By Hana Medina
LIKE MANY TRAVELERS, I’m always on the
hunt for the most unusual places to eat. And
while I was expecting only typical amuse-ment-park fare during my trip to Walt Disney
World in Orlando, Florida, I was pleasantly
surprised to discover that it was quite the
foodie’s paradise. With options for any cuisine,
budget and dining-style preference, Walt
Disney World is sure to leave you dreaming
about much more than rides and mouse ears.
You probably won’t have time to stake out
all of the best places to eat—there are approximately 450 establishments to choose from—
so The Connection chatted with Walt Disney
World’s public relations consultant and resident foodie, Pam Brandon, to get the scoop
on the top experiences.
California Grill ushered in a new era of
high-end dining at Walt Disney World in 1995.
The restaurant remains a top spot 20 years
later—quite literally. Located on the 15th floor
of the Contemporary Resort hotel, this restaurant boasts sweeping views of the Magic
Kingdom with decadent fare to match. The
menu is largely seasonal, featuring as much
fresh, local produce as possible, but the restaurant is especially renowned for its fresh sushi.
Fine dining: Victoria & Albert’s
The award-winning Victoria & Albert’s is
Walt Disney World’s top-tier dining experience. The 53-seat establishment has an intimate setting and even a live harpist. The menu
features gourmet dishes that change weekly,
including past stars such as wagyu beef, caviar
and oxtail ravioli. There is a dress code and a
waitlist, so reservations are recommended.
“This is a special experience that our
guests love,” says Brandon. “There are people
that fly in just to have dinner there!”
A blast from the past:
50’s Prime Time Café
Step into this restaurant’s lounge and
you’ll feel as though you were dropped onto
the set of I Love Lucy; each table appears to be
part of a miniature 1950s kitchen, complete
with pastel décor and a classic black-and-white television. The wait staff is dressed in
classic diner uniforms, and they ensure you
mind your manners: Put your elbows on the
table and you will get yelled at. Spins on classic American dishes, such as chicken potpie,
fried chicken and meatloaf, put Grandma’s
legendary recipes to shame (sorry, Grandma).
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Of the many character dining options,
Cinderella’s Royal Table, set in the iconic
Cinderella Castle, is a guest favorite. Brandon
says this is one of the hardest reservations to
make at Walt Disney World Resort. Disney
princesses (including Cinderella, of course)
visit guests at their tables for autographs and
photo opps. For lovebirds, they even have an
engagement package available for purchase to
make popping the question extra magical.
The restaurant is open for all three meals;
the dinner menu features dishes such as farro
risotto with truffle butter, fresh sustainable
fish and pan-seared chicken with mac and
cheese. “The menu is very sophisticated but
approachable,” says Brandon.
Kid-friendly meals also include healthier
menu options—just look for the Mickey
Check items featured in many of the park’s res-
taurants—such as roasted chicken. Cinderella’s
Royal Table is closed for renovations until
March, but you can still book reservations up
to 180 days in advance (highly recommended).
Brandon says that offering exciting dining
experiences aligns with Walt Disney’s original
intentions for his theme parks and resorts.
“What we’re trying to do is give you a sense of
place and escape,” she explains. “And I think
that’s the Disney story as much as the charac-
ters that we all love. But really, [our restaurants
are] a place you can go and be immersed.”
These restaurants are only a small frac-
tion of the dining experiences you can have at
the park. Go online to scope out your must-
eats before you travel, or spontaneously dis-
cover new magical meals during your next
trip to Walt Disney World. C
A traveler’s treat
WALT DISNEY WORLD’S Epcot theme
park in Orlando, Florida, is a year-round
haven for food lovers, and regularly features fare from 11 different countries in
the World Showcase pavilions. But this
expands to nearly 30 countries during
the 53-day International Wine & Food
Festival each fall.
More than 1 million guests each
year enjoy international food displays,
specialty wines and craft beers, as well
as live entertainment, such as the Eat
to the Beat concert series. Search
online for “Epcot International Food
and Wine Festival” for details on this
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Costco Travel offers a variety of Orlando
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Food & Wine Festival Walt Disney World dining
Travel back in time inside Walt
Disney World’s 50’s Prime Time
Café (left). The Epcot International
Food & Wine Festival (below) is a
tour for the taste buds.