West is a drinking town, always has been.
    To have a tiny little bar like the Gurgling Suitcase as this huge resort’s bar is ridiculous.

    3. My 3rd mystery (totally off topic)……..
    No jacuzzi at the Polynesian Resort???????
    UMMMM OK.

  40. Marlene says:

    We love stopping at Beaches and Cream for a quick and tasty lunch of burgers and ice cream. It is one of our family favourites and we don’t mind using one of our table service credits for this meal even though we could get a much pricier option for the same meal credit elsewhere..we like it that much. We just wish that they would expand the seating area so we didn’t have to wait so long for a table and then be seated at a small table where the 4 of us barely fit. Disney could easily expand Beaches and Cream into the space presently occupied by the gym next door and then build a deluxe gym elsewhere on the property to better serve those guests staying at the Beach Club Resort.

  41. Lisa says:

    I would love to see Cosmic Ray’s redo the seating and get rid of the pod system. It’s just an inconvenience.

  42. Tom Tesoro says:

    I agree with Chris UK regarding Akershus. I think this is an opportunity to give WDW visitors who do not have children interested in the Princess event a glimpse of Norwegian food in a really nice setting. Perhaps they could do a Princess Lunch and a more traditional dinner.

  43. Alysa says:

    I’d convert one of the Pirates of the Caribbean area restaurants like Tortuga Tavern into a “Hero” character breakfast area. You could have Captain Jack, Peter Pan, Aladdin, Hercules, Shang, Tarzan, Robin Hood, Jim Hawkins, maybe even Flynn Ryder. I’d love to have a place to take my son for a really cool character meal that he would love.

  44. Jill D says:

    I agree that the character dining can be off-putting if you are without children… however the princess experience was so great for my daughter, that I understand what the “Disney Experience” is after that meal.

    Besides the food is so good in Akershus, that I encourage everyone to go and just say hi to the princesses as they go around… just don’t join the “Princess Procession” and you’ll be fine.

  45. Tom Tesoro says:

    I don’t think it is off putting at all and certainly do not want to see it eliminated at Askerhaus. I think either a Princess dinner or lunch and the other geared toward Norwegian cuisine would be a perfect blend.

  46. Chris says:

    Um, how about just re-opening the Adventurer’s Club and Mannequins? Oh, and add a Trader Sam’s to Disney Polynesian Resort.

  47. Becci says:

    I would bring back breakfast to Tony’s in MK. The Lady and the Tramp waffles, the cinnamon rolls, hot chocolate… We had some great memories there. :)

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