Best Disney World Restaurants for First Time Disney Visitors

Everyday we receive lots of mail from you, our awesome DFB readers, asking for restaurant suggestions and recommendations. And while we certainly have our favorites, we know that you do, too!

So when a Disney first-time visitor recently asked what restaurants we would recommend for their upcoming trip, we couldn’t think of a better panel of experts to ask than YOU!

When I put the question out on the Disney Food Blog Facebook page, I was overwhelmed by the huge and immediate response that I got!

Let’s take a look at your recommendations for the restaurants first timers must experience on that inaugural Walt Disney World trip!

If you have other thoughts or ideas — or, better yet, stories of your favorite restaurants during a first-time visit — please share them with all of us in the comments section! More suggestions are always better!

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort

When it comes to first time Disney dining, the winning restaurant recommendation is, hands down, Chef Mickey’s in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Many of you agree that anyone visiting the Happiest Place on Earth for the very first time MUST experience a buffet that includes lots of character interaction.

Chef Mickey’s is highly recommended by our DFB Readers!

But the suggestion is practical, too. Readers pointed out that a character dining experience offers terrific value for your Disney dollar, with an all-you-care-to-eat option.

A View of the Castle from Chef Mickey’s

And with the addition of characters, you have a less rushed (and air conditioned!) meet and greet opportunity that guarantees you’ll see lots of characters without waiting in long lines in the parks.

Also, don’t forget that Chef Mickey’s is walking distance from the Magic Kingdom. This is a great
place to start or end your Magic Kingdom day!

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland

Judging from the reader response, we’d say that Disney definitely hit the mark with one of its newest restaurants, Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Bridge Entrance

Set in Beast’s Castle (from Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast), the huge eatery is a counter service location for lunch and table service location for dinner (see our “Everything on the Menu!!” Review Here!).

Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom

The menu has a French flair — and chefs worked hard to create tasty, interesting meals for the younger set as well.

Be Our Guest Restaurant also has the distinction of being the first spot within Magic Kingdom where guests could order beer and wine (this has since been expanded to a variety of locations around the park!). It was the French-inspired menu at Be Our Guest that prompted the change; the French are known for their wine pairings!

The Beast occasionally greets visitors in his study during dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Many guests celebrate special occasions at Be Our Guest Restaurant, and if that’s you, be sure to mention it to your server. He may actually bring you a celebratory taste of “The Grey Stuff” — mentioned by Lumiere in the film!

This cookies and cream panna cotta truly is “delicious!”

The Grey Stuff — It’s Delicious!

Guests seem to be loving this spot for many reasons, and Advanced Dining Reservations for dinner remain hard to come by.

While we’ve tasted just about everything here and agree that the food’s quite good, most of you especially love it for the incredible, immersive themeing. So, remember that even if you can’t get a reservation for dinner, you can still enjoy the restaurant itself — including getting a peek at all three dining rooms — if you dine here for a counter-service lunch!

braised pork — coq au vin at Be Our Guest Restaurant — for LUNCH!

Here’s a TIP: if at all possible, snag a table in the West Wing and keep an eye on the Prince’s portrait!

‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

The fan base for ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort came out loud and clear in support of their favorite restaurant.

We heard from lots of you that a Disney World vacation isn’t complete without least one meal here, with dinner enjoying the highest number of votes. (Though the delicious character breakfast featuring Mickey, Lilo, and Stitch is no slouch!)

‘Ohana Fire Pit

While ‘Ohana can be a little uneven at times in service and quality, we’ve heard from many of you lately that it’s back on top in both areas.

With a unique family-style feast of Polynesian-style “churrascaria” and a show kitchen that can’t be beat (all that meat!), first time visitors will walk away with an experience that is both unique and delicious.

And don’t forget to save room for one of the best desserts at Disney — Pineapple Coconut Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster Sauce!

Bananas Foster Bread Pudding at ‘Ohana

But another huge reason for the ‘Ohana love is the fantastic view of Magic Kingdom fireworks that you’ll have if you happen to time your dinner reservations just right. Between that and the bread pudding, you’ll be a Disney fan for life!

50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

You had better eat those veggies and keep your elbows off the table! While DFB readers love good eats, fantastic themeing and engaging (sometimes downright cheeky) service also win big points. Many of our readers said that anyone venturing to Disney World for the first time must be sure to book a table at 50s Primetime Cafe.

50s Prime Time Sign

Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this table service spot serves comfort food with a hearty helping of nostalgia. Tiny black and white TVs roll clips from old sitcoms as you feast on Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes or Chicken Pot Pie.

Don’t forget to ask for a “TV Table” when you check in!

Our TV Table at 50s Prime Time Cafe

Of course, we highly recommend you order our favorite Disney menu item of all time — the fried herb cheese appetizer! It was newly brought back to the menu after years away, and we couldn’t be happier!

Fried Herb Cheese

And ordering a drink from Dad’s Liquor Cabinet is a way fun bonus!

Dad’s Electric Lemonade

If you book a table, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to explore all the fun decor here. It’s truly an amazing throwback to the mid-20th century.

And here’s a TIP: if you go to the restroom, be sure to note the color of the soap. After all, your “Cousin” (that’s your server) may ask to make sure you washed your hands! (If you’re a 50s Primetime newbie, be sure to read some of our favorite readers’ experiences here!)

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Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square

While some of you can’t wait to book a table with Mickey and Minnie, still others feel that the quintessential Disney dining experience is tied more to history and reliably good food.

Those were the top reasons why you cited Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom as a must do for your first timers dining list.

Liberty Tree offers an a la carte menu during lunch and a family style, all you care to eat affair at dinner, meaning that you can actually have two meals here and have completely different experiences.

Lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern offers pasta, sandwiches, this incredible Pot Roast (which my husband orders on every visit), and the to-die-for dessert — Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake!

Liberty Tree Tavern Pot Roast

Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom

But the dinner at Liberty Tree — basically a traditional Thanksgiving meal served family style has a big following, too!

Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern

Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy

Throughout all of the many comments we received, there was another resounding suggestion: first timers must eat somewhere in Epcot’s World Showcase. One of your very favorite international-inspired spots is Via Napoli in the Italy Pavilion.

Via Napoli’s Pizza Ovens

And why not? A recent addition to the Italy Pavilion, Via Napoli offers some of the best pizza that we’ve had anywhere, ever (and especially at Disney!).

Pizzas are thin-crust and made with imported water to better reach the dough consistency you’d experience if you were dining right in Naples, Italy. Try the Italian Margherita, our favorite Quattro Formaggi, or one of the many other pizza options on the menu! And don’t forget to sample some of the amazing new beers that they are starting to feature here!

Via Napoli Pizza Margherita

Of course, pasta might also be your choice… Isn’t this gorgeous?!?

Candele from Via Napoli


We also love the setting, including the three enormous wood-burning ovens named after Italian volcanoes. You definitely won’t go wrong — food-wise — planning a meal here.

Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort

We were super excited to see that many of our readers loved and suggested Hoop De Doo Musical Revue Dinner Show at Ft. Wilderness as a favorite for first timers! We couldn’t agree more!

This classic “hootenanny” combines singing, dancing, and wacky comedy for 2 hours of family fun that will keep you rolling.

Napkin Twirling and other Audience Participation Will Occur

While you enjoy the entertainment, you’ll also be eating some delicious foods – Fried Chicken, Barbecue Ribs, plus yummy sides.

Hoop Dee Doo Revue Bucket of Fried Chicken

Grownups can also enjoy unlimited beer, wine, and sangria, and soft drinks are available, too. And be sure to save room for the awesome and delicious Strawberry Shortcake!

Strawberry Shortcake

Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and/or Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Sometimes at Disney you need a little something different, and many DFB readers passionately avowed their love for the restaurants on property specializing in African flavors! But of all of them, Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom were your favorites.

Atmosphere and Buffet at Tusker House

With similar menus, you can’t go wrong by choosing one or the other of these buffet-style feasts.

Featuring African specialties like Quinoa Porridge, Bobotie, and beautiful pastries, breads, chutneys, and spreads, you’ll find a lot to tempt your taste buds. Check out our recent Tusker House Review for dozens of food photos!

Boma Breakfast Pastries

One point of distinction: if you’re looking for a character experience, choose Tusker House for breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Characters do not make an appearance at Boma.

Goofy strikes at pose at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Be sure to try the Jungle Juice, too!

Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada

Many readers agreed that a first visit to Disney World should include a stop at one of the resort’s signature restaurants. While a few different spots were mentioned, Le Cellier in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion garnered the most buzz.

With some of the best steaks that we’ve ever tried, this spot wins rave reviews for its consistently good food and cozy setting. The service is often very good here as well.

Inside Le Cellier

Our favorite items here are the Poutine and Mushroom Filet with Risotto. But don’t take my word for it! There are plenty of options to sample.

Just remember, this restaurant is now a signature meal — which means 2 Disney Dining Plan credits and a hefty price tag for out of pocket payers — for both lunch and dinner.

Mushroom Filet Mignon with White Truffle Butter Sauce and Micro Chevril

And if dessert is on your radar, we are big fans of the Maple Crème Brûlée!

Maple Crème Brûlée

Les Halles Bakery in Epcot’s France

For your final food stop, First Timers, DFB loyal readers want to make sure you don’t miss out on one of Epcot’s newest stops, Patisserie Boulangerie Les Halles.

Les Halles

While there has been a bakery stop in the France Pavilion for quite some time, a recent upgrade to this super popular counter service eatery has resulted in some much-needed indoor seating, and more room for the lines (which can sometimes get quite long).

Les Halles Seating

There has also been an expansion to the menu. Now, in addition to pastries and sandwiches, you can enjoy many more soups and salads here as well.

Salads at Les Halles

It’s also a terrific stop for those who would like a gourmet coffee or glass of French wine. Check out an extensive Epcot Les Halles Review here!

Chocolate tart, creme brulee, strawberry tart.

Cinderella’s Royal Table

But we can’t wrap up our list without a nod to Cinderella’s Royal Table.

I mean, the castle is so iconic that it’s the Disney logo, for cryin’ out loud. And are you kidding me that there’s a restaurant in there, too???

Cinderella's Royal Table

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Personally, I think that a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table has to be on the bucket list of every self-respecting Disney fan. How can you possibly go through your charmed Disney life without seeing inside those walls?

Dining Room Windows at Cinderella's Royal Table

Dining Room Windows at Cinderella’s Royal Table

Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table ensures character interaction, too — a BIG plus for us. While you enjoy your meal, Cinderella’s princess friends meet and greet and take pictures and offer autographs. (Cinderella doesn’t actually mingle, but you have a chance to meet her before you’re seated.)

Snow White is Just One of the Princesses You Might Encounter at Cinderella's Royal Table

Snow White is Just One of the Princesses You Might Encounter at Cinderella’s Royal Table

In the past, the food here was considered largely overpriced and forgettable. But in the last few years, that has changed a little. We’re seeing more updates on the lunch and dinner menu as chefs are steered by seasonal ingredients and hot food trends.

Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken

And breakfast has been the sweetspot here for a long time — especially the Pastries and the Stuffed French Toast, which changes up now and then.

The characters and ambiance are still the big draw. But chances are nowadays, you’ll enjoy your meal here as well.

And Now It’s YOUR Turn to Share Your Suggestions!

And there you have it! Our DFB Readers’ suggestions for the Disney restaurants that you simply must try on your first visit to Walt Disney World! It’s a big list to be sure, so we recommend taking a few of these picks and incorporating them into your plans. Or, if you’re anything like us, just try them all!

We’d like to thank you for stopping by and making all sorts of fantastic recommendations. And while we couldn’t list them all, we really appreciate all of your input!

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What are your favorite recommendations for a first time diner at Disney? Leave a comment below and let us know!


  1. Ellen C Ziegler says

    The recommendations above are very similar to the place we love to eat. However, Chef Mickeys is not one of them. Le Cellier used to be my very favorite, however we were packed in like sardines the last time and the food was disappointing. In the future, we will attempt to get dinner reservations at Be Our Guest. We tried Italy one year and the restaurant in Morocco the following year, and we were not fans of either. BUT We will always eat the clambake buffet at Cape May and the American food “Roast Beef sliced-in-front-of you ” buffet at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian. They are both excellent and have characters at the dinner and make your own sundaes for the kids. We wil also save two tickets and make a big birthday celebration for my husband at Narcoosees. It holds great memoris of past delicious lobster dinners with great service. We also love the Biergarten in Germany and the pub food at the Rose and Crown in EPCOT’s England for lunch. The next time we go, we will make reservations at Raglan Road and at the Chefs de France. Also, Prime Time 50’s Cafe is such a fun experience, especially if you have little ones that get to see their Dad get scolded by the server. The food is delicious and my hubby loves the meatloaf. We expect to visit in May 2017, and all this talk makes my mouth water and my tastebuds to wax nostalgic…can not wait to go again!

  2. Adriana says

    Via Napoli and the French restaurants are definitely a do not miss. Chef Mickey’s was great, particularly for the character interaction. Sci-Fi Cafe at Hollywood Studios has great food and fun ambiance.

  3. Steven Pluff says

    My list: Kona Cafe, Liberty Tree, Biergarten, Flying Fish, Narcoossee’s (at night for the fireworks), 50’s Prime Time, and Mama Melrose’s.

  4. Kindra says

    One of our favorites is Whispering Canyon Cafe at Fort Wildernesss Lodge. It’s some of the best food we’ve had at Disney so far, in my opinion! And you have to yell for the ketchup which the kids always love, and they also have a cute little wooden horse “run” around the restaurant for the kids. We love this cozy little eating place!

  5. Liz says

    San Angel Inn and La Cantina de San Angel in the World Showcase are must-eats for my family every time we visit.

    Also, no trip is complete without a meal at Yak & Yeti in Animal Kingdom. Great food, amazing decor – it’s truly immersive. If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time for a sit-down meal, the accompanying quick-service cafe has many of the same meal options to take on the go. We visited Yak & Yeti on a whim a couple of trips ago, and it immediately became a family favorite.

  6. Erija says

    Ohana for breakfast is awesome. My family is not big on breakfast but we will not miss a trip to disney without an ahana breakfast!

  7. Amy Ciavaglia says

    When you have kids, chef Mickey is a definite. 50’s prime time cafe is a riot ( and food is delicious). Twice we have eaten here, 2 years apart, and by luck we’ve had the same waitress. She defiantly made it a memorable experience!

  8. Holly says

    I would caution on Le Cellier. Our first 4 visits were unparalleled, but the 5th was iffy, and the 6th truly made us decide we would NEVER go back. With 4 small kids and a later-than-we-wanted reservation, our meal took over two hours. The waitress even said, “You look like you might lose it!,” but did nothing to step it up at all. I did lose it. I literally was crying because they were so slow and my toddler was inconsolable yet they STILL took 30 minutes to bring out dessert (and it was NOT crowded) and then an additional 15 to bring boxes to stick the dessert in. We had such a horrible experience, the concierge staff comped our $250 meal and that included the wine which was not suppose to be comped at all.

    I fully endorse O’Hana breakfast. It’s a must. We also love the German Biergarten as it’s so much fun to entertain the kids.

  9. Leo says

    Can’t wait to do some of these for the first time! I recommend 50’s Prime Time, Biergarten, Raglan Road, Be Our Guest andTusker House!

  10. Kristen says

    So glad to see the Hoop Dee Doo Revue made the list–this has been a family favorite and must do for many years! Other favorite spots include 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian for breakfast with Mary Poppins, SiFi Dine In at Hollywood Studios for burgers and milkshakes, dinner at Narcoosees at the Grand Floridan and California Grill at the Contemporary Resort both great spots to watch fireworks at Magic Kingdom and a water parade in Seven Seas Lagoon!

  11. Patricia says

    50s prime time and Ohana for dinner or breakfast are must-do meals… I like the breakfast at Crystal Palace, mostly because Winnie the Pooh is hands down my favorite character ever. The Cape May Buffet is also awesome and the food is great!! I also recommend the Yachtsmen Steakhouse at the Yacht Club… If the service at Le Cellier is lacking, try the Yachtsmen next time – steaks were phenomenal!

  12. Tina says

    I agree with all of these. Great stuff. I would add California Grill for Dinner (If they really enjoy it like we do, I’d highly suggest also going for brunch. It was fantastic!), Kona Cafe for Breakfast, La Hacidenda De San Angel or Teppan Edo (Depending on which cuisine they like better), Cinderella’s Royal Table, Tusker House, The Brown Derby, and Raglan Road. I think these first timers would get some cool experiences out of these restaurants.

  13. Eugene says

    Coral Reef restaurant at Epcot, beautiful view, delicious food great service. Request a booth on the upper level to view all four aquarium Windows rather that in the lower level where you view only one window.

  14. Valerie says

    We love O’hana for dinner and Kona Cafe for breakfast. Both are must do. Best counter service is at the Morroco pavilion at Epcot.

  15. Nancy Trammell says

    Do we tip if we are eating on the meal plan? The only one I have noticed is no at Hoop Dee Doo Revue.

  16. Caron says

    My family always heads for the Crystal Palace on our first day in the World. We have some picky eaters and this is the only buffet where we all fill up our plates and come back for more! Loved the Grand Floridan Cafe when we there for the first time last year – steak better than at Le Cellier! As the only female in the group I haven’t managed to get to Cinderella’s Table yet, but would love to give it a try! We also hope to try the Yachtsman on our next visit as I’ve heard good things, and the new Skipper’s Canteen, but think it may be too ‘exotic’ for my team.

  17. Ali says

    What about breakfast at Be Our Guest restaurant? No mention of it?? Is it worth it?? Does it have the same character interactions as it does with lunch and dinner?

  18. says

    Ali — Breakfast at Be Our Guest is decent, but we’re not sure that it provides the best value for your money, as it is prix fixe and priced per person. There are no character interactions at breakfast. The only character interaction at Be Our Guest is during dinner, when Beast sometimes walks through the dining rooms, but is mostly available for photos in the library after dinner.

  19. Karol Mcferson says

    im planning a trip and was wondering if anyone has any tips to get reservations for the be our guest restraunt

  20. Mary says

    Garden Grill was hands down our favorite character meal. The food is great and the characters came by each table multiple times and actually spent time with the kids. We were disappointed with Tusker House and Ohana. The food at Tusker House was great, but if you’re doing it for the character interaction, you are likely to be disappointed. They were very rushed and spent less than 30 seconds at each table. They came to our table while our toddler was in the bathroom with my husband because he needed a diaper change. I was the only person at our table, so as soon as they approached, I explained that my son was in the bathroom and asked if they could skip us and come back to us when my son returned any minute. They said no. Luckily he and my husband came up to the table as they were walking away and I was able to get them to snap a picture. I was glad my son got to see them, but if we had paid over $100 for that meal and then my son didn’t get to see the characters I would have been very upset. Everyone who pays for a character meal should get a chance to interact with the characters. Our friends had a similar experience at Tusker House and also left very disappointed and with no desire to return. As a restaurant, it’s good, but as a character meal, it was a huge disappointment.

  21. Miriam says

    Is breakfast at Be Our Guest still a prix-fixe meal? I’ve made a reservation there for December and the menu at the WDW website doesn’t mention it. Thanks a lot for all these great tips!

  22. says

    My grandson and family (2 adults, 4 kids 15, 13, 10 & 7) are headed to WDW for a Make-a-Wish trip in 2 weeks and I wanted to make reservations for them for a dinner while they are there…but there are NO reservations anywhere that I can find for 6 people. Any ideas?

  23. says

    Mimi — First of all — we hope that you and your family have an amazing time! Are you trying to book online or are you speaking to a Cast Member? If you haven’t called, that’s what I would suggest. I’ve found that somehow (magically!), I can sometimes find reservations talking to people that I couldn’t find searching myself. They can also make suggestions, like eating earlier or later, or possibly splitting your group into multiple tables at the same time.

  24. Kia says

    Every trip to WDW starts with ADRs to Tusker House, Garden Grill, Hollywood and Vine, and Boma for Breakfast. Biergarten and Be Our Guest for lunch. Teppan Edo, Liberty Tree Tavern, Citricos, and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ for dinner. A must do every trip is also Grand Floridian Afternoon Tea which I make a late lunch after one of the breakfast buffets.

    Yes, we’ve done the barbecue many times and it’s a favorite. I have twin 10 year old boys who look forward to it every trip. My only complaint is the music is pretty loud, it is a live band. At least it is an outdoor event, so I have no problems with hearing the next morning. lol
    The food is nothing fancy, but it is filling and there is a variety. The character interaction can’t be beat IMHO. They don’t just stop by for a picture and an autograph. They spend the whole evening there. They were dancing with the kids between photo ops and roaming.

  25. PegP says

    Via Napoli was, without a doubt, THE worst restaurant we have ever had the misfortune to visit, Disney or anywhere. It’s the #1 place on our NEVER AGAIN list.

    I can’t say if the food is any good or not because we never got that far. The noise level was off the charts. We couldn’t even hear the woman who sat us at our table when she spoke to us while seating us. My child (10 yo) was covering her ears and fussing that it was so loud, it was hurting her ears.

    I was going to ask our server if we could move to a table outside, hoping it wouldn’t be as loud, but he/she never even came to take our drink order. So we left.

    I’m not sure why this place is rated so highly. It’s the worst service I’ve ever had at a restaurant, and certainly the loudest! I’ve read comments on other blogs reviewing this restaurant and was at least comforted to see that the majority of people had the same nasty experience. It wasn’t just us.


  26. Virginia says

    I have yet to have an eatable steak from Le Cellie. Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Table are over rated and not easy to get into. Les Halles has some really good quick service food, and I LOVE Via Napoli. Boma is best for breakfast if you need to get that character interaction without a long wait.

  27. says

    Although I loved the experience of eating at Cinderella Castle, My family was greatly disappointed by the food. As for chef Mickeys the character interaction was really great and personal but the food was really lacking and the overall buffet was over priced for okay food. I do suggest dining at whispering canyon, and yak and yeti for amazing food and atmosphere!

  28. Dean says

    Via Napoli was terrific. The sleeper could well be Coral Reef where my family has enjoyed several times. Mama Melrose was also very enjoyable. Sanaa is on the list this and I look forward to that.

  29. Roslyn Miller says

    I have to say that Yak & Yeti is by far one of my family’s favorite sit downs, in the middle of Animal Kingdom, it is nice and cool and the service was the best at Disney World for our whole week, the hot tea is delicious and my son loves their noodles. We greatly enjoyed 1900 Park Fare for the character interactions, you got plenty of time with each character and we saw all of them twice which was really great for the money, food was good. Were excited to try Ohana for the character breakfast this next time and for us, Epcot is more of an eat as you go thing for us but we will be trying the Chinese restaurant “Nine Dragons” I think it’s called so very excited for some new foods!

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