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.

Garden Grill Dinner Review

From the moment you walk into the Land Pavilion at Epcot one is hit with the smell of the fresh food being prepared both at Sunshine Seasons and Garden Grill and it is one of my favorite smells on property. The entire sustainability theme in this pavilion where they use food that is grown and prepared right there at Epcot make the experience just that much better.

For our dinner at Garden Grill we were really looking forward to the characters with a three year old boy in tow. There is no shortage of experiences and meals geared towards girls and princesses at Disney World, but this is actually one of those meals that I think are great for boys. And after this experience I would continue to hold that viewpoint, although this restaurant is just a really great experience for all ages of boys and girls…and adults alike!

Garden Grill started off on the right foot as we had a 5:15 reservation and were seated at 5:20, which was excellent compared to some other experiences on this trip. The service was fantastic during this meal as our server, Janelle was a real treat! They even had our table set up in neat fashion when we arrived.

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Like I mentioned earlier we had our three year old son with us and were trying to take care of character interaction so we missed a few food pictures. They started us off with their salad which was good and we appreciated that it had hard boiled egg and real bacon on it, although the dressing was pretty bland in our opinion, but along with the salad they served some dinner rolls with this tasty honey butter with sea salt on the top. Those really hit the spot.

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As we were eating we were able to have great character interactions with Mickey, Pluto, Chip, & Dale. We even got to see Mickey and Pluto twice during our meal and I don’t think we were there for much over an hour. All of the characters spent plenty of time with us and took some great pictures with our son. The fact that we saw Mickey & Pluto twice and we weren’t there that long tells me the number of tables in this restaurant actually allows them to move around in a decent amount of time without sacrificing the amount of time they spend at each table.

Next up came our entree plate which looked like this.

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We enjoyed all of the meats overall. The beef was my favorite as it was cooked very well, was nice and tender, and had the perfect seasoning. The turkey was good, I’m just not a big fan of turkey in general, but my wife enjoyed it a lot. Finally, the fish was cooked well and was tasty, but I felt the sauce on the top was slightly overpowering to the fish. That may have just been personal taste or just the person preparing the food got a little generous, but anyway I could have done with a little less of the sauce.

For the sides the big winner was the mashed potatoes, they were fantastic. They were creamy and seasoned well and all three of us loved them so much we had to have them bring some more. The other plate of sides they brought also had some very tasty options on it.

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I’m not sure if everyone gets the macaroni and cheese or if we did just because we had a child with us. Anyway the macaroni and cheese was a big winner with all of us as it was actually really good and not just made for the kids. The broccoli was also good, although not seasoned very much if at all. Finally, we enjoyed the addition of the sweet potato fries, again we may have only gotten these because we had a kid with us.

Now, after all of that food we were ready for dessert and the Garden Grill knows how to do dessert.

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The cobbler that they served us was awesome! It had many different types of berries inside and the crumb and nut topping was done perfectly and the proportions were right on. This was the fantastic ending to a great meal with great characters. One of the biggest wins of this meal is the fact that it is served family style. So many Disney character meals are buffets so when you have kids you have the constant juggling of taking care of your kids, getting your food, getting your kids food, making sure you kids eat, trying to eat yourself, and in the midst of all that you have to handle meeting the characters. With this meal at Garden Grill you never have to leave your table so the character meets are much less stressful and the food is brought to you hot an ready and if you need more all you have to do is ask.

Overall this was a fantastic meal with good food, great character interactions and great service. This meal is expensive, but that is the norm for character meals at Disney World. The adult price ranges from $37.97 to $44.72 depending on the time of year and the child price ranges from $$19.10 to $24.99. Tax is included in those prices, but gratuity is not. This meal is also one credit on the dining plan and they do accept Tables in Wonderland for a 20% discount.

Have you been to Garden Grill? Let us know your thoughts below!