In general, food and beverage offerings at Walt Disney World restaurants are defined by service, price, and convenience. Find out what to expect.
FULL-SERVICE RESTAURANTS Full-service restaurants are in all Disney resorts (except the All-Star Resorts, Art of Animation, Port Orleans French Quarter, and Pop Century), all major theme parks, and Disney Springs (Marketplace, The Landing, Town Center, and West Side). Disney operates most of the restaurants in the theme parks and its hotels, while contractors or franchisees operate the restaurants in hotels of the Disney Springs Resort Area (DSRA); the Swan and Dolphin hotels; and some in Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot, the BoardWalk, and Disney Springs. Advance Reservations are recommended for most full-service restaurants except those in the DSRA. The restaurants accept American Express, Diners Club, Discover, Japan Credit Bureau, MasterCard, and Visa.
BUFFETS AND FAMILY-STYLE RESTAURANTS Many of these have Disney characters in attendance, and most have a separate children’s menu featuring dishes such as hot dogs, burgers, chicken nuggets, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti and meatballs. In addition to the buffets, several restaurants serve a family-style, all-you-can-eat, fixed-price meal.
Advance Reservations are required for character buffets and recommended for all other buffets and family-style restaurants. Most credit cards are accepted. An automatic 18% gratuity is added to the bill for parties of six or more.
If you want to eat a lot but don’t feel like standing in yet another line, then consider one of the all-you-can-eat family-style restaurants. These feature platters of food brought to your table in courses by a server. You can eat as much as you like—even go back to a favorite appetizer after you finish the main course. The food tends to be a little better than what you’ll find on a buffet line.
FOOD COURTS Featuring a number of counter-service eateries under one roof, food courts can be found at the Moderate resorts (Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach, Port Orleans) and Value resorts (All-Star, Art of Animation, and Pop Century).
If you’re staying at one of Disney’s Value or Moderate resorts, chances are you’ll eat once or twice a day at your hotel’s food court.
The closest thing to a food court at the theme parks is Sunshine Seasons at Epcot. Advance Reservations are neither required nor available at these restaurants.
COUNTER SERVICE Counter-service fast food is available in all the theme parks and at the BoardWalk and Disney Springs. The food compares in quality with Captain D’s, McDonald’s, or Taco Bell but is more expensive, though often served in larger portions.
FAST CASUAL Somewhere between burgers and formal dining are the establishments in Disney’s “fast casual” category, including two in the theme parks: Be Our Guest in the Magic Kingdom (breakfast and lunch service, reservations recommended) and Sunshine Seasons
Fast-casual restaurants feature menu choices a cut above what you’d normally see at a typical counter-service location. At Sunshine Seasons, for example, you can choose from rotisserie chicken or pork, tasty noodle bowls, or large sandwiches made with artisanal breads. Entrées cost about $1–$2 more on average than traditional counter service, but the variety and food quality more than make up the difference.
VENDOR FOOD Vendors abound at the theme parks, Disney Springs, and the BoardWalk. Offerings include popcorn, ice-cream bars, churros (Mexican pastries), soft drinks, bottled water, and (in theme parks) fresh fruit. Prices include tax; many vendors are set up to accept credit cards, charge items to your room at a Disney resort, and apply the Disney Dining Plan. Others take only cash (look for a sign near the cash register).
For a full description of all Walt Disney World restaurants, check out The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World by Bob Sehlinger and Len Testa. If you enjoyed this post, sign up for our newsletter here.