Today we’re wrapping up our restaurant review series with a look at the top-rated Disney World Resort restaurants. We’ve previously covered the best Magic Kingdom restaurants, Epcot’s best restaurants, and the best restaurants at Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios) Like those earlier posts, today’s analysis is based on more than 122,000 Disney World dining surveys we received in 2016.
The Best Disney World Resort Restaurants – Quick Service
There are more than two dozen hotels inside Disney World, from the budget-priced All-Star Music Resort, to the flagship Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. And for this survey, we got enough responses from the Swan and Dolphin to include them too. We didn’t get enough survey responses for the Four Seasons or Shades of Green, so those restaurants aren’t included here.
We’ll follow the same format as before and start with quick service restaurants. As before, restaurants shown in green did significantly better than average, while those in red did significantly worse.
Disney Resort Quick Service Restaurants
|Restaurant||Number of Surveys||Thumbs-Up %|
|Pineapple Lanai (Polynesian)||448||98.4|
|Beaches and Cream To Go (Beach Club)||177||95.5|
|BoardWalk Bakery (BoardWalk)||373||93.6|
|Ample Hills Creamery (BoardWalk)||183||93.4|
|Hurricane Hanna’s Grill (Beach Club)||205||91.7|
|World Premier Food Court (All-Star Movies)||164||90.9|
|Everything Pop (Pop Century)||1,071||90.3|
|The Mara (Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo)||451||89.6|
|Roaring Fork (Wilderness Lodge)||253||89.3|
|Kona Island (Polynesian)||154||89.0|
|The Artist’s Palette (Saratoga Springs)||188||87.8|
|Contempo Cafe (Contemporary)||564||87.4|
|Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (Port Orleans French Quarter)||511||87.3|
|Riverside Mill Food Court (Port Orleans Riverside)||697||87.1|
|Pepper Market (Coronado Springs)||358||85.5|
|Landscape of Flavors (Art of Animation)||615||85.2|
|Intermission Food Court (All-Star Music)||166||84.9|
|End Zone Food Court (All-Star Sports)||169||83.4|
|BoardWalk Joe’s (BoardWalk)||54||83.3|
|Captain Cook’s (Polynesian)||662||81.7|
|Old Port Royale Food Court (Caribbean Beach)||439||77.0|
|BoardWalk Pizza Window (BoardWalk)||169||75.7|
|Beach Club Marketplace (Beach Club)||324||74.4|
|BoardWalk To Go (BoardWalk)||50||70.0|
|Good’s Food to Go (Old Key West)||123||69.9|
|Mean = 89.7, sdev=6.1|
Like Aloha Isle Refreshments in the Magic Kingdom and Tamu Tamu Refreshments in the Animal Kingdom, the top-rated Disney Resort restaurant – Pineapple Lanai at the Polynesian – serves Dole Whip floats. Disney Food & Beverage people take note – if there’s not a Grand Moff Tarkin’s Death Star Dole Whip in Star Wars Land, you’ve done it wrong.
Beaches and Cream To Go is the takeaway window at the sit-down Beaches and Cream diner. It’s a little surprising that the to-go food rates this high, because takeaway food typically loses a little bit of freshness in transit. Maybe the folks who took this survey are just eating straight from the bag on the way back to their room? Whatever works.
If you told me last year that Ample Hills Creamery would be near the top of this list, I would have doubted it. For one thing, a small cup of ice cream is $6 plus tax, and it’s easy to spend $10 on a specialty cone. Ten bucks is about three pints of Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Toffee Bar Crunch where I come from, and if there’s anything that can beat good ice cream, it’s more good ice cream. But having tried Ample Hills a bunch of times over the past few months, I think it’s worth the cost.
For one thing, the flavors are interesting – the Nona D’s Oatmeal Lace is delicious (thanks to our own Guy Selga for recommending it), and probably unlike any ice cream you’ve tried. Second, Ample Hills keeps the sweetness moderated in its ice cream, and that helps the other flavors come through. And finally, the portion sizes are generous. If you get the $10 ice cream cone, that’s pretty much all of the ice cream you’re going to want for the rest of the day.
The other surprise at the top of the list is that All-Star Movies’ World Premier Food Court was rated above Pop Century’s and Art of Animation’s food courts. Each of the All-Star Resorts’ food courts went through renovations recently, but there’s a huge gap between what Movies did and the ones at Sports and Music. Disney charges slightly more for rooms at Movies, and this could be part of it. I’ll have to stop by there to see to check it out, assuming the security guard buys my “I’m just here for the food court” story and lets me in.
I don’t think there are any surprises at the bottom of the list. All of my recent meals at the Polynesian’s Captain Cook’s have been lackluster. I think the menu is more than the small kitchen can handle, so my advice is to stick with the very basics there. Most of the breakfast offerings are simple enough; for lunch and later I’d stick to the hot dogs and chicken sandwiches.
It should be noted that anything with a score below 77.5 is two standard deviations below average. You should definitely find somewhere else to eat besides those places.
The Best Disney World Resort Restaurants – Table Service
And now, the table service restaurants.
Disney Resort Table Service Restaurants
|Restaurant||Number of Surveys||Thumbs-Up %|
|Jiko – The Cooking Place (Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo)||262||96.9|
|Crew’s Cup Lounge (Yacht Club)||126||95.2|
|Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review (Fort Wilderness)||435||94.9|
|Beaches & Cream Soda Shop (Beach Club)||592||94.8|
|Sanaa (Animal Kingdom Lodge – Kidani)||668||94.8|
|Garden View Tea Room (Grand Floridian)||111||94.6|
|Boma – Flavors of Africa (Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo)||859||94.2|
|Victora & Albert’s (Grand Floridian)||81||93.8|
|California Grill (Contemporary)||592||93.1|
|Grand Floridian Cafe (Grand Floridian)||302||93.0|
|Kona Cafe (Polynesian)||840||93.0|
|1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)||796||92.1|
|Whispering Canyon (Wilderness Lodge)||688||91.4|
|Cape May Cafe (Beach Club)||592||91.4|
|Flying Fish (before refurbishment, BoardWalk)||137||91.2|
|Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club)||208||90.4|
|Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)||176||90.3|
|Citricos (Grand Floridian)||149||89.3|
|The Wave … of American Flavors (Contemporary)||355||88.7|
|Turf Club Bar and Grill (Saratoga Springs)||69||88.4|
|Todd English’s bluezoo (Dolphin)||51||88.2|
|Boatwright’s Dining Hall (Port Orleans Riverside)||338||88.2|
|Olivia’s Cafe (Old Key West)||185||87.6|
|Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian)||255||87.5|
|Shula’s Steak House (Dolphin)||38||86.8|
|Trattoria al Forno (BoardWalk)||205||86.8|
|Trail’s End Restaurant (Fort Wilderness)||248||86.7|
|Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary)||1,113||85.4|
|Captain’s Grille (Yacht Club)||230||83.0|
|ESPN Club (BoardWalk)||159||81.8|
|Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show (Polynesian)||222||81.5|
|Maya Grill (Coronado Springs)||95||78.9|
|Mickey’s Backyard BBQ (Fort Wilderness)||80||78.8|
|Big River Grille & Brewing Works (BoardWalk)||153||77.8|
|Il Mulino (Swan)||49||75.5|
|Shutters at Old Port Royale (Caribbean Beach)||81||74.1|
|Garden Grove (Swan)||47||72.3|
Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge took the top spot in this year’s survey, and it’s the second year in a row that Jiko has been rated the #1 overall restaurant in
Walt Disney World. It’s a fantastic restaurant, with a solid menu from appetizers through desserts. The wine list is good, and the service is excellent.
While we’re talking about the Animal Kingdom Lodge, we should mention that 3 of the top 7 sit-down restaurants in Walt Disney World are located at either Jambo House or Kidani Village. If dining is an important part of your vacation, you should strongly consider staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Beyond the top few restaurants, I’ll say that all of the restaurants in the top 18 to 20 spots are all good choices. I think Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort is Disney’s best restaurant overall. The fact that it’s ranked 8th in this survey surely has something to do with its cost. With wine pairings and some caviar, it’s easy to spend $700 to $800 on a dinner for two people here. But the top-to-bottom experience, from service to (of course) the food, is unparalleled in Walt Disney World.
If the Michelin Guide rated restaurants in Florida, there’s no doubt Victoria & Albert’s would get a star. Whether it would get two stars (“excellent cuisine, worth a detour”) or three stars (“worth a special trip”) is an interesting conversation I suggest having over dinner there.
And while we’re talking about the Grand Floridian, notice that it has 6 of the top 24 sit-down restaurants. I’ll also call out the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian. I’m a fan of afternoon tea – small sandwiches, pastries, and tea around 4 p.m. – and I try to find it in every big city I’m in.
The tea service at the Grand Floridian is near the top of my list of favorites. It’s far better than, say, tea service at The Palm Court at The Plaza in New York. The food is better than any regional city I’ve visited in the U.S. It’s not as good as The Tea Room at Harrod’s in London, but they kind of invented tea service, so okay.
Finally, there are a number of sit-down restaurants that scored well below average on this year’s survey. I agree with almost all of these. If any of these restaurants are your favorites, or if you have a favorite thing to order at these places, leave a note in the comments so others can learn from your wisdom.
As a reminder, we survey tens of thousands of Disney visitors each year after their vacations. Want to share your trip with us? Brew some tea and settle in with our exhaustive user survey .