Whenever my family decides to book a Walt Disney World trip, the duty of vacation planner is given to me. It’s been this way for years, but I’ve come to love it because I am trusted with the important role of choosing which park to go to on which day, booking Fastpasses for each day, and making meal reservations at sit-down restaurants in each park.
My favorite time of the day, besides the rides of course, is when my family and I get to sit down and take an hour or so break from the crowds and the heat to eat a large, quality meal. The beauty of the four parks is that every meal for each day is so vastly different, because every park has such a wide variety of cuisines offered. When it comes to cravings, you name it; Disney has a restaurant for it.
I’m going to share with you my go-to restaurants; the one sit-down eatery in each park I make my top priority to book (if I have to pick one) every time I venture down to Orlando, Florida. With every restaurant, I’ll link the menu for easy access viewing. Let’s go park by park:
Magic Kingdom - The Plaza Restaurant
The Plaza is what you’d expect from Florida’s original Kingdom – Cast Members in long yellow dresses, gorgeous white detailing and mirrors all over, and ridiculously delicious American-style food. The Plaza resides at the end of Main Street, U.S.A, at the corner of the iconic street right across from the Hub. You have a perfect view of Cinderella’s Castle, and an even better seat for the Festival of Fantasy parade if you time your reservation right.
You would be crazy not to get a milkshake when you come here (the kind that’s served with the excess in a big silver cup they used to mix the milkshake, for refilling purposes), and you’d be even crazier not to get the Plaza Loaded Fries. It’s usually easy to guess that a dish named after the restaurant itself is the place’s specialty, and here is no exception. The fries are covered, and I mean really saturated, with melted cheese, bacon bits, lettuce & tomato, and ranch dressing. The pile vaguely resembles a small mountain, and we always clear the plate wishing we could order a second helping.
Animal Kingdom - Yak and Yeti
Even though Animal Kingdom is somewhat low on the number of sit-down restaurants, I always make sure to fit Yak and Yeti into my itinerary. You really feel like you’re taking a mid-expedition pit stop in a local Indian eatery when you dine here, because (as always with Disney) the attention to detail is unreal. It’s just plain fun to eat here, even just to look around while you wait for your Pan-Asian dish to arrive.
I’ve never had a bad dish when I come here. Whether I’m pigging out on appetizers, enjoying one of the many lo mein bowls, or trying something new, I’m literally always satisfied. If I had to pick one dish to highlight, it would be the Chicken Tikka Masala. It’s served with jasmine rice and garlic naan, it’s crazy saucy (in the best way), and it always makes me ridiculously full when I leave. Am I walking around the park with a button undone after this? Maybe. But am I glad I ate here? One hundred percent.
Epcot - Via Napoli
It’s impossible for me to definitively pick a favorite sit-down out of all four parks, but if my life depended on it, the first one I’d think to name would be Via Napoli. As someone who has been to Rome and experienced authentic Italian food, I can confidently say that this place is the absolute closest you can get to real Italian food outside of the country itself. Via Napoli is home to Stromboli, Vesuvio, & Etna: the three brick ovens that all of the pizzas are cooked in. The pizzas come from an entirely different kitchen than all the appetizers and entrees, meaning this place cares A LOT about their pizza!
I could write an entire article about all the amazing dishes this place has to offer (and maybe I will!) but I’m not going to waste another word before I mention the sole reason I always come back to Via Napoli: Arancini. Without hesitation, the last meal I’d choose before I die would be Arancini. Even if eating Arancini one more time would result in death, I’d still eat it. Arancini are fried risotto balls, with mozzarella and meat ragù inside. It’s served with marinara sauce, and it very well might be the reason I still walk this Earth. I mean, I live for this stuff. When I eat here with my family, we always order two servings: one for my family to share, and one just for me. If you can’t tell, I strongly recommend trying this appetizer if you come to Via Nap.
Hollywood Studios - The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater
Without a doubt, the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater is the coolest, the most extravagantly themed restaurant ever to exist in all four parks combined. It is always evening, post-sunset, when you dine, and when you arrive you are seated in a retro convertible car. All cars are facing forward in the same direction, so that everyone in the car can have a perfect view of the giant movie screen. The screen is on a constant loop: playing trailers for classic sci-fi, horror, & monster movies, all from the 1950s & 60s, in addition to some iconic cartoons (Tom and Jerry flying to the moon, for example). There is also an occasional intermission, with a dancing box of popcorn telling you to grab some snacks before the movie resumes. Lucky for you, your “snacks” are delivered by the wait staff, so you won’t miss a thing!
This is another restaurant well known for their milkshakes; I get one every time I come. I’m a big fan of milkshakes. I also almost always get the Drive-In BBQ Burger, because it’s as classic American you can get and it just hits the spot every time. It’s topped with onion straws, jalapenos (though I always ask for jalapenos removed), BBQ sauce, bacon, and cheddar cheese. It’s messy; you’re going to go through a lot of napkins and you might want to cut it in half to make it easier on your jaw, but it’s worth it. It always fills me up, so I’m often leaving more fries behind than I’d want to, but it’s super tasty. Definitely fun to chomp on while watching the trailer for Attack of the 50 Foot Woman!
Whether you want to eat somewhere that serves all your favorite dishes from home, or you want to step out of your comfort zone and try a dish you may never find anywhere else, Walt Disney World has countless opportunities to satisfy your cravings and create the staple magical moment memories that make Disney so famous.
You won’t regret trying any of these places, but take my word for it: you won’t regret trying any of the restaurants I didn’t mention, either. This list was very hard to make, and I can easily name another five or more sit-down restaurants that I’d recommend to a friend. Go with what sounds best to you, and you won’t be disappointed! Just make sure you make a reservation: all of these places fill up really fast, it’s the only way to ensure you have a table!