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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Be Our Guest – Which Meal Is Best?

Be Our Guest Restaurant is one of the most popular dining spots in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, and tomorrow actually marks 5 years since the Beast’s castle opened its doors to guests.

Situated in Fantasyland, the restaurant opens for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and each meal offers guests a different dining experience. I recently ticked breakfast off the list of meals I’ve had here, so now I’ve done the set, here’s the low-down on what each meal offers!

Breakfast

BOG is one of the three restaurants in Magic Kingdom that opens for breakfast at 8am, meaning that if you can get a reservation then you get early access to the park, and the perks that come with that AKA empty Main Street and castle photos! Now don’t let the word reservation fool you – while advanced reservations are usually for table service meals, breakfast is actually quick service, so a worthwhile use of a QS credit if you’re on the dining plan! That said, however, while you do visit a counter to pay for your meal, the food is brought directly to you at your table. And to add more magic to the experience, you can actually pre-order your food on the Walt Disney World website so that you don’t have to even worry about deciding what to eat on the day! As for the food..

This is the Croque Madame, which was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had in WDW, but there are a few options from classic breakfast dishes to sweet options, and every table also gets a selection of fruit and assorted pastries to tuck into as well!

If you’re not on the dining plan, entrees are $25.

Lunch

Lunch is also a quick service meal, but as with breakfast its highly recommended that you get a reservation, but if you can’t snag one, try to get to the restaurant for when it opens and you stand a good chance of a minimal wait! Again, while being technically classified as a counter service, you order at a booth but the food is brought to you wherever you choose to sit, whether that’s in the West Wing, the Ballroom or the Gallery.

The menu is primarily sandwiches and salads, but there are some soup and other veggie options. I tend to stick to the Croque Monsieur, which is basically a ham and cheese toastie but it comes with a good helping of fries and definitely worth a quick service credit!

Entrees at lunch are all around the $17 mark.

Dinner

I did dinner for the first time here in February this year. Dinner is table service, and as such guests receive a bit more of a magical experience, including each party being given a Lumiere to light their way to the table. The restaurant is a little more packed in during dinner (or at least it felt like it the one time I was there!) so it can be a bit louder.

The food is also a lot fancier, which you’d certainly hope for with a table service meal. I really enjoyed the food – I mean when do I not? – but compared to other amazing meals I’ve had in WDW it was average, so personally I don’t think I’d do dinner here again if I wasn’t on the dining plan.

That said though, once you finish your meal you get to experience the other magical moment that having dinner here gets you, and that’s meeting the Beast himself!

Dinner entrees range from $22-36, appetizers are $10-15 and desserts are $5.

Good things to know

With it being such a popular destination, the restaurant can be pretty noisy, especially during the quick service mealtimes, but if you get breakfast early it can be quite quiet, depending on the time of year. The restaurant is also well set up with plenty of different table sizes, including big round tables that can fit a party of 10.

What I cannot fault about the restaurant in any way is the decor, so be sure to explore each of the three rooms of the restaurant, including seeing the Enchanted Rose in the West Wing! My favourite room is the Grand Ballroom, and I love watching the snow fall outside the window.

Whatever meal you choose, you’re in for a magical meal and its an absolute must for any Beauty and the Beast fans!

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Lottie and Matthew Do Disney: Day 3

So for some reason yesterday’s report published today instead of yesterday, so today is a double post day!

This morning we finally slept through til our alarm, yay! We set it a little later as although we had breakfast reservations, we decided to get an Uber to The Boardwalk rather than having the hassle of getting two buses.

The Bon Voyage breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno was amazing! The food was so good and the character interaction was great, plus we had the nicest server who brought us extra pancakes when I couldn’t make my mind up! After we’d eaten, we took a nice long walk around the Boardwalk, along passed the Yacht and Beach Club resorts before finally heading into Epcot via the International Gateway, and wandered back towards Future World. Bubblegum wall photos were taken, Baymax was met, it was fab.

After meeting Baymax, we headed to Test Track for our fastpass, only it was closed temporarily, so instead we went over to Soarin’, which only actually had a 25 min wait, and then grabbed a Starbucks before hitting Spaceship Earth and our second fastpass, the Epcot Character Spot.

From there, we made our way back to the World Showcase and to Norway to meet Anna and Elsa – random side note, the toilets in the Norway pavilion are really nice – and then trotted back to Future World for our second time on Soarin’, this time because we had a fastpass. While in The Land, we had dinner at Sunshine Seasons, and then we headed back over to Test Track, which was now back up and running, and finally made use of that fastpass, which became valid for the whole day when the ride broke down.

Because I’m really not bothered by Illuminations, we decided to head back to the resort and spent the evening chilling out there!

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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Another ADR Day!

Yesterday marked what is possibly the biggest day in any WDW trip countdown: 180 days!

That of course meant that all my planning and decision making for dining on our trip was about to come down to a crucial hour of frantic tapping and clicking at my laptop in the hopes of securing those all too important reservations. I was really happy that Matthew got to be involved in the planning side, but as he was working, the booking was all down to me!

Well what did I get?

  • Be Our Guest breakfast (QS) and The Plaza Restautant – I had hoped to get Crystal Palace on the first day but it had already booked up at the time I wanted, so instead I swapped for Be Our Guest which we were planning on doing later in the trip. I always start my first day in Disney with a breakfast reservation before park opening so I can get those empty Main Street photos! Then as we weren’t going to be using a TS credit, I decided to book The Plaza for 3pm – its a Halloween party night so nowhere books very late, and we are hoping to do the party that night so we’ll be busy in the evening getting spooky!
  • Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom – this is one of Matthew’s very few requests, but its a bit of a tradition for him and who doesn’t love RFC?
  • Bon Voyage breakfast at Trattoria Al Forno – YESSSSS! The newest and most exciting character breakfast booking is mine! Tangled themed, and at my favourite Disney location, The Boardwalk, this was my top priority booking!
  • Sci-Fi Dine In Theater – another one that Matthew really wanted, and although I’ve eaten here before I’m excited to be going back!
  • T-REX – another classic, and a restaurant that Matthew’s never been to so I’m really excited for him to experience the dinosaurs!
  • Yak and Yeti – I had such a great meal here back in February and there were so many things on the menu that I wanted to try so it was a no-brainer really..
  • Teppan Edo – this will be my third consecutive time eating here on a WDW trip and I have no shame because I absolutely love everything about it. Also Matthew and I are hoping to maybe do Japan next year so it’ll be a fun experience for both of us.

We’ve still got a few more bookings to do for the last couple of days of our trip, but we’ll be hoping to snag Skipper Canteen, Chef Mickey’s and Crystal Palace or Cinderella’s Royal Table! As we’re doing a few offsite days we’ll have a few spare credits to play with too..

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