Home » How the Experts Rank Disney Restaurants

    How the Experts Rank Disney Restaurants

    Picking the right restaurant at Walt Disney World can feel like a needle in a haystack. Disney has literally hundreds of meal options, which makes you feel that much worse when you pick something you don’t enjoy.

    While I’m always happy to offer my thoughts and the best and the less-than-best options, I’m going to do something a bit different today. This time, I’m going to lean on the experts. Eater.com is one of the favored online destinations of foodies, while Trip Advisor is probably the most recognized travel ranking site on the web.

    Image: DisneyWhat do these two sites say about Walt Disney World? Well, their opinions vary. Trip Advisor maintains that the food at Orlando’s beloved theme parks is shockingly good. Many of the 100 best eateries in Orlando reside on Disney property. Eater is…less enthusiastic. Their somewhat snooty opinion is that haute cuisine is rare on the Disney campus, which is a thought process I fundamentally disagree with.

    Today, we’re going to blend the opinions of the two sites together to populate a list of the best meals at Disney. There are going to be some surprises. In fact, one of the entries is a place where you can probably eat dinner tonight if you’re so inclined. Another is a place that would cost about the same as an iPhone to eat there. Mixed messages abound. Here are the eight most popular Disney restaurants according to the kind people at Trip Advisor and Eater.

    8. Blaze Pizza

    Image: DisneyYour mind is probably blown right now, and that’s understandable. Blaze Pizza didn’t even exist until 2011. Best known as the pizza chain that’s making LeBron James look like a business genius, it’s also the fastest growing restaurant of all-time. More importantly, it’s currently the 10th best restaurant in Orlando by Trip Advisor rankings…out of 2,962 options!

    I have no explanation for this, as I find their pizza pedestrian, and Eater agrees with me. As recently as 2015, they were mocking James for dropping his McDonald’s endorsements in favor of pizza. Clearly, James has a much better feel for the restaurant industry than Eater, which is kind of amazing since that’s his part-time job and their entire business. The guests at Disney Springs have taken King James’ side, giving Blaze Pizza consistently high marks.

    7. Chef Mickey’s

    Image: DisneyIn their comprehensive guide to the best food at Walt Disney World, Eater only listed a handful of restaurants by name. One of the lucky few was Chef Mickey’s, and I suspect that the reason was the obvious one. Everyone loves the character meetings available here. The main core of Disney characters, Mickey and Minnie plus Donald and Daisy, roam the halls of this restaurant, interacting with guests.

    Since Eater’s guide focuses on food, it’s kind of a strange inclusion. Even the most ardent supporters of Chef Mickey’s – and I’m one of them – understand that the buffet is rather ordinary. The joy stems from the personal interactions. Still, Eater celebrates Chef Mickey’s for its Mickey Waffles. Trip Advisor is less enthusiastic, grading this restaurant as 166th in Orlando.

    6. Sanaa

    5. Jiko – The Cooking Place

    Image: DisneyThe two expert sites have a schism on the best eatery in the Disney’s Animal Kingdom area of Walt Disney World. Kidani Village at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge hosts Sanaa, the Table Service restaurant with impeccable Indiana flavors. The twin hotel, Jambo House, is home to Jiko – The Cooking Place, a Signature Dining establishment. Let’s be honest that you can’t go wrong with either one. From my perspective, the primary difference is the price since Jiko costs a bit more. It’s also better for folks who love wine pairings, as it’s one of the best wine-and-dine places on the Disney campus.

    Eater is a bigger fan of Sanaa. The reviewers there compliment the menu here, emphasizing its spectacular dunking options. Plus, they love the sneaky hot spices used in several dishes. Trip Advisor actually agrees. They list Sanaa as the ninth-best restaurant at Walt Disney World and #33 in Orlando. That puts it in the 99th percentile in the city. It’s somehow not the best Animal Kingdom Lodge eatery, though. That title goes to Jiko – The Cooking Place, which Trip Advisor readers rank as the sixth-best restaurant at Walt Disney World and #16 overall in Orlando. So yeah, the food in the Disney’s Animal Kingdom area is exquisite. In fact, we still have another entry to go, giving this region three of the top six!

    4. 50’s Prime Time Café

    Image: DisneyIn 2015, Eater unveiled an entire section of their site dedicated to dining at Walt Disney World. It was frankly unkind in many ways, criticizing most restaurants for their mediocre menus. Like every Disney guest, however, they did fall in love with the theming at one establishment. They relished their experience at 50’s Prime Time Café, noting that the food, service, and décor are all exceptional.

    While Eater clearly didn’t love a lot of meal options, they had their best experience here. I was amused by this in that literally everyone I know who has ever visited Walt Disney World has had something similar happen. Whether people love the trip or not, at least one restaurant’s theming leads to an unforgettable meal experience.

    3. Shula’s Steak House

    Image: DisneyFormer Super Bowl-winning coach Don Shula is a legend in Florida, which makes me a bit suspicious about the merit of this particular evaluation. Most of the anecdotal comments that I’ve seen about Shula’s Steak House fall along the lines of, “Overpriced and just okay” rather than “THE BEST STEAK AT DISNEY!!!” Trip Advisor voters strongly disagree with this assessment, though. They rank Shula’s Steak House as the 11th best restaurant in Orlando, and 75 percent of reviews grade the meal experience as excellent. That’s a fairly incredible ratio of supremely satisfied customers.

    2. Tiffins

    Image: DisneyWhen Eater originally pronounced 50s Prime Time Café the best restaurant at Walt Disney World, Tiffins wasn’t open yet. In 2017, Eater updated their opinion to reflect a new champion. Their evaluation was that Tiffins “might be the greatest place to eat in any Disney park around the world.” That says everything. While this philosophy doesn’t quite align with Trip Advisor, which ranks Tiffins 69th in Orlando, it’s still close enough that I can safely say that this Disney’s Animal Kingdom restaurant is a worthy choice when you want to package Rivers of Light seats with a meal.

    1. Victoria & Albert’s

    Image: DisneyThe crown jewel of the Walt Disney World dining program is the clear favorite of both Trip Advisor and Eater. Trip Advisor ranks it as THE best restaurant in Orlando out of roughly 3,000 options. They double down on that belief by listing this eatery at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa as the second-best upscale restaurant in the United States. It actually won such lofty recognition in 2016 AND 2017.

    Eater deems it integral to the Baller’s Guide to Walt Disney World. In other words, when you want to feel like you’re Disney elite, this restaurant has to be on your to-do list. Of course, you’re going to get sticker shock from the prices. A seven-course meal costs at least $150 per person, with a potential of $600+ for a romantic meal if you do the wine pairings. By my calculations, you can eat four other meals at Disney signature restaurants for roughly the same price…more if you’re not trying to be a baller. I see Victoria & Albert’s as a once-a-decade type of establishment for most families, maybe once in a lifetime. According to the restaurant experts, however, you DO get what you pay for.