If you’re anything like us, you’re already thinking ahead to your next Walt Disney World vacation. If you’re planning to enjoy the parks during the holiday season, you might be wondering what it’s like to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas in the World.
First of all: Lucky you! What a fun way to spend the holiday season — with so much to be thankful for in such a cool place!
As you can imagine, the crowds tend to swell at Disney during holiday weeks like Thanksgiving and Christmas as lots of Disney fans choose to celebrate their holidays in the parks. And Disney answers the call with tons of Thanksgiving spirit throughout many of their restaurants. In fact, most table service restaurants in the World will mark the holiday with special holiday menu items!
So whether you’re looking for a traditional meal, a gourmet twist on familiar favorites, or something that’s a complete departure from established customs, you’ll find lots of options for celebrating these special food days. Let’s check out a few of our favorites.
The Traditional: Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom
We all know it’s true. When you’re craving Thanksgiving dinner at Disney, there’s one spot you can always count on to deliver: Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square.
And we’re not just talking about on Thanksgiving Day or merely around Thanksgiving. You’ll find the traditional feast on the lunch and dinner menu, every day of the year.
If you’re stopping by for dinner, you’ll dine family style and all-you-care-to-enjoy. Start with a Declaration Salad — a guest favorite.
The centerpiece of the meal is the Patriot’s Platter, where you’ll find three meats — Roasted Turkey Breast, Pot Roast, and Oven-Roasted Pork. Nestled beneath the turkey is a generous helping of Herb Stuffing.
But that’s not all there is to this meal. Rolls with Butter plus sides of Veggies (usually Green Beans), creamy Mac and Cheese, and Mashed Potatoes round out the offerings. And yes — there’s also plenty of Gravy!
And don’t fret if the Cranberry Sauce doesn’t come to the table automatically. It’s always available by request!
And you’ll get to enjoy one of our favorite desserts in the World: Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake!
But Lunch is a great time to dine at Liberty Tree Tavern if your group wants options — because it’s the best of both worlds! TG Traditional Types can now enjoy the all-you-care-to-enjoy Lunch Patriot’s Platter! It offers all the same items as dinner — including Declaration Salad, Meats, Sides, AND Dessert — but it’s scaled to the number of folks who are enjoying this option.
In addition to the Patriot’s Platter, there’s an a la carte menu as well, although it’s been reduced in size. Fan favorite New England Pot Roast is on the menu as the Our Tavern Keeper’s Favorite, and the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is also available for lunch!
Update: At the moment, Liberty Tree Tavern is only serving its all-you-care-to-enjoy menu at both lunch and dinner. The a la carte items are not available at lunch at the moment.
The Traditional Part Two: Garden Grill in EPCOT
Another great traditional option is the Garden Grill Restaurant in EPCOT. This EPCOT has stood the test of time and is STILL one of the best! While it may not be the most themed for the holidays, the food here will definitely remind you of the ways you’d spend the holidays at home.
The meal is served family-style and includes a Harvest Garden Salad…
…rolls and butter (that orange blossom honey butter is the STAR)…
…and the rest of the Chip ‘n’ Harvest Feast which comes with a skillet full of meats and sides. These options have changed over the past few years, but during one of our more recent visits, we had grilled sausages, turkey, and pot roast. The sides can change as well but last time we got mashed potatoes, some DELICIOUS herb and leek stuffing, and more.
AND you can’t miss out on one of our favorites — the side of mac & cheese with Goldfish crackers on top!
For dessert, you’ll get to chow down on the Berry Shortcake, which is fresh and light, but filled with sweet flavors!
But, we can’t leave out some of the best parts of this particular spot. First, it slowly rotates throughout your meal and gives you a view of part of the Living with the Land attraction, which is a great, unique benefit!
But also, you get the chance to say hello to some of your favorite Disney pals dressed in some farming gear including Mickey and Pluto…
…and Chip ‘n’ Dale!
Delicious food, Disney characters, and a fun view –this spot has it all!
Tradition on the Go: Earl of Sandwich in Disney Springs
A Walt Disney World vacation can be a busy time, and being there for a major holiday is no exception!
Sure, if you were celebrating at home, it would be all football watching, kitchen cleaning, and a hearty dose of friends and family fun. But when you’re at Disney, there’s an agenda to keep. So how about the holiday meal on the go? I thought you’d never ask!
Head to Earl of Sandwich…
…and get a load of THIS!
Make your way up to the counter and go for the Holiday Turkey Sandwich. This one has it all — Turkey, Cornbread Stuffing, Turkey Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, and Mayonnaise. And best of all, you won’t be waiting around for your Thanksgiving Feast. It will be ready in moments, and you can even eat it on the go!
Now if they could just figure out how to get the Sweet Potatoes into the mix, it’d be just about perfect! Hungry for Thanksgiving food in July? No problem!! You can grab the Holiday sandwich ALL YEAR LONG!
International Flair: Biergarten Restaurant in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion
Maybe you love the idea of a bountiful spread, but you’d like a little continental flair to go with it. We think that the Biergarten Restaurant in EPCOT’s Germany Pavilion is a great option for a holiday meal. After all, it’s the celebration of another amazing food festival — Oktoberfest!
Step into Biergarten and you’re transported to Munich. A jolly town square is the setting for the entertainment.
Before things really get underway, there’s business to attend to. First and foremost, you’ve gotta tap that keg!
The band and performers have been around forever, and they’re incredibly talented. You’ll enjoy traditional music, and if the notion strikes, feel free to get up and utilize that big ol’ dance floor down front!
Update: Note that at the moment, due to the situation with the pandemic, dancing in front of the stage is a no-go. But, the band is still playing those fantastic tunes!
Service here used to be buffet-style, and you could help yourself to a practically endless array of hearty Roasts, Meats, and Sausages. To go alongside, there were traditional German favorites like Spätzle, Braised Red Cabbage, and Roasted Potatoes.
At the moment, however, Biergarten has switched to serving its meals family-style.
But, whatever you do, don’t forget the Beer!
Black Forest Cake and Rote Grutze, or Fruit Compote served with a Vanilla Sauce, are some of our favorite desserts. And you can’t go wrong with Apple Strudel.
It may not be your traditional Turkey and Dressing, but I promise the sheer volume of rich food will take you to the same Happy Place.
Turkey and Mistletoe at Hollywood & Vine: Minnie’s Holiday Dine Dinner in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
I have a lot of friends who are perfectly fine with the fact that Thanksgiving has been sorta kinda swallowed up by Christmas and the winter holidays. Well, guess what? If you’re firmly in that camp, then Hollywood & Vine is the place for you!
That’s because beginning in early November, the restaurant will host Minnie’s Holiday Dine Dinner each evening.
While character dining has been modified in Disney World, the festive event does give you the chance to see THIS gal…
…and her famous boyfriend. 😉
Other pals, like Santa Goofy and Pluto — all decked out in their holiday finest — are on hand to make your dining experience extra special.
While there’s no telling what delights that Minnie has in store for her special guests this year, we can tell you that the spread was extra special the last time we enjoyed Holiday and Dine.
While this spot used to serve meals buffet-style, it has currently switched to a Prix-Fixe experience that includes salad…
…and bread (both of which are unlimited!)…
…your choice of entree (we went with the Garlic and Cracked Black Pepper Prime Rib of Beef, which comes with Sour Cream-Chive Whipped Potatoes, Fried Brussels Sprouts, and Pearl Onions with Red Wine Jus, which overall was delicious and a generous portion size)…
…your choice of dessert…
…and non-specialty beverage. Overall we were really pleasantly surprised by how delicious our food was here for this holiday event!
A Fun Departure: Splitsville Luxury Lanes in Disney Springs
We get it. We totally understand that there are some of you out there who’d like to say, “Hey. Holiday. I’m just not that into you.”
Or if you’re like a lot of Americans, you may love to hit the lanes after that big giant dinner! Then consider Splitsville Luxury Lanes at Disney Springs.
Sure, you’re already at Disney, and that’s pretty special. But I promise you, those parks are going to get busy, and FAST. An afternoon of bowling may just be the tradition that you and your family have been looking for!
Take a look at Splitsville’s vast and varied menu, and you’ll see something that will please almost every palate. From Sushi and Salads…
…to Pizza and Macho Nachos (which we got with fries!) — you’ll find a little bit of everything here.
It could be a great way to spend the holidays and chow down on some tasty food.
The Upscale Version: California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
If you’re looking for your Holiday Dinner with the refinement of a signature dining option, then you may want to consider California Grill.
California Grill is one of our favorite Disney restaurants in terms of atmosphere; you just can’t beat the sweeping panoramic views from high atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
And if you time your advance dining reservation just right, your holiday meal will come with a side of spectacular fireworks. (If you can’t get that coveted time slot, no worries; you’ll still be able to come back and watch the fireworks later in the evening.)
No doubt that if you book your table for Thanksgiving or Christmas at California Grill, you’ll still experience the traditional favorites. But we’re confident that the crack culinary team will also have a few tricks up their sleeves to make this a memorable meal.
Disney Springs-Style: A Little Bit of Everything!
If you want to avoid the parks on the busy holidays but you’re still jonesing for some Disney spirit, the many restaurants and kiosks of Disney Springs may be just right for you! Aside from the tasty options we mentioned above, you can also grab tons of seasonal eats at just about every spot in the Springs!
The list of Thanksgiving-ready eats and drinks abound at Disney Springs — and there’s something for everyone!
A Quiet and Unique Getaway: Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
If you’re looking for a relatively quiet escape for the holidays with some unique dining options and a gorgeous view — you might want to check out Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Kidani Village.
Since this spot is at a Disney World hotel and a fairly far away from all the hustle and bustle of the parks, it can often go overlooked and potentially be an easier reservation to grab than some other spots. And it’s got BREAD SERVICE.
Plus, you could get a great view of the animals as you chow down on your meal! While some of the options here may not be super traditional, you could have a relaxing and still incredibly delicious meal.
A Lounge Experience: Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
While Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is still closed at the moment, this spot is a great one to visit during Christmas!
During the holidays, you’ll usually find some fun theming and potentially even a special holiday drink or two here, making this already fun spot even better.
A Few Honorable Mentions
Before we end our list, we did have to give a few honorable mentions to some other spots in Disney World.
While we think it can be very overpriced, particularly at lunch, if you are looking for a Christmas feel, watching the snow fall outside the “windows” at Be Our Guest restaurant in Magic Kingdom can certainly be magical.
If you’re looking for some fried chicken, biscuits, and delicious southern cooking, Homecomin’ by Chef Art Smith in Disney Springs is a fantastic choice any time of year, including during the holidays.
If you want to get heckled (from a distance) just like you would if you were back at home having a holiday meal with your family, 50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios is just what you’re looking for! Plus, their menu of classic eats like the fried chicken, pot roast, and traditional meatloaf will definitely give you that holiday meal feel. Just don’t forget about that Peanut Butter & Jelly shake!
Trail’s End Restaurant is currently closed at Fort Wilderness but it is usually a great choice for the holidays as well. Its buffet-style menu, which includes classics like fried chicken, cornbread, and more will fill you up! And after your meal you can walk around Fort Wilderness and check out some of the AMAZING holiday decorations the guests put up — especially around Christmas.
And finally, if you’ll be in EPCOT during the winter, don’t forget about the Festival of the Holidays! During this festival, you’ll find a number of unique and delicious food items you won’t want to miss out on.
So there you have it — Disney Food Blog’s recommendations for Thanksgiving and Christmas Dining at Walt Disney World! If you’re looking to dine at any of these spots that accept reservations, be sure to grab those advanced dining reservations as soon as you can, as reservations around the holidays tend to fill up VERY quickly!
And if you don’t have success… Well — there are always Jumbo Turkey Legs! 😀
But now we’d really love to hear from you! Would you like to be in Walt Disney World this year for Thanksgiving Dinner? Leave a comment and let us know which spot gets your top vote!