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Review: Breakfast at The Wave… of American Flavors in Disney World’s Contemporary Resort

This morning we’re enjoying breakfast at The Wave… of American Flavors!

Located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, The Wave is unlike any other restaurant at Disney World due to its emphasis on sustainable eating – many of the ingredients used in the dishes here are sourced locally.

The Wave also has the added benefit of being a mere stroll away from the Magic Kingdom, making this a great and convenient place to start the day when you’re headed into Disney World’s original park!

Atmosphere

You’ll find The Wave on the Lobby Level of the Contemporary. As you enter from the front, you’ll notice a faint blue glow coming from the end of the concierge services desk and to the left.

The Contemporary Lobby Level

The Contemporary Lobby Level

That blue stems from the unique “tunnel entrance” that lights the way to the eatery. Something about this reminds me of the Contemporary when I was a kid way back in the day.

The Wave Entrance

The Wave Entrance

For one of the resort’s more recent additions, the entrance is retro Disney World, and I love it for that. (Does anyone else remember watching Disney movies in a small theater on this floor, by the way, or has my memory stored that incorrectly? I’m more certain of my memories of the Air Hockey table in the old Game Room… .)

After walking through the tunnel you’re greeted at the check-in counter. There is a sign to remind guests that The Wave is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Check-in Counter

Check-in Counter

The Wave Hours

The Wave Hours

We were seated very promptly, even though we arrived prior to our scheduled Advance Dining Reservation.

Upon entering the dining room, the vibe changes entirely. Decor changes from cool blue to warm earth tones, and the theme of “waves” is echoed throughout the chairs at the tables — and even on the ceiling and in the lighting.

Dining Room

Dining Room

Table Seating

Table Seating

Ceiling Lanterns

Ceiling Lanterns

There is little else in the way of detailing, in favor of simplicity. However, the artwork that has been selected brings the focus back to fresh ingredients.

Artwork at The Wave

Artwork at The Wave

Eats

Upon being seated, our server came to greet us right away (and he remained attentive throughout the meal). After walking us through the menu, he invited us to view the breakfast buffet prior to making our decisions.

I’ve enjoyed The Wave’s buffet a few times, so for this visit I chose from the menu for a change of pace. But because the buffet here is noteworthy, I’d like to give you a peek before going into our entrees.

Where lunch and dinner entrees can change fairly frequently at The Wave due having a sustainable menu, several of the breakfast buffet offerings remain consistent. From right to left, the buffet begins with a cold section featuring, among other items, salmon and hard-boiled eggs, and fresh fruit.

Salmon and hard-boiled eggs

Salmon and Hard-boiled Eggs

Fresh fruit

Fresh Fruit

Fresh fruit

Fresh Fruit

An assortment of pastries is available, including multi-grain croissants, bagels, pain au chocolat, and danish.

Croissants and bagels

Croissants and Bagels

Pastries

Pastries

The hot section features breakfast favorites such as biscuits and gravy, eggs, and sausage and bacon as well as the Wave’s famous cheese grits (more on that later).

Biscuits and gravy

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Sausage and scrambled eggs

Pork Sausage and Scrambled Eggs

Cheese grits and bacon

Cheese Grits and Bacon

There are also some items more unique to The Wave. The Breakfast Potatoes, for instance, are always a hit.

The Wave Breakfast Potatoes

The Wave Breakfast Potatoes

Pick up some Eggs Benedict with Florida Key Lime Hollandaise!

Eggs Benedict with Key Lime Hollandaise

Eggs Benedict with Key Lime Hollandaise

And don’t forget the famous Sweet Potato Pancakes! Again — more on that later!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Mickey Waffles, Sweet Potato Pancakes, and Omelet of the Day

What’s breakfast at Disney World without this pair of ears :)? The Wave’s Mickey Waffles are the multi-grain version.

Multi-grain Mickey Waffles

Multi-grain Mickey Waffles

Again, while the buffet is a standout, this time I chose to go a la carte.

The Wave Breakfast Menu -- click to enlarge

The Wave Breakfast Menu — click to enlarge

Breakfast beverages -- click to enlarge

Breakfast beverages — click to enlarge

Oh, and just a note before we begin: if you choose a cold beverage at The Wave, they are served with paper straws, like the ones used in Animal Kingdom.

Paper straws for cold beverages

Paper straws for cold beverages

So, let’s get down to business!

Though they are technically a side item, we started with the Tillamook Cheddar Cheese Grits with Nueske’s Smoked Bacon (the same bacon, incidentally, used in the Pigglylicious Bacon Cupcake currently featured at the Flower and Garden Festival and in the Peanut Butter, Banana, and Candied Bacon Pie at the BoardWalk Bakery!).

Tillamook Grits

Tillamook Cheddar Cheese Grits

These were so incredibly creamy and rich, and obviously the cheese and bacon was piled on generously. While my husband enjoys grits, I’m not a fan of the texture; but these were more creamy than grainy.

This serving was so filling that we both agreed it could stand as a breakfast on its own.

Tillamook Cheddar Cheese Grits

Tillamook Cheddar Cheese Grits

For my entrée, I chose the Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Cheese Scrambled Eggs.

Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Cheese Scrambled Eggs

Spinach, Tomato, and Feta Cheese Scrambled Eggs

I really appreciated how the spinach was served on the side. I find that some spinach-egg dishes can become very over-spinached (a new word! ;) ), so having control over how much went in the dish was a nice little perk.

The feta cheese was plentiful throughout, and I have to say that for the price ($8.99) I was quite impressed with the portion!

Full plate with Breakfast Potatoes

Full plate with Breakfast Potatoes

My dish came with The Wave Breakfast Potatoes… which was also appreciated, since whenever I have the breakfast buffet, I go back several times for more of those potatoes! The only thing that wasn’t fresh on my plate, oddly, was the biscuit. This was surprising because the biscuits – though obviously very simple – are usually an easy favorite.

My husband chose The American: two naturally-raised eggs served with Breakfast Potatoes. This is a dish found on just about every Disney breakfast menu — counter-service and table-service alike. But at the table-service restaurants it’s usually just a teensy bit different everywhere you go.

The presentation was simple, but my husband enjoyed the flavor of the eggs and felt that they did indeed have a fresher taste than industrial range grade eggs. They were also well-prepared to his order.

The American

The American

He had his choice of bacon and pork or chicken sausage. He chose the chicken sausage since it is leaner than pork, and found it to be well-spiced and flavorful.

We also ordered the Sweet Potato Pancakes because this dish is The Wave’s Signature, though they wouldn’t typically be my choice. I would change that next time, for sure. As it turns out, there is a reason this is the signature dish!

The Wave Signature Sweet Potato Pancakes

The Wave Signature Sweet Potato Pancakes

The autumnal spices (primarily cinnamon) almost lent the pancakes a flavor akin to pumpkin pie, and the pecan-honey butter added a slightly nutty flavor. The pancakes ended up as my clear favorite.

Pecan-honey butter

Pecan-honey butter

Sweet Potato Pancakes with melted butter and maple syrup

Sweet Potato Pancakes with melted butter and maple syrup

If you’re interested in starting your day at The Wave, here are a few good things to know: each meal (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) at The Wave is one Table Service Credit on the Disney Dining Plan, and it is a participant in the Tables in Wonderland program.

It’s also good to know that you’ll get to make your way back out towards the Magic Kingdom through the light tunnel :) .

The Wave exit

The Wave exit

Overall

I think The Wave is a terrific breakfast option, and worth a try especially if you have plans to visit the Magic Kingdom on the same day.

I did enjoy the entrees – especially those pancakes! But the next time I go back, I don’t think I’ll be able to resist the buffet for a second time. I just think it’s a standout among Disney breakfast buffets for a several reasons: the selection is tasty with some unique items, it’s a decent buffet price ($21.49), and The Wave typically has a more peaceful atmosphere overall, so getting to and from your table and navigating through the buffet is a smooth and easy process.

While you won’t have a Castle view as with some of the other Monorail Loop restaurants, or the good-time vibe of a character meal like the Contemporary Resort’s Chef Mickey’s upstairs, what you will likely find is a quality meal with unique options in a relaxed atmosphere. For me, the buffet remains the standout, but no matter what I’ve chosen on my visit, I’ve enjoyed it every time. I hope you will, too!

Would you like to start your day at The Wave? Please let us know with a comment!

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29 Comments

  1. Moa says:

    Me and my mum are staying at the contemporary next month during our disney trip. We haven’t made any reservations, at our first disney trip 2012 counterservice worked just fine (more time for rides hehe :D)
    Anyway, do you think it’s possible to get a table at the wave (or chef mickeys) for breakfast without reservations? When we stayed at coronado springs the last time we just ate cereals with milk at our room, which works just fine for us – but it would be nice to eat “real” food for breakfast at least once during our stay :)
    The same goes for california grill, is it possible to get a table for dinner there without reservation? Thanks for the help (and sorry for my quite bad english, I’m from Sweden ;))

  2. Lisa says:

    I remember the movie theater in Contemporary. I remember seeing Alice in Wonderland on a rainy day, a very long time ago. Food looks good too. Thanks for the review.

  3. Joni says:

    I do not remember the movies but do remember the Arcade. It was the biggest one in all of DW. I went thru many a 10.00 roll of quarters with my Son back in the day.

  4. Joni says:

    Oh forgot to ask. Do you also get the pecan-honey butter on the buffet?

  5. Rune says:

    Love, love, LOVE the Wave’s breakfast buffet. We went there on the ‘off chance’ last time around and enjoyed it so much we went back twice more later in the vacation, and hope to get there again on our next visit.

    I love the oatmeal there (oatmeal always makes me happy), the breakfast potatoes are really good along with those eggs benedict, but yes, those sweet potato pancakes are hands down delicious, especially with the honey butter. In fact on reflection, there wasn’t anything there we didn’t like, everything was good quality, fresh (and hot where it needed to be) and even though we were having a late (10.30 timeslot) breccy, fresh items were still being brought out.

    Staff were attentive, the atmosphere relaxed, and in no way did we feel that they wanted us to hurry up, eat up, and get out. The easy stroll to and from the Magic Kingdom is a huge plus too. Love it! We enjoy the hustle and bustle of character breakfasts as much as anyone but this has become our ‘go to’ breakfast if we feel like a buffet meal.

  6. Alan says:

    Eggs Benedict on a buffet? Outstanding, worth the effort to get over there, no matter where you are staying.

  7. Natalie says:

    The bacon is also in the cheddar cheese soup in Canada! Best bacon ever!

  8. Andie d says:

    This is our favorite breakfast on property. It’s awesome, calm and never crowded and the service is always fantastic. Truly a hidden gem!

  9. Susan says:

    Moa – you may be able to get into the Wave by reserving now or you can ask about availability/make a reservation when you check in. But as for California Grill or Chef Mickey’s – I have never neen able to get into either of those without an ADR.
    Susan

  10. J says:

    I’m disappointed that you’ve written about the Wave for breakfast. This was truly one of the “secrets” of WDW. A nice, quiet, out of the way restaurant, but not to far off the beaten path, it is easily overlooked. However, it cannot be beat for a quiet “civilized” breakfast before starting the day. With this kind of publicity, it may be necessary to start putting in for reservations here too.

  11. susan killough says:

    I have so many happy memories of the Fiesta Fun Center game room at the Contemporary in the 70s!! Didn’t realize this was where The Wave is now located. Breakfast looks yummy…definitely worth a try!!

  12. Paul says:

    My DGF and I went to the Wave breakfast about a month ago, and we both left feeling very very satisfied. We both opted for the buffet, as it’s just a dollar or two more than most of the ala carte entrees, and the vast majority of the ala carte menu is on the buffet anyway. DGF is a vegetarian with Vegan-leanings, and she was thrilled at all the options available to her. The sweet potato pancakes and mutli-grain Mickey waffles were standouts for her. For me, it was the cold salmon with cream cheese and the perfectly made Eggs Benedict. Having never had one before, DGF was curious about them, so we asked our server if it was possible for the kitchen to make her a meat-less eggs benedict. No problem at all, he brought two out for her just a few minutes later. We each went back up to the buffet several times, and I, at least, was VERY full by the time we finally decided to leave. If I had to give a critique, it’s that the bacon wasn’t very crisp (it’s unusual for any mass-produced bacon to be crisp, of course). But everything else was good to excellent, and I know we’ll definitely go back for sure..

  13. John says:

    Ahhhh, yes…..you do remember correctly the small movie theater down to the back hidden corners of the arcade. Great memory!
    It was a bit of the old Disney when there were all these hidden little gems tucked into every corner.
    Any of us who use to stay in the original Contemporary remember fondly that the best arcade was located there….and the small hidden theater for vintage disney movies…simple, but always on the must do list if you stayed there.
    ….and yes….a lot of parents sure went through a lot of those rolls of quarters!

  14. Alexis says:

    My Mom and I take an annual trip to Disney in fall and always stay at the Contemporary. The Wave is by far my FAVORITE restaurant to eat at! I wait all year to order an omelet with spinach, tomato and feta cheese. Of course, you can’t beat the Florida orange juice! We have never had bad service and always leave full and happy! I am getting married this year, so we have to skip our Disney trip :( But, as soon as I can make my way back to Disney, we will be making our way to The Wave!

  15. Jeff says:

    Awwww, c’mon, don’t spread the word about the fantastic Wave breakfasts! We like the quiet atmosphere! You start telling people how good it is, next thing you know it’s packed and noisy and we’ll never get a reservation!

  16. Adam says:

    The Wave is one of my most underrated Disney restaurants. I have not even been there for breakfast yet, but it looks fantastic!

  17. Wendy says:

    Lisa and John – thanks so much for sharing your movie theater memories!! It had become one of those things where I was 90% sure I saw “Robin Hood” there for the first time (and “The Aristocats,” I believe), but I just haven’t found anyone else who remembered it, so I’d started to second-guess myself. It was great to read your memories, too :)

    And, yes, Susan K, it was always fun times at the Arcade… I’d convinced myself that it was where I learned to play Air Hockey so well… but I played Air Hockey last month and got schooled, so I probably never was as good as I thought ;).

    Moa — I hope you enjoy your trip :)! I agree with what Susan wrote – I haven’t had a hard time being seated for breakfast at The Wave without a reservation (though I have noticed it can get pretty busy at dinner occasionally, during more crowded times of year). For the California Grill or Chef Mickey’s, though, reservations are definitely recommended. Have a great time with your Mom!

    Joni – I don’t recall spotting the pecan-honey butter on the buffet, but if you choose the buffet I imagine your server would be open to a request for some :). And I’m sure I burned through our quarter supply, too!

    Thanks so much for your notes, everyone – so glad to know that you’ve all had such great experiences at The Wave!

  18. Joanne says:

    Yes, this is a favorite for us also. Best way to start the day…only problem for me, I always eat so much because it is delicious!!!

  19. Lynnilou says:

    This is one of our favorites. I LOVE the eggs benedict with a cup of organic coffee!

  20. Venessa Hinojosa-Wright says:

    Jeff and J,

    I seriously doubt it’s ever going to be packed and this isn’t the first time DFB has reviewed The Wave for breakfast or Trails End for that matter, another amazing yet over looked buffet. Which in my humble opinion BOTH triumph over Chef Mickeys, 1900 and Crystal Palace. Obviously those are for the characters and not the food. I have been to the Wave ever since it’s open for breakfast and even during the holidays, it’s never packed. Those grits are seriously heaven!! Wonderful review!! Thanks!

  21. Ken Alegre says:

    This review made me hungry :) I want to eat here for breakfast!

  22. Sam Winston says:

    Yes…there was a theater. In the 70′s there was also the arcade, with air hockey and skee ball. Remember this was before most video games, so most of the games were electo-mechnical type games: Things like Sega (seagames) Periscope, bowling games that used a shuffle board like puck, pin-ball,shooting gallery, Baseball type pinball games, Antiaircraft type games, and yes a couple of cutting edge video games Computerspace, Lunar lander, and pong.

    It was the place parents would dump the kids for the evening so they could enjoy the adults only show at the ‘top of the world’ and maybe if they where lucky catch Bob Hope or Phylis Diller doing their stand up act.

  23. Holly says:

    I have had The Wave for dinner (which was fabulous) but not for breakfast. I totally agree with Wendy when she said this is one of the great one table service credit dining spots (I mean I had a filet with purple mashed potatoes).

    I am looking forward to partaking for breakfast on my next trip. This restaurant is wonderful both in terms of service and the presentation of food you typically don’t see at other restaurants (purple mashed potatoes!).

    I agree with Paul on the desire for crispy bacon – which you cannot typically find on buffets. I am wondering if I can request it when we go…

  24. Maureen says:

    We love The Wave. It is our first ADR for our trip-we leave in a little over a week!! Can’t wait :)

    We stayed at BLT back in December of 2011-and that was the first time we went to this restaurant. I’m so glad they still have the sweet potato pancakes, they were delicious! Also had a wonderful dinner here one night, we really enjoy this place.

  25. James W. says:

    We have eaten at The Wave for breakfast once, and really enjoyed it. We ordered the buffet and were not disappointed. We went at the recommendation of a fellow WDW fan and he was spot on about the food. The older we get, the more we enjoy a good breakfast and The Wave delivers! Looking forward to a return visit :-)

  26. John says:

    The Fiesta Fun Center featured a movie theater as well as a shooting gallery similar to the one in Frontier Land along with many arcade games including ski ball. It was a terrific play area for families and much missed. But The Wave is great, especially, for breakfast.

  27. Lynne B says:

    Moa,

    If you don’t have a reservation for California Grille you can always eat at the bar and watch on the goings on.

  28. Karen R says:

    Because of your March 23, 2014 blog entry, my husband and I will be enjoying the breakfast at the Wave during our June visit to WDW. I’m not sure if it was necessary to make a reservation, but I did do that on-line. The ease of those reservations is getting addictive!!! We are celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary at WDW. When we honeymooned there in 1974 the only park was the Magic Kingdom. We’re really looking forward to this trip. We’ve been back over the years, but this is our first visit since the 90′s. Loved, loved, loved your descriptions and photos. You definitely sold us on this place! We are staying on property but not at the Contemporary Resort. We will have our car during our stay, but could someone help us figure out the best way to get to the Wave for a 7:30 a.m. reservation and then a full day at the Magic Kingdom? First of all, should we drive there? (we’re staying at Port Orleans/the French Quarter) Secondly, is it possible to park at the Magic Kingdom that early and walk to the Contemporary Resort or should we park at the Contemporary and then drive to park at the Magic Kingdom after breakfast? Thanks for any suggestions. We’re old, but we can still walk!!!!

  29. Wendy says:

    Hi, Karen! Congratulations on your 40th Anniversary :)!

    I think your best bet is to park at the Contemporary to enjoy your breakfast, then drive over to the Magic Kingdom for your day (not a long drive at all :). The reason is, if you park at Magic Kingdom with the intention of walking to the Contemporary, you would need to take the monorail or Ferry boat from the parking lot to get to the front of Magic Kingdom (which is the point from where you can walk to the Contemporary). That would add a fair bit of time and potentially make you late for your reservation.

    If you prefer to take bus transportation from Port Orleans (my favorite Resort!), that will drop you off right where you can stroll over to the Contemporary (any Cast Member there can help you find the path). However, since your reservation is at 7:30 am and the buses might not be running to Magic Kingdom quite so early, I still think driving is your best bet.

    I hope this helps, and that you have a great anniversary celebration and a terrific meal at The Wave!

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