Best Birthday Restaurant

Opinions on Coral Reef? We are going to Epcot on my DD’s 5th birthday and i decided to do Coral Reef because we are really heavy on character dining (Tusker House, Ohana, Trattoria al Forno for breakfast and Storybook) the rest of the week. I’ve read just about every review out there but i’m wondering if i’m settling or what other people think is the BEST restaurant for birthdays? I know this is going to be totally opinion based, but i’m wondering if maybe i’m skipping something i should do, even if it is a character dinner. HELP!

It gets mixed reviews, but we loved it. It is my husband’s top restaurant choice for our upcoming trip since it was so great last time. Try the chocolate wave dessert if you go!

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We went in 2014 and loved it. My kids were 2, 5, 7 at the time. It was a highlight of the trip for me.

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The food at CR is fine. Not amazing. However, if you get an Aquarium Table it is definitely worth it. Make sure you ask for it. You will be sitting right next to the glass. If you have to wait extra, it’s worth it. Otherwise it’s a just OK seafood place. I think a 5 year will love it.


We’ve been to CR twice and loved it both times. Meals were among the best and something about the tank is just soothing compared to the otherwise super stimulating WDW. But I don’t know that I consider it much of a particularly festive place to celebrate a kids birthday. But I just celebrated my birthday at WDW and wore the birthday pin. It was so fun to have everyone throughout the day say happy birthday from transportation through security and bag check to CM and others at rides, shops, restaurants and just walking around. At two character meals that week they gave me birthday cards signed by all the characters. I would say that just being in WDW would be a blast for your 5th birthday.


Does your son love nature? Animals? Sea Life? If so, go! It was an amazing, different type of experience!

We went in 2012 when the kids were 12 and 14 and we all loved the ambience. I’m sure the environment hasn’t changed. The lobby wasn’t anything special and it was very crowded. But once you enter the dining room, you feel the instant transformation. You feel like you are having dinner underwater even though we didn’t have a front row seat. It was calm and relaxing. But it was dimly lit. We were mesmerized by the fish and other sea creatures (sharks, sea turtle and sting ray to name a few). The hostess gave us a paper on the types of fish in the tank and we spent a lot of time identifying them. DS really wanted a picture of the sea turtle but there were tables next to the tank. At 12, he could past by as 8. He took the camera, squeezed himself between two dining tables while excusing himself, and snapped away. The food was decent but we didn’t get much for the money. We aren’t big eaters but we left barely full. We each had an entree and dessert. We are returning after a 7 year hiatus and nobody requested to go to CR. The kids have become foodies in recent years!

More recent guests can give you more information about the food.

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We went on the dining plan so really didnt figure the “value” of it. Im from a seafood capital with many seafood resturants and I would do it again. As far as disney TS comparison, its good. We have worse TS food and some better. We were seated in the back, its tiered seating so u still get a good view of the tank. We enjoyed it for the ambiance and service. Its unique in the sense that disney really doesnt have a comparable resturant. I say, give it a go. If u enjoy zoos and aquariums, ull love the experiance. We did not request a closer table, would have been ultimate. If the wait isnt too long, i would try for it. I did have my best desert there. I dont remember the name but the wave thing someone else mentioned, sounds familiar.


We love seafood! Where are you from? We are in the SF Bay Area and we routinely buy swimming fish.

New Orleans

Yes! We must get there soon!

Always the season, is the motto! Theres so much to do, no theme park type experience, but so much nature and history. Quite a few fun, touristy thing that locals do to!
Mardi Gras is a big draw, yada yada. Come for st. Patricks and irish italian and its a wohle different (better) experience. Locals leave for mardi gras, NEVER for the other 2!


I actually ate there on MY birthday (in my 30s) this year with my husband and two toddlers. We had to wait in the hallway for awhile, even with reservations, and there was no seating for waiting. Everyone just kind of lined up and sat down on the floor while waiting to be called. It took awhile and was frustrating to keep the kids entertained while we waited. I was also disappointed that we were seated nowhere close to the aquarium, so we didn’t really get the full experience. We were in a booth facing it, but with another table, a barrier, and two tiers in front of us so I don’t think our kids really saw much.

That said, the food we ordered actually made up for the poor start. I don’t think the dish I ordered is currently on the menu, but I was pleasantly surprised by my husbands and my entrees (both seafood). The kid’s food was standard fare Mac and cheese/chicken/etc so that may not matter to your kids, though.

For a special occasion, I would skip it unless I was guaranteed a seat next to the aquarium. For other ideas, does your daughter like a particular cuisine you could visit the country for (like San Angel Inn if she likes Mexican food)? I also hear that kids like Biergarten in Germany for the fun entertainment!


You should go. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a Birthday dinner, but your 5 yr old will think its great! Also, I’ve got a feeling it won’t be around much longer…
As an alternative maybe Sanaa @ Animal Kingdom Lodge? If your 5 yr old likes animals - and the food is way better!
Hope you have a great time no matter which you choose. :slight_smile:

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I’m not five but I did go to WDW for a major birthday about 6 years ago. We did a few character breakfasts and got the birthday cards. Also ate supper at a few Epcot restaurants. My grandniece, 9 at the time, asked could we eat at Japan. We ate at Tokyo Dining instead of Teppan Edo, tho I can’t recall why. Our first time at TD and I was considering it more of a supper for my grandniece.

It’s very quiet. Very proper. I can see one of my great granddaughters loving this place while her sister, not so much. Even tho she was looking forward to the experience my grandniece was captivated that her meal was served in a monorail dish! I don’t know that they still do that six years later. It was a plastic dish but fun. Such a surprise.

For my part, Tokyo Dining wound up being my favorite: I was presented with the most exquisite miniature Origami crane. Amazing. I still have it (also amazing) Maybe they don’t do the crane anymore.

Very much not your typical birthday celebration place. Depending on who you are.


Ooh, my kids’ March break this year is the week of St Patrick’s day. I hadn’t thought of New Orleans as a St Patrick’s hotspot but DH and I have had it on our future trip list for ages… Adding it to the possibility list for March.

Coral Reef’s ambiance sounds so good to me. I hope your daughter has the best birthday experience, @Andi114! And that you post about it afterwards.

The New Orleans parades are on Saturday, the Metairie parades are on Sunday. St. Patricks in 1 weekend and the Irish Italian is the next. The weather is soooo nice in March, perfect zoo weather. Audubon Zoo is one of the best Ive been to.

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My 4.5 year old like the restaurant, but our table was in the back. Luckily the people near the tanks didn’t mind him standing next to them for a couple minutes. I will say the kids menu was not the most kid friendly. He doesn’t like mac and cheese and the other options weren’t very appetizing to him. I tried the sloppy joe and it wasn’t good. I also tried ordering him the stirfry without sauce and they were unable to do that either. When I made the original reservation they had spaghetti, which they took off befre we went. I wouldn’t go there again as you can get the experience of the tanks without it. I liked my lobster mac and cheese but now it doesn’t count for the dining plan.