Planning a trip to Walt Disney World is one of my favourite hobbies, but there are folks out there who are under the impression that you don’t have to plan. Those people are right, because there are a number of restaurants, albeit limited, where you can still find a day-of reservation or even a walk-up!
This list gives you a starting point for last-minute vacations or local trips to Walt Disney World restaurants that are still great food…but may not be the top of mind for people seeking high-value Advance Dining Reservations.
STEAKHOUSE 71 – DISNEY’S CONTEMPORARY RESORT
Starting out the list with a must-do, the last minute opportunity for arguably one of the best “Magic Kingdom” table service is too much to pass up. Always look 36-48 hours in advance as you’ll see lunch reservations constantly.
OGA’S CANTINA – DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
The availability of this Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge watering hole has become more and more interesting, as there are times when you can pick up a reservation throughout the day.
Just know that you’re going to be focusing on drinks and not food, so if you feel the need to try something other than Blue / Green Milk from Batuu – this is your best bet.
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BIERGARTEN – GERMANY PAVILION @ EPCOT
What’s it all about: Festive restaurant with Bavarian buffet, oompah band and beer served in steins
Why is it in on the list? The World Showcase is known for great shopping and amazing dining, with little in entertainment and attractions to draw the crowds throughout the day. This all changes at around 8pm, when EPCOT Forever begins to be a hot spot for the early birds to catch the 9pm fireworks show. If you get to Biergarten early enough, you shouldn’t have an issue getting a table at this “family-style buffet”.
WHISPERING CANYON – WILDERNESS LODGE
What’s it all about: Main draw of the cafe is the all-you-can-eat skillets, with bottomless milkshakes and lively entertainment from the service staff.
Why is it on the list? It’s closer to the Magic Kingdom than most guests think, with our mode of transportation being a boat…because being on the Seven Seas Lagoon on a small vessel is pretty memorable! Then when you get to the restaurant, it’s a completely different experience than what you’ll read in travel guides. Previously, it was more of a “summer camp” atmosphere with jokes and puns galore. When we went last, it was more of a homey experience with a nice variety of BBQ with a Disney touch!
ALE AND COMPASS – YACHT CLUB RESORT
What’s it all about: Eatery modeled on an old-fashioned yacht club, featuring great seafood, healthy vegetarian options, and steaks
Why is it on the list? EPCOT is a short walk from the Yacht Club, so with that comes a huge variety of well-known restaurants that are a bigger draw due to common knowledge of guests. This is a similar misconception to those who think that a 15-20 minute walk from EPCOT to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is too long;)
Although it’s evident that the Yacht Club is going in a new direction with the Ale & Compass Restaurant, it’s still fun to look back on one of our favorite restaurants of times gone by.
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TEPPAN EDO – JAPAN PAVILION @ EPCOT
What’s it all about: Lively hibachi house cooking up Japanese standards on table-side grills in the World Showcase
Why is it on the list? It’s basically dinner and a show at a reasonable price. The chefs are crazy talented and really provide great value and memories!
TUSKER HOUSE @ ANIMAL KINGDOM
What’s it all about: Open-air eatery with a buffet of African Fare
Why is the on the list? Meeting characters in a super-relaxed environment is a huge draw. It’s also going to be in part of the Animal Kingdom that may start to slow down as soon as Pandora: The World of Avatar gets fully-operational. The buffet format makes it perfect for anyone who’s hungry enough to “eat a whole zebra” (Lion King Quotes are GREAT)
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BOMA AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM LODGE
What’s it all about: African-inspired buffet in a setting that includes thatched roofs
Why is it on the list? Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is by far the best resort for food on property due to the number of high-quality restaurants vs mediocre offerings seen at other Moderate / Deluxe resorts. With the close proximity to the Animal Kingdom, Boma often gets overlooked by guests who are spending time in the parks vs hopping on a bus to go the short distance to the lodge. It’s a little pricey, but if you’re looking for a good meal with a little extra adventure – you’re good to go!
- Keep up with the locations that may have gone through a change of “personality”. From The Wave turning into Steakhouse 71 or Be Our Guest going from Quick Service/Table Service to a fixed price signature dining for all meals – there’s a lot to remember.
- You’ll be able to get better reservations by walking up or going into the My Disney Experience app for the wait list. This happened for our last trip with both Saana and Steakhouse 71.
- You don’t have to order the full menu if you get an Advanced Dining Reservation. On our last trip, we did an ADR at Tiffins JUST to enjoy the Bread Service.
Available but Not Necessary
Disney Springs Random Restaurants
There are a ton of restaurants at Disney Springs, but the recommendation is to realize that if the same reservations are always available….there’s a reason.
- STK – expensive
- House of Blues – Chain
- Morimoto Asia – Incredible but also Incredibly Expensive
- Paradiso 37 – A classic, but simply overshadowed by the other highlights
- Splitsville – Check the menu before, as it can be misleading
Although the allure of Rose and Crowne or Coral Reef can be appealing, you should always consider where you’ll be when the reservation is available. We’ve been in the awkward spot of being in the back of the World Showcase (USA, Italy) and have to rush to the front of the park for a reservation…and it’s never a memorable experience after the walk.
- Rose and Crowne – Can be overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.
- Nine Dragons – Just skip
- La Creperie de Paris – We had a great time, but it can be “mall food court” ish
Did we miss a fav of yours? Is there a spot that you’ve had success on a walk-up last minute?