Best Sit Down Table Service Restaurants

With only three sit-down restaurants, the Animal Kingdom has the most limited choices of any of the theme parks that make up Walt Disney World.  In fact, there are fewer options at the Animal Kingdom than there are at several of the Deluxe Resorts.  Considering about 30,000 people visit the Animal Kingdom every day, it may appear as though the dining facilities are inadequate.  However, the Animal Kingdom usually closes around 5-6pm, and many guests choose to dine elsewhere.  It’s not uncommon for visitors to bus over to the nearby Animal Kingdom Lodge to dine at Boma, Jiko, or Sanaa or park hop over to Epcot for a meal and a few late evening rides.  Luckily, all three of the restaurants at the Animal Kingdom have something to offer.  The Yak & Yeti and Tusker House buffet in particular are vastly underrated and would be an excellent choice on or off the Disney Dining Plan.

Be sure to read over the full reviews for more information on any of the restaurants listed.  You can either click here for the full list in alphabetical order or click the individual highlighted links throughout this post.

Most Unique Menu

1. Yak & Yeti

2. Tusker House

3. Rainforest Café

Yak & Yeti has the most unique menu, featuring a wide variety of Asian inspired dishes including roasted duck, baby back ribs, skirt steak, lettuce cups, and wonton soup.  Yak & Yeti also offers one of the best beer, wine, and mixed alcoholic drink menus at Disney World.  With a menu similar to the popular Boma buffet at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, Tusker House serves a number of interesting African and Indian inspired dishes including seafood stew, curry chicken, couscous, and about a dozen unique salads and soups.  For the less adventurous, there are also plenty of “normal” dishes like rotisserie chicken, top sirloin steak, cold cuts, and a host of others.  Rainforest Café comes in third because it’s a chain restaurant that has about two dozen locations nationwide.  You’ll find the usual variety of sandwiches, burgers, and salads as well as some more interesting dishes.

Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Dining Plan

1. Yak & Yeti (Average Entrée Cost $19.63, Average Dessert Cost $7.99, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $24.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $9.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $37.98)

2. Tusker House (Adult Breakfast: $20.99, Child Breakfast: $11.99, Adult Lunch: $20.99, Child Lunch: $11.99, Adult Dinner: $28.99, Child Dinner: $13.99) Price goes up about $ for adults and $1 for children during Holiday Season dates

3. Rainforest Café is not on the Disney Dining Plan or Deluxe Disney Dining Plan, but it is on the less common Premium and Platinum Dining Plans

Of the two restaurants on the Disney Dining Plan, Yak & Yeti is clearly the most expensive at about $10 more than Tusker House at Dinner and about $17 more expensive at lunch.  The Yak & Yeti only has one menu for lunch and dinner, so it’s just as expensive at lunch. Rainforest Café is not on either of the two most common Dining Plans, but the most expensive entrée at Rainforst Cafe is $31.99 for the tenderloin steak.

Best Value Out of Pocket

1. Yak & Yeti

2. Tusker House Lunch

3. Rainforest Café

Yak & Yeti is the best value out of pocket because of the high quality of the ingredients, large portions, interesting atmosphere, and superior service.  Although the most expensive entrée at Yak & Yeti is $24.99, there are also several entrées in the $16-$18 range for those looking for a more economical choice and you can always split an appetizer, entrée, or dessert to cut down on cost.  Tusker House’s prices are about average for a Disney buffet, but it does offer high quality food and great service.  At Rainforst Café you’re paying for the scenery and animatronics as much as you are for the food and the quality suffers because of that.  It may be a worthwhile stop with kids, but you can also walk through quickly without sitting down to eat.  With most entrées $25 or more, the food simply does not offer a noteworthy value, although kids may love the ambiance.

Best Atmosphere

1. Rainforst Café

2. Yak & Yeti

3. Tusker House

The Rainforest Café is a successful franchise not because of its food, but because of its fun atmosphere.  The T-Rex restaurant at Downtown Disney is even more extravagantly themed, but the Rainforst Café is probably the second best themed restaurant in Disney World.  The caveat is that it does get loud and it won’t be an intimate dining experience, so I wouldn’t suggest it if you’re looking to get away from the noise and crowds of the Animal Kingdom.  Yak & Yeti comes in second, but it would be number one at any of the other Disney theme parks.  With a plethora of interesting relics, statues, artifacts, and art, entering the Yak & Yeti may actually make you feel like you’ve left the Animal Kingdom.  No two rooms are decorated alike and you’ll probably want to make a trek up to the bathroom just for an excuse to walk around and check everything out.  Tusker House is sparsely decorated and not particularly interesting, but it is roomier than most other character buffet locations.  Personally, I would take room to walk and a little privacy over neat décor, so Tusker’s House’s lack of an extravagant theme isn’t so bad.

Best Food

1. Yak & Yeti

2. Tusker House

3. Rainforest Café

Yak & Yeti consistently serves the best food at the Animal Kingdom.  Tusker House is one of the best buffets at Disney World, but bite for bite it doesn’t compare to the more careful preparation and quality control of Yak & Yeti.  If buffets are your thing then you’ll be more than satisfied with Tusker House, but anyone looking for a traditional table service meal should make a reservation at Yak & Yeti.  While many of Rainforest Café’s entrées may sound appealing on the menu, they generally aren’t executed well.  The sandwiches, wraps, and burgers are all perfectly decent, but don’t expect a world-class paella or steak.

Overall Best Sit Down Table Service Restaurant at the Animal Kingdom

1. Yak & Yeti

2. Tusker House

3. Rainforest Café

It’s fairly easy to hone in on the best table service restaurant at the Animal Kingdom, considering there are only three choices.  Yak & Yeti is the clear favorite, serving high quality, affordable entrées in a beautiful setting.  Service is usually great and the restaurant is well air-conditioned and comfortable, which makes it an even better destination after rushing around the Animal Kingdom for most of the day.  Tusker House is an excellent buffet, but comes in second because of the relatively high cost, the possibility that some of the buffet items may not be enjoyed by all visitors, and the lack of interesting decorations.  Rainforest Café, not on the popular Disney Dining Plan, comes in third due to the inadequate quality of many of its entrées and the fact that it’s inconveniently located at the front of the Animal Kingdom.  If you have a reservation in the middle of the day then you’ll want to plan to be near the front of the theme park or risk having to walk the entire Park to get to the restaurant.  While it may be a favorite with kids, if you have a Rainforest Café nearby then you may want to save it for another day since there are so many other fun activities to keep kids occupied at Disney World.  If you would prefer an entertaining meal surrounded by audio-animatronics and extravagant scenery over quality food and lower prices, then the Rainforst Café may be the best choice.  Anyone looking for a more relaxing meal with quality food should consider the top two choices.

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Best Epcot Sit Down Table Service Restaurants Disney World

Updated October 7, 2010 with La Hacienda de San Angel

Oh, boy.  There are a lot of choices at Epcot – 16 sit-down restaurants to be exact.  That’s eleven more than at the Magic Kingdom, eleven more than at the Hollywood Studios, and thirteen more than at the Animal Kingdom.  Several of the best or otherwise most popular restaurants in all of Walt Disney World are found at Epcot.  At first it may seem difficult to decide which restaurant to choose.  Unfortunately, you’ll have to select which restaurants you want to eat at well before you even think about leaving for Disney World.  The days of walking up to a restaurant and getting a table with a minimal wait are long gone, in part due to the popular Disney Dining Plans.  Le Cellier, for example, is almost always completely booked 180 days out (180 days is the farthest in advance you can make a reservation) and your chances of getting a table without a reservation are about one percent.  While it does occasionally happen, it’s very rare.  The following analysis should make it easier to hone in on which restaurants sound like they would be the most ideal for your group.

Be sure to read over the full reviews for more information on any of the restaurants listed.  You can either click here for the full list in alphabetical order or click the individual highlighted links throughout this post.

We’ll skip the “Most Unique Menu” category for Epcot.  Every one of Epcot’s restaurants features interesting and unique food, save for perhaps the Garden Grill and Coral Reef.

Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Dining Plan

1. Tutto Italia Ristorante (Average Entrée Cost $26.93, Average Dessert Cost $10.13, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $36.00, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $14.00, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $55.00)

2. Le Cellier (Average Entrée Cost $27.89, Average Dessert Cost $6.89, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $36.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $47.98)

3. Chefs de France (Average Entrée Cost $27.50, Average Dessert Cost $7.25, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $34.95, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.25, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $45.20)

4. Coral Reef (Average Entrée Cost $24.43, Average Dessert Cost $7.99, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $30.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $41.98)

5. San Angel Inn (Average Entrée Cost $24.70, Average Dessert Cost $5.75, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $33.00, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $5.75, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $41.75)

6. Via Napoli (Average Entrée Cost $18.10, Average Dessert Cost $8.83, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $26.00, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $10.00, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $41.00)

7. Teppan Edo (Average Entrée Cost $24.83, Average Dessert Cost $5.50, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $29.95, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $6.50, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $39.45)

8. Nine Dragons (Average Entrée Cost $20.72, Average Dessert Cost $6.21, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $26.98, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.98, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $37.96)

9. La Hacienda de San Angel (Average Entrée Cost $24.55, Average Dessert Cost $7.53, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $25.95, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.95, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $37.90)

10. Restaurant Marrakesh (Average Entrée Cost $24.05, Average Dessert Cost $5.95, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $27.95, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $6.95, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $37.90) This only includes the items that do not have an “upcharge.”  There is an extra fee for the “royal feast” and the “sampler platters.”

11. Tokyo Dining (Average Entrée Cost $21.32, Average Dessert Cost $5.65, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $26.95, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $6.50, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $36.45)

12. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Breakfast: $28.99 for adults, $17.99 for kids 3-9; Lunch: $30.99 for adults, $18.99 for kids 3-9; Dinner: $35.99 for adults, $19.99 for kids 3-9)

13. Rose and Crown Dining Room (Average Entrée Cost $18.49, Average Dessert Cost $5.49, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $24.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $5.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $33.98)

14. Biergarten (Lunch: $19.99 for adults, $10.99 for kids 3-9; Dinner: $32.99 for adults, $13.99 for children)

15. Garden Grill ($31.99 for adults, $14.99 for kids ages 3-9)

16. Bistro de Paris (Not on Dining Plan)

Many of Epcot’s restaurants are among the most expensive at Disney World.  The most expensive combination of entrée, dessert, and beverage exceed the cost of a day on the regular Disney Dining Plan at any of the top five restaurants.  Even the buffets are a few dollars costlier than the other theme parks and resorts.  If members of your group tend to order the cheaper entrées on the menu (and you don’t catch the waiter and switch out the spaghetti for the steak), you might want to consider the buffets for dinner.  Akershus, at $36, costs more than the average meal at many of the restaurants.

Best Value Out of Pocket

1. Rose & Crown Dining Room

2. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

3. Via Napoli

4. Bistro de Paris

5. Le Cellier

6. Biergarten

7. Teppan Edo

8. Tokyo Dining

9. La Hacienda de San Angel

10. Chefs de France

11. Restaurant Marrakesh

12. San Angel Inn

13. Coral Reef

14. Nine Dragons

15. Garden Grill

16. Tutto Italia

Not only is Rose and Crown the cheapest restaurant at Epcot, but it also features (arguably) the best vantage point to enjoy Illuminations (the fireworks and laser show) in the evening.  Lunch at Rose and Crown includes many entrées that cost $12 or less, making it less expensive than some counter service locations.  Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, the hybrid buffet, comes in second even though the cost is higher than average.  The princess interaction, “free” photo package, and abundance of food make it a good value.  Breakfast is the best meal at Akershus and you can actually enter Epcot before the official opening with a reservation between 8 and 9am.  This is a fun opportunity to be inside Epcot when almost no one else is around. If you don’t have any interest in meeting the princesses, you may want to dine elsewhere, but this is one of the best character meal buffets at Disney World.

Via Napoli comes in third, even though the prices may appear high at first glance.  A $36 half-meter pizza is plenty of food for most groups of four to share, which makes the per-person cost of each entree just $9.  This is well below the price of entrees at almost all other Epcot restaurants.  However, the cost is substantially more if each person orders their own individual pizza ($15-$17 each).  The appetizers are also on the expensive side considering the portion size and the specialty lemonades are expensive, at $4-$5 for a single glass.  Nonetheless, the opportunity to save money is readily available for those willing to share and the quality of the ingredients and final product is high enough to elevate it to a top three finish.  Despite its high cost, Bistro de Paris comes in fourth because it’s your best bet to get away from the hustle and bustle of Epcot and the food is higher quality than other Epcot restaurants.  The Bistro is not on the Disney Dining Plan, which means you won’t have to deal with the crowds and popularity that it brings.  The wine list and romantic atmosphere are popular with adults as well.  With kids, you might want to make another selection because Bistro is one of the rare restaurants that frowns at youngsters.  There is no children’s menu, if that’s any indication.

Le Cellier is fifth on the list.  Although the prices are high here, the meat served is better quality than almost all of Disney’s non-signature restaurants.  Le Cellier is also one of the few restaurants at Disney that could survive charging similar prices outside of Disney World.  If you’re looking for a steak, Le Cellier is  one of your best bet.  If lunch is your main meal or you’re happy to eat a big lunch, you’ll get a tremendous bang for your buck at Biergarten.  Offering a 20-minute music show and a wide variety of traditional German favorites, Biergarten is a great choice for big eaters.  I would recommend it for a late lunch (at 3:30pm the prices go up).  Coming in seventh, Teppan Edo scores highly because of the entertaining hibachi grill show and the simple, tasty food.  It would be higher on the list, but the portions are relatively small and it’s one of the noisiest restaurants at Disney World.  Tokyo Dining finishes the top half of the list.  You’ll find some of Disney’s best sushi here, which translates to above average.  As usual, prices are higher here than they would be at your local sushi restaurant and the cost can add up quickly if purchasing a la carte.  Tokyo Dining is also a noisy restaurant and the menu is fairly limited, so make sure you want to eat sushi or tempura before choosing it.  La Hacienda de San Angel only offers five entrees, the cheapest of which is $22.95.  Portions are relatively small for the price and the quality of the food doesn’t make up for the higher than average entree cost.  The view of Illuminations adds considerable value if you can swing a reservation by 8pm, but La Hacienda’s food and service only don’t make it a notable value for the money.

The prices at Chef’s de France are high for the quality of the food and most meals here are rushed, which is why it has fallen to tenth.  While the food is good, it’s difficult to justify a $20 plate of macaroni and cheese or $26 half chicken.  While it may be true that an authentic French café would have tables so close together, it doesn’t make for an intimate meal.  Although Restaurant Marrakesh provides entertainment in the form of a belly dancer and band, the performances are only about 10 minutes long and similar to what you can see for free outside in the Morocco Pavilion.  Prices are also above average and $10+ more than you would expect to pay at a similar restaurant outside of Disney World.  Overall, the quality and cost of the ingredients doesn’t justify the high prices.  San Angel Inn is another restaurant on the expensive side, especially considering Mexican food is usually much cheaper.  While the setting can’t be beat (if you can get a table overlooking the water), the prices are wildly expensive.  The Coral Reef is another restaurant that relies on its setting to lure diners.  No doubt, the aquarium views are unique, but you would be better off spending 20 minutes at The Seas Pavilion and eating elsewhere.  The prices are high and the food is certainly nothing to write home about.  If it weren’t for the fish, this restaurant would be empty.  Coral Reef is also exceptionally loud because the noise bounces off the aquarium glass and not all seats have excellent views.

Nine Dragons is probably not as good as your favorite local Chinese restaurant and the food is much more expensive.  While the setting is pleasant, it doesn’t make up for overpriced food.  While you can certainly have a good meal at Nine Dragons, it doesn’t offer a whole lot of value for your money.  At $32 per adult and $15 per child, a family of four would expect to pay $94 + tax + tip for a meal at the Garden Grill.  Featuring entrées similar to the other “family style buffets,” there’s really nothing special here.  For $4 more you can go to Akershus and find more interesting food and receive the imaging package.  In last place is the most expensive Epcot restaurant, Tutto Italia.  While the food is good, you’re going to have a tough time convincing me that a pasta dish is worth $25 or a basic baked chicken breast entrée is worth $26.  The touch of authenticity is nice and the restaurant is beautiful, but the cost of a meal is too high and service is too rushed to enjoy it.

Best Atmosphere

All of Epcot’s restaurants feature an interesting atmosphere and it’s impossible to put them in order from first to last.  Nearly all of them would be ranked first at any of the other theme parks.  The two best restaurants in terms of atmosphere are probably the Coral Reef, with its aquarium, and San Angel Inn, with its tables overlooking the Three Caballeros water ride.  Suffice to say, you shouldn’t be disappointed with the setting of any restaurant you choose.

Best Food (With Score Out of 100)

1. Bistro de Paris (95)

2. Teppan Edo (90)

3. Le Cellier (88)

4. Tutto Italia (85)

5. Via Napoli (83)

6. Biergarten (80)

7. Tokyo Dining (78)

8. Rose & Crown Dining Room (76)

9. La Hacienda de San Angel (74)

9. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (72)

10. Garden Grill (70)

11. Chefs de France (67)

12. Nine Dragons (65)

13. San Angel Inn (60)

14. Restaurant Marrakesh (55)

15. Coral Reef (45)

This is a difficult category because not every entrée at the top rated restaurants will be excellent and not all entrées in the bottom three restaurants are terrible.  I’ve added scores out of 100 to better show the differences in quality between the restaurants.  As you can see, there isn’t that much of a difference between some of the restaurants, so don’t discount Biergarten just because it’s sixth on the list.  You should be satisfied with the food at any of the restaurants in the top ten and even Nine Dragons is fairly decent.  The bottom three are the most questionable in terms of food quality and taste.

Overall Best Sit Down Table Service Restaurant at Epcot

1. Rose & Crown Dining Room

2. Le Cellier

3. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

4. Teppan Edo

5. Via Napoli

6. Biergarten

7. Bistro de Paris

8. Tokyo Dining

9. La Hacienda de San Angel

10. Chefs de France

11. Nine Dragons

12. Garden Grill

13. Tutto Italia

14. Restaurant Marrakesh

15. San Angel Inn

16. Coral Reef

Rose & Crown earns the top spot because of its inexpensive, quality entrées and the fact that you can view Illuminations either from your table or the private viewing area.  At lunch, several entrées are only $12 and you can choose whether you want to be seated overlooking the water or inside in the air-conditioning.  You also won’t be able to beat the beer and liquor selection.  A close second is Le Cellier, the most popular restaurant at Epcot.  While it’s probably overrated, there’s no denying the fact that they serve high quality, well-prepared meats.  Jump on it if you can get a reservation as it’s unlikely there will be any availability the next time you check.  Akershus Royal Banquet Hall comes in third, particularly because of its excellent breakfast, princess interaction, “free” imaging package, and quality cold-bar buffet.  The entrées may leave something to be desired at lunch and dinner, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.  Teppan Edo is a personal favorite and comes in fourth.  It is a noisy restaurant and you may be seated with strangers, but the hibachi grill show is fun and the food is prepared fresh in front of you.  In fifth, Via Napoli is an inviting pizzeria with authentic flavors and high quality ingredients.  The casual atmosphere and well-lit, airy interior are welcome additions to the World Showcase that is made up of primarily dimly-list restaurants.  The food is prepared fresh and the show-kitchen with wood-burning ovens is fun to watch.   Biergarten is a terrific deal for big eaters at lunch and everyone should enjoy the oompah band and Oktoberfest atmosphere.  Dinner makes more sense on the Disney Dining Plan because of the additional cost, but most people won’t miss the few dishes that are only available at dinner.

Bistro de Paris is a bit more expensive than most of the other Epcot restaurants, but the quality of the food, service, and presentation are higher and it’s your best chance to get away from the crowds and loud children.  If you’re looking for a slightly more romantic, intimate meal then Bistro de Paris is your best bet.  If you’re looking to get in and out of a restaurant quickly then this is not your best choice though.  Tokyo Dining has a large selection of above average a la carte sushi and some delicious combo meals and tempura.  Service is usually among the best at Disney World and the atmosphere is pleasant a well, if not a bit loud when the restaurant is full.  For a quieter, more relaxed meal, consider eating at off-peak times.  La Hacienda offers a fantastic vantage point to enjoy Illuminations at night, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of value earlier in the day.  I would recommend it if you can get a reservation after 8pm, but the portions are small and the flavors aren’t as interesting and unique as the presentation.  Despite its popularity, I have Chef’s de Paris in tenth place because of the crowded tables, rushed service, relatively high prices, and food that isn’t cooked to order.  The Chefs menu isn’t particularly unique either and offers the same mahi mahi, half chicken, steak, and salmon you can get at many other Disney restaurants.  While it’s likely you would enjoy a meal at Chefs de France, it isn’t highly recommended.  Nine Dragons would suffice if you’re in the mood for Chinese and it’s one of the rare restaurants that can probably seat you even without a reservation due to the amount of tables available.  Nine Dragons has improved a lot over the last few years, but it’s still expensive for food similar to what you would find at a local Chinese restaurant.  If Chinese sounds good then Nine Dragons shouldn’t disappoint, but the high cost and the fact that the cuisine is so common drops it down towards the bottom of the rankings.  Garden Grill is a decent character meal featuring Chip, Dale, Mickey, and Pluto, but with so many outstanding restaurants at Epcot you’re better off saving your character meals for Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom, Tusker House at Animal Kingdom, or one of the buffets at the Deluxe resorts.  At $32 per adult, it’s unlikely you’ll be eating your “money’s worth” and the menu items offered aren’t particularly unique or outstanding.  On the plus side, you should have a good meal at Garden Grill, you can just do even better elsewhere.

In 13th place, Tutto Italia is simply too expensive to be recommended out of pocket.  It is a good choice on the Disney Dining Plan, especially if you’re keeping track of how much you would have spent out of pocket.  Even lunch at Tutto is uncharacteristically expensive.  Although Le Cellier is more expensive on average, Le Cellier serves high quality, expensive beef.  Tutto serves mostly pasta with indistinguishable sauces and cheeses.  Unless you love Italian food, don’t care about the cost, or are on the Dining Plan, I would skip Tutto Italia and try to find something more economical.  Restaurant Marrakesh is also expensive, especially considering the low quality food and service you will receive.  Morocco’s counter service, the Tangierine Café, is a better stop to fill your need for Moroccan food, especially on the Disney Dining Plan where you can put together a meal that exceeds $20.  Since you can see the belly dancer and band outside in the Morocco Pavilion for free, there’s really no reason to visit the table service restaurant.  Despite improvements in its menu and service, San Angel Inn comes in next-to-last.  If you could guarantee yourself a table overlooking the water, it would rate much higher, but the fact that you don’t know where you’ll be seated makes San Angel Inn a potential disappointment.  If you enjoy authentic Mexican flavors and have the Disney Dining Plan, I would give San Angel Inn a chance, despite its low ranking.  Eat at off-peak times (11am, 3pm, 8pm) for a better chance at getting a desirable table and make sure to request one at check-in.  Despite its novel aquarium setting, Coral Reef isn’t recommended due to the excessive noise and the poor food and menu choices.  There are no crab, shrimp, lobster, or scallop entrées.  Instead, you’ll find the usual chicken breast, short rib, salmon, and steak you’ll find at many other Disney restaurants.  The aquarium is neat, but chances are the novelty will wear off fairly quickly and you may not even get a table with a good view of it.

Overall, Epcot offers the best dining choices at Disney World.  The chances of having a great meal are higher here than they are at any of Disney’s other resorts and theme parks.  Even the lower rated restaurants at Epcot would be ranked above many of the top rated restaurants at the Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.  It’s safe to say that any of the restaurants in the top ten would be ranked number one at either the Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.  With a Park Hopper ticket, you may want to plan to hop over to Epcot for several of your meals, especially after a day at the Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.  Since the Animal Kingdom closes most days at around 5pm, there is an excellent opportunity to end the evening at Epcot.  If you’re having trouble deciding where to eat at Epcot, find solace in the fact that it’s hard to go wrong.  Also take into consideration that you may want to eat at restaurants with a variety of food.  If you have a few steak houses planned already then you may not want to eat at Le Cellier because you’ll just be eating another steak, even if it’s highly rated.  If you have several character meal buffets planned then Akershus may not be the best choice either.

You’ll find poor reviews of every restaurant at Disney World, so don’t let one or two negative reviews change your mind about a restaurant.  There are people who seem to have a poor experience no matter where they go.  At the same time, one or two stellar reviews shouldn’t change your mind either.  Your best bet is to try the restaurant for yourself.  The great majority of people thoroughly enjoy their experiences at most of Disney’s restaurants, even the low rated ones.  Putting yourself in a position to have the best experience possible is all you can do.  You may have a poor meal at one of the top-rated restaurants.  It happens.  Don’t be mad at yourself for poor planning.  You did the best you could and it didn’t work out.  Next trip, you can try something else.  Have fun and enjoy your vacation.

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Best Hollywood Studios Sit Down Table Service Restaurants Disney World

Of all the theme parks that make up Walt Disney World, the Hollywood Studios is known to have the worst dining choices.  While it’s unlikely you’ll be blown out of the water at any of the Studios’ table service restaurants, it’s not too difficult to find a decent meal if you know where to look.  While the frugal should avoid the costly Hollywood Brown Derby and anyone with taste buds should reconsider Hollywood & Vine, the three middle-of-the-road restaurants all have something to offer.  Hollywood & Vine isn’t terrible for breakfast either and the Hollywood Brown Derby may be an oasis for someone looking for a relaxing, higher end meal.  Knowing what to expect, managing expectations, and finding the right fit for your group is the key to a successful meal.  With that, let’s have at it.

Be sure to read over the full reviews for more information on any of the restaurants listed.  You can either click here for the full list in alphabetical order or click the individual highlighted links throughout this post.

Most Unique Menu

1. Hollywood Brown Derby

2. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

3.50’s Prime Time Café

4. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

5. Hollywood and Vine

Almost everything on the Hollywood Brown Derby’s menu is a unique recipe with costly ingredients and an interesting presentation.  You won’t find grouper, bean and vegetable ragout, sashimi grade tuna tartar, or asparagus soup anywhere else at Disney.  The rest of the table service restaurants at the Hollywood Studios offer familiar foods, with Mame Melrose getting the slight edge.  You’ll find a variety of unique flatbread pizza combinations as well as spicy Italian sausage and eggplant napoleon.  The 50’s Prime Time Café serves familiar comfort food like meat loaf, fried chicken, and pot roast and the Sci-Fi Dine-In features hamburgers, sandwiches, ribs, and pasta.  Both of these restaurants would be excellent with unadventurous eaters.  Hollywood & Vine is your standard buffet with a selection similar to what you would find at a casino or chain buffet restaurant.  The standard carving station, bread basket, ice cream station, and salads all make appearances, as expected.

Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Disney Dining Plan

1. Mama Melrose’s (Average Entrée Cost $17.06, Average Dessert Cost $5.87, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $27.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $6.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $37.98)

2. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Average Entrée Cost $16.28, Average Dessert Cost $6.95, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $22.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.99, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $35.67)

3. 50’s Prime Time Café (Average Entrée Cost $18.18, Average Dessert Cost $5.54, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $20.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $7.49, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $33.48)

4. Hollywood and Vine (Adult Breakfast: $26.99, Child Breakfast: $14.99, Adult Lunch: $26.99, Child Lunch: $14.99, Adult Dinner: $30.99, Child Dinner: $15.99)

5. Hollywood Brown Derby (Average Entrée Cost $31.38, Average Dessert Cost $7.67, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $40.00, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $9.00, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $53.00)

At first glance, the Hollywood Brown Derby is obviously the most expensive restaurant.  However, it costs two table service credits, whereas the other choices only cost one.  Therefore, we’ll halve the cost of the most expensive meal, to get an actual cost of only $26.50 per table service credit.  This is even less than lunch at Hollywood and Vine, which is why the Brown Derby is in the fifth position.  The most expensive meal is found at Mama Melrose’s, provided you order the $27.99 charred sirloin steak entrée.  Otherwise, most of the entrées are $20 or less and the flatbread pizzas are only $12-$14 each.  Sci-Fi has the second most expensive entrée on the list, the $22.99 butcher steak with a red wine glaze, but also the lowest average entrée cost.  50’s Prime Time Café has the least expensive “most expensive entrée,” which drops it to third, but it also has the most expensive average entrée cost with three entrées that all cost $20.99 each.  At $30.99 per adult, Hollywood and Vine is one of the more expensive buffets, especially for the $26.99 breakfast and lunch.  Both breakfast and lunch are character meals which may add value, but dinner does not feature any characters.

The cost of the top three restaurants are all similar and none of them really present a distinct cost benefit, unless you’re certain that everyone will order the most expensive item on the menu.  Although Mama Melrose is technically the most expensive meal, if someone in your group orders a $12 flatbread pizza then you’ve really ordered one of the cheapest entrées in all of Disney World.  Prices at Sci-Fi and 50’s Prime Time Café are also slightly cheaper at lunch and the most expensive items on the menu are usually absent.  Mama Melrose’s has the same menu for lunch and dinner, which may make it the best value for your dining credit at lunch.

Best Value Out of Pocket

1. 50’s Prime Time Cafe

2. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

3. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

4. Hollywood Brown Derby

5. Hollywood and Vine

The 50’s Prime Time Café is moderately priced with most entrées $20 or less.  Portions are large, the food is freshly prepared, and the entertainment from the old movie clips and your waiter/waitress provide additional value.  Lunch is an even better value, with several sandwiches and salads for $13 or less.  Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater also provides additional entertainment in the form of old movie clips and the setting is one-of-a-kind.  Visit during lunch for a variety of sandwiches and a burger for $14 or less.  Mama Melrose’s doesn’t have a separate lunch menu, but it does have several flatbread pizza entrées in the $12 range.  I wouldn’t recommend most of Mama’s other entrées, so the pizzas are probably your best bet anyway.  The Hollywood Derby is the most expensive restaurant at the Hollywood Studios and it would be in last place if not for the disaster that is Hollywood & Vine.  Although the food and service at Brown Derby are a cut above the other restaurants at the Hollywood Studios, neither is good enough to justify $40 entrées.  If your budget allows for excess then you will find the best food at the Hollywood Derby, but for the value conscious visitor it simply isn’t worth the additional cost.

Best Atmosphere

1. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

2. 50’s Prime Time Café

3. Hollywood Brown Derby

4. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

5. Hollywood and Vine

Both Sci-Fi and 50’s Prime Time feature a fun setting you won’t find anywhere else.  Sci-Fi, with its car-themed seating, starry skies, and B-movie film clips gets the nod over 50’s Prime Time Café’s 1950s-themed diner.  There are a few caveats about the top two choices though.  Sci-Fi is dark and may be difficult for people with vision problems to see the menu or where they’re walking, whether it be to the table or the bathroom.  Expect to be teased at 50’s Prime Time Café.  Your waiter or waitress, known as “mom” or “dad,” may force you to eat your vegetables, tell you to keep your elbows off the table, and make you prepare your own place setting.  If you don’t have a sense of humor or would prefer for your waiter to do little more than bring food and fill glasses, then 50’s Prime Time may not be your best choice.  The Hollywood Brown Derby’s setting is a bit out of place.  Although it tries to be upscale, with the staff wearing tuxedos and the elegant surroundings, it’s a bit strange considering most of the guests are wearing flip flops, Mickey ears, and neon colored shorts.  Suffice to say, the Brown Derby isn’t as immersive as Sci-Fi or 50’s Prime Time and some people may be turned off by the faux-pretentiousness.  Mama Melrose’s, styled from the movie Lady and the Tramp, provides a casual atmosphere with neat overheard lighting, but not much else to impress the eyes.  It’s perfectly suitable, but it won’t be your favorite (unless you teleport away from Disney without going in any other restaurants).  Hollywood and Vine is last on this list as well, with an unremarkable ice cream parlor theme.

Best Food

1. Hollywood Brown Derby

2. 50’s Prime Time Café

3. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

4. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

5. Hollywood & Vine

Bite for bite, you’ll find the best food at Hollywood Brown Derby.  While it might not be worth the cost, there’s no denying that the food is more carefully prepared and uses higher quality ingredients than the other restaurants at the Hollywood Studios.  Second place goes to the Prime Time Café, which serves comfort food that’s easy to prepare and consistently well executed.  At Mama Melrose’s and Sci-Fi, the quality of your meal depends greatly on what you order.  Mama Melrose’s flatbread pizzas are good, but the rest of the food is lacking, especially in the pasta department.  Stick to the pizzas unless you’re in the mood to gamble.  In a similar vein, Sci-Fi serves a delicious hamburger and their onion rings and milkshakes are excellent as well, but you’ll want to stay away from the pasta, steak, tofu, or salad.  Hollywood and Vine is bad from top to bottom.  The only saving grace is the ice cream bar, but even that machine isn’t always working properly.  Breakfast at Hollywood and Vine is better though, so if you want to meet the Little Einstein characters and give your kids a chance to sing and dance with them, then breakfast is your best bet.

Overall Best Sit Down Table Service Restaurant at the Hollywood Studios

1. 50’s Prime Time Café

2. Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano

3. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

4. Hollywood Brown Derby

5. Hollywood and Vine

50’s Prime Time Café is the most consistent table service restaurant at the Hollywood Studios, with excellent food, an accessible menu, and a fun setting with attentive service.  Mama Melrose’s falls to second due to the inconsistency of the menu and a slightly boring atmosphere, at least compared to 50’s or Sci-Fi.  If you stick with the pizzas then you should have a great, inexpensive meal.  At Sci-Fi I really only recommend the burger or sandwich, onion rings, and a milkshake.  The other entrées aren’t particularly good.  Consider visiting at lunch for a cheaper meal with the exact same atmosphere.  Although the Hollywood Brown Derby does have the best food at Hollywood Studios, it drops all the way to fourth due to its high prices, odd setting, and the length of the meal.  Prepare to spend about one and a half hours at the Brown Derby, depending on how many courses you order.  It’s not a restaurant where you can pop in and out quickly.  Finally, Hollywood and Vine comes in last, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise.  Breakfast is the only edible meal, but at $27 per adult it’s still ridiculously expensive.  Only visit if you have kids that want to run around and sing inside of a restaurant early in the morning.

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Best Magic Kingdom Sit Down Table Service Restaurants Disney World

The Magic Kingdom doesn’t offer many surprises in the dining category, at least as far as food selection is concerned.  Three of the five sit-down restaurants are buffets during at least one meal and the other two restaurants are a sandwich shop and an Italian restaurant similar to Mama Melrose’s at the Hollywood Studios.  Cinderella’s Royal Table is the most popular restaurant at the Magic Kingdom and it’s nearly impossible to get a reservation, despite the $57 price tag per adult at dinner.  Overall, the Magic Kingdom offers decent choices, but you’ll find much better restaurants at the Monorail Deluxe Resorts and Epcot.

Be sure to read over the full reviews for more information on any of the restaurants listed.  You can either click here for the full list in alphabetical order or click the individual highlighted links throughout this post.

Most Unique Menu

1. Cinderella’s Royal Table

2. Crystal Palace

3. Liberty Tree Tavern

4. Tony’s Town Square

5. Plaza Restaurant

Few of the entrées at any of the Magic Kingdom’s restaurants are particularly unique and it’s unlikely you’ll see something you’ve never previously tried.  Cinderella’s Royal Table is in the top position because of the unique sauces and side dishes, but the entrées are the usual lamb, steak, and chicken that are widely available.  Crystal Palace has some interesting buffet items as well, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Liberty Tavern serves turkey, beef, mashed potatoes, and similar items and Tony’s Town Square offers a menu consisting of basic Italian dishes like spaghetti, chicken parmigiana, and seafood diavoli.  The Plaza Restaurant offers a variety of sandwiches, a hamburger, and many types of ice cream.  Overall, the Magic Kingdom is fairly pedestrian when it comes to food types and flavors.

Best “Value” AKA Most Expensive Meal on the Dining Plan

1. Tony’s Town Square (Average Entrée Cost $20.09, Average Dessert Cost $5.49, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $27.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $6.49, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $38.48)

2. Liberty Tree Tavern Dinner (Adult Dinner: $29.99, Child Dinner: $14.99)

3. Crystal Palace (Breakfast: $20.99 for adults and $10.99 for kids ages 3-9, Lunch: $20.99 for adults and $11.99 for kids ages 3-9, Dinner: $28.99 for adults and $13.99 for kids ages 3-9)

4. Cinderella’s Royal Table (Breakfast: $47.23 for adults and $31.05 for children 3-9, Lunch: $50.96 for adults and $32.29 for children 3-9, $57.19 for adults and $34.78 for children 3-9)

5. Plaza Restaurant (Average Entrée Cost $11.43, Average Dessert Cost $5.53, Most Expensive Entrée Cost $12.99, Most Expensive Dessert Cost $6.49, Most Expensive Entrée + Dessert + Beverage $24.48)

Cinderella’s Royal Table falls into fourth place because it costs two credits on the Disney Dining Plan, so the cost can be halved to find the “per credit” cost, which is lower than the other restaurants at $28.56.  Tony’s Town Square comes in first, with a respectable maximum value of around $39 per credit.  Both of the buffets are in the $30 range for dinner, which is about the average cost of a Disney buffet.  The Plaza Restaurant is the only one that can really be considered a “waste” of a table service credit, considering the maximum value is just under $25.  When it comes to dining, the Magic Kingdom is actually the cheapest of Disney’s theme parks.

Best Value Out of Pocket

1. Plaza Restaurant

2. Cinderella’s Royal Table

3. Crystal Palace

4. Tony’s Town Square

5. Liberty Tree Tavern Dinner (For lunch consideration, read the last few sentences of the following paragraph)

The Plaza Restaurant is one of the cheapest table service restaurants in all of Disney World.  For less than the chicken and ribs combo at Cosmic Ray’s counter service, you can have a relaxing sit-down meal at the Plaza.  The sandwiches are only $2-$3 more expensive than a sandwich or wrap at a counter service and they are much higher quality.  Despite the excessive cost, Cinderella’s Royal Table comes in second because dining inside of Cinderella’s Castle is such a unique experience.  The meal also includes the imaging package, which includes pictures of your group with Cinderella.  This package would cost about $30 at other buffets like Tusker House.  Crystal Palace is ahead of the last two choices because of the high quality buffet items, the fact that it’s a character meal featuring Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eeyore, and Piglet for all meals, and the wide variety of items available.  Tony’s Town Square is on the expensive side considering the low cost of many of the ingredients.  The spaghetti and meatballs and vegetable lasagna are both $17, which isn’t much of a value.  The chicken parmigiana is probably the best bargain on the menu.  Liberty Tree Tavern comes in last due to the high cost of the meal and the fact that there’s nothing particularly special about it.  Unless you can eat about 17 pounds of food it’s unlikely you’ll get your money’s worth.  With only turkey, pork, and carved beef for entrées, there’s simply nothing here that makes it worth $30 per adult.  For lunch, Liberty Tree is a much better value with all entrées less than $20 and several in the $12-$15 range.  If you’re a party of two, one person can order the turkey and the other can order the braised beef and you basically have the evening’s main buffet items for a total of $33, rather than $33 per person.  Of course, adding two salads and two desserts would put you in the same price range as dinner, so if you usually eat three courses you’ll probably want to consider dinner over lunch.

Best Atmosphere

1. Cinderella’s Royal Table

2. Tony’s Town Square

3. Liberty Tree Tavern

4. Crystal Palace

5. Plaza Restaurant

Cinderella’s Royal Table has the best setting in all of Disney World.  Set high atop her castle in the middle of the Magic Kingdom, the Royal Table features appearances by Cinderella, the Fairy God Mother, Snow White, Belle, and Aurora (although different characters may be present).  In addition, the decorations and details inside of the seating area are second to none.  You absolutely will not be disappointed by the Royal Table’s atmosphere.  The other four restaurants at the Magic Kingdom are nothing to write home about in the setting category.  Tony’s Town Square is the second best, but it’s certainly not interesting enough that you’ll want to eat there just to see the inside of it.  Both the Crystal Palace and Plaza restaurant feature a Victorian setting which seems a bit odd in a theme park, but that’s how Walt Disney apparently envisioned it.  The Crystal Palace is actually an interesting glass building, whereas the Plaza Restaurant isn’t as ornate.  Modeled after an 18th century American Inn, the Liberty Tree Tavern is full of colonial artifacts and authentic touches.  It’s a neat space, but there is no alcohol served, despite what the name of the place would lead you to believe.

Best Food

1. Plaza Restaurant

2. Liberty Tree Tavern

3. Crystal Palace

4. Cinderella’s Royal Table

5. Tony’s Town Square

The Plaza Restaurant churns out the best tasting food at the Magic Kingdom.  Although a sandwich is a fairly simple product, the Plaza uses high quality ingredients and prepares each sandwich carefully.  There’s also a wide enough selection that everyone should find something that they like, whether it be the tuna salad croissant, Reuben, turkey, vegetarian, cheese steak, or angus hamburger.  Their milkshakes and ice cream are also among the best. The food at Liberty Tree Tavern is excellent, especially considering it’s made in such large quantities.  The turkey is moist, the mashed potatoes are prepared with just the right consistency, the salad is crisp and flavorful, and the other entrées and side dishes are delicious as well.  Both Crystal Palace and Cinderella’s Royal Table are best experienced at breakfast.  Crystal Palace’s French toast puffs are many visitors’ favorite food item of their entire trip.  You will also find a wide variety of high quality dishes throughout the day.  While it’s still a buffet, many of the dishes could easily be served as part of a menu at a traditional sit-down restaurant.  When it comes to food, Cinderella’s Royal Table is lacking, especially at lunch.  Expect a bland entrée that may or may not be served hot.  Because of the limited menu and the desire for fast turnover, the kitchen is always preparing food, whether anyone has ordered it or not.  Considering the hefty price, it’s unfortunate that more care isn’t taken in the preparation and execution of the food.  Tony’s Town Square’s entrées are also bland and not particularly authentic.  In an attempt to please the common American palette, and younger visitors in particular, the flavors are dumbed down so they won’t offend anyone.  If Olive Garden style “Italian” food is your favorite then you may enjoy Tony’s, but don’t expect authentic Italian.

Overall Best Sit Down Table Service Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom

1. Cinderella’s Royal Table

2. Plaza Restaurant

3. Liberty Tree Tavern (Lunch)

4. Crystal Palace

5. Liberty Tree Tavern (Dinner)

6. Tony’s Town Square

For those who can afford the high cost, Cinderella’s Royal Table is the best sit-down restaurant at the Magic Kingdom.  It certainly isn’t something most visitors will want to do every trip to Disney World, or even on their first trip, but it is certainly a unique experience that’s well worth doing once.  The “free” imaging package sweetens the deal, providing a nice picture keepsake to take home.  Similar to the Rainforst Café, you’re paying for the experience of dining in Cinderella’s Castle with Disney princesses, more than you are paying for the food.  Don’t expect a world class meal just because of the cost, because that isn’t what you’ll be receiving.

The Plaza Restaurant comes in second, with its low cost and quality sandwiches.  The only downside is the limited seating area.  Although its location on Main Street makes it less popular than it would be if it were in another of the “lands,” you’ll definitely want to make a reservation.  Liberty Tree Tavern for lunch is a traditional sit-down restaurant with a menu and moderately priced entrées.  The food is similar to what you would get at the dinner buffet and the prices are much lower.  There also won’t be (as much) pressure to stuff yourself silly in order to “get your money’s worth.”  Crystal Palace offers a wider food selection than Liberty Tree Tavern and features characters from Winnie the Pooh, which is why it’s above Liberty Tree Tavern for dinner.  If you don’t care about the characters and love Thanksgiving style food then Liberty Tree Tavern may be better for your group.  Tony’s Town Square comes in last.  There’s nothing particularly special about the food and service is generally on the lousy side.  With most entrées $17 and above, it isn’t cheap either.  While the lunch menu does offer some slightly less expensive options, the other restaurants on the list have more upside.

Your chances of having a terrible meal at any of the Magic Kingdom restaurants are low, even if you choose Tony’s Town Square.  Knowing the pros and cons of each choice will make you better equipped to choose the best restaurant for your group, even if that restaurant is rated low on any of the above categories.

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