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DISNEY WORLD IN ORLANDO, FL

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My family and I are going on vacation to Disney World. The kids are 6 years old.
As a result, I would like to ask for suggestions on restaurants that are not only kids friendly, but also that offer good without breaking your wallet.
I have search the internet and asked several people that have gone to Disney with kids about places to eat and things to do besides the park and I have got some good advices. However, the restaurants are the one's that worry me the most because we certainly enjoy a nice meal.
The other day, I went to AAA to see if I could get some good advice from somebody there. But the fact of the matter is that they gave me a big book to look into and every time I go in the internet to look at a particular restaurant that they give a good review, it says that is not kids friendly.
I will appreciate any suggestions you may give us.
Thank you.

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  1. Are you planning on eating on Disney property only? Because that would probably make a difference in the suggestions you get. We live right by WDW, so we've eaten out there a lot - I'll give you my take:

    For buffets, Boma is the best quality buffet that Disney has to offer. If your children like characters, they have several buffets that offer character experience. With characters, I find that the food quality tends to suffer, because people are there for the entertainment, not the food.

    If you want reasonably priced places, you should avoid what Disney calls their "Signature Restaurants." Those, of course, are the ones with the best tasting food! But the prices will be higher. If you do want to splurge & go to one of those, the California Grill is quite kid friendly; it's pretty noisy, and they have a good view of the fireworks. The food is also very good. I'm assuming that by "kid friendly" you mean places that welcome well-behaved children, not places where children can run screaming, eating food off other patrons' plates (which we've seen happen at Disney!). Narcoossees also has a pretty loud atmosphere, and they have a good fireworks view.

    Getting back to the regular table-service places, 'Ohana in the Polynesian offers lots of meat on sticks, and they have special kid activities, like races with broomsticks. They also have a good fireworks view.

    For counter service, we like the Sunshine Seasons Food Fair, because it's got a wide variety of foods. We used to like Tusker House, but they've cut portion sizes dramatically and they're shutting it down altogether in August, so, depending on when you're going, that might not be an option.

    Disney will be re-opening the Teppanyaki place in the near future, which your children might enjoy - the chefs there do a show while they cook. Le Cellier in Epcot has pretty good quality food, and, since it's actually in the parks, it's very child friendly. A good rule of thumb is that most of the in-park restaurants (with the exception of Bistro de Paris) are very child-friendly, as are all of the buffet restaurants. The signature places tend to be a bit quieter and more elegant.

    Coral Reef in Epcot is another child-friendly, in-park restaurant that's moderately priced: not as expensive as signature, but more expensive than counter service. Its main draw is that one wall of the restaurant is an aquarium, so you get to watch fish, seat turtles, and divers swim by while you're eating. The food is so-so, but, again, the atmosphere is probably going to enthrall the childies.

    I hope this helps a bit. If you have specific restaurants from your guidebook that you were leaning toward, let us know, and I'm sure someone on here can give you feedback.

    My big concern for you would be to make reservations ASAP, at least for dinners. The Disney Dining Plan has dramatically cut back on availability at table service restaurants on Disney property, and they've had lots of issues lately with guests pre-paying for the plan and then being unable to get seated at restaurants once they arrive, because they didn't make reservations months in advance.

    If you're interested in some of our reviews, I have a dining journal - just click on Disney restaurants to see those reviews: http://hpandaw.wordpress.com

    Cheers!
    Heather W

    2 Replies
    1. re: hmp2z

      We were just up in Disney this past weekend, and I very much enjoyed our lunch at the Norwegian place in Epcot (Azkerhaus?). It was a relatively quiet weekend up there and we had not trouble getting seated for lunch around 12:30ish. Not exactly cheap (smorgasbord plus an entree for adults was, I believe, $29, kids meals were around $15 which also included a dessert), though my wife asked to just do the salad and was charged somethng eminently reasonable. The smorgasbord spread was quite nice, the usual salads and cold cuts, all quite fresh, as well a bunch of typical Norwegian items - some pickled herrings, pickled beets, nice deviled eggs (also topped w/ some herring salad), some liverwurst (all very good coupled with a shot of aquavit!) ... followed by a soup and salad combo (the least hearty of several entree choices) that was really very nice, potato leek soup, and a toasted, open faced grilled salmon sandwich topped w/ lettuce, tomato, some bacon, and an aioli-like drizzle.

      This is a "Character Dining" place and so my daughter got visits from a procession of various princesses -- all much to the chagrin of her older brother.

      1. re: hmp2z

        I haven't had any problems like that with Disney Dining, although the hotels have been known to botch it and end up charging for meals that should be paid for through the plan. It's actually a really good deal in terms of price. The price of one sit-down meal is going to be around the same as getting the plan for the whole day.

        To add to Heather's list, Restaurant Merrakech in Epcot is also a great sit-down one for kids. They have belly dancing and the dancers invite the kids to come dance with them.

        They may also like 50's Prime Time Cafe in MGM because they can watch TV while they eat. I haven't eaten here for a while so I can't comment on the quality of the food.

        For counter service, the Artist's Palette in Saratoga Springs is nice because the kids can draw while they eat. They serve flatbread pizzas and sandwiches.

      2. Let's establish a couple of basics first. Exactly where are you staying anddo you have a car? Very important.

        There's no bigger Disney dining advocate that me, but there are many other places that fit you needs outside of Disney. And unless you are staying in a Disney hotel or want a place to eat in one of the parks, there are better alternatives.

        The next question regards chain restuaurants and how you feel about them. There are many good chains that can also fill the bill.

        What are some favorite cuisines? Also helpful. Any dislikes?

        Forget worrying about your kid. If he or she is reasonably well behaved, you'll never have a problem. From Victoria & Alberts to O-Boys Barbecue, they all acommodate kids. It's Orlando.

        Respond back with more information and we can help. Nothing wrong with any of these suggestions, by the way -- Heather's bloq will be very helpful -- but this isn't a big challenge.

        Bob

        3 Replies
        1. re: Bob Mervine

          Hello Bob and all,
          I will be arriving with my hubby (no kids) in September for 5 nights/6 days. We booked with the Free Dining plan. We will be staying on the property during the entire stay and I have already reserved at 2 signature dining restaurants, Narcoosee's and Yachtsman Steak house. Since we will be spending the day at MGM, I'm debating on whether or not I should reserve at the 50's diner or the Sci-Fi Theater restaurant although I'm leaning more towards the Sci Fi...
          Like you, we're chowhounds and enjoy a great meal. Can you provide any suggestions for our other evenings? We plan on having dinner one evening at Wolfgang Puck's Express café. Since this is not our first trip to WDW, we have already eaten at Fulton's (which I enjoyed), California Grill, Rainforest Café and Bongo's to name a few.
          Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
          Merci.

          1. re: FrenchPeach

            Both the 50's Prime Time Cafe & the Sci-Fi Dine-In are more about the atmosphere than the actual food quality. We've been disappointed with the food at both those locations, and instead, we usually go with the Hollywood Brown Derby when in MGM. A short walk takes you to the Epcot resorts, where you also have Beaches & Cream as a lunch option, if you like burgers & ice cream desserts. But if you're looking more for an interesting atmosphere, you'd probably prefer the two selections you mentioned.

            We enjoy Raglan Road in Downtown Disney. The Smokie City there is a very interesting dish. We hadn't expected to enjoy it as much as we did, since we're usually not big on the whole fish/cheese combo. The forest of scallops was also very good, with a light lime sauce.

            We enjoy Fulton's, as well, though we're pretty monogamous with what we order here: the Australian lobster tails & the Alaskan king crab claws.

            Boma is also a big favorite of ours. It's much better than the average buffet quality meal, though it's so popular that it's difficult to get a reservation there.

            I can't emphasize enough the importance of making reservations in advance, especially if you're going during free dining time. Places that, as recently as a year or two ago, used to take walk-ups are now booked months out. We live in the area, and the WDW restaurants are convenient for us, if we want an evening out, but availability has gotten so limited for spontaneous diners like ourselves.

            Cheers!
            Heather W

            1. re: hmp2z

              It's been about a year since my last visit, so I can't vouch for current quality- but have you considered Cafe TuTu Tango on I-drive? I love it for kids because in my experience: 1) they enjoy the Flamenco dancers zipping around 2) the noise and bustle in the restaurant drowns out your own children should they turn raucous =) 3) The food is delicious and the "small plates" allow you to control your spending and enjoy delicious foods, while catering to potentially finicky kid palates (i.e. for you its a plate of manchego and jamon Serrano, to your kids its just ham and cheese and some apple slices!).
              If you're willing to drive a bit, I love Olympia (8505 E Colonial Dr) for Greek with kids - on Friday nights at 9 (?) they send out a belly dancer (I tell my nieces we're off to see a Disney princess, Jasmine, and they love it). If your kids can stay up past 9, stay for the music and dancing (the vibe is usually like you're right in the middle of My Big Fat Greek Wedding- children, grandparents, everyone shares the floor).
              Enjoy your vacation- Happy Eats!

        2. We have a 7 year old daughter and have enjoyed several trips to WDW, most recently last fall. One of our favorite places is in the Wilderness Lodge and it's the Whispering Canyon Cafe. Won't break the bank and is a fun evening of entertainment (food is ok - not great, but the kids will be entertained). We always book an evening at Chef Mickey's at the Contemporary as your kids will be entertained by the characters and it's one of the less expensive character events. We went for the first time to the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue and our daughter loved it - pretty simple BBQ menu. The place we have been most surprised with is the Ocean Reef Restaurant at Epcot. Such a gorgeous setting that we were surprised you don't hear more about it. Probably our best dining experience from all of our trips there. The restaurants at Grand Floridian might be a tad stuffy for your kids. For lunch at MGM, we always do the Sci-Fi Drive in - totally for the experience, definitely not about the food (Disney is definitely not about the food), but they have made some healthy additions to the kids menus. You really need to have every meal scheduled, otherwise you'll be waiting for a table forever (and it really stinks to be a slave to the dining schedule), but your kids will be much happier. Have a great time!! (A good book that we use is the "Pass Porter Walt DisneyWorld Resort" - has advice that's right on the money almost all of the time!)