Recommended Dining for Families with Kids at Walt Disney World
10 Top Picks for Where to Dine with Kids on Your Walt Disney World Vacation
One of the many great things about a Walt Disney World vacation with the kids is the impressive range of dining experiences from which to choose. From table-service dining to character dining, and quick-service dining to snacks, there is something for everyone (and then some).
It’s easy to get lost in conflicting advice when it comes to dining recommendations for first-time travelers to Walt Disney World, particularly those who have younger kids. So with that in mind, here is my recommended list of Walt Disney World table service and character dining for first-time Disney travelers who have kids under the age of 10.
Five Top Picks for WDW Character Dining
Chef Mickey’s, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Chef Mickey’s in Disney’s Contemporary Resort is a classic must-do when it comes to Walt Disney World Character Dining.
As the name implies, this buffet-style restaurant has a bountiful breakfast offering (they also serve lunch and dinner) and typically features interactions with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck, among others (characters are subject to change). My personal favourite meal at Chef Mickey’s is the breakfast buffet, but you can also visit for lunch or dinner.
Recommended for Breakfast. Also available for lunch and dinner.
Tusker House, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
If you cannot get the breakfast reservation that you desire at Chef Mickey’s, a good alternate is Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. This is an underrated and very worthwhile Character Dining experience that also features many friends from the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Typically you will find Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Mickey Mouse and more wandering the restaurant in their safari attire.
Character Dining at Tusker House is breakfast only.
Supercalifragilistic Breakfast, 1900 Park Fare, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
A classic and very elegant way to start the day is with the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast at 1900 Park Fare, in the main lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
This is an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet-style breakfast that features all of your favourite dishes. Here you will meet an excellent cross-section of characters, typically including Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Alice (from Wonderland) and the Mad Hatter.
Breakfast only for this Character Meal.
Cinderella’s Royal Table, Cinderella Castle, Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park
Another true classic, dining inside Cinderella Castle at Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of the most magical experiences that you can have at Walt Disney World and is suitable for kids and adults alike. This is an excellent opportunity to meet five Disney princesses while enjoying a meal in a regal dining room upstairs inside Cinderella Castle.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, your meal begins by checking in on the ground floor of the castle. You will then be escorted into the castle where Cinderella will greet you and welcome you to her home. You will pose for a photo with Cinderella and then ascend a royal spiral staircase to the dining room upstairs.
This is a table service meal where you can choose from a couple of meal choices on the royal menu. Throughout the course of your meal, you will be introduced to four more Disney princesses, who will circulate throughout the dining area, being sure to stop at each table to meet your family and pose for a photo. There are a few other magical experiences as part of the meal and little princesses and princes alike will receive a commemorative magic wand or sword (to protect their princesses, of course).
Recommended for any meal. Note: This one can be a tough reservation to get if you do not book early.
Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner, 1900 Park Fare, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
An alternative to Cinderella’s Royal Table and also a respectable standalone Character Dining experience in its own right, Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner is held at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. This is the same dining room used for the Supercalifragilistic Breakfast noted above.
This all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet-style meal features characters including Cinderella and Prince Charming and tends to rotate additional guests among the Fairy Godmother, Lady Tremaine, Drizella and Anastasia. We have seen a few different combinations of these characters here, which adds to the fun and expectation. Of course you can always count on Cinderella and her Prince to be in attendance.
This Walt Disney World Character Dining experience is a good substitute if you cannot get a reservation at Cinderella’s Royal Table. I would highly recommend this over Akershus (Epcot) in that regard.
This Character Dining meal is dinner only.
Five Top Picks for WDW Table Service Dining & Shows
‘Ohana, Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
‘Ohana is located upstairs in the Great Ceremonial House at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. This all-you-care-to-enjoy meal is served family style where appetizers and dishes are brought to your table on a rotating basis. You can request as much as you want and focus in on specific items as you wish (of course you really should sample everything here!).
Anchored by a central open kitchen with flame grill, ‘Ohana features a festive island ambiance that kids really love. There are sing-a-longs, conga lines, coconut races and more that happen throughout your meal and your kids (and you) are welcome to join the fun and festivities.
This meal at ‘Ohana is dinner only. There is also a Character Breakfast served here that features Lilo, Stitch, Mickey and Pluto.
California Grill, Disney’s Contemporary Resort
California Grill is an upscale table-service dining experience that is geared more towards mom and dad, but that I recommend to be added to your itinerary for first time visitors to Walt Disney World.
It’s important to balance out your meals over the course of your stay to include something for everyone. Having said that, young kids will generally love dining at California Grill due to its spectacular location at the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort. With scenic views on all sides — including two outdoor viewing areas that kids love — California Grill combines the best of upscale cuisine with an open and modern dining environment suitable for families with younger kids. The menu and wine list here are excellent and this may well turn out to be one of the favourite meals of your vacation.
Recommended for dinner.
Whispering Canyon Cafe, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
If you and your kids have a sense of humour and like a little good natured interactive fun with your dining, Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is a good choice to add to your list for a table service dinner.
This is a casual dining atmosphere that is open to the impressive main lobby inside Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. While the menu includes an all-you-care-to-enjoy option and a al carte dining, the real draw here is the fun and interactivity that you will have with your server (and sometimes other dinner guests). This one is truly a lot of fun for families with a good sense of humour who want something a little different than Character Dining or a standard restaurant meal. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say that the less you know the more fun you will have. So try to resist the temptation of Googling too much about Whispering Canyon Cafe.
Recommended for dinner.
Be Our Guest Restaurant, Beast’s Castle, Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park
Be Our Guest Restaurant is an excellent blend of something for both kids and adults alike.
The atmosphere at Be Our Guest is classic Disney perfection as the restaurant is located inside the Beast’s Castle in Fantasyland and features incredible reproductions of three classic rooms from the Beauty and the Beast story.
Be Our Guest is open for breakfast lunch and dinner and the food quality tends to be on the upper end of the spectrum for all meals (lunch is the most casual of the three). So it is very worthwhile in that regard. While not technically a Character Dining experience, dinner guests may get a chance to meet and pose for a photo with the Beast himself — larger than life in his Beastly form.
This is another reservation that can be difficult to secure if you leave it too late.
Be Our Guest is recommended for any meal.
Hoop Dee Doo Revue, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground
Walt Disney World features some fantastic dinner show interactive dining experiences and in my opinion the best of the bunch is the Hoop Dee Doo Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Campground.
The Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue takes place inside Pioneer Hall, which is conveniently located near the Fort Wilderness boat launch on Bay Lake. The atmosphere is one of the Wild West where a travelling stage coach troupe stops by and crashes the dinner with a rollicking comical stage show that is sure to entertain kids of all ages.
Guests are seated at tables on the theatre floor and surrounding balconies with all eyes focused on the stage. However, there is quite a bit of audience interactivity that adds a lot of fun and laughs to the show. This is an all-you-care-to-enjoy meal featuring fried chicken and ribs (both very good) and plenty of side dishes. There are bottomless drinks (including beer and sangria) and a strawberry shortcake (or similar) dessert.
All in all this is a very fun and entertaining experience very suitable for younger kids who will be mesmerized by the singing and dancing happening on stage. It takes place for dinner only, but there are multiple seatings each evening, including an early show that is usually a little less crowded (so great for younger kids).
How I Review, Rate and Rank Disney Dining
Ratings and reviews are typically very subjective, whether it’s a movie, restaurant, hotel or anything else for that matter.
As a formally-trained Chef and Graduate of Culinary School, I review, rate and rank Disney dining based on my culinary experience, along with my full history of visiting Walt Disney World. As an original Disney traveler since the Resort first opened in 1971, I visit Walt Disney World for multiple weeks each year and dine at Disney table service restaurants on a regular basis. My opinions are based on numerous visits to each establishment and I have experienced and tasted menu changes for nearly 50 years at Walt Disney World. As a result, I never base my reviews, opinions or rankings on a single visit. Typically, if I have a poor experience with a certain establishment that is on my list, I will not remove it immediately. It could be the result of a chef having an off day, a server having an off day, or a particular dish having an off day. So I tend to give restaurants in this situation two additional seatings over the next 12 to 18 months. If things have not improved, I will generally remove that establishment and add an up and comer in its place.
When looking for reviews of any kind, my best advice to readers is to find a reviewer who’s tastes you know, trust and that tend to be in line with your experiences. That way, a given list is more likely to provide the results you are expecting. Lists that rate things are more art than science, but they can help to shape your planning if you have confidence in a specific reviewer.
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Mike Belobradic: The Finer Side of Disney Travel
Luxury Travel Blogger – Deluxe Disney Travel Specialist
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