You can probably guess based on our name, but here at DFB, we’re all about Disney food!
Over the years we’ve spent talking about Disney food, we’ve heard a lot of crazy things: some that were true, but quite a few that aren’t. People make all kinds of assumptions about the food at Walt Disney World, and we’re here to set the record straight. Today, we’re debunking some absolute lies about Disney World restaurants!
All Theme Park Food is Bad
This may come as a surprise if you haven’t been to Disney World before, but there are actually quite a few truly delicious places to eat around the parks!
We’ve been big fans of spots like Garden Grill, Le Cellier, Nomad Lounge, and Hollywood Brown Derby…just to name a few! These restaurants in particular offer next-level eats that you wouldn’t expect to find in a theme park.
Not everything is hot dogs and hamburgers at Disney World, although you can find those things if that’s what you prefer to eat!
All Theme Park Food is Way Too Expensive
“Expensive” is a relative term depending on your budget, but we typically disagree with this sentiment. Granted, in ANY theme park, you have to check your expectations — prices will higher. Just like if you’re at an airport or other spots where higher prices are expected.
Disney has plenty of great quick service (AKA fast food) restaurants where you can get food on the go that won’t break the bank. Seriously — Disney World offers some REALLY fun and great — dare we say adventurous at times — food at lots of their fast food spots. Some of the ones that we recommend are Les Halles in EPCOT, Flame Tree Barbecue and Satu’li Canteen in Animal Kingdom, Sleepy Hollow in Magic Kingdom, and Ronto Roasters and ABC Commissary (with the new menu) in Hollywood Studios.
You don’t have to sit down and be served by a waiter to have a good meal. However, if you are looking for a table service location, we suggest stopping by Plaza Restaurant in Magic Kingdom for a great meal that isn’t very pricey!
Disney’s Turkey Legs Are Made of Emu
Sorry, Zachary Levi, your friends lied to you. The old trope that Disney’s turkey legs are so big because they’re made of emu…well, it simply isn’t true.
This incredibly popular snack is actually made from turkey, even though many guests have claimed over the years that they taste more like ham than the bird. But why are they so big? It turns out that it’s because they’re made of meat from tom turkeys!
Expensive Food = Good Food
We’ve had cheap meals that were amazing and expensive ones that weren’t. For instance, we’ve really enjoyed dining at Regal Eagle Smokehouse, ABC Commissary, Beaches & Cream Soda Shop, and Trail’s End Restaurant in the past, and none of those places are really budget busters.
On the other hand, we’ve shelled out the extra bucks to dine at places like Planet Hollywood, Tony’s Town Square, and yes, even Cinderella’s Royal Table and left wishing we hadn’t spent the money. Sometimes our own restaurant reviews surprise us!
The most consistent thing about Disney restaurants is that they’re pretty inconsistent, which is why we here at DFB review those same spots over and over again. You never know what’s rising to the top these days! Changes in menus, servers, and chefs can completely alter the feel of a restaurant, even making it go from great to horrible between visits.
You Can’t Eat At a Disney Resort Where You Aren’t Staying
This is a myth that we definitely want to bust! You are more than welcome to make dining reservations for any available restaurant on Disney World property, whether it’s in a park, at a resort, or in Disney Springs.
When it’s time to dine, you can either take Disney transportation to that resort from a park or Disney Springs, or you can drive yourself there. If driving, make sure to have that dining reservation pulled up on your phone to show the guard at the gate!
You Won’t Be Able to Eat Without a Dining Reservation
If you’re dining at one of Disney World’s quick service (fast food) restaurants, don’t worry, you won’t need a reservation! If you choose to eat at a sit-down spot, it won’t be quite as easy to pull off without a reservation, but it’s certainly not impossible.
If you want to dine table service but you haven’t made an Advance Dining Reservation, just walk up to the podium at the restaurant and ask about same-day availability. Some restaurants even have the new Mobile Walk-Up Waitlist feature now, where you can check availability right in the My Disney Experience app!
And if you can’t get inside your first choice, don’t worry, you may still be able to eat somewhere else. In our DFB Guidebook, we have a whole chapter dedicated to our recommendations for where to dine when you don’t have reservations, so make sure to check that out!
The Dining Plan Will Always Be a Good Deal
It’s a harsh truth, but sometimes the Disney Dining Plan isn’t the best deal. In fact, it often costs more to get the plan than it would cost you to pay for the food out of pocket.
Disney wouldn’t promote these plans as much as they do if they weren’t making money by selling them. They make money by pricing the plan at a level that covers the higher end of the amount of food an average family eats. This means that most families who buy the plan are likely not eating everything that they’re paying for!
It’s a brilliant marketing strategy because you feel like you’re getting a great deal with the large amount of food you can order. However, when you can’t eat that much, you’ve already paid for food you’re not consuming and Disney pockets the difference.
To find out if the dining plan is worth it, you’ll need to price out how much food you think you’ll eat (or where you think you’ll eat). We tend to find that it’s a good deal when there’s the free dining option, but other than that, it depends on your family’s eating habits.
You Can’t Save Money at Disney Restaurants
If you’re concerned about spending too much on food, then you’ll be happy to hear that there are plenty of ways to get discounts at Disney World! For starters, you can get savings on dining with things like Annual Passes, Disney Vacation Club, and a Tables in Wonderland membership.
Besides these, you can also check out various reward programs for the restaurants around Walt Disney World that aren’t Disney-owned. We’ve got a whole list of discounts that you can use in our DFB Guide!
Character Meals Are Just for Kids
A common misconception about character meals in Disney World is that they’re just for kids. You don’t have to have a child to go to a character meal, just like you don’t have to have a child with you to go meet the characters.
Even as adults, we find that we have a great time interacting with the characters at these meals! And besides, several of them even have really spectacular food, like Garden Grill and Topolino’s Terrace.
Sometimes adults feel super uncomfortable at character meals, so it’s totally okay if you want to skip them. However, don’t feel the need to skip them simply because of your age or the fact that you don’t have children with you!
You Can’t Find Fancy Dining in a Theme Park
This is simply not true! Disney World is home to a number of upscale restaurants that would be perfect for special occasions or just for a “treat yo self” dinner.
Some of the best options to try out if you want something over-the-top fancy in the parks are Le Cellier, Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, Hollywood Brown Derby, Teppan Edo, or Takumi-Tei. If you’re looking for something at a resort, you could make a reservation for something like California Grill, Jiko, Topolino’s Terrace (for dinner), or Yachtsman Steakhouse.
There Aren’t Many Choices
You might not know it, but Disney World is home to more than 200 (!!!) restaurants! And across those hundreds of restaurants, you can find TONS of different kinds of cuisine.
Whether you’re looking for a specific nationality like American, Mexican, or Italian or you’re looking for a certain type of food (healthy dining, comfort foods, desserts, etc.), there’s an option for you!
You Can’t Dine at Disney With Dietary Restrictions
Disney is very accommodating when it comes to a wide variety of dietary restrictions — probably more than you realize. Whether you have allergies or you’re on a special diet, you’ll likely be able to find something to eat.
At table service restaurants, you may be able to note your dietary restrictions on your reservation. When you get to the table, make sure to discuss your needs with your waiter so that you can make sure everything is in order. We’ve even seen cases where the chef comes out to speak with the guest personally!
That wraps up our list of absolute lies about Disney World restaurants! If you believed any of these things before, we hope that we’ve helped you out and shared advice that will be beneficial on your next trip. Stay tuned to DFB for more Disney World dining advice!
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Have you heard any of these lies before? Let us know in the comments!