Life

The Top Five Food Experiences In Each Disney World Park Right Now

Disney food. Historically, you either love it or you hate it (both options being heavily dependent on your degree of Disney nostalgia). But these days, with food pulling so much focus in how Americans spend their recreation dollars, the parks are working double-time to make sure that we’re hyped on what the Mouse is cooking (and drinking).

We’ve covered what’s to love at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, but this winter, we don’t want to leave the East Coast or its visitors out in the cold. If you’re visiting Disney World this holiday season, here are the fifteen food items you don’t want to miss.

I. MAGIC KINGDOM

Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich

Sleepy Hollow

“Fresh fruit waffle sandwich” sounds like a suspiciously healthy name, given that what you are eating is a breakfast pastry filled with nutella and sprinkled with berries. But remember when, years ago, we all kind of kidded ourselves into believing a chocolate-hazelnut spread was a health food? The Magic Kingdom is all about the power of nostalgia and the magic of dreams. Bite into this waffle and dream of those simpler times.

The Grey Stuff

Be Our Guest

If you’re reading this list, you probably don’t need an excuse to visit Be Our Guest, the Beauty and the Beast-themed restaurant located at the foot of Beast’s Castle in Fantasyland. But let’s give you another one anyway. How about finally getting to figure out what Lumiere was singing about when he said, “try the grey stuff, it’s delicious!” Didn’t that haunt anyone else as a kid? Didn’t anyone else want to just try it already, and decide for themselves? (Sorry, dishes…we’re not sure if we believe you).

Spoiler alert: it’s a cookies and cream mousse, and it made the list for a reason.

Coconut Bar

Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen

Themed to the iconic Jungle Cruise attraction, the Skipper Canteen presents Asian, South American, and African dishes, and serves them with a whole lot of dad jokes. Your servers are Jungle Skips — just like the cast members on the ride — and they behave similarly. Prepare to go full-steam-ahead on a lot of corny riffs and cheesy puns, but save room so you can put the lime in the coconut with this refreshing dessert.

All jokes aside, this is a restaurant that deserves your time: it accepts walk-ins and day-of advanced dining reservations, something that is increasingly hard to find in Disneyworld’s table service restaurants, where people are making reservations months in advance. It also cooks up consistently creative, fresh, and exciting food; not the stereotypical chicken fingers, pizza, and hot dogs of theme park-old.

Mini Kitchen Sink

Plaza Ice Cream Parlor

If you’ve spent any time following the food scene in Disneyworld, you’re probably well-aware of the famed “Kitchen Sink” dessert at Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. Here’s the truth: as impressive as it looks, it’s practically impossible to finish, especially before the ice cream melts, and some of the flavors and toppings really don’t combine well together once that happens. Coffee ice cream and gummy oranges? Pineapple and mint chocolate chip?

The mini kitchen sink is a lot more doable. You can eat it in the park and, if you like, you can keep the sink as a souvenir!

S.E.A. Shu Mai

Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen

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sea shumai…it was delishious!

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In a kingdom of desserts, you need at least one savory option. The S.E.A. shu mai is a crowd pleaser, combining pork, shrimp, edamame and spices in a steamed gyoza. Start your meal off with an order of these and a Schweitzer Slush.


II. DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Thai Noodle Bowl

Hollywood Brown Derby

Dealing with diet restrictions on vacation — especially in a theme park — is often a bummer. Vegan or vegetarian, for instance? You’re getting the salad. Again. Enter the Hollywood Brown Derby, which has an excellent track record for working with guests that have dietary restrictions (the chef has been known to come to the table to discuss guest needs before custom-creating a meal).

If you’re looking for a warm and satisfying winter meal the Thai Noodle Bowl with coconut tofu more than fits the bill.

Maleficent’s Cheesecake Pushup

Club Villain

To score this little dessert shot, you’ll also need to score tickets to Hollywood Studios’ hard ticket event, Club Villain. Believe us when we say the event is worth the ticket. Disney villains are easily the most fun characters to interact with in the parks; now imagine getting to party with them. (Yes, the event features booze).

Dr. Facilier is phenomenally talented and extraordinarily entertaining; the desserts are the icing on the cake!

Carrot Cake Cookie

Sweet Spells

When word got around that The Writers’ Stop was closing, fans of this famous cookie freaked. The concern was duly noted. Now guests looking for their cream cheese frosting and cakey-cookie fix can find this treat sandwiched among the other bewitching sweets offered at Sweet Spells.

Stollen Bites

Sunshine Day Cafe

Open seasonally, this quick service location gave up on the giant honking turkey legs and is going with bite-size treats instead. Stollen, a traditional German yeasted bread filled with fruit, nuts and candied peel, is served in donut-hole sized portions, which are dipped in butter and rolled in sugar, then passed to you in a paper bag. Easier to eat on-the-go than the aforementioned turkey leg, they’re also easier to code in your mind as “samples” — which means they don’t count toward whatever impossible-to-uphold limit you’ve set yourself on sweets in the middle of your holiday theme park vacation.

Save the calorie counting for next year, make like Elsa, and let it go.

Butterfinger Cupcake

Starring Rolls

Starring Rolls lets frosting take the center stage on this intensely rich cupcake. As if the mountains of buttercream, crushed Butterfinger candies, and devil’s food aren’t enough, the cupcake has a fudge filling. You might start by saying “nobody better lay a finger” on this treat, but only the sweetest of teeth make it through this one without sharing.



III. DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM

Whole-fried Sustainable Fish

Tiffins

Feeling adventurous? How about hungry? Satisfy both urges at Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s newest signature restaurant. Themed to celebrate the spirit of travel and discovery — check out the all the nods to the erstwhile Adventurer’s Club — Tiffins features three dining “galleries,” all decorated with art created by the Imagineers while they were designing the park. You’ll have a hard time tearing your gaze away from the walls, which is why you need to order a showstopper of a meal. We’re loving Disney’s trend of moving toward sustainable sourcing, and it’s especially apt here, in a theme park dedicated to honoring and sharing the world’s biodiversity. Serving the whole fish — the species changes, as it’s entirely dependent on sustainability and availability at the given time — is a unique way to connect what we eat with the actual animal.

Wagyu Strip Loin and Braised Short Rib

Tiffins

There’s a reason Tiffins gets the nod twice. The Wagyu strip loin cuts like butter, and did we mention that the design of the restaurant was helmed by famed Imagineer Joe Rohde? Well now we did. Seriously, check this place out before it’s impossible to get a reservation. Located on Discovery Island, in the center of the park, it’s a great place to refresh and have dinner before you head out to explore the newest nighttime entertainment, and meet the park’s other nocturnal dwellers.

Zebra Domes

Boma

Ok, you’ll have to leave the park to snag a zebra dome, but you’d do well to consider Animal Kingdom Lodge an extension of the park anyway. Impeccably themed with closeup views of zebras, giraffes, and other African wildlife on the “savanna,” it’s a can’t-miss destination. There are a ton of reasons to visit, not least of which are zebra domes: Amarula cream mousse enrobed in white chocolate cream sits on a chocolate cake base. It’s finished up with a drizzle of chocolate and sprinkles of chocolate shavings.

Colossal Cinnamon Roll

Kusafiri Coffee Shop & Bakery

Here’s one hidden Mickey that won’t be hard to find. Loaded with cinnamon-sugar filling, pull-apart tender, and served up warm and drizzled with icing, your entire camp can start the day on this pastry and a cup of coffee from Kusafiri. It may not be a replacement for Disneyland’s Main Street cinnamon rolls (gone but not forgotten), but we think it holds its own.

Ahi Tuna Nachos

Yak & Yeti

Disneyworld’s answer to Cove Bar’s ever popular nachos, Yak & Yeti presents the Ahi Tuna Nachos…for two. If you’ve worked up a monstrous appetite summiting Expedition Everest, perhaps just two of you can polish this plate off. Otherwise, you’d do well to share, especially if you’re saving room for the restaurant’s signature dessert, the fried pineapple and cream cheese wontons.


IV. EPCOT

Warm Turkey Sandwich

Promenade Refreshments

Celebrate the holiday season with this loaded Thanksgiving-style sandwich. Roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy are piled high between two slices of cranberry bread. It’s like all of the fun of Thanksgiving leftovers with none of the prep work.

School Bread

Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe

If you’re looking for a sweet snack but can’t deal with major sugar shock, Norway’s school bread is a surprisingly subtle treat that’s become a World Showcase staple. The cardamom bun is filled with vanilla custard and topped with a sweet glaze and coconut flakes. If you’re waiting in line for Frozen Ever After, this thematically appropriate treat won’t melt on you.

Cannoli Cupcake

Italian Gelato Kiosk

Can’t decide between two desserts at Epcot’s Italian pavilion? The unassuming gelato kiosk in the square serves up a fine answer to that impossible question. Sweet, creamy ricotta filling is studded with chocolate chips, and alternated with layers of vanilla bean cake. Top it off with candied pineapple and cherries, serve it with a spoon, and continue your journey around the World Showcase.

Croque Glace

L’Artisan des Glaces

The French know how to do dessert. How do you improve an ice cream sandwich? By filling fresh brioche with ice cream and your choice of sauces, then pressing it a heated iron for a symphony of taste, texture, and temperature. L’Artisan des Glaces rolls out seasonal flavors, so be sure to stop in and see what they’re cooking up for the holidays.

Ice Cream Martini

L’Artisan des Glaces

Drinking around the World and need a snack? You don’t have to slow your roll with ice cream martini. Two scoops of ice cream are topped with your choice of whipped cream vodka, Grand Marnier, or rum. Again, keep an eye out for seasonal ice cream flavors to customize this boozy treat.


V. RESORTS AND DISNEY SPRINGS

Dim Sum Brunch

Morimoto Asia

If you were ever a fan of Iron Chef: America, you owe it to yourself to check out Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s ode to Pan-Asian cuisine. Disney Springs’ flagship favorite recently unveiled its new dim sum brunch, which is quite a treat, especially for guests who may feel underserved in the savory breakfast crowd. Steaming hot and sour soup, succulent shrimp shumai, piping-hot xiaolong bao, fresh vegetable spring rolls, and spicy chow fun noodles are just a few of your menu options.

Round it all out with a seasonal cocktail; it’s cool, you’re on vacation.

El Diablo Burger

D-Luxe Burger

Theme park burgers tend to catch a lot of flack. They’re blasted for being greasy, overcooked, and unimaginative. Not so at D-Luxe burger. Try the El Diablo, which sports a chorizo-blended patty, fried banana peppers, pepperjack cheese, Chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomato.

Beignet Sundae Bowl

Sassagoula Floatworks

If there is a way to improve beignets, Sassagoula Floatworks found it. Top these New Orleanian classic pastries with gelato, whipped cream, and your choice of raspberry, caramel, or chicory coffee ganache. To find these on your menu, head over to Disney’s Port Orleans Resort–French Quarter, where a stroll along gaslit, cobblestone streets will work up your appetite for a big dessert.

Ornament Dome Cake

Amorette’s Patisserie

Disney Springs is quickly establishing itself as a solid dining destination, and if you have any doubts, stepping into Amorette’s will quickly erase them. This high-end, artful pastry shop offers fanciful cakes, elegant eclairs, and luscious macarons. For the holidays, they’re serving up an Ornament Dome Cake: lemon chiffon cake layers sandwich white chocolate mousse and raspberry jelly, which are enrobed in Italian buttercream and topped off with a festive fondant bow.

The bright flavors of the cake combined with a glass of bubbly and the company of a friend to share it with (or uh, you can get your own, man…the cakes really aren’t that big) are sure to make spirits bright.

Pineapple Bread Pudding

‘Ohana

‘Ohana means “family,” and this dessert is so good, you’ll be glad that the restaurant — located in Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort — serves its portions family style and keeps them coming until you’re ready to tap out. That’s how holiday helpings should be, right? This pineapple bread pudding topped with a decadent bananas foster sauce may be served year round, but it’s delicious enough to earn a spot on your holiday-eats list. Believe us.

It’s a longstanding guest favorite that some of us *coughtheauthorcough* wish would make an appearance on the West Coast.

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