Avoid a dining disaster
Reading Disney World restaurant reviews is a murky task. You enter of sound mind and leave a sweaty, confused mess—and also starving but suddenly devoid of an appetite. Some people rave about a restaurant…while others say it is very possibly the ninth circle of Disney-dining hell. Trust issues are a common side effect of reading these reviews since many seem far too glowing to be genuine assessments of quality. (No one should get that excited about chicken nuggets at a middle-of-the-road quick-bite restaurant.) So, which spots should you avoid at the most magical place on Earth? We’ve got a few ideas. These are the worst-reviewed Disney World restaurants—the ones that have garnered three-and-a-half stars or less—with a sampling of choice opinions from real travelers who have dined there recently. On the flip side, these are the tasty foods you have to try at least once when visiting Disney World.
The thoroughly average safari-themed chain restaurant under-delivers even more at Disney Springs, where you might expect magic for the magical pricing scheme. If you still want to head there for the decor and to see the animatronic animals come to life, lower your expectations regarding the food and mind your credit card limit. Many reviewers say the food is mediocre and the service isn’t great, but in her one-star Yelp review, Marie C. of Asheville, North Carolina, says that her meal was atrocious. She ordered a grain bowl, and “parts of it were warm, parts ice-cold…and the broccoli looked rotten.” With an $18 price tag, this Disney World meal certainly didn’t deliver.
You should definitely plan ahead for some of your meals, especially if you want to hit the better-reviewed spots. Case in point: This is the hardest restaurant to get reservations for at Disney World.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
This cafeteria-style restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland promises out-of-this-world food, but you might want to blast off in a different direction for vegetarian and vegan fare. Yelp reviewer Christina G. is happy that Disney World is now “offering more plant-based food options throughout the park,” but she gave Cosmic Ray’s plant-based, meatless Sloppy Joe negative-100 stars. She says, “This meal was just abysmal. The ‘meat’ tasted like hardened little pellets.” How can you have a better experience at Disney? Check out these insider secrets from a Disney World super-fan.
Pinocchio Village Haus
You don’t expect to pay hand over fist for the taste of prepackaged foods when you’re already paying a fortune, but it happens sometimes. That’s the problem at the Pinocchio Village Haus, according to Yelp reviewer Daniel P.: “The cheese flatbread was basically the equivalent of what a Lunchables pizza left in the toaster oven would feel like.” Another reviewer says, “The chicken sandwich I ate was the worst in my life.” Ouch. On the plus side, the A/C is awesome here, which is great for a cool indoor break during a hot Disney day, but maybe steer clear of the meh-at-best meals.
The food may cost you an arm and a (turkey) leg, no matter where you go at the parks, but these are 17 things you can get for free at Disney World.
Tony’s Town Square
Emily T. of Hudson, Ohio thought there was something fishy about her food during her September trip to this Italian restaurant in Disney World—and she was right. This is the spot where Lady and the Tramp shared their first kiss, but the overwhelming smell of fish on Emily’s Caesar salad didn’t make it quite so romantic. “I figured there must be anchovies in it somewhere,” she wrote on Yelp. “Being so disgusted by the smell, I asked our waitress about it and was told [the salad] has ‘fish flakes’ on it, and indeed there was. It looked like literal fish food!” As for those iconic meatballs from the movie, another reviewer calls them “just average,” while others say the pasta is “really badly cooked [with] horrible sauce.” The best part of most meals, according to reviewers? The free bread!
Lotus Blossom Café
Yelp reviews put this quick-bite spot in Epcot somewhere between Panda Express and a generic Americanized Chinese meal you’d have at home—all with prices that will please even less than the bland orange chicken. Even the positive Yelpers admit that the food at Lotus Blossom “isn’t anything special,” and Steven from SoCal theorizes that “most people would be very happy with [the food], but being from L.A. and being spoiled with some great Chinese food, this place just missed the mark.” TripAdvisor reviewers express similar opinions, though one woman was so upset about her “dry” and “lukewarm” chicken dish and awful shrimp fried rice that she “literally had a temper tantrum over this food….For Disney prices, at least give me the basics. Hot food hot, cold food cold.”
Gerardo Mora/Getty Images Glossy menu photos don’t match what is served, says a recent TripAdvisor user who ate at Planet Hollywood in Disney Springs this past January. “Warm to cold burgers and so much salt and pepper on the fries” were “disgusting,” and the “$15 milkshake was like a smoothie of chocolate syrup and whipped cream.” Another reviewer, Greg M., advises Disney World guests to run away from “bland, dry, tough, and expensive” sirloin steaks. By all accounts, Planet Hollywood Disney is extremely loud, so at least you won’t be able to hear your stomach revolting against your poor decision-making. Instead, make sure you check out these 14 hidden gems for grown-ups at Disney parks, including some surprisingly stellar restaurants.
This Dinoland U.S.A. quick-bites restaurant is located in the Animal Kingdom and serves up the usual fare (burgers, nuggets) in a humorous prehistoric setting. It’s “run of the mill amusement park food,” say reviewers. The problem is, the food isn’t great…even as fast food goes. According to Jim K. on Yelp, the “burgers taste like the burgers from school and the chicken nuggets are worse than Tyson frozen nuggets,” while another diner says that “Wendy’s and Burger King are like gourmet burgers joints compared to this.” Still, others recommend it for a quick pit stop between attractions. Restaurantosaurus is the Disney World embodiment of that old backhanded compliment: “Good for what it is.”
Hollywood & Vine
Expensive buffets stocked with the reliably tasty Mickey Waffles adored by young and old alike accompany Disney Junior character meet-and-greets at this poorly reviewed restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios named after the famous intersection in Los Angeles. Unless you’ve got a trust fund and a hankering for military-grade food, Yelp reviewer Lyndsi L. from San Diego recommends that you “just skip it.” She explains, “This was the worst experience I had at Disney World. The food was terrible. It was comparable to the food they serve us in the Navy. Honestly, the ship food might even be better than this.” It’s not just the character breakfasts that are expensive. Here’s why Disney World tickets cost so much money.
Pirates are not typically associated with haute cuisine, and that tradition continues at this Magic Kingdom restaurant. A recent Yelp review of Tortuga Tavern says it’s “solid if you want a McDonald’s rib sandwich all year round for $10! Otherwise, it is very overpriced. I have three children, and we were looking at an $80 bill for lunch!” While TripAdvisor reviews tend to be a bit kinder and say it’s not bad for a quick bite, many weren’t too thrilled with the high prices for small portions either. That said, pirates robbing you blind is very on-brand.
The presence of a Mediterranean salad with kalamata olives, feta, and hummus means this Hollywood Studios restaurant gets to claim an “international menu.” But what you can actually expect at ABC Commissary is more of the same burgers, ribs, and shrimp you might expect to be served at a low-rate suburban chain restaurant back home. Yelp reviewer Angela B. wasn’t impressed with the Angus burger she ordered, saying it was “pretty flavorless and very obviously a preformed patty with faux grill marks.” (It also set her back $20 with fries and a drink.) On the burger, Juli C. adds that hers “was worse than my old high school cafeteria burger that we couldn’t stomach 35 years ago.” And Carmen G. puts it bluntly: “[ABC Commissary] is probably the worst restaurant we have ever tried.” If you’re planning a trip to Orlando, make sure you know these 14 ways to save serious money on your next Disney vacation.