Table Service Meals at Walt Disney World Resorts Ranked in Order

By Dave Shute

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OVERVIEW

This site’s recommended dining venues are in the basic itinerary and are listed at the bottom of this page.

They were selected based on how well-loved they are by families, kid-pleasing menus, how effectively they achieve their show intent, value for money, and convenience.

If you cannot follow these recommendations, use one of two tools.

The Comprehensive Guide to Walt Disney World Resort Hotel DiningFirst, the thumbnail (click to open; when open, click again once or twice to enlarge) ranks all the table service meals at the Deluxe resorts from the perspectives of both kid appeal and adult appeal.  This lets you balance these two issues in picking your restaurants.

Or, second, see the list that comes next. This list ranks the same restaurants in order based on comparison of guest reviews from a number of printed and online sources.  The sources do not generally agree, but they often do agree on a relative order—e.g. The Flying Fish at the Boardwalk is almost always rated lower than Yachtsman Steakhouse. Any remaining disagreement is resolved based on my family’s experiences.

Included are only restaurants at the deluxe resorts–the ones at the other resorts (and at the stand-alone DVC resorts Saratoga Springs and Old Key West) are not worth the the travel time.

Additionally the table service restaurants are coded as follows:

  • Bold means especially delightful atmosphere/visual appeal for kids
  • Italic means relatively dull for kids
  • (C) means character meals available
  • Strike-thru means new or recently renovated/re-conceived, with slender data so far

MAGIC KINGDOM RESORTS

  1. Queen Victoria’s Room Grand Floridian Resort, World cuisine
  2. Victoria and Albert Grand Floridian Resort, World cuisine
  3. Chef Mickey’s (C) Contemporary Resort, American buffet
  4. ‘Ohana (C) Polynesian Resort, Polynesian
  5. Artist Point, Wilderness Lodge, American
  6. Whispering Canyon, Wilderness Lodge, American
  7. California Grill, Contemporary Resort, American
  8. The Wave, Contemporary Resort, modern American
  9. Narcoossees, Grand Floridian Resort, seafood
  10. Kona Café, Polynesian Resort, world cuisine
  11. Citricos, Grand Floridian Resort, Mediterranean
  12. 1900 Park Fare (C), Grand Floridian Resort, America buffet
  13. Grand Floridian Café, Grand Floridian Resort, American

EPCOT RESORTS

  1. Yachtsman Steakhouse, Yacht Club Resort Steakhouse
  2. Beaches and Cream, Beach Club Resort, Diner
  3. Cape May Café (C), Beach Club Resort, American buffet
  4. Captain’s Grille, Yacht Club, American
  5. Flying Fish Café, Boardwalk, seafood
  6. Kouizzina, Boardwalk, Mediterrean/Greek
  7. ESPN Club, Boardwalk, American
  8. Big River Grille, Boardwalk, American

ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE

  1. Jiko, African/world cuisine
  2. Sanaa, (at Kidani Village) Indian-influenced African cuisine
  3.  Boma, African/American

COMPLETE LIST OF DISNEY WORLD DINING SITES IN THE BASIC ITINERARY

Crystal PalaceMagic Kingdom:

  • Cinderella’s Royal Table (Character Meal)
  • Pecos Bill Café
  • Crystal Palace (Character Meal)
  • Dole Whip at Aloha Isle (Snack)

Hollywood Studios:

  • Backlot Express
  • Sci-Fi Diner (Snack)

Epcot:

  • Akershus Banquet (Character Meal)
  • Sunshine Season Food Fair
  • San Angel Inn
  • Boulangerie Patisserie (Snack)

Animal Kingdom:

  • Flame Tree Barbecue

Resorts:

  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue (Fort Wilderness, Dinner Show)
  • Chef Mickey'sChef Mickey’s (Contemporary, Character Meal)
  • Beaches and Cream (Beach Club, Snack)
  • Dole Whip at Captain Cook’s (Polynesian, Snack)
  • Plus your hotel’s counter service and your hotel room!

Downtown Disney:

  • House of Blues Gospel Brunch
  • Rainforest Café

MORE ON WALT DISNEY WORLD DINING

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17 comments

1 Ashley { 05.27.12 at 8:45 am }

Thanks for the lists. You are making me feel good about my choices for our first Disney trio and have even encouraged me to add whispering canyon, since we will be staying at WL. We have the dining plan, but will be using cash to pay for WC. Our TS credits will go to Ohana, crystal palace, Chef mickey’s, cinderella’s royal table and akershus. Thanks again :)

2 Dave { 05.27.12 at 11:03 am }

Great choices Ashley, and glad the site helped!

3 Jodi { 06.07.12 at 10:18 pm }

Hi Dave.
Thanks to a lot of help from your site I’m planning our family’s second trip. I will again be staying at the Wilderness Lodge. I’m looking for a bit of insight as to using 2 DP credits for Artist’s Point. We are a family of 3, with an 8 year old who is planning to be on the Food Network (oh boy!) Any thoughts on if this is worth it, I’m seeing mixed reviews.

4 Dave { 06.08.12 at 7:05 am }

Hi Jodi, what a riot! Artist’s Point will be just fine, but if you want to plus it up, then go to either Narcoossees or Citricos at the Grand Floridian–to get there from WL, take the first boat going to either the Contemporary or Magic Kingdom, and then the resort monorail from there…

5 Trisha Reeder { 01.18.13 at 8:57 am }

LOVE this website! We are planning a trip to Disney in May of this year for my family of 4. I LOVE the suggested itinerary you have put together for a 7 day stay. We are sooo excited! I am looking for suggestions for where to go to dinner for Downtown Disney for one night. Should we make a reservation for the Saturday night (May 4) for Downtown? Our daughters are 9 and 11. We are also deciding where to have dinner one night while we are at Magic Kingdom. We are signed up for the dining plan and I have already made our reservations for Chef Mickey’s; JIKO; 50′s Prime Time Cafe and Coral Reef. We had breakfast with the princesses in Cinderella’s Castle when we were there in 2007 (which was wonderful…the girls LOVED it) We are looking for a different experience while at Magic Kingdom this time. We do not want a character meal. Any suggestions you can give us would be great! Thank You!
Trisha

6 Tiffany { 02.28.13 at 6:46 pm }

Hi Dave,

My boyfriend and I are headed to the resort in April. We don’t have kids and I don’t see any of our three reservations mentioned on your site. Do you have any insight on Todd English’s bluezoo (Contemporary Resort), Shula’s (Contemporary Resort, I think), or Nine Dragons (Epcot)? Are there any quick ways to get there from Animal Kingdom Lodge or would our best bet be to take the bus to Downtown Disney and then another bus to the Contemporary Resort?

Thanks so much,
Tiffany

7 Dave { 03.01.13 at 6:52 am }

Hi Tiffany! I only cover table service restaurants in the parks and at the Disney owned and operated resort deluxe hotels. There’s a couple of reasons for that, one being focus…I have to narrow the terrain somehow or I’d never get anything done!

Todd English and Shula’s are both in the Swan and Dolphin hotels (not the Contemporay) which, while in Disney World and right next to Epcot, are not Disney owned and operated, so I don’t cover them. I’ve heard great things about both those restaurants, tho! The Nine Dragons is covered here, as it’s in Epcot. It is so-so, and wildly perceived as over-priced.

There’s no easy way to get to either Swan and Dolphin restaurant from AKL other than driving or a cab. Simplest–but costing you a ticket day–is taking the bus to Epcot, then entering and walking through Epcot to the International Gateway between the UK and France. From there you can either walk or take a boat. The DTD option is there as well, but will take you more than an hour each way… For Nine Dragons, you have to enter Epcot, so for it just take the bus to Epcot.

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8 Barbara Kastner { 04.06.13 at 11:22 pm }

Please advise people who are traveling in larger groups to consider splitting into smaller groups for meals. How small depends on the venue but the reason is the same. When you are in a large group ( in our case 7) there is a guaranteed gratuity for the service people. In our experience that resulted in lousy service(specifically at Wilderness Lodge). The people in adjoining tables ( with smaller parties)seemed to have enough help but our group was ignored to the extent that we left after a very long meal which included dreadfully long waits for food, drinks and the bill. This did occur to a lesser degree at most other restaurants but was distressing to all concerned at the Whispering Canyon venue.The sad part was we ended our trip there and 3 of the seven of us had food related illness during that evening and the next morning. The other four subsisted on the corn bread and dessert and avoided the cold meats and beans. Sorry but disney dropped the ball on this one. Any suggestions on how to avoid this situation other than splitting up parents and children to two separate tables would be appreciated.

9 Dave { 04.07.13 at 7:28 am }

Barbara, that’s a great point, and thanks for raising it!

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10 Julie { 04.28.13 at 9:15 pm }

Trip planned for 10/6-10/12. Would like to go to California Grill for anniversary dinner on 10/8. Any idea when it will open? I can’t even make an ADR yet. Also, are we better off leaving kids at Beach Club with sitters or will the new CG be kid friendly? Thanks!

11 Dave { 04.29.13 at 9:16 am }

Hi Julie! It’s supposed to open “late this summer” so you should be fine. It’s hard to say how kid friendly it’ll be when it re-opens, but traditionally there’s been tons of families eating there….especially those with reservations around Magic Kingdom fireworks time…

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12 Gemma Gunn { 04.16.14 at 9:00 am }

Hi we are staying at Colorado spring resort hotel in February 2015. Looking for a plain all you can eat buffet close by can you recommend one? Can you exclude how many credits it would be? Can you make a reservation without a Disney dinning plan?

13 Dave { 04.17.14 at 8:51 am }

Hi Gemma! There really aren’t any “plain” buffets at Disney Word. There are plenty off property, but they don’t accept the dining plan and you need a car to get to them. You can reserve any Disney restaurant without the dining plan.

14 Gemma { 04.17.14 at 1:26 pm }

Hi sorry my son had autism so we need all you can eat (nothing worse than paying loads of money for something and then he refuses to eat it). We are using Disney magic express so we wont have a car, any suggestions would be great

15 Dave { 04.18.14 at 8:26 am }
16 Gemma { 04.18.14 at 11:27 am }

Hi Dave does that mean boma is the closest to us at colorade spring. What time do the buses normally start and how long will it take us to get there?

17 Dave { 04.19.14 at 8:26 am }

Gemma the buses go from hotels to parks, not hotels to hotels. You could take a bus to a park, and then another bus to the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Boma, but the better plan would be to focus on the buffets in the parks… Note you will need reservations either way.

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