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Comparing Disney and Universal’s Counter Service Dining – Prices & Ratings

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Here at Touring Plans, we love Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort equally. Both resorts complement each other’s strengths, like chocolate and peanut butter. In this article series, we will compare the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando offerings directly to help you better prepare for your next vacation. Today we are looking at the two resorts’ counter service restaurant average menu prices and Touring Plans ratings.

Prices and approval ratings come from TouringPlans’ data and are accurate as of November 3, 2023.

TouringPlans User Approval Ratings

TouringPlans surveys guests on their approval of the counter service dining locations at the WDW and UOR resorts. Guests rate a restaurant positively (thumbs up) or negatively (thumbs down) and the total percentage of positive ratings to the total is calculated. These approval ratings are displayed on each restaurant’s TouringPlans dining page.

Walt Disney World’s counter service restaurants rate higher than Universal Orlando’s – the average approval rating is 88% positive at WDW versus 82% positive at UOR. The larger boxes on the box-and-whisker diagram above indicate Universal’s span of quality is wider than Walt Disney World’s – you’ll find more mediocre restaurants at Universal than at Disney.

Need help navigating the best food at the Orlando theme parks? Use the tools at TouringPlans.com to find the best restaurants for your trip.

Comparing Prices

Our last series compared the average full service entree menu price by resort and discovered that bills at Universal were 10% lower than Disney on average. For counter service locations comparison, we are looking at the average entree cost by restaurant at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort. As discussed in our prior article we are excluding Universal’s Combo Meals, which come with a milkshake and have no Disney comparison.

No if, ands, or buts – Universal’s counter service is more expensive than Disney’s – UOR averages $13.29 an entree vs $12.28 at WDW. Just like with the ratings above, the larger box indicated a larger average spread of dining prices at Universal. You will pay less, more consistently, at Disney counter service restaurants than at Univeral’s. I was shocked too.

Price Comparing Similar Counter Service Restaurants

Sure that’s the average price, but what about when you are actually in the park? Let us do some real-world price comparisons between the counter service restaurants. We will compare four sets of restaurants that share similar cuisines, user approval ratings, and atmosphere. Prices are for a party of four purchasing four adult entrees, four drinks, and one dessert. When appropriate we substitute two of the adult entrees for kids entrees.

First up is Universal’s newest cafe versus Walt Disney World’s star counter service restaurant.

Minion Cafe at Universal is an Asian-American fusion restaurant that focuses on rice and noodle bowls and sandwiches. Satuli Canteen at Disney is an Asian-American fusion restaurant that focuses on rice and noodle bowls and bao buns. Both receive rave reviews and are considered among the best counter service restaurants at their respective resorts.

For this meal, we are pricing four adult entrees, four soft drinks, and a dessert to share.

Minion Cafe (N/A Approval) Satuli Canteen (96% Approval)
Four Entrees

  • Pork Sandwich – $15.99
  • Szechuan Chicken Bowl – $16.99
  • Crispy Cauliflower Bowl – $15.99
  • Mel’s Meatball Mountain – $14.99

Four Soft Drinks – $18.76


    • Otto’s Pet Rock – $8.99
Four Entrees

  • Beef Bowl – $14.49
  • Chicken Bowl – $13.29
  • Cheeseburger Bao (2x) – $26.58

Four Soft Drinks – $17.96


  • Blueberry Cream Cheese Mousse – $5.79
Total Price: $91.71 Total Price: $78.11

Your bill at Minion Cafe will be roughly 15% more expensive than at Satuli, Walt Disney World’s #1-rated counter service restaurant. That is astonishing, so let’s break it down – entrees and desserts cost about $2 more, and soft drinks are slightly higher at Minion Cafe. We think Minion Cafe is worth that price point, but a worse value than Satluli Canteen. We still love Minion Tots though.

Next up, battle of meh. Captain American Diner and Cosmic Rays Starlight Cafe are two American amusement park food restaurants with mediocre approvals. Perfect place for burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, french fries, and soft drinks. Both receive large amounts of traffic thanks to their central locations, picky eater-friendly menus, and large dining room sizes.

For this meal, we are pricing two adult entrees, two kids entrees, four soft drinks, and a dessert to share.

Captain American Diner (68% Approval) Cosmic Rays Starlight Cafe (80% Approval)
Four Entrees

  • Bacon Cheeseburger Platter – $14.49
  • Grilled Chicken Platter – $12.99
  • Chicken Finger Platters (2x) – $24.98

Four Soft Drinks – $18.76


  • Apple Pie – $4.99
Four Entrees

  • Bacon Cheeseburger – $13.29
  • Grilled Chicken Sandwich – $12.79
  • Chicken Strips (2x) – $21.98

Four Soft Drinks – $17.96


  • Stitch Blueberry-Lemonade Mousse Cake – $8.29
Total Price: $76.21 Total Price: $74.31

Even just ordering burgers, chicken, and fries the Universal bill is still more expensive by $2. Don’t worry, you will not have to buy dessert for every meal.

Today Cafe is a hip and modern delicatessen with fresh sandwiches, salads, and pastries. Connections Eatery is a modern food court serving fresh burgers, salads, pizza, and dessert waffles. Both have large windows to let in natural light but Today Cafe is a fraction of the size of Connections with only a dozen tables.

For this meal, we are pricing four adult entrees, four soft drinks, and a dessert to share.

Today Cafe (83% Approval) Connections Eatery (88% Approval)
Four Entrees

  • Chicken Pesto Flatbread – $15.49
  • Chinatown Chicken Salad – $13.99
  • 30 Rock Midtown – $13.49
  • The Carnegie – $14.49

Four Soft Drinks – $18.76


  • Cake – $4.69
Four Entrees

  • Margherita Pizza – $11.79
  • General Tso Chicken Salad – $12.49
  • Hand-breaded Chicken Sandwich – $12.49
  • French Bistro Burger – $14.29

Four Soft Drinks – $17.96


  • Liege Waffle – $5.49
Total Price: $80.91 Total Price: $74.51

Just as with the prior comparisons, Today Cafe is about 9% more expensive than Connections. We do have to hand it to Today Cafe for their large selection of pastries and desserts along with an excellent potato salad side (seriously, it’s a ranch base I love it as much as Minion Tots).

Last up is the battle of the hyper-themed land restaurants. Three Broomsticks is the tavern featured in the Harry Potter books serving up rustic food (like chicken, turkey legs, and fish and chips) and Butterbeer (alcoholic in the books, non-alcoholic in the parks). Docking Bay 7 is a restaurant that set up shop in an abandoned cargo bay in Batuu that serves dishes from around the galaxy like Fried Tip-Yip (chicken) from Endore.

Three Broomsticks and all the Harry Potter restaurants are unique in they do not serve traditional soft drinks like Coca-Cola. To make up for that we chose two unique drink options for the adults and two Butterbeers for the kids (seriously you can’t say no to a Butterbeer).

Three Broomsticks (88% Approval) Docking Bay 7 (90% Approval)
Four Entrees

  • Sheperd’s Pie – $16.99
  • Rotisserie Smoked Chicken – $15.49
  • Kids Fish & Chips (2x) – $15.98

Four Non-Alcoholic Drinks

  • Pumpkin Juice – $4.99
  • Iced Tea – $4.29
  • Butterbeer (2x) – $16.98


  • Butterbeer Ice Cream – $6.49
Four Entrees

  • Batuuan Beef and Crispy Topato Stir-fry – $18.99
  • Fried Endorian Chicken Tip Yip – $16.29
  • Fried Chicken Tip Yip Youngling Meal (2x) – $20.98

Four Soft Drinks – $17.96


  • Outpost Puff – $7.49
Total Price: $81.21 Total Price: $81.71

For the first time in our head-to-head comparisons, Universal’s prices come out lower than Disney’s. Entrees cost $1-$2.50 more than comparable Universal options. If you want to save money skip the themed Potter drinks and order free water or lower-cost drinks.

Speaking of lower-cost drinks, it is RANT TIME – Butterbeer prices have outpaced inflation by over 100%. When The Wizarding World opened in 2010 a cup of cold Butterbeer was $2.99. $2.99! Account for inflation that would be $4.22 in 2023 but Universal charges $8.99. And now you know why Disney rushed to create dozens of themed drinks.

TouringPlans Tips

  • Save time in line and dine before 11:30 am, between 1:30 pm and 4:30 pm, or after 8:00 pm. You will wait less in line to place your order, receive your food, and find a table.
  • Save money and consider splitting entrees between adults. Portion sizes are large at theme park counter service restaurants and many will gladly supply an extra plate.
  • Guests with dietary restrictions or allergies should refer to Disney and Universal’s food allergies website or they can discuss their dietary needs with the chef at the restaurant.
  • A cup of water is free! Skip the Dasani bottles and request a cup of water with your meal to stay hydrated.

What are your thoughts on the pricing and approvals of the counter service restaurants at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort? Leave them in the comments below!

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Joseph Matt

Joe covers theme parks through the lens of his quality engineering day job. He has over five years of writing experience at Touring Plans and has gone on dozens of trips to Orlando over his life. When not at amusement parks you can find Joe at breweries, enjoying live theater, playing video games, and cooking.

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