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Alternative Dining Options at Disney

Having a plan for dining at Walt Disney World is extremely important. Knowing where you will eat before you arrive at Walt Disney World will help make your experience more enjoyable. Many table service restaurants around Walt Disney World book up months ahead. Because of this, you need to make sure you make a Disney dining reservation. With the return of the Disney dining plan in 2024, we anticipate Disney dining to be even more difficult.

If you have gotten on to make a dining reservation only to find that it is booked up already, we have some good alternative options for you to think about. These restaurants might become your new favorite.

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, EPCOT
Credit: Disney

Cinderella’s Royal Table vs. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

If you have a prince or princess who wants to eat in a castle, the obvious choice for most guests visiting Walt Disney World is to book a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table. Located in the castle itself, this is a magical experience for everyone.

This can be a tough reservation, or you might find the price too steep. If so, we encourage you to consider a meal at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in EPCOT. Akershus is located in the Norway Pavilion and is a fantastic way to experience a castle and see some of Disney’s princesses.

Guests can see princesses such as Cinderella, Snow White, Belle, Aurora, and Ariel. These are very similar to the princesses found at Cindrella’s Royal Table. The castle itself is a beautiful medieval design with soaring archways and huge cathedral ceilings that are breathtaking.

Like at Cinderella’s Royal Table, guests may enjoy all three meals at Akershus. Where Cinderella’s Royal Table is a prie-fixe menu, Akershus is family-style. Platters offers Norwegain-inspired food for adventurous eaters and a few more traditional options.

If you want to dine with the princesses while on your Walt Disney World vacation, we recommend eating at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall. Reservations are typically easier to get here, and you will still have a magical experience.

Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin
Credit: Swan & Dolphin

Beaches and Cream Soda Shop vs. The Fountain

Beaches and Cream Soda Shop at Disney’s Beach Club Resort is a fantastic family dining location. Even with the dining area’s expansion, getting a reservation at Beaches and Cream is still hard. Luckily, there is a great alternative option right down the road.

The Fountain is at the Dolphin within the Swan and Dolphin Resort. Know for eats and sweets, The Fountain offers a larger dining area, making it much easier to get into, but also excellent malts, shakes, and comfort food. The menu is very similar to Beaches and Cream but much easier.

As many guests visit Beaches and Cream during an EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios park day, The Fountain is just as accessible. A quick walk or boat ride makes it convenient during days at these two Disney parks.

The Fountain is a great hidden gem that might become your new favorite spot for a delicious shake after a hot day in the park.

Related: Best Places for Ice Cream in Disney

Garden Grill Restaurant

Chef Mickey’s vs. Garden Grill Restaurant

Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort continues to be a hard-to-get reservation. Guests love to experience the excitement and magic of this meal during their Walt Disney World vacations.

We have another option if you want to dine with characters but can’t find a reservation at Chef Mickey’s. Consider enjoying a meal at Garden Grill in EPCOT. Located in The Land Pavilion, Garden Grill is a unique dining experience.

Here, guests dine with beloved characters such as Chip n’ Dale, Farmer Mickey, and Pluto and enjoy views of Living with the Land below. This restaurant slowly rotates throughout the meal, allowing guests to see parts of this classic Disney attraction below.

Where Chef Mickey’s is a buffet, Garden Grill is a family-style meal. Now serving all three meals during the day, guests can start their day with Mickey waffles or wrap up the night with roasted chicken, macaroni & cheese, and a delicious berry shortcake for dessert.

If you want a good character meal with Mickey Mouse, consider a meal at Garden Grill.

Daisy and Minnie Cape May Cafe
Credit: Disney

Topolino’s Terrace (Breakfast a la Art with Mickey and Friends) vs. Cape May Cafe (Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast)

One of the most popular character meals at Walt Disney World is the breakfast offered at Topolino’s Terrace. Breakfast a la Art with Mickey and Friends is one of the hardest to get reservations at Walt Disney World. With beautiful views, outstanding food, and Mickey and his friends dressed up, we understand the draw.

If you aren’t going to get this reservation but are still looking for a unique character meal to start your day, we recommend Cape May Cafe. You meet Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Daisy here, ready for the beach. During this breakfast, guests enjoy Mickey Mouse waffles and other breakfast favorites.

The atmosphere at Cape May Cafe is more laid back than Topolino’s Terrace, and reservations are easier to find. This is an excellent option for a slower start to an EPCOT day. Enjoy breakfast at Disney’s Beach Club before entering the EPCOT via the International Gateway Entrance.

Finding dining reservations can be overwhelming and stressful. So many top restaurants book up extremely fast, making it feel like you don’t have any options. We hope you can find something by sharing these alternative restaurants even if your top choice isn’t available.

Dining is a huge part of a Walt Disney World vacation. Take time to make a plan before you arrive on your vacation regarding when and where you want to eat. Knowing this before your arrival will make dining a lot easier.

Related: Secret to Getting Those Hard-to-Make Disney Dining Reservations

Jennifer Retzlaff

Jennifer became a lifelong Disney fan during her first trip to Walt Disney World in 6th grade. From that moment, Disney became a big part of her life. She quickly started to introduce her love of Disney to her family with a Disney honeymoon and then family trips when her youngest was 18 months old. She loves the magic that Disney brings to people through theme parks, cruises, and adventures. As a teacher, she tries to bring Disney magic into her classroom to help kids believe that “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It.” She is also part of the Magic Vacation Planner team as a personal travel advisor. With this team, she can now help others plan magical vacations. She loves bringing her love to Disney to readers with How to Disney.

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