Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dining in Magic Kingdom Area Resorts

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The resorts at Walt Disney World definitely aren't just for sleeping!  There are so many dining options spread throughout the resorts in Disney, and those around Magic Kingdom are packed with delicious venues to try!  But with so many to choose from, how do you pick?

You come to Young Adult Disney, of course!

Let's start with the closest resort to Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary Resort.

Located in the Contemporary is a visitor favorite, The California Grill
Ideal for: The Spender, the Romantic
Price Range: $30-60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: California Grill
  • The California Grill's gourmet food and wine menus make it perfect for those who want to splurge.  The clean, modern, open atmosphere is a favorite place for couples to celebrate many occasions. 
  • Pros:
    • Newly renovated with vibrant, whimsical, contemporary design (note the chandeliers)
    • An extensive list of wines (by the bottle and by the glass) to choose from
    • Great sushi and good appetizers
  • Cons:
    • Entrees and desserts may fall short of expectations
    • Service tends to be a bit slow
  • Other Notes:
    • The wide open windows throughout the restaurant provide amazing views!  And with foresight, a reservation later at night can grant visitors and amazing view of the Wishes fireworks show.
    • California Grill is known for their options for special items for celebrations.  Be sure to call ahead and see what you can do to make your special occasion that much better.

Also in the Contemporary, you can find Chef Mickey's.
Ideal for: The Planner, Those who want to have Fun
Price Range: $30-60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastDinner
  • This is one of the most popular locations at Disney, so it's really important to put a reservation in early.  Also, though the character location brings in a lot of young kids, it's never a bad thing to interact with the one and only Mickey Mouse (and his friends) when visiting the parks!
  • Pros: Well prepared, fresh buffet food with some classic and very delicious options
  • Cons:
    • Because it is a character location, there are lots of kids here and not great acoustics, so it tends to be loud
    • Tables are pretty close together
  • Other Notes: There tends to be a lot of dairy on the menu for dinner, so if that's an issue for you, be sure to let the restaurant know ahead of time.

And last, you'll find The Wave...of American Flavors.
Ideal for: The Impulsive, the Saver
Price Range: $10-$30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Breakfast, LunchDinner
  • It is typically easy to get a reservation here, and despite the food being local and sustainable, it is reasonably priced.
  • Pros: Consistent, good food, with a menu that varies based on seasonal ingredients
  • Cons: Atmosphere and theming are a bit bland in comparison to other Disney restaurants
  • Other Notes: The focus here is on local and sustainable ingredients.  This means very fresh food, and also, quite interestingly, screw top wines to reduce "cork taint" (a chemical called TCA).

Next, and also on the monorail line, is the Polynesian Resort.

Starting with Kona Cafe.
Ideal for: The Saver, the Impulsive
Price Range: $10-30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastLunchDinner
  • Of all resort restaurants, Kona is one of the easier to get into with a last minute reservation, or without a reservation.  And with reasonable prices, it's a good choice for those trying to save money.
  • Pros:
    • Fun, bright atmosphere
    • Interesting food options with a tropical feel in many dishes on available for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Cons: A bit loud when crowded
  • Other Notes: Two words, Tonga Toast.  Seriously. If you have not heard of it, just do some Disney research.  It's a phenomena that needs to be experienced.

Also, my personal favorite, 'Ohana!
Ideal for: The Planner
Price Range: $15-60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastDinner
  • 'Ohana fits a multitude of different types of vacationers, and because of that it can be hard to get a reservation.  Be sure to plan ahead if you want to check out this restaurant.
  • Pros:
    • As much food as you can possibly eat, and then some, is given to you here
    • There is an interactive component for everyone, and by participating you earn yourself  lei
  • Cons:
    • Not much ordering, more of a set menu.  Be sure to alert the server to dislikes or dietary restrictions
    • Recently, the skewered meats seem a bit overdone
  • Other Notes:
    • While waiting for your table at dinner, grab a seat in the Tambu Lounge and have a tropical drink being offered from the servers!  You are given a buzzer, so you can also feel free to peruse the resort a bit.
    • This is also a restaurant where you can view Wishes fireworks while dining if you time your reservation right!
    • To me, dinner is the star here.  If you want breakfast, go to Kona. Tonga Toast.  Refer above.
I could honestly go on about how wonderful my experience at 'Ohana was last year, but I really just suggest trying it yourself!

And last at the Polynesian, the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun
Price Range: $60+, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: Luau
  • The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show is entertaining and allows for audience participation.  It can be really fun to go with a group and encourage someone to join in when they ask for participants.
  • Pros: The show is very entertaining after dinner is finished
  • Cons:
    • Food is good, but not great
    • Service here isn't the best
  • Other Notes:  Depending on the time of year, the show might be cancelled if the weather is far too rainy or too cold.  If so, a refund will be issued.

Another large contributor to the restaurant list in Magic Kingdom Area is the Grand Floridian Resort.

First, let's explore 1900 Park Fare.
Ideal for: The Romantic, the Planner
Price Range: $15-60, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastDinner
  • This is a character dining option, meaning that it is often harder than most restaurants to get reservations.  However, the victorian feel and the characters that visit make it a fun choice for couples.
  • Pros:
    • Good food with a varied, international flair on the dinner buffet
    • Not extremely loud, in comparison to other character experiences
  • Cons:
    • Less than stellar decor
    • Character dining means lots of kids will be there
  • Other Notes:  If you are coming here particularly for character dining, breakfast can be either Winnie the Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, or Mary Poppins, while dinner is Cinderella exclusively.

Also at the Grand Floridian, you will find Citricos.
Ideal for: The Spender, the Romantic
Price Range: $30-60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: Dinner
  • This signature dining option means high prices and quality food.  It is a quiet, relaxing spot that is great for anyone who wants a break, especially couples.
  • Pros:
    • Quiet and comfortable atmosphere
    • Easier to get a reservation here than most other signature dining restaurants
    • Great service and great food
  • Cons:
    • Tends to be an extremely long meal, as they expect you to relax and indulge here
    • Desserts are almost as delicious as they are beautiful
  • Other Notes:  The shrimp appetizer comes highly recommended.

The Grand Floridian Cafe is another great options at the resort.
Ideal for: The Impulsive, the Saver
Price Range: $10-30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastLunchDinner
  • Considered a "hidden gem," it is typically easy to get a seat even without a reservation.  Also, you can get a considerably good deal on the food here.
  • Pros:
    • Really interesting juice menu at breakfast
    • Quiet and relaxing
    • Consistently good food
  • Cons: Atmosphere is a bit dated-feeling and bland in comparison to other Disney restaurants
  • Other Notes: If you go for dinner, get the dessert sampler or the fondue, as the desserts on their own tend to be a bit overpriced for their size.

Narcoossee's is a fabulous signature dining option at the Grand Floridian.
Ideal for: The Spender
Price Range: $30-60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: Dinner
  • Narcoossee's has really great food and beautiful views of the water that it sits on, and is perfect for those willing to spend a little more money.
  • Pros:
    • Great seafood options
    • Also, despite having really great seafood, their filet mignon is one of the best on property
    • Consistently good food and service
  • Cons: A bit expensive
  • Other Notes:  The way the restaurant is arranged means that, at night, there is a Wishes fireworks view available to everyone.  Also, keep in mind that there is a dress code here.

And lastly at the Grand Floridian, the very special Victoria and Albert's.
Ideal for: The Spender, the Romantic
Price Range: $130+ (no dining plans accepted)
Link to Menu: Dinner
  • Victoria and Albert's is absolutely for those who will spare no expense when it comes to dining during their Disney vacation.  It is also great for couples, as the sophisticated atmosphere is quite classy and upscale.  (Note: The Chef's Table experience is available for up to 10 people, so it is great for a group of people, if they can afford it!)
  • Pros:
    • Delicious and amazing food
    • Sophisticated atmosphere
  • Cons:
    • Very strict dress codes (men wear jackets)
    • The dinner is served "prix fixe," or one price for the set menu options.  Wine pairings can be added at an additional cost
  • Other Notes: Victoria and Albert's is a dining experience, whether you opt for the restaurant, Queen Victoria's Room (a bit quieter), or the indulgent Chef's Table experience.  It is for food lovers, and will be enjoyed highly by those who will appreciate it.

Another resort near Magic Kingdom is the Wilderness Lodge.

And here, you can find the signature dining spot, Artist Point.
Ideal for: The Spender, the Impulsive
Price Range: $30-60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: Dinner

  • Another signature dining restaurant in the Magic Kingdom area, Artist Point is great for those impulsive diners that want a more gourmet option without having to plan very far in advance.
  • Pros: Really great food with very interesting flavors
  • Cons: The steaks on the menu tend to fall a little flat in comparison to other entrees, especially in presentation
  • Other Notes: A good signature option that is a bit easier to get a reservation at, as it is a less frequented pick.

And also here, try a little more relaxed of an option, Whispering Canyon Cafe.
Ideal for: The Saver, Those who want to have Fun
Price Range: $10-30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: BreakfastLunchDinner
  • Reasonable food prices for a fun dining experience.  The interactivity makes for a meal that is more than just food, but a show without paying the price for the entertainment.
  • Pros:
    • Fun, rowdy dinner experience
    • Lots of food
  • Cons:
    • Because the wait staff is putting on a show, the service is somewhat lacking
    • Food is pretty standard fare
  • Other Notes:
    • If you want some decently priced BBQ, try lunch at the Whispering Canyon Cafe.  The antics are a bit reserved at this time, and the interactivity is reduced.
    • For some fun, ask for ketchup.  Just do it.

And the last resort in Magic Kingdom area, find the Campsite's at Fort Wilderness.

First, try Trail's End Restaurant.
Ideal for: The Saver
Price Range: $15-30, or 1 table-service credit
Link to Menu: Lunch
  • Fairly inexpensive lunch, and buffet breakfast and dinners are available here, making it a great value for those who are trying to save some cash.
  • Pros:
    • The breakfast food here is really good, with a lot of comfort food options
    • Lunch and dinner also boast good country food
  • Cons:
    • Transportation is complicated, and once let off it is a bit of a hike to get to the restaurant
    • Service (especially refilling the buffet foods) is lacking
  • Other Notes: The restrooms in this restaurant are located out back, giving them an "outhouse" feel.

Also in Fort Wilderness you can find Mickey's Backyard BBQ.
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun
Price Range: $36-60, or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: BBQ
  • The BBQ is very reminiscent of a backyard BBQ that you would have with friends, and the entertainment just makes it even more fun!
  • Pros:
    • Fun, entertaining stage show
    • Some alcohol is included in the price for adults
  • Cons:
    • Character meal with lots of children present
    • Outdoor, so the food sometimes isn't quite as hot as would be desired
  • Other Notes: This is only available seasonally, so take note of when you're going when trying to make a reservation.

And last of the Magic Kingdom area resort list, find the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue.
Ideal for: Those who want to have Fun, the Planner
Price Range: $60+,  or 2 table-service credits
Link to Menu: Hoop-Dee-Doo
  • The popularity of this show makes it harder to get a reservation, but it's a really fun time perfect for those looking to enjoy themselves at dinner with more than just food.
  • Pros:
    • Endless helpings of the food on the menu
    • The show is really silly and sarcastic, and does not seem dated despite it's long run time
  • Cons:
    • Not a lot of food options here (be sure to tell them of dietary restrictions)
    • You are mostly paying for the show, not the food
  • Other Notes: The origins of this show date back to 1974, and it is the longest running musical in American theater.  It has been performed over 35,000 times!

The area around Magic Kingdom boasts many of the Deluxe Resorts, which as a result means so many possible dining options!  It's important to consider exactly what you want to get out of your dining experiences before making a choice.  You definitely don't need to be staying in a resort to dine there.  So don't think that you have to stay in the parks for your meal, venture around Disney property.  Some of the BEST restaurants are in the resorts.

Questions?  Comments?  Corrections?
Let me know!  I'm always happy to help and hear for other Disney lovers!

The next post (if not the post about who to select FastPass+) will cover the rest of the resort restaurants.

Until next time! <3

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