The Walt Disney World Resort is known for having some of the best food at any Theme Park around the world. With literally hundreds of dining options and experiences to choose from during your vacation, there is something for everyone – from standard Theme Park fare like fries and popcorn to refined filet mignon and lobster and everything in between.
However, that amount of choice can get VERY overwhelming! With all the planning that goes into a trip to Walt Disney World, especially for first-timers, some hidden dining gems can easily slip through the cracks. Previously, we covered the best restaurants and food at Walt Disney World for 2023. Now, let’s take a look at the other end of the spectrum – what restaurants and food should you AVOID on your Walt Disney World vacation?
For these, we’ll be looking at a mix of Guest opinions and general vacation planning prowess to tell you about the kinds of dining locations that are not worth your time and money. But of course, remember that your vacation is YOUR vacation, and it’s a great opportunity to try new things, so take everything with a grain of salt and decide what’s best for your party!
Table Service Restaurants to Avoid at Walt Disney World
Overpriced Table Service Restaurants
In general, all Disney World restaurants are expensive. However, even if you’re willing to splurge, you still want to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth. Many Guests take issue with prix-fixe menus or buffets as being not worth the money, especially if you have young children or picky eaters – who wants to spend $65 a head for your kid only to eat macaroni and cheese? For example, the coveted Be Our Guest at the Magic Kingdom is priced at $67 per adult and $39 per child, and despite its beautiful atmosphere, many Guests don’t find the food worth the price. This is not to say the food isn’t good; it’s just not $67 good. Guests have said the same about the very expensive Space 220 at EPCOT.
This fate also tends to befall character restaurants like Chef Mickey’s, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Hollywood & Vine, and Cinderella’s Royal Table (which comes in at a whopping $79 per adult for dinner). All of these restaurants have been criticized for less-than-stellar quality food, as you’re paying for the character experience above all else. Sometimes, it’s not worth spending $80 to eat mediocre chicken with Cinderella when you can meet her for free in the Park itself and spend less money on a better dinner elsewhere.
Hard to Get To Restaurants
Traveling around the Walt Disney World Resort can take longer than you think, and the last thing you want to do is take out precious Park time to visit a restaurant on the other side of the property. For example, if you’re spending the day at the Magic Kingdom, it’s probably not wise to plan to have dinner at Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge unless you’re staying there. Although the restaurant is delicious, the Resort is very far away from everything else, and traveling to and from it will take up a majority of your evening – that could eliminate three or four hours of Magic Kingdom Park time!
Plan your dining reservations accordingly and remember to check the location of the restaurants and your travel options. If you plan to spend an entire day in the Park, it’s probably best to plan to eat at the Park. If you’d really like to visit a Resort for dinner, choose a neighboring one, such as the Contemporary or Polynesian for the Magic Kingdom or the Boardwalk for EPCOT. And remember that dining experiences or shows like the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue are typically all-evening affairs, and Fort Wilderness is quite the hike to get to!
Table Service Restaurants With Limited Menus
This one is for all the picky eaters out there or those traveling with picky eaters. Walt Disney World restaurants have all their menus on their website, making it easy to peruse your options before making your reservation. Make sure the restaurants you choose have something everyone in your party will enjoy! If you have a group with diverse palettes, avoid restaurants with limited menus or just one kind of food.
For example, if someone in your party isn’t keen on Mexican food, they probably won’t find anything they’ll enjoy at San Angel Inn Restaurante in EPCOT. Non-meat eaters will have very limited choices at a steakhouse like Le Cellier, and those who don’t eat seafood won’t have a lot of options at Coral Reef. Picky eaters also may want to avoid more “exotic” or “adventurous” restaurants like Tiffins or Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen.
Table Service Restaurants With Bad Food
For most Walt Disney World restaurants, there will always be those that love it and those that hate it. However, there are a few locations that most Disney fans seem to agree aren’t up to par in terms of food quality. For example, the Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Sure, the environment is fun, but it’s basic chain restaurant food you can get anywhere – the same goes for the T-REX Cafe in Disney Springs, which has virtually the same menu and is run by the same company.
Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom is often pinpointed as one of the worst table service restaurants at Disney. It has a reputation for low-quality food, similar to that of an Olive Garden. Although recent reports of a revamped menu have some things looking up for the restaurant, there are definitely better Italian options at Walt Disney World. There’s always a chance that you’ll love a restaurant everyone else hates or vice versa, but do your research and see what people’s opinions are BEFORE you book your reservation.
Quick Service Restaurants to Avoid at Disney World
Quick Service Restaurants With Limited Menus
It’s typically easier to find something the whole party will enjoy at a quick service restaurant than it is at a table service restaurant. However, some of the smaller locations have extremely limited menus, and it can be a hassle to bounce between locations trying to find something for everyone. For example, as delicious as it is, Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in the Magic Kingdom only offers the Spicy Chicken and Waffle Sandwich, Corn Dogs, and occasionally a Turkey Leg for lunch. That doesn’t provide a lot of options for a family of six looking for lunch.
The same goes for the Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland, which only offers hot dogs as far as meals go, or Tortuga Tavern in Adventureland, which only has five food items total on the menu. There’s a chance that these spots may be what everyone in your party is looking for, in which case, go for it! But if you’d have to bop between three restaurants to make sure everybody gets lunch, it might be better to look for another place.
Quick Service Restaurants With No Seating
Nobody wants to stand and eat their lunch, especially in the middle of a long, hot day at the Disney Parks. However, many Quick Service locations at the Parks have very limited or outdoor-only seating that can fill up quickly during peak hours. For example, Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land is one of the most popular quick service restaurants in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and rightfully so (that Grown-Up Lemonade really hits the spot), but the seating area is VERY small and entirely outside with little coverage. There are standing tables, but it’s less than ideal on a hot, tiring day. Those breaks from the sun are important!
The same goes for Fairfax Fare over on Sunset Boulevard, which is an all-hot dog menu with a very small seating area, and Friar’s Nook at the Magic Kingdom, which has almost no seating at all. Opt for locations where your party can grab a seat and doesn’t feel squashed or tired from standing, like Columbia Harbor House in the Magic Kingdom or Backlot Express in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Pro tip: you can place a mobile order and secure a table while you’re waiting for the order to be ready, although be advised that during peak seasons some locations won’t allow this to prevent elongated table-saving.
Quick Service Restaurants With Bad Food
Quick service locations at Disney World are much more likely to be hit or miss than the table service restaurants. Several restaurants have been called out by Disney fans for being not worth it compared to the hundreds of other dining options around the Parks. For example, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in the Magic Kingdom has a bad reputation for having very basic, mediocre theme park food (burgers, fries, chicken) in a VERY loud and busy environment.
The same goes for all quick-service pizza options, but especially Pizzafari in Disney’s Animal Kingdom and PizzeRizzo at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disney’s quick-service pizza tends to be pillowy and undercooked. All in all, if you can get it at your local amusement park at home, it might behoove you to opt for something a little more interesting while at Walt Disney World.
Snacks to Avoid at Disney World
Snacks are some of the best parts of a day at a Disney Park, and you want to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. There are a lot of great snacks you can still get for a steal at the Parks, but some of them just aren’t worth the money. For example, the Petit Cakes at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs are beautifully decorated but usually go for $20-$22. That is one expensive cake! Even though they’re usually big enough to split between two people, that’s very expensive for a sweet treat. The same goes for Everglazed Donuts, also at Disney Springs; their donuts are $4.75-$5.75 each, meaning a dozen could cost you upwards of $60!
The Blue and Green Milk at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is a must-try for any Star Wars diehards, but for those just wishing for a unique drink, the price tag of $8.49 combined with the… unique taste isn’t worth it. Also in Galaxy’s Edge, the Happabore Sampler at Oga’s Cantina (the only food option at this bar) is a whopping $21 and features mostly SPAM, pork rinds, and pre-shredded string cheese. Not worth it.
Also, bring a refillable water bottle to avoid Disney’s egregious bottled water prices, or ask a quick service restaurant for a cup of water.
Snacks You Can Get Anywhere
If you’re at Walt Disney World, surrounded by literally thousands of amazing and iconic snacks that people wait their whole lives to try… are you really going to spend your money on a bag of Lays Chips? Sure, Disney has a lot of basic snack options like name-brand chips, fruit, and sodas, but they’re sold for a high markup – WAY more expensive than they are at the grocery store. If you’re really itching for those snacks, have young children who like them, or want a healthy alternative to something greasy or fried, bring them from home, don’t buy them in the Parks.
That doesn’t just go for name-brand products. Sure, you can get Soft Serve Ice Cream at Disney World, but you can also get it at every amusement Park, fair, festival, or ice cream truck across the country. Opt for something more unique like a Mickey Premium Bar or Ice Cream Sundae instead. The same goes for items like Cotton Candy or Popcorn – Disney popcorn is delicious, but take the opportunity of being at Walt Disney World to try things you can’t get anywhere else. Avoid basic, pre-bagged candy and those giant oversized lollipops in favor of something like a specialty caramel apple or dipped pretzel. You’re way more likely to remember the amazing fudge or poutine you had than the bag of Doritos.
Greasy, Heavy, or Overly Sweet Snacks
If you’re visiting Florida in the summer, it can get VERY hot and VERY humid. Combine that with walking multiple miles around the Disney Parks all day long, and the last thing you’re going to want to eat is something that will weigh you down. Everyone’s made the mistake of eating something that doesn’t agree with them and then trying to get on a roller coaster, and it’s not pretty. Don’t ruin your day by ruining your stomach!
The Cheeseburger Spring Rolls in Adventureland are a unique snack and a fan-favorite, but they are deep-fried and very greasy, making them not the best option for a light snack. Some people love Disney’s iconic Turkey Legs, but it is an absolutely massive, salty slab of meat in the middle of a hot day. On the flip side, while the Cupcakes at Walt Disney World are usually very pretty to look at, they’re usually a mound of buttercream on a dry cake and a total sugar bomb.
Well, there you have it. Just remember that your vacation is YOUR vacation, and you should do what YOU want to do, so there’s no shame in breaking these rules!