Walt Disney World is home so many amazing dining locations – from Quick Service to Signature Dining, your family is sure to find something they love.
While Disney World is known for their Character Dining experiences and they are a “must do” for a lot of families, it’s important to keep in mind some of the best dining experiences in the Walt Disney Parks and resorts sometimes don’t involve any characters. They simply offer a great meal and magical experience. Here are 8 of my family’s favorite non-character meals and hidden gems at Disney World.
Starting our list of the best non-character dining locations is Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria (see the Via Napoli menu, read the reviews). Via Napoli is located in the Italy Pavilion in EPCOT’s World Showcase. The open seating, view of the fire ovens, and kind staff, this dining location is great for large families looking for an inviting and laid back atmosphere. The menu is authentically Italian, and the brick oven pizzas are perfect for sharing. Not only is the food good, but it is also “budget friendly” for groups who like to family style meals.
Liberty Tree Tavern
Liberty Tree Tavern, at Magic Kingdom, is a “must do” for many families. The colonial style restaurant and friendly wait staff make this location a wonderful respite from a day in the parks. The menu is served family style, and is very kid friendly. There are favorites, such as turkey, pot roast, mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, rolls….all the makings of a traditional American Thanksgiving feast! You can check out the menu here and read LTT reviews here.
Guests are seated in one of several colonial time period themed rooms. And if you have room for it, I highly recommend ending your meal with the amazing Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake. This is the BEST dessert in Walt Disney World! I love this location because it is often easy to get an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) for, and the food is very good value. This is the place to go if you’re looking for “normal” kid-friendly food on vacation.
Yak & Yeti Restaurant
Inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is Yak & Yeti Restaurant – one of those eclectic “hidden gems”. If you like Pan Asian food, then Yak & Yeti (see the menu, read the dining reviews) should be on your list! This is a great dining option for families who like something special, extra variety in their meals. It is based on a village house, and definitely has one of the more unique atmospheres at Walt Disney World.
The menu consists of small plates, shareable dishes, and noodle bowls. They also offer specials each day, as well as wok bowls and grilled dishes. Not only is the food really good, but the menu is one of the largest on Disney property. There’s so much to choose from!
50s Prime Time Café
One of the most fun non-Character dining spots is at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, 50s Prime Time Cafe. This is highly themed, and you better keep your elbows off the table – the servers here like to make sure you have your manners and eat your vegetables! They interact so well with guests, and it really is fun! The food is menu based (check it out here) – so not family style – which is really nice, that way everyone can choose what they want! The fried chicken and the milkshakes do NOT disappoint. You can read the reviews here.
50s Prime Time Cafe is located toward the front of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and they do book both lunch and dinner. Sometimes, you can get a last minute ADR here, or even join the walk up list!
Whispering Canyon Café
Not only can you find great, non-Character table service meals in the parks, but also outside of them! Whispering Canyon Cafe at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is definitely a top pick. Not only is Wilderness Lodge beautiful, but it is a fun resort to visit!
While you are there, you may as well have a good meal! Whispering Canyon serves the food family style in skillets. You can see the full menu here. Whispering Canyon’s menu is tasty (read the dining reviews), and will stick to your ribs for sure! Wilderness Lodge is an easy trip from the Magic Kingdom, and booking a meal here makes a nice end to your day at the park, or a relaxing afternoon break. Also, they serve all 3 meals of the day so that makes is fairly easy to get a dining reservation as well. It is also one of the more reasonably priced dining locations at Walt Disney World.
Another great location, outside the parks, is California Grill. This is located toward the top of Disney’s Contemporary Resort, and offers amazing views and an unforgettable experience. This is one of the more sophisticated, “fancy” dining locations at Walt Disney World. However, the menu is quite extensive and is kid friendly.
California Grill makes a great dining experience for a special occasion. The wine list is very impressive, and they are one of the few locations on property that serve sushi. You can see the full CG menu here and read the reviews here. Another unique aspect is the menus can change seasonally. They offer continuous items, but also change it up often, especially with their seafood dishes. If you can book a table there for close to sunset, you will have some of the most incredible views of the Magic Kingdom at the prettiest time of day!
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop
Over in the Boardwalk area, at Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. This old fashioned soda shop serves sandwiches, burgers, soups, and of course, ice cream. Guests come here JUST for ice cream. Keep in mind, the seating area is somewhat small. So booking a dining reservation here is somewhat difficult, but not impossible. The jukebox, booths and old school bar seating make it a super fun atmosphere!
You can easily access this restaurant via the Skyliner, boat, or walking from Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The desserts are really what set Beaches and Cream apart, though. The ice cream menu is very extensive, and they do have a walk up window. It is currently closed, but hopefully they will reopen it sooner than later! Check out B&C menu here and read the reviews here.
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’
Our final recommendation is located at Disney Springs – Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’. Talk about great food, friendly staff, and a fun location! The restaurant has a rustic, chic feeling to it, but is also very cozy. Many guests visit Chef Art Smith’s for the Southern fried chicken and biscuits. Also, the brunch here is one of the best meals you can have at Disney Springs.
This is a great option if you have younger children, as the menu is very kid friendly. The portions are huge, and you will definitely not leave hungry! See the full menu here and check out what families have to say about the food here. Visiting Disney Springs for a park free afternoon or evening is perfect, especially if you work in a visit to Chef Art Smith’s.
Disney World is not just character dining – there are so many locations with great food, and a fun atmosphere. And with so much variety in and outside the parks, it is easy to find a place your family will love. Have you enjoyed a meal at any of these restaurants? What did you think?