Dining

Grilled Colorado bison loin with celery root-apple purée, roasted baby beets, heirloom apple chutney, and pomegranate jus. Hokkaido Scallops with Antebellum grits, sweet corn, and peppadew emulsion. Peri-Peri chicken with warm potato and spinach salad, cucumbers, pickled peppers, and grilled onion cream. Red wine-braised short ribs, seasonal vegetable, exotic mushroom, fresh pappardelle pasta. Just a sampling of some of the incredible cuisine found at Walt Disney World restaurants where a remarkable culinary transformation has taken place since the mid-1990s. Extraordinary choices are especially evident in such renowned dining establishments as the California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Jiko at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Flying Fish Café at Disney’s BoardWalk, and Citricos, Narcoosee’s, and Victoria and Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (many time winner of the AAA Five-Diamond Award). Top-notch chefs are the norm, creating exciting menus at some of the highest-rated restaurants in the country, and first-rate sommeliers (almost 300 on Disney property, more than any other company in the world) have fashioned outstanding wine lists, particularly at Victoria and Albert’s, California Grill, Citricos, Jiko, and Flying Fish Café. In fact, Disney sells more than a million bottles of wine every year if you count Disney Cruise Line.

Even Disney’s reputation for dreadful theme park food has changed. Once just a hot dog and hamburger haven, it’s now entirely possible to find pleasurable choices ranging from fine dining to more-than-palatable and healthy quick-service food. Though you’ll always find burgers and chicken tenders, you’ll also discover restaurants with outstanding cuisine and unique ambiance. My only complaint is the non-atmospherically lit dining rooms that are sometimes so bright you’ll feel as if you’re in the operating room. Children are always treated as special guests with almost every restaurant, along with all quick-service spots, offering a menu just for kids. Meals are delivered quickly, so if a quick dinner is not your cup of tea, stretch it out a bit by ordering an appetizer only and then your entree when your first course is delivered.

Disney certainly gets a gold star in my book for its efforts to add whole grains and healthy choices to dining menus, and, in particular, the elimination of trans fats and the addition of healthy alternatives. Those in need of vegan and vegetarian meals will easily find at least one option in both table-service restaurants and most quick-service spots; in fact, Disney has recently added over 400 plant-based items to their park and hotel restaurant menus. They even have an online guide you can peruse here. Those with special needs—such as low-fat, no sugar added, and low-sodium, as well as special dietary requests regarding allergies to gluten or wheat, shellfish, soy, lactose, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, egg, and corn—will be accommodated at most table-service restaurants and select quick-service restaurants. When making dining reservations specify your particular need either online or with a Disney Dining reservationist. For other issues related to food allergies and special dietary needs and requests, contact Disney at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Kosher meals are available at most full-service restaurants; however, they do require a 24- hour notice by calling (407) 824-1391.

As for dress code, casual is the word. Theme park restaurants are extremely informal; however, you’ll find that in many Resort Signature Restaurants dress is a bit more sophisticated. Smart-casual clothing is usually fine, but, to be sure, see my notes for the dress at each restaurant outside the theme parks. The only exception to the super casual dress code in the theme parks is at Epcot®’s Monsieur Paul where resort casual dress is requested although not always adhered to.

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