Yes, much like the Loch Ness monster, we’ve all been told that there are good dining values out there at Walt Disney World, but no one you know has ever seen one. While good values do exist, they are few and far between to be sure. If you stick to the popular restaurants, you’ll miss out because of that whole supply and demand thing. Crazy, I know, but Disney charges more for popular restaurants. I was shocked, too!
If you’re willing to venture out a bit, though, you can find some very good deals, provided you are not one with the hugest appetite in the world and you understand that a value in Walt Disney World might be defined as a mediocre deal outside the Disney bubble. That said, here are a few of my favorite bargains when I’m out touring the parks and beyond.
Cosmic Ray’s – Most people come here for the burgers or to visit Sonny Eclipse, but if you wander over to the barbecue bay, you’ll find a nice deal on the 1/2 Chicken & Barbecued Rib Combo. For around $15, you get ribs, half a chicken, mashed potatoes, and a vegetable. This much food is easily enough for two people. On one trip, we even squeezed three people out of this one meal by adding dessert to it.
Plaza Restaurant – Staying in the Magic Kingdom, if you find yourself wishing you had made an Advanced Dining Reservation but fear it’s now too late, make sure to try the Plaza Restaurant at the end of Main Street. Sandwiches there run from $12-$15, and if you get water to drink, you can easily come out of this table service restaurant for the same or less than what you’d spend at a counter service restaurant. I highly recommend the vegetable sandwich as a change of pace, but the club and burger are also great.
Sunshine Seasons – Some people know the secret of Sunshine Seasons in the Land pavilion at Epcot, but be thankful that more people don’t. You can go to the Grill section and get a meat dish and side for around $11, then add a side for just $2-3. You come out with a huge meal, suitable for sharing, for under $20 including tax and drinks. Or, if you want lighter fare, split a salad for $8, then each get a bowl of freshly made soup for $3-4. Either way, it’s much cheaper than some other options in Epcot.
Tangierine Cafe – I’ve sung its praises before, but if you are willing to split, the shwarma platter is the way to go. The chicken and lamb combo for $13.99 includes roasted chicken and lamb, bread, couscous, hummus and lentil salad. It’s an amazing value, and the food is really good. Share this then meander around World Showcase to pick up dessert at Karamell-Küche or Boulangerie Patisserie, and you’ll be a happy camper.
Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner – Here’s one a friend turned me on to just recently. Right on Echo Lake in the Studios, there is a great deal at this boat-shaped restaurant. Grab the frankfurter in a pretzel roll, and for under $8 you have a very filling lunch. It’s so big that you don’t even need chips or fries!
Pizzafari – Let’s face it, Disney pizza isn’t the best. In fact, it sometimes can be downright bad. There are a couple of exceptions, one of which is Pizzafari in Animal Kingdom. When you buy a personal pizza here, not only do you get the pizza, but a salad, as well. Many is the time the wife and I have bought an extra salad and split the pizza, coming away full but not stuffed for under $15.
BoardWalk Pizza Window – Want al fresco dining but not looking to pay through the nose? Walk over to the BoardWalk from Epcot or the Studios to enjoy a full size pizza for only $20. With drinks, a family of four can sit outside and enjoy the atmosphere of Crescent Lake and a meal for less than $30.
Captain Cook’s – If you are dying to try some of the famous Polynesian fare, especially for breakfast, you cannot beat Captain Cook’s on the ground floor of the Polynesian’s Grand Ceremonial House. For just $6, you can get the famous Tonga Toast, which costs twice as much upstairs in the Kona Cafe. I always grab coffee from the Kona Island next to the monorail and enjoy breakfast down at Captain Cook’s before a busy day at the Magic Kingdom.
So those are but a few of my favorite dining values. What are some that you have found?