Published on January 16th, 2013 | by Jordan
A Mouse Lover’s Guide to Disney Dining
As many of our readers already know, CAA is closely affiliated with AAA in the United States. Today’s post is written by Laura Wahler, a AAA Western and Central New York associate. It first appeared on the AAA TravelViews website, but since January is Disney Month at CAA, we thought it’d be perfect for Life-side Connections. Thanks Laura!
There are a lot of things you already know you’re going to do when you’re on vacation at Walt Disney World in Orlando. You know you’re going to ride Space Mountain and It’s A Small World. You know you’re going to take a picture with Mickey Mouse. But, more importantly, do you know where you’re going to eat?
With the popularity of the Disney Dining Plan, planning your meals before you go is more important than ever. In many of the most popular restaurants, if you don’t have reservations, you won’t be able to get in.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few of my family’s favourite Disney meals and must-eat snacks.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
A waterfront restaurant with panoramic views of the nightly fireworks show behind Cinderella’s Castle, Narcoossee’s is, simply put, Disney dining at its best. Arriving with our two young children in tow, I was pleasantly surprised that its upscale atmosphere was just as comfortable for families as it would be for couples enjoying a romantic dinner.
The menu specializing in American seafood changes frequently. You would be remiss not to try the steamed whole Maine lobster, but be sure to save room for dessert, too. Your meal at this “signature” restaurant will require two table service credits if you’re on the Dining Plan, and business casual attire is suggested.
Animal Kingdom – Discovery Island
Sure, I may live in New York now, but I was born and raised in the South. That means I know good barbecue when I taste it, and Flame Tree Barbecue is it. Generous portions of St. Louis-style ribs, baked beans and cole slaw will leave you with sticky fingers and a full belly, just the way that barbecue was meant to be enjoyed.
The dessert options (Key lime mousse and chocolate mousse) are forgettable, but that’s not why you’re eating here in the first place. You’re here for the ribs, with meat that falls off the bones – seasoned with a rub that’s almost as good as my dad’s rib rub down home in Louisiana.
Epcot – Germany pavilion
The line for this small shop – the only freestanding Werther’s retail location in the world – often stretches out into the streets of the World Showcase. Take one step inside, and you’ll see why. You’ll find crave-worthy caramel treats, gourmet desserts that will have you ooh-ing and ahh-ing all the way to the cash register.
Popcorn, strawberries, marshmallows, cookies, cupcakes: almost any dessert you can imagine has been caramel-drizzled, dipped, dunked or some combination of the above. But my favourite, and a must-eat on every Disney vacation, is the classic, simple caramel apple. I get it for “free” when I use my Dining Plan snack option.
Magic Kingdom – Adventureland
Speaking of lines, on any given afternoon in Adventureland, you’re likely to find a line of people waiting outside Aloha Isle, a small service window that you might miss if you’re not looking for it. It’s not a ride that people are waiting for, though; it’s the famous Pineapple Dole Whip, a soft-serve treat that’s worth that wait.
Pinocchio Village Haus
Magic Kingdom – Fantasyland
The Pinocchio Village Haus had me at “flatbread.” So many times, theme park fast food dining choices are limited to chicken nuggets and hot dogs or chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. But the PVH menu has four flatbreads, a meatball sub and two sandwiches to choose from — in addition to chicken nuggets, of course.
Because it can be busy here during peak dining hours, crowd control is down to a science: Entrances and exits are tightly controlled for one-way traffic, and you won’t be allowed into the dining rooms to “hold” a table until you have your food. Seem strange? Well, honestly, it is. But it works.
Yorkshire County Fish Shop
Epcot – United Kingdom pavilion
One of our family’s favourite Disney traditions is getting the fish and chips meal in the United Kingdom pavilion. We actually plan our route around World Showcase so that we end our evening in the U.K.
Next door to the Rose & Crown Pub, Yorkshire County Fish Shop offers very limited patio seating overlooking the World Showcase Lagoon. On most of our visits, though, the tables are filled so we take our fish and chips across the street to find a bench in the garden.
There are so many more places that we love to eat at Walt Disney World! No matter where you choose, be sure to make your reservations for the table service restaurants as early as possible, up to 180 days before your vacation starts. Bon appetit!
Do you have more questions about the Disney Dining Plan? What’s on your “must-eat” list when you visit Walt Disney World? Share them with us in the comments below.
A former Walt Disney World cast member, Laura Wahler now works for AAA Western and Central New York. She lives in Buffalo and goes to Disney more often than most people find socially acceptable. Thanks again, Laura!
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