Disney restaurants tend to have that little something extra that make them a magical experience for us and our families instead of, say, just another night at the local diner. The red carpet at Cinderella’s Royal Table, the aquarium at Coral Reef, the stage show at Biergarten…they all make these restaurants a more interesting, and more compelling, place to dine.
That’s why today, atmosphere is taking center stage instead of playing a supporting role. I want to know: What’s your favorite Disney World restaurant for its atmosphere? The place that you go, without fail, almost without thought to the food. (Almost. But not quite.)
Here are three of my favorite spots that I hit up as often as possible when I’m in town. I can’t wait to hear about your favorites in the comments!
Sci-Fi Dine-In Restaurant
If you A) pine for the days of drive in movies, or B) have heard about such days and you’re completely fascinated, then you’ve gotta check out Sci-Fi Dine-In with me.
Dining under the stars while watching ridiculous B movies on the big screen is just too much fun to pass up.
After all, this is the only place in Disney that you can eat in your car!
No time to wait for a car table? Check out the cool picnic table option, and you can still dine in the Disney “open air!”
Thankfully, Walt shows up every now and again to make sense of it all.
50s Prime Time Cafe
But I also enjoy feeling like I just escaped into a rerun of The Dick Van Dyke Show! And that’s when I head to 50s Prime Time Cafe in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Almost all Disney restaurants have some level of themeing. But this place really takes the cake. You have just travelled back in time when you walk through the doors. Even the lobby is super-themed to feel like your grandmother’s living room!
There is just so dang much to see here! Sometimes, I really have a hard time settling down to focus on my food.
Fortunately, Cousin Tommy (my favorite server) usually comes along just in the nick of time to quiz me on the restroom soap colors and fork-feed me any leftover veggies so I can join the Clean Plate Club! Ah, those cousins. Always looking out for us.
Jiko — A Cooking Place
If you haven’t visited Africa recently, here’s one of the next best things — Jiko at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
The restaurant was designed by famed restaurant designer Jeffrey Beers. And where my other two favorites evoke kitschy fun, Jiko is all elegance.
Channeling the rich, natural colors of the African continent, I relax instantly as I enter this tranquil space. The space is replete with symbols of Africa everywhere you look. Be sure to ask your server about the unique design elements at Jiko.
Water provides a soothing backdrop when your table is window side. But keep your eyes peeled for Hidden Mickeys even here!
My favorite feature is the lighting, though. As the evening wanes, the light fades gradually to mimic the African sunset. Gorgeous.
All I need is their awesome Oak-Grilled Filet, and I’m good to go!
Now It’s Your Turn!
Now, I really want to hear from you! What are your top spots in Disney that win on atmosphere alone? What places are you going every trip just to look around? What restaurants do you recommend to friends visiting the ‘World with the opening line “Ya just gotta see…!”
Tell us all about it in comments below!