Friday, October 4, 2013

Minnie Moms: Favorite Off-Property Dining (& Not-So-Off)

For this month's Minnie Moms topic, I asked the ladies to share their favorite off-property restaurants. To my surprise, I got email after email stating that they never or rarely ate anywhere other than Disney restaurants. So this month will be a hodgepodge of our favorite off-the-beaten-path dining locations.

Natalie: When vacationing in Orlando, my family also enjoys visiting Universal Studios and the Islands of Adventures. These parks are only about 20 minutes from Downtown Disney. We have been annual passholders for Universal since the Harry Potter section was added to Islands of Adventures. The price of the passes is much less costly than those for Disney World with the cost of our entire family’s annual pass costing less than one annual pass for the Disney theme parks. 

One of our favorite things to do is to eat in Mythos Restaurant found in Islands of Adventure. The restaurant has great views of the theme park with windows by the lake overlooking The Incredible Hulk Coaster and The Amazing Adventures of Spider-man attractions. The restaurant has won the Best Theme Park Restaurant from 2003 – 2010. The food is wonderful and begins with a basket of rosemary bread. My family loved that bread so much, we now grow rosemary simply for making bread using that herb! The dishes include cedar planked Bay of Fundy salmon, gourmet hamburgers and imported pasta. My son always gets the filet which is no longer available on the kids menu. We simply ask if he can still get it and they have always accommodated. I love getting the spinach salad with blueberries and blue cheese, but also love the fish tacos there.

The restaurant is only open daily for lunch with dishes costing approximately $10 - $18. If you would like to make reservation, call 407 224 4012. If you are an annual passholder, you will get annual pass savings by presenting the pass to the server. If you have not been to Universal in a while, it is really a lot of fun for everyone in the family! Head on over there and experience all that is there and be sure to stop in at Mythos for a great meal!

Corby: OK, I will admit it. When my family goes to Disney World, we stay on property and rarely leave so I'm not the best person to offer my opinion on off property restaurants. I did have a great meal at TGI Friday's located off International Drive (the mecca of off property restaurants) once and would recommend it, especially to guests choosing to stay in a non-Disney hotel. However, I figured since this is about favorites I should probably mention a restaurant I've been to more than once in Orlando. I know this is a stretch as it's on Disney property but it's not Disney owned so I'm going with Rainforest Cafe. My family frequents the Downtown Disney location but there is a second location at Animal Kingdom as well.

Rainforest Cafe at Walt Disney World

My kids love the atmosphere, the food and service have always been good and c'mon, there are animal animatronics everywhere! How cool is that? We have found this is one of the few restaurants my daughter will actually sit at the table and be memorized the entire meal so definitely a win win for us! We're also usually on the dining plan so it's nice to be able to use a table service credit but not have to make a reservation 180 days in advance. We usually just walk up whatever day/time we please, put our name on the list and walk around enjoying Downtown Disney shops while we wait.

Rainforest Cafe at Walt Disney World
They have an extensive menu featuring seafood, burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, pizza and pasta. You'll definitely find something for everyone in your family, even the pickiest of eaters! 

Janine: My favourite off-property dining may be a little boring to those who live in the US as I'm afraid it is not a quaint family owned 'mom and pop' diner, or a trendy up-and-coming eatery, but a plain old chain restaurant.

My most favourite place to eat in the whole of the Orlando area is ... The Olive Garden.

I LOVE Italian food and pastas, pizzas and garlic bead are my idea of heaven. As a vegetarian, I often find a limited amount of choice available when we eat out, but Olive Garden not only has a good meat-free menu, the chef has always been really accommodating, tweaking my meal if needed.
I really enjoy the salad and garlic sticks, and have only ever managed dessert once due to the huge portions. In fact if I order pizza, I usually end up taking most of it to-go. 

I have eaten at this chain on International Drive, on the 192 and in Lake Buena Vista and found all 3 to be really nice and clean. The one I personally like the best is the one on I Drive, but only because we ate the the most. We always pay this place a visit whenever we visit WDW at least once. and I can't wait to go again.

Amy:  We don't always dine off-property but when we do, it's Chevy's.  (LOL!)  Chevy's is a Tex-Mex restaurant located at the Crossroads shopping center.  It's just off Disney property at the intersection of 535 and Hotel Plaza Boulevard.  I haven't been in a few years but my parents eat at Chevy's on most Disney trips.  The chips and salsa and housemade tortillas are really good.  As much as I love Disney dining, sometimes it is nice to take a break from ADRs and the ever-increasing prices.  Minnie got to have her first lunch at Chevy's back in May while Tink and I were having a day at Magic Kingdom.  My parents had alot of fun taking the little one out and she loved the ice cream that came with her kids meal!

Chevy's at Lake Buena Vista, off-property dining at Walt Disney World

We also like Steak and Shake for a simple dinner and sometimes we will send my dad to ChickFilA to bring dinner back to Old Key West.  On the same trip in May, one evening DisneyDad picked up dinner from CFA for my mom and the girls.  They relaxed in the villa and DisneyDad and I got to have a meal together at Olivia's.

It's not techinically off-property but ordering pizza has become a new regular thing for us. Again, we enjoy letting the girls relax/play in the evenings rather than keeping them out at the parks. A simple dinner in the villa gives us time to hit the pool and playground before bedtime.

Beth: When we head down to Walt Disney World, I will admit we do not spend a moment off of Disney property, unless it is quick trip to a grocery for necessities! Therefore I have not enjoyed any off property dining spots. So I am taking a slight twist on the topic. I am going to share one of our favorite places outside of the Disney parks and resorts at Downtown Disney Marketplace. There are two places that we are sure to dine at each trip. But since one is an ice cream shop (Ghirardelli's), I'll go with our favorite lunch spot to take a break while shopping for some fun Disney souvenirs. Earl of Sandwich is by far one of the best sandwich shops I have ever eaten at. The sandwiches are large, the cost is more than reasonable and even though every time we enter the front door the line is massive, the line moves very quickly. We have plenty of favorite sandwiches from the All American to the 1762, which on our last trip were only $5.99 each, but one of my absolute favorite options at Earl of Sandwich is that all their salads can be made in a wrap. I am not sure why I think this is so impressive, but I almost always get Earl's Cobb salad in a wrap. I recently saw they have added a chicken and berry salad that I cannot wait to try! For the kids, they at first were skeptical at the look of their grilled cheese due to the shape of the bread, but once they took a bite, they loved it! When on a Disney vacation, you can't beat an inexpensive, filling lunch that standing in line has minimal impact on enjoying your vacation. That's why Earl of Sandwich is one of our favorite dining spots outside of Disney parks and resorts.

Many thanks to JanineNatalie, Corby and Beth for sharing their favorite off-property (or not-so-off) restaurants!   Please check out our Minnie Moms page for past articles and more information about this terrific team. 


  1. We love Chevys too. Be sure to be on their mailing list for coupons and if you can plan it right,kids eat FREE one night a week (it also includes balloon animal).


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