Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Minnie Moms: The Best and Worst Restaurants for Kids (Part 2)

Lunch at Casey's
 Kelly:  My favorite places to eat with the kids at the Walt Disney Resort? There are quite a few and some will probably surprise you. I love dining at the Yachtsman Steakhouse at the Yacht Club Resort; we have been dining there since my youngest was under two. The food is great, the service is great and I have never felt uncomfortable taking the kids there. We ate there a few years ago and one of the kids got sick and I was mortified. He was fine before we got there and then all of a sudden…. it was gross. The staff was amazing and so helpful and I will never forget that. I have also loved taking the kids to California Grill, Grand Floridian Café, Hollywood Brown Derby, and The Plaza. I know some of these are two table service credits on the dining plans and some people consider them “fancy” but we have never had an issue dining there. I also really like taking the kids to Toy Story Pizza Planet at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; I know it is not a sit down restaurant but it’s fun and the food is actually good. I really wish Disney would do a Star Wars or Pixar character meal for the boys. I have dined at the Princess meals but not with the boys. Another quick service place we LOVE and always have lunch is the Lotus Blossom in China. They have the best orange chicken and the kids love the ice cream there.

The boys checking out the menu at The Wave
As for places I do not like to dine, we are over Liberty Tree Tavern. I always loved eating there as a family but lately the food is not good and they took the characters away so it is just not the same. We also avoid Tony’s at the Magic Kingdom. I have never had a good meal there and so now we are done trying it. I am also done with Chef Mickey’s. I used to love it but the kids have been there so many times and its just not as fun as it used to be for them. My husband does not really like the food there at all. I will try any place at least once and if the kids do not want to go back then we don’t.

Amy:  Overall, Walt Disney World is one of the most kid-friendly places you can visit. While small children are allowed at all but one WDW restaurant, some just work better than others. On our trip last April, our best dining experience with my then 12 month old child was at Tusker House. The buffet allowed us to begin feeding her quickly and minimize the wait that is so hard with little ones. They have a good variety of foods and I chose items from both the children’s and adult buffets for her. The restaurant wasn’t overly crowded and there are several smaller dining rooms, so there was enough activity to provide her people to smile and wave at, but not so much as to be a distraction from the task at hand. Children under 3 eat free at Disney’s buffet restaurants, so that was a nice bonus.

We had breakfast at 1900 Park Fare and Chef Mickey’s on that same trip. As nice as it is to meet characters without waiting in lines, I think we’ll hold off on character meals until she’s a little older. Both locations have good food and good character interaction, but now that Tink is quite mobile, I’m not sure she’d be content to pose from her chair. I don’t think I’d want to set the precedent of getting in and out of the highchair over and over. Of course, I wouldn’t pass up a trip to Crystal Palace if a walk-up table is available, but we didn’t make any reservations for character meals for our upcoming trip.

Rose & Crown is a favorite restaurant of my family, but it didn’t work so well for a 12 month old. We got her some grapes from one of the appetizers and I always carry plenty of snacks. However, the wait for our food was too much for her. My dad and I ended up taking turns walking her around outside.

Andy and I were celebrating our 5th anniversary in April as well. We left Tink with her grandparents and went to Jiko for dinner. We had a fantastic meal and couldn’t help but notice that several tables near us had small children. Tink is pretty well behaved in a restaurant, but Andy and I agreed that if we’d been traveling without willing babysitters, we would have passed on Jiko. The Cast Members are friendly and the children were welcome, but I would hate to have to eat that wonderful food as quickly as you have to do with little ones.

Tink and I are going back to the World soon with my parents and Chris. It’s a longer trip than usual and the Food & Wine Festival will be in full-swing so we are going to play most of our meals by ear. We do have a few ADRs and are looking forward to trying Yak & Yeti, Kona (dinner), and Via Napoli. We’ll also be visiting Olivia’s, an old-favorite and a good place for Tink, at least once.

Corby:  I always recommend getting the Magic Your Way with Dining package. And of course when free dining is offered, it’s a must! In my opinion, going to the Disney restaurants makes your experience even more magical. The atmosphere, service, and of course the food are wonderful. I personally think ALL of the restaurants in Disney are kid friendly. We’ve never had a bad experience or felt out of place at any of them. We’ve had wonderful experiences whether it’s a character dinner or when we’ve taken our son to the Wave or Le Cellier. Of course some restaurants do cater more specifically to kids and I’ll pass on some of our favorites.

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater: If you have older children, especially boys, I would highly recommend this restaurant. It was my 5 year old son’s absolute favorite restaurant last year; I would venture to say it was his favorite experience overall that trip. I’ll admit, we went in with very low expectations and were pleasantly surprised. Our son enjoyed watching the old “horror” movie clips on the large movie screen while dining in a “car.“ I wasn’t expecting much from the food and was happy it ended up being delicious. The milkshakes are to die for and my son enjoyed getting his “license.”

Whispering Canyon: Be sure to bring your sense of humor to this restaurant. It’s very loud and the waiters are full of antics that can be seen as obnoxious however, the kids will love it! Enjoy the all-you-can eat Canyon skillet while your kids “ride ponies” and do the hokey pokey. Don’t forget to ask for the ketchup!

Prime Time 50’s Café: The food is not my favorite here but the kids will probably enjoy the atmosphere which makes it worth a try. It’s as though you’ve gone back to the 50’s and you’re eating with family, your server being your “cousin.” The kids will enjoy the kitschy theme with televisions at the table which show clips from the 1950’s.

Tony’s Town Square: Yes, I am recommending Tony’s Town Square, again. Tony’s gets very mixed reviews, I realize, however, it’s still one of my family’s favorites. If you can time it right as I’ve mentioned before, you can dine while viewing the Spectro Magic Parade/Main Street Electrical Parade. You will need to check ahead of time to see when the parade starts as it’s not every night and the schedule does change. You will also need to request to sit outside. We’ve planned it correctly for our past three trips and it just wouldn’t be the same without it. We get the steak and catch of the day, the service has always been wonderful (I think we‘ve had the same server every time) and you can’t beat the location.
Last but not least is the obvious…character dining. I’m not a huge fan of buffets but in my opinion, this is a must do if you have younger kids. Our favorite has been the Crystal Palace with Pooh and friends. We have reservations at Chef Mickey’s in November. We’ve also tried The Garden Grill which is good because it has some of the more popular characters (such as the Big Cheese himself.) I would pick whichever location is going to have your child’s favorite character(s)/princess(es). The children love the one on one interaction and the memories they make will be treasured for years to come.

Thanks to our Minnie Moms for sharing such helpful tips! If you have a question for us or a topic you'd like us to cover, please leave a comment or email Amy.

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