When it comes to restaurants on the Monorail Resort loop at Walt Disney World, a few probably spring immediately to mind: California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, and Grand Floridian Cafe at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (well, maybe not that last one, but we’re on a mission to make it a must-do for everyone!).
But even though those headliners get the most attention from guests (and are regularly enjoyed here at DFB!), lesser-known restaurants on the loop often bring just as much quality and thought to their menus. The Wave… of American Flavors on the lobby level of the Contemporary can be a surprisingly good destination meal — especially for breakfast. There’s a SUPER SECRET DFB TIP included in our review that we think you’re going to want to know about… .
The Wave bills itself as crafting new American flavors that incorporate international tastes, too. The focus of the restaurant’s fluid menu is on seasonal and local ingredients, and while we don’t see the menu changing as often as, say, The Wave’s upstairs sister-friend California Grill, the menu here does have a level of freshness that you don’t find everywhere.
The Wave serves up three meals a day, with lunch and dinner being a la carte. (See our dinner review here!) Breakfast offers both buffet and a la carte options, making it a great place to grab an early meal with the fam. I met up with friends to check out the offerings and see if some old favorites and new additions are still worth a journey to The Wave.
The Wave is located in the lobby of the Contemporary, so if you arrive by Monorail, you’ll need to head downstairs to the ground level. The restaurant is (kind of awkwardly) tucked into the back corner of the lobby, but when you arrive, its entrance makes an impression.
One you’ve walked through the barrel of The Wave’s metallic curl, you’ll check in at a lovely host stand. The wave is embodied here in a glass wall with lots of movement in its design. Though waves are incorporated into several other areas of the restaurant, you’ll notice that this is really the only theme running through the space. It’s virtually un-Disneyfied, so if you’re looking to eat somewhere with a dearth of characters and references to the World you’re in, The Wave is a good option.
The Wave has a Lounge with a handful of moody seating areas.
If you’re hanging out in the Lounge with some friends, you might want to order up the spectacular Seven Seas Lagoon Cocktail. It’ll turn some heads! (See why here!) And the lounge specializes in screw-top wines, which is a fun twist (HA!).
Unlike the cruise ship-like Lounge, The Wave’s dining room is relatively understated. Circular and square tables are surrounded by wooden chairs bearing a distinctive wave design. (This one gives us some… outdated vibes. Like I can’t help but feel like I’m in a 1970’s car dealership when I’m here. Which is really the Wave’s one major drawback — the windowless, outdated atmosphere.)
Other wave/ocean splashes include the undulating metal ceiling pieces and the jellyfish-like pendant lights. Neither is particularly compelling, but they work for the space.
The Wave also has some banquette seating, and the fabrications in the restaurant are shown clearly here. Muted curtains feature a subtle wave pattern with glimpses of that blue lounge light coming through. The carpet features a background of, yep, waves with splashes of bright colors.
Enclosed banquettes provide some grandness and separation.
The muted dining room has a serious tone, but it’s not stuffy. Families with diners of all ages can be comfortable dining at The Wave.
Dining options for breakfast at The Wave include a buffet and a la carte dishes, so you can enjoy whatever is right for you. A la carte dishes range from $10 (Avocado Toast) to $17 (Eggs Benedict). The buffet costs about $22, so if you think you’ll enjoy a few of the items on the buffet, it may work out financially for you.
We’ll get into all the buffet items, but let’s take a look at the rest of the menu. Appetizers include a fruit plate and oatmeal while entrees include The Wave specialty Sweet Potato Pancakes and simple options like the American breakfast with eggs, breakfast potatoes, bacon, etc.
If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan or simply want to enhance your meal with a drink, there are alcoholic and non-alcoholic options for you — including a Refillable Mimosa for $19. 😉
The Buffet is fairly extensive, with fresh fruit, yogurt, hot dishes, and breakfast staples.
Assorted pastries include cinnamon rolls, danishes, croissant, pain au chocolate, and a variety of muffins. Carb loading is not a problem here. (Or, well, it could be, depending how you look at it. But at DFB, we think the more carbs, the better!)
As one expects, Mickey Waffles play a role here — by being warm and delicious. (Interestingly we didn’t spot any Minnie Waffles mixed in as we did when we dined for brunch at Chef Mickey’s recently…)
The Wave’s signature Sweet Potato Pancakes are served up in miniature form on the buffet, so if you are debating between the buffet and the Pancakes entree, the buffet has your back!
And no worries about those pancakes being sans Pecan Honey Butter — you can find all of that on the buffet, too.
Traditional breakfast items abound in their familiar and enhanced states. There’s Disney bacon galore!
Cheesy Breakfast Potatoes and Pork Sausage are on the buffet, too. (Note that the menu offers chicken sausage as an option for some of the a la carte breakfast items, so if you’re skipping pork, see if your server can get the chicken sausage for you!)
You can find standard Scrambled Eggs… which always look a little sad on a buffet.
Or you can dig into other egg preparations, including Eggs Benedict with Canadian bacon or Chorizo Scrambled Eggs with peppers.
For a lighter option, the Egg White Frittata might be a good choice! They’re topped with some pico de gallo and include red onion and green peppers in the frittata itself.
And Deviled Eggs are available, too!
Now HERE’S A SUPER SPECTACULAR DFB TIP! There’s no omelette station at The Wave, but if you want to create your own omelette, talk to your server. You can place an order, and they’ll bring it out for you at no added cost! Definitely make a note of this if you’re planning a breakfast here!
A hot station offers Tilamook Grits, Sausage Gravy, Oatmeal, and Apple Cinnamon Quinoa. These hearty options will really keep you going when you hit the Parks!
Want something simple and nostalgic? Grab a bowl of Corn Flakes or Fruit Loops!
As is common on Disney World’s breakfast and brunch buffets, you’ll find smoked salmon and traditional accompaniments.
And for something a little light, The Wave offers three versions of a Yogurt Parfait.
And in an unexpected twist: I spotted Ham and Cheese Pinwheels. Hey: you’re on vacation! Anything goes! 😉
In addition to the buffet, I ordered a compelling a la carte dish: Glazed Donut French Toast. If that sounds absolutely decadent and like a sugar bomb from which you might never recover… you’d be correct.
The dish is two griddled glazed donuts topped with salted banana caramel and chocolate-hazelnut whipped cream. It’s… sweet. Good — there’s a tiny hint of salt from the caramel that tries to offset all that sweetness — but very, very sweet. Brace yourself for impact with this one. It’s totally worth it, but maybe a good one to share with the table.
And with that, we were full and satisfied… but a little slow to waddle out, if I’m being honest.
Nosh or Not?
Start your day at The Wave if…
- You’re planning to have some fun at Magic Kingdom, and you want a nice, decently priced, relatively-Disney-free breakfast before you go.
- The menu and mission of The Wave really align with your preferences.
- You’re dining with a group and need a place that offers high-quality options that’ll make everyone happy.
Break the fast elsewhere if…
- You’re not a table-service-for-breakfast kind of Disney diner.
- You don’t plan to spend any time on the Monorail Loop and don’t want to make the effort to travel to The Wave.
- The atmosphere at The Wave doesn’t do it for ya.
The Wave… of American Flavors delivers on its promise of new American food. As for the freshness and sustainability angle: breakfast might not be the best meal during which to gauge this. We found the buffet offerings to be high-quality, flavorful, and (at times) unexpected (in a good way!), and the Glazed Donut French Toast is a definite win for those with an unquenchable sweet tooth. If you want a relatively understated dining experience, The Wave might work well for you.
But we’re partial to the breakfast offerings along the Monorail at Grand Floridian Cafe, and if you want brightness and fun (and characters), you’re better off at ‘Ohana (or even Chef Mickey’s). That’s all to say: The Wave might not be for everyone, but it’s still for someone — the Disney guest who doesn’t need to be hit over the head with character-everything, who wants consistently good food in an atmosphere that’s inviting in its own way. And that’s all good and another reason we say there’s really something for everyone on the Disney World dining scene!
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Have you enjoyed a meal at The Wave? Let us know what you thought about your experience! Comment below.