My Top 8 Most Underrated WDW Dining Locations

Cheeseburger Bao Bun from Satu’li Canteen

When it comes to planning a trip to the most magical place on earth, choosing where to eat is a big decision, and one that has to be made quite far in advance if you want to snag all the right places.

I love planning for advanced dining reservations (ADRs), and I’m always on the hunt for somewhere new and different to try; I like to believe that one day I’ll have eaten in every restaurant on Disney property, but I’ll always end up going back to my favourite spots, plus I doubt I’ll ever keep up with the expansion and addition of new eateries, but I can dream, hey?

And you don’t even need to be a total Disney buff to know of some of the most talked about dining locations of WDW; places like Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table are so iconic that I defy anyone who wouldn’t want to take a trip to these magical places. But are they the best?

These are some of my favourite lesser-known dining options that you may want to visit on your next trip:

Table Service

Grand Floridian Cafe – over 1900 Park Fare

I must admit, when I used to think of a good place to eat in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, my mind always used to jump to 1900 Park Fare. I’ve never eaten there before myself, but I see lots of people going there all the time, although I have heard some mixed reviews. Instead, I’ve always opted for GFC, and I’ve had both breakfast and dinner there, both of which have blown me away.

Sure, you don’t have the character element that 1900 Park Fare gives, but the menu is absolutely flawless in my opinion, and if you’re not on the dining plan, its actually one of the most reasonably priced table service meals I’ve ever seen – our dinner there should have cost around $65 plus gratuity for the two of us (main and dessert), and when I had breakfast there it would have been only $41 for two of us.

Mickey’s Backyard BBQ – over Hoop de Doo Revue

Again, I’ve never actually done Hoop de Doo, but having had the BEST time at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ, I’m in no rush to switch. Both cost the same both in cash and dining credits, both are unlimited buffets which included beer and wine for over 21s, and both have musical entertainment but Mickey’s Backyard has the added bonus of character meets and the opportunity to get up and get involved in the dancing with Mickey and the gang, and I don’t think I’ve ever had a night of more fun on Disney property. I’ve got a full review here.

Skipper Canteen

I was actually really surprised by the lunch we had here back in November – I had booked it because I wanted to try somewhere new, and then when we looked at the menu both Matthew and I felt a little meh about the offerings, but when the food actually arrived it was amazing! Yes, its a Jungle Cruise themed restaurant so there’s puns flying everywhere, but its also got a real Joe Rohde vibe to the place and the cast members were all really lovey, plus it was pretty quiet when we went!

Tusker House

I feel like I rarely hear people talking about restaurants in Animal Kingdom, so this may not be as underrated as I think it is, but absolutely rate this place. Now I haven’t been since 2014, so there may have been some changes but my whole family were blown away by the food, which not only catered for my picky-eating cousins (who at the time went as young as 5) but also for the adventurous adults in the group. Its a buffet – bonus – and although we had no idea when we booked it, its also a character meal!

Quick Service

Flame Tree Barbecue

If you ever need to make your dining credits go further, or need good value for money on your meals while in Animal Kingdom, this is the place you need to go – one meal could easily feed 2-3 people with the portion sizes you get! Also, if you want a decent view of Rivers of Light without queuing or paying for the dinner packages, grab your food from here early on and head down to the seating area on the edge of the water. Sure, you’re a little further away from the main seats, but you still get a great view!

Satu’li Canteen

This may not be underrated exactly, but if you’ve heard that its good, then that’s wrong because its AMAZING. Hands down, this is probably the best quick service meal I have ever had.

Yak and Yeti Local Food Cafes

Last Animal Kingdom place, I promise! If you’re a fan of the table service restaurant, but maybe you aren’t on the dining plan, I’m gonna share a secret with you: the honey chicken that you get in the restaurant for $18.99 is identical to the quick service alternative at $10.99, its just in a plastic container rather than served on a proper plate. This is also a good place to grab breakfast if you’ve run to Expedition Everest at park opening rather than joining the 3 hour queue for Flights of Passage..

Pinocchio Village Haus

Now this may be out of date as I’ve heard rumours that PVH is changing/has changed its offering, but this was always one of my favourite places to grab lunch when in Magic Kingdom. The flatbreads make a wonderful alternative to the normal doughy pizza bases you get in most quick service places and there’s always a tonne of seating available, plus I like waving to the Its a Small World boats as they pass below the window!

What restaurants do you think don’t get enough attention?

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Fantasmic Dining Package at Mama Melrose Ristorante Italiano

If you think, like me, that a trip to Hollywood Studios isn’t complete without seeing Fantasmic, then this might just be the dining deal for you.

I’d known about the Fantasmic Dining Packages for a little while, but had always dismissed them as I assumed that they would be costly and not part of the dining plan, which I normally have, but when planning our last trip and knowing that Matthew was a huge Fantasmic lover, I wanted to do something special that would make seeing the show even more magical.

Well it was certainly a magical discovery that I realised that the dining package is not only covered by the Disney Dining Plan, but it is also only the usual amount of table service credits – I say this as the dining package is available at 3 locations, Mama Melrose, Hollywood and Vine, and The Hollywood Brown Derby, and HBD is a 2 table service credit location, so the package is 2 per person at that location. The package can be booked like any other ADR, however rather than being able to book it at the 180 day mark for the whole trip, it only becomes available 180 days before the exact date, so don’t panic if you try it a few days early and it says there’s nothing available!

What’s even better still, is that at Mama Melrose, the dining package means even more food than normal, so trust me when I say that if you book this, don’t eat for a good few hours (at least) beforehand, cos you’re gonna explode! Rather than the usual main course and dessert plus drink that your table service credit will normally get you, the package includes an appetiser also, and these appetisers include flatbreads the size of whole pizzas, and that’s before you get onto the mains of pastas, steak and more! Oh, and then there’s dessert! You get the option of a plate of mini desserts, or ice-cream, but we struggled to get past our mains!

It was my first time dining at Mama Melrose, and I thought the food was great – personally you can never go wrong with Italian if you ask me! Our server was also so lovely and made sure we had a great meal and knew exactly what we needed to do for the show later on. So onto the Fantasmic side of the package..

 

When you get the bill, your server will bring you your Fastpasses. These are paper, and a particular colour, which relates to where you’re going to sit in the theater. Its still recommended that you get to the theater 20-40 mins before the show is due to start, same as with any Fastpass, but rather than clamouring for a good seat, there is a whole chunk of the theater cordoned off for dessert parties and dining packages, and these are the centre few blocks, so don’t get swept up with the other Fastpass holders, and keep an eye out for cast members and what they’re calling out. You will need to show your passes at a few different places, so don’t put them away once you’ve started the walk up to the theater!

Well our seats were great, definitely the most central I’ve ever sat, and we were about halfway up, having got there with about half an hour to spare – if you want to be near the front then you definitely want to be queuing at the rope before the theater even opens!

If you’re not on the dining plan, then the Mama Melrose package is $42 per adult or $18 for children, but as I mentioned, you do get a tonne of food for that price. And if you are on the dining plan, I would 100% recommend doing this if you’re a Fantasmic fan because its only 1 credit and you get so much more out of it!

Some imagination, huh?

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Best Quick Service in Disneyland (That Don’t Serve Pizza or Burgers)

I love Disney park food. In fact, one of my favourite parts of planning a Disney trip is deciding where I’m going to want to eat in each park, whether its going back to my favourite restaurants or trying somewhere I’ve never been to before, and my trip to Disneyland back in May was definitely about trying out new places.

As there’s no such thing as dining plans in Disneyland, and being trying to do the trip as cheap as possible, this trip was going to be all about the quick service restaurants, and while I’m never one to complain about any kind of Disney food, when it comes to quick service its very easy to fall into the rotation of burger to pizza to chicken nuggets and back again. Sure, I’ll probably end up doing each of these at least once on a trip, but if you fancy something a little different, Disneyland has a bunch of gems serving incredible options when you’re in need of an energy boost.

Disneyland

Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe

The cutest little yellow cafe at the bottom of Main Street USA, options here range from sandwiches and salads, to tomato soup with grilled cheese, and also has a great selection of cute dessert options!

Bengal Barbecue

The ultimate place for jungle-cruisers to refuel, Bengal Barbecue is pretty famous among Disneyland fans for its incredible meat skewers.

Royal Street Veranda

I always forget that this restaurant exists (mainly because I’m rushing to get to Pirates of the Caribbean or staring wistfully up at the Dream Suite), but say hello to the place where you can get New Orleans classic dish, gumbo, served in a sourdough bread bowl!

French Market Restaurant

Just a little way along from Royal Street Veranda, and serving more New Orleans classics is French Market Restaurant; jambalaya, corn chowder, beans and rice and more!

Redd Rockett’s Pizza Port

Yes, I know I said places that don’t serve pizza, but Redd Rockett’s also has a great selection of pasta dishes on the menu if you’re looking to carb up for a long park day!

California Adventure

Flo’s V8 Cafe

Whether you want to skip the traditional Mickey waffle breakfast or cheeseburger lunch, Flo’s is the place to go! Breakfast ranges from brioche french toast to breakfast burritos, and lunch and dinner features ribs, rotisserie chicken and turkey dip sandwiches.

Cozy Cone Motel

For an on-the-go meal, why not grab a convenient bread cone filled with either bacon mac and cheese, beef chilli or chicken verde? Sally really knows how to feed her guests, and you’ll probably meet a famous car on the way in!

Pacific Wharf Cafe

Did you know there’s an actual sourdough bread factory in DCA? Pacific Wharf Cafe is attached to the bakery and serves a bunch of amazing options including sandwiches, and soup or salads served in their famous sourdough bread bowls.

Lucky Fortune Cookery

Just across the way from the bakery, you can grab an asian inspired rice bowl packed with veggies and a choice of either beef, chicken or tofu and your choice sauce. It even comes in a cute takeaway style box so you can carry your leftovers home!

Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill

Completing the trio of amazing food options in one place, Cocina shares the same seating area as PWC and LFC and serves flavoursome favourites from tacos and tamales to burritos.

What are your favourite places to eat in Disneyland?

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10 Things You Need to Know about Cove Bar

If you’re planning a trip to Disneyland and looking for the most Instagrammable places to eat or drink, then Cove Bar should probably be at the top of your list. Located on Paradise Pier in Disney’s California Adventure park, it boasts a menu of stunning cocktails as well as some pretty delicious looking food, and the most amazing views over Paradise Bay.

If I’ve just sold you, or it was already on your to-do list, here are a few things to know before you go!

There can be a really long wait, and someone has to stay in line

Depending on when you go, there can be a longer wait time than for some rides! When you get to the queue, a cast member will take a name and give you an idea on wait time, but at least one person from your party needs to stay in the queue the whole time, because if your group is called and you’re not there, then you’ve missed your chance!

You can choose where to sit

When you join the queue and give your name, the CM will ask you if you have a table preference, so if you want those Instagram worthy photos over the pier, be sure to ask for a waterside table. Other options include the bar and tables closer to the pierside.

The prettiest drinks aren’t on the menu

While you’ll be handed a menu by your server, be sure to check out the secret menuThis is where you’ll find Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Neverland Tea and more!

And the cutest drink isn’t even alcoholic

Don’t be put of visiting if you’re not that into cocktails, the cotton candy lemonade is so delicious and refreshing, plus who doesn’t want a lump of cotton candy in their drink?!

You can take drinks to go

If you want to sample the cocktails but don’t fancy the wait, you can order drinks to go. They come in plastic cups so aren’t quite so cute but I’ll bet they don’t taste any different!

Water is free-flowing

For obvious reasons, the servers are keen to keep all guest hydrated, so you’ll find your water glass topped up constantly.

There’s more than just cocktails on the menu

Although its famous for its cocktails and speciality drinks, there are some great lounge food options, including buffalo wings, sliders, nachos and more! I didn’t actually eat here, but I saw some of the food and it looked amazing and smelled SO GOOD.

Be sure to bring your passport

In the event of being ID’d, a UK driving licence isn’t acceptable in Disney. Your server may let you off, but I’ve had experiences where they have refused to accept anything but a passport, so I wouldn’t chance it.

Don’t be shy about taking photos

Literally everyone in the bar is trying to take those oh-so-Instagrammable photos, so don’t feel shy about holding your drink over the railing to get that perfect shot with the fun wheel in the background. Also if you’re not sat at a waterside table but want those photos, just get up and go over there – no one minds!

Please drink responsibly!

Servers have the right to refuse you at any time, and during my visit I saw a few guests that were probably about to get cut off.. Be sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated, especially in the summer months when its super warm!

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Baking Magic – Spinach Puffs

For the first time in forever, I’ve been in the kitchen creating a Disney inspired recipe.. Pull the lever, Kronk!

That’s right, its a little less well known recipe today, but any fans of Emperor’s New Groove will know of Kronk’s famous spinach puffs. Yzma may not be a fan, but having recreated these little beauties for myself, I most certainly am, and I’m pleased to say they’re super easy to do!

You’re gonna need:

  • A sheet of ready-roll puff pastry
  • 1 cup of finely chopped spinach – I used a food processor to save time!
  • 2 tbsp powdered parmesan cheese
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • A beaten egg, optional
  • A mini muffin tray sprayed with FryLight oil
This recipe makes 8-10 puffs!

Preheat an oven to 180C.

In a mixing bowl, stir together the spinach, parmesan until evenly mixed. Crush the garlic clove into this mixture, add the oil and combine.

Unroll the pastry, and cut into 2×2 inch squares. Arrange the squares diagonally in the mini muffin holes, pressing them down into the dips, then fill with a teaspoon of the spinach mix.

Fold the corners in, and brush the top with the egg mix. Pop in the oven for 10-12 mins until golden brown.

If you’re feeling a little fancy, you can spread the mix onto the pastry sheet, roll it up like a Swiss roll and slice into spirals before baking!

These bites of deliciousness are best served warm, but will also keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week.

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My Top 15 Most Instagrammable Disney Park Foods

Is a Disney trip really a Disney trip if you didn’t Instagram at least one snack?

If you’re as Insta obsessed as I am, the combination of adorable food and a pretty castle backdrop is just impossible to resist, and its acceptable to be totally basic and refuse to eat until you’ve got the perfect photo.

Well your friendly neighbourhood Disney tripper is here to guide you in finding what I consider to be the most double-tap-able eats and treats from all six Disney parks! Brace yourself, you’re about to get hungry.

Mochi might be one of the strangest foods I’ve ever tried, but seriously these green aliens from Tokyo Disneyland are the business

Tokyo also takes churros to the next level. Yep, its Mickey shaped.

I’m a sucker for any type of steamed bun, but I cannot get over how adorable these little piggy pork buns from Hong Kong Disneyland are.

I was pretty lucky to get a photo of this raspberry ice lolly before it melted in the mid-July Tokyo DisneySea heat

Head over to the Cozy Cone Motel in Disneyland’s California Adventure park for a cone full of deliciousness in the most perfect Pixar themed land.

Who doesn’t love a Rice Krispie treat? These beauties come in all sorts of amazing flavours and designs and are best eaten on Main Street, although a balcony in Polynesian is a pretty good alternative.

I can never say no to a Mickey shaped pretzel, and I can never eat one without snapping it first!

Disneyland Paris is never complete without a Mickey marshmallow or macaron in front of the castle.

And speaking of macarons, how cute is this little Goofy treat from club level Shanghai Disneyland Hotel?!

If you’re an Alice fan, you’ve gotta head over to Queen of Hearts Banquet Hall if you’re in Tokyo Disneyland for this amazing dessert option!

The best way to cool down in Hong Kong Disneyland is with a Lotso lolly in Adventureland!

Mickey shaped muffins are popping up all over different Disney parks, but this beautiful blueberry one was snapped in Shanghai.

When in Tokyo, if you don’t snap a steamed bun burger, were you even there?

Lemon meringue pie PLUS a Mickey macaron? Yes please Shanghai Disneyland!

And who can resist a Mickey waffle?!

Don’t forget I’m heading to Disneyland in less than 2 weeks, and I’m sure I’ll be Instagramming a tonne of food from there so stay tuned!

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Breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table

If you’re looking for somewhere totally magical to eat in the Magic Kingdom, does it really get any better than eating in Cinderella Castle itself? No. The answer is no.

Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of the few restaurants in MK that offers reservations prior to park opening, meaning early access to Main Street USA before the crowds descend, and for me that’s always worth the stress of those 180 day advanced dining reservations! Its a bit of a first-day tradition for me, and both Sarah and I were dying to eat breakfast with the princesses.

With the new welcome show, you’re not able to walk through the castle from Main Street, so its a little detour past Sleepy Hollow and round to the back of the castle from there. Once you’ve checked in for your meal, you enter the castle to be greeted by Cinderella herself in a grand entrance hall – psst, look out for Gus Gus and Jaq! Once you’ve had your photo and your party has been announced, you climb a spiral staircase up into the dining room and are escorted to your table.

I really loved the size of the dining room. I expected it to be much bigger, but its a perfect size to not feel enormous, but also not crowded, and it means that you’re never too far from the gorgeous stained glass window that looks out over Fantasyland. We were brought out a plate of beautiful pastries while we decided on what to choose from the menu, and the juice was constantly flowing so our glasses were never empty.

Over the course of the first 10-15 minutes of our meal, each princess was announced as they entered the restaurant, and we seemed to have a prime seat as we were the first table visited by almost every princess. We met Aurora, Snow White, Ariel and Jasmine, all of whom were so lovely and friendly, and didn’t rush our interactions at all. At points throughout the meal, there was also a wishing ceremony, for which we were each given a plastic wand to wave – I don’t know if they normally give wands to adults but our server David brought us one each anyway!

As well as the pastries, we each ordered the traditional breakfast, which was delicious but after a Mickey shaped blueberry muffin, I struggled to finish the whole plate. Being on the Disney Dining Plan, the meal was 2 table service credits, which was totally worth it for the food, the characters and the experience of dining in the castle – plus our wands of course! The cast members were also so sweet, which for me always makes any meal feel even better, and it was the perfect start to our trip.

We also just had to stop to use the restrooms on the way out just so we could say we’ve been to the loo in the castle, ha!

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