Walt Disney World dining experiences are SO much more than character dining. Is it magical eat with Mickey Mouse? Absolutely. Does everyone need to experience a meal inside Cinderella’s Royal Table? For sure. But if all you are booking are character meals, you are missing out on SO much good food and so many fun experiences!
Dining at Walt Disney World is a huge part of a magical vacation. Whether you are traveling as a couple, an extended family, or friends, having some good food on vacation is a must.
Walt Disney World is home so many amazing dining locations! From quick service, to signature dining, your family is sure to find something they love! But what about those hidden gems? Those “non character” dining locations? Disney World isn’t just about character dining! While this is a magical addition to your time on Walt Disney World property, your family is certain to enjoy some of the best non character dining locations in the parks and at the resorts if you give them the chance!
Non Character Dining Inside the Theme Parks
Starting our list of the best non character dining locations is Via Napoli. Via Napoli is located in the Italy Pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase. First, the atmosphere is wonderful. The open seating, view of the fire ovens, and kind staff, this location is great for a large family. The menu is authentically Italian, and the brick oven pizzas are perfect for sharing! Not only is the food good, but it is also “budget friendly” for families who like to share meals.
Liberty Tree Tavern, at Magic Kingdom, is a “must do” for many families. The colonial style atmosphere, and extremely kind wait staff make this location a wonderful respite from a day in the parks. The menu is served family style, and is very kid friendly. There are favorites, such as turkey, pot roast, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rolls….all the makings of a traditional American Thanksgiving feast! Guests are seated in one of several colonial time period themed rooms. And your meal ends with the amazing Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake. This is the BEST dessert in Walt Disney World! I love this location because it is often easy to get an ADR for, and the food is amazing. It is a good value, and it’s important to have kid friendly, “normal” food on vacation. Liberty Tree Tavern should be on your list!
Inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is Yak and Yeti. Yak and Yeti is one of those eclectic “hidden gems”. If you like Pan Asian food, then Yak and Yeti should be on your list! This is a great dining option for families who like something special, extra variety in their meals. It is based on a village house, and definitely has one of the more unique atmospheres at Walt Disney World. The menu consists of small plates, shareable dishes, and noodle bowls. They also offer specials each day, as well as wok bowls and grilled dishes. Not only is the food really good, but the menu is one of the largest on Disney property. So much to choose from!
Our final recommendation for non character dining in the theme parks is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, 50s Prime Time Cafe. This is highly themed, and you better keep your elbows off the table! The servers here like to make sure you have your manners and eat your vegetables! They interact so well with guests, and it really is fun! The food is menu based, so not family style. Which is really nice, that way everyone can choose what they want! The fried chicken and the milkshakes do NOT disappoint! 50s is located toward the front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and they do book both lunch and dinner. Sometimes, you can get a last minute ADR here, or even join the walk up list!
Non Character Dining Outside the Disney Parks
Not only can you find great, non character table service meals in the parks, but also outside of them!
Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is definitely a top pick! Not only is Wilderness Lodge beautiful, but it is a fun resort to visit! While you are there, you may as well have a good meal! Whispering Canyon serves the food family style, in skillets. Whispering Canyon’s menu is tasty, and will stick to your ribs for sure! Wilderness Lodge is an easy trip from the Magic Kingdom, and booking a meal here makes a nice end to your day at the park, or a relaxing afternoon break. Also, they serve all 3 meals of the day! So that makes is fairly easy to get a dining reservation as well. It is also one of the more reasonably priced dining locations at Walt Disney World.
Located at Disney Springs is Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. Talk about amazing food, friendly staff, and a fun location! Many guests visit Chef Art Smith’s for the Southern fried chicken and biscuits. Also, the brunch here is AMAZING. This is a great option if you have younger children, as the menu is very kid friendly. Also, the portions are huge, and you will definitely not leave hungry! Visiting Disney Springs for a park free afternoon or evening is perfect, especially if you work in a visit to Chef Art Smith’s. The restaurant has a rustic, chic feeling to it, but is also very cozy.
Another great location, outside the parks, is Steakhouse 71. This is located off the lobby of the Contemporary Resort, and offers amazing food and an unforgettable, nostalgic experience. This location was previously known as The Wave. It underwent a refurbishment, speaking to the creation and implementation of the Disney Parks by Walt Disney himself. This location serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Truly, the food is incredible. The atmosphere is nostalgic, with nods to famous park attractions and important events that led to the creation of Walt Disney World.
Over in the Boardwalk area, at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is Beaches and Cream. This old fashioned soda shop serves sandwiches, burgers, soups, and of course, ice cream. Guests come here JUST for ice cream! Keep in mind, the seating area is somewhat small. So booking a dining reservation here is somewhat difficult, but not impossible. The jukebox, booths and old school bar seating make it a super fun atmosphere! You can easily access this restaurant via the Skyliner, boat, or walking from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The desserts are really what set Beaches and Cream apart, though. The ice cream menu is very extensive, and they do have a walk up window.
Disney World is not just character dining! There are so many locations with great food, and a fun atmosphere! And with so much variety in and outside the parks, it is easy to find a place your family will love!