Many Disney restaurants are so busy that getting into them requires tremendous planning. In fact, for some of the most popular spots – say Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort or Le Cellier at the Canada Pavilion in Epcot – require that you call ahead as early as possible, meaning 180 days before you want to enjoy your meal. Now that requires some serious dedication and planning.

We don’t always have the time, energy, or advance notice to make reservations (or Advanced Dinning Reservations, as Disney likes to call them) for all our vacation day plans. Fortunately, there are many different dining options that are still terrific but are frequently overlooked – specifically dining at the restaurants at Disney’s resort hotels. They are often not only available but can be unexpected delights.

Advantages Of Eating At Disney Resort Hotel Restaurants

Smaller Crowds

These restaurants are frequently less crowded because they aren’t necessarily located in the high traffic theme park areas. Some of these restaurants often have more space to spread out.

Example: Consider the open spaces (and unique Indian food offerings, I might offer) at the Landscape Of Flavors food court in Disney’s Art Of Animation Resort – different from the crowds that hoard around Chef Mickey’s.

Good Value

Many resort restaurants offer great experiences – whether that is atmosphere or food – that you often can’t find elsewhere at the same price point.

Example: The Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort offers the highest-quality aged steaks in a relaxed and upscale environment – similar to the ever-popular Le Cellier in Canada, but possibly better in the quality and calmness categories.

A More Personal Experience

The Disney resort restaurants normally don’t have as much turn-over as the most popular dining spots in the Disney parks. This means that the staff can often take a bit more time to make your experience even better.

Example: Trails End at Disney’s Fort Wilderness is a terrific, down-home buffet that has great variety and very friendly servers. It’s a good value with very good food to boot.

Exceptions To The Rule

To every rule there is an exception, and that is true with Disney World dining. While many Disney resort restaurants are easier to get into and provide all the benefits listed above, some are just as booked and just as busy as the popular locations inside the parks. A few key examples:

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and the Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club Resort. Four words sum it all up: Disney character dining Buffets. Add together your favorite characters with unlimited food and you get big crowds.

Whispering Canyon Café: This is a table service with all you can eat barbecue. But the big draw is the fun atmosphere that kids love and parents enjoy watching. It’s tucked away in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, but its reputation makes it a hot spot.

O’Hana: This is a fun restaurant with interesting, quality food. This one is tucked away in Disney’s Polynesian Resort, but a good reputation and easy access from the monorail make it a crowded spot.

A Few Hidden Gems

Ok, so now maybe you agree that it is worth considering Disney resort restaurants. What are some good options?

Beaches And Cream Soda Shop: This is a small dining and ice cream restaurant located in Disney’s Beach Club Resort. It doesn’t accept reservations at all, meaning that it is often overlooked and has availability. But the 1950s style décor, juke box, and terrific burgers and ice cream (including the amazing Kitchen Sink Sundae) make this a winner.

Disney Beaches and Cream Restaurant
Beaches & Cream doesn’t accept reservations – which means you can often get in on the spur of the moment.

Kouzzina: A friendly staff and amazing Greek-inspired food make this Kat Cora restaurant at Disney’s Boardwalk a winner. It’s in a terrific location that allows for a stroll before or after your meal, and it offers a relaxed atmosphere.

Artist Point: Fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, this is a popular spot with foodies and adventure eaters – even though you don’t need to be either to enjoy this location. Check out the roasted buffalo and the cedar plank salmon.