As part of your Walt Disney World holiday package, guests receive the Disney Dining Plan, meal credits which allow you to purchase food and drink for the duration of your holiday. Depending on which hotel you stay at on site, you may get either the Regular Dining Plan, or Quick Service Dining Plan (you can also upgrade to the Deluxe Dining Plan if you have the Regular Dining Plan, or upgrade to the Regular Dining Plan if you have the Quick Service Dining Plan!). Guests who have the Quick Service Dining Plan are credited 2 quick/counter service meals for their family every day, which means you generally eat at Disney’s Quick Service restaurants. If you opt for this dining plan, you have the flexibility to use any of the counter service restaurants in your resort or in the parks, however some guests find it a challenge as their holiday progresses to eat in restaurants which sell anything other than burgers, nuggets or sandwiches. Families can find the food in these restaurants a bit “samey” and “predictable” and often feel a bit underwhelmed by the food choices. However, we here at Travel with the Tribe are here to tell you that Quick Service restaurants are on the up……and that you can happily eat in Walt Disney World on a 2 week holiday, without having to constantly eat burgers and chicken nuggets!!! There really is so much more choice, and so we have compiled our top Quick Service restaurants which we know you and your family will love (particularly tweens and teens to, who we have tried and tested ourselves in many of these restaurants – to great success!) The brilliant thing about all of these restaurants, is that they are on the Disney Dining Plan, so it’s a win win win situation.
The Polite Pig, Disney Springs. Wow!!!!!! This is how we like to start our description of this newly opened restaurant in Disney Springs. Whilst we were staying at Saratoga Springs resort this year, we had many opportunities to use the Springs for lunch and dinner, and thought that particularly as we had older children to satisfy, the Springs area would have a great choice and variety of food to eat. We really were not disappointed. The Polite Pig has quickly become a favourite with our tribe, and we know that you and your families will love it too. There are a variety of reasons for this. Firstly, the food is unbelievable, and yes we really do mean that. Smoked rack of ribs, pulled pork sandwiches, southern garden salad with blue cheese, smoked brisket, ceder planked salmon with maple Dijon glaze, which are served with a market side including sweet potato fries, Polite Pig Slaw, roasted beets, mac and cheese and an absolute revelation…….fried Brussels Sprouts soaked in maple syrup and whiskey – absolutely divine! This place is top drawer, and the dining experience feels very much as though you are eating at a table service restaurant, even the food is brought over to you by your waitress for example, and if feel inclined at lunchtime for an alcoholic beverage, you can order a beer or cocktail as part of your dining plan (Note – the measures in the cocktails are very, very strong!!!). The Polite Pig is an absolute definite must, it is cool, stylish and the food will keep you and your family full for quite a while, even our teenagers with very big appetites came out of the restaurant feeling happily full! Happy Days!
Columbia Harbour House, Magic Kingdom. This is another one of the tribe’s favourite Quick Service restaurants, we discovered this a few trips in to our holidays at Walt Disney World, and wished we had stumbled upon it sooner. Situated in the Liberty Square area of Magic Kingdom, Columbia Harbour House is a comforting, warm place to eat, where rustic and traditional fayre will certainly satisfy. Themed in the period of post-War of Independence, the food is wholesome and filling, our teens and tweens absolutely love it, and we particularly enjoy the Chicken Pot Pie with Green Beans, which is a great meal in itself, or the Salmon with Rice. The menu is extensive, with Fried Shrimp and Chicken served with fries, Harbour Salad with Chicken, or there is the awesome Lobster Roll, served with crisps or chips. Columbia Harbour House is a great place for a lunchtime meal, we would advise that you get it early or use the Mobile Ordering as it can get busy. Luckily, there is lots of seating upstairs, so don’t panic if you get your food and then find there’s no tables – just head upstairs and you’ve got a pretty good chance of getting a table for you and your family.
Katsura Grill, Epcot. Three words – Chicken Katsu Curry! Katsura Grill, or Yakatori House as was when we first visited in 2009, is a restaurant of quality and fantastic food amongst a backdrop of calmness and serenity, located in the Japanese Pavillion of Epcot. The food here is seriously good, without a burger or nugget in sight you can enjoy the delights of Chicken Teriyaki, Spicy Seafood Ramen, and Toyko Sushi Combo (our 12 year old’s favourite thing to eat here!). Drinks include both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, including a mean Ice Green Tea. There is both an indoor and outdoor seating area, and if sat outside you can sometimes here the Japanese drums which perform throughout the day, so you can feel as though you are even being serenaded as you eat (the drums are not noisy at all!). Similarly to our other choices, a visit to Katsura Grill will give you a proper feast, enough to count as a main meal for the day, and if you still have space afterwards (which we doubt you will) there is also the fantastic Green Tea Cheesecake (not available on the dining plan) which will finish off your meal nicely.
Flame Tree BBQ, Animal Kingdom. Located in the Discovery Island area of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, Flame Tree is a Travel with the Tribe regular haunt, for several reasons. Firstly, it is excellent value for money when you are trying to use your dining plan credits and want to get the most out of them, and secondly the food is big in portion and big on taste. It is definitely one of those restaurants when you will be saying to the rest of your party, “stick a fork in me, I’m done.” The portions are very generous indeed, and the menu has been extended this year to include more delights such as Baked Macaroni and Pulled Pork (this was a huge portion even for a very hungry adult!), Watermelon Salad, alongside Flame Tree favourites such as the Ribs, Chicken and Pulled Pork Sampler – at $18.99 this is almost the price of a Table service meal. The drinks menu is also extensive, from the usual array of wine, beer and soft drinks, Flame Tree also does a refreshing Mandarin Orange Lemonade, or if you are feeling in the mood for something a little stronger, there is the Mandarin Orange Vodka Lemonade. Seating is outdoors and for most part in the shade, a top tip here is to send one of your little ones to find a seat for everyone, it can get busy. Alternatively, you can also do Mobile Ordering (please see seperate post on this funky invention!). After a lunch of eating at Flame Tree BBQ, you are pretty much set up for the rest of the day, and with the number of amazing snacks available at Animal Kingdom, you will certainly not find it difficult to find food elsewhere (if you so wish).
Wolfgang Puck Express, Disney Springs. Located in the Marketplace area of Disney Springs, Wolfgang Puck Express offers a gourmet Quick Service meal of artisan sandwiches, pizza and pasta dishes, with waitress service. We were suitable impressed when we first visited Wolfgang Puck Express in 2012 by the quick service (the food almost came out immediately, it was real fast food) and excellent quality of food. It was one of the first Quick Service restaurants we visited which had waitress service, so it doesn’t feel like the majority of Disney Quick Service restaurants, when you are having to carry your food around, trying to find a table. Your food is simply brought to you instead! Nuggets and burgers are not on the menu here, instead you will find elegant pasta dishes such as Chicken Alfredo, Ricotto Ravioli, alongside the famous Wolfgang Puck Pizzas, with toppings such as Goat Cheese and Arugula, Roma and Sun Dried Tomatoes, or Caramelised Onion and Basil. The pizzas are particularly good, and very generous in size, but if you are not a pasta or pizza fan there is also the option of the Oven Roasted Salmon or Meatloaf. This restaurant has been a popular choice for many Disney and non-Disney guests visiting the Springs, and is well regarded by many families who visit time after time – including us. If Wolfgang Puck can cater for the Oscars, he certainly wouldn’t put his name to anything which didn’t say quality, and this restaurant definitely has that.
D-Luxe Burger, Disney Springs. OK, so this kind of contradicts the title of our post, but there are burgers in Walt Disney World restaurants, and then there are D-Luxe burgers!!! These burgers are no ordinary burgers, and even those guests who may be getting sick and tired of the same old counter service menu cannot fail to be impressed by the standard of food at this restaurant in Disney Springs. The Springs have really upped their game since Downtown Disney was re branded a couple of years ago, and the eating establishments give visitors something extra than they would get in the parks in terms of quality of food. As many restaurants in Disney Springs are independent and not therefore owned by third party interests, their reputation and image plays a very important part of the quality of their food. D-Luxe burger is one of those such restaurants, similarly to The Polite Pig offering excellent quality food in a great atmosphere, with an choice of alcoholic drink including beers and cocktails (as part of your quick service dining plan!) alongside non alcoholic soda’s, floats and shakes – man, those shakes are both filling and very yummy (we tried the S’mores Gelato Shake – whoa, that is not for the faint hearted!!). The burgers are the best we have tried in 8 trips to Walt Disney World, cooked to your tastes and however you like it, and the beef tastes quality. We had the regular cheeseburgers and the Southern burger, and had big smiles on our faces the whole time! Accompanying sauces are plentiful thanks to the very generous sauce and dips bar, including chipotle mayonnaise, BBQ, ranch, and a great curry sauce (just like chip shop curry sauce, but sweeter!). D-Luxe Burger really is what it says on the tin, a great Quick Service choice which you can enjoy in the relaxing surroundings and cool ambience.
The choices included on this post are tried and tested by adults and children alike. They are all, in our humble opinion, excellent Quick Service food choices, and will give you the opportunity to enjoy good quality food with great service and atmosphere. The food in Walt Disney World is on the whole varied and caters for all, you can eat well in Disney across all parks and resorts without having to eat burgers or nuggets every night, so don’t feel as though you have to! Our recommendations here are hopefully a good starting point, so all we can say is enjoy and happy dining!
if you’re on the Disney Dining plan you might also be interested in our post on getting the most for your snack credits here.