Disney World Dining – 5 Great Lunch Spots

Twilight-Zone-Tower-of-TerrorThere’s a lot to be said for a sit-down lunch on a Disney World vacation.  Especially during the hot summer months – a table service meal provides an excellent break from the scorching sun and high humidity.  It gives you time to rest, re-hydrate, cool off, and re-energize so you can get back to park touring action!  Sometimes a restaurant’s lunch menu is less expensive than their dinner menu, making this strategy a money-saving one as well.  While there are many (MANY!) restaurants on our favorites list, today I’d like to recommend a few we particularly love for a mid-day break…

Disney World Dining – 5 Great Lunch Spots

Magic Kingdom Area – When it’s hot, I want to eat outside the park.  A short (and wonderfully cool and scenic) boat ride away is the Wilderness Lodge’s Whispering Canyon Café.  What we like about this restaurant is the no-frills but tasty menu and the casual, relaxing atmosphere.  Keep the fun going with an eatery that’s packed with great Disney service and a few hilarious antics.  Check out the menu here.Whispering-Canyon-Burger

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – The Hollywood Brown Derby is right in the middle of the action, but makes you feel miles away.  The inside dining room provides a beautiful, old-Hollywood setting, but the outdoor patio lounge is our favorite (menu).  With shaded tables and an interesting menu (offering plenty of light options on a hot day) – we love grabbing a late lunch or happy hour snack here.RM-Brown-Derby-Patio

Animal Kingdom – I’m a big fan of lunch on the go in this park during the not-so-summery months of the year, but when the weather is at its hottest, I want to escape the heat inside the Yak & Yeti’s dining room.  Like everything and everywhere else in Animal Kingdom, Yak & Yeti is elaborately themed.  The menu is great and it’s easy to find something refreshing and not too heavy on a hot day.

Epcot – The choices are overwhelming!  I would love to say it’s an easy decision, but I’d be lying.  My absolute favorite thing about needing to eat lunch in Epcot is the opportunity to dine around the World (Showcase).  Most of the time, we opt for sharing counter-service meals so we try food from several different countries.  When we want a light lunch on a hot day, though, it’s hard to beat Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar in the Italy Pavilion.  Tutto Gusto in Epcot's ItalyThe high top tables and wine cellar atmosphere are great and the food and beverage options even better!  We like to share a couple of small plates of Italian meats and cheeses then enjoy an entrée of pasta or a panini.  The servers are always happy to help with wine selection if you aren’t up on your Italian labels.Morimoto-Asia-Dining-Room

Disney Springs – Now this is a great place for a cool, relaxing mid-day break…and the choices are awesome!  I could recommend several excellent options for a fabulous dining experience, but I’ll narrow it down to one great restaurant – Morimoto Asia.  What we love about Morimoto’s is the perfect combination of tranquil atmosphere and excellent food (share some spareribs – they’re amazing!).  Morimoto-Asia-Spare-RibsThis place may be a little pricier than the other options I’ve listed, but the experience and service are worth a bit extra to me.  The menu is extensive and a meal here is the kind of experience that can’t be rushed, so set aside a couple of hours and just relax!

Do you like a sit-down lunch at Walt Disney World?  What’s your favorite place to eat on a hot day?

Disney Dining – Hollywood Brown Derby Patio Lounge

RM-Brown-Derby-PatioDid you know that the Hollywood Brown Derby at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a patio lounge?  Indeed, you can eat indoors at the Derby and experience signature restaurant dining (2 table-service credits on the Disney Dining Plan) OR you can dine al fresco and save both time and money.  The patio lounge is a great place to enjoy happy hour!  And that’s just what Raymond and I did on our last visit to Walt Disney World.

On the day we visited the Brown Derby’s outdoor eating area, we were spending only the afternoon in the Studios and were looking forward to our dinner reservations that night at The Swan’s Il Mulino.  We were having fun!  Riding rides, taking pictures of the very last bits of the Sorcerer’s Hat left to be disassembled and getting hungry!  We needed a snack, but not just any snack.  We didn’t want to spoil our supper and had only a few minutes before the start time of our FastPass for Rock’n’ Roller Coaster.  We thought an adult beverage would also be a welcome treat at that particular time.  Hmmm…we were making our way from Star Tours toward Sunset Boulevard and I had a craving for wine and cheese.  HA!  I remembered the Brown Derby’s new-ish outdoor eating area (opened in October, 2013).  Perfect!  I told Raymond I had the perfect solution (with a look instead of words, ’cause that’s how we roll after 25 years of marriage) and off we went!RM-Brown-Derby-Outdoor-Seating

We didn’t have much time and the place was crowded.  We were willing to forego the food and just have a glass of wine if we couldn’t be seated within about 5 minutes.  There’s a walk-up bar at the end of the patio, so we ordered our wine and inquired about the chances of getting a snack.RM-Brown-Derby-Patio-WineTurns out, we were in luck – a table opened up, we were seated, and our server arrived promptly.  Once we explained our time limitation, he was totally onboard with getting us on our way as quickly as possible.

If you’ve read any of my previous dining reviews, you’ll have noticed that we are a family of cheese-loving people!  The artisanal cheese plate at the Brown Derby was calling our names – and we thought that would be just the right snack…not too much, not too little.RM-Brown-Derby-Patio-Artisanal-Cheese-PlateWe were very happy with ourselves when our cheeses (and accompaniments) arrived.  Hungrier than we’d originally thought, we fell upon that plate of cheesy goodness and made short work of nearly every crumb.RM-Brown-Derby-Patio-Empty-Plates

It’s a story with a happy ending – our experience at the Hollywood Brown Derby’s Patio Lounge was everything we’d hoped for and more!  Good wine, tasty cheeses, and excellent service, we were soon on our way to G-Force Records for our limo ride & backstage passes.  If you’re at the Studios and looking for a fantastic, relaxing place to enjoy a cocktail and snack, look no further than the Derby’s patio.

What other places at Walt Disney World are great for happy hour?