Sometimes on a Walt Disney World vacation, you find yourselves looking for dining options out of the parks, but still not too far away. Maybe you’re on the dining plan and need a table service restaurant but couldn’t get a reservation at an in-park restaurant. Maybe you just need a break from the crowds. If your kids don’t take naps anymore, but still need a little downtime in the afternoon, finding a close restaurant can be a great way to do this, preferably without using multiple modes of transportation.
The best parks for this are the Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. Each of these has resorts within a doable walking distance. From Animal Kingdom, a bus would have to be taken to get to Animal Kingdom Lodge. While doable, it does take a little bit more time.
From the Magic Kingdom, the Contemporary is about a 10-minute walk or the next stop on the monorail. You probably won’t get a walk-up seating at Chef Mickey’s, but another good option there is The Wave…of American Flavors.
If you’re ok with a short monorail ride (this can be a fun distraction for kids!), the Polynesian is our pick for a break from the parks. Kona Café is a great table-service restaurant and often has available reservations. If you’re just looking for quick-service dining, Captain Cook’s is a neat place. It’s been recently remodeled and has some great travel posters as décor in the dining room. The food choices are family-friendly and you could even take your food out to the patio.
Something we like to do is to take the resort boat launch to the Polynesian from the Magic Kingdom and eat a Dole Whip on the beach. The boat is relaxing and the beach gives the kids a chance to run around in an open area for a little while.
Another popular choice would be to take a boat to Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and eat a meal at Trail’s End Restaurant. Since it’s a buffet, there should be plenty of choices for everyone. It is a table service restaurant, so does accept reservations, but since it’s an out-of-the-way location, it may be easier to get in here than at other restaurants.
The options are the same from Hollywood Studios and Epcot, because you can walk to what’s generally called “the Epcot-area resorts.” There are also boats available that will take you to any of these resorts. The walk from Epcot is a little shorter, around 15 minutes, and around 20-25 from Hollywood Studios. Last year at this time, I would have recommended Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club, but they began taking reservations and it is even more rare to get a walk-up there. If you can plan ahead and make a reservation, this is a fun family-friendly spot.
Captain’s Grille at the Yacht Club rarely seems to be full and may be able to accommodate walk-ups. If you want to walk a little further to the Swan/Dolphin, my top pick would be The Fountain. It serves diner-style food and is really tasty. There are great shakes available for dessert and kids’ menus are shown on a View-Master toy.
The Boardwalk would be a great choice for a break from the parks. If you can’t walk up to any restaurants, you can get pizza or a hot dog from a vendor cart, and enjoy your food while watching the sidewalk entertainment.
These are just some of our favorites, but there are many more options at the resorts, especially if you plan in advance and make a reservation. What are some of your family’s favorites?