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Walt Disney World Dining

Disney restaurants that kids will love, but parents would rather avoid

 


 

By Leah Zanolla

Walt Disney World is known for its food.  There are signature restaurants that are internationally acclaimed, there are snacks that have their own Twitter hashtags and there’s a whole festival dedicated to food each fall.

But, when you’re a parent traveling with your kids, you often need to put your own desires aside and head to the more kid-friendly establishments.  Of course, there are exceptions to everything, but here’s a list of three restaurants that most kids will love, but many parents would rather avoid.

Magic Kingdom

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe

Cosmic Ray’s is one of those places that our children absolutely love, but we try to avoid at all costs.  Cosmic Ray’s is a counter-service restaurant, meaning you stand in line, order at a counter and take your own food to the table.  Normally, there’s nothing wrong with this.  However, Cosmic Ray’s is divided up into three separate “bays,” each offering a different type of meal: chicken, burgers and sandwiches/soup/salad.  We have three children, and often travel to the World with extended family.  When you’re trying to get food quickly to a hungry group of kids, it’s a pain having to stand in multiple lines to get everyone’s food.  Unless you can talk everyone into ordering from the same bay, you’re going to spend a lot of time in line and carrying food back and forth.

It took us awhile to figure out what exactly it was that the kids loved so much, because, honestly, all we think about when we’re there is that we want out as quickly as possible.  Our oldest finally clued us in when, at home, he kept talking about the restaurant with that robot alien thing.  Of course! They love sitting and watching Sonny Eclipse, the animatronic alien lounge singer.  Sonny sings throughout your meal, giving the kids some entertainment while you’re busy carrying those trays, but he really makes the area feel loud and more hectic.  Combine that with the chairs scraping across the hard floor and the voices getting louder to be heard over Sonny and Cosmic Ray’s just becomes a chaotic dining experience.

Things Cosmic Ray’s does have going for it: the toppings bar to customize your sandwich, hot cheese sauce for fry dipping and a great view of the castle.

Epcot

Liberty Inn in the American Adventure

This restaurant just makes me sad.  Kids will generally enjoy it, because it serves the typical “kid food,” such as cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese.  However, the food is really not very good.  America is so much more than burgers and fries, yet this is the menu that’s been chosen to represent our country in the World Showcase.  It would be nice to see something like southern comfort food, Louisiana Cajun cuisine, New York/Chicago-style pizza or hot dogs, Kansas City BBQ or New England seafood.  I’ve mentioned before that my kids are somewhat picky, so if we’re in this part of the park at mealtimes, we tend to let them get food here and my husband and I wait till we get to another pavilion.  There are so many great choices around the World Showcase that we really don’t want to waste our time and money at the Liberty Inn.

Update: It appears that a few different items have been added to the menu in the last month.  You now have the choice of a New York strip steak, a surf and turf burger, a bacon cheeseburger, Louisiana-style shrimp, grilled chicken BLT sandwich, Southwest chicken salad, Grill vegetarian "chick'n" breast and Red White and Blue Salad.  However, reviews on the DISboards are not very favorable. People are applauding the addition of these options, but not the actual preparation of these dishes.  Let's hope they're just working out the kinks and that this restaurant will actually become one worth stopping at.  World Showcase has a lot of great counter-service restaurants, so it will take a lot for Liberty Inn to get over its bad reputation.

Hollywood Studios

Disney's Pizza Planet

Pizza Planet, inspired by the restaurant in Toy Story, is one of our kids’ favorite restaurants.  You can’t beat feeling like you’ve just walked into a scene in one of your favorite movies!  The whole Toy Story gang can be found decorating the roof and walls of the space and the main floor houses an arcade.  The menu is also just what you’re expecting – pizza, one meal that we can be certain our kids will always eat.  Obviously, put all these things together and you’ve got a very kid-friendly establishment.  However, these all work together to make this a restaurant that we as parents would rather avoid.  The food is just ok.  Disney pizza is never going to win any awards.  It is served with your standard counter-service side salad.  Most of the seating is upstairs, so carrying full food trays up the stairs can be a daunting task (unless you want to wait for the small elevator).  The other problem is that arcade.  Arcades are never a pleasant, calming experience.  The constant dinging and clanging of the machines don’t make for the best dining experience.  Neither do the sounds of your kids begging over and over to go play the games.

 

So, those are a few of the restaurants my kids enjoy that I would rather skip if given the choice.  Everyone’s opinions will vary, but this is our family’s experience.  What about you? Are there restaurants at which your children insist on dining that you would rather not?