Monday, November 18, 2013

Disney Dining: Rundown & Reviews

photo courtesy of

 Just joining us for the recap?  Check out all of the previous Disney World posts here!

 T-Rex Cafe - Dinner (Downtown Disney)
This was our first sit-down meal on vacation, and I think everyone enjoyed their meals.  The kids definitely enjoyed the atmosphere, though the dinos scared Liam a few times.  But it was very cool inside, so they definitely get points for kid appeal.  The food was good once it came out, but service was sloooow.  We later found out that this tended to be the trend at most restaurants, but it was definitely a slow start to our vacation!  Our reservation was at 5:30pm and we got seated pretty much right then, but didn't leave until 7:15pm. 

Crystal Palace - Lunch (Magic Kingdom)
This was a buffet lunch featuring Pooh and friends.  While it wasn't awful, it was my least favorite meal of vacation, especially when comparing it to the others (though I heard the table next to me talking that the breakfast there is much better than lunch, so maybe meal time selection makes a difference)  The buffet didn't have a huge selection (again, at least in comparison to other buffets later in the week) and it was another slow meal.  Obviously, this was a buffet so we weren't waiting for food to come out, but it took a long time to get drinks, a long time to get our bill paid, and a very long time to wait for the characters to come around.  In fact, we got skipped over by Eeyore altogether, but managed to talk Liam out of waiting around for him.  I had read online that the characters lead the kids around the restaurant in a little parade, but that didn't happen for the TWO hours we were there, so I'm not sure when that takes place!  I hate to gripe about a place, so I will throw in a positive that seeing the kids get excited over the characters and hug them for the first time was a good thing about it :)

Mama Melrose's - Lunch (Hollywood Studios)
We booked this restaurant as the Fantasmic Dinner package, which meant that when we went to the Fantasmic show later that night, we'd have reserved seating and not have to get in line super early to get seats.  Definitely worth it to do!  Fantasmic was packed that night (as I'm sure it is every night) but we were able to get to the theater about 30 minutes before the show and find seats with no problem)  The food here was good (italian) and the portions were huge. A bonus was that with the Fantasmic package, we each received an appetizer in addition to our entree, so the salad was a bonus!

Chef Mickey's - Breakfast (Contemporary Resort)  
As I mentioned in my recap post, this was my 2nd favorite meal of the week!  I'm not a huge breakfast person, but this buffet was just to die for!  And the Mickey Waffles that everyone raves about??  Yeah, those lived up to the hype!  This meal was also speedy (bonus points for that!); our reservation was for 8:20am, we were out by 9:40am.  The characters came around promptly, and later did a little napkin wave song and dance thing, which the kids got a kick out of.

Tusker House - Lunch (Animal Kingdom)
This buffet had MUCH more for lunch than the Crystal Palace did.  I'm pretty picky, so some of the stuff I wouldn't touch, but even with being picky I had plenty of food to choose from.  I had read some reviews online that kids had a hard time here if they were picky eaters (which Jake is), but we managed to piece together a meal for him.  I can't remember exactly what he had, but I know he had some cheese, peanut butter and jelly (they had uncrustables), mac and cheese, and some fresh fruit.  The service here was good, we got held up a bit with our magic bands trying to make the transaction at the end, but the server said they were having wifi issues or something.  They did get it resolved fairly quickly and we were on our way.

Be Our Guest - Dinner (Magic Kingdom)
My favorite meal of the week!!  The restaurant was beautiful, loved eating in the ballroom (we weren't able to request this room ahead of time, but we were able to request it when we checked in for our meal)  Most of us had the steak, and it was delicious.  I would say the only negative thing here would be kind of a limited menu for kids, but they did have whole wheat pasta, which is what Jake ended up ordering (though I'm not sure he ate too much of it, though he did eat the steamed broccoli and Liam enjoyed some of the pasta).  And of course, I already posted about the great cast member experience we had there...if you didn't read it, you can do so here.

Quick Service Meals:
I'm not going to do individual reviews, because really, they were all pretty good and about the same :)  Most places were your standard choices to be expected at a counter service restaurant, but again, the portions were very generous (no issues with sharing with Liam at these locations either)  Here are the places we went:

Cosmic Ray's (Magic Kingdom)
Pizza Planet (Hollywood Studios)
Landscape of Flavors (Art of Animation)
Tortuga Tavern (Magic Kingdom)
Everything Pop Food Court (Pop Century)

Thoughts on the dining plan:
We had the standard Disney Dining Plan, which entitled us to 1 sit down meal, 1 quick service meal, and 1 snack per day.  Since Liam was free on this trip (under age 3) he didn't have a meal plan, but was allowed to eat at buffets and share off of everyone's plates anywhere else.  I was a bit worried about this, as he has quite an appetite, but there was always more than enough food.  In fact, we had a ton of snack credits at the end of the week, so if I really needed to, I could have been ordering additional items for him throughout the week (and in hindsight, should have done so).  Seriously, this meal plan gives you SO much food.  Each meal includes a drink, entree, and dessert, so there were many times where we would end up taking the dessert to go and enjoy as a snack later since we had already consumed so much food!

As far as cost, I'd say it was a good investment for the restaurant choices we made this trip since we were heavy on the character meals/buffets (which are on the pricey side) and gave us the ability to order larger meals that normally we might not have needed, but were nice since we were all sharing with Liam.  

The dining plan also came with a refillable mug for each person; this is the one thing that I felt like we didn't get much value from.  The refillable mug is good ONLY at resorts, not the maybe if our vacation had more resort time built in it would have been better used, but considering we were there very little, I just didn't feel like we really utilized it a lot.  Which was fine, since it was free, but it's not something I would pay out of pocket for.  

Overall, I thought the dining plan was a good value for us, and it was nice to just show up and have already paid for the meals ahead of time (though tips were not included, so budget for that if you're on the meal plan!)  Whenever we take another trip to Disney in a few years, I would get the dining plan again (and would know this time to use more snack credits as we go!) 

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