When I think of Disney magic, the one area that consistently delivers is the food. No. Not all of the food at Walt Disney World is great. However, Disney restaurants have the unique capability to deliver an entertaining and satisfying experience through great-tasting food and uniquely themed ambiance as only Disney can do.
You don’t have to have a character meal to enjoy a distinctly Disney dining experience. With that in mind, these are my very favorite restaurants that I feel deliver the most magical Disney dining for your Walt Disney World vacation.
I love California Grill. It doesn’t sound like Disney’s most magical restaurant but it kind of is. The whole rooftop Dining craze at Disney World right now started with California Grill. It has an amazing view and is one of the best restaurants at Disney World with consistently good food.
This restaurant is also the best place to go for a special champagne brunch or a magical dinner on the night of a holiday event like New Year’s Eve. One of the things that adds some extra enchantment to this location is the view of Magic Kingdom during the fireworks display each night. You can watch from your table as you dine or saunter over to the observation deck outside.
This rooftop dining experience boasts a different kind of magic. The inspiring architecture lifted from Antoni Gaudi and added surrealism influenced by Salvador Dali make this a totally unique and memorable dining experience.
Indulge in tapas and Spanish-inspired cuisine while overlooking Coronado Springs and much of Walt Disney World’s natural beauty surrounding Animal Kingdom and Disney Hollywood Studios. Part of the magic of Gran Destino Tower is the story behind the collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali. Though Walt was never able to produce the Dalian animated short, the Animation Studio finally finished Destino in 2003, marking the end of a nearly 60-year journey.
Artist Point StoryBook Dining
A new kind of Disney character dining has emerged in the form of a complete-themed experience. To some degree, this began with Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is an elegant dining experience inside the castle at the Magic Kingdom. The concept has been refined to make it a more thematically cohesive experience at Artist Point in Wilderness Lodge.
This Snow White-themed restaurant includes a rustic woodsy atmosphere, character interaction, and a remarkable menu inspired by the film. There are plenty of fun surprises too in the form of desserts and specialty beverages (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
The surroundings in the restaurant and the extensively thought out menu make Artist’s Point one of the most magical Disney dining experiences seen anywhere. It’s an added bonus that unlike most character dining experiences it’s located outside of the theme parks so you can go without paying admission or using up valuable time inside the park sitting at a restaurant.
For those who enjoy theme park dining, there are some restaurants that do a lot to enhance the experience rather than pull you away from it. In general, table service restaurants in the parks can be a waste of time, but not always. Certainly not in Adventureland, where the Skipper Canteen is rife with good old Disney humor and magic.
The attention to detail and Disney lore in this venue are superb. Learn more about the Society of Explorers and Adventurers, revel in the terrible puns, and generally take in the vibe of Adventureland while enjoying a tasty meal of exotic but safe international cuisine.
San Angel Inn
When it comes to dining at EPCOT, it is really, really hard to make a wrong choice. Mistakes can be made, I assure you, but mostly, it’s a safe bet you will have an enjoyable time. Mostly, that’s because the restaurants provide an enhanced experience in the various pavilions. You can dine at the bottom of the ocean, or up in space.
Most famously, you can dine around the world at any of the 11 international pavilions. Some places are top-notch signature restaurants. Some are merely counter-service, but they have their place. Through all of these options, when I think of magic I turn to San Angel Inn. Not because it’s the best food (it’s not), but because it is truly an atmosphere of enchantment.
First, let me just say that I never found the food disappointing or underwhelming. It’s perfectly decent. The service there, in my experience, has also been impeccable.
So, very enjoyable all around, but what really makes this restaurant special is the nighttime outdoor appearance and the surrounding area which consists of a Spanish-style Mexican plaza on one side and a river overlooking a Mexican ziggurat like the one that houses this culturally rich pavilion interior. The ambiance of the candlelit dining area surrounded by such lovely Imagineering enhances the entire pavilion experience, more than other World Showcase restaurants might.
Do you have any favorite places to dine while visiting Disney World? Share your favorites in the comments!
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