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 only spot within Magic Kingdom where guests can order beer and wine. While it broke with tradition when Disney announced the decision to offer adult drinks in the otherwise dry park, they felt it was necessary in keeping with the French-inspired menu.

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 [Read more…]

Tips from the DFB Guide: Should I Book a Disney Character Meal?

Dining at Walt Disney World is very often an experience rather than just a meal. It’s become a rite of passage to dine with characters during a visit to Disney — and there’s stiff competition to secure Advance Dining Reservations at some of these table-service restaurants.

Mickey strikes a pose!

Meeting Cinderella, rubbing Pooh’s tummy, hugging Mickey Mouse, and posing with Chip and Dale are some of the memorable moments that can be discovered while dining at Character Meals.

Tigger Lounges and Signs an Autograph Book at the Plaza Inn

But is a character meal right for your group? On one hand, adults and kids alike enjoy meeting characters from Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred Acre Wood, Cinderella’s Castle, and more! Yet on the other, character meals can be costly — both in time and money!

We’ve been to countless meals in which Disney characters hobnob with guests, and now we can help you determine if a character meal fits well into your next Disney vacation!

Chef Mickey serves up fun and food at the Contemporary Resort!

In our The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 e-Book, we have an informative section on character meals. Pick up your copy here for an extra $4 off using code 2013 for a limited time! Your vacation is an investment and we want you to have the best trip possible!

So let’s take a look at whether a character meal makes sense for YOUR family…

Should I book a character meal?

Let’s get right to some important dining considerations that we’ve included in the DFB Guide to help you plan your meals.

Meet the princesses at a character meal!

1. Do you have kids who may be afraid of characters?

Character meals can be a good place for children to get to know the Disney characters. However if one (or more) of your children are not fond of the characters then consider dining at a restaurant with a fun theme instead.

Not sure if your kiddo hates characters? Here’s how to find out without too much trauma: [Read more…]

Review: Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Editor’s Note: Tusker House now offers a character meal experience for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

It’s been a LONG time since we’ve talked about Tusker House, so let’s get down to business!

I consider this sprawling restaurant within Disney’s Animal Kingdom to be one of the best-kept secrets when it comes to Disney World character meals.

Yep — Tusker House is known for its bounty of African dishes, but it’s also a character dining destination.

We have a ton of yummy pictures to share with you, so let’s go!

Atmosphere

Animal Kingdom is one of my favorite Disney parks due to its truly incredible themeing, and Tusker House takes this one step further.

Tusker House – Outside View

It’s one of the Disney restaurants that doesn’t just incorporate theme on the surface — I could spend hours exploring all of the specialty decor, finishes, and props Imagineers have added to this massive restaurant.

You’ll enter the restaurant through the village of Harambe in Animal Kingdom’s Africa, and Tusker House serves as Harambe’s “open air” market on the edge of the Harambe Wildlife Preserve. The podium for the restaurant was outside during our visit. Once you check in, you have the option to wait at a few outdoor tables that are leftover from the days when Tusker House was a counter-service restaurant.

Outdoor Waiting area

Also, next door is one of our favorite watering holes — the Dawa Bar. This is a great spot to [Read more…]

Disney Food for Families: Great Disney World Restaurants for Boys

Much fuss is made about the ballyhooed princess dining experiences at Disney World. So much fuss, that parents of young boys sometimes find themselves wondering, “What does Disney have that’s special for me?”

The down and dirty dino loving boy will be right at home at the T-Rex Cafe.

Well, never fear sports fans; I’m here to tell you that while, yes, the girly girls are pretty visible in the parks (it’s hard to miss the Florida sun glinting off a tiara), there are plenty of Disney dining experiences where the men in your family will feel right at home.

Let’s break it down …

Character Meals

There are 10 different character dining venues at Walt Disney World proper. Of these, only three and a half of them have princess themeing. The rest are totally gender-neutral.

Boys are certainly welcome at any of the princess meals, and many boys love them just as much as the other character meals (PLUS they’re given a neato plastic sword at the Royal Table); but honestly, they do skew more heavily toward girl interests.

All of the other character dining restaurants appeal equally to boys and girls. Your best options for boys in the character dining department are the following (characters are always subject to change): [Read more…]

Disney Restaurant Photo Packages Now Part Of PhotoPass+. Is It Worth It?

We can’t wait to share some of the great new dining info that you’ll find in our updated e-Book — The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2012! In honor of the grand launch, let’s dig in!

New PhotoPass+ Option

For starters, we’ll take a look at the recently released PhotoPass+ option! It’s a new way to get all of your PhotoPass, Disney Attraction, and Dining photos in one handy package. But is it worth it just because it gives you access to your dining photos?

A Photo Package at Cinderella's Royal Table. Add Your Family Here.

Of course we analyzed this for you! The $199.95 package can be a good option for guests that hail down lots of PhotoPass photographers or tend to really want to show folks back home what they looked like on Test Track, however it’s not [Read more…]

“You Know You’re Dining in Disney When…” Part Two!

We freely admit that our first “You Know You’re Eating in Disney World When…” post amused us so much that we had to do a Part 2! After all, where else can we dine with a beloved mouse in the kitchen!

Our “You know you’re eating in Disney World when…” thoughts were bountiful, and we’d love to hear yours too! Who knows…there may just have to be a third post in the series!

Leave us a comment with your personal “You know you’re eating in Disney World or Disneyland when…” experience! ;-)

You Know You’re Dining In Disney When…

Your beverage glows in the dark!

Disney's Blue Glow-Tini

You find it appropriate to have your server correct your manners (and, frankly, get kind of annoyed when they don’t!).

Take your elbows off the table!

You order ketchup and have multiple bottles delivered to your table by a dozen patrons seated near you.

Whispering Canyon Cafe Ketchup Delivery

There’s a train [Read more…]

You Know You’re Eating In Disney World When…

Let’s face it. There are a few foodie experiences at Walt Disney World and Disneyland that we don’t normally find at our hometown restaurants!

We thought it would be fun to put a few “You know you’re eating in Disney World when…” thoughts together, and we’d love to hear your additions!

Leave us a comment with your own “You know you’re eating in Disney World or Disneyland when…” experience! ;-)

You Know You’re Eating In Disney World When…

There are strangers eating in the back seat of your car.

Who's in the Back Seat?!?

You memorize the color of the soap in the bathroom while your kids willingly set the table.

Setting the table

You can’t wait to take a bite out of a mouse ear.

That's better!

You get bragging rights for eating dinner while watching fireworks.

Fireworks and castle from Narcoossees

You ask a yellow bear if [Read more…]

Disney Food Post Round-Up: September 11, 2011

Donald Duck announces new lunch!

It was an exciting week with the announcement of a new character meal hosted by Donald Duck that will be offered at Tusker House in the Animal Kingdom.

And we’re getting so close to the 2011 Epcot Food and Wine Festival now that we’re already planning our touring strategy. You can too — just check out the information in our mini-guide below! We got some great reviews this week!

Latest Disney Food News

  • Starting December 4th, a Tusker House character lunch will be offered in addition to Donald’s Safari Breakfast!
  • Disney Parks exclusive wines will be debuting at the Food and Wine Festival!
  • Downtown Disney’s Raglan Road announced a Thanksgiving meal in addition to its regular lunch and dinner menu.
  • ‘AMA’AMA at Disney’s new Aulani Resort in Hawai’i is now serving guests! Check out this dinner review.

The DFB Mini-Guide to the 2011 Epcot Food & Wine Festival e-Book Review

We’re honored that our newest Mini-Guide is getting such positive reviews! One of the most recent is from Kristin Ford with the Orlando Sentinel’s A Mom and A Mouse! Here’s some of what she has to say about the Mini-Guide…

Like her other projects, AJ Wolfe’s new e-book is thorough. She, of course, explains the many components of the festival, such as seminars, celebrity chef meet-and-greets, signature tastings and concerts. It’s all valuable information laid out in an easy-to-find and easy-to-read format. …I especially like the “With the Kids Strategy” in The Disney Food Blog Mini-Guide to the 2011 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Wolfe offers ideas to engage the kids throughout the park so that the family is moving around World Showcase, allowing parents to sample much of the food.

Read the rest of the review here. Thanks to Kristin and the Orlando Sentinel!!

The Disney Food Blog Mini-Guide to the 2011 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival e-Book has over 125 pages of information you need to dive right into the festival. Start YOUR planning with the purchase of your guide.

On to the Round-Up!

Meet the World in Progressland Has a compilation of photos of Tokyo Disney Resort’s popcorn stands! This is from 2009, but it’s awesome! Love the Roastie-Toasties!

The Disney Blog tells us how to eat cheap at Disneyland!

Main Street Gazette takes us to the River Roost Lounge for evening entertainment and eats! Yee-Haa!!

Eating (and Drinking) Around The World shows us how to make Tuna Poke, Aulani Style!

All Ears Net‘s Jack Spence talks restaurants at Epcot’s France Pavilion. We love it when he does that.

DisMarks has released their 29th Disney Blog Carnival! Lots of great articles on your favorite topics over there.

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We’re thinking today of the men and women who lost their lives on 9/11/01 and of the friends and family they left behind, many of whom are still fighting fear and loss with strength and resilience.

News: Tusker House Announces New Character Lunch Starting December 4

Jambo! I just love when a new character meal is added to our Disney World dining options! Tusker House Restaurant in the Animal Kingdom’s Harambe area will begin offering character lunches on December 4th!

Donald and Daisy Duck are taking on extra hours as Donald’s Safari Breakfast will still be offered daily!

Donald Duck announces new lunch!

Donald’s Dining Safari Lunch will be hosted by Donald and Daisy Duck while guests sample delicious all-you-can-eat spit-roasted meats, unique salads, vegetarian options, hearty stews and [Read more…]

African Inspired Meals in Walt Disney World — Tusker House

Jambo! Join me in welcoming Disney guru Mary Jo Collins and Disney World Moms Panelist Bernie Edwards back to the blog! In this article they’ll share with us various locations to enjoy an African Inspired Meal at Walt Disney World. We also get a close-up look at the Tusker House restaurant. Twende! Let’s go!

Theming Outside Animal Kingdom's Tusker House

Visiting the Walt Disney World Resort has become synonymous with the enjoyment of great dining at restaurants both inside and outside the theme parks. For many of us, these meals lend us the opportunity to experience exotic foods from exotic places.

African Food in Disney World
Fortunately for guests of Walt Disney World, African cuisine is showcased in a variety of table service restaurants offering a peek at the food that has been influenced by the marinade of cultures, colonies, trade routes and history of this land. To describe or categorize what African food is in a few words would be impossible.

The cuisine is as varied in Africa as the cuisine of any large continent. The continent’s regions each have significant differences in their own distinctive dishes and preparation techniques. However, in Africa the various cuisines traditionally combine [Read more…]