Fine Dining Around the World

“The food at Disney stinks,” my younger cousin commented this Thanksgiving. “It’s the same food every day.”

“Clearly,” I replied, “You weren’t looking in the right places.”

Ah, theme park dining. Generally looks like this…

But at Disney, it can look like this:

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Or even this.

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You just have to know where to look.

You follow old Leah. She knows the way!

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First Chow Lesson:
Counter Service

You’re famished. You got up at the crack of dawn and now you just want to sit and have food. Immediately. But burgers and fries just ain’t gonna cut it. Well, lately, Disney has really been trying to step up their game when it comes to counter service, offering more health-conscious, vegan, and gluten free options.

Of course, if you do want the burger/chicken finger/french fry option, there are plenty of those too. But for those who are looking for a little variety and slightly finer cuisine, here are my picks by park.

Epcot–  Sunshine Seasons

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Location: The Land Pavilion, lower floor

Menu Items: Salads, Soups, Gourmet Sandwiches, Chinese Food, Sushi, Grilled Meat and Fish, Bakery

In general, Epcot has the best food and the best counter service. But Seasons is hands down the best counter service in all of Disney World. Utilizing their in-house state-of-the-art greenhouse, as seen in the “Living with the Land” ride, all of their food is fresh and delicious. Traveling with little ones? The kid’s menu is just as varied. Plus there’s a few to-go snack pack options you can stash for later.

The dining area is divided into sections by seasons, as reflected by the image on your table and the expressive balloons floating overhead.

Varied options means everyone in the family is guaranteed to sit down with a smile. The set up is like a food court, so you can look at and smell all the foods before you make your selection. If you’re watching your figure, I wouldn’t wander too close to the bakery. The treats look far too good to resist.

Animal Kingdom– Flame Tree BBQ

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Location: Discovery Island

Menu Items: BBQ

A full day at the Animal Kingdom can make you feel strangely carnivorous. Enter Flame Tree BBQ. This is my favorite place to eat in the Animal Kingdom, but you better like barbeque. Although, my vegetarian mother does enjoy the beans and corn on the cob. Fruit plates are also available. To me, you can’t get better than the smoked pork sandwich. The chicken and ribs are delicious, as well.

The dining area is shaded, festive, and overlooks a waterfront. Often, a ferry transports characters who will wave and sometimes perform for you.

Magic Kingdom Columbia Harbour House 

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Location: Liberty Square

Menu Items: Seafood

Adorable little place to eat after you’ve screamed yourself hungry in the Haunted Mansion. However, since it’s popular and not the largest venue, it can get really crowded. There is an upstairs, but it’s often booked for private parties or tour groups.

If you’re going at peak times, I would try eating lunch a little early or late. Tide yourself over with a snack if need be. Magic Kingdom, as I will tell you in a future blog, has some wonderful snack options.  My favorite meal here is undoubtedly the Anchor’s Aweigh Tuna sandwich. Delicious, and not too heavy on the mayo.

*Note* The new Be Our Guest Restaurant will undoubtedly become the new “place to be” for counter service meal. Replicating the Beast’s castle with stunning detail, I cannot contain my excitement for this new restaurant (which will be counter service for lunch and table service for dinner). But until I have officially experienced it for myself I feel I can’t really officially recommend it. I will say the reviews for counter service food are generally positive. However, since it has not officially opened yet it is unclear how this restaurant will handle the undoubtedly massive crowds headed its way. If you want to eat here, you will definitely have to wait for a bit. Although, as you can see here, this might not be the worst place to wait.

Update: I ate counter service at Be Our Guest twice and it kicks the pants off of any other counter service in the parks. The food choice is varied and delicious, nutritional information is provided on the touch screen kiosks, and the theming is stunningly intricate and beautiful. Definitely worth the twenty to thirty minute wait to get to the food kiosks. 

 Disney’s Studios– Pizza Planet

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Location: Streets of America (right by the Muppets)

Menu Items: …take a wild guess

Okay, I had a large debate with myself on this one because I can acknowledge how a lot of people wouldn’t really care for this place. It’s a far cry from Sunshine Seasons. But I love it.  I decided to go with my honest opinion, and this place is honestly my favorite counter service in Disney Studios. Frankly, Disney Studios in general has sub-par counter service.

Pizza Planet has two things going for it.

1. The nostalgia of Toy Story.

2. The yummy pizza.

Now when I say yummy pizza, I don’t mean quality pizza. This ain’t New York style brick oven pizza. You know that thick fluffy pizza? It’s that kind of pizza.

Oh, I love it. It’s delicious. Not everyone does, though. If you don’t care for the pizza they do have some pretty decent salads. They also offer meatball subs but I’ve never tried them.

As a bonus, downstairs is a full-on arcade, just like the movie. Let your little ones run ragged while you take a load off. For a quieter atmosphere, the outdoor dining is very peaceful.

I definitely recommend trying this place, but with the knowledge that it may not be your thing. I can at least guarantee you it will beat the food at the Sci-Fi Drive In.

Well, now I’ve just made myself extremely hungry.

Next up: the best snack places! Stay tuned =D