Looking for Dinner/Lunch Suggestions

Hi Everyone. I have been creeping for a few weeks planning our first family trip to Disney this summer. I last visited Disney in the early 90s and a lot has changed (my wife has never been). This website, forum and book have been a great help in getting our trip organised especially for someone like me who is a planner (this is the ultimate place to travel for a planner).

Our family of five; myself, my wife and kids 9, 7, 6 will be visiting the second week of July. We are staying off resort (Windsor Hills) and have elected to dedicate this trip to seeing all of Disney alone (no other activities) and have 8 days of admission (hoppers) to see it.

I am approaching my 180 days this week and am hoping for some help. We obviously won’t have a meal plan and will be doing a mixture of snacks brought in supplemented by the occasional snack or QS meal and eating off resort during our breaks. We have the time with the number of days to afford some breaks from the park and not missing out on seeing too much.

What I am looking for is some recommendations on 2-3 lunches or dinners (breakfast better value?) during our time that we could make “special” for the kids and get our best value. We are foodies at home and this kids are open to eating all sorts of things. We have been looking at character dinners and reviewing the best of recommendations from offered advice here and other sites but I am having a hard time stomaching the cost vs. seeing Characters - again considering the amount of time we have in park to hunt them down at greeting spots we will likely find most.

Apologies in advance for the long question, I wanted to provide some background to help give the best advice.

Second question to the above - are there other things people would do over spending on meals to make magical experiences for the kids?

Beirgarten (Germany, Epcot) has a show while you dine buffet style.
Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review is supposedly really fun (haven’t tried it yet).
Teppan Edo (Japan, Epcot) has a hibachi “show” that is really neat and fun (and the food is fantastic)
Cinderella’s Royal Table is great (especially if you have girls) but it is REALLY REALLY expensive! It’s a “gotta try it once” type of thing for me.

Any character meal is usually good, but pricey. If you can get your important character meets done outside of a restaurant, then you don’t really need the character meals.

Good luck and have fun!

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Hello, we are a family of 5 as well and will be there the week before you in July. That is typically the time we go and have been there the last several years that week. I can give you the list of ones that we really enjoy.

AK: We really like breakfast at TH. We usually get a pre rope drop adr for about 8 am and walk onto KS afterwards. You see the fab 5 characters and we like the food there much more than CMs.

MK: We still do CP each trip, its a buffet but we like to meet the Pooh characters. Also if you want homestyle food, LTT is pretty good.

Epcot: Beirgarten is good and fun. We are skipping this trip and doing La Hacienda at about 8:30 pm so we can watch Illuminations while we eat. Both la hacienda and Spice road are good for watching Illuminations.

HS - The food is not anything special but Sci Fi is one of our favorites for theme. And if you just order burgers, etc price is about the same as a QS. If you want better food then MM and HBD are better.

Out side of parks some of our favorites are HDDR, good food and entertainment. Ohana, dinner is very good food but we are doing brunch with Stitch this year there. Also we are doing CG this trip to eat and watch wishes from there, if you are into food it is very good.

Like you, we pretty much do one ADR a day and then just light snacks the other meals. Typically for the cost, I like dinner or late lunch more than breakfast. Just because I feel if I’m paying $50 to eat a meal I would rather that be for steak than scrambled eggs.

Hope that helps, would be happy to recommend more if you need it.

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Well, a quick suggestion from me:
For character meals, consider the price includes a meal, a break, (not having to hunt them down and wait in a line) and a character interaction. With three kids, I’d think about asking them or feeling them out if any specific characters are “important” to them, and if there are some very defined splits, then maybe do a group split. Example - if one of your three kids would rather do CRT, but the other 2 kids have absolutely no interest in crt, and would much rather do something else that the kid who wants to do crt would have no interest in, then split the group and meet up later. Don’t spend the crazy amt on the whole family if the others don’t even want to do it.

My personal opinion on being foodies:
Save the “foodie in you” for at home if you have a great selection of ethnic variety where you live. If your options at home are limited, go nuts at Disney, sure. Just remember, you have to pay up for food at Disney. It just is what it is. My impression on the few spots we tried for ethnic variety was that that it was decent for theme park food, and that it wasn’t CRAZILY overpriced considering the quality - more meaning the quality wasn’t fantastic, so the price was not too much more than what we’d expect to pay considering it’s a theme park.

I’m in the minority with this statement:
I think Chef Mickey’s was decent for a one stop shop for:
-VERY good personal character interaction with the “Fab 5”
-Experience / Entertainment - the characters put on subtle little side shows that you could either pay attention to, or not, and I thought they were pretty darned funny.

  • Food. the food alone was NOT worth the price. But there was plenty of really decent stuff. There was also some BAD stuff too. Again, the food alone is not worth the price. I doubt anyone would argue that point.
  • Break away from the park.
  • Not having to seek out the Fab 5 elsewhere. At Chef Mickey’s they will come to each table for the personal interaction / photo op.

Hoop De Doo is a fun one.

I think you are on the right track with how you are approaching it, but with character meals, the time spent in the parks hunting for the characters really has to be taken into account. Some of the meet/greets have fastpasses. The Disney Visa has a few character meet spots - one in Hollywood (which will be star wars,) and one in Epcot (that will be a toss up) - that might be an option to look into (we grabbed a disney visa for these meet/greets)

The Fantasmic Dining Package might be something to look into as well. I grabbed one for Mama Melrose, and I wasn’t expecting much, but it was fantastic and…I got the steak.

We like the character meals (my kids will be 15, 12, 7, and 6 this trip) because basically you kill two birds with one stone—relax and eat while meeting characters. This is worth the price for us. I don’t like spending park time waiting on characters (except for the one or two exciting ones that the kids especially want to meet) Have done CP, Akershus, TH, CM, Ohana breakfast, and trying Garden Grill and CRT next trip.

Breakfast at Garden Grill in Epcot was our best value character meal. Family style so they bring the food to you, we really liked the food, and they bring you as much as you want to eat. The characters (Chip, Dale, Farmer Mickey and Pluto) were great and Chip and Dale stopped by our table a second time. We chose a pre-rope drop reservation which would give you plenty of time to get ahead of the Soarin’ rope drop crowd. We ended up not needing to rope drop so we took our time as we were enjoying ourselves.

We also really liked Beaches and Cream. Meals are reasonably priced and you could even share if you don’t have big appetites and want to leave more room for ice cream. Or you could skip meals and just have the kitchen sink as we saw a few families do (there’s a siren and flashing lights when they deliver it). We also enjoyed the boat ride from Hollywood Studios to Beaches and Cream, but we liked the boat rides in general.

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I think we have come up with a plan that will keep everyone happy. I think we have decided on booking meals at CP, Beirgarten, a fantasmic dinner and we will be looking at one other character meal to be determined later this week as I finalize our last couple of days and where we double or triple up our visits to parks.

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I loved Be Our Guest! The atmosphere was incredible and dinner was amazing. Plus you can see the beast at the end. The castle is just like the movie! :slight_smile:


Yay! One of my suggestions made the list! Now I feel like I’ve helped someone. :smiley:

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As a “foodie” I have to somewhat disagree with this. I have eaten at almost all of the Disney signature restaurants and I have never had anything other than an excellent meal, comparable to any “fine dining” experiences that I have had traveling across the country. Two of the best meals that I have had anywhere were at Victoria and Albert’s (one in the main dining room, one at the Chef’s Table). The “regular” TSs can be more hit and miss; some are truly outstanding and others are lackluster (and I’ve eaten, at least once, at almost every in-park TS in WDW) - but you’ll find that anywhere. One thing that food and drink at WDW has across the board, from a diet Coke to a multi-course fine dining meal, is a price mark-up. How much of a mark-up is a function of where you live. Menus and prices are posted on-line; there should be no surprises.

FWIW, I’ve only had one meal at WDW that I thought was truly overpriced (even by Disney standards) for what I got and that was my steak dinner at the Boathouse; it cost more than a “similar” meal at any one of the Disney signatures, was not as good, and certainly did not have the ambiance.

Yes we are thinking of adding Be Our Guest as another choice. I am guessing everything Beauty and the Beast is going to be INSANE this summer with the pending film release, but would be pretty special for the kids considering they will have likely seen the movie.

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If you view a CM from the prospective that you are paying $50 to meet the characters in a “special” location and you get a meal added in while you’re at it, then you’ll be OK. If you go with the perspective that I am getting a $50 meal that also has characters, then you’ll wish you had spent your money elsewhere. My one exception to this is Tusker House; I think the food/setting alone is worth the price, and the characters are a nice added bonus.

Even without the upcoming film release, BOG remains one of the more difficult ADRs to get in WDW. I’ve only been for lunch, but this is kind of like a CM in a way; the reason to go there is to “eat in the Beast’s castle” (which is hands down the prettiest dining room in the MK) and not so much for the food (on a par with any other QS food, just brought to your table). I may try dinner some time, but lunch was a one-and-done for me.

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Dinner is excellent at BOG. meeting the Beast is extra special! :slight_smile: I have no lunch experience there.

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I should have clarified further that I was speaking in regards to ethnic choices. When I think “foodie,” my mind tends to gravitate towards more ethnic cuisines, and that’s my mistake. I’m sure the signatures are excellent, but I’d bet (even though I might be completely wrong,) that the ethnic tinged restaurants across the board, are toned down to fit broader tastes - and I would completely agree with that practice - it makes sense. However, on the other hand, I don’t appreciate it, because I’m after the real deal when I go out for food. Example - Tangierene Cafe - it’s decent, but if you have a decent amt of middle eastern places where you live, the best you could probably say is that it’s decent for Disney World.

You are absolutely correct in some of the cases. Many years ago I coined the term that Disney “puts the food through a pastel colored press”. Marrakesh is one of my least favorite WS restaurants for that very reason. I’ve had authentic Moroccan food (made by Moroccan friends) and it just doesn’t cut it. I have to say that the apps and desserts are quite good, but “bland” does not begin to describe the entrees. For QS, I think Tangerine hits the mark better than Marrakesh. Les Chefs is what most Americans “think” is French food, but as someone who enjoys preparing classic French dishes at home, it’s pretty bad (at least at lunch; I haven’t wanted to “risk” dinner). Monsieur Paul (the signature upstairs), on the other hand, has what might be the best food in WDW, not counting V&A.

For me, the two WS restaurants that are “standouts” are Biergarten and Via Napoli. My mother is first generation German-American and I grew up eating “German” food, and it is my specialty in the kitchen (I’ve actually written a cookbook based on old family recipes). Most of the food at BG is the closest I’ve had to the German food I know that I’ve found in any restaurant. Having had the opportunity to spend time in NYC and having eaten at very authentic Neapolitan restaurants, the pizza at VN equals or tops the best I’ve had (for other Italian food, go to Tutto Italia). La Hacienda serves some very authentic dishes, while San Angel Inn, although beautiful, is pretty standard fare. R&C makes pub fare seem bland, but for a QS, Yorkshire Fish and Chips is one of my favorites. On the other hand, Raglan Road in DS is excellent.

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Ok if you are willing to eat off property. Gasp. I have a recommendation. There is an ethopian restaurant called The Nile. It was good food. Found it in the guide book.

If you are still considering a character meal, one strategy we have found successful is to book a very late character breakfast. The price tends to be cheaper than lunches/dinners. We tour at rope drop, hit lots of rides, then are ready for a nice break and fill up on a big “brunch”… then we find we can go the rest of the afternoon with just a snack or two until we stop for dinner… Since you are going in July, doing something mid-day can also be a much needed sit-down break in the cool AC to see characters rather than waiting in another line!