As much as I love eating at Disney signature restaurants, my budget means I can’t always go all out. Casual dining restaurants are a good choice for staying on budget while still having a good meal. Here’s my top five:
5. Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary Resort is reliably one of the best character meals on property, Chef Mickey’s serves three meals a day with the Big Five in attendance: Mickey, Minne, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. The character interaction here is excellent and the food, particularly breakfast featuring those delicious Mickey waffles, is plentiful, fresh and a cut above regular buffets.
4. Tusker House. Easily overlooked in Animal Kingdom, Tusker House is like a toned down version of Boma, arguably the best buffet on property. The only downside of Tusker House is that AK closes early, but for lunch or an early dinner, it’s one of the best deals in the parks. This was one of Chip’s 6 Places You Must Eat.
3. Trails End Restaurant. You know Trails Endis good when people who aren’t staying at Ft. Wilderness take the boat over from the Magic Kingdom just for a meal. Featuring standard buffet items, the fried chicken is a stand-out with many fans. You can get three meals a day here; take-out is even available for limited hours. Trails End is such a tradition for some families that no trip to Disney would be complete with out it.
2. Liberty Tree Tavern. Located in the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern is a pretty restaurant that offers a break from the heat and crowds. You’ll find traditional Thanksgiving dinner here along with sandwiches, soups, pastas and salads. Occasionally, some characters are in attendance; ask when you make your reservation , although they may be added at the last minute. For more on LTT, check out this review on the Disney Food Blog, one of our favorite sources for Disney food news.
1. Grand Floridian Cafe. I’m a big fan of GFC, an often overlooked gem on Disney property. Located on the first floor in the main building of the Grand Floridian Resort, the GFC is easy to get to from the Magic Kingdom for a quick lunch or dinner. There aren’t any characters, just solidly good food at a decent price. If you’re out resort hopping and would like to visit the Grand Floridian but are worried about securing a dining reservation or don’t want to pay signature prices for a meal, the GFC allows you to eat top notch food at a much lower price and you can usually get a stand-by reservation. Breakfast is more than just the traditional favorites: Think house-made hash, stuffed croissants, and eggs Benedict. Hamburgers, pastas and salads highlight the lunch and dinner menus. And you might be surprised that they serve a reliably good steak.
You’ll need to make your advanced dining reservations a full 180-days in advance for Chef Mickey’s as it’s second only in popularity to Cinderella’s Royal Table when it comes to character meals. Make LTT and Tusker house as soon as practical. You should be fine waiting until a few weeks before your trip for GFC and Trails End; you’ll most likely have luck with a walk-up reservation at these two restaurants, but I like to be on the safe side and reserve as soon as possible.
What about you? What are your favorite casual meals at Disney World?
For more on Disney Food you should really add the Disney Food Blog’s E-Book to you Disney Collection. It is a must have for anyone planning a Disney World vacation and is LOADED with tons of Disney Dining Information. Check it out here.
Disney World is the Most Magical Place On Earth. Be sure to learn how to make the most of your trip by reading the Disney World Training series. You can also browse all the articles I have written in an easy to use outline. And if you are ready to book your trip, be sure to read about the perks of using an authorized Disney vacation planner (plus it’s FREE!).