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Disney World with 3 young kids

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Hi! We live in Los Angeles, not far from Disneyland.

We'll be visiting WDW for about a week at the end of September with our 8 year old twins and our 4 1/2 year old. One of my twins ONLY eats hamburgers and peanut butter sandwiches.

So, I am hoping you can help me out with suggestions for the best burger choices throughout Disney World.

Also, I am looking for recommendations for the "best" character meals and dining experiences.

I know there are lots of Disney World threads but I am looking for more chowish suggestions, if possible. For example, at Disneyland, there is a great corn dog cart of Main Street next to the Plaza Inn that we never knew about until someone on Chowhound mentioned it.

Please help me with any tips/suggestions for planning meals, etc. We're not going to do the dining plan. I don't think we'll have more than one full service meal per day and I haven't yet figured out which days we'll be at which parks.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. Burgers are burgers are burgers in WDW. They're really all the same at the counter services in the parks. However what sets them apart are the toppings that are available.

    At MK, your best bet is at Pecos Bill, or Cosmic Ray's. There, they have sauteed onions and mushrooms for toppings as well as the usual lettuce, tomatoes, etc.

    Now... for the sit-down restaurants though, you really can't go wrong with the burgers at Beaches & Cream (Beach Club). The burgers are really good there.

    Tip: at the counter service you may see only bacon double cheeseburgers - they can do hamburgers, single burgers, etc. Just order it - you're not stuck to what's actually on the board. Also, you can order a double burger plus extra bun (about 99 cents) and then you can split the burger. Much cheaper than getting 2 burgers - because a lot of the counter services do not have burgers on the kids menu. Also, if you don't want the fries, tell them when you're ordering. They'll take out the price of fries. No reason to pay for something you're not going to eat.

    I have finicky eaters too, and sometimes I find I have to go to one place, get my order, then carry it to another place. Lots of people do this, so don't worry that you look odd carrying a tray of food.

    Other food:
    1. At MK -
    Casey's for hotdogs! Yummy!
    Columbia House - fish fry and chicken nuggets
    Cosmic Rays - rotiserrie chicken

    2. Turkey legs! All 4 parks have them.

    3. If you're going to Epcot, that would be a great time to go to Beaches & Cream - you can exit out of the park and take a breather. On the kids menu, they have mini burgers. Epcot itself has great food around the world showcase.

    I can't really recommend character meals as we haven't done those in years, but my kids really like Crystal Palace (Pooh and friends). I like their food there too. You may want to go ahead and try to make your reservations now as the sit-down places do fill up quickly.

    4. At AK, we really like Flame Tree BBQ - the seating is outdoors (with roofs) but the food is plentiful and actually really good.

    5. Whispering Canyon at Wilderness Lodge has good food too, but this place is packed because of the atmosphere. They can get really loud and fun! Dinner is much better than lunch for the atmosphere just because it's more crowded. Plus the lodge is a great place for the kids to run around and explore. If you go from MK you can take a boat there... I think that's the best way to get to WL.

    6. Downtown Disney - I totally recommend Earl of Sandwich - for the kids they have a PBJ that they toast, or a pizza sandwich. The prices are very reasonable too. This does get super packed, but the line moves quickly. The hardest part is snagging a table - LOL.

    7. Another great sit-down is Kona at Poly. Pan-asian cuisine here, and just nice place on the monorail line when you're at MK. Go for lunch (much quieter and easier to get into)

    -----
    Whispering Canyon Cafe
    Disneys Wilderness Ldg, Orlando, FL 32830

    3 Replies
    1. re: nmw407

      I can not beat that report, and I don't know a ton about the character meals, but the Norway princess meals (lunch and dinner, I believe) might be a good choice. At the Norway dinner, in a restaurant called Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, some items are a la carte, some family style, and several are truly interesting including Kjottkake (dumplings), sometimes venison, rice pudding, herring, and gravlax. There are plenty of Americanish items too, of serious quality, like mustard-glazed seared salmon and grilled pork chops with apple-raisin chutney. A couple of months ago the kid menu had grilled chicken breast, pizza, cheese ravioli and hot dogs. It may be different when you show up.
      www.RonaGindin.com

      1. re: nmw407

        The report writtenby nmw407 is pretty darn complete, and makes some GREAT recommendations. I guess the only things I would add are:

        Ohana's at the Polynesian Resort (you probably won't be able to get reservations, but if you show up at 4 PM or so, they can put you on a waiting list). Its All-U-Can-Eat (and brought to your table). Lots and lots of food and there''s a floor show that invites kids to participate. My neices LOVE this place!

        According to my neices, the best character meals are at Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom) and the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in "Norway" (Epcot). Be warned, though, reservations are EXTREMELY hard to get! There's also a character dining restaurant in the Grand Floridian Resort that's not too bad either.

        Turkey legs ROCK with kids. My nieces can't get enough of them! Keep in mind that they are huge, and if your kids are on the small side, one will be enough for two of them. I like to get them at MK in Tomorrowland and at Epcot near the entrance to the Tower of Terror.

        There's a McDonald's in Downtown Disney with a Lego store right near it too. If you are there, and your kids want something "familiar," that may be an option as well. Afterwards, you can take them to Ghiradelli's and if you walk inside their store, they'll hand each of you a free square of chocolate. Yay for free stuff!!! On the other side of Downtown Disney in Pleasure Island (if it's still called that), is Cooke's of Dublin that sells fish & chips and soda & beer. The restaurant Raglan Road sells them as well, but for almost twice as much. If your kids like this type of food, and you don't mind eating outside, I'd consider this as an option.

        Hope this helps.

        -----
        Ohana
        1600 Seven Seas Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

        1. re: rgcblackie

          McDonald's in Downtown Disney will be gone by the time you go in September - it's being replaced by a Pollo Camparo (sp?). I think they're closing sometime in April. But, do check out th Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney - they're great & the prices are good too. Ghiradelli's is great for desert too - they have ice cream as well as the free chocolate samples rgcblackie mentioned (gotta agree with the shout out for that!).

      2. Thanks for all your suggestions. I went ahead and made a few reservations:
        Jiko (for the Thursday night we arrive in Orlando)

        California Grill at 7:40 Friday night-- figure the kids will be on CA time and we'll go to Animal Kingdom that day, which I understand is not a "full day" into night park

        50's Prime Time Cafe at Disney Studio for lunch on Saturday

        Akershus for Princess Breakfast on Sunday morning

        I tried to get something at Le Cellier but there was nothing the entire time we're there.

        Any other suggestions for things we may want to reserve ahead of time?

        Thanks for all your help so far! I think we're going to stay at The Beach Club.

        2 Replies
        1. re: roxhills

          The only other foodie place you might want to book (that I can think of) is Sanaa. The menu is based on the foods of the Spice Islands in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. In other words, it's sort of Indian food with leeway. The menu is terrific. For the kids, there are floor-to-ceiling windows that look over the savannah, so they may see giraffes or zebras hanging out. It's mid-priced.

          1. re: roxhills

            50's Prime Time is good, but I left there feeling hungry. I much prefer Mama Melrose if you want a food place in Hollywood Studios. The food at Sci-Fi sucks but it's one of those things the kids would really like because the atmosphere is like an old time drive in, complete with B sci-fi movies.

            If you like sushi, Kimonos at the Swan is fantastic. Cozy and they usually have karaoke starting around 9:30pm or so. Could be fun.