Do You Eat at These Controversial Disney Restaurants?
When we start talking about Walt Disney World restaurants, the gloves come off.
People love their favorites and often take offense when others cast aspersions.
Realistically, some eateries absorb more criticism than most. Today, I’ve compiled a list of them.
Do you eat at these controversial Walt Disney World restaurants?
50’s Prime Time Café
What makes a restaurant controversial? The answer is quite simple.
When you mention the restaurant to someone, do they make a face and scrunch their nose, signifying their disagreement?
With some Disney restaurants, such behavior is unavoidable. For example, we have 50’s Prime Time Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Some Disney vacationers adore this place because it reminds them of home.
When people say that to me, I never know how to respond, as it causes me to worry about their family dynamic.
Still, the charming nature of this experience ensures that you’ll have a good time and clean your plate. If you don’t, a cast member will berate you.
For fans of 50’s Prime Time Café, the acerbic servers sell the place. To critics, it’s a nightmarish reminder of why they always dreaded holiday dinners.
I must admit this one really isn’t for me, although that’s because of the heavy entrees rather than the service, which I find endearing and familiar.
I’m from a big family, though.
Some people will read this and instantly grit their teeth, wondering how anyone could possibly dislike ‘Ohana.
To these people (and I’m one of you), I kindly present the ‘Ohana critics.
Such Disney fans believe that the restaurant’s hype no longer matches the quality of its cuisine…and many of them will argue it hasn’t in quite some time.
‘Ohana earned its reputation thanks to a series of family-style courses. A server brings wave after wave of Polynesian foods.
For some, that sounds like Heaven on Earth. To others, ‘Ohana’s choice to change meals at seemingly random intervals is a problem.
Basically, when someone finds the ‘Ohana courses they like, they get annoyed when management changes the offerings.
I can’t throw stones here, as this recently happened to me with the ‘Ohana breakfast…and I am salty about it.
Some of us fear change.
A few of my happiest moments at Walt Disney World have occurred at Chef Mickey’s.
My heart still grows warm when I remember the time that a little girl discovered she shared the same birthday as my wife.
The two of them sang Happy Birthday to one another, and that child closed her eyes and belted out all the lyrics to my wife. It was pure Disney magic.
On a different occasion, the cast member portraying Pluto commandeered my phone and took countless selfies of himself as well as a few out-of-focus ones of us.
Memories like this underscore my reasoning in why I vacation at Disney so often.
Do you know what I haven’t mentioned? The food.
We all know that we aren’t eating at Chef Mickey’s for the cuisine. For this reason, I fully understand why some people don’t eat here.
After all, you can save a lot of money by tracking down these Disney characters at the parks instead. And you’ll eat better, too.
Still, I wouldn’t trade my memories of Chef Mickey’s meals for anything.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
Pro: You eat inside the castle.
Con: You pay a hefty price for the privilege.
Pro: You meet several Disney Princesses, including the hostess, Cinderella.
Con: The food feels like the kind that causes actual royalty to call for the chef’s execution.
Okay, that last one is me being hyperbolic, but let’s be real. The food here isn’t on the level you’d expect for this price.
Coral Reef Restaurant
And the same thought process applies to Coral Reef.
As with Chef Mickey’s, I’ve had many lovely experiences here. I’m best friends with one of the rays who lives here.
I swear that creature will find me as soon as I enter the restaurant.
If you’re unfamiliar with Coral Reef, it’s close to the entrance to EPCOT. You’ll find it on the side of The Seas with Nemo & Friends pavilion.
Basically, you eat your meal in front of a giant saltwater tank, making it an unforgettable aquarium dining experience.
But the food… Yeah.
Disney charges a ton for everything on the menu here as a kind of upsell for the ambiance.
You don’t really get your money’s worth, though. Honestly, I’m more likely to eat here when I have the Disney Dining Plan.
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant
I take every criticism of this particular restaurant as a personal affront.
If I ever hear you deriding Sci-Fi Dine-In, I’m obligated to ask you to step outside.
Seriously, this place is, without hyperbole, my favorite restaurant on the planet.
I don’t expect everyone to share my passion for terrible sci-fi movies, though. That was my weekend movie-viewing habit as a child.
I recently rewatched some YouTube videos of the Gorn from Star Trek and the Sleestaks from Land of the Lost and immediately felt bad about my upbringing.
If you like that video, you’ll love Sci-Fi Dine-In, which pays tribute to films produced for less than the cost of an iPhone.
Conversely, when you want to eat somewhere that offers something better than a burger with a bunch of pointless toppings, this ain’t it.
Please love Sci-Fi Dine-In for my sake, though.
A few months ago, the often-ignored Sebastian’s Bistro suddenly gained some buzz.
I honestly don’t know whether this restaurant features a new chef, an improved menu, or what.
Still, a bunch of Disney analysts and influencers have simultaneously started singing the praise of a place I frequently need to remind people even exists.
I’ve even read some recent suggestions that it’s in the conversation for the best Walt Disney World restaurant.
First of all, no. Second of all, don’t be ridiculous. Third of all, I’m glad it makes you happy…but I am worried you might have a concussion.
Seriously, Sebastian’s Bistro is Coral Reef without the charming aquarium view. It’s a bland restaurant whose menu does nothing for me.
If you love this place, I commend you for going off the beaten path, though. More people should adopt this approach while vacationing at Disney.
Here’s a relatively new entry in this discussion, and it has proven controversial for two reasons.
The first is obviously the cost. A meal here costs $55 per person for lunch and $79 per person for dinner.
I don’t know where you live, but you probably don’t spend $160+ for a meal on a regular basis.
If you do, congrats on buying all that Apple stock way back when.
Still, a more pressing issue with Space 220 would occur even if the meal were cheaper.
Some guests actively dislike the Stellarvator, the immersive elevator ride into outer space.
The last thing you want to do before eating an expensive meal is get nauseous and possibly throw up. It happens here…not frequently but still.
Disney asks a lot of the diners at Space 220, and I fully understand why some bristle at the thought.
My advice to others remains the same. Try this dining experience once. If it’s not for you, never ever never go back. It’s well worth the one try, though.
Part of the schism about Steakhouse 71 pre-dates the restaurant itself.
Disney closed the hidden gem, The Wave… of American Flavors, and replaced it with Steakhouse 71.
That move proved about as divisive as Disney gets. But those who gave Steakhouse 71 a chance quickly discovered an exceptional dining option.
Alas, I should add an asterisk to that. People loved the place at first. In recent months, its reputation has diminished.
I honestly don’t know what has happened, but its TripAdvisor score dropped a full point from 4.5 to 3.5 in less than a year.
There are a disproportionate number of 1-star and 2-star reviews as well. Something’s up, and I fully understand why some feel the bloom is off the rose.
So, which of these places are ones where you like to eat? My list includes ‘Ohana, Chef Mickey’s, Coral Reef (but not for the food), and Sci-Fi Dine-In.
With Space 220, I’ll probably go again, but it’s like a “once every two or three years” type of place for me.
I had been a strong proponent of Steakhouse 71, but I haven’t been in nearly a year. It sounds like much has changed.
Finally, I’ll mention Cinderella’s Royal Table as a special occasion option. We last ate here for an anniversary, and that’s probably when we would again.
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