"Magical" is undoubtedly the most popular description of any stay at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. It’s where your favorite fictional characters not only come to life, but also give you a hug and pose for photos with your family. Historically, however, dining in Disney has not been the most enchanted experience. Why?
Restaurants in Disney fall into one of two categories: the lower-cost counter-service joints or the pricier table-service establishments. The latter are targeted toward adults, with higher-end choices often located in hotel lobbies, convenient for weary parents and their overstimulated children. But not everyone can budget for a multicourse prix fixe at Victoria & Albert’s, leaving most of us with the counter-service option. Up until a few years ago this would’ve meant fish sticks, chicken fingers, and glossy fast food to catch the eyes of kiddies, the true decision-makers at Disney. After all, what is the point of truffle-ing those frites or dry-aging that cheeseburger when the core demographic is going to think it’s icky? Why mess with farm-fresh produce or ethnic diversity when kids will always go with ham and cheese (no pickles)?
But in an age where caring about what you eat is trendy and knowing about food is cool, restaurants have gotten increasingly competitive with their menus to stay afloat in the biz. The trend does not exclude Disney; there have recently been major improvements in the quality of discount grub around the resort. It seems even Mickey is ditching Cheddar for chèvre.
So have no fear, food lovers! Go forth and enjoy that family vacation. Rest assured: there will be more than grilled cheese to indulge in along the way. We have assembled a list of the top 10 most affordable and pretty darn decent restaurants around Disney World!
To find out where to get the best affordable barbeque, fried shrimp platters for less than $10 bucks, or a juicy Caribbean Jerk Chicken sandwich for as little as $5.99, click through our slideshow.
Lili Kocsis is a self-proclaimed gastronome. She graduated from Harvard University in 2011 with a BA in linguistics. She dedicates her spare time to purposeful travel, food photography, and writing about regional cuisine under the penname MyAmusedBouche.