Disney Dining

I’m back! I know I wrote a whole thing about being an inconsistent blogger then promptly disappeared for like 2.5 weeks but hey… it happens. Especially because I have had a CRAZY few weeks. Labor day weekend took me to St. Louis to second-shoot a wedding with a photographer friend then after a quick few days of work I was off to Disney World!

So yea, how did that happen? Especially for a girl like me who had never been to Walt Disney World before and had no interest in ever going? Well, B got sent to a conference there (so random, right?) and his work suggested that people bring their families. He has always loved WDW so it seemed like a good time to go, when someone else was paying for at least part of it. So we planned our trip to arrive on Friday afternoon, and have Friday night-Sunday night to ourselves to do the parks before the conference started Monday.

Being that I had never been to WDW before, or had much interest in going, I really didn’t know much about it. My biggest question before we went was always… but what do you DO there?? I just didn’t understand what people without kids would want with a kid’s park. Obviously, I found out! But I have to say that overall the experience of going to WDW was surprising. In some ways good, in some ways bad, but definitely over-all not what I expected. So I thought I’d write a few posts on that. The most logical way to organize it, I think, is to talk about the “doing stuff” part, the “where we ate” part, and the “where we stayed” part. I want to save the “doing stuff” part for last because it will definitely be my most positive post and I like to end on a good note. I’m going to do the where we ate part first because it doesn’t require me to upload any photos from my phone (I left my camera at home!) and I’m feeling lazy.

So. The food. Whenever I would ask B about what a person DOES at Disney World when they don’t have kids, his default answer was to talk about the amaaaazing food. Which never quite seemed to be an answer because surely you do things other than eat, right? (you do). But nevertheless he really set my expectations high with all his excitement over Disney food. Admittedly, this was probably a big part of my problem with the food. It’s like when you hear how awesome a movie is from EVERYONE and then you see it and you’re like… okay? I mean… it was good? I guess? Even though you probably would’ve liked it just fine if no one had told you how much you were going to love it.

So yea. Overall I was unimpressed with the food. As was B, actually. When we got home finally last night and realized we were hungry and had no food for dinner we ordered Jimmy John’s because they deliver and are somewhat healthy. And B declared it the best food he had eaten in days. So I guess that tells you something haha.

But it was not all bad. I’ll go through the places we ate and what we thought. **Note** if you don’t really care about the food at Disney feel free to click away because this is a whole lot of words about food. lol.

    Day 1:

Lunch/Dinner – Rainforest Cafe
After checking into our hotel on Friday, we headed straight for Downtown Disney. Rainforest Cafe was a place B remembered from his childhood trips and was super excited to go back to. They serve normal American variety type food. Hamburgers, salads, fish, tex mex, etc. We got nachos as an appetizer (which were pretty good), I got southwestern eggrolls for my lunch, and B got a seafood platter that had shrimp, scallops, and fish. My eggrolls were just okay (not as good as the ones at Chili’s or Longhorn, but okay), but B looooved his shrimp. He said it was the best thing he ate the whole week. The decor here was really fun (moving elephants and apes!) and the service was really good as well. It did end up being expensive (about $80 with tip), but we were pretty pleased because we liked our food okay, the service was good, and it was a cool place. Also the portions were huge… which is why we never ate dinner (too full all afternoon!).

    Day 2

Breakfast- we each ate protein bars. We hate paying for breakfast so we brought them from home.

Lunch – Yak and Yeti Restaurant at Animal Kingdom
By lunch on day 2 we found ourselves in the Animal Kingdom and we had my favorite meal of the trip. Yak and Yeti is an asian restaurant (found conveniently in the asian section of the park!) with a somewhat small but inventive menu. At first I was nervous because they didn’t have my asian go-to safety foods like General Tso’s or Kung Pao, but I ended up with the Bourban Chicken and it was FANTASTIC. B got the Maple Chicken (another new dish to us) and he loved his as well. Best yet, the server suggested we try the fried wontons dessert (fried cream cheese wontons with grilled pineapple and vanilla ice cream) and it was out of this world. Add good service and a restaurant filled with authentic artifacts and this was easily my favorite restaurant of the trip. Price for lunch was $62 with tip, which seemed completely reasonable to me for the quality of food we got.

Dinner – Sci Fi Dine-In Theater
Dinner on Day 2 was had in Hollywood Studios and we chose the Sci Fi Dine-In Theater because B remembered that you get to eat in cars and it reminded him of Pulp Fiction haha. The restaurant itself was really cool. You do get to eat in a car and the inside of the place looks just like you’re outside watching a drive-in movie. The food was…. ok. I’d say about on par with what you would get at Steak and Shake. The service though was TERRIBLE. I won’t get into details… but yea. Really really bad. At $42 (which included a less-than-usual tip to reflect that horrible service) this place seemed pretty overpriced for what we got (B got a hamburger and I got a side salad— we split an order of onion rings). Especially in comparison to our awesome lunch. So we were disappointed.

    Day 3

Breakfast– energy bars again from home

Lunch- Rose and Crown Pub in United Kingdom (Epcot)
On our second and last day in the parks we decided on the Rose and Crown Pub for lunch. Honestly it was at least partly because it was pouring at that point and we wanted to go somewhere close, but also the map said they did fish and chips which B was excited about. Once we got there I was surprised they didn’t really have much chicken on the menu (I don’t do seafood at all and I prefer not to eat red meat). I ended up going with a burger and “chips” (fries) for lack of other options, and B decided to go with the Ploughman’s lunch because it sounded the most authentic. My burger was pretty good, for being a burger, and it came with a fried pickle which was awesome. B’s lunch was weird (cold ham and a cold piece of grilled chicken with a chunk of cheese and a hardboiled egg) but that was kind of his own fault for ordering something weird. Our server was nice and we had a great view of the lake. Lunch was $40 including tip which seemed a little expensive for what it was but not bad considering it was at WDW (which you just expect to be more expensive). We were fine with this lunch– not wow’d but it was okay.

Snack – Boulangerie Patisserie – France (Epcot)
We couldn’t walk through France without getting a pastry, so we stopped for a cream puff (B) and a napolean (me). Really good and not a bad price at just under $10 for both.

Dinner – Via Napoli – Italy (Epcot)
This was the nicest restaurant we ate it during our stay. My best friend from high school lives in Orlando with her boyfriend and they had met up with us at this point, so there were four dining. We got Sangria (red and white) and blood orange soda for B. All of them were great. For appetizers we got calamari (I thought was chewy but the boys loved it) and Arancini (which was very good). For dinner B and I split a quattro formaggi pizza and our friends got Veal parmigiana and a veggie pizza. Everything was quite good. The best part though, in my opinion, was the service. My friend has egg and milk allergies and also does not eat meat… which can make dining out a challenge (she is basically vegan except that she eats fish). When she told the waiter he immediately brought the manager over who was incredibly nice and talked my friend through the menu and gave her a ton of options/alterations that could be made to accommodate her. Really great service! I’m not sure how much this meal cost because our friends ended up refusing to let us pay, but I think it was probably somewhere north of $150.

    Day 4

Breakfast- Beach Club Marketplace
I had run out of protein bars at this point, and there wasn’t a place for cheap breakfast (or even to buy a granola bar) in our hotel, so I walked to the Beach Club resort to go to the marketplace. It was kind of akin to a dorm cafeteria. There were a few things you could get hot (eggs mostly) and otherwise lots of cereal and easy to pick up things. I got a yogurt parfait, a banana, and a coffee. It cost about $9, and I took it back to the room. The parfait was terrible, but the coffee was great.

Lunch – I went to downtown Orlando with my friend while B was at his conference and we ate at a vegan place, but it is so far out of the way I don’t think most people would generally go there anyways!

Dinner – Big River Grille and Brewing Works
We picked this for dinner because it was the most convenient option to our hotel (Yacht Club) and we didn’t get back from our night’s activities until 9:30pm so we just wanted food and fast! It was fine. I got chicken nachos, both of the boys got ribs, and my friend got chips and guacamole. It wasn’t anything special or particularly good but it was food, brought promptly, in large quantity, and with good service. Which is pretty much all we were looking for at the time. It was $100 for all four of us including tip, which seemed reasonable for what we got considering it was a vacation-location restaurant (i.e. overpriced).

    Day 5

Breakfast – Beach Club Marketplace
For $6.50 I got coffee, a bagel and cream cheese, and a banana. Works for me.

Lunch– Out in Orlando with my friend again

Dinner – Wolfgang Puck Cafe in Downtown Disney
B had been super excited to try this place since before we left for our trip. We meant to eat there for dinner our first night but had been too full due to the Rainforest Cafe lunch. Considering how excited he was, it was kind of a big disappointment. Our friends got sushi which they said were good, and then also got tortilla soup and bacon wrapped meatloaf (friend’s boyfriend). My friend ordered sushi as her meal but they brought it out as an appetizer. B ordered the seabass and I got a goat cheese and pesto pizza. We pretty much all agreed that the food was “just okay.” Nothing we’d return to eat again. Most disappointing was the service though. Our server was all over the place, kept forgetting things (I had to ask 3 times to get a glass of water to drink!), didn’t know the menu (had to keep going to check if something had egg or milk in it), and brought things out at random times. She also never came back to check on us, which was disappointing because after my friend ate her sushi dinner (which came before everything else we got) she was still hungry and wanted something else but had no one to ask! We finally waived down a manager who had no idea what was vegan-friendly and my friend just ended up asking for some plain cooked pizza dough with a side of marinara sauce. Which they burnt. Dinner was $60 for B and I.

    Day 6

Breakfast- Boardwalk Bakery
I wanted to try something different so I walked a bit further to the Boardwalk Bakery. For $11 I got coffee, a croissant egg and cheese sandwich, and an eclair. All three items were bad and I was sad I didn’t go back to the marketplace haha.

Lunch – ESPN Club
Our last meal! We had about 1.5 hours to kill between when we had to be out of our room and when the bus was picking us up for the airport, so we headed over to the Boardwalk for lunch. We had not liked the Big River Grille enough to eat there again, so we thought ESPN Club/bar food would be fine. It was… bad. B got a steak sandwich that he said was just completely flavorless, and I got a buffalo chicken sandwich that tasted like fast food (really thin/gross chicken patty). And the service was pretty bad. Total failure haha. At least it was pretty cheap, coming in at about $35 for both of us.

So… that is way too many words about food. But hopefully someone googling for restaurant reviews is helped, or if someone who reads here is planning a trip to Disney they’ll have our perspective on some of the food options. Over all, like I said above, we were disappointed. B isn’t quite sure why he remembered the food at disney to be so good, except that the last time he was there was when he was a teenager so maybe he just didn’t know any better. Plus it was always a week off from his dad’s cooking! hah. We did eat at some good places (Yak and Yeti yummmmm) but mostly we just thought we can get a lot better food at home for a lot less money, so I would not call food an “attraction” so much as mostly a necessary evil at WDW.

Next up… where we stayed! And after that (in a MUCH more positive post)– what we did!

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3 thoughts on “Disney Dining

  1. Aww, I’m sorry the food wasn’t very good. I really do think some research is necessary for Disney, there are some great hidden treasures (Le Cellier in Canada) but there are also some busts (I’m not a fan of most places in downtown Disney). I’d say if you go back definitely give it another try, you may find some great stuff.

  2. Yea, I was a bit more hands-off in planning this than I normally am because B had been there so often before and felt like he knew places… but once we actually got there, there weren’t that many places that were what he remembered haha. We did actually look at eating lunch at Le Cellier because it is right next to the UK in Epcot, but we looked at their menu online and there was nothing there I would eat. I guess my being a picky eater also makes it really hard because when you don’t eat any seafood and you don’t really like beef… you need there to be really great chicken dishes! And most places seemed pretty slim on the chicken or vegetarian options.

  3. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your Disney dining experience. Service can put a real damper on the experience as well as the food.

    One of my favorite vacation meals was at Le Cellier in Epcot and we had a good meal at Coral Reef as well. Some of our lunches were misses though (like the one we ate in Animal Kingdom), but we lucked out with some good ones as well.

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