5 Unique Places to Eat Outside of the Disney Parks (something for almost any budget)- What You Should Try Next!
As I’ve said time after time here on the site, I truly believe dining and food in general is a huge part of any Disney vacation. It not only takes up a good portion of time during your stay but also plays a pivotal role in creating memories with friends and family that are uniquely different that those created anywhere else.
To further expound upon that belief I have to share the inherent reality that so many of us live incredibly busy lives and Disney allows us to “escape” from some real world, day to day, commitments to step back and enjoy the simple things the Disney experience often encompasses. I share that for two reasons. First, life has a way of getting in the way with constant schedules and often what feels like a physical attatchment to a mobile device. Second, and perhaps more importantly, in a given day so many of us are so busy with life struggles that we often overlook the simple enjoyment of sitting around the table with those we care the most about to share the events of the day and the things that are going good (and maybe even bad) in our lives on a consistent basis. Beyond simply sharing our top 5 here today, perhaps the greater message of this post is to help somebody, somewhere, realize the connection a Disney vacation can create between you and the people you care the most about.
You can gather around a table and a good meal during your Disney vacation and the struggles of life seem to fade away. It’s a unique feeling and something you have to experience to fully believe. As you sit there at the table, everyone seems to “disconnect” from their phones and for a brief few moments you get to experience that vastly simple feeling of reconnecting with family in a new and different environment. Those conversations are some of the greatest memories I have of Walt Disney World and it just might be the root message of this article today.
To really dive right into it, it’s important to realize that this list is not all encompassing in any way, shape, or form. Instead, these are our lineup of recommendations for dining outside of the Disney Parks and only scratches the surface of the incredible offerings beyond the gates of the four WDW parks.
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’
Homecomin’ has become a staple and somewhat “classic” feeling dining offering at Disney Springs. It almost feels nostalgic at times even though it’s only been a part of the Disney Springs scene for a few short years.
Before you step through the front doors you’re surrounded by an atmosphere of crystal blue water, a surprisingly quiet location, and a building that looks as if it’s been there for years on end. Once inside, you’re greeted by friendly faces and a surprisingly helpful cast of waiters and waitresses. In many ways it feels like true southern hospitality in the heart of the fast paced Disney Springs environment.
The food is nothing short of incredible and the menu itself has something for everyone. I personally highly recommend the Fried Chicken in any of its different forms, but the pulled pork is the hidden gem of the menu in my humble opinion. If you leave this place hungry at the end of your visit you’re doing something wrong!
Homecomin’ is a rather pricey option if you’re looking for dining outside of the parks but at the same time nearly anything on the menu can be split among two or more people. My only caveat to this entire experience is the unfortunate downside that they are not overly accommodating to those with certain allergies. I do not have food allergies of my own or any dietary restrictions, but have experienced this unfortunate reality first hand while traveling with friends who have very severe allergies. It wasn’t that they could not accommodate them at all but instead they were very limited in the ways in which they could accommodate their given allergies.
Cape May Cafe
Cape May Cafe continues to baffle me time and time again. If you like seafood that is rich and incredibly family friendly, this is the near ideal spot for you. I might go as far as to say it is the #1 buffet on property in my opinion. If you know me, you know that’s a bold claim.
For years we tried buffet after buffet when we traveled utilizing the dining plan. That certainly wasn’t our best decision but we felt that we got the most bang for our buck that way. Sadly that isn’t quite true given the lack luster quality of some buffets on property. Once we chose to move away from the dining plan we started trying different offerings, and it proved incredibly valuable in our overall vacation experience. That’s certainly a story for another day, but I do have to say that out of all the buffets we’ve tried time and time again at Disney, this is the only one that has been consistently excellent and continuously exceeds our expectations.
Fair warning, this is a fairly pricey meal. It’s not Victoria and Alberts expensive but it is quite expensive and nears the $50 mark per individual guest attending the meal. In my opinion it’s worth every penny.
If you’re new to the parks, it’s important to note that this dining location is housed at the Beach Club resort. To many it may seem like an extra step to get to the resort for one dining experience, but it’s actually quite simple. If you plan this meal around your Epcot day, it’s only a short walk away from the International Gateway entrance at the back of the World Showcase. From that entrance, it’s a 10 minute or less walk over to the Beach Club along a well marked path with some truly spectacular views!
D-Luxe makes this list as one of the more budget friendly options. Admittedly, it gets a place on the list more as a result of its location rather that it’s food. With that being said, it is still one of the very best quick service offerings on property, but nothing tops sitting out on the covered porch looking out over the turquoise blue water of the springs as day slowly transitions to night and the sunset burns in the sky.
Couple that unique experience with an impressive array of unique sauces and an excellent burger at a fairly reasonable price, and you have an impressive dining location!
As perhaps the exception to our list of mostly full meal dining locations, a list like this wouldn’t be complete without some type of dessert option. Given that reality, I have to bring up the longstanding dessert focused gem of Disney Springs, Ghirardelli.
There’s no denying that Ghirardelli is available many other places outside of Walt Disney World, but the Disney atmosphere takes this gem of a dessert location to the next level. If you can get through the line (which is typically out the door), you’ll get to experience one of the best ice cream concoctions you have ever tasted.
The trick to this experience is to sit outside by the waters edge a few paces away from the main entrance. In doing so, you avoid the majority of the crowds and can really optimize the atmosphere in your favor! On a warm summer night, there is nothing better that sipping on a classically made milkshake that is the perfect consistency and loaded with flavor while enjoying the sights and sounds of Disney Springs.
Pro Tip: If you’re looking to order a shake, malt, or coffee related option on the menu, walk into the store next to the dining location and you’ll find a second counter. The line at this counter is always way shorter and often gets you your order much faster!
Where do I even begin with Geyser Point. It is perhaps my favorite place anywhere on property to enjoy a meal. The food is great, it is an incredibly relaxing environment, and it’s one of those places where you can escape from the “real world” in a way that exceeds your wildest expectations!
Long story made short, put this dining location on your list if you’re looking for a near ideal meal with a spectacular location at a surprisingly affordable price! You wont regret it!
As always, if you have thoughts, concerns, questions, or even some tips of your own to share, don’t hesitate to reach out to us on Facebook or your favorite social media platform. Give us a follow while you’re there, and we’ll keep the conversation going in the future. We’re not the largest Disney community, but we’re one that’s here and one that listens. Thanks for reading and have a wonderful day wherever you are!
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A few short years ago, I was sitting in a college apartment trying to figure out what was "next" and came up with this idea to share my accumulated knowledge of the Disney Parks and Resorts with others. The end goal was to help others make the most of their Disney experience and it's been quite the journey!