Location, Location, Location: Does the View Make the Meal Better?

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To me, dining at a restaurant with a beautiful view makes the meal taste just a bit better. Maybe it’s because I’ve lived so much of my life in snowy trundra and urban wastelands (where very few restaurants have wonderful views); or maybe I’ve just always been the type of eater who’s greatly influenced by surroundings like table location, smells, sounds, crowd level, etc.; but an incredible view from my table is something I’m willing to fight for.

So, whether you want to do some people-watching, see the Magic Kingdom fireworks or Illuminations from your table, spend your dinner spotting African wildlife, or just relax with a tranquil lookout, here are a few Disney World dining spots that I think afford incredible views:

California Grill Sunset

California Grill
The California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort is probably my top suggestion when someone wants an outstanding restaurant view. From the top floor of the resort, the floor to ceiling windows offer amazing views of the whole of Walt Disney World — and the rest of Orlando. Watching the sun set behind the Grand Floridian Resort, or catching the nightly Magic Kingdom fireworks show from this location, will probably be one of your grandest memories from your vacation.

Rose and Crown Pub and Dining Room
Because this is one of the most well-known “good view” locations, it’s also one of the very crowded! Guests line up nightly to wait for Rose and Crown‘s outdoor patio tables where the view of Illuminations is one of the most spectacular in Epcot, but I also suggest booking a table for lunch. Sitting outside on the lovely patio, watching the boats glide back and forth over World Showcase Lagoon, and taking in the detail of the other pavilions within your view is a wonderful way to spend a mealtime.

View of Giraffe from Sanaa Table

Sanaa
Sanaa‘s casual, relaxed atmosphere and tucked-away location make it a wonderful place to detox after a hectic morning in the theme parks. But what I find enchanting about this place is that it’s the only Animal Kingdom Lodge Resort restaurant that actually has a view of the hotel’s main draw — the African animals on the savanna. Go for lunch or an early dinner to guarantee plenty of daylight, and request to be seated next to one of the restaurants large picture windows. Expect to see giraffe, zebras, Ankole cattle, African birds, and other incredible animals.

‘Ohana
Another one of the best views in Walt Disney World, ‘Ohana‘s wall-to-wall windows give guests a generous view of Seven Seas Lagoon, the Polynesian Resort grounds and Volcano pool, and the major landmarks of the Magic Kingdom. Book a spot here when the restaurant opens for dinner at 5pm to take in the relaxing late-afternoon and evening sunlight spilling over Seven Seas Lagoon, or make an advanced dining reservation just in time to catch the Magic Kingdom fireworks and the Electrical Water Pageant!

The View From Tokyo Dining

Tokyo Dining
An excellent restaurant for sushi gourmands, Tokyo Dining also offers one of the best views in Epcot’s World Showcase. During the day, look out over the World Showcase promenade and amuse yourself with some wonderful people-watching; in the evening, schedule your meal in time to see Illuminations: Reflections of Earth explode over World Showcase Lagoon.

Honorable Mentions
Other great spots to enjoy the view, in my opinion of course, are Narcoosee’s, in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort; Cantina de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico — I imagine the new incarnation opening in the Fall will have some astounding views of the World Showcase Lagoon; and Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbecue, where you can enjoy a stunning view of Expedition Everest from the seating area.

What are your thoughts? Any additions to the list or experiences you can share about great views from Disney restaurants — and whether or not they make the meal better for you?

You can find more Disney Restaurant information from AJ Wolfe over at The Disney Food Blog.

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Posted on April 12, 2010

14 Responses to “Location, Location, Location: Does the View Make the Meal Better?”

  • We had dinner at California Grill last October on our last night in the world. We had a great view of Hallowishes, and really enjoyed the food too. It was a great way to spend our last evening celebrating our vacation, even if it was bittersweet. The food and service were excellent, and it was a highlight of our trip.

    This November we will be back, and I was wondering what time I should book my ADR for O’hana to see the fireworks and parade? Also, what time should I book Rose and Crown to see Illuminations? I have a 4 year old, so I would prefer to have the earliest time possible while still safely being present for the show. It’s great when the show happens either between entree and dessert, or during dessert.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • Hi Amy!

      For ‘Ohana, it’s smart to book around 7:45 or 8:00 for the 9:00 showing of the fireworks. (Sometimes I book slightly earlier than that and wait for a window table.)

      Rose and Crown is trickier, because even if you book the perfect time, the patio fills up quickly. I suggest booking for around 7:30pm and taking your time with the meal — the earlier you go, the greater the chance you’ll have of being seated on the patio. But I’m not sure how a 4-yr-old would do with that plan (maybe bring some toys or other diversions for the wait?).

      Good luck!

  • If you are lucky enough you can get a good view of Illuminations from Chef’s de France which makes for a decently romantic experience given the food and the environment. Most of the window seats are tables for two and besides having the tops of the trees slightly ubstructing it’s a nice experience. It’s usually how my wife and I end Food & Wine.

    • Sounds like a great way to end Food & Wine. I really enjoy Chefs de France, and the service is usually outstanding. Thanks for the comment!

  • Completely agree with Sanaa — the wonderful food is, in fact, enhanced by being able to see the critters wander around out there.

    Flame Tree BBQ is noteworthy not just for the view of Everest but of all that side of the park water, complete with occasional boats of Disney characters floating by and waving. Its heavy growth, deep shade, and small table clusters make is one of the best in-park outdoor inexpensive dining experiences, esp. on a hot day.

    • Thanks for the reminder of the character-laden boats floating by! Those are always fun to see! I wish I’d been able to take one of those boat rides back when they were an actual attraction…

  • Another great guest spot, AJ! I never thought of Tokyo dining as a place with a view. I’ll have to keep that in mind.

    • Thanks Kristen! If you don’t dine at Tokyo Dining, that little railing up there is a nice spot, too. Some trees are blocking the view, but you get a great overall show nonetheless.

  • by Richard Mercer on April 16, 2010, at 8:36 am EDT

    For Sanaa, time of year is important. I ate there last December (when it is completely dark by 6:00), and was not even aware there was a view of the savannah from the restaurant! I’ll be going back in June, and I’m sure I will enjoy the view.

  • Thanks Kristen! If you don’t dine at Tokyo Dining, that little railing up there is a nice spot, too. Some trees are blocking the view, but you get a great overall show nonetheless.

  • Well, it helps that Sanaa is a great restaurant, regardless of the view. :-)