Will you be in Disney World on Valentine’s Day? Are you searching for a romantic restaurant to celebrate a special occasion with your significant other? Do you just want to take some time during your vacation to have a wonderful meal with the one you love? Do you think that’s impossible in the middle of America’s largest theme park?
Well, have no fear. Disney has plenty of restaurants for a cozy and romantic date night. I’m going to share my top five favorites with you. Any of these will provide you with a lovely meal, and a wonderful atmosphere for a special evening for two.
These particular restaurants are all on Disney property, and easily accessible using the Disney transportation system. They are all going to cost you a bit more than a hot dog and chips at Casey’s…but it will be worth it.
I have one important tip to help you get the most out of your evening. Try to dine as late as you can. There is only one restaurant on my list that doesn’t admit children under the age of ten. At any of the others, expect to find families dining. Nothing against children here, I have three of my own. But if you're having a special date night, you'll want a more adult oriented environment. Your best bet is to make your dining reservations after seven PM…later if you can. This won’t absolutely guarantee that your romantic evening won’t be drowned out by a temper tantrum at the next table, but it will go a long way towards a more peaceful meal.
Also, let the maître d’ know that you would prefer to be seated in a more quiet part of the restaurant. They won’t always be able to accommodate you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Now onto the list:
#5 - Hollywood Brown Derby
This is the only restaurant on my list that is inside one of the theme parks. Normally, this sort of setting wouldn’t be conducive to a romantic evening, but the Brown Derby is the exception. This restaurant oozes the glamour of old Hollywood, from the cozy banquettes, to the caricatures on the wall, to the elegantly dressed wait-staff. Take some time to look around and read the historical information about the original Brown Derby restaurant in Hollywood, California. It definitely adds to the experience. And if you're a fan of I Love Lucy, you'll feel as though you've been dropped right into the middle of the episode where Lucy eats at the Brown Derby and ruins William Holden's meal. The atmosphere is upscale, and the food is definitely gourmet, but even picky eaters will be able to find something they enjoy. The Cobb salad and grapefruit cake are both items served at the original Brown Derby, and are a must-try for diners today.
Since this restaurant is in the middle of Disney's Hollywood Studios, expect to find guests dressed in theme park attire. Again, dining later in the evening should afford you more intimacy. Request one of the banquettes at a lower crowd time, and you will feel like your meal is much more private. It’s the closest you’ll come to a night out on the town in the golden age of Hollywood.
This is a two credit meal on the Disney Dining Plan.#4 - Jiko - The Cooking Place
I think Jiko is one of the best restaurants in Disney World. I placed it in the number four spot on my list, because if you don’t have an adventurous palate, it might not be for you. And if you’re celebrating a special occasion, not enjoying the food you’ve ordered could put a real damper on your evening.
Having said that, I think everyone should give Jiko a try at some point. The food is sublime, and the wait staff is attentive and knowledgable. The restaurant, located in Animal Kingdom Lodge, features African cuisine, and a unique South African wine list. The décor is eye-catching…airy and colorful, with different textures designed to reflect the beauty found on the African continent.
This restaurant has a dress code of “business casual”, which basically means no tank tops, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc.
This is a two credit meal on the Disney Dining Plan.
#3 - Il MulinoIl Mulino, in this Italian girl’s opinion, is the best Italian restaurant on Disney property. And unlike Jiko, virtually everyone enjoys Italian cuisine, so it’s a great choice for a romantic evening. Il Mulino is located in the Swan Hotel.
The décor of Il Mulino is very chic, upscale, and urban. You have to walk through the bar to get to the restaurant, so don’t think you’ve gone the wrong way when you don’t see the main dining room at first glance.
The menu offers selections from the Abruzzi region of Italy, with many options to choose from. They also offer half-sizes of their pasta entrees which is great if you don’t have a huge appetite, or if you can’t decide between two items.
Il Mulino states their dress code as “resort casual”, which basically means don’t come in your bathing suit and flip-flops.
This restaurant is not on the Disney Dining Plan.
#2 - California GrillCalifornia Grill is a spectacular restaurant, located on the fifteenth floor of the Contemporary Resort. You actually check in on the second floor and are escorted in a private elevator to the restaurant. California Grill is perfect for a special evening for several reasons. First, the panoramic view of the Magic Kingdom is breathtaking. Then, there is the bonus of being able to watch Wishes (the sound is piped into the restaurant during the fireworks) from your table (time your reservation to coincide with the show), or from the observation deck just outside. If you missed Wishes because your reservation was either too early or too late to catch it, simply bring the receipt from your evening’s meal to the reception desk on the second floor at the appropriate time, and you’ll be permitted to watch the fireworks from either the lounge or the observation deck.
The décor of the restaurant is open, airy, mid-century modern, California. It features an onstage kitchen, where you can watch the chefs preparing all kinds of deliciousness for the evening meals.
It highlights California cuisine, and the menu choices are modified to feature “market fresh” items from that day. Sushi is a favorite here, and the wine list is extensive. Your servers are always pleasant and eager to make suggestions, so be sure to ask what they recommend.
The dress code is Resort Casual, and the meals here are two credits on the Disney Dining Plan.
#1 - Victoria and Albert’s
And here it is, the absolute best restaurant for an intimate, delicious, romantic meal at Disney World…Victoria and Albert’s, located in the Grand Floridian resort. This is Disney World’s premiere restaurant. It is the only Disney restaurant to win the prestigious AAA Five Diamond award. Victoria and Albert’s is not just a meal. It’s a dining experience.
The décor is, obviously, Victorian. It is elegant, refined, and sumptuous. You know from the moment you walk in that your evening is going to be something special. Children under the age of ten are not permitted in the restaurant, so the atmosphere is quieter and more adult. Victoria and Albert’s also has a strictly enforced dress code, so be prepared for that. “Men must wear dinner jackets with dress pants or slacks and shoes. Ties are optional. Women may wear a cocktail dress, nice dress, dressy pant suit or a skirt with a blouse.”
Victoria and Albert’s also operates a bit differently than the other restaurants I’ve discussed so far. At V & A’s, there are three dining rooms: the main dining room, with about twenty tables, Queen Victoria’s room, which seats eight people, and the Chef’s Table, which accommodates one party per evening. The expense of your meal increases with each dining room.
Disney describes the menu as “modern American cuisine with exquisite ingredients sourced from around the world”. You will be served a gourmet meal, without a doubt, and if you consider yourself a very picky eater, the food might be beyond your comfort zone.
The menu is ever changing, depending on what ingredients are available, and what the chef chooses to prepare. You can enjoy either a seven or ten course prix fixe meal (thirteen courses at the Chef’s table), with choices unique to that day. The menu is yours to take home when you leave. I won’t include meal prices here, because those are subject to change. However, depending on whether you want alcohol with your dinner, or you indulge in any of the “upcharge” items, you are looking at around two hundred dollars per person. That’s a good number to give you a basic idea of cost. Victoria & Albert’s is not just another dinner out. It is a memorable dining experience that you will recollect fondly for years to come.
This restaurant is not on the Disney Dining Plan.
So there you have it…my personal top five choices for the best romantic restaurants in Walt Disney World. Hopefully one of the places on this list will be perfect for you and your significant other. I’d love to hear where you like to eat for special “date nights” when you’re on property. The more recommendations for our readers, the better!
About the Author: Diane has been a Disney addict since childhood, going to Walt Disney World shortly after it opened in the 1970s. Since moving out west, she has also become a huge fan of Disneyland as well. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.
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