As much as I enjoy food and as much as I love Disney World, I'm not a Disney foodie. I'm like a kid at Disney, and like most little kids, I don't want to stop to eat or snack when I'm having fun. But I'm also the mom of two teenage boys who get Hulk hangry when they don't eat, so I've had to adjust how I do WDW and food. I usually get the meal plan to save money if we're traveling with a large group, but I didn't do that this time and discovered that a muffin in the a.m. will hold me until dinner. That plan worked one day of our trip before there was mutiny, so here are my Disney dining recommendations from a person who has to be told by her mother that if I don't eat, we're not riding anything else. Yes, my mom is 74, and I'm 49.
Magic Kingdom is the place for snacks, but I'm not a big dining fan. We did the Crystal Palace character meals when the kiddos were young, but we did things a little differently this time. I did a mobile order for the Harbor House, and we enjoyed an air-conditioned space and a tasty, quick bite. The portions are huge, and the food is good even though it doesn't win any culinary awards. Mimi and I had the platter with green beans, chicken fingers, shrimp and fish. The kiddos enjoyed chicken fingers and fries.
Epcot is my favorite place to dine. Le Cellier steakhouse wasn't on the list this time, but my tried, and true Italian spot never disappoints. Via Napoli offers authentic Italian fare that has something for everyone. I love the Neapolitan pizzas, and the boys love the spaghetti. When our server learned that we had two kiddos with food allergies, the manager immediately visited our table to discuss recipe ingredients to ensure our trip didn't end in an EpiPen stick. The food isn't cheap, but it's worth every penny.
The Regal Eagle is my second favorite. This barbecue smokehouse is tasty, and I'm a barbecue snob. I recommend the smoked chicken with mac-and-cheese and baked beans. There isn't a restroom in the restaurant, but one within a few feet in the American pavilion.
Hollywood Studios has some fun dining experiences. The 50s Primetime Cafe and SciFi Dine-In Theatre are two of my favorite themed dinners, but we had adventurous rides on our itinerary, so we skipped big meals for the thrills. At the 50s Primetime Cafe, get ready to be called cousin and get scolded for putting your elbows on the table. This is southern cooking fare; be sure to request a table with a tv. The SciFi dine-in theatre shows old sci-fi thrillers while you enjoy burgers, hot dogs, chicken fingers and the like. This is a fun experience more so than a culinary highlight. During our visit, we had a late dinner when we left the park that evening. Kiddos got Hulk hangry. I don't recommend this plan.
Animal Kingdom has some unique eats, although I usually spend the first part of the day at AK, and then we head to Disney Springs or the resort pool for downtime, so no recommendations here. But let me tell you about the goodness that is Homecomin', the Southern-style restaurant opened by celebrity chef Art Smith, once Oprah Winfrey's personal chef. Lawd! The mac-n-cheese (pictured above), kale, fried chicken and Hummingbird cake. . . enough said. Portions are hefty, so I recommend this if you're done with rides for the day or plan to take an extended break to allow food to digest. Also, make your reservation as soon as possible to get choice times. Again, the manager came out to discuss my kiddos' food allergies, and that's the Disney touch I love. So even if you're not doing Disney, add this to your list.
For snacks, I enjoy the options in Epcot World Showcase. My favorite funnel cake is next to the American Adventure Pavilion in Epcot, and the best maple popcorn is in Canada. Get the refillable popcorn buckets at any park; refills are a couple of dollars throughout your stay. The youngest kiddo enjoyed the Mickey Mouse ice cream ears, but we were so excited to be in the park we didn't get around to ice cream snacks.
For a comprehensive list of the best eats and snacks, follow the Disney Food Blog. I've been following them for years, and they haven't steered us wrong yet.