This is part six of my series on traveling solo to Walt Disney World. In part five, I reviewed lodging options for the solo traveler. In part six, I’ll cover what it’s like to dine alone at Disney. (Don’t worry, it’s painless!)
Dining Alone at Disney
In part Two of this series, I noted that the key to successful solo dining anywhere is distraction, distraction, distraction. Luckily, Disney World offers plenty of distractions. And when it doesn’t, you have the strategies to do so yourself. To recap, that would be: a journal to write in, a book or magazine to read, a seat at a bar or counter where you can talk to the bartender and other diners, or a seat by the window where you can people-watch. Or just relax with a nice adult cocktail. Whatever works for you.
Counter service is basically fast food and presents the simplest option. It’s hot, it’s quick, you can scarf it down there or take it back to your room. You can order room service, but be forewarned that some resorts have a very limited selection (pizza, basically). Or you could bring your own food to store in your room fridge. There’s nothing wrong with doing those things (especially if you’re looking to save money), but it would be a shame for you to go to Disney World and not indulge in at least some of the wonderful table service restaurants they have.
I asked my panel of solo travel experts where they prefer to dine when at Disney World. Betsy from WDWForGrownUps.com had a great answer: “I like dinner shows and the like, or restaurants with great views: Ohana, Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue, Crystal Palace, Teppan Edo, California Grill, Chefs de France.”
Dinner shows are a perfect distraction from the fact that you are dining alone. Nobody, not even you, will be paying attention to the fact that you’re alone, because you’ll all be too busy watching the show. Dinner shows at Disney World include The Spirit of Aloha Show at the Polynesian Resort’s Luau Cove, Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, and Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue at Fort Wilderness’s Pioneer Hall. In addition, the House of Blues in Downtown Disney offers a gospel brunch on Sunday mornings.
What other restaurants offer entertainment?
- Ohana’s cast members engage guests in dinner games and entertainment; so do the cast members at Whispering Canyon Cafe at the Wilderness Lodge and ’50s Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios (where you will become a member of the family).
- At the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at Hollywood Studios, you can dine in a ’50s car while watching old sci fi movies on a big screen.
- At the Rainforest Cafe (in Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney) you can entertain yourself by simply looking around you at a jungle teeming with animatronic animals.
- Raglan Road and Bongos Cuban Cafe in Downtown Disney both have live music at night.
- The Restaurant Marrakesh in Epcot offers belly dancers.
If you would like to have a great view (other than belly dancers) while dining, there are many options for you. I found Le Chefs de France to be a wonderful place for people-watching. Just get a two-top table by the window. The Coral Reef Restaurant in Epcot’s Living Seas Pavilion allows you to dine “under the sea” with a view of an aquarium containing 85 species of tropical fish and a living coral reef. Several restaurants offer views of Disney’s fireworks shows, such as California Grill at the Contemporary Resort, Narcoossee’s at the Grand Floridian Resort, Ohana, the Rose and Crown in Epcot, and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.
If you like to watch your food being prepared, try dining at Teppan Edo, where the chef cooks right at your table. Or dine at the counter of one of these restaurants offering exhibition kitchens:
- California Grill
- Kimonos Sushi Bar at the Walt Disney World Swan Resort
- Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge
- The Flying Fish Cafe at Disney’s Boardwalk
- Todd English’s Bluezoo at the WDW Dolphin Resort
- Wolfgang Puck in Downtown Disney
While all of the above restaurants offer unique dining experiences for the solo traveler, believe me when I say, I haven’t even scratched the surface of what is available at Disney World. As Fran from Pittsburgh says, “One thing I’ve found about traveling solo at Disney at the table service restaurants is that the servers go out of their way to make you feel comfortable.”
I couldn’t agree more. I dined by myself at tables in both Le Chefs de France and Mama Melrose’s, and I was treated exceptionally well by the waitstaff in both restaurants. I wanted for nothing and was treated like a VIP. (And the food was fabulous, too!)
So when you are in the World, don’t be afraid to sample the many restaurants available to you just because you’re alone. You can have a wonderful experience no matter what your taste is. Bon appetit!
Next up: Activities for the Solo at Disney World.