DiningWalt Disney World (FL)

Pros and Cons of Dining at a Disney World Buffet

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Just eight of the several hundred Walt Disney World dining opportunities are buffets. But because some of those locations are among the most iconic restaurants at Disney World, they loom large in the minds of many guests.

The eight buffets are:

  • 1900 Park Fare, Grand Floridian Resort. Serving breakfast and dinner. With characters including Aladdin, Cinderella, Mirabel, Tiana, and others.
  • Biergarten restaurant, Germany pavilion, EPCOT. Serving lunch and dinner. No characters. Does feature a German polka band.
  • Boma, Animal Kingdom Lodge. Serving breakfast and dinner. No characters, but you can see live animals from points around the Animal Kingdom Lodge.
  • Cape May Cafe, Beach Club Resort. Serving breakfast and dinner. Characters including Minnie Mouse at breakfast only.
  • Chef Mickey’s, Contemporary Resort. Serving breakfast and dinner. With Mickey and other classic characters.
  • Crystal Palace, Magic Kingdom. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With Winnie the Pooh and friends.
  • Hollywood & Vine, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Disney Junior characters at breakfast. Minnie Mouse and classic characters at lunch and dinner.
  • Tusker House, Animal Kingdom. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mickey Mouse and classic characters.

If you’re thinking about booking any of these buffet restaurants there are some pros and cons to consider vs. other types of food experiences at Disney World.


  • Buffets can be good for picky eaters. Buffet-style service works well for people who need to see what their food looks like in advance. There are lots of options and the guest can mix and match, choosing as much of any favorite food as they like and not having to have any disliked food on their plate.
  • Buffets are free for children under age three. If your child is younger than three years old, you will not be charged for their meal. Huzzah!
  • A buffet can be a great way to meet several characters at once. Most of the WDW buffets have characters at some or all of their meals. Choosing to eat at one of these buffets can let you meet 4-5 characters while you’re eating your meal, often in about the same time it would take you to meet them in the parks.
  • Some buffets have character experiences you can’t have elsewhere in the parks. For example, the Crystal Palace character Piglet rarely greets guests elsewhere. At other locations, you’ll meet common characters, but they’re wearing interesting outfits. For example, Tusker House will likely be the only place to find Donald Duck wearing a safari hat. And Mickey will only be wearing a chef’s toque at Chef Mickey’s.
  • If you’re a big eater, buffet-style meals can be cost-effective. Disney’s buffets are prix fixe and all you care to eat. If you’re a person with a big appetite, you can fill your plate over and over again for one price.
  • Some buffets can help get you into the theme parks early. Crystal Palace, Tusker House, and Hollywood & Vine offer breakfast in the parks. You may be able to get a seating time before the park actually opens, putting you in an advantageous position for touring.
  • A buffet can be a nice break in your touring. A leisurely air-conditioned lunch can be a wonderful mid-day break to recharge.


  • If you’re not a big eater, buffet-style meals can be overly expensive. The price is the price, no matter how much you eat. I often shake my head thinking about the time we went to Chef Mickey’s and we paid about $40 for my daughter to eat half a banana.
  • If you’re prone to over-eating, a buffet can be a test of willpower. Your body might want just a simple meal, but your brain at a buffet might tell you to gorge.
  • You’ll be getting up and down a lot. The nature of a buffet is that you periodically get up from your seat to retrieve your own food. I have a friend who calls this an aerobic meal, where you’re burning the calories you’re taking in. The constant up and down means you’re spending less time chatting with your family. And buffets can be particularly difficult for single parents of small children who might not want to leave them at a table alone.
  • Buffets can be hard for people with mobility issues. If you have trouble standing, walking, or carrying items, it can be hard to fully access a buffet’s offerings.
  • It may be hard to get a reservation. Some of Disney’s buffet restaurants are quite popular, meaning you might not be able to eat at the time you want or even get a reservation at all.
  • A buffet might be time-consuming. Because Disney’s buffets are table service restaurants, they take longer to eat than most quick service venues. If you only have a short visit to Disney, this could be detrimental to your plan.
  • Guests with food allergies may find it harder to control contamination. Even if a food on the buffet line is safe, another guest may have touched it with a utensil from an unsafe food. A chef maybe able to bring you fresh food from the kitchen, but this could take longer.

What are your thoughts on Disney buffet dining? Do you have other pros or cons to consider?

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Erin Foster

Erin Foster is an original member of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel (now PlanDisney), a regular contributor to TouringPlans.com, and co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disney Cruise Line. She's been to WDW, DL, DL Paris, Hong Kong Disneyland, Aulani, DVC Vero Beach, and DVC Hilton Head. She's a Platinum DCL cruiser and veteran of 10 Adventures by Disney trips. Erin lives near New York City, where she can often be found indulging in her other obsession - Broadway theater.

3 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of Dining at a Disney World Buffet

  • Boma is the only buffet where I feel like we are getting quantity AND quality so I don’t resent the price so much. It’s an overall great experience in a beautiful setting, but it’s best to show up hungry and ready to go back and forth for food. So good though!

  • My family has done lots of buffets in the past. With little kids, it’s great to get food immediately without waiting. Now, though, we just can’t justify the cost most of the time. As a family of vegetarians, the price is way too high for a limited number of entrees (which is true of all the prix fixe meals). As the article suggests, it doesn’t make sense to pay $40-$60 for my 13 year old to eat $5-10 of food.
    THAT SAID, we are going back to Boma this summer. It’s one of the few restaurants with abundant vegetarian and vegan options. It’s our big meal splurge for the trip.

  • We went to Boma on check in day at Animal Kingdom Lodge. We were too tired to get up and down to enjoy the buffet, even our server felt we didn’t eat enough. Boma is a great option if you just want to eat and hang out after, great variety.


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