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The Foodie's Guide to The Best Value, Moderate, and Deluxe Disney Resorts

3. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

Image: DisneyI had to break my own rule here, as Disney views Jambo House and Kidani Village as the same property. This oddity means that Animal Kingdom Lodge features one Quick Service restaurant, two pool bars, two Table Service restaurants, and a Signature Dining experience. Legitimately all of them are in the “best of class” discussion.

You’ll visit Animal Kingdom Lodge for the animals, but you’ll stay for the food, I swear. The Mara celebrates the cuisine of Tanzania and Kenya and sells African Potjie that I swear is the best stew you’ve never had. At Boma, you’ll sample a slew of food from several African countries and finish your meal with Zebra Domes, a mouth-wateringly spectacular dessert.

Sanaa combines African and Indian cuisine with a sublime view of the resort’s animal savannah. And Jiko – The Cooking Place sells elevated versions of similar recipes along with a comprehensive wine list that will boggle your mind.

2. Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Why should you go to Magic Kingdom when you can get a Dole Whip at your resort? That’s my philosophy. Of course, my other vacation philosophy is, “Always stay at the Polynesian.” This hotel is literally my favorite thing about Walt Disney World. I love the lobby, the ambiance, the smell, and yes, the food.

The Polynesian hosts the best bar on the Disney campus, Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, but I didn’t even factor that into my evaluation. It’s a bar, after all. I ranked the Polynesian this high – and almost gave it the win – due to its Table Service restaurants and a counter service joint that’s my favorite at Disney. Plus, Aloha Isle serves Dole Whip!

Image: DisneyThe Quick Service restaurant is Capt. Cook’s, which I lovingly describe as the place that made me fall in love with pesto. The fact that a sandwich recipe here even calls for pesto tells you how daring the menu is. A floor above it is Kona Café, my favorite of all Disney resort restaurants. It’s a hidden gem with a wonderful seating arrangement. The chairs look out at the hotel’s monorail station, making it an ideal setting for people-watching.

Of course, the star of the Polynesian is ‘Ohana, one of the most trafficked restaurants in Orlando. It’s almost always booked due to the marvelous skillets of food served during each course. You can even get this meal with a show if you want to head to the side of resort campus to watch Spirit of Aloha. While other resorts listed here have a large number of restaurants, the quality of the ones at the Polynesian wins out against everything except…

1. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Image: DisneyLet’s be realistic. This place could have only one restaurant, and it would still win. Victoria & Albert’s has been voted one of the top two (!) fine-dining restaurants in America. There’s just no competing with that, certainly not at any other resort restaurant.

Remarkably, Victoria & Albert’s is merely the tip of the iceberg at the Grand Floridian. Five other restaurants are open here, and I would describe four of them are spectacular. The lone mediocre choice is Gasparilla Island Grill, a counter service place that’s fine enough. It merely seems disappointing relative to all the great food available elsewhere.

Image: DisneyThe Table Service restaurants are side-by-side. Grand Floridian Café is one of the hidden gems at Disney. It regularly has tables available and serves exceptional cuisine. It gets lost in the shuffle because 1900 Park Fare hosts breakfast and dinner character meals that are equally fabulous.

The more storied eateries are Signature Dining experiences. Citricos is the best place to eat Mediterranean food outside of the World Showcase. Its companion, Narcoossee’s, is all about the seafood and steaks. Both of them have dreamy backdrops, and Narcoossee’s even comes with a view of Disney’s fireworks. These would be two anchor restaurants at any resort in the world, but they lag behind their more storied sibling. Victoria & Albert’s is the most special of all theme park meals, and the hotel that hosts it, the Grand Floridian is thereby the best place to dine.

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