The Walt Disney World Resort has something for everyone when it comes to dining, from great snacks to the finest of dining, you are bound to find something to your liking. Some of the most beloved, and most talked about, are the restaurants that let you eat as much as you would like – the buffets and family-style locations.
To find out the best of the best, we asked members of the Mouse for Less Facebook group and compiled the results into this list. These Top 10 Buffet and Family-Style Restaurants offer unique atmosphere, tasty food, and a variety of experiences and options to appeal to many different guests. And since they are located both in and out of the theme parks, they can fit into many parts of your vacation.
Two of the locations just missed out on the top ten, but we wanted to still mention them as they have a lot to offer
Honorable Mention 1: Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
For many guests, Akershus might fall under the category of “princess meal when Cinderella’s Royal Table is full,” and while that is true, it has a lot to offer on its own. Starting at the very beginning, Akershus offers a character meal in a sort of family style/buffet hybrid, which also acts as a traditional breakfast/Norwegian favorite hybrid. Besides that unique spin on flavor, one of the great advantages to breakfast here is that you can get reservations before Epcot officially opens, so you can enjoy some of the park when not overrun with people, and maybe get a headstart out to the World Showcase, if that sort of thing is important to you.
For the rest of the day, the unique service style and combination of flavors continues. The appetizer station offers a “Taste of Norway,” you order your entree off of the menu, and the dessert is served family style to your table. It’s enough food to fill you up with enough choice to make you happy. And did we mention princesses? The selection here is a little different from other princess meals, leading to some unique visitors.
Honorable Mention 2: Hollywood and Vine
Dining at Disney’s Hollywood Studios gets a bad rap sometimes, but it has a lot of wonderful “diamond’s in the rough” depending on what you are looking for. Hollywood and Vine is just one of those locations.
The food itself is pretty standard as far as buffets go, but the experience is unique. At breakfast, your meal will be shared with some favorite friends from Disney Junior – often one of the only places you can meet them.
More recently, Hollywood and Vine has offered “Minnie’s Seasonal Dining” for lunch and dinner. These meals feature themes around the current season, whether that is Spring, or Holiday. These special dinner parties have been very popular and likely will continue to be in the future.
Top 10 Buffet / Family-Style Restaurants in Walt Disney World
10. Whispering Canyon Cafe
Whispering Canyon Café located in Wilderness Lodge. The Wild West theme is apparent in atmosphere and the food has a Western flair. If you like the service at 50’s Prime Time but want your food a little more rustic and your milkshakes never-ending, Whispering Canyon is for you. This fan favorite gives you a coaster to indicate whether or not you want to “play” with the servers and features a breakfast buffet and skillets later in the day. Try some Gold Rush chips and be prepared if you ask for a straw.
Note: Since the voting took place for this list, Whispering Canyon has reportedly cut down on the “shenanigans” part of the experience. As such, the environment for a meal there might be different than what has happened in the past.
9. Liberty Tree Tavern
Located in the center of the Magic Kingdom, Liberty Tree Tavern brings the theme of colonial America from the square into the dining room. The restaurant has rooms commemorating an American revolutionary figure, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Paul Jones, Paul Revere, Betsy Ross, and George Washington.
The food here continues this theme, and while you can order a la carte off the menu at lunch, we are here today for the All-You-Care-to-Enjoy Bill of Fare. This includes a “Declaration Salad,” the “Patriot’s Platter” of roasted carved meats, mashed potatoes, and more, and a finale of the “ooey Gooey Toffee Cake.” If that sounds a little like Thanksgiving Dinner to you, then you won’t be surprised to find that Liberty Tree Tavern is one of the locations in Walt Disney World that offers a full traditional Thanksgiving Dinner, no doubt lending to its popularity.
8. Biergarten Restaurant
Biergarten, in Germany in Epcot’s World Showcase, celebrates Oktoberfest every day of the year in the atmosphere of a Bavarian village! The buffet offers traditional German cuisine as well as American fare, and is a hit even with vegetarians. At select times, musicians perform traditional German music, and guests of all ages are welcome to Polka on the dance floor! When you think of the themeing Disney is know for providing, a shining example of that attention to thematic detail is definitely the Biergarten.
7. Garden Grill
The Garden Grill, located in the Land Pavilion in Epcot is great American food done with a twist…literally. Garden Grill offers a harvest feast accompanied by Chip and Dale (and other friends) all while the restaurant slowly spins, showing off views of Living with the Land during your meal. In a way, this combination of characters, good simple food, and a unique experience is the epitome of what Disney dining strives to be, and it makes perfect sense that this restaurant would make it into the top 10.
6. 1900 Park Fare
1900 Park Fare’s popularity can be explained by a few relatively simple factors. First, the diversity of offerings. During the breakfast buffet, you get a chance to meet a great cross section of British-tied characters (Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, Alice in Wonderland), and at Dinner you are joined by Cinderella, Prince Charming, and other members of the royal family (of which appearances by the Step Sisters and Lady Tremaine almost always steal the show). During the day, you can also attend a children’s tea party here. Not many restaurants offer this sort of diversity in experience. More than that though, you get all of that outside of the parks, so you don’t need to use a park day to eat there, and in close proximity to Cinderella’s Castle for a much lower price. While the other Grand Floridian restaurants get more hype, 1900 Park Fare is an under the radar fan favorite worth experiencing.
5. Chef Mickey’s
Chef Mickey’s has been a family staple in the Contemporary for years, and the relatively recent expansion into brunch has increased the appeal and availability. For a Fab 5 character meal in walking distance to the Magic Kingdom, this is a great option.
Boma, located in the Jambo House of the Animal Kingdom Lodge, is a non-character buffet that specializes in African flavors. If you ever walk by during a meal time, this restaurant seems to always be packed with a ton of energy, and fans will tell you about the the all you can eat Zebra Domes for dessert.
‘Ohana, located in the Polynesian Village Resort, features two distinct (and popular) dining experiences. First, the all you can eat breakfast includes visits from Lilo and Stitch. Then, at dinner you can enjoy all you want from a variety of meat skewers, noodles, wings, and more while family friendly games and activities occur. The name ‘Ohana means “family,” and while here your family is invited to participate in coconut races and Hawaiian dancing.‘Ohana exemplifies a restaurant that showcases a variety of experiences in a wonderfully themed environment with unique food. When all of that comes together, Disney fans respond and come back again and again.
2. The Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace located in the Magic Kingdom is a perennial fan favorite for a few reasons. First, outside of holiday parties it is the only real way to meet the whole Winnie the Pooh gang. You can find Pooh and Tigger pretty easily elsewhere, but Piglet and Eeyore are much rarer, and the only safe bet is Crystal Palace.
But while maximizing time in the park with a character meal is a part of it’s popularity, what really maintains interest in a restaurant is the food. In that regard, a big part of Crystal Palace’s appeal comes from breakfast – it is routinely rated one of the best breakfasts on property. Whether that is because of the unique offering of Breakfast Lasagna (which everyone should have at least once) or just that omelets taste better when it’s Friendship Day, Crystal Palace is bound to retain its popularity during all meals of the day for years to come.
1. Tusker House
Tusker House, is a buffet located in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and gives guests the opportunity to meet “safari” versions of classic Disney characters. The food choices here, combining some African, Indian, and American flavors and favorites, give a lot of delicious choices no matter what palate you come in with. If you are spending a day in the Animal Kingdom, you have to give this place a try.