After every trip to Walt Disney World, we send our TouringPlans members a survey to see how satisfied they were with each part of their vacation.
In 2016, we got back more than 122,000 responses on Walt Disney World restaurants, up from 97,000 responses in 2015. To put that in perspective, we have more surveys about Disney World restaurants than Yelp and TripAdvisor combined.
In this blog post we’ll cover your ratings for the Magic Kingdom’s restaurants, from best to worst. Let’s start with the Magic Kingdom’s quick-service restaurants, using our straightforward “thumbs up/thumbs down” rating system. Restaurants in green are rated better than average; those in pink are worse than average; and the ones in red are much worse than average.
|Restaurant||Number of Surveys||Thumbs Up Pct|
|Aloha Isle Refreshments||2362||98.1%|
|Sleepy Hollow Refreshments||723||95.3%|
|Columbia Harbour House||2067||93.3%|
|Main Street Bakery (Starbucks)||1264||93.0%|
|Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe||1554||86.0%|
|The Friar’s Nook||362||85.1%|
|Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe||1919||81.8%|
|The Lunching Pad||378||81.5%|
|Pinocchio Village Haus||1256||81.2%|
|Golden Oak Outpost||127||81.1%|
|Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant||232||77.2%|
|Westward Ho Refreshments||33||72.7%|
|The Diamond Horseshoe||117||70.1%|
The Best Quick-Service Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom
Y’all rated Aloha Isle Refreshments, the Adventureland home of the Dole Whip, the best counter-service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom in 2016. And while it may be stretching the definition of “quick-service restaurant” to include Aloha Isle, we’ll go with it this year.
Two Liberty Square restaurants made the top 3: Sleepy Hollow Refreshments and Columbia Harbour House. Sleepy Hollow’s culinary philosophy can be summed up as “everything tastes better on a waffle,” if everything means chicken or fresh fruit. As someone who once drove his family to Compton for Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, I get the appeal. The Fruit Waffle even earned Sleepy Hollow a spot in our Top 6 Overlooked Restaurants post in 2016.
Columbia Harbour House has been highly rated for several years now. I really like their grilled salmon, the lobster roll, and the Lighthouse Sandwich, a hummus, tomato, and broccoli slaw on multigrain. If you’re getting a side with those, go with the house-made potato chips.
The other Magic Kingdom quick-service places to do well are the Starbucks (Main Street Bakery) on Main Street, and Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland. I’m mildly surprised at the high rating for Starbucks, because it’s a 20-minute wait for coffee every time I’m there. You’d think that kind of wait would drive their numbers down, but no. As for Gaston’s Tavern, I think it shows the appeal of decorating with antlers. Lots and lots of antlers.
The Worst Quick-Service Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom
As far as the lowest-rated Magic Kingdom restaurants go, the old rule used to be ‘Don’t eat in Fantasyland‘. That was before Be Our Guest opened (we’ll get to BOG in the table-service section below). The new rule seems to be ‘Don’t eat in Tomorrowland‘ because Cosmic Ray’s, The Lunching Pad, and the often-shuttered Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant all posted results more than one standard deviation lower than average. I’m not a huge fan of Cosmic Ray’s, but I have to think that the inconvenient ordering system, with salads in one line, burgers in another, is not making anyone happier about the food.
Along those same lines, Adventureland’s not-always-open Tortuga Tavern is on this list. Bringing up the bottom is the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, which is only open when the Magic Kingdom has run out of any other option for feeding people.
The Best Sit-Down Restaurants in the Magic Kingdom
Here’s a list of the best and worst sit-down restaurants in the Magic Kingdom. As before, those in pink are worse than average; and the ones in red are much worse than average.
|Restaurant||Number of Surveys||Thumbs Up Pct|
|The Crystal Palace||1579||91.1%|
|Be Our Guest Restaurant||3891||90.3%|
|Liberty Tree Tavern||1159||87.9%|
|Cinderella’s Royal Table||1191||85.7%|
|The Plaza Restaurant||496||85.1%|
|Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen||596||80.9%|
|Tony’s Town Square Restaurant||579||76.9%|
It’s mildly surprising to see The Crystal Palace, a character meal buffet, narrowly beat out Be Our Guest for the top spot in this survey. I think the food is good at both places. In fact, I think
either restaurant is a better experience than Cinderella’s Royal Table. It could be the combination of characters at Crystal Palace, along with huge crowds – and long waits to order at lunch – at Be Our Guest, contributed. We don’t separate the survey results of Be Our Guest’s quick-service lunch from its table-service dinner, but we may start.
Adventureland’s new Jungle Navigation Co Skipper Canteen did not get off to a good start after its opening in 2016. They were not helped by a ‘no reservations’ policy early on, because Disney has spent years conditioning people that they need reservations to eat in the best restaurants. And while the food and service was good, I thought it was expensive and some of the dishes were heavy for what you’d expect, especially for lunch. The theming is great, though. Hopefully the menu can be updated and lightened.
Restaurants to Avoid in the Magic Kingdom
At the bottom of the list – every year – is Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. It might as well be called Tony’s Last Chance Saloon, because it’s the place you eat when you’re desperate and just not able to walk to the Contemporary.
My all-time favorite tip for eating at Tony’s comes from TP alumna Scarlett Litton, who can apparently find the good in anyone and anything. Scarlett had this idea for a blog series titled something like ‘The One Thing to Order at a Bad Disney Restaurant’ – where she’d find the single decent dish on the menu at every low-rated restaurant in Walt Disney World.
For Tony’s Town Square – and honestly, I didn’t want to know how many times Scarlett had to eat here to figure this out – her suggestion was a Make-Your-Own-Chicken-Alfredo. Scarlett would tell the server she wanted the plain, breaded chicken cutlet from their chicken parmigiana entree, smothered in the cheese sauce from one of their appetizers, with a side of pasta. It’s one thing to order off-menu. But when the customers are telling the restaurant how to reassemble their ingredients to make better food, that’s a sign that something’s not right.
We’ll cover the best restaurants in Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Animal Kingdom, Disney Springs, and the Disney Resorts, in follow-up posts. In the meantime, let me know in the comments below your favorite tips for finding the best food in the Magic Kingdom.