Courtesy of Walt Disney World/Gene Duncan, photographer
When planning a trip to Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, it can be easy to forget that, at some point, you’re going to need to eat something. In between rides on Space Mountain and meeting Cinderella and Mickey Mouse, knowing where to eat can be even harder than remembering to eat at all. The Magic Kingdom has over 30 different snack stands, counter service eateries and table service restaurants, and you don’t want to make a rookie Disney mistake and pick the wrong one for you and your family. And some of these restaurants require a lot of planning. Reservations for table service restaurants (such as Cinderella’s Royal Table, Crystal Palace and The Plaza) require advance dining reservations, which open up 180 days out on Walt Disney World’s website. Several of these places will, in fact, fill up at that 180-day mark. So, to help you plan your culinary tour of the Most Magical Place on Earth, we’ve tracked down the 15 best restaurants at the Magic Kingdom and ranked them.
To determine which of the many Magic Kingdom eateries made the cut, we limited the list to sit down (table service) restaurants and counter order (quick service) restaurants. Snack stations like Storybook Treats, Golden Oak Outpost and Aloha Isle — while great for some of the best Disney snacks of all time — weren’t eligible for our list. Seasonally operating quick service spots and counter service locations that change their menus regularly, such as Tortuga Tavern, also were not considered.
After narrowing down our list to 15 spots, we analyzed the restaurants based on our own dining experiences as well as online customer reviews, grading each on atmosphere (including theming and character interaction, if it’s offered), the quality of the food and if diners get their money’s worth. Note: Getting your money’s worth is, of course, all relative. Eating at the theme parks is ultimately going to cost you a pretty penny. But if you get a truly-out-of-this-world culinary experience for $50 and get to meet your favorite characters to boot, that’s money well spent. If you spend the same amount on overcooked chicken in a crowded, loud quick service spot, that’s not as great of a value.
The highlight of Pinocchio Village Haus is its interior. This quick service restaurant, themed to the classic Disney film it's named after, has wooden tables and Italian-inspired detailing inside and out that gives it a charm you typically only find at Disneyland. If you’re lucky, grab one of the tables against the windows that face the entrance to It’s a Small World and wave to travelers as they set sail. However, that may be tricky; this restaurant is in the heart of Fantasyland, and like other restaurants of its kind, it gets busy and loud, so it can also be hard to enjoy the atmosphere. Tying into the Italian setting of “Pinocchio,” the Village Haus specializes in Italian flatbreads and pasta. The food here is the definition of hit-or-miss. Some days, the margherita flatbread ($11.99) is fresh and delicious, and other days it seriously lacks cheese and flavor. But picky eaters and children will enjoy the food here, which includes kid-friendly menu items like a chicken parmesan sandwich with fries ($10.49) and penne pasta with marinara sauce ($7.29).
Located in the middle of Tomorrowland, the Space Age-inspired Cosmic Ray’s is one of the busiest quick service restaurants in all of Walt Disney World. The menu here is made up of basic, all-American classics that will cater to the picky eaters in your group. Options include a cheeseburger ($12.29) and grilled chicken club ($11.99) as well as a plant-based sloppy Joe ($12.99) for the vegetarians. Most of the menu items are the same at lunch and dinner, though the latter offers a rotisserie chicken ($14.49). The shining beacon of hope here is the burger toppings bar, with everything from tomatoes and shredded lettuce to sauteed mushrooms and frizzled onions to add some value to a basic burger or grilled chicken sandwich. Beyond the food, the main draw of Cosmic Ray’s is the show from Sonny Eclipse, an animatronic alien lounge singer who will play you some sweet space tunes and tell you plenty of wonderfully cheesy jokes. The animatronic with a heart of gold helps to bring much-needed life to this quick service spot.
Inspired by the restaurant in the iconic spaghetti and meatballs scene from “Lady and the Tramp,” the table service Tony’s Town Square Restaurant is immaculately themed and has a lovely location right on Main Street. While this eatery does have a cult following, the food here can be very hit-or-miss. The menu consists of Italian classics like chicken fettuccine alfredo ($22), shrimp scampi pasta ($27) and spaghetti ($22), so you too can have your own “Lady and the Tramp” moment. Guests complain that the meats here aren’t as high-quality as other table service spots, and the price point for the portion sizes is a bit high. The desserts are a highlight, with the tiramisu ($8) getting rave reviews.
The Magic Kingdom’s Frontierland is themed around the Old West, so it makes sense that the food at the table service restaurant Diamond Horseshoe will be hearty fare fit for the hungriest cowboys and cowgirls. At lunch, this spot serves a la carte barbecue dishes, including a pulled pork sandwich ($17) and cowboy macaroni with smoked brisket and cornbread ($17), as well as bigger “chuck wagon platters” with classic barbecue meats like carved beef brisket ($22) or grilled chicken ($21). Most dishes come with one “fixin’,” such as mashed potatoes, coleslaw, baked beans or potato salad. The only dinner option, meanwhile, is an all-you-care-to-eat Saloon Feast ($38 per adult; $21 per child). This feast includes brisket, smoked sausage, chicken, pulled pork and all the fixins you could ever want. The food here is good but not great, and so is the atmosphere. If you’re looking for a big meal on a budget and you have picky eaters in your party, however, this can be a good option.
Tater Tots make the best nachos, and the Friar’s Nook in Fantasyland proves this. Somewhere between a traditional quick service restaurant and a simple snack stand, this spot specializes in using golden nuggets of shredded and fried potatoes as a base for “totchos,” including playful renditions like Loaded Buffalo Chicken Tots with plenty of blue cheese ($9.99). This spot also has seriously creamy, cheesy bacon macaroni and cheese ($10.49). If you’re looking for an easy lunch or shareable snack, this underrated spot is worth seeking out.
The opening of the quick service Gaston’s Tavern (along with the rest of New Fantasyland) in the early 2010s is just one of the many ways that the Magic Kingdom has changed over the years. And because Disney has gotten so into immersive theming in its new lands, Gaston’s Tavern does look straight out of “Beauty and the Beast,” complete with antlers in all of the decorating. This spot serves ham and swiss or turkey and gouda sandwiches ($10.29) that are just fine, but the real thing to get here are the sweets. The warm cinnamon roll ($5.29) is big, fluffy and super sugary. Split it with a friend for a good midday treat. Of course, the other must-have here is the LeFou’s Brew, a non-alcoholic beverage made with frozen apple juice, marshmallow syrup and a passion fruit foam ($5.79). It’s meant to look like beer, but this tart drink is family-friendly.
Tex-Mex food is pretty much universally beloved, so Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe is a welcome addition to the quick service dining options at the Magic Kingdom. Located in Frontierland (right next to the Country Bears Jamboree), this spot offers all of the Tex-Mex classics, including beef or chicken nachos ($12.49), rice bowls with pork carnitas or chicken ($11.99) and a taco trio ($10.99). Like at many other quick service restaurants in the park, the star of Pecos Bill is the toppings bar, which has various salsas, roasted corn, cheese and more. One tip Disney insiders will give: Load up on the toppings in order to stretch a single serving of nachos to feed a whole family. The interior of this restaurant is surprisingly lovely, with fountains and a balcony that mimic the Old West. However, it can be hard to take in the ambiance as this restaurant is very popular and fills up quickly once lunchtime rolls around.
Yelp/The Plaza Restaurant
One of the lesser-known restaurants at the Magic Kingdom, The Plaza Restaurant has a bit of a cult following due to its light and airy interior and location right off of Main Street. For the best possible experience and ambiance, book a reservation at this table service spot later in the evening, right before the Happily Ever After fireworks show; you will have a stunning view of Cinderella Castle and the nighttime spectacular. Food-wise, the items here are elevated versions of what you will find at standard theme park eateries. There’s chicken-strawberry salad ($18), a fried-green tomato sandwich ($18) and a honey-barbecued brisket macaroni and cheese ($22) for both lunch and dinner. While better than just fine, these items come at a price that feels high for, you know, sandwiches, salads and mac and cheese. Lobster fans will take pleasure in the menu options at The Plaza; breakfast and dinner feature the crustacean in dishes including lobster-fried green tomato eggs Benedict ($18) at breakfast and the fan-favorite lobster cobb salad ($21) at dinner.
Casey’s Corner is a baseball-themed quick service spot on Main Street, U.S.A. that’s named after the famous poem “Casey at the Bat,” and it specializes in different variations of one very popular ballpark food: hot dogs. Here, you’ll find delightfully salty hot dogs with snappy skins and a few different and fun topping options like macaroni and cheese ($11.49 standard size; $13.49 for foot long) and limited-time offerings that change every month. The fan-favorite here, though, are the corn dog nuggets ($8.99), which are battered, fried, and served fresh and hot. Sit among baseball memorabilia indoors or outside the restaurant, where you can enjoy bustling Main Street and a pianist.
Everything about the Liberty Square restaurant, Liberty Tree Tavern, is comfortable and inviting. The decor, all wooden with portraits of the Founding Fathers and Revolution-era Americana, gives you the feeling of a holiday in a cabin. The menu has the same feel. At lunch and dinner, there is an all-you-care-to-eat Patriot's Platter ($38 per adult; $21 per child) with traditional holiday meats and sides, including roasted turkey, pot roast, herb stuffing and mashed potatoes. Like Thanksgiving dinners, the sides are the star here, especially the herbed gravy. The platter is all that’s offered for dinner, but the lunch menu includes some a la carte options, including a hearty turkey pot pie ($22) and an amply portioned fish and chips ($19). While this food may be a bit on the heavy side for a theme park, it’s not a bad deal and is a great option for eaters with all kinds of palates.
Anyone can look at Cinderella Castle from the outside, but those who sign on for a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table are some of the few people allowed to go inside. The elaborate, stunning decor of this restaurant isn’t the only appeal of dining here: Guests are also able to meet nearly every iconic Disney princess. Cinderella herself greets you at the door, and the likes of Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine and Snow White talk with you while you dine. The character interactions here are unmatched, with each princess taking the time to engage with your group. The experience of dining with the princesses comes at a price that’s fit for kings and queens, however. Breakfast runs from $45 to $65 per adult and $35 to $45 per child; lunch and dinner cost between $65 and $80 per adult and $45 and $65 per child. Prices fluctuate based on guest demand and time of year. For that price, the food is solid but not mind-blowing. Breakfast comes with assorted pastries as an appetizer and entrees such as beef tenderloin and egg (a classy twist on steak and eggs) and a gut-busting caramel apple-stuffed French toast. The lunch and dinner menus start with a soup, salad, seared scallop or charcuterie plate. Entrees are simple in name but executed well; the grilled beef tenderloin and seared pork rib chop are highlights. You’re paying beyond a premium price for this meal, but it’s a truly magical experience that can only happen at the Magic Kingdom. So if you’re a Disney fan, especially one with a little princess fan of your own, this is an absolute must-do.
Since opening its doors in 2012, Be Our Guest has been the reservation to get at the Magic Kingdom. It’s easy to see why. This restaurant is located inside the Beast’s castle, and it truly is his castle. Fans of “Beauty and the Beast” will be awestruck at the level of detail in each of the restaurant’s three rooms: the ballroom, the Beast’s private wing and Belle’s garden. In order to have this immersive experience, however, you have to eat there. Does the food live up to the beauty of the interior, though? Well, that all depends on when you go. Breakfast and lunch are quick service meals, where you order at a kiosk and get items like a breakfast vegetable quiche ($28) or a lunchtime French dip sandwich ($17.49). It’s expensive, but you’re paying just as much for the atmosphere as you are for the croque monsieur ($15.99). In July 2018, Be Our Guest switched from an a la carte dinner menu to a three-course prix fixe menu with French-inspired entree options such as poulet rouge chicken with confit fingerling potatoes and filet mignon with red wine glaze. The food and service at dinner is better, but it comes at a hefty price: Adults are $55 per person, and children are $35.
Yelp/The Crystal Palace
If you’re traveling with fans of Winnie the Pooh, a meal at The Crystal Palace is a must. This bright and sunny restaurant is host to a daily Friendship Day “Celebrashun” with Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore, and meeting these characters is a pure delight. The food here is similarly delightful. It’s buffet style for both breakfast ($23 per child; $38 per adult) and lunch/dinner ($31 per child; $52 per adult). Breakfast features a classic assortment of pastries, breakfast meats, Mickey waffles and a make-your-own omelet station. Lunch and dinner feature fresh American fare like seasonal fish, soups, salads, roasted chicken, carving stations and a selection of desserts themed to the Hundred Acre Wood. Dishes here are cooked and seasoned well, and the all-you-care-to-eat nature of the buffet and exclusive character meet-and-greets makes this table service eatery a good option for budget and experience.
If you want quick service done right at the Magic Kingdom, head to Liberty Square for a lunch or dinner at Columbia Harbour House. You can order a wide variety of seafood for a reasonable price here. A cup of New England clam chowder is $6.49, a fried shrimp and fish combo costs $12.49, a lobster roll stuffed with fresh shellfish is $15.99 and for a healthier option, grilled salmon with rice costs $13.99. Styled after a New England home, this wood-heavy restaurant is quite cozy. For a nice respite, head to the second floor, grab a window seat in the blissful air conditioning and watch people pass through Liberty Square while cooling off. Foregoing some of the pricer options at the park and eating here is one of the best ways to save money at Disney World.
The flavors of Africa, Asia and South America are on full display at Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen. If the concept and name of this restaurant seem like a lot, that’s because this eatery is themed to the ever-popular (and ever-cheesy) Adventureland ride, the Jungle Cruise. Anyone familiar with that particular attraction will expect plenty of puns and immersive theming in this restaurant, and that’s exactly what you’ll get, from hostesses and servers who deliver some particularly punny puns to menu items that are self-referential and similarly humorous. While the jokes at Jungle Navigation Co. are light, the food here is bursting with flavor. Disney oftentimes gets flack for going light on spice and safe on food concepts, but that is not the case at this restaurant, where just about every menu item is big on complex flavors. Appetizers like the S.E.A. Shu Mai ($12) and the Falls Family Falafel ($10) don’t back away from heat and interesting spices. Other highlights include Curried Vegetable Crew Stew ($18), which has a good balance of sweet, savory and spiciness and is a good value for the amount of food you get, as well as the "Hardy Har Char" Siu Pork ($24). If you’re a Disney regular, it should be no surprise that this restaurant tops our list and that the Jungle Cruise is also high on our ranking of every ride at Magic Kingdom.
More from The Daily Meal: