The Most Popular Disney World Restaurants (And Alternatives When They’re Full)

Chef Donald

You guys remember when we covered the Top Ten Disney Dining Tips, right? Overwhelmingly, the tip that was mentioned the most by Disney Food Blog readers was making Advanced Dining Reservations for high priority meals at Disney parks and resorts.

While this might be obvious to many, not everyone knows which Disney restaurants fill up the fastest when it comes to reservations. Having a little frame of reference on this might be extremely helpful as you’re planning your Disney dining and trying to determine what meals are high priority for you. So, I’ve prepared a little primer on which Disney restaurants are the toughest to book, along with great alternatives if you don’t happen to get your favorites!:

1. Le Cellier

Le Cellier Steakhouse has been, for years, one of the toughest tickets in Disney World for both lunch and dinner. Seriously, I have heard Le Cellier cast members mention more than once that they’re continuously booked up for lunch and dinner 6 months in advance, with walk-up reservations rarely an option. In my opinion, this is due to three things: [Read more…]

Akershus Review: Princess Storybook Breakfast

You are cordially invited to join your favorite Disney Princesses for a breakfast straight out of your favorite storybook at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall!

Atmosphere

Located in Epcot‘s Norway Pavilion, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall offers a magical escape from the heat and the crowds of the World Showcase.

A Princess character meal, you could encounter any combination of the following at your meal: Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Snow White, Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Mulan, Cinderella, and/or Mary Poppins. Many Disney World guests consider Akershus’ Princess Storybook Breakfast a preferable [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: April 18, 2010

Lots of Disney food news this week, including:

And don’t forget to check out the awesome posts over on the Disney Blog Carnival! There’s a new one up this week!! Now, on to the round-up!

DisneyGeek, our favorite Disneyland photographer, has some fun photos of the opening days of Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival! (Start at the linked page and click through the next few pages for more pics.)

The Unofficial Guide to Disney’s Contemporary Resort takes a look at breakfast options at the Contemporary Resort.

The OC Register is reporting from Disney’s California Food and Wine Festival! Check out the latest from Guy Fieri’s appearances!

Theme Park Insider has a “What’s On Your Funnel Cake?” poll with some great opinions in the comments section!

The Disney Chick walks us through the recipe for Jarlsberg and Leek Soup from Akershus.

Disney Parks Blog shares some photos of great Disneyland Food and Wine Festival merchandise!

Main Street Gazette has a photo blog of the decor over at the Adventureland Veranda in Disney World.

The Daily Disney posts the recipe for one of the most popular items at the 2009 Epcot Food & Wine Festival — seared beef tenderloin with sweet potato puree!

@Marcomboy sent the best twitpic ever. Seriously. I love this. Where can I get one?

Touring Plans takes a look at Trail’s End in Disney’s Fort Wilderness.

Breakfast Specialty Showdown

Note to readers: This is what happens when I stay up too late before writing my blog post for the next day…especially after watching action movies…

I think it’s time to pit one favorite against another in a…

**BREAKFAST SPECIALTY SHOWDOWN**

…starring your favorites and mine, the well-known, specialty breakfast dishes from Chef Mickey’s, Akershus Princess Storybook Breakfast, and Crystal Palace!

Who will win the Breakfast Specialty Showdown Crown?! We shall see…

Contender #1: Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna
An unpretentious mish-mosh of ingredients — delicious on their own, but outstanding when smooshed together — create the formidable Pooh’s Breakfast Lasagna. Crystal Palace knew that naming the dish after an unassuming, honey-loving bear would lull opponents into a false sense of security. Overconfident challengers beware, the collision of flavors is greater than the sum of its parts, and moves the Breakfast Lasagna fully into Breakfast Specialty Showdown contender status!

Pooh's Breakfast Lasagna

Contender #2: Pluto’s Cheese Blintzes
Don’t get the wrong idea. Even though these delectable little pockets of cheese are named after the strong, silent type, that doesn’t mean they won’t start to shout [Read more…]

My Disney Food Day: In Pictures

I’ve had a busy and rewarding day at the Walt Disney World “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” media event; and while you’ll be seeing in-depth blogs over the next few days about my adventures, I wanted to share with you as soon as possible a few of my favorite Disney photos from today.

So, come along with me on this mini-photo-trip-report!

My Disney Day in Photos
First, we got up early-early-early to head over to Epcot for our Akershus breakfast with the Princesses. I think this is just about the most true-to-“life” Snow White I’ve ever seen:

Snow White at Akershus Restaurant

Snow White at Akershus Restaurant

Then it was off to the “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” Media Event, but what do I see as I’m walking around World Showcase? Giant tin cans!! These were used throughout Epcot today as themeing for the Volunteer Events! This one indicated that a VERY cool Detroit radio station would be broadcasting live from Epcot today! (Shout out to Jake Edwards!)

Detroit 96.3 Radio Station Broadcast Location Marker

Detroit 96.3 Radio Station Broadcast Location Marker

Finally made it around the Showcase in time for the big World Record reveal and Media Event. This is the World’s Largest Sculpture Made of Canned Goods! Be sure to check out our breakdown of the foods used for each character!

Canned Goods Sculpture Reveal at Disney World

Canned Goods Sculpture Reveal at Disney World

And of course I needed to get Pluto’s picture in front of his canned-good likeness!

Disney's Pluto with Canned Goods Pluto

Disney's Pluto with Canned Goods Pluto

I was thrilled to see that Mickey’s fingers were made out of huge-mongo bags of [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Weekly Round-Up: October 4th, 2009

Eat here
I hope you’re staying up to date on the goings-on at the 2009 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival on our index page! This week, we looked at the newest booths — Rio and Bangkok, the Taste of Puglia Seminars, and the Pruem Wine-Tasting Seminar.

But while I’ve been covering the Festival, there have been some other great food posts from around the globe. Check out these great sites and their “tasty” posts!

The Daily Mickey takes a look at Quick Service Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom.

Orange County Register reports that a new bar is opening in Anaheim’s Downtown Disney. Stop by for a Margarita!

The Disney Chick has compiled her list of tested Disney recipes, including Princess Cake from Akershus and Dulce de Leche.

All Ears’ Jack Spence reviews Epcot’s Bistro de Paris and includes some wonderful photographs!

DF ’82 discusses Au Chalet de la Marionette in Disneyland Parc, Paris.

The Daily Loaf gives some basics on the Epcot Food and Wine Festival.

The W.E.D. Page steps back in time to review the Diamond Horseshoe Revue.

Main Street Gazette analyzes the lives and times of the Dinoland USA students based on their treatment of Restaurantosaurus.

Finally, join Lou Mongello as he interviews Gary Vaynerchuk from WineLibrary.tv at Epcot’s World Showcase.

Moms Panel Magical Memories, or “Chicken Soup for the Disney Foodie Soul”

For this first post in the Moms Panel Mini-Series, I wanted to introduce the panelists to you in a really fun way — storytelling. I asked the moms about their most magical dining memories at Disney World and got some heartwarming, funny, and informative responses (who knew you could rent out Beaches and Cream?!). I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I did; maybe they’ll even give you some great ideas about things to try next time you’re at Disney World! And be sure to stay tuned for the next installment of the Moms Panel Mini-Series, coming up later this week on the Food Blog!

In the meantime, if you’ve got a great Disney dining memory to share, please send it my way via the “Contact Me” button above. Once I have a good collection, I’ll post “Chicken Soup for the Disney Foodie Soul, Part II!”

Mark's No-More-Chicken-Pox Birthday Cake

Mark's No-More-Chicken-Pox Birthday Cake

From Mom Kara B. (Thanks to Kara B. for sending the great photos as well!)

Last year, my middle son was to come with me to WDW for the Toy Story Mania opening for his birthday, but 2 days before going he came down with the chicken pox (seriously, who gets that anymore — especially having had the vaccine?). Fortunately, we were returning as a family within a month, so we decided to go to town celebrating his birthday and these have become the most amazing memories for us. First, at the Coral Reef Restaurant, which I think is one of the prettiest restaurants at WDW, I had arranged for a diver to come down with a happy birthday sign. He was absolutely taken by surprise; I never saw him with such a big smile. We also had a specialized cake made for him; it was pure Disney magic. It had Chicken Little on it with the message “Good Bye Chicken Pox, Happy Birthday Mark.”

Similarly, at Whispering Canyon Cafe, the cast member had all the girls under 14 come up and sing Happy Birthday to him. He was mortified, but there was a little smile on the inside I’m sure to have been treated like such a prince.

From Mom Anna S.

We have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, new babies, new teeth, new shoes – just about everything happy at Walt Disney World restaurants, but I have to tell you, the most magical Disney dining memory is the one I share with the other members of the 2009 Moms Panel. On one of our nights at training, the whole group went to Jiko. We had gotten comfortable with each other pretty quickly, so by the time our dinner at Jiko rolled around, we were feeling like best friends. The meal was phenomenal, the wine was outstanding, but as the realization of the amount of Disney “magic” that had been sprinkled on all of us started to set in, the feelings that came over me surprised me! It was like old friends, sharing sips of drinks and tastes of food, talking about our kids, our vacations, our jobs and things at home. You know the feeling you get on a cold winter’s night, when you come in from a long day, slip into your flannel jammies – you know, the plaid ones with Mickey on the pocket? – wrap yourself up in your fuzzy bathrobe (or your Snuggi, if you’re so inclined), toast your toes in a pair of the ugly crocheted slippers your grandmom made for you, and enjoy a steaming hot cup of cocoa with your feet up in front of the fire place? THAT’S the magical feeling that came over me that night at Jiko. I will never forget it.

From Mom Amber V.

My favorite Disney dining memory was during my daughter’s first trip. We had breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table, and she was wide eyed and in awe. She was dressed up in her own Cinderella gown and so proud to have her very own wand and wishing star. The pictures we have of her sitting in the castle during that meal are some of the best of our vacation. While the food was good – we have certainly had better meals at Disney, but it was the experience and atmosphere that makes it such a fond memory for me. When we got home, eating in the castle was the thing that stood out most for our daughter from her first trip and for that reason I will always consider it an absolutely magical meal.

From Mom Joanne M.

My then six year-old daughter, Nicole, and I were having our first breakfast at 1900 Park Fare in the beautiful Grand Floridian Resort. The food was delicious, and Alice and the Mad Hatter laughed, danced and joked with Nicole. When Pooh Bear came by, she was struggling to drink her milk. Well, maybe it was actually me who was struggling to get her to drink her milk. Well Pooh stayed with her until she drank every drop, which took at least five minutes. You could see the handlers were eager for Pooh to move on, but he wouldn’t move. It has since become one her favourite character dining experiences that we visit each vacation!

From Mom Heather R.

This is a really hard question to answer, as I’ve been WOWed by Disney dining too many times to count. One such occasion was last summer, when we were visiting with my sister and her family. We elected to have dinner at the Cape May clambake on the evening of my birthday, and as usual it was a delicious meal for a seafood lover such as myself. What really kicked it up a notch were the special arrangements my sister had made with the restaurant to pixie dust my evening. A lovely (and quite large) tray of specialty desserts was brought to the table, complete with personalization and a very pixie-dusted special delivery. (I can’t imagine what the accompanying price tag for her might have been – ouch!) I definitely felt like a princess.

From Mom Whitney P.

Hoop Dee Doo Revue with our extended family of 19: Have you ever spent a lot of money on a meal or a concert and afterward thought to yourself, ‘Boy, it wasn’t worth it.’ ? Well, I’ve never had that thought when looking back fondly on this meal. My husband’s boss recommended we go there and hopes were high. I had encouraged the entire family to spend two of their dining plan credits (and therefore, skipping a meal elsewhere in the week), so the pressure was on. We had the latest 9:15 p.m. seating, and our lot was hungry. But the night went off without a hitch. From the cheerful servers to the finger-licking fare, our meal was a delight. And the show, filled with lots of chuckles, didn’t disappoint. Thankfully during the entertainment, I sat for a moment and just looked at everyone at our two adjoining tables, and savored the moment. All the family–from my then-two-year-old on up to the grandparents–all had smiles on their faces, enjoying themselves. It’s like a mental snapshot for me to look back on happily. The cherry on top is hearing my brother- and sister-in-laws still talk about it and wanting to plan our next reunion trip.

Also, one thing you may not know about me and my family is that we often camp when we go to Disney, and we look fondly at Fort Wilderness as our home away from home…. Some folks don’t like to cook when they are on vacation, me included, but cooking takes on a new meaning when we camp at Disney: My husband takes the kitchen reigns, and I become his sous chef. Last October, we camped at the fort and found that two families of friends would be at Disney the same week. We invited them for dinner at the camper and then afterward to Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Campfire singalong. Taco Soup with all the trimmings was served one night and grilled brats the next, followed by our dessert specialty, fried oreos. What made both nights memorable was our introduction of both families to a slower pace at Disney, unknown to many, where you can retreat to the fort while being just a few hundred yards from seeing the Magic Kingdom fireworks!

Celebrations at Coral Reef Restaurant in Epot

Celebrations at Coral Reef Restaurant in Epot

From Mom Jo Y.

Unfortunately they don’t do it anymore but a few years ago my husband and I were celebrating our anniversary whilst in WDW. We dined at Coral Reef and I surprised him by organising a diver to hold up a banner in the tank wishing us a Happy Anniversary. The diver was fantastic picking up shells and throwing them in the air like confetti and spending time “chatting” with us through the glass, very magical!

From Mom Erin F.

Ours is the iconic family story; it has nothing to do with the food, but instead with the restaurant experience: When oldest daughter was six, we were eating at the Biergarten. She and my husband were fake dancing over by the band, and the MC asked if anyone wanted to lead the band. My daughter sticks her little paw in the air and was chosen out of the group. After a quick chat with the MC, she starts to lead the band and suddenly launches into this whole comedy routine! She was an outgoing kid, but this was our first indication that this was a kid who was a performer! It was a mirror into her soul. People were applauding and laughing, and it was the magical moment of us first seeing who our kid could be. It was a great experience for our family.

From Mom Kay B.

The answer to this is, hands down, Victoria and Albert’s Chef’s Table. It is an unbelievable experience to be able to sit in the KITCHEN of this great restaurant and not only watch the food being prepared, but also have the chance to talk with all the chefs. It is a small kitchen and to see the group back there working together to make incredible meals is a show in itself. The table setting is beautiful and the service can’t be matched. You experience about 8 courses, during which they serve you their chef choice. If there is a large group, several different choices are served so you can try them all. You can match this with wine servings making this a complete evening. In the past, Mickey and Minnie showed up to say hello, but since they are now at the Contemporary resort you don’t get this treat. You will be given a beautiful red rose when you leave.

I know this is not within everyone’s budget so I’ll also share my son’s and daughter’s thoughts (editor’s note: Kay is the self-professed “grandmom” on the moms panel, and her kids are all grown up now):

Amy says she will never forget her Food and Wine dinner at Citricos during a hurricane watching the wind and rain while eating some of the best food ever! Her second most magical experience was renting out Beaches and Cream at midnight during her wedding week and sharing their “kitchen sinks” with all her wedding party
friends and family.

Rick says his most magical Disney dining memory was enjoying a dinner at California Grill that started with fresh sushi, moving on to the barbecue filet mignon, and finishing with their peanut butter and chocolate souffle (which they don’t have anymore) while watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks in the background!

From Dad Doug I.

A few days after proposing to my wife (then girlfriend, of course!), we had our first experience dining at the California Grill. Everything combined for a perfect meal. We were given a window seat without asking, overlooking the Magic Kingdom, at twilight. The restaurant was only about 1/4 filled, so it was quiet and we could talk. Well timed, as we were basically planning out our lives together.

Our waiter was a sommelier, and he coached us through a series of wines to match each stage of the meal. He knew when to swing by and recommend something, and when to disappear into the woodwork. The sushi was phenomenal. The pork with polenta was better. We ended our meal with a final glass of wine, catching the fireworks from the outdoor viewing area.

It is, and always will be, our favorite restaurant in the entire world.

From Mom Jodi G.

My most magical Disney dining experience was our first meal as a family at Walt Disney World – breakfast at Akershus. My daughter, then 2, was so wide-eyed and excited. It was so much fun!

Being Serenaded at Whispering Canyon Cafe

Being Serenaded at Whispering Canyon Cafe

From Mom Beth C.

I think my most magical Disney dining moment occurred at Whispering Canyon Cafe. I was at Disney World with my family for a trip to watch my daughter Nicole dance in the Magic Kingdom. Besides my immediate family, my parents, mother-in-law, nephew and close friends, whose daughter Brigid happens to be Nicole’s best friend and fellow dancer, had dinner here. Since there were three birthdays in our party, we chose it to be the place to celebrate. The waiter called over all the boys and girls in the restaurant to help Brigid’s siblings, Patrick and Emily, celebrate their birthdays. All the girls lined up in front of Patrick, and all the boys lined up in front of Emily. After we sung “Happy Birthday”, the waiter then instructed the girls to kiss Patrick and the boys to kiss Emily. Well I do not know who was more surprised, the birthday kids or the other children dining that night. I never saw kids move so fast back to their tables and everyone had a great time. Of course, we asked for ketchup, spoons and more soda. But I will save those surprises for your own trip!

From Mom Kim L.

The first Disney restaurant that we ever took my son to was Chef Mickey’s when he was two years old. It was magical to see his eyes light up when Goofy walked by. Goofy was the first character he saw. It’s also where he first met Mickey. Our son danced, waved his napkin and greeted all the characters with a smile. We shared this meal with my son’s grandparents which made for a special family dinner. To this day, when I recall those moments, my heart soars. It is unexplainable because it was pure magic.

From Mom Margaret F.

My husband, sons and I have been enjoying Disney World for many years, but my grandmother has never been. We decided to take her a few years ago for her birthday. The boys selected Crystal Palace as the perfect place to celebrate. We ordered a cake and had asked the hostess if there was anyway we could celebrate with a special touch. Imagine her surprise as Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet showed up at her table with a birthday card and cake. Our wonderful server had the whole section sing Happy Birthday to her and Pooh took her hand and led her around in a “mini birthday parade.” The boys were so excited to see their great grandmother having such a great “birthday party.” The added touches the restaurant put on her birthday made it so magical and it brought tears to my eyes to see her able to share that special day with her great grandsons in our favorite place. She still talks about her special birthday years later.

Thanks again to all the “moms” who are participating in the interviews!