Home » The Foodie’s Guide to The Best Value, Moderate, and Deluxe Disney Resorts

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

Other than Epcot and arguably Disney’s Animal Kingdom, theme park food at Walt Disney World isn’t consistently great. Sure, some eateries serve delicious cuisine at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but many are, let’s say, less than outstanding.

Sometimes, the best food imaginable is available right in your hotel. It’s more convenient and comfortable. Which place cooks the cuisine that reigns supreme? Here’s one person’s ranking of the best Disney resorts for dining.

8. Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Image: DisneyOne of the dirty secrets at Walt Disney World is that membership has its privileges. When you stay at higher quality resorts, you open yourself up to a better standard of restaurants. This list reflects the reality of the situation. It’s almost exclusively comprised of Deluxe Tier resorts, but there are a couple of exceptions.

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is the laudable exception in the Value Resort category. They have a restaurant that’s effectively a food court, and it serves so many tasty entrees that you may never need to eat elsewhere on the Disney campus. I’m speaking of Landscape of Flavors, of course. Technically, it’s one of three ways to eat at the hotel, counting in-room pizza delivery.

The food court at Art of Animation is the primary stomping grounds for guests at multiple Value Resorts, though. They love it because it sells seemingly everything. Watch this video or read the menu to see what I mean. It’s like eating at your mall food court, only nobody gets guilted into having Sbarro!

7. Disney’s Beach Club Resort

Image: DisneyAre you wondering about the low ranking? I decided it would be cheating to include the restaurants at the Yacht Club, too. So, I’ve only factored in places specifically in the Beach Club portion of the shared campus. In other words, Yachtsman Steakhouse doesn’t count. What does?

I’m a huge fan of the character breakfast at Cape May Café. Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast is a delightful way to chow down on lots of delightful morning goodies while seeing Minnie Mouse in her stylish beach attire. In the evening, you can eat a killer seafood dinner here, too.

The resort also hosts a hidden gem, Beaches and Cream Soda Shop is a throwback themed restaurant set in the age of the sock hop. And it features the most decadent of all Disney desserts, the Kitchen Sink! Even Beach Club Marketplace works in a pinch, with several entrees that will cure the ills of an empty stomach.

6. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Image: DisneyFort Wilderness Campground doesn’t count for this one, same as above, which eliminates the Disney staple, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and some other stuff. Even taking those off the board, Wilderness Lodge features four different quality restaurants. I’ve listed Whispering Canyon Café as one of the most unforgettable meals at Walt Disney World. Its rustic food is delicious and hearty.

Disney recently mixed things up at Artist Point, changing its dinner into a prix fixe character meal starring Snow White. Even before that, the food was spectacular, but the new Signature Dining experience is among the best on campus. Then, there’s Geyser Point Bar & Grill, a serene setting in the great outdoors just by the water. It’s a dreamy way to spend an afternoon, and the menu is remarkably upscale. Finally, Roaring Fork is one of my favorite places to grab breakfast before a busy park day.

5. Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort

Image: DisneyCaribbean Beach is the rising star on this list. Prior to 2018, it wouldn’t have made the cut. Then, hotel management introduced a new hub off the lobby, one that’s a foodie’s dream. Centertown Market is styled as a grab-and-go place to the point that it has a special section just for Mobile Orders. It’s the first Walt Disney World resort with this feature.

Spyglass Grill serves Caribbean cuisine for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the morning, you can eat French toast stuffed with guava. Later in the day, jerked meats and Cuban sandwiches and chorizo burgers are available. For a counter service place, the cuisine is quite spicy and packed with flavor.

Image: DisneyThen, there’s Sebastian’s Bistro, a themed restaurant hosted by everyone’s favorite crab from The Little Mermaid. Surf-and-turf comprises the body of the menu here, but don’t be confused by the name. It’s not a character meal. It’s also only available for dinner currently, though.

Disney’s attempt to sell lunch here was kind of a bust. For a quiet evening meal by the water, however, Sebastian’s Bistro is divine. Order an appetizer of Jamaican Meat Pie and then wash it down with a Jamaican Smuggler. You’ll forget about all your problems as a contented smile washes over your face.

4. Disney’s Contemporary Resort

Image: DisneyThe top four entries are where the cream has risen to the top. Not coincidentally, all three monorail resorts are in the upper tier of Disney resort restaurants. I’ve ranked the Contemporary as the “worst” of the monorail resorts, which feels a bit disingenuous since we eat here second-most of all Disney hotels. I’ve tried to tend toward consensus opinion rather my own taste since, well, my palate is shameful.

What’s to love about dining at the Contemporary? When you walk into the lobby, you’re right by The Wave… of American Flavors, one of the highest-class Table Service restaurants at Disney. Should you prefer something else, you can take an elevator to the fabulous fourth floor concourse, the central hub of the resort.

Image: DisneyHere, you’ll have your choice of one of the best counter service restaurants, the Contempo Café, or arguably the best character meal, Chef Mickey’s. Whichever one you select, you’ll savor the view, as the monorail runs straight through the hotel right by these restaurants.

Alternately, you could dine in style. The California Grill has stood apart as the patrician’s choice of Disney resort hotels almost since the beginning, even though it had a different name during its lounge days. Today, it’s a Signature Restaurant with some of the most spectacular cuisine at any theme park in the world, and it comes with a view, too. You can see several Magic Kingdom landmarks from the restaurant patio.

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.