Top 5: Most Overrated Places to Eat at WDW

 

Some weeks ago, I asked friends for ideas for blog posts.  Specifically Top 5 ones.  I got two ideas and it’s taken me forever to get around to writing up just the first of the two… but here it is.  On the advice of a friend who cared enough to bother to suggest a topic, here are the Top 5 Most Overrated Restaurants on Disney Property!  … Kind of.

I haven’t eaten at that many restaurants on Disney property.  Most of the ones I have eaten at, I’ve enjoyed.  So this isn’t based on experience – mostly – but rather, on research and opinion and conjecture.  Hey, it worked when I did a Top 5 Places to get Cupcakes, when I’ve never eaten a single cupcake at WDW!  In any case, this list isn’t meant to give REVIEWS of the restaurants.  Just because a restaurant is on this list doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. It just is a way of saying that it doesn’t live up to the buzz of expectation, whatever that expectation may be.  It might be a perfectly good and enjoyable restaurant but if it has a reputation that makes you expect more than you will necessarily get, it’s potentially overrated.  That’s what its inclusion here means.  So it’s very possible that if you adjust your expectations somewhat, you’ll enjoy it more.  OR maybe not! Maybe you can keep high expectations and they’ll be met!  Things change all the time at WDW and they certainly want to please their customers, so someone’s previous letdown experience does not equal an absolute.

In other words, however much research I put into this, it remains my opinion (often based on the opinions of others). I can say I did not ever just say “Hmm, I don’t know, I’m going to just pick any random restaurant and stick it on here”, I only put things on this list for a reason; but I can also guarantee that you don’t agree with me 100% so your favourite restaurant might be on here and you might be like, fighting down the urge to strangle me while reading this.  Please calm down and remember this is just a blog post and I’m not actually reviewing, nor am I telling anyone to avoid these restaurants. I encourage everyone to try each Disney restaurant for themselves and make up their own minds!

And now, on with the show. 🙂

Because this is totally what my kitchen looked like when I was growing up. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Because this is totally what my kitchen looked like when I was growing up. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

#5: 50s Prime Time Cafe (with runner up, Sci-Fi Dine-In)

Okay. I said it. Be it known that I actually like 50s Prime Time, quite a bit actually, though I have only eaten there twice and the last time was in 2005. The first time was fantastic – after a long wait where we then learned that “Mom” had lost our order, our waitress/big sister was so apologetic that we actually got half our meal comped and then were presented with a free banana split for dessert before we left. We were all stuffed, but agreed that since it was free and such a nice gesture we should eat it anyway, which we did, and although I probably felt like throwing up afterwards I only remember the kindness of it.

More recently though, we learned the rule of 50s – the staff won’t necessarily play with you. See, I’m shy and I don’t initiate interactions well in real life; my husband is a lot better about it, but when I took him to 50s, it was just the two of us, we were both on the quiet side, so the waitress/our cousin just… waited on us. I even deliberately sat with my elbows on the table when she walked by just to see if she’d say anything, but nada. 😛 She played a lot with the larger table near us, even making one of the party go stand outside for not eating his green beans, so it wasn’t her spirit. She just had us pegged as not interested in the games, which wasn’t true, and I had NO idea how to get around that.

So, you know, that’s enough to get me to put it onto The List. It’s not that it’s a bad restaurant, but the danger with a themed restaurant is that you go in expecting a particular experience, and you may not get that experience. I didn’t actually, believe it or not, go for the food. *G* The food is not BAD, by the way. (My meatloaf was good, but a little sweet, which might have been b/c I was pregnant and things sometimes tasted weird to me at the time.) And it’s not like it’s over-priced. This is just a pure experience-based overrating, and it’s completely disputable b/c many, many people will have a different experience.

If you always have exactly the experience you want at 50s, well, worry not; I’m also including Sci-Fi Dine-In on here as a tie/runner up. And Sci-Fi is actually among my favourite restaurants. But I like it explicitly for the atmosphere, not the food. Again, food is not bad, it’s just not the focus. You’re really there for the setup and decor, the whole “inside/outside drive-in” thing. I love it. My husband, not so much. Sci-Fi tends to have its very loyal fans, like myself, and then the people who really cannot stand it, and that’s just how it is; and frankly, I’ll be honest, anything that is so divided is perfectly suited for an “overrated” list. Because I can honestly recommend Sci-Fi due to my love of it, but I also know there’s a good chance the person I recommend it to will find it very underwhelming. Them’s the breaks. *g*

If it is good enough for Tina Fey then it is GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME I tells ya.  Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

If it is good enough for Tina Fey then it is GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME I tells ya. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

#4: Yak & Yeti.

You can't call it just another Chinese restaurant! I bet you've never been in a Chinese restaurant with this décor! Photo (c) the Walt Disney Co.

You can’t call it just another Chinese restaurant! I bet you’ve never been in a Chinese restaurant with this décor! Photo (c) the Walt Disney Co.

My disclaimer applies here; I haven’t eaten at this restaurant. I’ve only been to Animal Kingdom once since it opened. But this is going purely from reviews, and from what I’ve seen people mention on social media. And from what I’ve heard Y&Y is another divided opinion: some people swear by it as one of the best in-park restaurants, and some people say it’s just your average chinese/asian food. I’ve read reports that the food is overcooked, overseasoned, or just not interesting. I’ve heard that the crispy honey chicken (was that it?) is amazing, and also that it’s disgusting.

So, keeping in mind that this list isn’t a *review*, precisely, more of a “your experience may vary from what you might expect”, and also in that I’m trying to put some variety into the places that the restaurants come from (like, not ALL from Epcot), here’s Animal Kingdom’s Yak & Yeti. Buyer Beware, I guess. I’ve also heard from people who say that they just don’t bother with it b/c they don’t even like Chinese food, which is an important thing to keep in mind, heh. But mainly, if you’re promised a restaurant experience that is better quality than what you’d get from a food court stand in the mall, you know, you want that to live up to it. I’ve heard mixed reviews on whether Yak & Yeti pulls that off.

#3: Chef Mickey’s.

I still maintain that this is somehow reminiscent of an airport... photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I still maintain that this is somehow reminiscent of an airport… photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I have eaten here. It was extremely expensive and I was struck by the fact that they have you wait to get your picture taken with a prop – not a character but a prop – then that is not even included in the price. Akershus, you get a picture with Belle and it’s included! But Chef Mickey’s it’s not? I was disappoint.

The food was fine, it was your standard very huge breakfast spread, nothing fancy or special; I feel like usually when you do a character breakfast buffet, your expectations for the food are not the important part. You’re not going for the food above all else, or you’d have gone someplace else. You’re going to meet the characters. Right? Well, I will say, the characters were great. 🙂 We didn’t end up doing any dances, and actually my daughter missed most of them – not her fault, she was in the bathroom and in fact later that day it turned out she got sick 😦 – but they spent a LOT of time with my 18 month old son, even sitting down at the table to hang out with us.

Still it felt like we were missing something, somehow. The restaurant is so HUGE, and I couldn’t go get food without being afraid we were going to miss the characters going by. And really, I’m still kind of miffed over the cost NOT including the photo. I know that’s minor (and it wasn’t that great a photo anyway), but it’s the start of the whole thing and it kind of left a bad taste in my mouth.

#2: Coral Reef.

I will admit, I do like the impression that you are actually Unda Da Sea, as it were. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

I will admit, I do like the impression that you are actually Unda Da Sea, as it were. Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

This is another one I haven’t eaten at, but I’ve been hearing this in terms of reviews forever, now. I love seafood, and I’d actually love to eat at Coral Reef just for the experience and decor; it’s a lovely idea to be surrounded by live fish durin your meal. But what I keep hearing is that the food itself is actually just standard. You’re not getting terribly great selections, the portions are small, and it’s expensive. You’re basically paying for the atmosphere – well, OK, and granted that’s what you’re doing at Sci-Fi. 😉 But the price difference between Sci-Fi and Coral Reef is a pretty significant one, so there’s that.

Here’s a review that showcases what I’m talking about, on the DIS Unplugged website: http://www.disunplugged.com/2009/04/02/the-coral-reef-review/

Here’s a less negative one that still mentions that the food is by far the low point: http://goflorida.about.com/od/wheretoeat/fr/wdw_epcot_coralreef.htm

And here’s a nice positive one from the Disney Food Blog, because I want to remind folks that every visit is different, and every expectation can’t always be met, so you may very well have a TERRIFIC time anywhere you go at Disney: http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2012/02/15/guest-review-coral-reef-restaurant/

Again, my only point here is not to dissuade or give negative reviews, only to say… well, this might be a bit built-up based on how it’s presented. 🙂

#1: You probably know what I’m going to say. When I was researching for this list, the same restaurant kept coming up over and over in every article I read (and I had already put this restaurant onto my list before I started the research, just based on what I’ve heard).

Le Cellier Overrated House? Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Le Cellier Overrated House? Photo (c) The Walt Disney Co.

Le Cellier Steakhouse in Epcot.

If you’re at all familiar with fine Disney dining then you have probably already heard this complaint. I myself have never eaten at Le Cellier (it’s too pricey for my range, and too fancy even when I’m on the DDP), but I’ve heard buzz about it being overrated for YEARS now. To be on the fair side, I made sure to find as recent reviews as I could just to make sure that this was up to date, because Disney revamps its restaurants all the time – changing menus, prices and experiences.

And this is what I’ve heard. Essentially, Le Cellier was always expensive. This made it a good selection if you were on the DDP, since you’d get more for your Dining Plan money. The food was generally good, though from what I’ve read, not brilliantly great, but good enough to deserve the prices it had. It was/is a fancy, nice restaurant. A few years ago, though, Disney elevated it to Signature Dining status for dinner; meaning that on the DDP, you’d have to use 2 credits to dine there in the evening, instead of one. They also upped the prices without changing the food.

Many people who liked the restaurant but not enough to put down two credits/extra cash continued to go for lunch, which was all well and good, until the past year or so when Disney did away with the lunch/dinner menu and went to single dining menu. Meaning same prices all day, or two DDP credits all day.

So now the consensus is that, again, the food is not BAD. It’s just not Victoria-&-Albert’s-level GOOD, either; so there is a high percentage of people who consider it very overrated for the status it’s achieved. Whereas I NEVER see anyone say that about V&E. So we’ll see.

Some reviews: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/le-cellier-review/ (very recent, April 2013, from the Disney Tourist Blog)
http://www.disneyfoodblog.com/2011/03/27/review-new-le-cellier-signature-dinner/ (From 2011, just after they got Signature Dining Status for dinner, by disney Food Blog)
http://www.mousesavers.com/walt-disney-world-restaurant-review-le-cellier/ (Mouse Savers review, very positive for the food but does note the “spendy” aspect of the restaurant)

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3 thoughts on “Top 5: Most Overrated Places to Eat at WDW

  1. This was a really interesting read. You bring up a lot of factors that I wouldn’t think to consider in planning my restaurant selections, but that I would ultimately care about. Like going to a theme restaurant and not really getting the theme element as part of your experience. As someone who knows very little about dining options at WDW, I realized that I never really thought of how much variety you can find in the parks when it comes to restaurant choices.

    Also, I totally see where you’re coming from with the airport thing at Chef Mickey’s.

  2. I agree with almost everything said here. It DOES look like an airport! I WAS disappointed at Chef Mickey’s (I thought the food (breakfast) was awful). Le Cellier was meh. I was ALSO pegged as a non-player at 50’s Prime Time (with a group of 5 adults) and it was disappointing because we were actually game. Yes Yes Yes.

    I was also disappointed at the filet/mac n cheese entree at Jiko which everyone looooves. It was good, but I wasn’t as blown away by it as I was led to believe i would be.

  3. I’ve seen a lot of online love for the Crystal Palace at the Magic Kingdom, but despite the beautiful and iconic building where it is located, it just doesn’t meet my needs. The food is exceedingly average, especially when you consider the cost, and I’m not the biggest fan of character interactions at a meal. Both Be Our Guest and Liberty Tree Tavern are better dining experiences for me there at the MK, as is the counter service option Columbia Harbour House.

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