There are a lot of different types of food to choose from at Disney World, but choosing what your tastebuds are in the mood for is only half the battle!
That’s because while many foods at Disney World are delicious, they’re not all created equal!
You’ll be tempted by many tasty snackortunities™ throughout the Disney parks, but if you can hold off just a little longer for something better, we think you’ll be much happier with the results (we know we usually are!).
Here are upgrades we’ve come up with for some of Disney World’s most common snack culprits! Many are around the same cost, so why not have the VERY BEST version of something you can get on your vacation?! At least that’s our two cents!
What to Avoid: Plain Old Ice Cream
You’ll find ice cream at SO many locations around Disney World, but there are MANY more options than just boring vanilla and chocolate soft serve to choose from (unless you’re wild about plain soft serve, then YOU do YOU, boo!).
If you’re at Magic Kingdom, or any of the other Disney parks, there’s probably a much better option not too far away!
What to Try Instead:
We’re talking TONS of specialty soft-serve flavors of Dole Whip, though some can come and go from time to time. We’ve seen Pineapple, Mango, Orange, Lemon, Lime, Raspberry, Strawberry, and even Coconut!
Look for these more unique soft-serves in Magic Kingdom at Storybook Treats, Aloha Isle, Sunshine Tree Terrace, Auntie Gravity’s Galactic Goodies and at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort’s Pineapple Lanai! (You can also get regular pineapple Dole Whip at several other Disney resorts and at Disney Springs!) And don’t forget to use Mobile Order on the My Disney Experience app to help you breeze past the full line and get your treats FASTER. The lines for these joints tend to run a bit long!
This spot located at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn has one of the best selections of ice cream on property — literally, THE BEST. You can sample everything before you make up your mind and if you STILL can’t decide, go with an Ice Cream Flight!
Ample Hills Creamery is a non-Disney owned and operated chain, but their Disney World location is the only place you’ll find Sally Sells Seashells — an exclusive Disney flavor! And don’t forget the Ice Cream Tacos!!
We give it “Two scoops up!” Now, Ample Hills recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but we’re hoping to see both their BoardWalk location and their NEW, under-construction second location in Disney Springs open back up when Disney World reopens.
Just a stone’s throw away from Ample Hills Creamery, you’ll find Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club Resort!
This soda fountain-looking joint is known for cranking out a mean Kitchen Sink Sundae (that is ACTUALLY served in a SINK with more ice cream and toppings than you can shake a stick at!) along with another favorite of ours — the chocolate and peanut butter dreamboat known in these parts as the No Way Jose Sundae!
Beaches and Cream has just been newly remodeled and expanded with additional seating but due to its popularity, Advance Dining Reservations are still highly recommended!
Other Spots to Look For Better Stuff
We have few other options we’d recommend to satisfy your ice cream cravings!
First up, L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot’s France pavilion. This spot serves delicious Ice Cream Macaron Sandwiches, which they change out with the season, along with some SERIOUSLY good house-made ice cream and sorbet!
And don’t forget the Brioche Ice Cream Sandwiches! These are house-made brioche filled with ice cream and sauce and pressed into a little panini-like pocket of wonder! Deeeelicious.
We also still love Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Scoops in Hollywood Studios when we’re looking for a cup or cone of creamy, cold goodness that isn’t your run-of-the-mill soft serve!
What to Avoid: Mega-Crowded Character Meals
Since we’ve been known to recommend iconic character meals such as Chef Mickey’s, Crystal Palace, and Cinderella’s Royal Table to our readers (AND know we’re guilty of going to Chef Mickey’s most times we visit because KIDS!), we don’t want to send you any mixed messages. If characters are your goal, we totally recommend you try these spots at least once — especially if it’s your first time to Disney World — OR you already know your trip wouldn’t be the same without them!
That being said, there are some more-relaxed and (dare I say it…) more-enjoyable (and often easier to grab a reservation for!) character dining experiences out there — and you might even be surprised by how much more time you’ll get to spend with your favorite Disney character at these other spots!
What to Try Instead:
To get more face time with Disney characters without giving up food quality, check out one of these alternatives!
This revolving restaurant (yes, it SPINS!) located in Epcot offers a great opportunity to meet with characters due to its smaller size! The food is brought right to your table and served family-style (so ? buffet).
This spot offers a great breakfast platter in the morning (with Sticky Buns!) and a platter of assorted meats and veggies for lunch and dinner. We think the food quality is really good here (all of the veggies and fruit are grown IN the Living With the Land attraction you’ll rotate past!), and you can ask for as much of it as you want!
And you get to hang out with Mickey, Pluto, Chip, and Dale clad in their farmer outfits.
But the best part about this restaurant (IMHO) is that it’s very small, so characters tend to come by your table several times during the meal. You don’t get the same “see-em-once-and-get-out” experience that you’ll find at Cinderella’s Royal Table and Chef Mickey’s. At those restaurants, we almost feel rushed since the tables are obviously seated in “waves,” and everyone has to get out so new folks can be seated for the next time the characters make the rounds.
The feeling is much more relaxed and chill at Garden Grill. And that makes a huge difference during a frantic Disney vacation.
You’ll get to meet Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Daisy in safari-themed outfits at Tusker House in Disney’s Animal Kingdom! This buffet situated in the heart of the Africa section of the park and serves up breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
The buffet features some really unique foods including some African specialties for more-adventurous eaters! Don’t worry– there are still plenty of old standby foods including as many Corn Dog Nuggets and as much mac and cheese as you could possibly want!
Or Check Out These Character Dining Locations:
Topolino’s Terrace at Disney’s Riviera Resort offers a character breakfast that costs about the same as Chef Mickey’s but has a much more chilled-out atmosphere — along with a STUNNING rooftop view! You’ll still get to spend time with Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, and Donald who are all wearing outfits inspired by different artistic disciplines! As you can see, Daisy is a ballet dancer!
Topolino’s is a plated meal (meaning it’s NOT all-you-can-eat like a buffet, which could sway your decision…so take that into consideration), and we think it looks and tastes better than many of the options at Chef Mickey’s — just don’t tell our pal Mickey that! 😉
Trattoria al Forno’s Bon Voyage Breakfast at Disney’s BoardWalk is also another unique option. The food is served plated and it’s also not all-you-can-eat, but the vibe is generally much less hectic.
Not only will you get to enjoy some really yummy food, but you’ll usually get the chance to see two Disney princesses who rarely meet: Rapunzel, and Ariel (with LEGS!) AND THEIR GUYS! Flynn Rider and Prince Eric are also normally making the rounds with the ladies.
This is the ONLY spot you can currently meet these two gents, so if meeting a prince or two is on your wish list, consider heading to the BoardWalk!
The character breakfast at ‘Ohana in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort might also be a good option for you since this one IS all-you-can-eat (and served in a big skillet like at Garden Grill!).
It costs about the same as Topolino’s Terrace and Trattoria al Forno, but you can really load up on those Mickey Waffles before you hit the parks.
Thankfully, Magic Kingdom is only a short monorail ride away! You’ll meet Mickey, Pluto, Lilo, and Stitch at this fun breakfast as well!
What to Avoid: Basic Cheeseburger
Don’t just get a boring burger like you can get at any fast food restaurant back home — get a GOOD one!
What to Try Instead:
The Boathouse’s Gibson “Sandwich King” Burger is one of our favorite award-winning burgers at Disney World. It’s one seriously juicy, well-seasoned burger loaded with fried cherry peppers, jalapeño havarti, and spiced mayo! It’s incredible.
You’ll likely need an Advance Dining Reservation to feast at this waterfront restaurant, but if you’re like us, once you get a taste of this thing, you’ll be rebooking this spot over and over again! OH, and don’t forget to grab those spicy firecracker shrimp, too! And the Key Lime Pie… .
Although Disney Springs’ D-Luxe Burger is a quick-service spot, you can actually order your burger cooked to the temperature you want just like at a fancy sit-down joint!
D-Luxe Burger also uses a signature meat blend and offers many uniquely themed burgers. There’s usually a seasonal burger that’s changed out every few months! Our favorite is still their Pepperoni Pizza Burger (it’s SO GOOD!).
This thing is the ultimate surf and turf indulgence! You can pop over to the Grand Floridian for lunch really easily from Magic Kingdom. Not only is the food outstanding, but the atmosphere is much more relaxed than the mid-day meal time frenzy at the parks!
What to Avoid: Plain Old Potato Chips
Yikes! We never want you to waste any of your Disney Dining Plan snack credits on ordinary stuff like bottled water, soda, or a bag of potato chips you can buy in any grocery store! In fact, we work hard on our DFB Guides to prevent such a travesty from occurring! 😉
What to Try Instead:
Disney makes their own homemade potato chips and they’re waaay fresher and tastier than the prepackaged stuff! These are more like thick-cut kettle-style chips, often sprinkled generously with sea salt.
Look for them available as a side to get with your meal, or purchase them separately at many fast-food restaurants throughout Disney World! Many fast food locations, especially at resorts, offer these tasty chips!
And if you’re looking for something even fancier than “just chips” at Disney World, there are a lot of kicked-up-a-notch options! Try the Buffalo Chicken Chips at Trilo-Bites in Disney’s Animal Kingdom or the Watchos at Rix Sports Bar in Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort (which are like nachos made with Waffle Fries instead!).
And even Woody’s Lunch Box in Hollywood Studios’ Toy Story Land is serving up Totchos (basically tots loaded with yummy toppings!). These are similar to the Bacon Mac and Cheese Tots you’ll find at The Friar’s Nook in Magic Kingdom!
José Andrés is a James Beard award-winning chef, so expect a higher-caliber than your regular Frito-Lays here! 😉
What to Avoid: Regular Fast Food Pizza or Getting a Pizza Delivered to Your Hotel
While you can get a standard pre-made pizza all over Disney World, there are much better ‘za options out there!
What to Try Instead:
If you can help it, avoid getting regular pizzas like you can order at home delivered to your Disney World resort and stay away from pizza joints like PizzeRizzo at Hollywood Studios or Pizzafari at Animal Kingdom. Even though they look impressive on the outside, with a few exceptions, they all serve the same standard “too much dough, not enough toppings” pizzas that are pre-made and honestly, not that great!
Instead, we suggest you seek out more authentic spots that make their crust from scratch and fire them to order! Via Napoli in Epcot’s World Showcase or Disney Springs’ Pizza Ponte have some of the best, freshest pizzas around.
These restaurants are part of the Pantina Group (the same folks who’ll be running Space 220 Restaurant when it blasts off!), and source their flour and water from the most authentic places possible to ensure you’re getting some TOP NOTCH ‘za.
Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza in Disney Springs is also a tastier option than Disney World’s mass-produced pizza pies. It’s a build-your-own pizza joint with a HUGE local following that’s turning out some quality pies!
Even though Blaze Pizza is a chain restaurant, the pizzas are hot, fresh, and not very expensive! If you don’t have a Blaze Pizza back home, give them a try!
What to Avoid: Grocery Store Beer
Put that ol’ familiar bottle down! Disney has SO MUCH to offer in the realm of craft beers beyond just the “standard” grocery store options you’re used to back home!
What to Try Instead:
Be adventurous and try something local! Disney World features lots of local Central Florida microbreweries that you probably can’t find back home (unless you’re a Florida resident!). City Works in Disney Springs is a great place to get the party started! (Note that while we don’t necessarily recommend City Works for their food, we can def get behind their beer menu.) Just look at how many beers they’ve got on tap:
City Works features Florida brewers on a large number of their taps. You may find your new favorite “vacation” beer you’ve never heard of before here!
Over in Pandora, you’ll find a couple unique beers to this location — Hawke’s Grog and Mo’ara Ale! Leave it to the land of Avatar to serve a signature beer that’s GREEN!
Over in Epcot’s World Showcase, you’ll find imported beers from all over the globe in each of the pavilions! And look for even more micro beers and ciders anytime there’s a festival going on!
What to Avoid: Be Our Guest Breakfast — If You’re NOT on a Disney Dining Plan!
You might think you’re saving some money dining at Be Our Guest Restaurant for breakfast, but many of the basic “eggs and bacon” entrees aren’t worth the $29 price tag per entree! A Fried Croissant Donut costs almost as much as a nice dinner entree somewhere else! For a donut!
We think breakfast here is way overpriced and not even that delicious. So skip it unless you can’t get into BOG for lunch AND you’re using the Disney Dining Plan!
We absolutely love dining in the beautiful ballroom or better yet, the spooky West Wing! But while the atmosphere is totally magical, we think there’s a better way to see inside the castle… .
What to Try Instead:
Eat here for LUNCH! Lunch is a much better value at Be Our Guest Restaurant! It’s still a little pricey for fast casual food, but you’ll get a much higher quality spread and bang-for-your-buck than you would with breakfast!
And believe it or not, most of the lunch menu is actually CHEAPER than breakfast! You’ll get a sit-down quality meal for slightly more than the cost of a regular fast-food meal! Of course, there’s no harm in going all out for dinner at Be Our Guest either, but then you’ll be shelling out some serious cash-olla!
What to Avoid: Name Brand Prepackaged Candy and Baked Goods
Last but not least, let’s talk about one of our favorite things to get at the Disney parks — CANDY!
But just like everything we’ve already closely examined, save your sweet tooth for the BEST stuff!
What to Try Instead:
Don’t reach for the packaged stuff that’s been sitting on the shelf for who knows how long. Go somewhere that’s making their stuff fresh as can be! Karamell-Küche, Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, and Kringla Bakeri og Kafe in Epcot’s World Showcase all serve freshly made-in-house sweets!
Even Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC, Sprinkles, and Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs are cranking out made-by-hand confections on the reg! (And don’t forget — Erin McKenna’s serves exclusively gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan yummies!)
Disney World’s resorts are also full of many unique temptations. Contempo Cafe at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is known for its Peanut Butter Pie and cupcakes; while many of the Value Resorts, like Disney’s Pop Century Resort, have exclusive fan-favorite treats like their Tie-Dye Cheesecake!
Swing by your resort’s fast-food location and see what goodies are hiding in their cases!
There’s enough food at Disney World to eat over many lifetimes, but since life is short (and you only get to go around once!), make sure you make time to eat the BEST stuff at Disney World! We hope we’ve helped you with saving your dollars and Disney Dining Plan snack credits for what matters the most — DELICIOUSNESS!
Which foods are you most excited to try on your next trip to Disney World? Let us know in the comments below!