Everyday we receive lots of mail from you, our awesome DFB readers, asking for restaurant suggestions and recommendations. And while we certainly have our favorites, we know that you do, too!
So when a Disney first-time visitor recently asked what restaurants we would recommend for their upcoming trip, we couldn’t think of a better panel of experts to ask than YOU!
When I put the question out on the Disney Food Blog Facebook page, I was overwhelmed by the huge and immediate response that I got!
Let’s take a look at your recommendations for the restaurants first timers must experience on that inaugural Walt Disney World trip!
If you have other thoughts or ideas — or, better yet, stories of your favorite restaurants during a first-time visit — please share them with all of us in the comments section! More suggestions are always better!
Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort
When it comes to first time Disney dining, the winning restaurant recommendation is, hands down, Chef Mickey’s in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Many of you agree that anyone visiting the Happiest Place on Earth for the very first time MUST experience a buffet that includes lots of character interaction.
Chef Mickey’s is highly recommended by our DFB Readers!
But the suggestion is practical, too. Readers pointed out that a character dining experience offers terrific value for your Disney dollar, with an all-you-care-to-eat option.
A View of the Castle from Chef Mickey’s
And with the addition of characters, you have a less rushed (and air conditioned!) meet and greet opportunity that guarantees you’ll see lots of characters without waiting in long lines in the parks.
Also, don’t forget that Chef Mickey’s is walking distance from the Magic Kingdom. This is a great
place to start or end your Magic Kingdom day!
Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland
Judging from the reader response, we’d say that Disney definitely hit the mark with one of its newest restaurants, Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland.
Be Our Guest Restaurant Bridge Entrance
Set in Beast’s Castle (from Disney’s animated classic, Beauty and the Beast), the huge eatery is a counter service location for lunch and table service location for dinner (see our “Everything on the Menu!!” Review Here!).
Be Our Guest Restaurant Ballroom
The menu has a French flair — and chefs worked hard to create tasty, interesting meals for the younger set as well.
Be Our Guest Restaurant also has the distinction of being the only spot within Magic Kingdom where guests can orderbeer and wine. While it broke with tradition when Disney announced the decision to offer adult drinks in the otherwise dry park, they felt it was necessary in keeping with the French-inspired menu.
The Beast occasionally greets visitors in his study during dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant
Many guests celebrate special occasions at Be Our Guest Restaurant, and if that’s you, be sure to mention it to your server. He may actually bring you a celebratory taste of “The Grey Stuff” — mentioned by Lumiere in the film!
This cookies and cream panna cotta truly is “delicious!”
The Grey Stuff — It’s Delicious!
Guests seem to be loving this spot for many reasons, and Advanced Dining Reservations for dinner remain hard to come by.
While we’ve tasted just about everything here and agree that the food’s quite good, most of you especially love it for the incredible, immersive themeing. So, remember that even if you can’t get a reservation for dinner, you can still enjoy the restaurant itself — including getting a peek at all three dining rooms — if you dine here for a counter-service lunch!
braised pork — coq au vin at Be Our Guest Restaurant — for LUNCH!
Here’s a TIP: if at all possible, snag a table in the West Wing and keep an eye on the Prince’s portrait!
‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort
The fan base for ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Resort came out loud and clear in support of their favorite restaurant.
We heard from lots of you that a Disney World vacation isn’t complete without least one meal here, with dinner enjoying the highest number of votes. (Though the delicious character breakfast featuring Mickey, Lilo, and Stitch is no slouch!)
‘Ohana Fire Pit
While ‘Ohana can be a little uneven at times in service and quality, we’ve heard from many of you lately that it’s back on top in both areas.
With a unique family-style feast of Polynesian-style “churrascaria” and a show kitchen that can’t be beat (all that meat!), first time visitors will walk away with an experience that is both unique and delicious.
And don’t forget to save room for one of the best desserts at Disney — Pineapple Coconut Bread Pudding with Bananas Foster Sauce!
Bananas Foster Bread Pudding at ‘Ohana
But another huge reason for the ‘Ohana love is the fantastic view of Magic Kingdom fireworks that you’ll have if you happen to time your dinner reservations just right. Between that and the bread pudding, you’ll be a Disney fan for life!
50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios
You had better eat those veggies and keep your elbows off the table! While DFB readers love good eats, fantastic themeing and engaging (sometimes downright cheeky) service also win big points. Many of our readers said that anyone venturing to Disney World for the first time must be sure to book a table at 50s Primetime Cafe.
50s Prime Time Sign
Located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this table service spot serves comfort food with a hearty helping of nostalgia. Tiny black and white TVs roll clips from old sitcoms as you feast on Meatloaf and Mashed Potatoes or Chicken Pot Pie.
Don’t forget to ask for a “TV Table” when you check in!
Our TV Table at 50s Prime Time Cafe
Of course, we highly recommend you order our favorite Disney menu item of all time — the fried herb cheese appetizer! It was newly brought back to the menu after years away, and we couldn’t be happier!
Fried Herb Cheese
And ordering a drink from Dad’s Liquor Cabinet is a way fun bonus!
Dad’s Electric Lemonade
If you book a table, be sure to leave yourself plenty of time to explore all the fun decor here. It’s truly an amazing throwback to the mid-20th century.
And here’s a TIP: if you go to the restroom, be sure to note the color of the soap. After all, your “Cousin” (that’s your server) may ask to make sure you washed your hands! (If you’re a 50s Primetime newbie, be sure to read some of ourfavorite readers’ experiences here!)
Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square
While some of you can’t wait to book a table with Mickey and Minnie, still others feel that the quintessential Disney dining experience is tied more to history and reliably good food.
Those were the top reasons why you cited Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom as a must do for your first timers dining list.
Liberty Tree offers an a la carte menu during lunch and a family style, all you care to eat affair at dinner, meaning that you can actually have two meals here and have completely different experiences.
Lunch at Liberty Tree Tavern offers pasta, sandwiches, this incredible Pot Roast (which my husband orders on every visit), and the to-die-for dessert — Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake!
Liberty Tree Tavern Pot Roast
Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake at Liberty Tree Tavern in Magic Kingdom
But the dinner at Liberty Tree — basically a traditional Thanksgiving meal served family style – has a big following, too!
Roast Pork, Turkey, and Beef with Cornbread Stuffing and Chutney at Liberty Tree Tavern
Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy
Throughout all of the many comments we received, there was another resounding suggestion: first timers must eat somewhere in Epcot’s World Showcase. One of your very favorite international-inspired spots is Via Napoli in the Italy Pavilion.
Via Napoli’s Pizza Ovens
And why not? A recent addition to the Italy Pavilion, Via Napoli offers some of the best pizza that we’ve had anywhere, ever (and especially at Disney!).
Pizzas are thin-crust and made with imported water to better reach the dough consistency you’d experience if you were dining right in Naples, Italy. Try the Italian Margherita, our favorite Quattro Formaggi, or one of the many other pizza options on the menu! And don’t forget to sample some of the amazing new beers that they are starting to feature here!
Via Napoli Pizza Margherita
Of course, pasta might also be your choice… Isn’t this gorgeous?!?
Candele from Via Napoli
We also love the setting, including the three enormous wood-burning ovens named after Italian volcanoes. You definitely won’t go wrong — food-wise — planning a meal here.
Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness Resort
We were super excited to see that many of our readers loved and suggested Hoop De Doo Musical Revue Dinner Show at Ft. Wilderness as a favorite for first timers! We couldn’t agree more!
This classic “hootenanny” combines singing, dancing, and wacky comedy for 2 hours of family fun that will keep you rolling.
Napkin Twirling and other Audience Participation Will Occur
While you enjoy the entertainment, you’ll also be eating some delicious foods – Fried Chicken, Barbecue Ribs, plus yummy sides.
Hoop Dee Doo Revue Bucket of Fried Chicken
Grownups can also enjoy unlimited beer, wine, and sangria, and soft drinks are available, too. And be sure to save room for the awesome and delicious Strawberry Shortcake!
Boma at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, and/or Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Sometimes at Disney you need a little something different, and many DFB readers passionately avowed their love for the restaurants on property specializing in African flavors! But of all of them, Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge and Tusker House at Disney’s Animal Kingdom were your favorites.