nce limited to standard park food of burgers and fries, ice cream and soda, food at Walt Disney World has come a long way since I started going there when it first opened (Read Gone Certifiabiy CheerMAD at the Summit Part 1 for more about that).
Thankfully, our athletes have much more nutritious choices that the emergence of Fast Food in the '70s. Salads, grilled chicken sandwiches, seafood and vegetarian meals are just some of the regular items found that will keep them in competition shape and fueled with the right stuff to maintain the schedule of Allstars on a weekend like Summit (such as Rachel's team Pro Athletics' Sr. Fierce practicing on the Football field today at All Star Resorts).
For years, I shied away from the Disney Dining Plan but it really is the best deal. You’re going to eat anyway, and instead of grabbing quick, standard park fare, Disney Dining can really add to the experience, and I believe you get more value for your dollar in addition to an extension of the Disney fantasy as restaurants and menu mimic the themes of the rides, park or hotel they are located in.
Here are some of my favorites:
Bang for your buck:
Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party – Tomorrowland Terrace, Tomorrowland
The Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party is an add-on experience that you can purchase a ticket for. The experience includes an unlimited dessert buffet along with a reserved seat to enjoy your desserts with your family: chocolate dipped strawberries, chocolate mousse, character cupcakes, ice cream treats, cannoli, fruit tarts, crème brulee, crisped rice treats, chocolate and classic cheesecake, brownies, tiramisu, mini apple pies and so much more! Not only that you also get a wide assortment of beverages including hot teas, coffees, water, iced tea, lemonade, milk and various other choices. You also get to have a sparkling cider toast for an extra level of elegance at the event. Then enjoy amazing views of the Wishes fireworks without the crowds and guests pushing all around you.
Fantasmic Dinner Package - Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano, Hollywood Studios
Not only is Mama Melrose the best Italian cooking in the (Walt Disney) World, it offers one of the best deals. Book a Fantasmic Dinner Package at Mama Melrose and enjoy the usual entrée and dessert with an additional appetizer and a VIP seating voucher for Fantasmic. This makes it easier to enjoy your time in the park and then head to Fantasmic, knowing there is a reserved seating section for you.
50’s Prime Time Café
The 50’s Prime Time Café in Hollywood Studios may can seem unassuming at first, but for your table service credit, you are getting one of the best and most immersive dining experiences in all of Walt Disney World.
You need to experience the Polynesian Resort’s ‘Ohana restaurant at least once in your life.
In rooms full of Tikis, the all-you-can-eat menu features skewers of Sweet and Sour Chicken, Szechuan Sirloin Steak and Spicy Grilled Shrimp, with plenty of vegetables and noodles as well, it’s a great competition-healthy meal choice.
La Hacienda De San Angel
Located on the edge of the World Showcase Lagoon, this authentic Mexican restaurant is one of the best places from which to watch IllumiNations. With a menu that includes 2 sharing dishes and a host of margaritas and tequilas to choose from, it can be the perfect post-competition day visit to relax and enjoy a meal in Epcot.
Yak & Yeti
Over at Animal Kingdom, the Yak & Yeti offers Pan-Asian inspired dishes that will delight the tastebuds of everyone in your group. In the Nepalese décor, the menu offers a wide variety of options from noodle dishes and stir fry to some of their signature dishes like Bhaktapur Duck or the Kalbi Steak with Coconut Shrimp. The Yak & Yeti feels like you have walked into a home, with a relaxed atmosphere and hearty cuisine that makes for a truly memorable experience.
In Epcot, there are several signature fine dining restaurants that require the use of 2 table service credits to dine. But there are also a number of 1-credit restaurants like Teppan Edo. Another, yummy healthier than fast-food choice, Teppan Edo offers great food with the showmanship of chefs who entertain and cook right in front of you.
Liberty Tree Tavern
This is comfort food at its best in an –all-you-can-eat sit-down in air-conditioned restaurant. Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom features turkey, pot roast and ham with mashed potatoes, vegetables and stuffing on the side. For a 1-credit meal, Liberty Tree Tavern will give you a chance to relax and enjoy some of your favorite home-cooked Thanksgiving-style meals.
Some of the best and quickest (always a concern while trying to insert some fun-time during a comp weekend) ways to get a good meal with healthy choices is at one of the many buffets found throughout Walt Disney World. Several are also prime character dining spots adding a third benefit-meeting some of your favorite characters without having to wait in line at the meet-in-greet spots throughout the park.
My favorites are: Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom to meet Winnie the Pooh and his friends (Rachel and Becky pictured above with Tigger signing autographs); Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot not only provides a table-side visit by all the Disney princesses, it features a photo area where you can get your one-on-one visit and picture taken with your favorites; The Tusker House at Animal Kingdom features Safari Donald and his friends, including Mickey and Minnie; 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian to meet Cinderella and Prince Charming, Alice in Wonderland, Mary Poppins as well as a number of different characters depending on the time of day;
Healthy food keeps athletes like Pro Athletics' Olivia Pogano and Jordan Krans in tip-top shape (above).
Best Restaurants for Last Minute Reservations at Walt Disney World
Let’s face it, anything can happen in Allstars and we are at Disney for a comp. An extra practice can be called or there is an opening in the schedule you hadn’t expected. If that’s the case, here are suggestions for last minute dining plans:
A few restaurants on Disney property are owned and operated by Landry’s: TREX and Rainforest Café at Disney Springs and Yak & Yeti and Rainforest Café at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. These restaurants usually only put a certain percentage of their inventory in the reservation system that Disney uses. Many times you can call the restaurant directly and get a reservation, especially if you call a little early.
Disney Springs restaurants
Disney Springs has added so many new and amazing restaurants and parking has expanded to hold 2,000 cars in each of the two new lots. There are many options for making day of reservations, last minute or even walk-ins. Check directly with the restaurant’s website for availability online, even if you are standing in front of it. If you don’t see availability online, then try calling the restaurant directly and they may be able to add you in. For instance, Splitsville and Morimoto Asia don’t do same day reservations within the dining booking system, but if you call you could find that they have reservations available.
Kona Café – Polynesian Village Resort
This is a favorite of many, including my family. We love the food (the Dole Whip is my absolutely favorite treat in all of Disney) and can typically find a same day reservation. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The location is great, since Epcot and the Magic Kingdom are only a monorail ride away.
Maya Grill – Coronado Springs
If you like Latin-inspired food, then you will definitely appreciate this location. The restaurant is only open for dinner and you can usually find a reservation. There is even musical entertainment at dinner that makes dinner more like a show.
Sanaa – Animal Kingdom Lodge
We stayed at Animal Kingdom on our family’s first non-cheer related Disney vacation (yes they exist) and ate here daily. Not only do you feel like you are in another world, we never had a problem finding a reservation which is amazing since the restaurant overlooks the savanna at the resort so you can watch animals in their natural element-zebra, giraffe, lions and the other beautiful animals of the savanna, while you dine.
Olivia’s Café – Old Key West Resort
When in Florida…this restaurant has a very fresh and Florida-inspired menu, it is cute and always easy to get into. Afterwards, make time to walk around the grounds of the resort-it will take you back to another time.
The Wave… of American Flavors – Contemporary Resort
Shhhh, it’s a secret. If you are at the door of this fun restaurant located on the first floor of the Contemporary Resort, hidden back in the corner, when the restaurant opens in the evening, you can usually get right in. If that’s not possible, a dinner opening can usually be snatched up on same day if you check for it. The menu changes seasonally.
Trail’s End – Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds
Many go to Fort Wilderness for the infamous Hoop Dee Doo Revue but Trail’s End is an All-American buffet that is “off the beaten path.” For added fun, check out the capfire at Fort Wilderness.
Grand Floridian Café – Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Breakfast and lunch openings are usually pretty available and the atmosphere is above expectations, even for Disney. You can especially find openings fairy easily for breakfast and lunch at this location. The food is delicious and feels very high end with moderate prices (for Disney anyway). The restaurant is also open for dinner, all three meal services are on the first floor of the Grand Floridian Resort in the main building. It is easily accessible from the monorail and provides a variety of options
Restaurant Marrakesh or Spice Road Table – Epcot, Morocco Pavilion
You can almost always find openings at the restaurants at the Morocco pavilion. The spices and flavors at these restaurants aren’t loved by all, so sometimes there are passed over. This would definitely be a mistake
No matter what restaurant you are looking for, you still have a chance to find it on last minute reservations. I just did a quick search for dinner tonight and found Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table (two of the most popular restaurants on property) with an available reservation option.