I’m a strong believer that food can make or break a vacation. Especially if you’re like me, and tend towards being
finicky particular about your food. As a Texas girl, I think I have pretty simple (but specific) tastes, but a girl still needs a little variety, even on vacation.
Disney World tends to be synonymous with cheeseburgers, popcorn, and Mickey ice cream bars. So sometimes it’s easy to forget that there are literally HUNDREDS of places to eat throughout the Walt Disney World Resort (you can check out a full list of dining options here).
I love a good cheeseburger, but there can be too much of a good thing. It’s nice to mix it up and take in a good meal, with real flatware on occasion. After 17 years of traveling there, and 4 years of working in the parks, some places have become personal favorites that I try not to miss out on every time I go to Disney. I’ve compiled a list of 5 places I like to go when I don’t want a cheeseburger, and one place I go when I do.
5 places for when you don’t want a cheeseburger
1- 50s Prime Time Cafe
Location: Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Reservation: Highly recommended
Prime Time is one of my all-time favorites. The theming is absolutely spot-on, reminiscent of a 1950s living room in the waiting area, and the seating areas designed to resemble kitchens from the era. The decor makes me nostalgic for a time period I never experienced firsthand (and kind of inspires me to want to decorate my kitchen similarly, to be honest).
And can we just talk about the menu for a second?? Fried chicken (my favorite), meatloaf, lasagna, pot roast…just the thought of the homestyle cooking is enough to make a person’s mouth water. Vacations are not meant for dieting, folks!
2- T-Rex Cafe
Location: Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney)
Reservation: Not necessary, but a Landry’s Select Club card comes in handy. It can get pretty busy, so I recommend trying to eat during “off times.”
If you’re looking for a total commitment to theming, this is your place! As the name might suggest, T-Rex is a dinosaur-themed restaurant owned by Landry’s. There are only two of these in existence- one at Disney Springs, and one in Kansas City.
T-Rex doesn’t just have dinosaurs going for it, though. Their food is delicious, ranging from waffle fries, to ribs, to an absolutely PHENOMENAL rotisserie chicken.
3- Rainforest Cafe
Location: Disney Springs and Animal Kingdom
Reservation: Couldn’t hurt. Also a Landry’s restaurant, so be sure to show your Landry’s Select Club card! Or try planning on eating at an “off” time.
Rainforest Cafe is my preference on our Animal Kingdom days. I prefer the Animal Kingdom location over Disney Springs, because it usually seems quieter (I can’t scientifically prove that), and usually has less foot traffic through it. Plus, there is direct access into and out of the park from the restaurant.
Much like T-Rex, Rainforest has developed a total commitment to theming. The dining room is huge, and it can get loud during the mock thunderstorms, but it’s just too much fun to pass up!
Their menu includes anything from pasta with Italian sausage, baby back ribs, or pizzas. I have noticed their menu can vary depending on location, so you might check online to make sure they offer what you want before going. I love to get one of their brick oven pizzas sans sauce, creating my own flatbread. (Don’t worry…I share! It’s definitely enough for two people).
4- Liberty Tree Tavern
Location: Magic Kingdom (Liberty Square)
Reservation: Highly recommended
What is it about Colonial-era architecture and design that just embodies comfort? I think my family walked past this gem for years without ever being curious about it. I’m so glad we discovered it though, because the food is amazing!!
The interior is divided into several rooms with slightly different themes. From the bubbled glass in the windows, to the dark paneling on the walls, every room brings the distinction of the Colonial era to life.
Shall we talk about the menu? Let’s talk about the menu… POT ROAST. Mouth-watering, tender, juicy pot roast, on a fluffy cloud of creamy mashed potatoes (also with celery, carrots, and mushrooms, but I take those off). If that doesn’t thrill you, they also offer turkey and dressing, vegetarian pot pie and pasta. When you go, don’t forget to start with a portion of fried cheese. It’s delicious!
5- Olivia’s Cafe
Location: Old Key West Resort
Reservation: You’ll be okay if you reserve the day before you want to go.
Olivia’s is my go-to for breakfast. You may remember from my previous post that Old Key West is my absolute favorite resort. It’s just beautiful, and anything that nods its head to the Keys is okay in my book.
The interior has the same laid-back feel, with conch-style architecture, family photos from Disney Vacation Club members, and intricately tiled floors.
The reason I included Olivia’s on the list is because, well, the breakfast. It’s a pretty standard menu, but I’m a sucker for presentation, and gravitate towards the eggs/bacon/waffles combo. I’m a sucker for a light, fluffy waffle. Especially if it’s a Mickey waffle. Or four.
This list is in no way exhaustive, and really barely scratches the surface of potential for eating at the Disney Parks, but they’re time-tested and places that contribute to that sense of “home” that I get when I go to Disney World.
But let’s be honest…sometimes we just want that cheeseburger and fries. The good news is, they’re pretty standard across the board at almost every quick service restaurant on Disney property. Which is great because you really can’t go wrong, regardless of where you choose!
When you really want a cheeseburger
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
Location: Magic Kingdom (Tomorrowland)
Reservation: Nope. Walk right in at any time.
Let me explain why this is my favorite place to go for a burger.
- It’s in Magic Kingdom, so when I want that one last cheeseburger before I have to go home, this is where I go. Because obviously I always make sure vacation ends with Wishes fireworks.
- It’s HUGE. No really…huge. Which is handy, because it’s always busy.
- There are 3 “bays,” each with a different fare (in case, by chance, you don’t want a cheeseburger). The bays include a chicken bay, with items like chicken tenders and rotisserie chicken, a burger bay, with, um, burgers…and a sandwich/soup/salad bay, if you want something lighter.
I’m really not a big burger person, but there’s just something about a cheeseburger at Disney that hits the spot. Maybe it’s the pixie dust…
So there you have it. 5 places to eat at Disney World when you don’t want a cheeseburger, and one for when you do. If you’re a repeat Disney visitor, you probably have some go- to places that make your vacation complete. If you’re planning your first trip to Disney World and stumbled across this post, I hope it helps you narrow down your choices (it can be so overwhelming if you don’t know where to start).
Have questions? Ask me! Have a favorite place to eat at Disney? Share in the comments!