Road Trip Honeymoon: The Really Big Restaurant Round-Up

Sustenance being kind of important, the decision of where to eat each meal on our honeymoon was a matter of some discussion early on. Disney makes it both easy and hard by offering plenty of dining options at various levels of service and price points. (After all, they don’t want you leaving the parks for anything if they can help it, so they try to cater to [yes, I went there] as many different tastes as possible.) They also offer the Disney Dining Plan as a way to pre-pay meal and snack credits, and on the plan we chose (Deluxe Dining) it gave our trip the feeling of being at an all-inclusive resort (well, almost—tips and booze were extra, just like on most cruises).

Let’s face it: very little is cheap at a Disney park or resort, but you go more or less expecting the markup. The Dining Plan isn’t always a money-saving device, but it is a hassle-saving device, and a no-sticker-shock device if you’re the type to get antsy at the thought of $30 entrees. It was just nice not to have to think too much about it in the moment.

Rather than go day-by-day, here’s a breakdown of where we ate by category and a few thoughts on (and plenty of pictures of) our experience with each. Who knows, if you’re still on the fence about where to dine on your Disney honeymoon, this might help sway your decision one way or the other.

Quick Service/Counter Service

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(left) Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory breakfasts (right) Sunshine Seasons

This is the Disney equivalent to fast food, and we used it mainly for breakfasts at the resort and once in EPCOT (Sunshine Seasons in The Land). Breakfast fare at Disney is pretty standard: eggs in various ways, breakfast meats and sandwiches, with some specialties depending on your resort. For instance, there were beignets available at our resort seeing as it was French Quarter themed. I stuck to simple, safe dishes like cheese omelets and oatmeal most mornings rather than having to go through the allergy procedure of calling over one of the chefs or managers and going through the big book of ingredients.

Be Our Guest | (top) T's Carved Roast Beef Sandwich & Triple Chocolate Cupcake (bottom) my Gluten-Free Lemon-Raspberry Cream Puff & Tuna Nicoise Salad

Be Our Guest | (top) T’s carved roast beef sandwich & triple chocolate cupcake; (bottom) my gluten-free lemon-raspberry cream puff & tuna nicoise salad

The one non-breakfast counter service meal we had almost doesn’t even count: lunch at Be Our Guest is sort of in limbo between counter service and table service. You stand in line and order your meal via touch-screen kiosks, but then they seat you and bring out your food using either a “rose” pager-like device to match your meal to your table or, in our case, your Magic Bands. The fare is also somewhat elevated compared to most CS lunch menus and (it’s a small thing, but a nice one at that) is served on actual china; no paper plates or plastic cutlery. It was worth the 45-minute wait in line to eat here (the longest wait of the week for anything), but I’ll be really happy if they go ahead with the FastPass option for lunch. (It was being tested during our stay, but we weren’t part of the random sample picked: rats!)

Table Service

This was where most of our dining fell, both in deference to my food intolerances (easier to work around in a full kitchen versus the abbreviated CS-location facilities) and as a nice break from walking around the parks. It’s a good idea to allow an hour to an hour and a half for a table service meal.

Yak and Yeti (left) T's Pork Pot Stickers, Duck with Anandapur Glaze, and Fried Wontons (right) my Seared Ahi Tuna, Kobe Beef Burger, and fruit cup

Yak and Yeti (left) T’s pork pot stickers, duck with Anandapur glaze, and fried wontons; (right) my seared Ahi tuna, Kobe beef burger, and fruit cup

In Animal Kingdom we had lunch our first park day at Yak & Yeti and, unfortunately, it was the letdown of our trip. Despite my best efforts to notify the special diets department in advance of our trip, none of my information had been passed along to the restaurants and at Yak & Yeti they had the least flexibility due to the type of cuisine they served. Now, I will say that the chef who “helped” us could have been a bit better in his delivery of my options—describing everything as “plain” doesn’t exactly make my heart go pitter-patter, you know? But service counts for a lot, and our waitress as well as the manager who stopped by to chat after the meal really saved this experience for me, at least. This was also the only location to have a problem scanning our Magic Bands and they were having plumbing issues that day so they were just having a bad day, all around. What can you do?

SciFi Dine In (whose lighting does not make for good photography and I didn't want to be that girl using her flash in a darkened room) | (top) T's Onion

Sci-Fi Dine In (whose lighting does not make for good photography and I didn’t want to be that girl using her flash in a darkened room) | (top) T’s onion rings, Picnic Burger, and Candy Bar; (bottom) my Area 51 salad (adjusted), smoked turkey sandwich, and fruit salad

That night we headed over to the Studios for dinner at the SciFi Dine-In, which is known more for its atmosphere and milkshakes than amazing food, but we have no complaints. I was able to get a tasty turkey sandwich on a gluten-free wrap, and T dug into their “Picnic Burger” (which features a burger topped with a split hot dog and sauerkraut) followed by their SciFi Candy Bar dessert, which looked amazing. Of course we ordered milkshakes (lactose being the one problem “food” I can medicate for), and a tip for the dining plan: milkshakes can count as a beverage OR a dessert; you get to pick.

Tokyo Dining | (left) my Green Salad, Matsu sushi.sashimi plate, Green Tea Soft Serve (right) T's Karaage, Ginza plate, and Chocolate Ginger Cake (bottom right) A celebratory candy and origami ring

Tokyo Dining | (left) my green salad, Matsu sushi.sashimi plate, green tea soft serve; (right) T’s karaage, Ginza plate, and chocolate ginger cake; (bottom right) a celebratory candy and origami ring

In EPCOT we chose Tokyo Dining in Japan. When I started the Low-FODMAP diet to combat my IBS, I was overjoyed to find that most sushi (one of our favorite night-out treats) is generally safe, and if there are problematic ingredients they’re easy to switch out or avoid. Because of this I wasn’t anticipating any problems at Tokyo Dining and we had exactly that along with a very good meal. One thing to know about Tokyo Dining: it shares a building with Teppan Edo, the Japanese steakhouse, a popular choice among families with small kids for the entertainment factor. This led to slightly higher-than-expected noise levels but not uncomfortably so. If you’re not generally a sake fan but you enjoy Moscato and other sweeter wines, give the Hana Awaka sparkling sake a try—it was so good we picked up a bottle to take home with us!

Tony's Town Square | (top) T's Calamari and Chicken Parmesan (bottom) my Prosciutto-Wrapped Melon and NY Strip

Tony’s Town Square | (top) T’s calamari and chicken parmesan; (bottom) my prosciutto-wrapped melon and NY strip

Before the Christmas Party we had reservations at Tony’s Town Square in the Magic Kingdom. An Italian style eatery with touches of Lady & the Tramp, this restaurant was extremely busy and I don’t think it was just because of the party. One woman who walked up to the hostess stand after us was told it was an hour and a half wait without a reservation! We’d had a late in-room lunch that afternoon, which turned out to be unfortunate as Tony’s is one of the few eateries we encountered with the oversized portions most American restaurants are known for (all of our other table service meals served much more reasonable portion sizes). We couldn’t do our entrees justice, though they were incredibly tasty, and I skipped the inevitable fruit bowl dessert. T got his tiramisu to go.

Character Dining

A bit of a subset of table service dining at Disney are the character meals, many of which are buffets or otherwise prix fixe. You’re paying as much for the character interaction as you are for the meal, but we think they’re worth it for the experience. There aren’t many places where Tigger comes over and sits down next to your new husband and starts checking his plate for leftovers. (Tigger was out of luck on that score.)

Crystal Palace | (top) T's smorgasbord, celebratory cupcake (bottom) my salad and salmon plate

Crystal Palace | (top) T’s smorgasbord, celebratory cupcake; (bottom) my salad and salmon plate

Wednesday night we ate at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Magic Kingdom, which is home to Winnie the Pooh and friends. I’m actually not big on buffets in general (food quality usually suffers from holding under heat lamps, after all), but for characters I’ll make an exception. T definitely found enough to keep him happy, and the chef made me a plate of salmon, rice, potatoes, and green beans that were all sans onion and garlic. (Seriously, those are the two hardest ingredients to avoid at restaurants, and I hated telling the chefs that was one of my restrictions almost as much as I hated giving up the ingredients themselves!) They sweetly sent out a celebration cupcake at the end of our meal, as well.

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Signature Dining

You could almost consider signature dining as “table service plus.” With the exception of Victoria & Albert’s (which is a level unto itself), signature dining restaurants are the upper tier of Disney dining (and on the Dining Plan count as 2 TS credits per person). Originally we’d only scheduled one signature meal, the Jiko experience I mentioned in part one of the honeymoon recaps. But when we changed some of our plans around during the week we realized we had extra dining credits that would otherwise go to waste, so switched on of our Hollywood Studios reservations from 50”²s Prime Time Cafe to the Hollywood Brown Derby and opted for a last-minute reservation at Wolfgang Puck Cafe in Downtown Disney’s West Side before heading home on Saturday.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe | Crab Cakes, Mac & Cheese, Brownie Sundae, Sunomono Salad, Pellegrino, Fruit Salad, Sushi Platter

Wolfgang Puck Cafe | Crab cakes, mac & cheese, brownie sundae, sunomono salad, Pellegrino, fruit salad, sushi platter

Actually, there’s still some debate about the Wolfgang Puck reservation. When we searched for DTD lunch signature dining on the My Disney Experience app it came up, but our check only reflected two credits used instead of four. Oh, well, it’s not the end of the world. And it was a very good meal, regardless, and that’s what matters. I went with sushi again (safe and delicious) and continued my love affair with Pellegrino—I was never a huge fan of mineral water before, but I wanted something carbonated that wasn’t soda and I know it sounds silly but the more delicate bubbles in Pellegrino versus any other mineral water I’ve tried make all the difference. But I digress. Mr. RT went with the more American side of the menu and got the mac & cheese and a delectable brownie sundae.

Hollywood Brown Derby | (clockwise from top left) Banana White Chocolate Toffee Tower, Lobster Bisque, Cobb Salad, Duck with Herbed Goat Cheese Polenta Cake, Champagne

Hollywood Brown Derby | (clockwise from top left) Banana white chocolate toffee tower, lobster bisque, cobb salad, duck with herbed goat cheese polenta cake, Champagne

Service at the Hollywood Brown Derby is everything you’d expect from such a storied location (well, a replica of such a storied location), and the food matched the atmosphere to a T! My petite cobb salad followed by duck with herbed goat cheese polenta cake was divine, and T went with a seafood theme and followed his lobster bisque with the seafood cioppino. We were seated at a corner banquette and had an excellent view of the dining room for people watching, including one woman who wanted to know if she could be seated any farther away from a nearby child. Look, it might be the Hollywood Brown Derby but it’s still Disney! Sipping the complimentary Champagne after lunch was a nice touch, too.

Snacks

Each version of the Dining Plan comes with a certain number of snack credits, in addition to the meal credits, that can be used for ice cream, pop corn, sodas, and bottled water (among other things). We, however, used most of our snack credits (the DxDP credits two per person, per night’s stay, so we had 24) for use at the Food & Wine Festival booths. Grazing away two meals is why we also ended up with so many leftover meal credits to use on signature dining.

Small Plates from the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

Small plates from the EPCOT Food and Wine Festival

We had a ball going from booth to booth of the festival, though we didn’t try nearly as many items as we thought we might when looking over the lists at home. We also didn’t indulge in as many adult beverages as we might have—we just weren’t in the mood to drink much on this trip.

Several people have asked us for favorites from the festival, and I’m here to say it’s just not possible to choose a favorite. We do want to go back next year, though, and do more of the festival events that we didn’t make time for this go-round.

OK, if you’ve made it this far (I know, it was long, but I wanted to wrap this up), I apologize for any hunger pangs this post may have instigated. The tl;dr breakdown: Disney does a very good job of feeding people at various levels of service and cuisine. We really enjoyed the convenience of the Disney Dining Plan. PhotoPass+ is an awesome thing if you really like souvenir photos and want to make sure both you and your new spouse are in some together.

Thus concludes the Road Trip honeymoon recaps. As soon as the rest of the wedding photos are in I’ll be back with the wedding recaps in all their errant (yes, that’s really the word I meant to use) glory.

BLOGGER

Mrs. Road Trip

Location:
Tallahassee
Wedding Date:
November 2013
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comments

  1. Member
    gondola 1046 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:24 pm

    The food looks really good! I would not have expected such gourmet fare at Disney!
    BTW, I’m a fellow Pellegrino lover too!

  2. Member
    bebelicious1 1325 posts, Bumble bee @ 3:43 pm

    Wow, that was so informative. I could almost taste some of that food! Thanks for the post! I would love to go to Disney, and I hope to do so while my son is still young enough to enjoy it!

  3. Member
    msbicycle 718 posts, Busy bee @ 6:54 am

    Whoa, this is quite a breakdown! And now I want macaroni and cheese…

  4. Member
    rucksack 518 posts, Busy bee @ 9:39 am

    My family just returned from a week in Disney (I’m too busy at work to take time off right now) and now I’m more jealous than I was! Be My Guest was one of my favorite experiences last year. Thanks for this great write up – I’ll definitely use it next time we go!

  5. Member
    pyramid 93 posts, Worker bee @ 7:24 am

    I had this saved for when I had some downtime to read your full post (and when i wasn’t hungry!) and I’m so surprised that you managed to eat at pretty much EVERY restaurant that I’ve never tried. Except for Sunshine Seasons, I’m very familiar with them since that’s the building I worked in at EPCOT. :)

    We still haven’t gotten into Be Our Guest, and we haven’t tried Tokyo Dining or Brown Derby. Thanks for all the recommendations for whenever we go back (probably next year Food & Wine!). You’re a master at taking pictures of all the food – I hardly got any!

  6. Member
    mspalmtree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:52 am

    We had lunch with the princesses in Norway and it was one of my favorite experiences. Ariel called me Princess of the Starfish and I was pretty much crying (I was 22. . .). I definitely think the mark-up is worth it! Nobody goes to Disney for cheap food. :P

  7. Member
    wildflowersong 38 posts, Newbee @ 1:13 pm

    Mmmmmm, this post made me SO hungry!! I’m super stoked for your recaps! :)

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