Many people plan their Disney trips without even considering all that the various hotels have to offer. By doing this, they can miss out on a lot of great experiences, especially when it comes to dining.
Almost all of WDW’s best restaurants are not inside the parks. The hotels are where its at when it comes to fine Disney dining! (To be fair, Disney Springs has some great options as well). In this post, we will take a look at some of our favorite restaurants at the Walt Disney World hotels, and explain why we think its worth it for you to take some time outside the parks and enjoy them.
Boma makes our #11 spot, making it the first of three Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurants on the list.
Boma is our favorite buffet on property. Its unique menu allows it to stand out from most other buffets around WDW, which for the most part are all pretty similar food wise.
The french toast bread pudding receives a lot of hype among WDW fans and for good reason. It’s to die for!
10. Kona Cafe
Often overshadowed by its high profile neighbor, Kona Cafe offers consistently good Polynesian cuisine without all the craziness required to dine at Ohana.
The menu is affordable and has a good variety of options. Choices include a variety of sandwiches, noodle bowls and sushi among others.
The only potential negative here is that the restaurant is open to the lobby which can get very loud as it fills up with guests waiting to be seated at Ohana. Still, if you are looking for a unique menu with good food and affordable prices, look no further than Kona Cafe.
9. Artist Point
Artist Point starts what will be a familiar trend of “Signature Restaurants” on this list. This may not last for long though as Artist Point is being transformed into a Snow White themed character meal for 2019. It will likely lose the “Signature” status once this occurs.
For now however (until November 10, 2018), Artist Point is the “Signature Restaurant” located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Hotel. The restaurant offers great food, in a super relaxed atmosphere.
The Cedar Plank Salmon is sushi grade and recommended by the server to be cooked to a nice medium rare. Its super delicious and a real standout on the menu.
Reservations are very easy to get for Artist Point, with walk up availability usually available as well. This is likely due to the out of the way nature of Wilderness Lodge.
8. Trail’s End Restaurant
Speaking of out of the way places, Disney’s Fort Wilderness is just that, considerably even more so than the Wilderness Lodge. This however does not prevent Trail’s End Restaurant from making the #8 spot on our list.
Assuming you are not staying at Fort Wilderness or Wilderness Lodge, we recommend rope dropping Magic Kingdom on a weekend morning, then taking the boat over to Ft. Wilderness for a nice brunch.
The breakfast items are some of the best in WDW and the fried chicken is absolutely fantastic! While you are visiting, don’t be afraid to check out the many other things Ft. Wilderness has to offer as well.
7. Yachtsman Steakhouse
Located at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort in the Crescent Lake area, Yachtsman Steakhouse serves great food in a great location.
The theming is minimal but the food more than makes up for it. Yachtsman serves probably the best steak on WDW property.
When visiting Yachtsman, we suggest making an entire evening out of visiting the Crescent Lake area.
One of three “Signature Restaurants” located at Disney’s Grand Floridian, Narcoossee’s is one of our go to places each trip.
The restaurant has a relaxed coastal theme, full of vibrant pastels and beautiful woodwork. It’s one of the less fancy feeling signature restaurants at WDW but this has never bothered us.
The restaurant does become significantly prettier at night time. It offers a nice view of Cinderella Castle across the water and you can view the fireworks from out on the deck if you like.
Cuisine wise, the restaurant offers a solid mix of meats and seafood. Everything we had there has ranged from solid to great, with the latter being more common.
5. Flying Fish
While Narcoossee’s offers some great seafood, Flying Fish is still the best overall seafood restaurant in WDW.
Located at Disney’s Boardwalk, Flying Fish offers top rate seafood in an extremely elegant setting.
The restaurant has pretty good steaks as well, but there are lots of great steaks around WDW. We recommend sticking with seafood here. Like at Yachtsman, we recommend making an evening of in the Crescent Lake area if you decide to dine here.
4. Ohana (Dinner)
One of the toughest reservations to get on all of Disney property, Ohana is super popular among disney fans and for good reason. (If you get seated within a half hour of your reservation time, consider yourself lucky).
Ohana features “all you can eat” portions of various Polynesian fare. Right from the start you know your in for something great when you dig in to the amazing pineapple coconut bread provided for the table.
Other items throughout the meal include sticky wings, pork dumplings, lo mein noodles w/ veggies, and skewers of various meats. The skewers include steak, chicken and shrimp, and they are all delicious.
There is also entertainment provided throughout the meal including songs on the ukulele, group hula sessions and coconut broom races for the kids.
Be sure to leave room for Ohana’s famous bread pudding. This is another dessert that has a ton of hype among fans, and I’m here to tell you that all the hype still doesn’t do it justice. It’s seriously out of this world!
Jiko is the “Signature Restaurant” at Animal Kingdom Lodge. It has an interesting menu, an elegant and romantic atmosphere, and some of the best food on property.
The photo above does not do it justice, but Jike is a truly beautiful restaurant. We’ve found it also has some of the best service as well with a knowledgeable and attentive wait staff always making sure you are having the best experience possible.
The restaurant offers many different meat options, ranging from common items like pork shank, to more exotic item like elk tenderloin.
Dessert is great as well.
The choice between ranks 1 and 2 on this list was very difficult. In terms of bang for your buck, Sanaa is our favorite restaurant not just in WDW, but pretty much anywhere.
It offers great food, amazing and totally unique views, and top notch service all at an affordable price. The only thing which keeps it from taking the #1 spot on this list is the nostalgia and quintessential “Disney-ness” (not a word but I’m using it anyway) of the top ranking restaurant.
From the amazing bread service, all the way through dessert, Sanaa offers consistently great food. The views of the animals aren’t bad either.
All of this comes together to provide one of our favorite dining experiences, period! While visiting Animal Kingdom Lodge, be sure to look around and experience all this wonderful resort has to offer.
1. California Grill
Barely eking out Sanaa, California Grill takes the top spot as our #1 restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. Like many other signature restaurants, California Grill offers great food in a beautiful and elegant atmosphere.
The restaurant does however, have two things that separate it from the rest of the pack. The first is the brunch offered on Sunday mornings. Many folks consider this to be the best meal on Disney property and its tough to argue.
The second, and probably more obvious perk, is its location. Located on the top floor of Disney’s Contemporary Hotel, California Grill offers breathtaking views of Seven Seas Lagoon and The Magic Kingdom.
Watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the observation deck is a thrilling experience, particularly during holiday shows which contain perimeter bursts!
The food is no slouch either. Every meal we’ve had here has been wonderful! Not only that, but the whole meal feels like an event. It feels special. If we only had one night out to dine out at a Disney hotel, this would be our go to more often than not!
Honorable Mention: Victoria and Albert’s
We have never dined at Victoria and Albert’s as we’ve always considered it out of our price range. That being said, we know several credible sources who claim it is the best restaurant in all of Walt Disney World. We have no reason to doubt them but we just can’t justify the costs for ourselves at this point. This is why we did not include it in this list.
If you have eaten at Victoria and Albert’s, or any of the restaurants on this list, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!