Disney Dining 2017

As you may have previously read, last week my entire family went to Disney World (you can read it here).

In this post, I wanted to cover the dining plan and the places that we chose to eat at.

Disney Dining Plan

We had the dining plan and I recommend purchasing it as well if you have plans of staying at the resorts. The dining plan included 1 quick serve, 1 table service, and 2 snacks, per person per day. Each Guest ages 3 and over will receive a refillable drink mug, which is eligible for refills at self-service beverage islands at Quick-Service locations at any Disney Resort hotel (please don’t abuse this refillable mug and try to refill your mug inside the park).  Quick serve meals include an entree and a drink (you can use your refillable mug and just replace your drink with a dessert). The table service includes one entree and drink, or a buffet or family style meal.  Below I will include a quick review of the table services that we had.

If you get the dining plan, make sure you use it. At the end of our stay, we had 6 snacks left over and 1 quick serve.  J and I thought it would be a good idea to pay out of pocket for breakfast the first couple of days and save our quick serve for later in the day. We ended up being so full after lunches that we didn’t want to eat supper.  We tried buying peoples snacks just so the snack credits wouldn’t go to waste, but people found it odd that we were offering to pay for their food and told us no. So to avoid losing your credits just use them first then pay out of pocket if you need to. We found that food wasn’t ridiculously overpriced.

I want to mention that in 2018 Disney is changing their dining plan a bit to include alcohol for guests 21 and over.

Chef Mickey

Chef Mickey was great for meeting Mickey, Pluto, Goofy, Donald Duck, and Minnie all dressed as chefs. The characters go around from table to table sign the autograph books, interact with the people at the table and take pictures. This was a wonderful experience for us all. My mom got to meet and hug Goofy, who I learned on this trip was her favorite. My daughter got to ask the question she had been practicing for weeks; “Can I have your autograph?” plus she gave lots of hugs and kisses to the characters that she watches regularly on Mickey Mouse Club House. The characters do this fun thing where music plays and they dance around swinging a napkin over their heads, while the guests sit at the table clapping their hands and swinging their napkins as well, sounds silly as I type it out, but it really was fun to watch.

While the character interaction at Chef Mickey was great, I’ll be honest and say that the food was just OK. It wasn’t terrible by any means and we all left with full bellies, however, it was just a buffet and didn’t really have anything special to choose from. I will admit I like the idea of buffets for kids because they know exactly what they are getting and are more likely to eat. I just assumed that there would be more options to choose from on the buffet. The dining experience felt a little cramped as well, but that could have been the spot that we were sitting as well.  All in all, we liked the food but if we ever go back we will probably skip Chef Mickey and try something else since we had the chance to meet Mickey and friends at other places.  However, if your kids love Mickey this might be a great choice, especially if you don’t have fast passes for a character meeting at other parks.

 Crystal Palace

On Tuesday, we spent the day at the Magic Kingdom and had lunch there at the Crystal Palace. The Crystal Palace is where you get to eat with Pooh and his friends. Just like Chef Mickey, this was a buffet style restaurant. Perfect for my daughter and my nephew, but just OK for us. I don’t know why, but I guess with the buffets (and all restaurants) I expected something a little more special when it came to the food. Again, the food was good, but nothing special (however meeting Eeyore was great!)

I personally think the inside of the Crystal Palace is beautiful. When you first walk in you see a pretty garden with sculptures of Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore, and Pooh. There are lots of windows so you have some views of the park as well.  I felt as if Crystal Palace wasn’t as cramped as Chef Mickey either.

The best part about Crystal Palace was meeting Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. They do this fun parade in honor of Friendship Celebrashun (Pooh’s Spelling) Day. The parade allows the kiddos to skip, march, walk or whatever they want around the dining area of the restaurant while the other guests look on and wave. This especially fun if you have a ham in your family.

We spent roughly an hour and a half, maybe a little less, with Pooh and his friends. This allowed us to meet each character, join in on the parade, eat lots of food, and cool off before heading out for more rides.

coral reef

Coral Reef restaurant was a quieter dining experience. There were no characters here unless you count the fish in the aquarium.  Here you are given a menu to order off of instead of a buffet. There wasn’t a lot to choose from on the menu. I ordered the shrimp and grits. They were good, however, I have had shrimp and grits from the Fish House in Pensacola so I’m a little picky when it comes to that. My husband and daughter both ordered steak. My husband thought his steak was great and cooked just the way he liked. My daughter’s steak had to be sent back 3 times because it wasn’t cooked correctly. However, they were extremely nice, accommodating, and apologetic. The manager even gave us a little pixie dust* for our trouble.

The cool thing about the Coral Reef is you eat in front of a large aquarium full of fish, stingrays, sharks, and coral. Divers even dive down feed the fish and pose for pictures. It was especially awesome to see the divers feed the stingrays.

Since we had a large party with us, we were sat at 2 different tables. Pushing the tables together wasn’t much of an option because we had several short people (myself included) that wouldn’t be able to reach the table if it was pushed together since we had booth style seating.

All in all Coral Reef wasn’t bad. It was a quick break from the loud park and heat.

*Pixie Dust isn’t always given out and it’s completely at the discretion of the cast member. What type of Pixie Dust that is given out is also completely up to the cast member. I suggest always being kind to cast members, not only for the possibility of Pixie Dust but because being kind is always the right thing to do. 

Tusker house

I honestly don’t have much positive to say about Tusker House. This was another buffet style character dining restaurant,  that was completely different than our palates are used to. The Disney website refers to it as African and American cuisine. J is telling me to make sure I include that the salmon was great with the sauce they served with it. I must add that if you do not like to see a whole fish (eyes included) skip the carving station.

I was disappointed with the character experience. Mickey, Donald, Goofy, and Daisey were are dressed in their safari gear, which was fitting for the location which was the Animal Kingdom. We all felt as if the characters rushed through the tables and didn’t interact with guests. Mickey and Donald must have had some beef that day because there was some serious competition between the two, and I felt it really hindered the experience as a whole. All of the characters seemed to end up at the same place at the same times making it hard for the kids to focus on the character in front of them.

Apparently, the banana bread pudding is supposed to be an amazing dessert there. I’d say skip the banana bread pudding and get the strawberry cake or brownie. In my opinion, they were tastier than the banana bread.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

We did the Princess Storybook dining at the Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. This restaurant is located in Norway at Epcot directly in front of the Frozen Ever After ride. If there is a line for Frozen and Akershus you will want to pay attention to the line that you are in. You really wouldn’t want to miss your check-in for your dining reservation because you were waiting in line for Frozen.

Nothing but positive remarks about this dining experience. This was Princess dining, so if you have a little one who isn’t into princesses you might want to try something different

Akershus is very pretty. The restaurant is made to look like a castle in Oslo and has high ceilings with wooden beams. It really is a perfect place to meet princesses.

When you walk into Akershus you get to meet Belle, who just so happens to be my very favorite princess. Guests are allowed to take photographs and get autographs before being seated. In addition to Belle, you get to meet other princesses as they come to your dining area. Each day there are different princesses, so don’t bank on your favorite being there (with the exception of Belle). On our dining day, we got to meet Mulan, Cinderella, Snow White, and Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty).

The food was phenomenal. Upon ordering your main dish, you get to get your appetizers in a buffet-style setting. The appetizers were just a taste of Norway and included imported cheeses, fruits, salads and cured and sliced meats. The names of the entrees were all in Norwegian.  My southern family had a great time trying to pronounce them, and our waitress had a great time listening to us butcher food that was in her native language. I recommend getting the Skalldyrsgryte, which is a casserole of scallops, shrimp, and mussels that are baked in a herb-cream sauce. It was delicious! I wish I could find the words to convey just how amazing it really was.

While the princesses are walking around, taking photos and signing autographs, they do something similar to the Crystal Palace and allow the kids to walk around the restaurant and give their best princess wave to their adoring crowd of onlookers.

In addition to the princess, and amazing food, our waitress Iena (if you’re reading this I am so sorry that I just murdered the spelling of your name) was the absolute best. She had a wonderful personality and I may or may not have left there with a new best friend since we bonded over our mutual love of NSYNC. She kept the adults at the table laughing an smiling and made sure the littles were just as happy.

Even though I talked about out table service experience, I want to make sure I include the meal that we had at Flame Tree Barbecue. This was one of our quick services meals and it was delicious. If you are paying out of pocket for this restaurant it is well worth it. The portion sizes are huge and the ribs are tasty. You will definitely get a full belly at this place.

If you are planning a Disney trip I hope that these reviews helped make your decisions on where to eat a little easier. Do you have a favorite place to eat at Disney? If so let me know!