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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Bon Voyage Breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno

When Walt Disney World announced its newest character breakfast back at the start of the year, I’ll admit to a lot of squealing, followed by a desperate need to book it for our November trip.

It was a combination of a few of my favourite things: the Boardwalk, plus Flynn Rider and Rapunzel, plus adorable themed pastries = a very happy Lottie. Oh, and did I mention Ariel and Prince Eric come along for the adventure too?!

Once seated in the restaurant, each table gets a presented with a frying pan full of delicious breakfast pastries including chocolate braids, fruit-filled clam shells and mini muffins to start you off while you peruse the menu.

All of the menu options are either Tangled or Little Mermaid themed, from a tower of pancakes to a swimmer’s delight omelette; its certainly fancier food than your regular Disney breakfast, and its delicious! I personally couldn’t decide between the Tangled eggs or the Tangled pancake tower, so my server was wonderful enough to offer us the chance to get a half-size portion of the pancakes on the house as well as each of our choices, so I got to try them both!

The characters are announced as they enter the dining room – they come in individually, staggered by about 5-10 mins intervals, and they head to the far end of the restaurant first, and work their way back. As well as coming to everyone’s tables, there’s also a little procession that happens, where kids are invited to parade around the restaurant with the character while music plays, which is very sweet! We met Flynn first, followed by Rapunzel then Ariel and lastly Eric, but don’t be put off by the fact that they come up individually, the characters interact a lot with each other while making the rounds so often Flynn will call Rapunzel over to look at things etc, and in any case you can ask for group photos!

The meal counts as one table service credit on the dining plan, and if you’re paying out of pocket then you’re looking at about $38 per adult once tax has been added, and while its a little more than some other character breakfast options, its à la carte rather than buffet and the food options are a bit nicer than some of your other options! For me, the real selling point is the ability to meet Flynn and Eric, who are rare meets otherwise, plus Tangled and The Little Mermaid are two of my favourite films anyway!

What’s your favourite place for breakfast in Walt Disney World?

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Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show at Disneyland Paris

On our last trip to Disneyland Paris, the family and I decided to try something we’ve never done before, and as we were staying at Hotel Cheyenne and the cowboy feel was everywhere, we thought we’d give Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show a try!

We went to the earlier show, so arrived at about 6.15 and were presented with our seat tickets and cowboy hats before going through to the bar area, where a live band were performing country music favourites – even Goofy made a special appearance! When the show was about to begin, guests were invited to make their way into the show arena. We were in the red section, so we were sat on the left side of the arena, and as we had category 2 tickets we were seated in the third row, but the view was great so I don’t imagine you get it much better by paying the extra for category 1. The seating is done in a row of benches, and we were lucky to get in first so we were right on the end of the row, but there wasn’t any room to get passed people so other people were having to climb down into the seating, which was a bit of a faff.

The benches were laid with all the crockery ready to go, and there were several baskets of tortilla chips spread along the row, but it was a little unclear what the protocol for food was going to be so we weren’t sure if we should be diving in or saving ourselves. The servers came along with jugs of drinks, and the options were water, coke or beer and these options were unlimited as part of the meal, but if you wanted anything else you could go to the bar and order drinks separately.

Once the show started, the food also started being served, and first up there was a course of chilli with cornbread, then once that had been cleared away there was chicken, ribs, sausages and potato wedges, and the portion sizes were huge so we definitely weren’t left wanting! If you had any room left at the end of all that, dessert was an apple crumble with ice-cream and there was coffee available too.

The show itself was bizarre and excellent at the same time! It was a combination of cowboy stunts such as trick-roping and cow-hearding (yes, there were real cows involved) and also skits and sketches, plus more live music, oh, and I did I mention that Mickey and the gang were there?! As well as the real cowboys and performers, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and the chipmunks took part in the fun, they were dressed for the part too! The show also featured some native American scenes, so the whole frontier was represented.

The second half of the show was done as a sort of tournament; each colour section had cowboys and indians representing them as they took part in various contests, and the audience was encouraged to bang the benches, cutlery and plates while cheering on the contestants which was a lot of fun, and there were also a few opportunities for audience participation.

Overall, it was a fun evening, and I’m definitely glad we did it but I’m not sure if I’d rush to go back. The food was great and the show was entertaining but I imagine it would be the same every time and I think that the novelty would wear off quickly. On a side note, I also have no idea if there are any vegetarian options available as I didn’t see any alternatives dishes being served and about 80% of the food was meat, so worth bearing in mind if you are a veggie!

You do get to keep the hat though!

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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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Chef Mickey’s, Hong Kong Disneyland

Even if you’re not staying at Hong Kong Disneyland’s Hollywood Hotel, its definitely worth making the trip to visit Chef Mickey’s!

Chef Mickey's Hong Kong Disneyland

The restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner, with lunch available during peak times, and Mickey visits during breakfast every day, and lunch and dinner during weekends and public holidays, but you can understand his absence when he must be so busy in the kitchen preparing the multitude of food that’s available!

Chef Mickey's Hong Kong Disneyland

Chef Mickey's Hong Kong Disneyland

Chef Mickey's Hong Kong Disneyland

All meals are done as buffets, but there is quite literally something for everyone, with dinner dishes ranging from traditional cantonese to sushi, curry to pizza to salad, and an incredible range of dessert options, including an ice-cream bar, and just as many options available at breakfast!

We ate here for both breakfast and dinner, and everything was perfect both times, and with it being one of only two character dining experiences in Hong Kong Disneyland, you’ve gotta try here!

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Cafe Mickey Dinner Review

On my recent Disneyland Paris trip, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to dinner at Cafe Mickey in Disney Village. I had breakfast there on my birthday back in October and loved it, so I was really excited to go back!

Cafe Mickey dinner review

The restaurant is situated at the hotel end of Disney Village, and if you’re sat by a window you can get a pretty great view of the lake, Sequoia Lodge and Newport Bay. I’d describe the decor as ‘classic Disney’; lots of bright colours and patterns, bold and contemporary, although some parts are looking in need of a spruce, especially the toilets – there are only a few for the whole restaurant and they’re tiny and pretty yuck.

We were seated upstairs, which seemed to be quite a bit quieter than the downstairs area, but didn’t differ at all in terms of set-up. There are tv screens all over the place playing classic cartoons and movie clips, which is fun because there’s always something going on, you know, if a bustling restaurant isn’t busy enough!

Cafe Mickey dinner menu

It’s a set menu for dinner: a starter and main, or starter main and dessert. I ordered the chicken caesar salad, without the dressing. It was described on the menu as coming with croutons, but actually came with a small piece of garlic bread – which honestly I was pretty happy about because I always struggle with croutons in salads! The salad itself was pretty decent – can you screw up a salad? – but the bowl it came in was a stupid design because as soon as I tried to put my fork down, it slipped out and fell on the floor..

Cafe Mickey dinner review

For my main, I chose the pizza, onto which you can add three toppings. I chose goats cheese, pepperoni and ham. It was pretty huge, considering I’d just eaten a whole bowl of salad and I actually struggled to eat half of it which was a shame because I did really enjoy it! It had a nice thin base, which I often prefer, and they definitely didn’t skimp on the toppings! My base was a little burnt in places, but as I normally cut around the crust so I don’t fill up too much, I wasn’t too upset.

Cafe Mickey dinner review

But were we really there for the food? Nah.. Let’s talk characters!

We met Goofy, Pluto, Minnie, Tigger and Mickey, but these can vary. Its clearly stated that characters will come directly to the tables, so it always bothers me when I see parents sending their children off to find the characters and try to interrupt someone else’s time. Agh. Considering we were a big table, the characters were really patient with each one of us taking our turn to go up for photos, autographs, ‘who’s camera is who’s’ and ‘who’s taking who’s picture for them’ conversations.. Well, all except Mickey actually. We’d been there almost two hours before he made it to our table, and when he did he saw half of us, then got distracted by a small child and left, then we had to wait for a bunch of other tables to see him before he came back. I get that he’s the boss and he’s very busy, but he just seemed a little rushed compared to others; especially as Goofy and Tigger came back several times!

The set menu price for started and main is €33.99 or €41.99 with dessert as well, so including a drink we each would have paid about €37, but as annual passholders we had the added bonus of 10% off!

If I’m being completely fair, I would not say this was my favourite dining experience at Disneyland Paris, and after a lovely breakfast here back in October, dinner was a little bit of a let-down. I think I’d return for breakfast, but won’t be rushing back for dinner as there are plenty of other places I prefer.

My opinions may differ to yours, tell me what you think!

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