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…]

Best Restaurants for Magic Kingdom Parade Viewing

The Magic Kingdom Parade is a rite of passage for every Walt Disney World guest, and with a little planning, you can save time by dining and watching the parade at the same time!

Best Restaurants for Magic Kingdom Parade Viewing

Here are a few of my favorite ways to combine two “must-do” activities — eating and parade viewing — in the Magic Kingdom:

Casey’s Corner Outdoor Tables

Grab a Hot Dog at Casey’s
The location of Casey’s Corner, a counter-service restaurant specializing in hot dogs, is just about perfect for parade viewing. Situated on the end of Main Street right next to the hub and the Castle, the main outdoor dining area of Casey’s will provide a fantastic view of the parade floats going by.

You’ll need to snag a spot early, so head over to Casey’s about 15-30 minutes before the parade is scheduled to begin, order your food, and commandeer your red-and-white striped umbrella table. The closer you are to Main Street, the better. While crowds of people might block your view of some of the characters on the street, this is nice, shaded spot from which to see the floats. I especially like this spot for watching SpectroMagic (or the Main Street Electrical Parade). Keep your spot to watch Wishes.

If you don’t like the idea of holding a table, grab your dogs and dine while holding your spot on the curb!

Get an Outdoor Table at Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
…but it has the be one of the correct outdoor tables! This counter-service eatery located in Frontierland has several outdoor dining areas, but the one you want will be closest to the front door. This dining area butts up against a slatted fence, which you’ll be able to [Read more…]

Tony’s Town Square & the “Boo to You” Parade

I’m so excited to talk about this experience. While Tony’s Town Square Restaurant‘s Italian fare is far from 5-star cuisine, the memories you can make there — if you’re savvy and just a little bit lucky — are second to none.

Tony's Town Square Restaurant

The restaurant is located in the Exposition Hall right next to Disney World’s Train Station. You’ll remember from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp the restaurant upon which Tony’s is styled — in the alley behind it was where Lady and the Tramp shared their famous spaghetti dinner! And you’ll find several Lady and the Tramp references throughout the restaurant. (Check out this post from SamLand’s Disney Adventures for one very special tie-in!)

Lady and the Tramp Appear on Windows...

Lady and the Tramp Appear on Windows...

...And in Statues

...And in Statues

They Even Appear on TV in the Lobby

They Even Appear on TV in the Lobby

The restaurant includes a plush lobby and three main dining areas: an indoor room with booths and tables, a “sunroom” that floods with light during the day, and [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: January 3, 2010

Eat hereWelcome to 2010! I hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend. And I know a bunch of you are gearing up for January and February Disney trips, so get that laundry folded and in the suitcase, already!

Now, everyone’s posting some really fun things about Disney food in the past couple of weeks, so I can’t wait to share the latest with you.

First, however, I need to share some news — one of my favorite counter-service offerings, Animal Kingdom’s Picnic in the Park, will become a “seasonal” offering after January 2, 2010. “Seasonal” in Disney-speak can mean anything from open once a decade to open all the time except when it rains, so we’re not really sure what it means in this case.

Now, on to the Round-Up!

Daveland Blog shares some cool Blue Bayou photos from Disneyland.

Samland’s Disney Adventures shares a fun imagineering detail about Tony’s Town Square, which includes information about Le Chapeau next door, Walt Disney, Lillian Disney, and a puppy… .

The Disney Blog has an awesome story about a giant Wall-e made of donated food cans, which will eventually benefit local food banks.

Cake Wrecks reminds us that even though a lot of us are getting fatter, our character cakes are getting fatter, too!

Studios Central posted a great twitpic that reminds us of Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano. Don’t forget to drop by Studios Central directly for info on DHS!

Imaginerding found some interesting books at Animal Kingdom’s Restaurantosaurus

Teacups and Toasters has a series of posts on the Disney Wonderland Tea you can find throughout the parks and resorts. shares the scoop that Earl of Sandwich will be opening a location at Disneyland Resort Paris. The site also shares a fun story on Mulled Wine at DLRP.

The Orange County Register reported in December that Robert Irvine is possibly being courted for an appearance at the Disneyland Food & Wine Festival.

Laughing Place reports that Epcot’s Refreshment Port, which used to be home to McDonald’s products, is now selling Latin-inspired foods such as empanadas and dulce de leche sundaes.

Cooking With Mickey is looking for your suggestions for recipes you’d like to see on the blog!

Main Street Gazette highlights a video and notes from Gary Vaynerchuk’s Portuguese Wines presentation in Epcot.

WDW Magic has the news that Studio Catering Company will be closed from February 15th, to March 27th, 2010.

Disney Every Day shares a video of the Boma Breakfast Buffet.

Great links this week! Have a good first week of 2010!

Hidden Mickeys in Disney Restaurants

The research for this blog began when I noticed a hidden Mickey tucked into a chair at Boma during my Animal Kingdom Lodge Culinary Tour; it’s been all downhill from there! Of course, thanks to all of the Facebook fans and twitter followers who responded to my call for “food-related hidden Mickeys” back in October!

Where possible (and if necessary), I’ve tried to include a photo of the Mickey and a photo of the surrounding area so that it’s easier to find. Not possible with all, unfortunately…

Here we go:

Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom
This was one of my earlier findings, and it’s definitely one of my favorites. You can find it on one of the decorative wooden racks in the lobby of Liberty Tree Tavern — it’s to the right and toward the back as you walk into the lobby.

Blueberry Hidden Mickey at Liberty Tree Tavern

Blueberry Hidden Mickey at Liberty Tree Tavern

Decorative Rack Containing Blueberry Hidden Mickey

Decorative Rack Containing Blueberry Hidden Mickey

Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge
Ah, the original! I’m not sure if this even qualifies as “hidden,” but I liked it! Some chairs have it, and some chairs don’t — cross your fingers that you get a good one!

Boma Hidden Mickey in Chair

Boma Hidden Mickey in Chair

TRex in Downtown Disney
One of Disney’s newer restaurants (stay tuned for my review, coming soon!), TRex includes a moving (yep–moving) Octopus Bar. Look closely at the tentacles, and you’ll see what I saw…

Tentacle Hidden Mickey at TRex

Tentacle Hidden Mickey at TRex

A Wider Shot of the Octopus Bar for Context

A Wider Shot of the Octopus Bar for Context

Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club Resort
My Dad found this one, but was assured that it’s authentic! It was also mentioned on facebook (Thanks, Kristina!) as a fan favorite! Look up and to the right as you enter the restaurant to see this onion ring hidden Mickey in the decorative border.

Onion Ring Hidden Mickey at Beaches and Cream

Onion Ring Hidden Mickey at Beaches and Cream

Context Shot for Beaches and Cream Hidden Mickey

Context Shot for Beaches and Cream Hidden Mickey

Goofy’s Candy Company in Downtown Disney
OK, this isn’t technically a restaurant, but you can get some pretty good noms here anyway! NOTE: You can also spot this hidden Mickey in the decor around the Goofy’s Candy Company section of MouseGears in Epcot! (Psst…look closely and you’ll see even more hidden characters…)

Hidden Mickey at Goofy's Candy Company

Hidden Mickey at Goofy's Candy Company

The Rest of the Hidden Characters at Goofy's Candy Company

The Rest of the Hidden Characters at Goofy's Candy Company

Reader Favorites
Thanks again to those who answered the call! Here are some reader-suggested food-related hidden Mickeys!

@aryssabrooke from Twitter
At Behind the Seeds tour at Epcot, you can see how they make Mickey shaped pumpkins and watermelons.

@ArmandNoUsagi from Twitter
I have to say my favorite is at Teppan Edo, When the chef makes a Mickey volcano out of an onion.

Allison Palmer-Gleicher from Facebook
The bread Mickey head in Tony’s — over by the Lady and the Tramp picture behind the fountain.

Tinker Kell from Facebook
My favorite one is on the dog statue near the check-in desk at Mama Melrose’s.

Calling All Hidden Mickey Spotters!
I know for a fact that I haven’t seen nearly all of the Disney dining hidden Mickeys, so I hope you can help me out! Contact me via twitter, facebook, or email with a photo or remembrance of your favorite food-related hidden Mickey, and I’ll add it to this blog. The blog itself will be placed (with great honor) in the special posts section in the right-hand column so that you can keep tabs on the updates.

WDW Moms Panel: Good Eats When Going Solo at Disney

Earlier this week, we had a guest post giving some tips and tricks on dining solo in Disney World. Today, in our fifth post in the Walt Disney World Moms Panel mini-series, I asked the moms what they would eat in Disney World if they were blissfully alone for a whole day. Get ready for some delicious answers!

From Mom Anna S.

Without children in tow, I would start my day off at the Grand Floridian Café for some lobster eggs Benedict. This is about the most delicious and indulgent way to start your day at Walt Disney World! Although I will admit, my sweet tooth would be crying out for the stuffed croissant!

Kaki Gori from Epcot's Japan

Kaki Gori from Epcot's Japan

It’s off to EPCOT to explore the shops that my children usually are too bored to enjoy, and lunch at the best location on the planet for “fast” food – the Yakitori House. A Japanese Curry for lunch, followed by a Kaki Gori at the shaved ice stand, is a perfect balance of flavors and textures – sort of a fire and ice combo.

After an exhausting day shopping, I am off for my favorite meal anywhere on Walt Disney World property – the filet mignon and macaroni and cheese at Jiko. Arguably the best meal I’ve had anywhere, my mouth waters just thinking about the level to which the Jiko chefs have elevated this simple meal.

The day does not end until I swing back into the Magic Kingdom, where I’ll enjoy my dessert – the world famous Dole Whip with fresh pineapple spears on the side. Although, with no children tagging along, I’ll have a WHOLE Dole Whip to myself, and I may not have room for the sweet juicy pineapple!

From Mom Erin F.

I’m lucky enough to go on an annual solo vacation to Disney World; I’ve been three times so far, with the fourth trip coming up in January. My dream breakfast is beignets at Port Orleans Resort French Quarter — calories don’t count on vacation! Then it’d be anything hot and fried –- mini donuts at Blizzard Beach, fried dough, etc.

One thing I really enjoyed on my last solo trip was going to the Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge — I got a raspberry mojito and the flatbread from Artist Point.

My dream dinner? Jiko!

From Mom Jennifer W.

If left alone for one day at WDW the choices for incredible food would be endless. It’s funny to think that when I first started going to WDW I thought the only meals available were character meals! However, over the years I have learned that there is so much more!

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace

But with that said, I honestly think I would start my day at one of my favorite breakfast spots … the Crystal Palace at the MK. It just does not get any better than biscuits and gravy, potatoes, eggs, and sausage, and of course if there is room, how can one resist the Mickey Mouse waffles?

I would then need to walk some distance before enjoying lunch! I think this would be eaten at the Cantina de San Angel in Mexico. Just a quick lunch where I would enjoy a wonderful taco salad and perhaps a tasty margarita as well. And no afternoon at WDW is complete without a Mickey Mouse ice cream. Frozen to perfection, I truly can say I love these.

Okay now dinner? Ohhhh that is so incredibly hard to choose! I think for this particular day I’m going for a fantastic meal at Jiko! On my last visit there, I was amazed by everything I tried. The seafood and steak dishes were by far my favorite. As I walked home completely full and satisfied I think I would call this a great day, but wait – on the way out of the park there are those darn Rice Krispy treats with chocolate on them! Oh well, everyone needs a midnight snack!

From Mom Jodi G.

I’d go with a light breakfast, and then have lunch at the Brown Derby. The grapefruit cake and the Cobb salad are my favorites.

For dinner, I’d just roam around the World Showcase eating the best from each country – crepes, funnel cakes, pretzels… etc.

From Mom Kara B.

After much thought, I decided the California Grill would be a great way to celebrate ME! I could spend as much time as I wanted leisurely enjoying an elegant multi-course meal with no little kids bugging me to eat fast so we can go back to the Magic Kingdom.

Goodies at the Wishes Dessert Party

Goodies at the Wishes Dessert Party

The views there are worth a million bucks, so I’d have to have a window seat so I could soak in all beauty of the Seven Seas Lagoon and its surroundings, especially the Magic Kingdom. And then there is the outdoor balcony areas, which before the fireworks are so wonderfully peaceful looking out at the entire WDW resort area; a true moment of zen to gather one’s thoughts and think of all the good in the world.

I also have to admit I was tempted to put down the Wishes Dessert Buffet, which I have yet to try. I think it would be a great way to socialize and meet people, indulge on sweets, and catch a premium seat to watch Wishes.

PS: I’d also love to have room service in Cinderella’s Castle Suite.

From Mom Joanne M.

Oooh, fun question. I would head to (or hopefully I’m already staying there) Stormalong Bay at the Beach and Yacht Club and start with a delicious cocktail at the poolside bar. Then I would head over to the Flying Fish on the Boardwalk. I have to be honest and tell you it’s not because it has my favourite dish, but because we had to cancel our August reservation because my daughter was sick. It’s long been on my list to try, and I would love to enjoy it at a relaxed pace.

From Mom Heather R.

Alone – I can’t even imagine it!

I’m not generally a big breakfast gal, so anywhere I could grab a decent cup of coffee an everything bagel with smoked salmon would make me happy. I used to say Starring Rolls in Hollywood Studios, but unfortunately the last time I was there the lox was no longer an option.

The Famous Flying Fish at Flying Fish Cafe

The Famous Flying Fish at Flying Fish Cafe

For lunch, a bowl of clam chowder at Columbia Harbor House always makes me happy.

Dinner is always my biggest meal of the day, and what a tough decision! I think I’ll go with the Flying Fish, a perrennial favorite. I’d start with the Chardonnay-steamed Maine Coast Blue Hill Bay Mussels. Although I’m not always a huge fennel fan, these are delicious. Strange as it sounds at a seafood restaurant, the Char Crusted New York Strip Steak there is fantastic and in my opinion, among ofthe best steaks to be had in Disney.

I don’t usually indulge in sweets, but if I were to make an exception, the beignets at Port Orleans are really yummy.

And a drink/treat? Definitely a Grey Goose Slush from Epcot.

Gosh, I just realized I’ve spent my whole hypothetical day running back and forth to different eateries! Now that really IS blissful!

From Mom Whitney P.

I’m always on a quest to try something new when I’m at Disney, rather than visiting old haunts, so I’d probably make a bee-line to the new Kouzzina, showplace of fellow Mississippian Cat Cora.

The Birth of a Dole Whip Float

The Birth of a Dole Whip Float

Even though I’m not much for eating table service alone (although some of my fellow Disney Panel Moms–and Dads–do), I’d have to make an exception for this restaurant. I love to make meals out of an array of appetizers, so I’d probably order her Kouzzina spreads of Chickpea Hummus, Kalamata Fig, and Harissa Yogurt along with the Spanakopita! (And that’s what I’m planning on doing when I go with my family in October!)

My favorite drink? Hands down Disney’s Pina Colava, a raspberry sauce-laced pina colada. It’s a given when I’m at Brown Derby, but I’ve also enjoyed it at Sanaa and Teppan Edo. It tends to be seasonal, but if it’s not on the menu, I’ll ask anyway!

And no visit to Magic Kingdom would be complete without a Dole Float, a favorite of mine and fellow Disney Mom Margaret.

From Mom Beth C.

I would go during the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and sample all of the treats from around the world. I did this last September and really enjoyed myself. I finally had the opportunity to eat at the Tangierine Café in Morocco. I had been wanting to try this restaurant for years but my schedule when touring with my family never worked out. This was the perfect opportunity to try this cafe. The food was delicious and fresh and eating it out side listening to the Moroccan music was a perfect way to enjoy a lunch alone.

From Mom Jo Y.

Well first I’d have to have a funnel cake, we don’t have them here in the UK so I have to have one every single trip. Just plain though, no strawberries or ice-cream.

Earl of Sandwich

Earl of Sandwich

Counter Service would have to be Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney; I would order The Full Montagu with beef, turkey, cheese and salad followed by a delicious cupcake.

Whilst in DTD I’d nip over to Goofy’s Candy Company to make my own rice crispy treat. I would cover it in milk chocolate, rolled in choc chips and drizzled in caramel.

Dinner would be at Narcoossee’s, where I’d dine on filet mignon with potato gratin followed by key lime crème brulee. If I still had room after that I’d visit the Magic Kingdom for a pineapple Dole Whip float from Aloha Isle, and then waddle back to my resort!

From Mom Kim L.

I would begin with breakfast at Boma. I’d request a cozy table near the window. Afterwards, I would walk around the resort.

For a mid-day treat, I am heading to the Grand Floridan for afternoon tea in the Garden View Lounge. I would choose strawberries and cream along with lemon pound cake. I highly recommend the Princess Breakfast tea.

My evening would end with a delightful meal at The Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge. Dim lighting and delectable food provide a perfect way to wind down.

From Mom Kay B.

If traveling alone I would definitely choose spots that not only have great food but also good entertainment. Top spots that I would head to include 50’s Primetime Cafe in Hollywood Studios, where I would not be able to pass up their pot roast, milk shakes, and s’mores for dessert!

Teppan Edo's Sake-Rita

Teppan Edo's Sake-Rita

There are two EPCOT restaurants I would head to and those are the German Biergarten, where I can get my schnitzel and spaetzle, and of course good beer, while watching the show.

Teppan Edo is my other choice for this park since you can watch dinner being prepared right in front of you. I love all the food, chicken, and steaks and seafood, so anything goes here, but it must be accompanied by one of their specialty “umbrella” drinks to make it complete!

In the Magic Kingdom I would head to Casey’s Corner and enjoy a good dog and fries while watching the people on Main Street and listening to the piano player……all the time hoping the ducks won’t take a nibble out of my leg. :)

Absolute snack musts are a bag of popcorn and a hunk of peanut butter fudge from any of the Disney fudge spots!

From Mom Amber V.

If I had a day at Disney World all alone to enjoy my favorites, I would start with Tonga Toast for breakfast at the Kona Cafe. I would be sure to get all of my favorite snacks — dole whip float, popcorn, and Mickey Bars at some point throughout the day.

My choice for lunch would be something quick like a hot dog at Casey’s or a BLT salad from Columbia Harbor House, because I would want to save room for a fabulous dinner at my absolute favorite restaurant — Jiko. Barbecue chicken flatbread, filet mignon with macaroni and cheese, and the pistachio creme brulee is my idea of the perfect meal to end a fabulous day at Disney!

From Dad Doug I.

I do this often, as work travel and book research trips leave me solo in Orlando.

Nothin' like a little popcorn on a Solo Disney Day

Nothin' like a little popcorn on a Solo Disney Day

Typically I seek out whatever is new, but while I love many of the character meals and some of the ones that involve a show (like 50’s Prime Time or Whispering Canyon Cafe), many are ones where going solo just makes me feel a bit out of place. So some of my favorite solo dining places that I like to frequent include:

Breakfast: Kona Cafe at the Polynesian (Strictly for the Tonga Toast!)
Lunch: Flame Tree BBQ or Tangierine Cafe
Dinner: California Grill
Snack: Popcorn from the carts as you enter the Magic Kingdom. Walt would have wanted it that way!

Dirty Little Confession: While I like all that, I have to confess that I have dined, on more than one occasion, at “Snackapalooza!”. Don’t waste your time searching for it on a park map. I coined this phrase for those times where instead of going to a restaurant, I ‘surf’ the World Showcase promenade, getting a few different nibbles from the national pavilions. I love getting a bite here, a bite there, and sampling cuisines from around the globe!

From Mom Margaret F.

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a few solo trips to Disney world, and while I was first worried that I would be lonely or look out of place, I quickly discovered how much I have still missed while rushing after my children on our family trips.

The Porch at Tony's Town Square

The Porch at Tony's Town Square

I love eating at Tony’s Town Square and sitting on the outside porch. In an odd way, with all the crowds passing by, it is remarkably peaceful to me.

While the food is delicious, it is such a great place to watch the excitement and joy of the guests as they first enter Magic Kingdom, or to listen to the recaps of their amazing day as they exit the park. Watching the kids (and mom and dad) jump in glee at the sight of Main Street and Cinderella Castle continues to remind me why I love Disney so much.

One of my favorite treats is to grab a Dole Whip Float and sit on a bench near the Castle hub and watch all of the guests stop for a picture by the Partners statute. As I enjoy the best treat on property, it makes me smile to see so many guests stop and admire Walt and Mickey hand in hand, and hopefully Walt knows how much joy he continues to bring to so many everyday.

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

Don’t forget, if you’d like to share your “most magical Disney Dining moment,” send me an email! I’m collecting stories and will post them in the next post of “Chicken Soup for the Disney Foodie soul!”