Walt Disney World known for fine dining, not just burgers and fries

Posted Tuesday, September 22, 2009 9:55 AM | Contributed by Jeff

Over the past two decades, Disney World has gone from fast food to fine dining, garnering attention from serious chefs and foodies alike. Its dozens of restaurants cover almost every cuisine, from regional American to South African. Its wine lists are full of prized (and often hard-to-find) bottles from across the globe.

Read more from The Palm Beach Post.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:27 AM

There is certainly a ton of info out there on planning Disney trips. Some folks will feel comfortable doing more on their own and others will want the assistance that third party sources provide. No surprise there. And the parks do provide a lot of assistance.

But I do think that when you make sit down reservations, you are boxing yourself in somewhat. Maybe it depends on the time of year that you visit and what time you want to eat. But without reservations in June, we would have been scrambling around trying to find places to eat and from what I saw, waiting a long time to sit down. They were great with keeping your reservation time (only had one time we waited more than 5 mins after the set time and that was because of a malfunctioning pager). So there are no complaints there. Its just that any time you have to make reservations in advance, you may find yourself having to be in a place where you would not otherwise chose to be without the reservation. We only had one issue with that because we ended up spending less time in one of the parks than we thought we would so we left for an hour or two and then had to head back to the first park for dinner. Weather can also play a role if your plans for the day change due to weather but your dinner reservation can't.

And to the earlier point, we did sit down for dinner each day. We just didn't sit down at any of the fancy restaurants which have longer dining times. We were in and done within an hour for most places. I know that others like to sit down and take 2-3 hours for a meal which is fine and is why they have different types of restaurants.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:41 AM
Jeff's avatar

Time of year I'm sure has something to do with it. During the week of IAAPA last year, we had no issues getting a reservation, the same day, anywhere but Le Cellier. Usually by noon, we had a pretty good idea about where we'd end up for dinner, and made a choice based on that. Of course, we'd end up at Epcot more often than not, because it was the food driving our decisions, not attractions. :)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1:06 PM

Because of the 90+10 rule the better places are often booked solid for the beginning of your trip.

In some cases, not everything is released in the +10 period. If you get shut out again, call at exactly 90 days from the day you want to dine, and you'll have a good shot. As an aside, next month they are switching back to 180 days in advance.

Re: planning. My experience is that it isn't nearly as necessary as some make it out to be, as long as you are flexible. There are some things you just can't do same day---breakfast in the castle, Le Cellier, most of the "package" deals that gaurantee seats to some shows, several of the other character meals, maybe a few others. If you need one of those to make or break your trip, then you've got to call in advance.

We've been able to get perfectly acceptable reservations same day or perhaps the day before over Memorial weekend in '08, and mid-July '09.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 1:59 PM

We like to go end of April. Supposedly it's not peak season but it always seems to be packed. In 06 we got reservations at Le Cellier no problem about 2 weeks in advance. In 08 we could not get a reservation at Chef Mickey's at any time during our stay calling about 2 weeks ahead of time. Garden Grill was no problem for lunch. Crystal Palace was 3pm lunch, and Ohana's was 9pm dinner. So not the best times, but at least we were able to get in. I am just floored that all of these restaurants are totally booked so far in advance on a supposedly offpeak time.

They're doing something right down there. In fact I think they're doing everything right. The food is good. The ambiance is great. The service is startlingly awesome. Why can't other companies replicate the customer service that you get at Disney?

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 3:21 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

I think we have come to the end of the visitation definition of peak and non peak seasons for Disney. If anything, all that terminology dictates is when the price is higher or lower or the discounts are prominent or not.

They seem to fill the holes of "non peak" times with special events or deep discounts that seem to ramp the crowds back up.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 4:13 PM
Jeff's avatar

I just booked Le Cellier. 75 days out, the date we wanted. Now I can find out how over-hyped it is. :)


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 4:32 PM

I was pleasantly surprised by the crowds when we were there in June. I was expecting to wait in 1-2 hour lines in the heat for many of the rides. But other than one ride (where we really just screwed up), we never waiting for more than 30 minutes all day and we had more lines that were walkups than we did 30 minute waits. But reading this thread, maybe everyone was just in the restaurants. :)

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 4:41 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Jeff said:
I just booked Le Cellier. 75 days out, the date we wanted. Now I can find out how over-hyped it is. :)

It's a really good steakhouse. Have you ever been to a really good steakhouse outside of Disney?

Well, this is pretty much the same thing but inside Disney. :)


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 4:42 PM

Just make sure you get the maple creme brule for dessert, its fantastic.

Last edited by Touchdown, Wednesday, September 23, 2009 4:42 PM
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:12 PM
Jeff's avatar

I don't eat red meat, so I'm not exactly sure what I'll be eating there.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:23 PM

I genuinely do not understand the fascination with Le Cellier. As Gonch says, it's a perfectly fine steakhouse, but nothing more. Even the ambiance is nothing special.

But, it's the "must do" place, no doubt about it.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:30 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

Oh, I'd do it again if I wanted a steak dinner while at Disney. It's good.

I kinda think that about most of their restaurants - they serve really good (fill in the blank) food. Have you ever been to a really good (fill in the blank) food restaurant? It's the same thing, but inside Disney.

Where the draw seemed to be to me is if there's a particular kind of food you happen to enjoy, but lack a good restaurant version available in your area then it's nice to be able to enjoy that experience while at Disney.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:53 PM
Jeff's avatar

The guide on my Segway tour last year said Le Cellier is popular because it's essentially American meat-and-potatoes food, and that's comfortable to Americans. God forbid they try something really delicious like Restaurant Marrakesh or something.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 5:58 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

Jeff said:
I don't eat red meat, so I'm not exactly sure what I'll be eating there.

My wife suggests the Cheese Soup, Jeff. She always orders that when we go there.

They, of course, have Fish and Chicken dishes as well, with the Chicken dish being the one I typically go for.

All in all the food is good there, but siding with Gonch, its as good as any fine dining steak place is with at touch of Canadian ambiance.


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:01 PM
Lord Gonchar's avatar

I'm sure that's part of it, but maybe it's, you know...good food. Just as delicious as any of the other places are in their respective categories.

I'd definitely consider eating there again over other places if (when?) we get back to Disney, not because I'm afraid to try other things, but because I have tried other things and I still put the meat-and-potatoes among the top of the list.

(meant in reply to Jeff, but Ken slipped in on me)

Last edited by Lord Gonchar, Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:02 PM
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:03 PM
DaveStroem's avatar

The main reason that Le Cellier is so popular is that it is a 1 credit table service meal on the Dining Plan. It is a good steak house and the best meal we had on our last trip.

I am too much of a CAB to go to 2 credit meals.


Before you can be older and wiser you first have to be young and stupid.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:04 PM
DaveStroem's avatar

Lord Gonchar said:
( but Ken slipped in on me)

Watch out Moosh will be jealous.


Before you can be older and wiser you first have to be young and stupid.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:24 PM
ridemcoaster's avatar

I just spit my dinner on my monitor.. Thanks Dave..


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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 6:31 PM
Jeff's avatar

There aren't that many places that are two credits. And it's still easy to go $50 plus per person at many of the places, without alcohol.


Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog - Silly Nonsense

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009 9:08 PM
Gemini's avatar

Hey, I love LeCellier and Restaurant Marrakesh, so there. :)

And, yes, the cheese soup is great. Just about worth the trip alone.


Walt Schmidt - Co-Publisher, PointBuzz

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