by Lindsey Duckworth (Photos by the ATtTT team)

There are two types of 1st-day-arriving-to-Walt Disney World guests:  The first is the family who leaves home at the crack of dawn to catch the first flight into Orlando (or even those who drive through the night, thanks sleep-deprived Driver Dads!). These families arrive before lunch and have a FULL jam-packed park day complete with parades, two meals, a fireworks show, and 22,000 steps logged onto Mom’s FitBit.


Then there is the second type of family – the ones who make their descent into Orange County, Florida a day of leisure.  They arrive mid-day, check-in and tour their resort, swim or shower, and then head to their first official Disney experience — DINNER!


While we are huge fans of character meals and buffet experiences inside the four major theme parks, most first-time guests are thrilled to know they can enjoy amazing dining options without a park ticket – many of my clients choose to make at least one day of their vacation a “down day” to enjoy the resort amenities (pool, recreation, movies, arcade), visit Disney Springs or even hit the Orlando Premium Outlet stores nearby.

So for 1-credit meal options, I suggest:

  • Ohana or Kona Cafe inside Disney’s Polynesian Village for the carnivores
  • Boma or Sanaa over in the Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village resort region for more adventurous palates
  • Cape May Cafe at Disney’s Beach Club for seafood lovers
  • Raglan Road, T-Rex, or Rainforest Cafe in Disney Springs for those that want to do a little shopping and have their kids thoroughly entertained through dinner.

Downton AbbeyFor the more distinguished diners, we have 7 signature dining recommendations. Six of these are housed within deluxe Disney properties – enjoyable to tour before or after your meal and many of which have nearby child-care centers if you’d like to schedule a “date-night” during your vacation. Each of these venues will utilize 2 dining credits from the Disney dining plan or can be charged a la carte to your resort portfolio using your MagicBand privilege.

Note: a dress code is in place for the resort restaurants below – details and a full menu are included in each link.

  • Artist Point at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – features “farm-to-fork” menu specials including wild caught king salmon or aged buffalo strip loin, all enjoyed with views of Bay Lake and Copper Creek Falls.
  • California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – offers spectacular views of Magic Kingdom and the Seven Seas Lagoon. Menus change seasonally to feature fresh ingredients and the international, melting-pot culture of the Golden State.
  • Flying Fish on Disney’s Boardwalk (near Boardwalk Inn, Beach Club & Yacht Club resorts) – recently refurbished and boasting a varied steak and seafood menu, this gem also has a “secret menu” available Oct 1-Dec 23 of this year.
  • Jiko – the Cooking Place at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – blends traditional African, Indian & Mediterranean cuisine. *Side note: Simba’s Clubhouse is a supervised children’s activity center that offers discounted rates with proof of dinner on resort property as of Sept 2017 – contact your TA for more details on this service.
  • Yachtsman Steakhouse at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – known for high-quality, grain-fed beef and a to-die-for truffle mac-and-cheese, you won’t leave here hungry!!
  • Narcoosee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa – a perfectly timed dinner here will offer you views of the Electrical Water Pageant or fireworks over Magic Kingdom. An alternative for your Disney celebration is Sunday brunch offered now through the end of 2017.
  • The Boathouse at Disney Springs Landing – a perfect blend of casual atmosphere with high-end menu offerings of land and sea.  Shop ’til you drop then fill up here at any point during your vacation!

Looking for more great recommendations? Check out restaurant reviews in these blog posts. And, of course — Talk with your favorite ATtTT agent! 🙂


Foodie Destinations OUTSIDE the WDW parks!
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