Home » The 9 Best Family Restaurants at Walt Disney World

    The 9 Best Family Restaurants at Walt Disney World

    At its core, a Disney theme park is the ultimate expression of family. The memories that you make during a Disney vacation can and often do last a lifetime. Parents treasure those memories of their children visiting the Happiest Place on Earth for the first time.

    As families, one of the things that we learn to do from a young age is eat together. These meals have a subtle impact on our lives, as they’re how we first learn to communicate in a social setting. At Walt Disney World, several of the most intimate settings honor that tradition of family members breaking bread together. Here are my choices for best family restaurants at Walt Disney World, along with a caveat. This list is mine, but anywhere at the parks where you smile happily as you reminisce about shared experiences with your loved ones counts, too. That is the beauty of Disney.

    Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

    Image: DisneyFamily meals have traditional elements such as cornbread and chicken and old-fashioned dessert. They also have a timeless aspect in that you remember the general structure of them for the rest of your life. No restaurant at Walt Disney World fits this description better than Hoo-Dee-Doo Musical Revue, the show whose menu has changed precisely once in 40 years. It also is the same show that it was during the 1970s, which means that parents can and have passed down the viewing experience with their children, who have now done the same with their children.


    Image: DisneyThe word literally translates as family, and it’s an integral part of the inclusive nature of Hawaiian culture, a society wherein people refer to complete strangers as “cousin”. The Walt Disney World restaurant that uses that name serves ridiculous portions of grilled meats, creating the vibe of an island cookout. While that’s not the traditional family meal on the mainland, it certainly has callbacks to many family BBQs, only with better flavors. ‘Ohana is where the family you were born into and the family you chose join together for a delicious meal.

    Beaches & Cream

    Image: DisneySome of the staples of family meals aren’t based in fact inasmuch as stereotypes. No, the malt shops of the 1950s didn’t seem like Big Al’s on Happy Days. The American Graffiti version of the concept became the perception, though. And it’s delightful that Disney has created a real-life iteration of that perception, a restaurant that’s oddly intimate by Disney standards. Here, you can order a burger and fries and then wash the meal down with a root beer float, the idyllic perception of this sort of dinner. Plus, an entire family can take on the challenge of eating an entire Kitchen Sink, one of the best bonding experiences at Walt Disney World.

    50’s Prime Time Café

    Image: DisneyOut of all the various eateries on the Disney campus, the one that emphasizes family the most does so in a weirdly passive/aggressive way. 50’s Prime Time Café names entrees after family members, and it has cast members pretend like they’re your judgmental, pushy relatives. They tell you what to do and acerbically critique your behavior, none of which seems very Disney-esque in nature. The incongruity is that it somehow feels like one of the most detailed themes of any Disney dining experience. You honestly believe that you’re at an awkward family dinner, being told all the things that you do wrong. Eating here certainly isn’t for everyone, as it may remind people of the worst parts of home, but I happen to love the familial tone that the servers take with guests.

    Art Smith’s Homecoming

    Image: DisneyMost of the restaurants listed here merit selections for their themes and ambience. In the case of Art Smith’s Homecoming, this selection is 100 percent about the food. Art Smith is a native Floridian who once worked in the Disney college program. Then, he went out and became famous as a celebrity chef before finally returning to Disney Springs as a conquering hero. The foods that he proudly displays on his menu are locally sourced via Jasper, the small hometown that Smith has revitalized thanks to help from Disney. The recipes here are elevated versions of foods you would expect at Cracker Barrel. As for the name, what says family more than the word homecoming?

    Be Our Guest

    Image: DisneyWhen we’re young, we remember what a big deal it is that first time that we get to eat somewhere nice. Parents generally shy away from taking children to the nicest restaurants in town, at least until they’re sure that the kids will behave themselves. It’s party of the maturation process that kids eventually earn that trust to dine somewhere more elegant. And eating at Be Our Guest is that sort of experience. It’s unquestionably one of the nicest and most upscale eateries at Walt Disney World as well as one of the most popular. The honor of eating here makes children feel as if they’re not that far away from graduating to the grown-ups table, a true rite of passage.

    Whispering Canyon

    Image: DisneyChoosing between the various restaurants at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is always a mixed bag because they share so many recipes. I’m still going to list two here because the dining experience at each one is so different. Whereas Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue merits selection for its multi-generational elements, Whispering Canyon sells something else: fun. This place is an exercise in ridiculousness, and I mean that in the best way. It’s your cutup of an uncle who pulls practical jokes on everyone, is quick with a smile, and will not rest until he’s made you laugh. With so many gags on display, Whispering Canyon Café undeniably tries too hard and doesn’t have the best signal-to-noise ratio on its jokes. But the intent of this place is to make you feel happy, safe, and content. It accomplishes that goal while providing some hearty flavors that certain seem rich enough that your grandmother could have made them. Whispering Canyon Café consists of loud jokes and comfort food. Doesn’t that remind you of a family dinner?

    Liberty Tree Tavern

    Image: DisneyWhen we talk about family meals, the ones from the holidays often linger in our minds the most. Everyone has a tradition for Thanksgiving and Christmas, a few foods that remind them of these meals. And most of those menu items are available at Liberty Tree Tavern. You’ll find ham and turkey and dressing and stuffing and yeast rolls and corn and mashed potatoes. I could go on, but you get the point. Most of the foods that you associate with passing around plates at a giant dinner table are on display here. In combination with the American heritage of the restaurant’s theme, it’s a wonderful place to break break.

    Chef Mickey’s

    Image: DisneyNo matter how much your family likes to cook, you all eventually go out to a buffet at some point. There, everyone fills three plates with food and either pigs out enough to have to undo the belt or ends up with two full plates of food left over. Each family has people who fall into both categories. My grandmother used to drive us crazy with how wasteful she was about buffet food.

    Chef Mickey’s takes that concept of family buffets and adds something spectacular into the mix. It introduces Mickey and Minnie Mouse plus Donald Duck and other beloved Disney characters. The cartoon animals that you loved as a child come over to your table and entertain you. In a way, it’s like Old Country Buffet combined with Chuck E. Cheese, which is basically the ultimate family restaurant since it has something for children and adults alike.