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Looking for Dining Experiences at WDW

by suzy
(ON, Canada )

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Hi- My family is planning a trip to Disney for May 2019. We are staying at the Polynesian Resort for 5 nights and Animal Kingdom for 4 nights. I’m really struggling on where I should make dinner reservations.

I have read mixed reviews on the Aloha Dinner Show and I’m unsure if it is worth the price. We also have the dining pkg and I want to make sure we are using our credits wisely. Is it worth the two table credits or even paying cash? I also wondered if you could provide your top recommendations on the best table service restaurants in each theme park along with Disney Springs.

My husband and I love steak, seafood and chicken. My 12 year old loves steak and is a big meat eater but also loves a good calamari app. Can you also advise what is a worthwhile dinner and show that you would recommend – besides the Hoop Dee Doo as we have seen this one twice. Thanks.”

Sounds Like Fun

The Hoop Dee Doo players

I’m partial to the Hoop Dee Doo Revue – Photo by Brett Svenson

Hi Suzy,


First off let me say, what a great plan so far. The Polynesian Village and Animal Kingdom Lodge. Wow. What fun. Can I tag along?

The Food could be Better

Let’s start with the Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at the Polynesian Village Resort. I really don’t know what to say about the Spirit of Aloha. We’ve never been so I can’t comment personally. Like you I’ve read the reviews and to say there are mixed feelings would be an understatement.

Dad’s Spirit of Aloha page

There has always been issues with the food at Spirit of Aloha. You would think after 20+ years of being probably the worst reviewed food location at Disney World something would change. How hard would it be to dig a big pit on the beach and do roast a whole pig or two like a real luau?

That being said, there are 3 times as many 5 star reviews as 1 star reviews and the overall rating puts it in the top 5 dinner theaters in Orlando.

PS. We did one of the top rated luau’s in Hawaii and it was one of the worst meals I’ve ever had.

In the Parks

For the most part, I’m not a big fan of the Table Service Restaurants in the parks. I think there are better options outside of the parks and overall I think the Table Service meals are not all that good. But here’s my list of my favorites as a fellow steak lover.

  • Magic Kingdom – Cinderella’s Royal Table
  • EPCOT – Teppan Edo
  • Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Sci Fi Dine In
  • Animal Kingdom -Tusker House breakfast

Like I said, there are better options outside of the parks. Here’s a list of my favorite Table Service Restaurants overall (these are all 1 credit restaurants).

Dad’s Dad’s Top 10 Table Service Restaurants page

Disney Springs

Disney Springs is a whole different animal. There are a bunch, I mean a bunch of new and really good restaurants in Disney Springs. I haven’t tried Paddlefish yet but it looks really good. I did enjoy Morimoto Asia. I tried Homecomin’ and had an up and down experience. It’s something you might try. I don’t think my experience was typical.

We’re still working through all the new restaurants over in Disney Springs. There are a bunch more we have to try like a steak at STK Orlando.

Dinner Shows

As for Dinner Shows at WDW, you’ve already talked about them. The Hoop Dee Doo Revue and Spirit of Aloha are pretty much the only 2 dinner shows unless you consider Sci Fi Dine In which is a pretty good show and an OK dinner.

Open Mind

I think one thing you need to do as you choose restaurants to eat at is to start with an open mind. We tend as Disney nuts to over analyze everything. Everyone experiences things differently. Just look at the reviews for Spirt of Aloha. You read two reviews in a row. Great ribs. Worst ribs ever. Canned pineapple. Loved the fresh pineapple. Everyone experiences things differently.

We had one of the worst Disney meals ever at Le Cellier, but most everyone else raves about it. We are all different. That’s a good thing. If you go into a restaurant expecting a bad experience the chances are that’s what you’ll get.

On the other hand, we had for years read about the bad food at Coral Reef Restaurant. We avoided it like the plague until a couple of years ago we gave it a try so the Man-Child could eat with the fishies. It was one of the best meals we’ve ever had a Disney World. You never know.

Destinations to Travel

Dad’s Bottom Line

Dining at Walt Disney World is part of the experience. For the most part the food is reasonable and sometimes pretty good. The theming of the restaurants can really enhance a meal. Whether a meal is successful or not sometimes depends on your attitude. Don’t worry so much about reviews and give things that look good a chance.

You might just have a great time.


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