The dictionary definition of “overrated” is “to rate or appraise too highly; overestimate.”
When I’m going through the trip planning process my first stop is usually dining. The only time that I prioritize over food is when there’s a special event that’s on the calendar, but even then I’m looking for reservations to work around our schedule.
Before we get into the list, let’s be honest…dining is 100% subjective. There are so many factors that go into an experience that we can’t discount that fact, because then I’d be providing advice or ideas against what you may have had happen first hand. It’s one of the main reasons why I don’t trust traditional dining reviews or put too much weight behind things like TripAdvisor or Yelp…too much outside influence.
Overrated Restaurants at Disney World
Character Dining is typically overrated, and it’s completely a double-edged sword that I can’t get enough of! Anything with characters is worth doing, but when you’re sitting in a crowded open-aired dining room and waiting for your 15 seconds with your hero as they’re making their way from table to table…it’s organized chaos and is completely undignified for all parties included.
Things to keep in mind with Character Dining
- Photopass photographers do not follow characters around the floor. Too many families in the background and there’s no real “backdrop” for a proper photo, so expect selfies or a pact with the table beside you to get photos for each other.
- Most character dining happens at a buffet, so time your 2nds or 3rds accordingly. I’ve missed characters before and had to go back and ask an attendant to have a special side trip because I didn’t want to miss my Mickey selfie!
I know I know…”But Dustin, you worked at the Canadian Pavilion! How can you say that Le Cellier is overrated?!”
Pretty simple actually, because it’s all about the pricing structure. The atmosphere is solid and the cast members are great, but when you put a signature price on an experience, you bring the competition from other 1-credit restaurants into Cinderella’s Royal Table category…and it just can’t compete unfortunately.
I’ve been able to get reservations within a week of a trip and even got a walk-up one time…but being overrated is all about putting things like the Cheddar Cheese Soup or Pretzel Bread into a justification for making a reservation that you may regret in comparisson to other options.
Where I go Instead – If you want Steak, there are a number of great spots on property! Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club, Shula’s Steakhouse or even Kona Cafe…because a good steak at Disney is all about the journey;)
My experiences at Chef Mickey’s usually end with tears. Not mine…but close!
When you see the promotional photos for the restaurant, you don’t see the giant tables of families who are trying to orchestrate “Disney Magic” for their family without truly taking in the entire experience. I love meeting characters, but when you bring families who are trying to push their kids to the limit without naps into a dining room and then introduce Mickey and friends…meltdown central!
The other big issue with Chef Mickey’s (and 1900 Park Fare to be honest) is the “American Cuisine”, which leaves a lot to be desired when you look at the price that you’re paying. The sundae station somewhat makes up for the main course, but the number of times that I’ve heard folks say that they don’t go to the restaurant for the food.
Oh, and you’re “souvenir photo” is taken with a Mickey prop before you’re seated. Yes…a prop. Compare that with Akershus, where you get a photo with Belle Or Cinderella’s Royal Table where you meet Cinderella before heading upstairs to the dining hall, it’s not even close!
Where do I go Instead? Tusker House! I absolutely love the experience, from the food to the separate rooms, it allows for a solid all-around character dining adventure.
Related Article – Best Character Dining
Quick Service restaurants don’t get a pass with my list. Pecos Bill’s is was my usual fallback on a trip to the Magic Kingdom, but the food has become hit-or-miss, which doesn’t bode well for the most visited Theme Park in the World!
Toppings bars are supposed to enhance the food, but at this restaurant…I’ve seen the main courses shrink in order to allow for more fixings to be put on top. Do you want a taco salad? Expect a shell and not much more. What saves this, to be honest, is the abundance of seating and air conditioning. Outside of that, the food just continues to go down in quality and up in price.
Where do I go instead? Cosmic Rays has grown on me after the last couple trips, especially with the addition of mobile ordering and the consistent food options. Is it the best? Nah, but when you’re looking at Quick Service in the Magic Kingdom…there really isn’t a ‘Satuli Canteen’ level restaurant to be found.
I put Sunshine Seasons on our trip plan each and every trip, but we usually end up walking through the grab-and-go university buffetteria and end up walking out and going somewhere else. It’s less about the food and more about the feeling like you’re not getting a good value with your meal size.
There have been a couple good meals there, but after going through my photos from past trips, it looks like the only thing that I actually got that was memorable was the chicken caesar salad lol! As the menu changes often, it’s important to re-iterate that dining experiences are subjective and eating lunch at 1130am is significantly different ambiance than 1pm.
Where do I go instead? Electric Umbrella has become our go-to quick service in Future World, due to the menu, self-serve beverage station and abundance of seating. They’ve got mobile ordering, which Sunshine Seasons can’t offer.
Related Article – Ranking EPCOT Dining
Hit or miss to be honest, but the reason why it’s overrated is due to the ‘dining room’. When you book your reservation 180 days out (like me), the cast members don’t differentiate that from folks who get walk-ups because someone no-showed on their time. Sitting in a very dimly lit backseat of a car with a weirdly tiny table that barely fit the plates…well it was a weird experience to say the least.
Now, before I start to get hate mail, let’s talk about theming. I like the idea of themed dining, but skimping out on basic things like table space will make folks like us decide to spend our time dining elsewhere. Our burgers were really good, and for the pricepoint, it wasn’t unreasonable. What makes it overrated is the feeling that you get when you actually sit down to eat.
Where do I go instead? 50’s Prime Time actually gives you a decent sized table and puts you into a “show” with your waiter playing a bigger part of the experience than just a food runner. Is it for everyone? Absolutely not…and the menu definitely has a larger impact on the memory than at Sci-Fi but when we left our meal at 50’s, I actually got a photo with our waiter because he was hilarious!
Related Article – Best Themed Restaurants
After spending some time going back and forth about whether or not to be generic in this article, I think that there’s something to be said about the quality of dining in the Magic Kingdom. Outside of Be Our Guest, the table service, quick service and snack options in the most popular theme park in the world definitely has an ‘overrated’ feel.
Don’t get me wrong, as I still think that a Dole Whip belongs in the FastPass category because it’s so good, but there are limitations within the individual locations that don’t rival the resorts or even the options at other theme parks. Every park should definitely have a quick service spot that can take on Satu’li Canteen!
Related Article – Ranking Magic Kingdom Dining
Those are my Overrated Restaurants at Disney World. I hope that the information was worthwhile to your trip planning and that it’ll allow you to be more prepared when you are thinking about which restaurants are actually worth the reservation!
BTW – this is a series! Check out the Overrated Rides here:)