For at least as long as this website’s illustrious existence, The Plaza Restaurant at Magic Kingdom has been a great spot to stop for a sandwich or burger for not a whole lot more money than you’d pay at a quick service like Cosmic Ray’s. To say that there’s a hidden gem in a theme park visited by 20 million people per year is probably not accurate, but Plaza isn’t going to be the first restaurant that most people discuss when Magic Kingdom dining comes up. Be Our Guest, Cinderella’s Royal Table, and Crystal Palace are probably your top three hype machines. And there’s always Tony’s Town Square. To say that Plaza is the most overlooked restaurant might be more accurate, even if reservations for it are typically difficult to come by, due in part to the small seating areas. The fact that the entrance is located around the corner, just off the main drag, may bolster our position that you could very easily visit Magic Kingdom and either not pass it or not realize what you’re walking past.
Plaza Restaurant has undergone a number of menu changes over the last couple of years, seemingly shying away from the $13 to $17 sandwiches and burgers that had kept guests looking for an economical sit-down meal satisfied. During that time, Plaza had kept many of the less-expensive sandwiches on the lunch menu, while increasing price points and moving towards fancier items at dinner. More recently, the restaurant has moved to one, combined lunch/dinner menu:
There are still two sandwiches on the all-day menu – the $17 Plaza Club and $19 Cheese Steak Sandwich. The Plaza Brisket Burger comes in at $22, while the single salad is topped with Lobster and comes in at $21. The average entree price is $21.75.
Here’s Plaza’s menu from about seven years ago:
It’s a completely different deal – everything on the menu is either a sandwich, burger, or salad. The current menu offer two fewer entrees, but there are an assortment of appetizers, which wouldn’t have been available back in 2013. The average price point of an entree from back then was $13.15, so the average price is up 65% in seven years. Luckily, I’m sure your salary has risen at a similar level. Of course, Disney prices rise. The Plaza’s current menu probably includes higher-priced items primarily designed for the Disney Dining Plan user looking to “maximize” their buck.
On one hand, it’s nice to have a few restaurants that are less expensive for those of us paying out of pocket. On the other hand, it’s possible that someone considering the Disney Dining Plan would look up the old Plaza menu and deem the Dining Plan to be a terrible value based on the lower price points. Disney wants you to lock those dining dollars into one of their plans, so it makes sense that they would advertise their restaurants as being “Dining Plan Friendly.’
As someone who is not typically on the Dining Plan, I always appreciated being able to make a reservation a the Plaza and get away from the hustle and bustle of the theme park. The restaurant is a little hectic in its own right – tables are close, service is typically brisk, and you never know when the Mayor of Main Street is going to drop by to make an important announcement about how martial law has taken over and it’s every Mickey Mouse for himself. But your drink refills are taken care of and there’s no standing around waiting to pick up a mobile order.
Just about everything about the Plaza experience over the last ten years remains true. The food served is simply different.
We’ll start off with what is probably the least photogenic item that I’ve ever taken, and one that’s been on the menu for years, in the $22 “Home-style Meatloaf – Hearty Slices of Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Seasonal Vegetables.”
It was more of a meat cube than a couple slices of hearty meatloaf. Everyone probably has their favorite version of meatloaf prepared by a close family member, and this is probably not nearing that. The green beans were also simply steamed – you’d probably want to see some butter, salt, and pepper on those things while on vacation.
The Gravy and Mashed Potatoes certainly helped pull everything together, making for a warm, comforting bite. It ended up being a filling, but entirely forgettable, dish.
Next up, we have the $21 “Lobster Cobb Salad – Mixed Greens, Tender Lobster, Hard-boiled Egg, Smoked Bacon, and White Balsamic Vinaigrette.”
If you’re looking around for the lobster, you’re not the only one. The salad was also incredibly light on the White Balsamic Vinaigrette. There were a few good bites in there with the bacon, lobster, cheese, and lettuce mixed with the sweet and tangy dressing, but those bites were few and far between. This would probably work as a much smaller side salad with the same amount of lobster. There’s nowhere for the crustacean to shine here, and instead, you’ve got what basically amounts to a fresh, tangy side salad. On the plus side, all of the ingredients were ripe, fresh, and flavorful. They probably couldn’t add four big cocktail shrimp in there without raising the price $10, but something like that would go a long way too. On the plus side, there is certainly enough lettuce and other stuff to fill you up, even if the lobster won’t. I think it would be better with juicy chicken for around $16 and don’t be shy about asking for a side of dressing.
Next up, we have the $19 “Cheese Steak Sandwich – Shaved Beef, Peppers, Onions, and Provolone Cheese.”
I was surprised by the bland flavors here too, like somehow Disney had sucked the spice out of the peppers and the acidity out of the onions. I’ve never partaken in a box of “Steak-Umm” from my grocery’s freezer aisle myself, but that’s how I imagine this tasting – only with drier meat. On the plus side, it was another sizable portion with a soft, fresh crispy roll doing a nice job of keeping everything in the sandwich together. There was also plenty of provolone melted on top.
The couple of sandwiches and burgers are still served with your choice of “House-made Potato Chips,” French Fries,” or “Seasonal Vegetable.” We’ve got five or six ounces of chips on the plate, so there’s no shortage of the crispy chips that would usually benefit from some salt or some sort of seasoning to make them a little more interesting. Homecomin’ uses their “Ice Box Dressing” drizzle – something like that over here would work wonders too.
The $17 “Plaza Club – Smoked Ham, Turkey, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Mayonnaise” remains a safe bet, and one that’s still quite shareable for the money. The turkey and ham are Oscar Meyer quality, but for $8.50 a person split two ways, you can’t really go wrong. We’ll get to that dessert menu in a moment, too.
The Plaza Burger remains a serious one, now served with “Honey-Barbecued Beef Brisket, Cheddar, Lettuce, and Tomato.” It was Provolone the last time I ordered it. Talk about a gut bomb. You could split this monstrosity, but the process might not be pretty. If you ask, they may be able to try to give it a slice in the back. Occasionally, they’ll even bring it out on two dishes.
This is what the old $22 “Baked Honey-Barbecued Brisket Mac & Cheese – Baked Pasta in Cheddar Cheese Sauce sprinkled with Golden Brown Bread Crumbs, Fried-crispy Onions, and Scallions topped with a Savory Barbecued Beef Brisket” looked like. It’s now listed as “Brisket Macaroni & Cheese – Creamy Macaroni and Cheese, Tender Barbecued Brisket, Sour Cream, and Jalapeños,” so it sounds like they’re taking things a little spicy there to. But also probably not, considering the lack of spice in our Cheese Steak Sandwich. Potentially, you could ask for the Jalapeños or Sour Cream on the side. It does sound a little strange as far as macaroni and cheese goes. We’ll see about getting back to try a couple of these other freshened-up dishes.
The quality of the less-expensive entrees doesn’t give me a whole lot of hope for this “Herb-marinated Steak – Loaded Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, and Garlic Butter.” It’s not usually a good sign when they have to give you two pieces of beef sliding off of each other, and the mushrooms look to be some sort of giant mutant species. The Mashed Potatoes also look like glue.
The vegan entree is the Bangers and Mash, which should use two of the Spicy Beyond Sausages Brats, which are actually pretty good. The cost of the meatless meat would probably also exceed Disney’s cost on that hunk of meatloaf, making it a better “value” on your end. I think I probably would have preferred the Vegan dish.
For many years, the Plaza didn’t offer any appetizers, but it has since added a couple, also probably to satisfy certain Disney Dining Plan meal entitlements. I’d probably skip these $9 Plaza Loaded Fries – Crispy Fries, Melted Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato.” You’ve got Disney quick service fries topped with fake cheese sauce, Ken’s ranch salad dressing, bacon bits, diced tomatoes, and a couple shreds of lettuce. On the plus(?) side, they were delivered less than three minutes after we ordered them. Speed is certainly on Plaza’s side. Our latest meal, from Wednesday, January 29th, 2020, took all of 45 minutes, if that.
I usually go back to a restaurant a few times before I review it again. On the positive side, I’ve got more food to discuss and a broader set of experiences from which to pull. On the downside, whatever I had ordered on the previous visit that I didn’t get around to writing about is usually pulled off the menu. That’s the case with this $18 “Kentucky Turkey Hot Brown Sandwich.” The Boursin Cheese made the dish, which is at least half tomato.
The “Fried Green Tomato Sandwich” had also been a staple for years, though it’s not particularly vegetarian with the thick slices of bacon, and not particularly vegan with the “Alabama and White Barbecue Sauce” and the whole cheese thing.
Considering the restaurant now serves the exact same eight entrees all day, you’d think that they could offer them up with some pizzazz. Instead, somebody is making your entree back in the kitchen long before you even know you’re going to order it.
Here’s what on the menu for kids:
I think I’d go right for that Mickeylodeon.
Speaking of dessert, Disney has got you covered. Interestingly, there’s no longer any mention of the All-You-Care-to-Enjoy Milk Shakes on the main menu.
That’s probably something that you want to take advantage of from the moment you sit down. The Plaza has seemingly done away with their over-the-top shake flavor-of-the-month. That means I can stop Photoshopping Fruit Loops and all sorts of zany toppings on this this thing to pretend like I ordered it for another single-item blog review. “You guys will never believe what amazing goodies Disney is putting on the Plaza milkshake for February!” And it turns out to be like two Hershey’s Kisses.
The $9 “Butterscotch Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream – Warm Butterscotch Bread Pudding topped with Caramel Sauce, Butterscotch Morsel, and Vanilla Ice Cream” is worth keeping an eye out for, and may even help make up for some lackluster entrees. The slice of Bread Pudding is served preciously in this metal skillet, and the warm, caramelized bread pudding tastes delicious underneath the butterscotch, toffee, and vanilla ice cream, which is going to gloriously melt over everything in short order. It’s real close to ‘Ohana territory, and if you put the two next to each other, I’m not sure which would come out on top. That’s probably saying something.
Most people are probably keying in on the ice cream. Here’s the $7 “The Plaza Restaurant Sundae – Ice Cream of your choice topped with choice of Hot Fudge, Strawberry Sauce, Crushed Pineapple, Chopped Nuts, Whipped Cream, and a Cherry.”
You can always book the Plaza Restaurant with dessert-only, though the Ice Cream Parlor is located adjacent. Lines there are long in the evening.
Plaza Restaurant itself remains pretty. The Art Nouveau style and gleaming natural light make for a pleasant-enough atmosphere that would probably be a bit more elegant if the ketchup bottles were replaced with $55 3-course prix fixe meals. With the way Disney Dining is going…$55 might be on the l0w-end.
Plaza does offer a very limited wine and beer menu:
A bottle of MacMurray Estate Pinor Noir and a Meatloaf. What a life.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend Plaza Restaurant for lunch or dinner in its current state, unless you’re visiting for something that you’ve tried before and know you’ll enjoy, like the Plaza Club and Bottomless Milkshakes. Sharing the massive burger and a dessert would also set you back about $30 total, or the cost of two entrees at Cosmic Ray’s. I don’t think any of the three entrees that we ordered on this trip – the Cheese Steak Sandwich, Meatloaf, or Lobster Cobb would be so large that they would easily be shareable. You could cut the Cheese Steak in half, and the chips would fill you up, but it’s not the whopping portion that is the Burger or Plaza Sandwich.
My favorite overall restaurant at Magic Kingdom is Jungle Cruise Skipper Canteen. I review just about everything on that menu here.
I also think the a la carte lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern presents better options. That review is available here. This burger probably has three times as much lobster on it as that Plaza Cobb.
But like it has for years and years, Plaza offers a very quick sit-down meal with comfort food that may or may not be exactly as bland as Mom used to make. I’m hoping that they go back to a sandwich-based menu. The thought of a steak at the Plaza just “feels” wrong. If anything, the whole steak thing might not be working, as they recently lowered the price by three dollars and the quality of the cut even more.
Actually, now that you mention steak, Plaza’s breakfast is its strongest meal, in my opinion. You can pull up my full review here. The 10-ounce strip steak above will only set you back $18 and is significantly tastier than the lunch/dinner option.
Feel free to comment if you had a lackluster experience earlier in the day. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed a couple of breakfasts there since the restaurant started offering the most important meal of the day back in December of 2018. The Lobster Eggs Benedict above also arrive with far more lobster cooked up in a much more fresh presentation for $3 less than you’d pay for that salad at lunch. My full Plaza breakfast review is available here.
If you’re planning on visiting the Plaza for lunch or dinner, make sure you pull up the current menu and see if there are items that sound good at prices that you’re willing to pay. With the price points inching upwards, you may not be saving any money over other opportunities like Liberty Tree or Skipper Canteen. And you might want to consider breakfast instead.