When it comes to Walt Disney World, there’s never enough time to see everything. How could you see it all when there are 4 theme parks, 2 water parks, 1 massive shopping center, and 33 on-site hotels to explore?! As you might expect, the same goes for unique dining experiences at Disney World.
Dining at Disney is hardly an average experience. Even us old-time fans haven’t heard of all the unique dining experiences at Disney World for guests. In this guide, we’ll uncover the coolest dining experiences to enjoy at Disney, so let’s get started.
1. Dine with an Imagineer at Disney World
Imagineers are the creative force behind the Disney parks. They design everything from the architecture of a building to the details of a mural. In the Dine with an Imagineer experience, you have the opportunity to eat either lunch or dinner with an Imagineer and discuss the Disney parks and Disney Imagineering. Plus, at the end of the meal, you’re also given a souvenir plate signed by the Imagineer.
Due to its limited availability, this is a tough reservation to snag. You’ll want to book this one about 6 months ahead of time. If you can land a reservation, this is a dining experience you’ll never forget.
2. Dine with an Animal Specialist
Similar to Disney’s Dine with an Imagineer experience, the Dine with an Animal Specialist experience gives you the opportunity to talk with one of Disney’s specialists about animal care and conservation over a 4-course lunch. That’s right, 4 delicious courses! Yum!
This dining experiences at Disney World takes place at Sanaa in Animal Kingdom Lodge and is limited to 12 people, so it’s another tough reservation to get. You’ll also want to book this one about 6 months ahead of time.
3. Character Dining at Disney World
Character dining is one of my favorite dining experiences at Disney. There are several experiences available, including buffet-style, traditional restaurant style, and even tea parties.
Essentially, during a character dining experience, characters will come to visit you at your table while you eat. What I love about this is that there’s so much more time for character interaction and you don’t have to wait in a long line to visit them later in the day.
I have dined with characters at several popular locations around Walt Disney World. These are my top recommendations:
Tusker House Restaurant
Tusker House is a buffet-style meal in Animal Kingdom. It’s hands-down my favorite character dining experience. Not only is the food absolutely amazing and the restaurant beautiful, but you get to meet characters like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Goofy in their safari gear! This is a popular buffet, so make sure you get reservations early.
1900 Park Fare
1900 Park Fare is located at The Grand Floridian. This is another buffet-style meal, particularly known for its Disney-famous strawberry soup. 1900 Park Fare is also unique because it features several character experiences throughout the day depending on what meal you choose: the Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious Breakfast and Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner. Different characters meet during each experience.
The Crystal Palace
The Crystal Palace is a buffet-style meal in the Magic Kingdom. You’ll be joined by Winnie the Pooh and friends for a Friendship Day Celebration. Depending on where you’re seated and what time you go, you may even get to see some of the daytime fireworks and the parade out the window!
Disney Princess Tea Party
Finally, the Disney Princess Tea Party is located in the Garden View Tea Room at the Grand Floridian. Intended for young guests between the ages of 3 – 9, this is the best occasion to dress up like the princess you are and meet some of your favorite princesses. Enjoy music, dancing, storytelling, tea, and snacks with favorites like Aurora and Cinderella. Note: this isn’t a full-meal dining experience!
4. Afternoon High Tea at Disney World
Have you ever dreamed of stepping back in time for high tea in Victorian England? Now’s your chance. Enjoy a traditional high tea experience in the Garden Tea Room at the Grand Floridian. Every day from noon to 4 PM you can take part in this special experience.
During your high tea, you’ll have the choice of some of the finest English teas brewed fresh at your table as well as 3 courses of delicious snacks and pastries. Prices start at $35 a person, making this one of the most affordable experiences on this list. Just make sure you book early, especially for weekends and peak times.
5. Victoria & Albert’s
When it comes to fine dining at Walt Disney World, look no further than Victoria and Albert’s. Located within The Grand Floridian, Victoria and Albert’s has been awarded the AAA Five Diamond Award® almost 20 years in a row. In fact, the meal consists of 7 to 10 courses and has a required dress code just to eat there.
Check out the full review of what it’s like to dine at Victoria and Albert’s on WDW Expert. You can also find out more about this dining experience and make reservations here. There’s only one seating a night, so reservations often need to be made up to 6 months in advance.
6. Dessert Parties
We all love Disney’s nighttime shows, but it can be a struggle to find good seating where you don’t feel crowded and no one is blocking the view.
This is where the dessert parties come in. Instead of dealing with crowds and trying to find the perfect viewing spot, you can help yourself to a buffet of desserts and enjoy a private viewing of your selected show. It’s the most relaxed (and delicious) way to enjoy the fireworks
In the Magic Kingdom, there are 2 dessert party locations: Tomorrowland Terrace (a seated location) and the Plaza Garden (a standing location). It’s important to note that both locations will go to Tomorrowland Terrace first for dessert.
The Magic Kingdom also offers an After-Fireworks Dessert Party, where you first view the fireworks from the private Plaza Garden viewing area before heading over to Tomorrowland Terrace for the dessert party after the show.
During my visit, I did the Tomorrowland Terrace seated dessert party and loved both the private viewing experience and seeing the fireworks from an elevated view. I’d highly recommend it for the best view of Happily Ever After. It’s one of my favorite dining experiences at Disney World!
Finally, an extra-special dessert party experience is the Pirates & Pals Fireworks Dessert Voyage, where you’ll have the opportunity to eat desserts, meet characters, and then take a boat onto Seven Seas Lagoon to view the Magic Kingdom fireworks!
7. Dining Package
If you’ve ever seen a nighttime show at Disney, you know how early you have to arrive just to snag good seating. Even worse, shows like Fantasmic! and Rivers of Light have limited seating and might reach capacity before you even get there. So what do you do?
Instead of using a Fastpass to snag seating, save it for a ride throughout the day and take advantage of a dining package instead.
Dining packages are available at all 4 parks, and they’re the best way to see the show and enjoy a great meal. Essentially, you’re given a dining reservation at one of their designated dining package restaurants, and you’re also given a ticket for guaranteed seating at a designated show or parade. This is a great option if you’re already planning on dining in the park, plus it takes away the stress of finding a good spot for the show later!
Dining packages are currently available for these parks and shows:
- Magic Kingdom:
- Hollywood Studios:
- Animal Kingdom:
8. Dinner Shows at Disney World
Disney offers a wide range of dining experiences, but did you know they also offer dinner shows?
There are currently two dinner shows available: Disney’s Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show and the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. They’re both a blast!
Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
The Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show takes place at Disney’s Polynesian Resort in an open-air theater. While you dine, watch a performance of drummers, hula dancers, and more. The cost ranges from $39 to $78 depending on the age of each member in the party and where you’d like to be seated for the show.
Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue takes place at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort in Pioneer Hall, where you’ll eat country-style food while watching songs and skits. Similar to the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show, the cost ranges from $38 to $72 depending on the age of each member of the party and where you’d like to be seated for the show. This is a Disney World classic!
9. Epcot Festivals
When it comes to dining at Disney, most people look for restaurants. But did you know that the Epcot festivals are dining experiences at Disney World in themselves?
Epcot hosts 4 festivals throughout the year: International Festival of the Arts, Flower and Garden Festival, Food & Wine Festival, and the International Festival of the Holidays. During each festival, booths will be spread out throughout the park and are typically themed around a particular country or the festival themselves.
As you walk around the park, you can enjoy new foods from these booths at smaller (and less expensive) portions. The best part about this Disney World dining experience is that there’s no need to plan your day around a dining reservation. This makes eating at the Epcot festivals a great option if you want to be flexible as to where/when you eat, as well as how much you spend.
Tips for Eating at the Epcot Festivals:
- Grab a Festival “Passport” – Free passports are available throughout the park that detail the different foods offered and where they’re located. Passports also mark information about the food offerings, such as whether they’re vegetarian or gluten-free.
- Use a Wearable Gift Card – Instead of digging through your purse or wallet every time you want to purchase food, Disney has begun offering wearable gift cards: a stretchable wristlet with a small gift card attached. These make purchasing items easier than ever before, making it a great option for eating around Epcot. If you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can also use your MagicBand to charge it to the room.
- Try Something New – What I love about eating at the Epcot festivals is that it gives me so many new foods to try from all over the world. Plus, since they’re smaller portions and cost less than it would at a restaurant, I’m not worried about how much I spent on the food if I didn’t like it since it only cost a few dollars.
Enjoy These Dining Experiences at Disney World
From meeting the creative force behind the Disney parks to snacking on desserts with private show viewing, it’s easy to agree that there are many unique dining experiences at Disney World.
Now that you know about some of the more unique ones, you’re sure to make your next trip to Disney the best one yet! Have you tried any of these dining experiences at Disney World? Which one is your favorite?
Charlotte is the travel blogger behind This Girl Knows It and a huge fan of the Disney parks. She’s currently a college student studying Interior Design (so you might find more than a little bit of college content on her blog too). You can usually find her talking about blogging or planning her next trip. Follow along with Charlotte on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
This was a guest post. If you’d like to contribute something to the WDWexpert blog, contact me with a post idea.