Of the 114 Table Service restaurants located at Walt Disney World, 53 are found at resorts. The deluxe and moderate resorts all host a minimum of 1 restaurant, with Grand Floridian having 5 restaurants on their property. The only restaurants found on the Value resorts are quick-service.
There are a few things to be aware of before making a reservation at any of these resort restaurants. Firstly, transportation. If you are staying at one of the Magic Kingdom resorts, transportation to another Magic Kingdom resort for a dining reservation is easy. There are a number of ways to get to and from these resorts: by boat, by foot and by monorail. Same goes for the 5 of the Epcot resort area hotels. If you are staying at the Beach Club, Yacht Club, Boardwalk, Dolphin or Swan Resorts you can simply walk or take a boat ride to any of the restaurants located at any of those resorts. Disney Springs Resorts are all connected by boat. The boat ride is lengthy but it’s relaxing and something different. But other than that you’re looking at making transfers at park bus stops. This adds time to your day. Which is fine, it’s just something to be aware of. So when booking your resort restaurant reservations make sure you are aware of where the restaurant is located and how easy it is to get to. On one of our vacations we ate at Boatwright’s Dining Hall, located at Port Orleans – Riverside, on a non-park day and spent close to 45 minutes getting to the restaurant. We spent the day pool hopping at the Grand Floridian. So we then proceeded to the Magic Kingdom to pick up the Port Orleans – Riverside bus. Secondly, timing. To branch off of the last point, if you are not staying in the area do not make a first thing reservation. For a few select restaurants you can get 7am reservations. Great! Unfortunately, you can only get park buses one hour before the park opens. So if you’re hoping to go to Chef Mickey’s for breakfast at 7am, and the Magic Kingdom only opens at 9am you are not going to make that reservation. So if you are travelling via bus to a resort restaurant be sure to make reservations no earlier than 8am.
Going to different resort restaurants is something I love to do on our vacations. It’s as fun as pool hopping. It gives us a chance to see what other resorts are on Walt Disney World property. Experience new decor, new food and it feels like an adventure. I love to check out different resort restaurants on our non-park days. Tying it in with checking out the pools or experiencing the unique surroundings offered at each resort. If you’re travelling with young children doing a resort restaurant breakfast is a fun way to start the day. With a variety of character dining options, breakfast meals are cheaper than a lunch or dinner. With young ones you may be up early so seize the opportunity to begin the day with something fun.
One of the reasons we steer clear of resort restaurants during park days is the time it takes to get to the restaurant. It also adds extra chaos to your day. Instead of focusing on the park you are in, you have a reminder in the back of your mind that you need to leave the park by a certain time to get to that resort to make that reservation time. Yes, there are a lot of great restaurants offered at these resorts, many are considered “must do’s”. But don’t sacrifice an enjoyable day at a park for what might turn out to be a great meal. When you go to these restaurants give yourself the luxury to relax and enjoy the meal. And then go and explore. Here are a few suggestions:
Whispering Canyon Cafe. Located at the Wilderness Lodge. Make a dinner reservation. Head here by boat from the Magic Kingdom and spend time admiring the beautiful landscape. The geizer, the waterfalls, the bridges, the lobby. Enjoy a fun supper and then walk off the meal by walking the trails or rent a couple of bicycles and bike the trails.
Trattoria al Forno. Located at the Boardwalk. Head here by bus from any park or walk from Hollywood Studios. Check out the gallery located on the western side of the boardwalk and walk over to the Beach Club and Yacht Club. Eat a delicious Italian meal and then stick around for the nightly entertainment found on the Boardwalk. With magicians and comedians, or head to one of the lounges or the dance hall. You can also enjoy a delicious breakfast here featuring Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Ariel and Prince Eric. It’s also a prix fixed menu for breakfast, bonus!
Sanaa. Located at Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani Village. Take a bus from any Disney Park, get the Animal Kingdom Lodge and get off at the Kidani Village bus stop. Make a dinner reservation and head there early in the afternoon and check out the savanna overlooks. Sit and relax watching the giraffes and zebras graze before enjoying your meal.
The only time I would do a resort restaurant on a park day is for breakfast on a day there are magic hours. Make use of the early bus arrival times to have an early reservation. Start your day with a reservation at 1900 Park Fare or Chef Mickey’s before going to the Magic Kingdom. Or begin your day with breakfast at Cape May Cafe or Trattoria al Forno before a day at Hollywood Studios or EPCOT.
Even if you simply eat at the restaurants in your resort area, take advantage of these great restaurants found beyond the boundaries of the parks. It can expand your offerings for the dining plan and widen your horizons for restaurant options.