As 2020 has officially arrived and that “2020” year in and of itself grows more and more surreal that it really is 20 years into the 2000’s, I’m looking at dining once again (and nobody is shocked by that lol). In doing so, I’m sharing 5 of my Top Dining Picks for 2020 that you should try at Walt Disney World if you haven’t already. This list is one that is ever growing and ever changing, but I have to say a few meals, and in particular a select few entrees, have rocketed to the top of my “must-do” recommendations for guests looking to maximize their dining experience at Walt Disney World.
Truth be told, I am a pretty simple eater. I don’t eat sushi, I don’t ever order anything I won’t recognize, but at the same time I’ll try just about anything once. However, the lens I’ve grown to view dining through at Disney is one that is different than anywhere else I go, but let me explain.
When I’m eating at Disney I expect a certain standard of excellence when dining anywhere on property no matter if it is a Disney owned restaurant or not. Additionally, and as a result of that certain level of trust, I’m far more likely to try something new on Disney property than in my local neighborhood. The reasoning behind it is fairly simple. Even if you’re ordering the most adventurous thing on the menu at the most extravagant restaurants, you can rest assured that at WDW you’re going to be served something that is never sketchy, is 99.9% of the time cooked well, and in the grand scheme of things Disney is rarely going to serve something so strange that it would be off putting to average guests. As a result you can branch out and sometimes leave your comfort zone in ways you might just avoid anywhere else.
Keeping that in mind, some of these may not be “classic Disney” restaurants but I can assure you they are some of my highest recommended picks for excellent food on Disney property. Of course, this isn’t the end all be all list, because my list would be 8 miles long, but these are quite possibly my top 5 picks going into the new year in no particularly order.
I’m starting with Flying Fish for a reason and that reason is that it was was the one dining experience that impressed me the most this year. In the past, I had always avoided this particular table service experience because of the somewhat strange menu at face value. If you have that same concern, don’t worry about it. If you like steak or you like fish, you will find something on this menu to enjoy. If not, they will make or customize an item to your liking in any way they can (within reason).
Now, I add this to the list for multiple reasons but I’d be lying if I said location wasn’t a factor. I adore the Boardwalk Resort and consistently rank it as one of the best of the best Disney has to offer in regard to resorts. Flying Fish at this property is no exception. After the fairly recent remodel this place is the pinnacle of classy while not being overly stuffy. It’s a quiet spot but not so quiet that you feel like you can’t take kids here. Of course, it may be a little much for some kids and there are better options for dining with young families, but families should feel comfortable here.
Also worth mentioning is that this isn’t a meal that will take up hours upon hours of your night. You can get in and out of here in a reasonable amount of time even if you order an appetizer, an entree, and dessert. Truth be told, a three (plus) hour meal at Toledo at Gran Destino Tower is the only reason it didn’t make this list. When you’re on a Disney vacation, timeliness is something I have to account for and Flying Fish is a near perfect representation of a good length meal that doesn’t steal too much park time but offers a wonderful experience.
In regard to entrees, the Wagyu Filet looks wonderful but my choice was and will likely always be the New York Strip which is encrusted in a very unique seasoning that more than sets it apart from any other steak I’ve had on property. For appetizers, the lobster bisque is excellent as well.
Trails End (for an instant classic)
Truthfully, if I had to rank the items on this list, Trails End would be at the top of it. In my opinion this restaurant is the essence of Disney wrapped into a dining experience that I hope never changes. It’s not a character meal, it’s not overly expensive, and it’s not a plush dining location. However, it’s perfect in every way.
As perhaps the most reasonably priced and greatest value table service offering on my list, Trails End is the pinnacle of what a Walt Disney World buffet should be. There’s something on the menu for absolutely everyone, the food is excellent, the cast is perfect, and it’s a timeless classic WDW experience that you have to experience to fully appreciate. In many ways the environment makes it feel like you’re deep in the backwoods surrounded by family and friends while you’re only a short boat ride away from Magic Kingdom.
In so many ways, this spot can be a highlight of your vacation. If you’ve ever done the Hoop-De-Doo Musical Revue, than you already know the food or at least have an idea of it. Truthfully, the food comes out of the same kitchen according to the onsite cast. However, Trails End is significantly cheaper!
Cape May Cafe
At the other end of the price spectrum you have the wonderful Cape May Cafe seafood buffet. This buffet is going to cost you upwards of $50 per guest in your party but is easily one of the top buffets on property.
The food is always piping hot, the atmosphere is fun and inviting, the views out over the Boardwalk and Crescent Lake are truly spectacular after dark, and can we say unlimited crab legs!?!?! You just can’t beat it if you’re a crab fan. For the non seafood loving friends of the group you’ll be treated to macaroni and cheese (far better than a typical macaroni), a carving station, sometimes ribs, a salad area, fruit, cornbread (which is amazing) and so many other offerings that really make this a one stop shop.
I will mention and feel obligated to mention that if you do not like the smell of seafood, this may not be your best option. It does smell strongly of seafood at the dinner meal time and this location is only open for breakfast and dinner.
The Wave (for a simpler pick)
On the more budget friendly side of things a great restaurant hiding in plain site is the Wave at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. While the menu is fairly simple and actually quite limited, what is available at both lunch and dinner is excellent. Truthfully, this is home to one of the best burgers on property, an excellent soup, sandwich, and salad combo, and a Bao bun appetizer that is the perfect way to start a meal.
Most things on this menu are near the $20-25 per guest mark at lunch and I have to say that everything I’ve tried has been excellent. It’s not a meal that’s goin to leave you unbelievably stuffed, but it is an outstanding option and vastly convenient for a day at Magic Kingdom or a check in day. To get to the Contemporary just walk the path from Magic Kingdom, step into the main lobby, and right next to the check in counter you’ll find the Wave. Reservations are recommended but they tend to be fairly readily available.
Geyser Point (for a cheaper option)
As the most budget friendly experience on this list (and one that does not ever require reservations), I cannot recommend Geyser Point enough. It is the definition of a hidden gem. Sitting perfectly on the edge of Bay Lake looking out towards Fort Wilderness and the Contemporary, a meal here at sunset is truly something special. It’s a simple joy of WDW and one of those places that exceeds your expectations time and time again. A few standout options on the menu are the buffalo burger and even the regular burger paired with waffle fries. However, the standout feature of this place is the atmosphere.
As you sit along the waters edge with a nice breeze blowing in, and the sun dipping below the horizon there is no place you’d rather be than this open air environment. It’s never stuffy or hot, it’s often very easy to get a seat, and since this isn’t technically a table service venue the prices stay quite reasonable as a blend of quick service convenience and table service caliber food.
For any budget, put this one near the top of your list.
Well, for today that rounds out my list of recommendations. This list is always changing and growing/developing so stick around and let me know what you want me to try out next. I’m always up for a little dining “research” trip!
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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