Best Special Occasions Restaurants at Walt Disney World
Sometimes, you just want to celebrate. You’ve achieved something that makes you proud.
While the boost to your self-esteem is its own reward, you still desire something unique. You want to commemorate the special occasion at a nice restaurant.
Generally, we’re talking about events like anniversaries, birthdays, proposals/engagements, graduations, and career successes.
So, when you’re at Walt Disney World, where should you go? Here are the best Disney restaurants for special occasions.
Entrepreneur Steven Schussler took the tourist industry by storm when he brokered a unique deal at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Schussler built the first Rainforest Café there, unintentionally triggering an arms race for weird, shamelessly tourist restaurants.
Since then, Schussler has created several more including other Disney locations like T-Rex Café and Yak & Yeti Restaurant.
I first encountered him when I heard about The BOATHOUSE, a project that was to open at Disney Springs at an undetermined date.
We were meeting friends for the first time after knowing them online for more than a decade and wanted to eat somewhere special.
Schussler graciously put us in touch with the person he’d chosen to run The BOATHOUSE, and that’s how we became the first group to book a reservation here.
Our party relished our meal, and the staff treated us like royalty. That wasn’t because of our status, though. It’s just how they are here.
We’ve dined at The BOATHOUSE many times since then, and it’s always been a delight.
As a pro tip, you’ll occasionally find a pianist playing songs here. If you’re on a date and have a romantic song, they can and will hook you up!
The following two options are probably the most obvious ones on the list. They’ve been around the longest and are also in/around Magic Kingdom, which helps.
At California Grill, you’ll gaze at Magic Kingdom from a unique perspective.
You’re on the top floor of Disney’s Contemporary Resort! In fact, you cannot even visit this place unless you have a reservation!
You must check-in on the hotel’s second floor and then ride a private elevator to the top.
Obviously, Disney intentionally builds a buzz for the dining experience. Thankfully, the mood matches the hype.
You can feast on your favorite California cuisine plus some decadent wines.
While you wash it all down, you can watch the various fireworks presentations at Magic Kingdom.
There’s nothing else like California Grill…well, there didn’t used to be. Another place on this list has since duplicated the idea.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Here’s the other flashy option on this list. I mean, what’s more memorable than dining inside Cinderella Castle? The answer is…NOTHING!
Disney hosts a unique meal here. You’ll start by meeting your hostess on your way to the royal dining experience.
Then, while you eat, other Disney Princesses will come to your table and make small talk.
You can fill up your Instagram and a scrapbook with the pictures you take during this meal.
The one knock here is that the food isn’t quite on a par with some of the other places on this list. Will you care? Probably not.
Again, you’re eating inside Cinderella Castle!
The Hollywood Brown Derby
Not many theme park restaurants come with their own Wikipedia pages. That’s the curiosity of the Brown Derby, a California franchise back in the day.
A popular Hollywood insult from way back when was, “You’ll never eat lunch in this town again.” It referenced the importance of power lunches in brokering deals.
When studio bosses said that, the restaurant they meant was the Brown Derby. It was a staple of the Golden Age of Hollywood schmoozing.
Over time, the restaurant’s luster faded. Decades later, Disney recreated the premise for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. It’s a fitting tribute to a bygone era.
Obviously, the cuisine here is a foodie’s delight but also decidedly high brow.
Actor and Disney superfan John Stamos recently revealed that this restaurant is his favorite at Walt Disney World, which seems right.
Back in the day, all the actors dreamt of dining at The Hollywood Brown Derby and there proving themselves power players in the industry.
You can do the same whenever you eat here, and it’ll be unforgettable!
Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
Hear me out…
Most of the places I discuss today are ones where you wear your Sunday best and act like a big shot.
Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is the polar opposite of that.
You’ll eat fried chicken and watch a show that would seem right at home at any dude ranch in the country.
What’s memorable about that? First, it’s homier than some of the other options. So, it may be more your speed.
Second, the cuisine here falls under the heading of comfort food. Several of the other places cater to refined palates.
Hoop-Dee-Doo proves more populist. It’s for pretty much everyone.
Plus, show performers will poll the audience on questions like who’s celebrating a birthday or anniversary. Won’t you feel special if you can say yes?!
Topolino’s Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera
I mentioned that Disney has mimicked its own California Grill setting.
This is another place where you can watch Disney fireworks from a rooftop restaurant.
Walt Disney World actually features three of them now, with the third at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
Personally, I prefer the original, but you may like the special European flavors driving the menu at Topolino’s Terrace.
Victoria & Albert’s
I’ve alphabetized this list rather than ranked it. If I’d chosen the latter, we all know what would have won.
Simply stated, when money is no object, you’re picking Victoria & Albert’s for your special occasion.
I’ll add the caveat here that I think it’s better for romance than, say, promotions or graduations.
Still, you’re dining at the unquestioned choice for best theme park restaurant on the planet. Nothing’s topping that.
I debated which steakhouse to pick. Le Cellier Steakhouse and STK Orlando are also viable options here.
However, I’ve written about Le Cellier recently, and STK Orlando has proven quite divisive since the pandemic’s start. It can give off the wrong vibe to some.
So, we should default to the classic option, the anchor restaurant at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort.
Here, the only thing more remarkable than the steak is the bill.
You’ll definitely spend a lot of money here to the point that you may feel priced in at Victoria & Albert’s instead.
Personally, I’m a steak guy, much to my vegan wife’s chagrin.
I’m smiling before I walk in the building at Yachtsman Steakhouse and will happily pay the (stiff) price for such a delicious steak.
As for the setting, well, Major League Baseball sometimes hosts its Owner’s and GM Meetings here. That statement alone identifies how refined this restaurant is.
You’re sure to have an unforgettable meal here worthy of a special occasion.