5 Theme Park Table Service Restaurants that “Shouldn’t Be Missed”

Dining is an experience that many people overlook when thinking of a Disney trip, but it is truly one of the best parts of a Disney World vacation. Some of the most unique dining experiences are those table service restaurants that are located inside the theme parks of the Disney World Resort. The main method that we have used to pick this list of five is first on food experience and then on atmosphere. Above all to make our list the food at the restaurants had to be very high in quality and the atmosphere immersive and unique. It is also important to note that we did not include signature dining restaurants in this list, which means all of these restaurants that we recommend below will only use one table service dining credit when on the Disney Dining Plan. We have also not included any character dining restaurants, as those will be included on their own top five list. Here are five of our favorites theme park table services restaurants and these are ones that we would say “Shouldn’t Be Missed!”

  1. Be Our Guest – From the moment you walk across the bridge to this beautiful castle inside of the Magic Kingdom you are transported into one of the most classic Disney movies of all time, Beauty and the Beast. The Beast’s castle is great to look at from the outside, but is downright stunning once you step inside the restaurant. One unique aspect of this restaurant is the three different dining spaces that you may be seated in. The main ballroom is the largest dining space and is complete with fantastic chandeliers and snow falling outside the window. Guests also may be seated in the West Wing, complete with the rose which loses its petals throughout dinner. The final room is the Rose Gallery, which is complete with the Beauty and the Beast music box in the center of the room. The decor and setting is not the only star of this restaurant the food is equally as impressive. The traditional French Onion Soup is a fantastic appetizer and it is hard to ignore the well cooked New York Strip Steak entree. The Sauteed Shrimp and Scallops entree is another star as it is served inside of a puff pastry with a creamy lobster sauce over the top. To top it all off are the signature desserts of the castle, which includes several cupcake options as well as cream puffs, and be sure to try “The Gray Stuff”. Finally, after dessert you will most likely have the opportunity to meet the host himself, The Beast, in his study before you leave. All in all you will not be disappointed at this fantastic dining opportunity in the Magic Kingdom.
  2. Teppan Edo – As we think at Epcot there are many great table service dining options, but when also factoring in trying to find a unique experience one must mention this fantastic Hibachi style dining experience in the Japan Pavilion of the World Showcase. Teppan Edo is truly a meal that is entertaining and will be enjoyed by every member of the family. The teppanyaki style restaurant is a very unique experience and your personal chefs will always be sure to put on a great show for your family that will include some cool tricks and even some comedy. The ordering experience is slightly different as you are mainly going to choose a meat or vegetable for the chef to prepare for you on the grill right before your eyes. There are some appetizers available and we love the Wafu Ribs, which are cooked on the flat top by the chef as soon as they arrive. When it comes to choosing your main meal they have many options available including filet mignon, chicken, shrimp, or even vegetable options. By this point in your meal the chef is cooking everyone’s entree as well as the noodles and other sides that come with it and before long you are enjoying a fantastic meal in a great location. The desserts are not the star of this restaurant but some of the choices are not to be missed. We enjoy both the Chocolate Ginger Cake and the Green Tea Cheesecake as both are very good despite their unique combinations of flavors.
  3. Biergarten – When it comes to unique experiences they are all around Epcot’s World Showcase, but one of the best is Biergarten in the Germany Pavilion. From the moment you walk in you feel as though you have walked right into a small German village and no detail is missed, including the moon rising into the sky over the housetops. In addition to the fantastic theming Disney takes it a step further and a live band will entertain at various times during dinner and guests are even invited to partake in the entertainment on the dance floor by the stage. Another favorite experience in this restaurant is the great assortment of traditional, German beers that are available from your server. The food is served from a buffet and you will certainly not leave this place hungry when the meal is over. There are a multitude of appetizer type options including salads , soups, various pickles, macaroni salad, and other traditional German dishes such as one of our favorites the Warm German Potato Salad. Then the hot buffet has many other great German dishes including multiple flavors of German sausages and bratwursts, Pork Shank Gratin and Braised Pork Schnitzel. In addition to all of these options there are many dessert options with the Bavarian Cheesecake being the traditional German headliner. When considering the great food, drink, atmosphere, and entertainment Biergarten is a restaurant not to be missed at Disney World.
  4. Sci Fi Diner – One of the most unique dining experiences in all of Disney World is the Sci-Fi Diner at Hollywood Studios. When you walk in you realize you are going to dine somewhere you probably never thought you would, in a car at a drive in movie from years past. The “cars” in the dining room will serve as your table for the evening and you will be entertained by movie flicks on the large “drive-in movie screen” at the front of the room. The food here is certainly not on the level of a fine dining establishment, but it is very good in it’s own right, and is relatively low priced when compared to other table service restaurants. The Chicken Wings appetizer with a Honey-Chipotle BBQ Sauce is particularly good and a great way to start the meal off. We have found the best entrees on this menu are relatively simple, but are done well. The Sci-Fi Specialty Burger, with swiss cheese, pulled pork, and sriracha BBQ sauce is a guest favorite. Other favorites are the BBQ Ribs or the Reuben sandwich. When it comes down to it the food is good and the atmosphere is very unique and entertaining, making this a table service meal that we think you should not miss when going to Disney World.
  5. Via Napoli – When people talk about pizza at Disney World the discussion usually doesn’t have many options for good pizza, but then the discussion probably turns to the one place that has fantastic, authentic, Italian pizza and that is at Via Napoli in Epcot’s Italy Pavilion. From the moment you walk in the door at Via Napoli you feel as though you are in an Italian Pizzeria complete with the large ovens and open kitchen where you can smell the fantastic pizza’s already being made. We have also found the servers at this restaurant to be among the best and most friendly on Disney property and they will go out of the way to make sure you enjoy your meal. Even though the pizza is the star here there are some noteworthy appetizers that will get your meal off to a great start. Our favorite appetizer is the Arancini, which is fried risotto balls filled with mozzarella and topped with marinara sauce. It is cooked perfectly and a great starter. After this you will be ready for a fantastic pizza from the ovens. Many people are partial to the Quattro Formaggi, which includes four different cheeses. Of course we love many of the other signature “pies” such as the spicy Piccante, but you really cannot go wrong with any of the pizza’s on the menu. If you love pizza, and most people do, this is a place you should not miss when traveling to Disney World.

Please comment below and let us know any questions or thoughts you may have and we will do our best to help you.

Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine Returning to Hollywood Studios

Disney World has announced that they will once again be doing a special dining experience at Hollywood and Vine Restaurant in Hollywood Studios. The event, Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine, will return on January 7 and run through March 19. This event, which debuted last year, allows guests to be a part of a special dinner party with Minnie that celebrates Disney movie magic. Guests will get to walk on the red carpet with Minnie, Mickey, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy. The normal Hollywood and Vine buffet menu will be present along with some special dishes such as creamy popcorn soup, bacon-wrapped pork loin, honey-bourbon glazed turkey, and lobster & shrimp macaroni.

It is not yet apparent if Disney will bring back the other special dining events at Hollywood and Vine this year. Last year they offered Minnie’s Springtime Dine from March through May, Minnie’s Summertime Dine from June through September, Minnie’s Halloween Dine in September & October, and Minnies Holiday Dine in November and December. We’ll update this post if and when those experiences are announced.

Disney World Nighttime Entertainment

**Disclaimer: This information is going to change in early 2017 as we are expecting the opening of River of Light, the new nighttime show at Animal Kingdom. We are also awaiting the future schedule of the Star Wars fireworks at Hollywood Studios as well as a parade as the Magic Kingdom as the Main Street Electrical Parade has left Disney World. Stay tuned for further information, but for now we will let this guide you on the events that we have a historical perspective on.

One of the toughest things to plan on your itinerary is the evening entertainment that takes place at the parks. We are speaking of Wishes at the Magic Kingdom, IllumiNations at Epcot, and Fantasmic! at Hollywood Studios. The nighttime entertainment options are some of the highlights for many people on their Disney World vacation, but these can also cause some of the biggest headaches for people when it comes to an itinerary. You want to have these great moments with your family, but you also want to make sure you are rested enough to make it through these late nights. Remember, we also think you should probably have a sleep in morning scheduled the day after one of these late nights. Below we will give some things to know about each of the major nighttime events at Disney World and how you can expect to handle them within your itinerary.

Wishes

  • Wishes is the evening fireworks that is going to take place every night at the Magic Kingdom with very few exceptions.
  • A majority of guests will want to view Wishes from the hub or on Main Street USA and unlike a parade, which goes through other lands, these are the only places that have great views of the fireworks as they are designed to be viewed from head on. If you want to view Wishes from these areas you will need to move into a location a early as possible, sometimes as much as two hours ahead of time in extremely crowded times of year. If a nighttime parade returns to the Magic Kingdom that may slightly change things as most guests who were viewing the parade will just stay in their spots for Wishes, so not a ton of spots will open up prior to the fireworks, except the spots in the street itself. Just prepare yourself to be in a large crowd and have to find a spot for your family.
  • The redesign of the entire hub area has drastically improved viewing the fireworks, but we do have some spots that we recommend that may give you a good viewing location, while battling the crowds a little less. There is a path that leads from The Plaza Restaurant to Tomorrowland and this path sometimes has nice spots available a little closer to show time. You are still going to need to move into a spot on the rail and save the spot for 30 minutes, but at least with a rail there you won’t have anyone working their way in front of you. There are also some spots usually around the train station. People crowd towards the castle after the parade and usually leave some space around the train station. This is actually good as you are going to be able to get out of the exits the fastest once the fireworks are over.
  • Another option is the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party, but they’ve recently increased the price of this. This party is around $79 per adult and $47 per child, and can vary slightly during certain times of year. This party includes a reserved table at the Tomorrowland Terrace, all you can eat desserts, and a nice view of the firework, but keep in mind you most likely will still have to stand along the railing of the restaurant in order to see the full fireworks show. We wouldn’t recommend this on every trip, but if you are planning a once in a lifetime trip or want a great view without battling crowds this is a good option. Disney has also recently released a similar experience in one of the grassy areas in the hub called the Fireworks Dessert Party with Plaza Garden Viewing. You still get the dessert party at the Tomorrowland Terrace, but then you are escorted to a standing room only section of the hub. The price is $59 per adult and $35 per child.
  • FP+ is also available for Wishes in the hub area. You will need to pre-book this as it will rarely be available as a 4th FP+ option on the day of. Just make sure it is worth it for you to use a FP+ on this.
  • Finally, there are always some great locations outside of the park to watch Wishes. Around the Magic Kingdom boat docks and ferry boat station provides a pretty good view. The beach at the Polynesian Village Resort is also a popular spot, although they sometimes restrict access during busy times of year. There is also a viewing deck on the 4th floor of the Contemporary Resort or if you plan a reservation at California Grill you get access to their viewing deck on the top floor on the night of your reservation.

IlllumiNations: Reflections of Earth

  • IllumiNations at Epcot is a great show, especially for teens and adults, but all ages can enjoy it. It is set around the World Showcase lagoon making it the easiest nighttime show at any of the parks to get a great spot for without much of a wait. With that said it is sometimes tricky to find a great spot for a few reasons. First, there are small islands with trees at points in the lagoon, so make sure wherever you end up to view the show you don’t have one of those in between you and the middle of the lagoon. Second, make sure you are not downwind. This show produces a large amount of smoke and if the wind is blowing towards you not only will you be in a lot of smoke, but it makes it a little more difficult to see what is going on.
  • We recommend find a spot between 30-45 minutes before the show at most times of year if you want a spot right on the rail. If you don’t mind being a few people deep you can wait until closer to showtime, but you will have to see over people.
  • La Hacienda de San Angel (Mexico), Rose and Crown (UK), and Spice Road Table (Morocco) all have lake side seating, but require a dinner reservation. Make a reservation for 75-90 minutes before the show and it is a great view. Also, La Cantina de San Angel, the counter service in Mexico, has a patio over the water that is a great view, but those spots go very early, usually 90 minutes to 2 hours before the show.
  • The Future World side of the lagoon fills up the quickest as people want to get out of the park after it is over, so the time to line up here would be much more than 30 minutes ahead of the start time. The opposite (south) side of the World Showcase lagoon usually is not near as crowded and you can usually find spots 20-30 minutes prior to showtime. Just keep in mind on that side you have more islands and trees in the way so make sure you are aware of where you end up.
  • As far as getting out of the park just know it can get very crowded at the front gate on both the monorail and the bus system. The waits can be very long, so we recommend if you have to exit that way and were on the south side of the World Showcase take your time getting out. Stop in some shops and take your time and maybe the lines will lessen a little bit on your way. If you are staying at an Epcot area resort you can exit the International Gateway and head to your resort.
  • Finally, FP+ is available for IllumiNations, but it is a tier 1 FP, which means if you book it you would not be able to use a FP on Frozen Ever After, Test Track or Soarin’ on that day. Also, the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party is available for $49 per adult and $29 for children. This party includes a viewing location in the World Showplace Plaza with desserts and wine, but there is no seating.

Fantasmic!

  • Fantasmic! is one of the best nighttime shows for the ultra-immersive environment that it puts guests into. This show, located in an amphitheater off of Sunset Boulevard, uses live actors, pyrotechnics, water screens, and floats to create a very memorable show. Being in an amphitheater though means seating is limited and it can be very hard to get into and out of due to the thousands of people trying to do the same thing at the same time.
  • Fantasmic! is presented nightly for most of the year, although there are a few less crowded times when it may only be 3-4 nights per week. Also, Disney adds a 2nd showing at crowded times and just like other nighttime events the 2nd showing is always less crowded and easier to get into if you can handle staying up later into the night.
  • FP+ is available for Fantasmic!, but it is not all that useful as you still have to arrive 30-45 minutes early to get a seat and the seats are not that great as they are off to one end of the amphitheater.
  • The Fantasmic! Dinner Package, at Mama Melrose, Hollywood Brown Derby, and 50’s Prime Time Cafe is a good deal. With your dinner you get reserved seating at Fantasmic! Like the FP+ you still need to arrive early, although not as much in advance, from 25-35 minutes for this and the seats for the dinner packages are right in the middle of the amphitheater.
  • If you are not using the dinner package or a FP+ you need to get in line for Fantasmic! at least an hour in advance and more at very crowded times of year. The line will run almost the entire length of Hollywood Boulevard, so jump in line early and be ready for a hectic entry into the amphitheater. If using the 2nd show time you should enter the theater as soon as you can after the previous show ends. This is probably be around 30 minutes before the 2nd show, although a line may still form on Hollywood Boulevard so make sure you keep an eye on that area.

Let us know if you can think of any other questions about nighttime entertainment that we didn’t answer above and we’ll be happy to help you out.

Disney News & Listener Questions from 11/6/2016 – Episode 14

cropped-NEW-Icon-Edit-A.jpgIn this week’s episode, for November 6, 2016, Jon and Lysa will be discussing news and current events at Disney Destinations around the world as well as taking your listener questions on Disney travel.

Please send any questions about the show to host@mousedreamsblog.com and visit our website, www.MouseDreamsBlog.com for more information. Also, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MouseDreamsblog and follow us on Twitter @MouseDreamsBlog.

Finally, thanks to our sponsors and friends at Big Dreams Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Visit them at www.bigdreamstravelusa.com to help with your next vacation.

You can submit Disney trip planning questions for us to answer on the show by e-mailing us at podcast@MouseDreamsBlog.com, by tweeting your question to @MouseDreamsBlog on Twitter, or by visiting the listener questions page on our website at www.MouseDreamsBlog.com/podcastquestions. We would love to answer your questions on travel including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line. Have a great week everyone and thanks for listening!

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PizzeRizzo Opening November 18 at Hollywood Studios

PizzaRizzoDisney has just announced that PizzeRizzo at Hollywood Studios is officially opening to guests on November 18. Disney guests have long wanted a larger presence of the Muppets in the theme parks and now they are getting a new themed restaurant in that genre. The Disney Parks Blog also included the following about the new restaurant:

I also have mouthwatering menu details to share! Entrees are served with a side Caesar salad, and include personal-sized Pizza Pies, available in four varieties—vegetable, pepperoni, meat lovers and cheese, as well as a Meatball Sub. If you’re looking for a lighter option, the Antipasto Salad features a bed of Romaine lettuce piled high with tomatoes, Mozzarella, Kalamata olives, ham, pepperoni, salami and Balsamic Vinaigrette.

For dessert, indulge in traditional Italian sweets like Cannoli and Tiramisu. Specialty drinks will also be available, including a non-alcoholic Peach Bellini, and a Wildberry-Basil Lemonade Limoncello in addition to beer and wine for adults.

This restaurant is of course replacing the former Pizza Planet restaurant that was in this location and in most people’s minds anything is a step up from the food that was served during those days. What on the menu are you most looking forward to? Be sure to comment below or let us know how you feel about this new restaurant on Facebook.

Top Five Quick Service Food Items at Disney Springs – Episode 13

In this week’s episode, for August 21, 2016, we will be finishing up our series on top quick service menu items in the parks as we visit Disney Springs.

Please send any questions about the show to host@mousedreamsblog.com and visit our website, www.MouseDreamsBlog.com for more information. Also, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MouseDreamsblog and follow us on Twitter @MouseDreamsBlog.

Finally, thanks to our sponsors and friends at Big Dreams Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Visit them at www.bigdreamstravelusa.com to help with your next vacation.

You can submit Disney trip planning questions for us to answer on the show by e-mailing us at podcast@MouseDreamsBlog.com, by tweeting your question to @MouseDreamsBlog on Twitter, or by visiting the listener questions page on our website at www.MouseDreamsBlog.com/podcastquestions. We would love to answer your questions on travel including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line. Have a great week everyone and thanks for listening!

Subscribe to the Podcast: Podbean      iTunes      RSS Feed

Disney News & Listener Questions from 8/7/2016 – Episode 12

In this week’s episode, for August 7, 2016, Jon and Lysa will be discussing news and current events at Disney Destinations around the world as well as taking your listener questions on Disney travel.

Please send any questions about the show to host@mousedreamsblog.com and visit our website, www.MouseDreamsBlog.com for more information. Also, like our Facebook page at Facebook.com/MouseDreamsblog and follow us on Twitter @MouseDreamsBlog.

Finally, thanks to our sponsors and friends at Big Dreams Travel, an Authorized Disney Travel Planner. Visit them at www.bigdreamstravelusa.com to help with your next vacation.

You can submit Disney trip planning questions for us to answer on the show by e-mailing us at podcast@MouseDreamsBlog.com, by tweeting your question to @MouseDreamsBlog on Twitter, or by visiting the listener questions page on our website at www.MouseDreamsBlog.com/podcastquestions. We would love to answer your questions on travel including Walt Disney World, Disneyland, or Disney Cruise Line. Have a great week everyone and thanks for listening!

Show Notes
PizzeRizzo Opening This Fall at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
My Disney Experience App Getting a Navigation Feature
Disney World Announced New Water Ride “Miss Fortune Falls”
“Frozen: A Musical Spectacular” Coming to Disney Cruise Line
Disneyland Confirms All Three Nighttime Spectaculars Are Closing…Even Paint the Night
New Details of Star Wars Land at Disneyland
Disneyland Announced Week Long Photopass Services
Guardians of the Galaxy Themed Ride to Replace Tower of Terror at Disneyland

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A Little Disney Magic and A Surprise Trip to Fantasmic!

Trip Review SaturdayOne of the reasons people like us keep going back to Disney over and over and over is because of the “Magic” that we feel and experience while we are there. For today’s Saturday review article I wanted to write about one of these instances from a recent trip when we experienced a piece of “Disney Magic”. Back in the days of the original FastPass system if you were like me you loved leaving the parks and being able to give away any unused FastPasses to another family that could use them. You were able to spread some “Disney Magic” yourself. Well, with the FastPass+ system now in use we can’t pay it forward like that anymore, but we were the recipients of something similar one day in Hollywood Studios.

As we were returning to Hollywood Studios after a mid-day break we were approached by a lady on Hollywood Boulevard who asked if we were staying for Fantasmic. We had not decided whether we were staying or not at the time and that is when she offered us one of these:

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Her family had done a Fastasmic! Dinner Package, but had decided they were not wanting to stay around for the show. We decided pretty quickly that with this reserved seating voucher we would go ahead and try and see Fantasmic! It was almost too good for us to pass up and we certainly did not want to let the “Disney Magic” go to waste.

With the reserved seating pass in hand we headed into the stadium about 20 minutes before the show as that stadium can seem extremely hot in the summer while waiting for the show to start. For some reason there just does not seem to be much of a breeze in the amphitheater. We did make it into the reserved seating section fairly easily, but the stadium was pretty crowded at this point.

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We purposefully wanted to be kind of near the back of the seating area as we had a three year old with us at the time and we thought the show might be a little intense for him. Not to mention this stadium is very difficult to get out of after the show, so that is another positive to being near the top of the amphitheater, it allows for a quick exit.

The show was good as it usually is, and our three year old did make it through. He only got scared one time and covered his ears, but he enjoyed much of the show as well. He especially enjoyed the boat of characters.

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Overall we were extremely excited to be the recipients of this round of “Disney Magic” and will certainly do our best to pay it forward some time in the future when we have the opportunity.

PizzeRizzo Coming to Muppets Courtyard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

PizzaRizzoDisney has finally released the name and concept of the restaurant that is going to be in the old home to Toy Story Pizza Planet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. PizzeRizzo, which is going to be run by Rizzo the Rat from the Muppets, will continue to serve Italian-American fare. The Disney Parks Blog goes on to say,

Walt Disney Imagineering hid hints of Rizzo, his extended family and friends who have visited PizzeRizzo over the years throughout the two-story quick-service location. In addition to the expansive indoor and outdoor seating area, guests will be able to dine in a “cheesy” banquet room, or take five in a special booth designated just for Rizzo’s celebrity friends.

It sounds like Disney has once again gone out of their way to not just create a new dining venue, but to create one that has a fantastic theme and fantastic menu. Let us know if you will be heading to PizzeRizzo this fall.

Early Morning Magic Coming to Hollywood Studios

Sorcerer's HatDisney World has announced yet another hard ticket event that will be coming to the theme parks, this time to Hollywood Studios. Earlier this year Disney began Early Morning Magic at the Magic Kingdom and now a similar experience is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With this experience guests at the park get early entry  as well as a private breakfast. This experience will begin on August 1 at Hollywood Studios and guests can visit www.DisneyWorld.com/EarlyMorningMagic to book or they can call 407-827-7350.

Included in this experience at Hollywood Studios guest will get to enter the park at 7:45 AM and experience Toy Story Mania!, Star Tours – The Adventure Continues, Pixar Place Meet & Greets (Woody & Buzz), Mickey and Minnie on Commissary Lane, and Olaf at Celebrity Spotlight. The ABC Commissary quick service restaurant will also host an all-you-care-to-enjoy breakfast from 8 AM to 10 AM that is included with the special event ticket. The cost for this experience is $69 per adult and $59 per child (ages 3-9).

Let us know your thoughts on this new private event at Disney World by commenting below.