Disney World Dining – Best 1-Credit Table Service (Part 2)

I’ve talked about my favorite 1-credit table service restaurants at Disney World before (here).  But it’s been a while, so I thought an updated version was in order.  If I were making my ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) right now for an upcoming vacation, here’s what I’d recommend…

Disney World Dining – Best 1-Credit Table Service (Part 2)

I still stand by most of my original picks although I will most likely not eat dinner at Be Our Guest again (preferring the quick service breakfast or lunch) and I’ll pass on Chef Mickey’s in the future because I’ve found a place I like much better.  I’m now proud to say I’ve visited a few of the honorable mentions from the previous list and would highly recommend these:

Kona Café – Right next door to ‘Ohana in the Polynesian, Kona offers a different dining experience.  Where ‘Ohana is great for big appetites and fans of family style dining, Kona is better for folks who want options and have varying tastes and appetites.  The menu is Pan-Asian and offers a great variety (sushi lovers seem to flock here).  The service is consistently good and we’ve been so happy with the food, we’ve eaten both dinner and breakfast at Kona on more than one trip.  Just a short monorail ride from Magic Kingdom, Kona’s an excellent place to eat before heading to Magic Kingdom for the evening.

Whispering Canyon Café – We’ve been twice now and had a great meal both times.  It’s fun, filling, and in an awesome setting at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.  Somewhat similar to 50’s Prime Time Café in server/guest interaction, Whispering Canyon  is a favorite of meat-and-potatoes fans with an American menu that includes an all-you-care-to-eat skillet.

Tusker House – I’ve gone on and on (here) about the food, the characters, and the service.  It’s a buffet with choices aplenty.  I love seeing Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy in their safari outfits while filling up on some very unique menu offerings.  Not to worry if you have picky eaters – this buffet includes plenty of choices for all tastes.  If you don’t want to leave the park to eat at Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge’s buffet) and you love a character meal, Tusker house is a safe bet.

We’ve also tried and wholeheartedly recommend…

Yak and Yeti – The table service option (there’s also a quick service window) of this highly themed restaurant in Animal Kingdom’s Asia section is quite good!  If you like Pan-Asian food and want a nice sit-down, non-character in-park experience, Yak and Yeti’s a solid choice.  The menu is surprisingly broad and we love the atmosphere – very cool décor!

Via Napoli – It was lively and a little loud, but for a family dinner, Via Napoli was fantastic!  Everyone in our party of seven was happy with their choices and the pizza was about as good as it gets at Disney World.  I’d choose again Via Napoli if I wanted to stay in Epcot for dinner and had a group to please.

Morimoto Asia (1-credit for Brunch or Lunch only) – The service, the menu, and the atmosphere are much less kid-friendly than most Disney World eateries.  That’s not to say that kids aren’t welcome, but Morimoto Asia in Disney Springs is where we like to go for a lunch date.  The servers are professional and knowledgeable, the menu is broad with plenty of options for sharing.  We can take our time and feel like we’ve found an oasis in the middle of the often chaotic Disney Springs area.

Raglan Road – This is our tried-and-true dinner choice in Disney Springs.  It’s very family friendly and the menu is full of hearty comfort-food  choices.  Plus, entertainment!  Irish dancers and live music add a very special element to eating at Raglan Road.  Hello!  Dinner and a show for 1-credit? Yes!

Again, if I were going right now, I’d choose Tusker House over Chef Mickey’s or 1900 Park Fare.  I’d choose Via Napoli in Epcot, Kona Café at the Polynesian and Raglan Road in Disney Springs for dinner.  If my schedule made a nice lunch versus dinner possible, I go for a Magic Kingdom park-break at Wilderness Lodge to visit Whispering Canyon or I’d head to Disney Springs and enjoy an awesome meal at Morimoto Asia.

What do I need to try next?  What’s your favorite 1-credit table service restaurant at Disney World?

 

Disney Dining – Tusker House Breakfast

Great location, perfect for families and groups of all sizes, wonderful variety of buffet foods, AND fantastic Disney characters! What a perfect way to start the day in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Disney Dining – Tusker House Breakfast

Once upon a time, our family made character dining experiences a must-do on every Walt Disney World visit.  Just because we may have outgrown that tradition (for now), doesn’t mean we can’t make room in our touring plans for a Disney vacation meal that still includes some character interaction from time to time – especially if the menu is great.tusker-house-mickey-lyndsey-and-joseph

I’d heard great things about the menu at Tusker House and realized that an early breakfast there would give us a jump on our full day of action-packed Animal Kingdom plans.  Our group of seven consisted of a wide variety of food preferences and varying degrees of pickiness – what could be easier than a buffet packed with both traditional breakfast fare and several more exotic, African-inspired flavors?  I chose an 8:35 reservation & we arrived extra early…better to beat the crowds and be first in line for Kilimanjaro Safaris after breakfast.

At the park entrance we were directed to a specific Tusker House waiting area where a very kind Cast Member told us how to find the restaurant. After a short wait, we were on our way.

Once inside, our excellent server, Kat, showed us around the food stations on our way to our table. She explained that the foods were arranged to make it as if guests were shopping in a marketplace. There were no lines…simply move from station to station and fill your plate as you desire.  We arrived at our table, Kat left to get coffee and juice, we headed for the market/buffet.tusker-house-buffet4 tusker-house-buffet3 tusker-house-buffet2

So many options! It was hard to decide where to begin. Along with bacon, eggs, ham, Mickey waffles and the other usual crowd-pleasers were more unique choices from salads to curry, bobotie, and a carving station.  I took small portions of a few things, intending to go back for more after round one.  I’m wary of buffets sometime and want them to be super clean and well-stocked.  These food stations were beautifully maintained.tusker-house-breakfast-plate3 tusker-house-breakfast-plate2 tusker-house-breakfast-plate1

Kat had let us know to expect characters to come by our table, one at a time. Sure enough, the well-paced arrival of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy allowed us plenty of time to eat while pausing for photos. I thought they were all terrific, but Goofy was extra fun.  The characters are all dressed for safari with their own individual styles.tusker-house-donald-and-megan

Just before Daisy made her entrance, I stepped back over to the buffet intending to take a few pictures and maybe grab a couple more foods to sample. Unfortunately, the reason Kat had made an effort to explain how the buffet is supposed to work became clear – a huge, long line had formed! This was no marketplace, this was a slow-moving nightmare. I decided I was finished eating, but made an effort to take a few pictures for you by squeezing in between people here and there. (Find menu details here.)tusker-house-goofy

Our breakfast was over moments before the scheduled park opening & we were on the first Kilimanjaro Safari of the day. We had a great time in Tusker House and would recommend it to small families and large groups alike. The food’s plentiful and tasty, the characters charming and fun, the atmosphere and setting are well-themed and highly detailed.  Just as we’d hoped, Tusker House was the perfect way to kick off the day at Animal Kingdom.

Do you enjoy character dining at Disney World?  Have you tried Tusker House?  What did you think?

 

Nighttime Animal Kingdom Speculation

Animal Kingdom Animal CarvingsWe are days away from our next Walt Disney World vacation and all the speculation about what’s happening with the Animal Kingdom at Night is making me crazy!  I’m on a roller coaster of excitement followed by crushing disappointment…then hope…then despair…then excitement again.  What’s the deal?

Nighttime Animal Kingdom Speculation

There are many unofficial Disney websites along with news and social media outlets that broadcast doom and gloom.  They started announcing that Disney will be discontinuing the new nighttime offerings at Animal Kingdom after one summer of late night fun.  According to these sources, until Rivers of Light launches, Animal Kingdom’s nighttime activities and attractions will be no more.  Then suddenly, these same sites have had to walk back those statements when the reduced October park hours once again expanded into the evening.

While I’m not ready to shun social media for confusing me with all these somewhat sketchy prognostications, I’m going with what I do know – officially.  And I’m cautiously optimistic!

We are (and have always been) planning a day-and-a-half at Animal Kingdom…because it is more than a full-day park to us (and should be for you too!).  We started our planning by booking our ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) 180 days pre-trip for an 8;30 am breakfast at Tusker House and a 4:30 pm early dinner at Tiffins – both new experiences for us – on our full day, open-to-close Animal Kingdom visit (with our half-day visit scheduled for a few days later). mde-nighttime-animal-kingdom

Shortly after we selected our dining options, we learned Rivers of Light was delayed, but all the rest of the nighttime activities like the Tree of Life Awakens, Kilimanjaro Safari at Night, and the street parties (Harambe Wildlife Parti and Discovery Island Carnivale) were in full swing (and we expected them to continue).  Jungle Book: Alive With Magic (the temporary replacement for the delayed Rivers of Light) was not enticing to us, so we had planned on riding Expedition Everest and Kilimanjaro Safari after Tiffins before hitting one of the street parties.mde-animal-kingdom-at-night

Then the park hours changed.  I started paying attention and saw Animal Kingdom suddenly closing at 7:30 pm during the week of our visit.  While some social media chatter had the park closing in October at 6:30 pm, I faithfully checked the My Disney Experience app and never saw closures earlier than 7:30 pm for our trip.  While this was a little disappointing, I still believed we’d have time between dinner at Tiffins and park closing to squeeze in some attractions and thought maybe the Tree of Life would still “awaken”.

Then the hours suddenly extended again to an 8:30 pm closing time, Facebook ads by Disney continue to promote Nighttime at Animal Kingdom, and rumors started up about Rivers of Light suddenly being much closer to a launch date.  Last week, we received our fall edition of the Mickey Monitor (pass holder newsletter) and it contained a section promoting Animal Kingdom at night.mickey-monitor-fall-2016-animal-kingdom-at-night mickey-monitor-fall-2016-animal-kingdom-parti

I’m stepping off the roller coaster of speculation and believe we will get to experience at least some of the new nighttime offerings at Animal Kingdom on our visit.  I’d be crazy to hope that Rivers of Light would somehow be ready for a soft opening (at least) 10 days from now, but with 9:00 am – 8:30 pm hours on our full day at Animal Kingdom, I’m sure we will not leave disappointed!

What about you?  Are you looking forward to Animal Kingdom at Night on your next visit?