First Time Disney Visitors-Best Disney World Restaurants

Published date on October 6, 2016

This content was first published 60 days ago or more

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Welcome to the Disney Food Blog. If you enjoy this post, you should check out the tour of the site to see all the great Disney Food information we have.

 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!

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.

Atmosphere and Buffet at Tusker House

With similar menus, you can’t go wrong by choosing one or the other of these buffet-style feasts.

Featuring African specialties like Quinoa Porridge, Bobotie, and beautiful pastries, breads, chutneys, and spreads, you’ll find a lot to tempt your taste buds. Check out our recent Tusker House Review for dozens of food photos!

Boma Breakfast Pastries

One point of distinction: if you’re looking for a character experience, choose Tusker House for breakfast or lunch.

Characters are not there for dinner at Tusker House, or for any of the meals at Boma.

Goofy strikes at pose at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Be sure to try the Jungle Juice, too!

Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot’s Canada

Many readers agreed that a first visit to Disney World should include a stop at one of the resort’s signature restaurants. While a few different spots were mentioned, Le Cellier in Epcot’s Canada Pavilion garnered the most buzz.

With some of the best steaks that we’ve ever tried, this spot wins rave reviews for its consistently good food and cozy setting. The service is often very good here as well.

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Inside Le Cellier

Our favorite items here are the Poutine and Mushroom Filet with Risotto. But don’t take my word for it! There are plenty of options to sample.

Just remember, this restaurant is now a signature meal — which means 2 Disney Dining Plan credits and a hefty price tag for out of pocket payers — for both lunch and dinner.

Mushroom Filet Mignon with White Truffle Butter Sauce and Micro Chevril

And if dessert is on your radar, we are big fans of the Maple Crème Brûlée!

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Maple Crème Brûlée

Les Halles Bakery in Epcot’s France

For your final food stop, First Timers, DFB loyal readers want to make sure you don’t miss out on one of Epcot’s newest stops, Patisserie Boulangerie Les Halles.

Les Halles

While there has been a bakery stop in the France Pavilion for quite some time, a recent upgrade to this super popular counter service eatery has resulted in some much-needed indoor seating, and more room for the lines (which can sometimes get quite long).

Les Halles Seating

There has also been an expansion to the menu. Now, in addition to pastries and sandwiches, you can enjoy many moresoups and salads here as well.

Salads at Les Halles

It’s also a terrific stop for those who would like a gourmet coffee or glass of French wine. Check out an extensive Epcot Les Halles Review here!

Chocolate tart, creme brulee, strawberry tart.

Cinderella’s Royal Table

But we can’t wrap up our list without a nod to Cinderella’s Royal Table.

I mean, the castle is so iconic that it’s the Disney logo, for cryin’ out loud. And are you kidding me that there’s a restaurant in there, too???

Cinderella's Royal Table

Cinderella’s Royal Table

Personally, I think that a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table has to be on the bucket list of every self-respecting Disney fan. How can you possibly go through your charmed Disney life without seeing inside those walls?

Dining Room Windows at Cinderella's Royal Table

Dining Room Windows at Cinderella’s Royal Table

Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table ensures character interaction, too — a BIG plus for us. While you enjoy your meal, Cinderella’s princess friends meet and greet and take pictures and offer autographs. (Cinderella doesn’t actually mingle, but you have a chance to meet her before you’re seated.)

Snow White is Just One of the Princesses You Might Encounter at Cinderella's Royal Table

Snow White is Just One of the Princesses You Might Encounter at Cinderella’s Royal Table

In the past, the food here was considered largely overpriced and forgettable. But in the last few years, that has changed a little. We’re seeing more updates on the lunch and dinner menu as chefs are steered by seasonal ingredients and hot food trends.

Roasted Chicken

Roasted Chicken

And breakfast has been the sweetspot here for a long time — especially the Pastries and the Stuffed French Toast, which changes up now and then.

The characters and ambiance are still the big draw. But chances are nowadays, you’ll enjoy your meal here as well.