Wednesday, 28 June 2023

Our Best & Worst Disney World Dining Experiences

We visited Walt Disney World last year and one of the aspects of our trip I'd paid the most attention to was our dining reservations! Disney World is full of some very quirky and unusual dining experiences, and I wanted to be sure that we got to try as many of them as we could!

Some of them were better than we thought they could be and some didn't quite live up to our expectations - so let's take a look at our Best and Worst Disney World Dining Experiences.

The Best

Space 220, EPCOT

This was one that my kids had REALLY been looking forward to, and I was so excited to see if it lived up to the hype! 

The theming of the restaurant was the biggest selling point and Disney have really done a wonderful job of this. You enter the restaurant into a large reception area where you're handed your boarding pass to take the special elevator up into space! When your boarding group is called, you head into the elevator where you able to look up at the viewing hole and watch as you ascend toward the space station...or look down and watch as you leave Epcot behind! It really is very convincing, but don't worry if you're afraid of heights - there are no big movements involved and you can simply close your eyes or look away if you'd prefer to.

You're seated inside a circular room, with 360degree windows around the outside offering a breathtaking (and pretty realistic!) view of space - throughout our dinner the kids were delighted to spot space-surfing astronauts and various space craft passing by - there was even an astro-dog at one point!

We weren't seated right at the windows, but I think this is actually better as you benefit more from a wider view of what's going on around you.

The service here was very friendly, and although the pricing was pretty steep (this is a prix fixe menu) the food quality was excellent - certainly one of the best meals we had on property during our stay.

I had the blue moon cauliflower starter which was basically cauliflower wings in hot sauce with blue cheese shavings - they were delicious, even as someone who doesn't like blue cheese! For my main course, I had the burger and fries which was pretty decent although not very exciting.

One of the biggest positives was the drinks - I had a delicious cocktail which I forget the name of, but it was bright blue and served bubbling! And the kids had the Moon Rocks mocktails which came in a collectible cup and were served with Pop Rocks popping candy, much to their delight!

My kids enjoyed this experience so much that they're desperate to do it again when we go back in January, but I think that rather than pay the expensive Prix Fixe price - I would book a table in the bar area instead where you can order light bites a la carte. The view is just as good, but the price will be far less of a sting!

Tusker House, Animal Kingdom

We had breakfast here on our first morning in Animal Kingdom and considering it was one of the reservations I was least sure about making - it ended up being a very pleasant surprise!

The food was still being served family style when we visited though it has since returned to a buffet, and we absolutely loved the croissants and safari bread with a variety of spreads, as well as the Simba waffles and the chicken curry which I would never have thought of as a breakfast food but it was honestly delicious!

The jamba juice was also absolutely delicious, and the service here was phenomenal - our waitress was so friendly and really made us feel like nothing was too much trouble. And of course, the characters were what really made the experience special - we saw Mickey, Goofy, Donald and Daisy all kitted out in their safari attire and they were so fun and engaging!

We had plenty of hugs and high fives, and we never felt rushed at all - a 10/10 experience that we all listed as our ultimate favourite of all! Will definitely return on our next trip.

Toppolino's Terrace, Riviera Resort

This restaurant is located on the top floor of Disney's Riviera Resort which was adjacent to our hotel, so we took a leisurely stroll here on my birthday morning for a special brunch.

Breakfast at Toppolinos Terrace is a character dining experience, with Mickey & Minnie, and Donald and Daisy in attendance - all of them are dressed as a different sort of artist which is really fun. The characters were very cute, and their little dances in between meet & greets were adorable.

The food was delicious - we were given a bread basket in the style of a paint pot to fit the art theme, filled with delicious pastries and spreads which were a delicious start and the POG juice (which is the same as the Jamba Juice at Tusker House) is always amazing!

The menu consists of everything from breakfast staples such as bacon, eggs and waffles to more elaborate dishes  - I went for the steak & potatoes which was really exceptional quality.

I also loved that Minnie Waffles were available here, and they were served on sticks which was a nice change too!

I had such a lovely birthday brunch here, but even though it was one of our best experiences - I actually wouldn't choose to go back here on our next trip purely because I don't think it was quite special enough to want to repeat so soon when there are other places we'd like to try.


Story Book Dining At Artists Palette, Wilderness Lodge

This was the reservation I had been most anxious about securing as it's currently one of the most difficult ones to snag due to being so highly in demand! I had watched YouTube videos about the experience and I thought it looked so adorable that it was truly a must-do for me - so perhaps this is partly why I was so disappointed, maybe I just expected too much from it and had built it up too much in my mind. I also wonder if perhaps watching the experience on YouTube first had simply spoiled the surprises too much and ruined the fun.

But yes - unfortunately this was a huge let down for me. Now don't get me wrong - there were some fantastic elements, the theming of the restaurant was truly beautiful and even the serving platters were a lovely touch. When Snow White came out and danced around the woodland themed hall, I did have a tear in my eye.

The characters were also wonderful - we met Snow White, Grumpy, Dopey and The Evil Queen who was fantastic! The service was very good too.

But unfortunately the let down for me was the food - it was served family style with 3 small appetisers to share including a mushroom bisque, a puff pastry and shrimp cocktails. None of these were things that my children would eat, and they weren't really to my taste either - I barely touched any of them as I found them all pretty unpleasant.

You then select an entree from the menu - again the options were not really to my personal taste but I went for the prime rib, and again I did not enjoy it. I know that prime rib is often very fatty but it was just too much for me, and I did not like the flavour at all. The desserts - 3 miniature desserts - were very good, and well themed too but they were the only element of the food that I actually enjoyed which is very disappointing when considering that this was the most expensive meal we had.

The huntsman gift at the end of the meal was a nice touch, though.

Over all, I'm glad we tried it and if the food on offer is to your taste then you may well really enjoy this - I would say its worth a try, but it's not one I'd repeat.

TRex Cafe, Disney Springs

I was unsure of whether to list this as one of our worst meals or not, because ultimately there was nothing truly terrible about it - but I didn't want Story Book Dining to be the only one on the list and it was my second-least favourite meal of all - so here we are!

TRex Cafe is located in Disney Springs and is very similar to Rainforest Cafe except that it is dinosaur themed. There are animatronic dinosaurs all over the restaurant that come to life every 15 minutes or so during the scheduled "meteor showers" - the restaurant is fun for kids, but you need to be aware that it is quite dark, very busy and very loud - and some children may struggle with the storm simulations as they are quite noisy with some flashing lights.

The food here wasn't badly priced, but it was very bland - we had nachos to share and then I chose the fettucine alfredo entree which was just ok - it wasn't particularly hot and there was no real taste to it. But it wasn't terrible. The kids did enjoy their food and the experience, and particularly liked the souvenir cups which came with a little dinosaur figure inside to take out and play with - but I find it difficult to enjoy a meal in such a busy, dark environment as it's impossible to see how clean the surroundings are!

I'm glad we tried it once, but I wouldn't go back.

The Inbetweens

The rest of the places we ate at fell into the "Inbetween" category where nothing was really wrong with it and it was enjoyable enough, but it just didn't "wow" us. They were...

Planet Hollywood, Disney Springs

We ate here on our first evening, and we were all quite exhausted and jet-lagged which may have impacted our experience. It was also very late, and the service was incredibly slow. But the food was good and the portions were huge and reasonably priced. The kids liked the giant screen with movie clips and music videos playing too. I would try it again in future.

Be Our Guest, Magic Kingdom

I had high hopes for our Be Our Guest but unfortunately it didn't quite live up to them - the restaurant is themed as Beast's Castle and it really does look amazing from both outside and inside. The ballroom in particular is stunning and just like stepping in to the movie. I think if we had been seated in the ballroom I would have enjoyed it more, but we were seated in The West Wing which - although very well-themed - was very dark, and - as I have mentioned already - I don't enjoy eating in dark environments. 

The food was pretty decent - I had the french onion soup to start and the steak for my main course, both were very good. The dessert was a bit of a let down as I had looked forward to finally trying "The Grey Stuff" but found it very bland and tasteless - the kids loved their Paint Your Own Chip Chocolate Cups though, they were super fun!

The service here was just ok, and I find it disappointing that The Beast just walks around to wave at guests rather than greeting them. I also think it's such a missed opportunity that Belle doesn't appear here - if Snow White can appear at Story Book Dining why can't Belle be at Be Our Guest?! They could have Belle & Beast perform a dance in the ball room - it would be amazing! Such a shame.

Teppan Edo, EPCOT

This is a traditional Teppanyaki restaurant in the Japan Pavillion at EPCOT, and as my eldest son is so intrigued by Japanese culture he had been desperate to eat here.

I thought the restaurant was very pretty, and the food was nice enough although the menu was basic without much available for fussy younger eaters - the chef was very talented and entertaining, but again - I think YouTube had spoiled all of the surprises for me too much! Lesson learned!

All in all, this was a pleasant enough meal but I have eaten at better Japanese restaurants and I wouldn't visit again.

Hollywood & Vine, Hollywood Studios

This is a character dining buffet restaurant which is themed differently depending on the season. We visited during Minnie's Halloween Dine which meant that all of the characters - Goofy, Minnie, Mickey and Pluto - were wearing their Halloween costumes. This was a fun little addition to the experience, and one the kids really loved!

The service here was friendly and efficient, and the restaurant felt clean and spacious enough. The buffet itself was full of typical American classics such as rib roast, mac & cheese, mashed potatoes, fried chicken and corn dogs as well as plenty of dessert options - we all enjoyed this meal, but it wasn't special enough to repeat next time.

Sci Fi Drive In Theatre, Hollywood Studios

This restaurant is themed to look like a drive in movie theatre with each table made to look like a classic car and a movie screen playing clips from classic 50s B movies.

This was a unique and fun experience, and the food - classic American fare such as burgers & hot dogs - was good enough. But again, I wasn't keen on the dark environment! Our server here was great fun and he really made the experience enjoyable.

Next time we visit, we'd love to visit Ohana for breakfast with Lilo & Stitch and Cinderella's Royal Table.

I'd love to hear what your best & worst dining experiences at Disney World have been, leave me a comment and let me know!


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