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Best Walt Disney World Restaurants for First Timers

Jan 15, 2017
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Thinking about travelling to Walt Disney World?

No idea as to where you should start?

ADRs, or Disney advance dining reservations, are one of the many steps to a successful and fun trip to Walt Disney World. Without them, you’re stuck wandering around and stressing out over where you could actually eat. This is incredibly important during busier times, like every month from January through until December : )

Most restaurants can be booked within weeks or even days of your vacation, but there are a few that require significant planning. The reservations before are ones that you should definitely put on your list to get at 7am 180 days to your vacation to get your perfect schedule!

Thinking about where to start? Then this list is for you!

These are the Top Ten Best Walt Disney World Restaurants for First Timers! 


First-Timer Restaurant #10 – Chef Mickey’s

Chef Mickey's as seen from the edge of the dining area, with a monorail whizzing by

Chef Mickey Character Dining – Copyright Disney

When you visit Walt Disney World, the monorail brings you through the Contemporary resort en route to the Magic Kingdom. After the amazement of taking a train on the ‘Highway in the Sky’ through a building, your thoughts go to being able to eat in a restaurant that has a Disney icon being seen every few minutes…and how?

Our recommendation is quite simple. When you’re planning to be at the Magic Kingdom for Wishes or experiencing the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at night…book your ADR. It’s a 10-minute walk from the turnstiles to the Contemporary!

First-Timer Restaurant #9 – Coral Reef Restaurant

Rows of tables at Coral Reef Restaurant alongside a bank of aquarium windows

Coral Reef – Copyright Disney

The World Showcase has incredible food, but some of EPCOT’s hidden gems lie within Future World. One of these such special experiences involves fish…and sharks…and turtles!

Coral Reef is a well-themed restaurant and should not be missed on your first trip to Walt Disney World!

Tip: Try to get a seat next to the windows!

First-Timer Restaurant #8 – Sci-Fi Dine In

Overhead view of convertible 1950s era car dining booths of Sci-fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theatre – Copyright Disney

As I write this, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is undergoing a transformation. The long-term outlook of the park is still up in the air and years away from fully realizing the concept on paper. BUT…they’ve got some amazing attractions and you’re going to want to spend time walking on Sunset Blvd towards the Tower of Terror or Fantasmic. Disney Hollywood Studio offers a limited amount of sit down dining options. However, why not dine in the back of a car while watching old school movies on the big screen?

Advice: Check the menu first. This is can be a hit-or-miss… and we have another option further down the list that could also work well.

First-Timer Restaurant #7 – Tusker House

Curry chicken, rice and zucchini on a plate

Tusker House Dining – Copyright Disney

This was BY FAR one of the best buffet meals that we’ve had at Walt Disney World. Granted, we were there at 11:05am during the changeover and had a plate of breakfast and then a plate of lunch. Outside of that bonus, both my partner and I had a great meal that focused on more than typical “theme park food” that you’ll see at most buffets.

The sheer size of this restaurant will shock and amaze you, but this will give you a great opportunity to enjoy your meal in a quite area. Compared to Be Our Guest, where you’re in three huge themed rooms, Tusker House has multiple side rooms. OH, and I haven’t even mentioned that this is a character experience too!!

First-Timer Restaurant #6 – Akershus

Gothic arches and heraldic banners in the main dining room at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall – Copyright Disney

Do you like Disney Princesses? Do you have young kids? This is a 100% win if you fall into those two (and only those two) categories. My partner and I were underwhelmed by the food options and with this dining room. Akershus is very small for the character interactions, we were glad that we did it once.

PS* If you can get our Number One pick…do it!

First-Timer Restaurant #5 – ‘Ohana

Bowl of noodles with pineapple and fresh vegetables

‘Ohana – Copyright Disney

‘Ohana means family, and this is by far one of the hardest ADRs to get! Check out the menu, read reviews, ask friends. It’s so much easier to cancel a reservation than it is to wait until 3-4 months before your trip to get your ADR because you just won’t have the opportunity!

First-Timer Restaurant #4 – 50’s Prime Time Cafe

A Cast Member serves lunch to a family at 50's Prime Time Café

50’s Prime Time Cafe – Copyright Disney

Remember how I brought up the construction and redevelopment of Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Well, this is a great option for when you’re doing a full day of Fastpass+ reservations (Star Tours, Toy Story Mania, Rock N Rollercoaster, etc). It provides a good lunch that will really keep you energized. Not only is the food high quality, but the experience is highly themed and will make you want to go back time after time.

First-Timer Restaurant #3 – Crystal Palace

Round tables on the main dining floor, with hanging arrangements of yellow roses

Crystal Palace (Copyright Disney)

The number of times that I walked through the Magic Kingdom before actually having a meal at Crystal Palace was just crazy! It’s such a stand-out building that draws your curiosity from the moment that you see it when you first set foot in the Hub!

Great for families and first-timers, this should be a reservation that you snag up as soon as you make your decision to visit Walt Disney World. The food isn’t great, but the fact that you get to hang out with Pooh and Friends is completely worth the adventure.

Our suggestion to get your best out of this restaurant is to go for a late lunch/early dinner. Less kids, more food:)

First-Timer Restaurant #2 – Be Our Guest

Close-up of the cover of a menu from Be Our Guest restaurant

Be Our Guest – Copyright Disney

Let’s take a step away from exclusivity at Victoria & Alberts and provide you with the most sought after and highly regarded ADR on the property. I won’t oversell this, except to say that the lunch and dinner services are both memorable for different reasons. Remember that even though lunch is a Quick Service meal, you still need a reservation for it.

If you’re going down for a 7-night trip, then plan to do the lunch on day 2 and the dinner on day 5 or 6. Then you can spread out your time at the Beast’s Castle, and you won’t get overwhelmed with the restaurant.

**Tip** No one will fault you for getting multiple reservations and then canceling them closer to your trip. Think about your Fastpass+ schedule, other dining reservations and nighttime experiences before you cancel any of the ADRs. We made a mistake during one trip when we canceled a Be Our Guest lunch reservation. We found out that the only daytime parade we could fit in needed to be moved to accommodate for a Keys to the Kingdom Tour. Use the system and as soon as things are locked in, then make your decisions. Not saying that we weren’t happy with Cosmic Rays, but it’s no Be Our Guest! 🙂

First-Timer Restaurant #1 – Cinderella’s Royal Table

Elegant table setting at Cinderella’s Royal Table, with soaring stone archways and stained-glass windows

Cinderella’s Royal Table – Copyright Disney

This experience changed the way that I looked at the Walt Disney World resort. I would 100% recommend this experience for any die-hard Disney fan because nothing’s better than eating in Cinderella’s Castle!

My TripAdvisor review was pretty eye-opening, but I feel the need to share it here:

First off – The reservation was incredibly difficult to get, but persistence paid off greatly.
We arrived 15 minutes before our reservation, but was instructed to come back exactly at 515pm. Cinderella was awaiting us in the foyer for a private meet and greet prior to ascending the staircase.
We were seated in the middle of the main room, which btw…only holds a small number of tables (around 50), so it was a very private experience vs other dining in the Magic Kingdom.

Full disclosure: we do not have kids and were not the only ones in the restaurant without them. Lots of couples on anniversaries and there were a couple of mid-20’s girls who were Disney-Bounding as princesses for their meal.

The menu is a prix fix menu with 5 options for appetizers, 6 options for entrees and 4 desert choices. My selections were the Castle Salad, Beef Tenderloin and the Clock Strikes Twelve. My partner’s selection was the Royal Tasting of Cheese, the Gnochi with Vegetables and the clock strikes twelve.

Amazing Food! The wait staff was incredible and friendly to a whole other level. They had fun, so it was a pleasant atmosphere.

We actually couldn’t eat everything…so we took the desert to go, which they had a great presentation bag with cutlery and napkins for our enjoyment later that evening.

This is a 2-credit experience, so enjoy it all! There are character meet n greets throughout the meal (Jasmine, Snow White, Ariel and Aurora)

Definitely worth it! We enjoyed ourselves (a little too much) and it’s one of our favourite memories to share with family and friends! In fact, the wand and the sword keepsakes are actually staged on my desk at my office to remind me of the dinner we had at Cinderella’s Royal Table.

Highly recommend it!

So that’s our list. Thoughts? Comments? Did we miss any? Share them in the comments!

Want to see more about food in Walt Disney World?

Disney Food Blog Guide to Walt Disney World Dining

Looking for some more mouth watering Disney dining options? Check out this book our friends over at the Disney Food Blog wrote covering all the food options you can find at Walt Disney World! It’s called the Everything Disney Food Blog Bundle! It includes snack guides to all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks and the main Disney dining guide, all for one low price vs. buying the guides separately.

#HowToMCO

ADRs, or Disney advance dining reservations, are one of the many steps to a successful and fun trip to Walt Disney World. Without them, you’re stuck wandering around and stressing out over where you could actually eat. This is incredibly important during busier times, like every month from January through until December!

ADRs, or Disney advance dining reservations, are one of the many steps to a successful and fun trip to Walt Disney World. Without them, you’re stuck wandering around and stressing out over where you could actually eat. This is incredibly important during busier times, like every month from January through until December!

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