Home » Walt Disney World’s All-You-Care-To-Eat Restaurants: Buffet Vs Family Style

    Walt Disney World’s All-You-Care-To-Eat Restaurants: Buffet Vs Family Style

    Trails End

    Much has changed with Walt Disney World dining over the last two years. After the pandemic closures, many restaurants opened with modifications to their previous services. Characters have yet to return to some table service locations and a few table service locations are still closed indefinitely. However, one change made to several all-you-care-to-eat locations could be for the better.

    Walt Disney World currently offers two types of all-you-care-to-eat options: Buffet and Family Style. Restaurants like Cape May Café, Boma, and Crystal Palace have returned to full buffet services. Other restaurants like Chef Mickey’s, Tusker House, Ohana, and Trail’s End now offer their food family style when previously they offered buffets. 

    Trails End
    Image: Disney

    When it comes to all-you-care-to-eat at Walt Disney World, you will be paying a hefty price. Table service locations that offer all-you-care-to-eat menus start at nearly $30 per adult and nearly $20 per child depending on the meal and go up to as much as $55 for adults and $36 for children (especially if you are choosing a character dining location). All-you-care-to-eat options are great for getting more food for your money, but the quality and experience are also something to consider at such a high price point. Let’s take a look and decide if family-style should be the new norm, or if these locations should return to offering full buffets. 

    Family Style

    Chef Mickey's
    Image: Disney

    Family-style dining at Walt Disney World consists of a serving bringing all menu items to the table in quantities that are large enough to be shared amongst the table. Think of it as having a buffet at your table. You can also ask for additional servings of any item you like. Many guests (myself included) have noticed a significant improvement in the food quality since many restaurants like Chef Mickey’s have switched to a family-style service. The dishes offered were unique and delicious. It is also a great option for character meals because it decreases food traffic around the restaurants making it easier for the character to move from table to table and perform their fun dances. You also do not need to worry about other guests touching, sneezing, or coughing your food. We all know it can happen at a buffet.

    There are a couple of downsides I noticed with the family-style option. First, family-style dining can result in more food wasted using this service. All menu items are brought to the table and if no one at the table likes a particular dish, that whole dish will be wasted. Additionally, having at least 5-6 serving dishes of food, plus drinks and plates does make for a crowded table. Overall, though, when it comes to family-style, I believe the positives outweigh the negatives.

    So, how about buffet style?…

    Buffet Style

    Cape May Cafe
    Image: Disney

    None of the buffets opened at this time are currently featuring character appearances. Because character meals are going to be priced higher, the restaurants offering buffets are going to be the less expensive of the all-you-care-to-eat options. The buffets also offer more options to choose from which could be more beneficial for pickier eaters.

    Buffets also allow guests to choose to take only the amount of food they are going to eat, possibly allowing for less food waste as opposed to the family-style option. You will also be in control of heading back to the line to get a second serving, rather than waiting for a cast member to bring more to you.

    When eating at a buffet during a trip to Walt Disney World in April of 2022, I noticed a couple of downsides. First, you are probably going to need to stand and wait in line to access the food at the buffet. It can get quite crowded. The food at Cape May Café was mostly good, but a few items were on the dryer side and overall, the group agreed that the quality of food was better at Chef Mickey’s where it was served family-style.

    Chef Mickey Fast
    Image: Chef Mickey’s Breakfast

    Other than a handful of specialty seafood items (as Cape May Cafe boasts a surf and turf selection), there was the typical buffet fare such as fried chicken, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, salad, and a carving station. These options are food items that are typically found at any other buffet outside of Walt Disney World. Crystal Palace offers many of the same items as well. If you are looking for a buffet with a little more variety, you may perfer to check out Boma’s African-inspired cuisine.

    Boma, Disney
    Image: Disney

    All in all, my group and I preferred the family-style options over the buffets. What are your thoughts? Have you eaten at any of the all-you-care-to-eat locations recently? Would you say the buffets are better or would you prefer family-style? Let us know by leaving a comment below or on our Facebook page!