2022 Awards: Best Of Dining
As 2022 wraps up, we have lots of data to review, and lots of recommendations to make for those of you considering 2023 Walt Disney World vacations. Over the past few days, I’ve been reviewing results from our post-visit surveys that we received this year, and helping you interpret what they should mean for your next vacation. Today we’re going over all of the satisfaction data from our dining surveys. Which park has the best in-park dining? Where should you go for an excellent table-service meal? Or for a quick but satisfactory counter-service option?
This serves as your obligatory reminder that the accuracy of these results fully depends on the number of people that are willing to fill out post-visit surveys after their Walt Disney World vacations. Make sure to submit your thoughts after your WDW vacations so that we can continue providing meaningful insights!
Overall Dining Satisfaction
Which dining locations have the highest satisfaction overall, across all parks and location types? We have almost 80,000 unique dining ratings to work with, so we can get a pretty good idea. Each of these responses rates a dining location with either a thumbs up or a thumbs down. I can pretty easily get an average of thumbs up responses to get an idea of overall satisfaction. Using that methodology, the winners for 2022 are:
- Pineapple Lanai – 98.9%
- BaseLine Tap House – 98.5%
- Victoria Falls Lounge – 98.4%
- Kona Island – 98.1%
- Creature Comforts – 97.7%
What have we learned today, Disney data friends? That humans like dole whip, alcohol, and coffee. Quick, someone make a t-shirt. Pineapple Lanai serves almost exclusively dole whip (and other pineapple) treats. It’s one of the best perks of staying at the Polynesian.
BaseLine Tap House does have some food, but it’s mostly a tap house, as the name implies. Victoria Falls Lounge is similar – it’s located in Animal Kingdom Lodge, and is a great spot to relax and unwind before or after a reservation at Boma or Jiko. It also has a selection of African beers and wines that you won’t find at other bars on property, and it has and excellent, although small, menu of snacks to go along with your drinks.
In spots 4 and 5, we have the places for the coffee-lovers in your crew. Kona Island does technically also offer a couple of sushi rolls and a selection of small desserts, but it’s really all about the coffee here. Creature Comforts is similar, although it is “just” a Starbucks. My take on this is that Animal Kingdom often opens very early in the day, and people are just that much more appreciative of coffee early in the morning than they are when they rope drop the other parks.
Best Dining by Restaurant Type
Best Bar or Lounge
- BaseLine Tap House – 98.5%
- Victoria Falls Lounge – 98.4%
- Bar Riva – 97.2%
- Scat Cat’s Club – 97.0%
- Nomad Lounge – 95.8%
We’ve already discussed the top two options here, since they appeared in the overall top 5. So let’s skip ahead to Bar Riva. I had multiple conversations about how to best categorize Bar Riva, because in some respects it attempts to defy categorization. Then again, “Bar” is in the name, and Disney gives it a “lounge” menu, so probably the answer was staring me in the face all along. Bar Riva is a pool bar at the Riviera resort, but like all things at Riviera, it steps things up. The menu here is ridiculously good, the view is amazing, the drinks are strong, and it’s just a short Skyliner ride away if you need a break from EPCOT or Hollywood Studios.
Scat Cat’s Club has a much different vibe over at the French Quarter. As you would suspect, this bar has a very New Orleans feel. And the staff has been known to create southern drink favorites even if they aren’t on the menu.
We round things out with Nomad Lounge, which is located in the heart of Animal Kingdom. Similar to Bar Riva, the lounge menu here helps to elevate this compared to its counterparts in other parks and resorts. You want pork belly or a poke bowl with your drinks? You got it!
Best Counter Service
- Polite Pig – 95.3%
- Ronto Roasters – 95.2%
- Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza – 95.1%
- Satu’li Canteen – 95.0%
- Flame Tree Barbecue – 94.1%
I’m not going to lie – I’ve been skeptical about Polite Pig ever since it opened. Despite taking a few WDW trips in that time, we always avoided it and opted for other counter service choices in Disney Springs. We’re from St. Louis, and we know our barbecue. Surely it couldn’t be worth what they were charging. And then one day, Hank Lonely and Chrissy took me to Polite Pig for dinner, and now I’m a convert. If you like meat or vegetables or potatoes or whiskey … you belong at Polite Pig. Case closed.
Ronto Roasters has its concept down. Excellent imagineering and place-making, plus a concise menu that focuses on unique items that can’t be found anywhere else. This location is hopping during all meals, so try to hit it at a non-popular time and enjoy a Ronto Wrap!
Blaze Pizza is … pizza, and it’s fast. But if you’ve got a Blaze (or Mod Pizza or any other of those “personalize pizzas quick places) in your hometown, this is mostly like those. Now, my family dined here once, and the service and timing was much better than we do these sorts of meals back in St. Louis. So there’s that. And it’s easy to customize and get something that will make every member of your party happy.
At Satu’li Canteen, you can get bowls and bao and mousse. It’s all delicious, and pretty reliable in terms of quantity and quality. One disclaimer here is that if you have picky kids, the only thing that “looks” like it might at home is the cheese quesadilla, so their options may be limited.
Flame Tree Barbecue! Strong feelings … activate! Sure, you can get better barbecue at Polite Pig or Regal Eagle. I won’t argue that. But the guys over at Rope Drop Radio made fun of me for picking Flame Tree as one of my top dining options at WDW, and now I feel vindicated. Thank you. I often recommend Flame Tree to families with young kids visiting Animal Kingdom. Four reasons – location, location, location, and approachable, kid-friendly food. Grab a seat alllllllll the way down by the water and relax while your kids gobble meat and mac. Ideal mid-day Animal Kingdom break.
Best Table Service
- Citricos – 95.6%
- Topolino’s Terrace – 95.1%
- Teppan Edo – 94.6%
- Boma – 94.6%
- Jaleo – 94.5%
How is it that I’ve only personally been to 3 out of these top 5? I need to up my game (and my Disney vacation budget … but I digress). I feel like Citricos is something of a sleeper hit here. It’s not as well-known or popular as a lot of other signature restaurants, but we had 136 different parties rate it in 2022, and only 6 of them gave it a thumbs down. That’s a lot of happy diners. There are many excellent appetizer, entree, and dessert options, so once you make a reservation, make sure you’re nice and hungry!
We’ve covered the amazingness at Topolino’s Terrace many, many times here. Bring your kids for character breakfast and order everything on the menu, or leave them back home or with grandparents and go for a dinner date night. There are very few “misses” on the menu, and you won’t regret the cost.
Teppan Edo remains very popular with all sorts of WDW visitors. If you’ve done hibachi dining before, you’ll know what you’re getting into at Teppan Edo. There’s not much to not like. You choose your own entrée (and therefore own price point), you get dinner and a show with the cooking happening right in front of you, and it’s all infused with a little extra Disney magic and a lot of attention and stellar service from the cast members taking care of you.
In my heart, Boma is #1 – but apparently the masses don’t agree with me. A recent price increase certainly didn’t help scores, so this perennial favorite may sink further in the rankings. Still, a meal here will help you appreciate some new African dishes while still offering standard buffet favorites for kids or pickier eaters.
I know there are several people on the TouringPlans team that don’t want me telling you about Jaleo. That’s how good it is. Jose Andres has worked a little bit of his own magic in the Disney bubble. And if you’re looking for an excellent evening in Disney Springs, this is the place to go.
Best Dining Options in Each Park
Are you headed to a park and just wondering which locations have the highest satisfaction there? I can help with that!
- Satu’li Canteen (Counter Service) – 95.0%
- Flame Tree Barbecue (Counter Service) – 94.1%
- Mr. Kamal’s (Counter Service) – 93.9%
- Harambe Market (Counter Service) – 92.7%
- Yak & Yeti Restaurant (Table Service) – 92.6%
At Animal Kingdom, counter service reigns supreme. In fact, Yak & Yeti is the only Animal Kingdom table service location that rates over 90%. Still, not a bad thing when you have a lot of high quality counter service options that can keep you moving and touring while eating quality food.
- Teppan Edo (Table Service) – 94.6%
- Kringla Bakeri og Cafe (Counter Service) – 94.1%
- Refreshment Outpost (Counter Service) – 92.3%
- Le Cellier Steakhouse (Table Service) – 92.1%
- Via Napoli Restaurant (Table Service) – 91.8%
If Animal Kingdom is the king of counter service, then EPCOT has the Table Service crown. This makes a lot of intuitive sense. The World Showcase especially is known for its food from all around the world, and a lot of these table service restaurants are top notch.
- Ronto Roasters (Counter Service) – 95.2%
- Woody’s Lunch Box (Counter Service) – 90.2%
- 50’s Prime Time Cafe (Table Service) – 89.7%
- The Hollywood Brown Derby (Table Service) – 89.5%
- Mama Melrose’s Ristorante Italiano (Table Service) – 83.6%
Hollywood Studios would definitely win for most-improved dining of any park compared to the pre-pandemic era. But … it’s not improved enough to be top-tier. Yes, Ronto Roasters scores big points. But things drop off very quickly after that. The only other dining location that scores over 90% is Woody’s Lunch Box.
- Liberty Tree Tavern (Table Service) – 92.2%
- Casey’s Corner (Counter Service) – 92.0%
- Main Street Bakery (Counter Service) – 90.8%
- Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen (Table Service) – 90.7%
- Columbia Harbour House (Counter Service) – 90.0%
Magic Kingdom also underwhelms with the quality of its dining locations, especially given the sheer number of them spread throughout the park. Still, there are several decent options, like Casey’s Corner if you’ve got hot dog fans in your crew. Or Liberty Tree Tavern if you need a good family-style fuel-up for the rest of your day.
What Does This Mean For You?
- A lot of the food and beverages that people enjoy while on WDW vacations don’t come from stereotypical counter service or table service restaurants. Instead, they’re treats like dole whip, or special beverages served by attentive cast members. So if you can’t get all of the popular reservations, don’t fret.
- In general, table service restaurants come with higher price points, and therefore higher expectations. You’ll find the highest-quality table service locations in Disney Springs and at resorts. Counter service performs better in the parks.
- If you want the largest selection of dining locations that score at least 90% or higher, look no further than EPCOT, which has 14 different spots. Compare that to the … two at Hollywood Studios.
Did any of the 2022 winners surprise you? Would you have ranked anything differently? Is there an attraction you’re most looking forward to experiencing in 2023? Let me know in the comments!