Let me start with a spoiler: we love Disney dining. When Marc and I traveled alone, we always sought out new experiences – usually expensive and lengthy – and never considered what adding a toddler might be like. Now, with Caleigh in tow, we absolutely measure the cost, length of meal, meal choices, and convenience in location. Let’s get into our full Disney Dining Review!
Best in Disney Dining:
Our favorite Disney dining experience during this trip was dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. This SHOCKED us because we’ve eaten here before and it wasn’t memorable. Granted, this was years prior and we didn’t have a Disney Princess-loving daughter along for the ride. From the moment we stepped into the castle at Magic Kingdom, every detail was pleasant.
If you’ve never dined here before, it’s an experience. It’s character dining, specifically princesses. Before heading up to the royal dining hall, you actually get to meet Cinderella! We didn’t tell Caleigh this specifically because she talks a big game about the princesses, but then tends to get really shy when meeting them. When she saw Cinderella, she climbed out of my arms and brought Cindy our autograph book.
We didn’t wait long at all to hear our royal proclamation (aka called to be seated). The windows inside the castle are stainless and really pretty – a nice touch as you climb the stairs. When you enter the dining hall, you are given a wand or sword (Caleigh asked for both) as a take home trinket.
During dinner, princesses are announced and make their rounds to talk to and take pictures with each table. This could feel very rushed and generic, but it truly wasn’t. Caleigh and my niece, Zoey, were able to take pictures with and talk to each and every princess. It felt special; Caleigh is still talking about this (she actually tried to brush her hair with a fork today at lunch – thanks, Ariel).
- Snow White
Ok, so logistically, if you don’t want to go to 1,000 princess meet and greets, this dinner serves as a one stop shop. The catch is money. It’s a pre-fixe menu, $35 for kiddos, $60 for adults. You get to choose from an appetizer, main meal, and dessert for each person. In theory, the food doesn’t HAVE to be good. People will come for the princesses regardless of the quality. I really value fine dining and was impressed with what we had! Everyone in our party, five adults and two toddlers, was pleased with dinner. An option for kid’s dessert is the “design your own” cupcake. Besides the princesses, this was her favorite part.
I can absolutely see us doing this as a repeat, at least for her next few trips. If you have a child who loves princesses and you’re looking for a quality dining experience, we highly recommend Cinderella’s Royal Table!
A close second for us (and has become a Must-Do for our family) is Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. This is a boisterous dinner show at Fort Wilderness with kitschy songs and dance. The menu is Southern: fried chicken, ribs, mashed potatoes, cornbread, salad, strawberry shortcake for the final touch. The Pioneer Hall Players put on a show between courses that interacts with the crowed. It’s fun, loud, and entertaining. We were worried that it would be too much for Caleigh – the noise and interruptions – but she ran over to sit on my lap when the music came back on. She was totally in it! She especially loved the spoons on the washboard at the end. For adults, your flat price comes with endless beverages of your choice. LISTEN UP – this includes beer, wine, or sangria.
I’ll repeat myself.
BOTTOMLESS SANGRIA. This is definitely a perk. I asked our lovely server how much he could legally serve me and he told me that the rule is that if patrons get sloppy and loud, no more drinks. Without getting to this point, I fully enjoyed myself and imbibed in more sangria than normal.
After dinner, we were able to catch a campfire at Fort Wilderness with Chip & Dale. We had s’mores and there was a small stage show. Our resort allowed us to jump on a boat to and from Fort Wilderness, which made it convenient as well.
Good in Disney Dining:
So the following restaurants are those that we could revisit, but may not choose to do so based on this last experience. They aren’t bad by any means, just not as stand-out as those above.
It actually pains me to write this because it was a Must-Do hardcore favorite for Marc and I for so many trips. O’Hana. There. I did it. I said it. Ok, before you click away, unsubscribe and send for my death, hear me out.
We love the Poly. It’s actually Marc’s favorite resort. We also love Trader Sam’s. O’Hana has been a staple for us because of the cocktail menu, the music, and the bread – OH THAT BREAD. Two of these were the same for us. Lapu lapu? Check. Pineapple bread? Check. Music? Nope.
O’Hana typically features a Polynesian “cousin” who sings while playing a ukulele and invites the kiddos dining to play games or sing along. I don’t know her name and how I wish I did – but she IS the atmosphere for Marc. Since we first saw her, Marc has talked about bringing our “keke” to O’Hana to sweep coconuts and dance in her ukulele parade. Was she there this time? No. There was a man who sang a single song standing behind our table. Then, he disappeared. We were there for some time, so it wasn’t just a break for him.
We also found the service a little lacking in attentiveness. Normally, family style foods are brought around with high energy. This didn’t happen. We were served different choices, but only once. It seemed like we were looking for our serves for refills, kid things, napkins, etc. It just wasn’t what we hoped it would be. Next trip (coming sooner than we originally thought), we will be seeking out something new to love.
The restaurant where we waited the longest was Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre in Hollywood Studios. I love a good cheeseburger and milkshake, but we sat through THREE loops of the film. It’s hard to keep a toddler entertained when she knows she’s seen this commercial before. We were a party of 10, so I did not expect speedy delivery at every meal, but we did wait over a solid hour for food to arrive. This seems excessive given the menu is limited to basic items. We’ve done this before and I’m sure we will do it again, but it’s definitely not on our Must-Do list for trips this year.
Worst in Disney Dining:
The last category is almost uncomfortable to write about. I love Disney and I don’t want to bash it, but I also want to be honest with you. Walt Disney World is NOT an inexpensive vacation and most meals, even those in the single $ category, aren’t cheap. I want you to know where I think it’s best for you to spend your hard earned money. So, skip this next one. Save the money for something worthwhile.
Breakfast at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom.
We’ve now eaten at Be Our Guest for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I LOVE lunch and dinner here because the menus are excellent (that gray stuff gets me every time!). I think the room atmospheres are gorgeous; Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney film and the Imagineers who built this nailed the specifics. But, the breakfast menu is expensive and leaves MUCH to be desired. It’s a flat cost for breakfast, $28 for adults and $15 for kids, and the quality and quantity of what you get varies even though the price doesn’t. I think among all 10 of us, we ended up with the whole menu. It took a long time to arrive and when it came, the food looked a little wilted.
I think for $28, you could find a really lovely breakfast at your resort or even put it toward Chef Mickey’s for a character breakfast. Truly, and I’m not a breakfast person, grab bananas and oatmeal for your room and use that $28 on an awesome pair of new ears.
What are your Disney eats must dos? We’re traveling again later on this year and I’d love you recommendations!