Foodie’s Guide to Magic Kingdom Part 2
In part one of our foodie’s guide to Walt Disney World, we evaluated the Signature Dining restaurants at Magic Kingdom. Part two will examine the other dining options at the most popular theme park on the planet.
Quick Service Restaurants
My opinion of Magic Kingdom is that the Quick Service options are slightly better than the Table Service offerings. Yes, some finer restaurants are exceptions, but I suggest to friends that they should think of Magic Kingdom as a standard theme park. By this, I mean that you shouldn’t do much sit-down dining here. It’s a place to grab-and-go counter service foods, the kinds that are staples at all amusement parks and carnivals and county fairs and so forth. Let’s take a look at the individual offerings.
Quietly one of the best themed Quick Service restaurants in Orlando, Casey’s Corner is small but impossible to miss. It’s just off the corner of Main Street, U.S.A, meaning that you’re sure to walk past it during a Disney vacation.
You should stop and eat here, especially if you’re a baseball fan. It’s a delightful celebration of America’s pastime, complete with hot dogs and Cracker Jacks. The menu at Casey’s Corner is peasant food done right.
Columbia Harbour House
The oldest restaurant at Magic Kingdom is a seafood place at Liberty Square. Columbia Harbour House didn’t quite open with the park, but it was only a year behind. Since 1972, patriotic New England cuisine has pleased knowing park guests. More than 35 years later, the lines here are still long.
The cause for the mobs isn’t the style of this colonial inn. It’s a lobster roll that’s inexpensive but satisfying, making it one of the best deals at Magic Kingdom.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café
The third of the remarkably themed counter service restaurants is this sci-fi celebration. It’s unquestionably the silliest place to eat at Magic Kingdom. An audio-animatronic named Sonny Eclipse performs goofy songs during a music set that’s out of this world.
The food here doesn’t thrill anyone. The consensus opinion is that Cosmic Ray’s is the laziest restaurant at Magic Kingdom in terms of menu options. It has several “bays, “individual line queues for each type of food.
When you want to eat chicken, head to the chicken bay. Burgers are at the burger bay and so forth. Everything here is formulaic, but it’s also a place that kids love. I still eat here every trip because I remember how happy it made me when I was eight. This dining experience isn’t really about the food.
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café
As the name implies, southwestern flavors comprise the menu here. Nachos, fajitas, and southwest salads are favorite menu items. Several bowls are also available, although I must be honest that I’m boring. I get the Tacos 3 Ways. The point is that Pecos Bill is the easiest place to choose/not choose. You eat here when you’re in the mood for Mexican food.
Pinocchio Village Haus
While this restaurant doesn’t have the theming of some other places at Magic Kingdom, it has something better. Some of the tables here overlook part of It’s a Small World, which resides in the same building. You can grab a pizza here and watch the boats head through the attraction. As for the food, well, I’ve already told you what you need to know. The majority of the Pinocchio Village Haus menu is flatbread. Fortunately, the pizzas are pretty good.
Table Service Restaurants
As a reminder, Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table don’t qualify as Table Service restaurants for all three meals. They were discussed in the Signature Dining foodie guide. Among the Table Service restaurants at Magic Kingdom, one stands above the rest regarding food. Several others have their charms, though.
The Crystal Palace
Are you a fan of the residents of Hundred Acre Wood? Then this character meal is for you. Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Piglet, and Tigger happily greet new friends inside this immaculate, beautiful building. The timeless nature of Winnie the Pooh assures a good time here, although the All-You-Care-to-Enjoy (AYCE) serving station options are less than ideal.
As a pro tip, Magic Kingdom guests who want the character meal should eat here at breakfast. The food is slightly more exciting than the mundane offerings at lunch and dinner. Plus, you can schedule your meal well ahead of the park opening. When your breakfast ends, you’ll have a head start on everyone waiting in line to enter the park.
The Diamond Horseshoe
Liberty Square is home to a less famous restaurant than Columbia Harbour House. The Diamond Horse was once a counter service establishment that Disney switched to Table Service a couple of years ago. The early reviews of the sit-down meal were…lacking. Over time, Disney’s changed several aspects of the cuisine.
The restaurant has an Old West theme and takes place in a saloon. Don’t get your hopes up, though. The meal inexplicably doesn’t include a show, although a classic player piano will randomly play a few tunes. The food is rustic, with chicken, pork, and brisket as the entrees.
My suggestion is to skip dinner here and take a boat from Magic Kingdom over to The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is the oldest show at Walt Disney World.
It’s wonderful and serves better versions of the same foods at The Diamond Horseshoe. It is more expensive, of course, but you’re getting a better value since the show is so much fun. Plus, The Diamond Horseshoe is seasonal; there’s no guarantee it will be open when you visit.
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen
Skipper Canteen is the closest that you can get to dinner and a show inside Magic Kingdom. No, there’s not a show per se, but the servers here act like skippers from Jungle Cruise. You’ll get much of the same spiel at the restaurant as you would on the ride, although you won’t have all of the lines memorized here, a refreshing change.
The food at Skipper Canteen is a bit confusing, and I mean that in the best possible way. Foodies agree that this restaurant would seem more at home at Disney’s Animal Kingdom or Epcot’s World Showcase. People feel this way because the cuisine is frankly too good for a Table Service restaurant at Magic Kingdom.
The flavors here are explosive and exotic. It’s a fabulous meal for anyone with a nuanced palate. To many Magic Kingdom visitors, however, the food seems out of place relative to the mundane entrees sold everywhere else. Skipper Canteen is the best option for foodies who get hungry at Magic Kingdom. It’s a hard sell to a lot of people, though, which explains why you’ll have no trouble getting an Advanced Dining Reservation (ADR) here.
Liberty Tree Tavern
Do you love the food at Thanksgiving dinner? Would you like to eat a Thanksgiving-like meal on a day that’s not Thanksgiving? The flow chart for Liberty Tree Tavern is that straightforward. The restaurant hosts a “traditional family-style Thanksgiving dinner” each meal.
Disney calls the meal the Patriot’s Platter. It comes with turkey, pot roast, pork, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese. Liberty Tree Tavern serves a very heavy, filling meal. It’s not for everyone at Magic Kingdom, but it’s terrific when you want a huge, family meal during a hectic park visit.
The Plaza Restaurant
For whatever reason, this place is the least discussed, least noticed of all Table Service restaurants at Magic Kingdom. It’s located right on Main Street, U.S.A., but it’s facing Cinderella Castle. It tends to get overlooked for this reason.
The cuisine here is all over the place. The Plaza Restaurant features a slew of entrees, although the volume of options creates a distinct perception. This eatery feels like it serves Quick Service food in a more glamorous setting. I happen to love the ambiance here, as it reminds me of the Grand Floridian Café at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa. I’m just not sold on the menu.
Foodies should take note of the desserts, though. This place specializes in ice cream. The Plaza Restaurant Sundae is legendary, and the milkshakes are bottomless. Yes, you read that right. You can drink until your ice cream headache explodes your brain Scanners-style. For whatever reason, eating an entrée here feels wrong due to the mismatched nature of the food with the setting. Eating ice cream here feels oh so right, though.
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
The most divisive meal at Magic Kingdom is at Tony’s Town Square. Critics assail the Italian food here as nondescript bordering on lazy. Fans adore the restaurant, as it affords them the opportunity to relive the most memorable scene from Lady and the Tramp.
The beloved Disney film plays in the lobby as you wait for a table, and the Spaghetti entrée features gigantic meatballs. Overall, the nicest thing I can about the cuisine is that the bread is good. Oh, the desserts are quite tasty, too. Otherwise, you’re paying for the premise. You’ll find much better Italian food at the Italy Pavilion at Epcot and at Disney Springs.
In closing, I want to mention that I haven’t covered a few restaurants here. They’re the ones that sell a special snack/food or two. We’ll cover those in an upcoming Foodie Guide section called Walt Disney World Treats. It’ll be the last in the series. You’ll just have to wait to find out where to get turkey legs, Dole Whips, and churros!