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For our family, one of the most enjoyable things about Walt Disney World is sitting down for a meal at one of the table service
restaurants. There are plenty of Walt Disney World restaurants to choose from, but only a few will actually transport you to a different place and, sometimes, even a different time. The amount of detail in these restaurants is mind boggling! It really doesn’t matter if the food is delicious, the ambiance of the restaurant is enough to make it worth your while. Speaking of a different time….
50’s Prime Time Cafe
Located in Hollywood Studios, this restaurant will take you back to the time of poodle skirts, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, and the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. You can relax in a living room right out of the 50’s and watch a classic show on the small vintage TV. Or, you can step up to the bar that features more vintage TV’s and order a beer or a Grandma’s Picnic Punch. Either way, this is a neat space to get away from the crowds outside.
When you are called back, you will be seated in either a booth or what looks like a kitchen table. You can watch TV while you eat or look at the knick knacks on the shelves. Just a warning…. the waiters and waitresses treat you as if they are your mom or dad. So, sit up straight, hurry up and figure out what you want to order, and NO ELBOWS ON THE TABLE! Just have fun with it. The banter adds to the experience.
To be honest, the food at this restaurant isn’t my favorite. The chocolate shake is delicious, and my husband loved the Peanut Butter and Jelly Milkshake. I am open to suggestions as to what to order the next time we visit and still feel the decor and ambiance really is worth the time and money spent here.
San Angel Inn
You will feel like you are walking through a Mexican village at night when you visit the San Angel Inn Restaurante. When you enter Epcot and walk into World Showcase towards the left side of the park, Mexico will be the first country you come to. The restaurant is inside a replica of an Aztec pyramid. You will need to wander around the fountain and through the marketplace, where you can see the art work, souvenirs, and merchandise that are displayed.
It may be sunny and bright outside, but inside the pavilion you can enjoy perpetual twilight while you shop and eat. The restaurant is located at the back of the pavilion, past the marketplace. Just follow the other Aztec pyramid and smoking volcano in the distance. This scene makes the whole experience and is worth seeing even if you don’t dine at the restaurant.
Being from Texas, where we have a Mexican food restaurant on almost every corner, I could eat this type of cuisine every day. During our travels around the country, we have found that Mexican food restaurants are harder to come by in certain states, and the chips and salsa are not always complimentary! Luckily, the San Angel Inn provides chips and salsa free of charge, because my family of 5 can go through several baskets of tortilla chips!
I usually recommend the chicken enchiladas but as of right now, they are off of the menu. They seem to come and go. Please bring them back Disney! I had a bad experience once with the Mole Poblano . It was the mole sauce! The menu said ‘a hint of chocolate’, so I thought “I love chocolate!” Oh well, live and learn.
This restaurant can be very romantic with the stars twinkling above and candlelight at every table. If you ask for a table by the water, you can watch the boats from the Gran Fiesta Tour boat ride pass by. It’s a gorgeous place and should be on your top things to see while at Disney World.
Be Our Guest Restaurant
The Be Our Guest Restaurant transports you into the tale of Beauty and Beast and allows you to feel like you are a part of this beloved classic! The gargoyles, the Lumier candlesticks (you might get to hold one as you walk to your table at dinner), the West Wing, and, of course, the famous chandeliers in the ballroom add to the ambiance of this French castle.
Be Our Guest Restaurant is located in the new addition to Fantasyland in the very back of Magic Kingdom. After checking
in, you will wait in a line that forms on the bridge in front of the restaurant. They do offer water while you wait, and you can check out the awesome gargoyles attached to the lamp posts. I love the expressions on their faces. When your name is called, you will pass another set of majestic stone gargoyles as you enter the castle. There are several sets of gargoyles and they are all amazing!
Be sure to take in all of the details Disney put into this restaurant. It is Disney Imagineering at it’s finest! If you are dining for lunch, you will pass through a hall that features several knights in armor, and you’ll want to lean in for a closer listen! You will then place your order at a kiosk with a touch screen and then pick which room you wish to dine. If you are there for dinner, you will be seated directly past the doorway. For lunch, you can choose the room you would like to eat in. For dinner, you are seated by an attendant and they choose the room. You can make a request at the check-in kiosk. We try to eat here for both meals throughout our stay since the experiences between lunch and dinner are quite different.
There are three different dining rooms you may sit in. The first is the ballroom that features the brass chandeliers, a balcony that wraps around the room, and the illusion of snow falling outside of seven arched windows.The second room is the West Wing, with stormy sound effects and a slashed picture that changes from the Prince to the Beast every 20 minutes. Torn fabric hangs from the ceiling, and petals fall from the red rose displayed in a bell jar. The third room is the Castle Gallery that features a 7-foot tall music box in the middle of the room. Belle and the Beast dance in continuous circles as music plays while you eat.
Red rose napkins are at every place setting and dessert is brought out in a large wooden display case on wheels. You can order the ‘grey stuff’ and it is delicious, but the Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake is amazing! I also recommend the French Onion Soup for an appetizer. Breakfast and lunch can be ordered up to 30 days in advance online or on the Disney app. Dinner will feature a prix fixe, 3-course menu starting this summer. Dinner reservations will also require 2 table service credits if you are on the dining plan, which may make breakfast and lunch a more popular dining time.
Be Our Guest is a must-do restaurant because it immerses you in the story of Beauty and the Beast. The ambiance and special effects are neat to see. If you are here for dinner, on your way out, you get to meet the Beast and have a picture taken with him.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant
Time to, once again, travel back in time to the 1950’s, when people watched movies from the comfort of their own car. The Sci-Fi-Dine-In Theater recreates this experience in the middle of Hollywood Studios, towards the back left side of the park and across from Star Tours. This restaurant has unique seating in that the tables are inside the shell of a classic car, complete with lights and windshields. Some of the seats face the screen and some of them face each other.
This is another restaurant that makes you feel as if you are outside under a blanket of twinkling stars. On the movie screen, you will view clips of cartoons and ads from drive-in movie theaters during the 50’s and 60’s. You may see a clip of a monster movie, such as The Blob or The Thing. It is a lot of fun and helps to pass the time while you wait for your food to arrive.
We love to order the Spinach and Artichoke Dip for an appetizer. I usually order the Classic American Hamburger, and my husband will order the Drive-In BBQ Burger. The burgers are always really good and they come with fries. I cannot pass up a chocolate milkshake, so this is always my drink of choice at this restaurant. In fact, we splurge and order milkshakes all around.
The atmosphere at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater is like no other Walt Disney World restaurant. It is a brilliant step up from the classic diner. I hope they never change this restaurant as it goes perfectly with the movie theme of the park.
Liberty Tree Tavern
Liberty Tree Tavern is a must do for our family. It has always been a tradition for us to have lunch here on our first day in the parks, and that first park is always Magic Kingdom. It’s funny how each family has certain traditions they stick to every trip but that’s what creates memories. Whether it’s starting at a certain park, eating at a certain restaurant, or taking a picture in the same place every trip, it’s fun to have things that only your family might think are important. Okay, back to this unique restaurant….Liberty Tree Tavern is located in Liberty Square, which is one of the lands I love to visit. The way it is tied into history and the details the Disney Imagineers wove into this part of Magic Kingdom is really astounding.
This Walt Disney World restaurant is decorated in a Colonial American style. The food is based off of traditional New-England-inspired meals. The waiting area has always been great for kids. In the past, they have offered coloring pages and a large checkers board to help pass the time. When it’s time to be seated, the waiters and waitresses call out “Announcing The Petersons, From Texas”. That’s always fun and I like hearing which states or countries other families have traveled from.
The restaurant features six rooms dedicated to founding members of our country. They are George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Paul, Revere, Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and John Paul Jones. Each room is meticulously decorated to represent each person and makes you feel like you are a guest in an elegant home during the birth of America. The restrooms are located at the top of the double staircase and are tiny.
For lunch, you are able to order off of the a la carte menu. You can also order the Patriot’s Platter, which includes a full Thanksgiving meal. Included is turkey breast, pot roast, carved pork roast with mashed potatoes, seasonal veggies, herb stuffing, and macaroni and cheese. We have always enjoyed the Tavern Keeper’s Pot Roast and the Colony Salad. On our last visit, we all had the Patriot’s Platter for lunch and, at that time, the Johnny Appleseed Cake was the included dessert.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I have a major sweet tooth, so, my main reason for coming back to this restaurant every trip is the…..Ooey Gooey Cake! I was prepared to pay extra for my favorite dessert and still try the Appleseed Cake. We asked our waiter if we could possibly still order the Ooey Gooey Cake, and, luckily, we were able to substitute dessert without paying extra.
Two weeks after our trip, they made the Ooey Gooey Cake the included dessert for the Patriot’s Platter. I guess we weren’t the only ones asking if we could substitute. I was very impressed that Disney was so accommodating. The manager even came out to make sure we didn’t want both desserts and if we were okay with just the Ooey Gooey Cake. This meal is very filling and our family felt like we had just dined like kings!
Earlier, I mentioned the details the Imagineers put into designing Liberty Square. Here’s one for you! You will notice the shutters on the buildings in Liberty Square sag and look like they are hanging. During the Revolutionary War, the colonists would melt down the metal hinges they purchased from Great Britain. They used the metal for shot in their weapons. Leather straps were then used for hinges, which caused the shutters to eventually hang. This is only one example of the historical details put into Liberty Square.
Have you ever wanted to dance to oompah-music during Oktoberfest in the middle of a Bavarian village? Well, at the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany in World Showcase, you can do just that. The restaurant features a buffet of German foods, a nighttime sky overhead, and a moon over a German town. In one corner is a tree and a water wheel. It really is a beautiful restaurant and one of our regular stops. The entrance is towards the left of the Germany pavilion. It doesn’t stand out right away, but the name of the restaurant and ‘Oktoberfest’ are above the archway to the left.
There is communal seating at Biergarten, so you may be sitting with another family depending on how many people you have in your party. On our last trip, I was slightly worried about how eating directly next to a stranger was going to work out. As the meal progressed, I struck up a conversation with our dining companions. Come to find out, the 90-year old gentleman sitting right next to me was at Disney World with his two daughters. It was his and his wife’s favorite vacation spot. She passed away, so the daughters brought him there because that’s where he wanted to go. It was such a super sweet story, and I was glad we ended up talking with them. Disney holds a certain magic and it’s for all ages, from 2 to 102.
The oompah band, Oktoberfest Musikanten, plays throughout the day. They usually perform every hour, so that each reservation can see them least once. This band really will put you in the Oktoberfest spirit. You can step onto the dance floor in the middle of the restaurant and try out your best schuhplattler. You know, the dance Chevy Chase performed in European Vacation?
The buffet has 2 lines, but they are identical. A lot of the selection is really good. Some of it is just okay, but there were a few items that really stood out. The lunch and dinner menus are almost identical. The only difference is the dinner menu has a few meat selections and side items the lunch menu doesn’t have. One is the Potato Dumplings, which were very good. Also, the Marinated Pot Roast, which is very tasty, isn’t offered at lunch but is at dinner. The price difference between lunch and dinner is $4 for adults and $1 for kids.
The cold buffet items include different types of salads – potato, macaroni, bean, cabbage, green, etc. Also, included is a selection of sausage and cheese. Soup varies by the season. The hot buffet items include the two items previously mentioned along with fish, chicken, pork, spaetzle, veal, salmon, and macaroni and cheese. There is also a large selection of desserts, with the Baked Apple Streudel with Vanilla Sauce and the Bavarian Cheesecake being the tastier choices.
Biergarten is a really fun place to eat. There is so much food offered on the buffet, that it is easy to find a good selection of foods you will really enjoy. The oompah band and nighttime sky really make you feel like you are sitting in a German village! So, brush up on your schuhplattler skills, have a liter, and get out on that dance floor! You ARE on vacation, after all!
Cinderella’s Royal Table
The last whimsical restaurant on the list is one my husband and I discovered by accident on our honeymoon. We had a reservation at Tony’s Town Square on Main Street, USA. When we arrived, we were told the restaurant was closed due to technical difficulties. They offered us several other dining options, one being Cinderella’s Royal Table. Neither one of us had ever been to this Walt Disney World restaurant. We had a wonderful time dining here that night and had Disney World to ourselves for about ten minutes when we left the restaurant to an empty Main Street, USA. Now, Cinderella’s Royal Table is a tradition for our family of 5.
When you enter the castle, you will first walk into the Great Hall. Then, you will get in line to meet Cinderella and she will sign her autograph if you would like. A Disney Photopass photographer is available to take pictures of your family with Cinderella. We have usually had to wait about 10-15 minutes before our name was called. This gives you time to look around and take in all the details. There is a coat of armor standing near the elevator and lots of ornate stone work high above. There is also something else you will want to look up to see!
The restaurant is located on the second floor of the castle. You can climb the spiral staircase to reach the dining room or take the elevator. Once at the top of the stairs, you will see the archway and entrance to the restaurant. Cinderella’s Royal Table is decorated with rich wood designs, medieval flags, and beveled stained glass windows that overlook Fanstasyland. You and your family will feel like true royalty as you feast at Cinderella’s Royal Table and take in the elegant ambiance of this restaurant.
Cinderella’s Royal Table is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The breakfast menu allows you to choose your main entree. The appetizer is a tray of assorted breakfast pastries. The lunch and dinner menus allow you to choose a salad, meat and cheese tray, or the soup of the day for the appetizer. For the entree, you can choose from a pretty good selection – beef and shrimp, fish, chicken, and pork. There are 4 different desserts to choose from and the price includes a drink.
Speaking of price, it’s pretty steep. The prices vary according to time of year and day of the week. Dinner can go as high as $80 for each adult and $65 per child. That’s a lot of money and you have to pay the full amount as soon as you make your reservation. If you make your reservation 6 months in advance, you will need to pay for the meal 6 months before your trip. That’s the part that always bothers me, but we keep going back! The good news is tax and tip are included in the price.
Girls receive a princess wand and boys are given a small pirate sword. One great thing is the princesses come directly to your table for pictures and autographs. There is not a Photopass photographer available for these pictures. For dinner, we have seen Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Jasmine and Snow White.
We have always dined here for dinner, never for breakfast or lunch. I imagine it has a different feel at night, especially watching the fireworks through the stained glass windows. If you get a late enough reservation, you can see the fireworks display glowing through the windows. If you stay really late, you just might be one of the last families out of the park. This is what we aim for every trip.
I hope you and your family are able to dine at a few of these amazing restaurants. For me, going on vacation is a time to relax and get away from my day to day routine. I try to make it a time to forget about some of the the stresses of daily life and just get away from it all. Walt Disney World is a great place to do that because you can step into a world of pirates or travel to different countries, even if only for a few days. All of these restaurants, in their own way, take you to another place where the biggest decision you’ll make is whether to try the strawberry cupcake or go with the ‘grey stuff’!
Just For Fun
Here we are 15 years ago on our Disney honeymoon. When the waitress took our picture, we had just been ushered to a surprise dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table. We were about to walk out onto an empty Main Street, USA., feeling like the place was just ours. It was a magical night that we try to recreate every trip to Disney World. It’s amazing how Disney Magic works! It really does make you feel like you are been whisked away from the stresses of life.
Are any of these restaurants on your must-do or favorites list? Do you have any Disney magic stories or special memories at a Disney restaurant? Leave a comment below! I would love to hear about your experiences!