January 2, 2009

Disney Dining: Restaurants to Avoid

Okay, okay, it can't all be sunshine and roses - even in Walt Disney World. Having posted on my favorite restaurants in WDW earlier this week, it would only be fair to also share some restaurants where we've had not-so-great experiences. None of the ones on my list are truly, truly terrible - but with so many options in WDW, why waste your time, appetite, and money? I want you (and I want me) to make the best out of the vacation, so here are the ones you can skip:

Coral Reef, EPCOT - Living Seas:
This restaurant used to be great. One of our favorites even, and the one we would save for the end of the trip as the final, special meal. The last time we visited (and were on the hated Disney Dining Plan to boot) my shrimp was completely overcooked, my pasta was undercooked, they didn't have the steak that was on the menu (and the Disney Chicklette does not eat fish), etc etc. And predictably, since the pavillion received its "The Seas with Nemo and Friends" makeover, the restaurant has become a bigger draw for families - so our once tranquil eatery is now crowded, loud, and full of screaming kids. I could overlook the loss of ambience if the food was decent, but when you're charging $20+ per entree, you need to step it up.

San Angel Inn, EPCOT - Mexico Pavillion:
This restaurant is just one big mind boggle. And I know it's also one of EPCOT's most popular (no hate mail, please), but I've never really understood it. Yes, it's kind of nice when you first sit down, with the temple on one side and the marketplace behind you. But guess what? It's as loud as a Mexican fiesta in there, and as crowded as a Cinco de Mayo party. Personally, if we're paying $100+ to eat there, I shouldn't have to deal with waiters kicking my chair every 5 seconds as they try to navigate the overcrowded seating space. And the menu, while okay at best, is overpriced and not particularly Mexican at all (if you want real Mexican, come to New York City. Or Mexico, obviously). And here's a minor quibble, but it gets us every time: It is freezing in there. I'm all for air-conditioning, but when you're just as uncomfortable inside as you are outside, what's the point? The Cantina de San Angel right outside, however, is a fantastic place for lunch and the cheap eats they offer are miles better than what you'll find indoors.

Tutto Italia (formerly L'Originale Alfred di Roma Ristorante), EPCOT - Italy Pavillion: Again, it's loud, it's ridiculously expensive, and the food is only okay. There's no giant flaw to really point out, and out of all the EPCOT restaurants, it's probably your best bet if you need everyone to agree on something or are traveling with picky eaters. But $24 for spaghetti? Bish, plz.

Pinocchio Village Haus, Magic Kingdom:
Let's just say some food poisoning occured here and leave it at that.

Sci-Fi Dine-in, Disney Hollywood Studios:
This used to be another one of our favorites - once upon a time, it was something of a hidden gem. But there aren't a lot of options for moderate priced dining at the Hollywood Studios, and once word got out, the place was doomed. Visit once if you've never been, get it out of your system. The concept and execution is really cool (although it's awkward not being able to see everyone in your party / have a conversation). The 2 hour wait to get in, however is, like, totally square.

Anywhere in the Animal Kingdom:
Now, I haven't been to the Yak and Yeti yet, but in the name of all things Mickey Mouse, would it kill them to put in some air conditioning? Of all the parks, the Animal Kingdom is the hottest and most uncomfortable (because of the amount of walking it entails and the overall lack of shade). And yet - all your dining options are counter service (except the YnY and the Rainforest Cafe, which isn't really in the park), and you're stuck eating outside, sweat dripping into your french fries as you helplessly watch your ice cubes melt into oblivion. My advice to beat the heat? Have a big breakfast before you go, skip lunch, and power through until dinnertime - and then go somewhere else to eat.

Other horror stories/places to skip? We want to hear them! Shout it out below.


Tink *~*~* said...

I really have to agree with you about the Animal Kingdom. It is my 2nd fave park behind Epcot, but the dining options are abysmal. The only decent place there WAS to eat was before they turned Tusker House into Yet Another Character Meal Buffet. What a shame! It was fine the way it was - you could get wonderful, plain, healthy food there once upon a time.

Also, the breakfast options in the park are appalling. If you don't want a wannabe cappuccino and cinnamon bun for breakfast, you have to haul butt all the way to the McDonald's, and how healthy is that, really?

I haven't tried the unfortunately named Yak and Yeti either - hoping it's a step in the right direction for this park's dining options.

Tink *~*~*
My Mobile Adventures *~*~*

Robynne said...

China's Nine Dragons is deeply mediocre. Granted, I haven't eaten there in years - once was enough, thank you - but I also haven't heard anyone say that it's any different. There's plenty of better food in Epcot - why waste your time and tastebuds there?

I wish the Rose and Crown still had tea service!

As a vegetarian, I was unthrilled with the tempura in Japan. The dipping sauce is contaminated with fish flakes, and when I asked if they had sauce with no meat products, they brought me... ketchup.

While I'm wishing for things that don't exist any more, I really really want the fruit & cheese plate from Kringla Bakeri back. It had gjetost, and they weren't shy about giving extra! It was so very tasty, and it was the perfect light lunch. I miss it.

Oh and can I have the Villains character meal back, too? I only visited once, and we had such a great time. Captain Hook tried to kidnap my friend, and Prince John made my other friend pull his ear and suck his thumb.