A Disney vacation doesn't have to be all about Mickey Mouse meet-and-greets and Pirates of the Caribbean-themed rides. Disney can actually be a dining destination all its own. Full-service restaurants make it easy for families to dine and relax, and you can't beat the Disney dining plan if hitting up the quick-service restaurants and snack stands is your style. With the rest of us in mind, Disney is raising the bar when it comes to vacation eating at their fine dining restaurants like Magellan's in Tokyo's DisneySea park and Jiko the Cooking Place at Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walk Disney World, Florida. Jiko is actually one of the more distinctive Disney dining experiences out there. The spirit of Africa comes to life in the décor of the space, where twin wood-burning ovens cast an amber glow over the dining room. The menus change seasonally, so your meal might start with a flavor-bursting appetizer like crispy duck "bobotie" roll and finish with an oak-grilled filet mignon. The emphasis here is on staying true to African flavors and traditions.
Hong Kong Disneyland is the smallest of all the Disney parks, but that doesn't mean you won't find a great meal here. The Crystal Lotus is an award-winning restaurant in the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel. Eponymous crystal lotuses, glass walls, and ornate chandeliers serve as a backdrop for a wide range of regional cuisines from Guangdong, Beijing, Sichuan, and Shanghai. Master chefs under the direction of executive chef Leung Shu Wah have also created an assortment of Disney Signature Dim Sum exclusive to the resort, which are as much works of art as they are edible delights. Think Little Pigs Barbecue Pork Buns (shaped to resemble a cute little pig stuffed into a bamboo bowl) served alongside Mickey's Seafood Glutinous Pancake (literally a portrait in a pancake).
If you’re planning your Disney dining experience, you’ll want to consider all your options and go with the best of the best. We researched the most popular places in terms of awards won, guest experiences, and reviews. We also scoured travel sites to see who ranked the highest on pre-existing lists. Here are the restaurants you will want to add to your to-dine list.
#10 Jiko the Cooking Place: Animal Kingdom Lodge, Walt Disney World, Orlando
African cuisine is the focus at Jiko the Cooking Place, which won a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014. The restaurant features a dramatic interior including twin wood-burning stoves where meats are oak-grilled and tiled columns that pay homage to the rings worn around the necks of women in the Padaung tribe. Authentic spices are used in dishes like spicy Botswana-style "Seswaa" beef short rib and Kenyan pepper steak. The Disney folks consider this one of their "signature dining experiences."
#9 Magellan’s: DisneySea Resort, Tokyo Disneyland
Magellan’s — a high-end table service restaurant in DisneySea, part of Tokyo Disneyland — features a mezzanine area lounge, galleon-themed bar, several dining rooms, and a secret wine cellar/dining room located behind a faux bookcase. The menu is a four-course prix-fixe that ranges from $45-75 per person and offers some of the most upscale food available at the park, including daily fish specials, duck in orange sauce, and sirloin steak.
Originally Published on October 29, 2014.