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Walt Disney World Dining: Where to Make Your Advance Dining Reservations

Nicole Thibault

Clients often ask me for dining reservation recommendations, and I have plenty! Being a bit of a foodie, I've tried many of the onsite restaurants, both in the Parks and in the resorts.

When you start planning your vacation, make a list of your top 3-5 restaurants for each Park and a few resort restaurants as well. As you make your restaurant lists, be sure to do your research. Check the menus (and children's menus, if this is a family trip!) to make sure that the food choices are to your liking.

Have this list handy when making your reservations, so that if you don't get your #1 choice, you can have an alternate restaurant choice handy.

When your "180 days" date arrives (180 days prior to arrival at WDW, you can make your dining reservations either online or over the phone).

O.k., now for my restaurant recommendations:

  1. Animal Kingdom:
    • Tusker House - Character Dining (Donald Duck and Friends). A buffet assortment of salads, basmati rice, carved meats, cold cuts, desserts, and more. Something for everyone.
    • Yak and Yeti
      • Yak and Yeti Cafe. Quick Service Dining.  Egg rolls, honey chicken, teriyaki beef. Good quick service dining option for those on the go in the Park.
      • Yak and Yeti Restaurant. Table Service Dining. Asian fare including potstickers, dim sum, salmon and more.
  2. Hollywood Studios:
    • Sci-Fi Dine-In  - While the Sci-Fi Dine-In features mostly burgers, being able to sit in a 1950's car while watching retro science fiction movies is the really cool feature here. Lots of fun at this unique eatery. Table Service Dining.
    • ABC Commissary - Offers Asian salads, seafood platters and strip steak. A little more healthy than the usual quick-service dining options.
    • Hollywood's Brown Derby - Signature Service Dining. Known for its Famous Cobb Salad, this restaurant also features port tenderloin, salmon, duck breast and more. Also try the Grapefruit Cake.
  3. Epcot:
    • Coral Reef Restaurant - Table Service Dining. Features strip steak, rainbow trout, lobster and shrimp pasta, salmon, mahi mahi , and a sustainable seasonal catch. Be sure to ask for a table near the sides of the aquarium. While the fish are seen from all tables, being able to sit "close to the action" is a lot of fun.
    • Boulangerie Patisserie les Halles - There are some place at WDW that offer food I dream about between trips. The selection of desserts at this little cafe is one of them. Offering baguettes, quiches, creme brulee, chocolat tart, eclairs, chocolate mousse, and the ever-popular napoleon. Quick Service Dining.
    • La Hacienda de San Angel - Table Service Dining. While the food offered is very good ( tacos, carnitas, ribs, and more), the real star at this restaurant is the margaritas. After a hot day of walking around the Parks, what could be better?
    • Restaurant Marrakesh - Table Service Dining. I'm obsessed with their beef brewat rolls and shish kebabs. And the belly-dancing show is fun to watch.
  4. Magic Kingdom:
    • Be Our Guest - While reservations for this restaurant can be elusive, if you can get in, be sure to try the braised pork. Or the rack or lamb or ratatouille. And the selection of cupcakes include lemon meringue and strawberry cream. Now open for breakfast and lunch, as well.
    • Cinderella's Royal Table - Character Dining (Cinderella and Princess Friends). My family enjoyed this character dining experience on our last trip. I have all boys, but I was able to bribe them into going with the promise that they would get swords as a take-home gift. As we walked into the castle, we took a quick photo with Cinderella, and were shown upstairs to the dining room. The food was incredible; this restaurant offers pork and beef tenderloin, swordfish, tomato risotto, and more. As we enjoyed our dinner, more Princesses came to our table to say hello, sign autograph books and take photos with the kids. At the end of the meal, we were presented with the photo of the kids and Cinderella that we had taken before dinner.
    • Gaston's Tavern - Quick Service Dining. If you are looking for breakfast and are on the dining plan, you can get a cinnamon roll, using a Snack credit at Gaston's Tavern. This cinnamon roll could literally feed an entire family, it's so big
  5. Various WDW Resorts:
    • Animal Kingdom Lodge
      • Boma - Table Service Dining. I love to try new things, but am some times hesitant about trying new foods. Boma's buffet enables you to try new African flavors without committing to a whole plate of food. Includes durban-style roasted chicken, bobotie, pork ribs, beef strip loin, and a wonderful selection of desserts.
      • Sanaa - African/Indian Table Service Dining. We tried the Indian-style Bread Service on our last visit, and love the Naan bread with samplings of spreads to go with it. Be sure to also give the tandoori chicken, lamb shank, and shrimp a try.
    • Contemporary Resort
      • The Wave of American Flavors - Table Service Dining. This restaurant offers some of the most healthy choices in WDW property. They try to get all local products for that farm-to-table-style restaurant. The Wave features djon-crusted lamb chops, pumpkin marscapone ravioli, beef and pork tenderloin, and sustainable fish. The kids also loved the rainbow bread grilled cheese.
      • The California Grill - Signature Dining/ Features sushi, seared ahi tuna, flounder, lamb shanks, bison strip loins, shellfish mole, and swordfish. Try for a reservation around the time of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, and ask for a table by the window. or have a drink on the outside patio of the restaurant for the best views of the Magic Kingdom.
    • Fort Wilderness
      • rail's End - Table Service Dining. I think about this buttermilk-marinated fried chicken between trips. I've tried to make it at home, to no avail.
    • The Wilderness Lodge
      • Artist Point - Signature Dining. Food inspired by the Pacific Northwest. Jumbo lump crab cakes, salmon, filet mignon, diver scallops. Yum.

For more restaurant recommendations or questions, call Magical Storybook Travels at 585-880-6951 or