Sunday 5 November 2017

My Top 5 Disney Restaurants

Last Christmas I was lucky enough to visit Walt Disney World and experience the (regular) Disney Dining Plan. Being the foodie I am, for months in advance I meticulously planned which restaurants to dine in, not just because of the food it had to offer, but because of the interior or the experience. Worry not, for those not familiar with Disney restaurants, they're not all fairytale-esque filled with screaming kids and dress-up characters! I dined at a few rather suave candle-lit restaurants with dress codes, exquisite food and dreamy views (and not a child in sight!).

It was hard to whittle it down to just 5, but here are my favourite restaurants on Disney property.
California Grill bar, pre meal

California Grill - Steak
1. California Grill (based at Disney's Contemporary Resort)
For those Disney nerds out there, you'll know its tough to get a booking at this restaurant because it's so well liked, for many reasons. I remember making this my first priority when I was booking my dining, and I luckily managed to bag myself a booking.
California Grill is based on the 15th floor of The Contemporary Hotel. It has floor to ceiling windows and gives THE perfect view of The Seven Seas Lagoon & Cinderella's Castle in the distance. If you time it right, you can munch your way through your food with the most impressive view of the fireworks from Magic Kingdom. You can even wander out onto the viewing platform outside - and what's even more impressive - the hotel is in sync with the soundtrack in Magic Kingdom, so whatever they can hear in the park alongside the fireworks, you can hear from the restaurant, even though you're a distance away! Unfortunately for us, because it was mid December, it was a little blustery up top, so I could only manage a few minutes in the night air before I had to dash back inside - Next time Cali, next time!
The food is absolutely divine - we ordered steak and it really was the best  (but definitely most expensive!) steak I've ever eaten. It's Michelin star quality for sure. The service was impeccable and I was so glad I booked this on our last night in Orlando, it really was the perfect ending.

Do you wanna build a snowman?

All the meat!
2. Teppan Edo (Epcot)
This restaurant ticked all boxes for me. The food quality was perfect, it offered a unique dining experience with no Disney cheese (albeit the odd subtle hint!). This is based in Japan around the world showcase. You are in groups of approximately 8, and you do end up sitting with these people, but the way the table is positioned its definitely not awkward (trust me, I wouldn't have done it if so!). You're positioned in a live cooking station if you like, and each group has their own chef, who prepares and cooks the food right in front of you. There's interaction too, if you like - you can ask the chef questions, but I was happy to just sit there (in awe) and watch as she prepared food, made a smokin' Olaf from onions (and sung 'Do you wanna be a snowman?') and prepared our food, right before our eyes. The food was so flavoursome and the experience so personal and unique, this had to make the top 5.

Ohana's lei's (and no, my hair just accidentally fell into Mickey style ears, much to the delight of my boyfriend!)

The view from outside Ohana's (The Polynesian Resort)

3. Ohana (The Polynesian Resort)
Ohana's is based in Disney's Polynesian Resort (oh so pretty!) and is Hawaiian themed. You are given a flower lei by a bubbly Hawaiian lady as she sings and dances around the restaurant (sounds tacky but it really isn't that bad). This is a restaurant that is fairly deluxe, but caters for children as well (i.e. they have coconut races etc). The food is almost buffet style, but you don't leave your seat, the waiters come to you. People were arriving every 10 minutes with skewers of steak, fried prawns, lots of different meats etc, and you basically keep eating till you say stop! I wasn't blown away by the desserts but the mains were gorgeous. Although this was definitely more of a livelier restaurant compared to the previous 2, it still didn't have what I usually call that 'children's dining room' feel to it. I know in the mornings for breakfast, Ohana's is a character meet and greet and children can meet Lilo & Stitch, but evening meals are a little less 'Disney-fied'.

There was more food to come (Garden Grill)

Mickey Waffles at Garden Grill!

Hate this photo but you get the idea! (Garden Grill)
4. Garden Grill (Epcot)
Our first morning was spent having breakfast here. This restaurant is SO underrated! Again, it ticked all boxes for me. It was buffet style breakfast food again, but without leaving your seat. We were presented with endless amounts of sausage, potatoes, warm cinnamon pastries (these were SO good!), fresh fruit.. the list was endless. Whilst you were eating, you got to meet certain Disney characters - Mickey Mouse, Pluto, The Chipmunks etc - great for the kids. You were in your own booths and because of how this restaurant was designed, it was extremely private - the restaurant tables are positioned in a circle - which rotates.. very very slowly! So you're getting to see different things as the restaurant slowly goes round. By the time its done a full lap you've pretty much completed your meals.

Famous naan bread

Mains at Sanaa

Dessert at Sanaa

5. Sanaa (Animal Kingdom)
Yet another underrated restaurant that doesn't get half the attention it deserves. This is based in the deluxe resort of Animal Kingdom. As you can imagine from the theming of the hotel, this restaurant was African/tribal themed, with gorgeous Moroccan lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The attention to detail in any Disney hotel is on point but Animal Kingdom for me is just fascinating. I'd heard so many things about the naan break here, so we had to try it for ourselves, and these reviews weren't wrong, it was bloody brilliant! Warm soft flavoured naans with an array of dips to choose from. The main course was just as good, the lamb just melted in your mouth and ohh.. I'm reliving those flavours right now. The service was perfect, as always, but, I haven't even got to the best bit yet - Sanaa overlooks a savannah.. yes, a real life savannah! So if you want to see giraffes, and zebras, and god knows what other animals that stroll around there, then get yourself here! Unfortunately because it was winter, for us it was too dark (and late). But fear not! we strolled outside, and there are rangers that provide you with night vision goggles which enables you to see in the dark and look out into the savannah to help spot those animals! I spotted a zebra in the wilderness, it was so surreal! There was a small fire pit near here too, with cute wooden rocking chairs to sit on.. Honestly, we visited here on our first night of arriving and experiencing the Disney Dining Plan and just seeing what this place had to offer got me so excited for the few weeks ahead. This will definitely hold a special place in my heart.

Moroccan Lights at Sanaa
Fire pit overlooking the Savannah at Sanaa
Have you visited any of these restaurants before?

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