Overrated Table Service Restaurants at Disney World
Walt Disney World has many great restaurants that are very popular and a few popular restaurants that aren’t so great. This list of overrated table service restaurants at Walt Disney World takes a look at those that are worse than their reputation or hype would suggest. Not all are universally loved, but not all are as good as the consensus suggests.
It’s not easy to define what makes a restaurant overrated. In our view, the availability, prices and quality of Advance Meal Reservation (ADR) cuisine are important factors. Uniqueness is equally important – if a particular restaurant brings nothing special to the table and is overtaken by similarly situated counterparts who are less popular, cheaper or serve better food, it is more likely to to be overrated. At least, that’s our take on what makes a Walt Disney World table service restaurant overrated.
Obviously, it’s very subjective and not even remotely scientific, but at least it comes with identifiable criteria considering overrated restaurants. Believe me, it was very hard to resist my impulse to just badmouth restaurants that I don’t like. This is one of the reasons why this list was more difficult to put together than our Underrated Table Service Restaurants at Walt Disney World.
There are several restaurants at Walt Disney World that I dislike for one reason or another. While it’s tempting to pile on Rainforest Cafe, Tutto Italia, Planet Hollywood, Rose & Crown, Paddlefish, or Crystal Palace (to name a few), I’m not sure it’s fair to call one of those overrated.
That would imply that the consensus about them is positive, and I just don’t think that’s true anymore. If anything, I could still include a few restaurants on this list that aren’t high profile anymore. Time has passed them as Walt Disney World fans have moved on to greener pastures.
The other reason it was harder was because I was even more tempted to defend several restaurants I know that many Walt Disney World fans hate. There is a draft version of this article explaining why a particular restaurant is not overrated just because it is a difficult advance reservation. It’s probably not too hard to guess which restaurant this is referring to.
After raving about this for 8 paragraphs, I realized it was tangential to the subject matter and that the same reasoning might apply to about half a dozen table-service restaurants that, contrary to popular sentiment among Walt Disney World fans, are not overpriced. So stay tuned for an “unpopular opinion” list of restaurants you (as a community, not you as an individual reader) think they are overrated but are actually good.
But even that explainer is now tangential to the message, so let’s cut to the chase and start listing some Walt Disney World table-service restaurants that we think are overrated…
Beaches and cream soda shop – This is one of two budget meals we were about to include, the other being the Plaza Restaurant. Both were once recommended to have entrees at counter service prices, but now cost over $20.
The difference, and why Plaza Restaurant eludes inclusion, is the competition. In Magic Kingdom, there are no good alternatives at or around this price. You will spend less for something inferior or a lot more for something superior. Beaches & Cream, on the other hand, is surrounded by excellent restaurants at various price points. Even that said, Beaches & Cream has a few tasty starters (and I’d gladly take the restaurant off this list if they just brought back the Cuban Patty Melt and Pork Belly sandwich).
Then there’s the ice cream, which is literally just Edy’s. Don’t get me wrong, novelty shakes are great fun, and we’re suckers for a No Way Jose or a kitchen sink, but the hype is too much. There are top quality scoop stores all around Walt Disney World, including a short walk from Epcot’s France pavilion.
Tusker House – The next two are accompanied by fairly large asterisks. The first is Tusker House, which was once one of our favorite character meals in all of Walt Disney World. His buffet served one of the most ambitious and diverse cuisines, almost on par with Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Nowhere has been more impacted by the shift to family style and physical distancing than Tusker House. The current – and hopefully temporary – food distribution is a shadow of its former self, with unambitious and decent at best cooking. It’s also incredibly expensive considering the quality of the food and the character. Tusker House needs to get back to full fitness more than anywhere else because it deserves to be on a ‘best’ list rather than this one. As things stand, we highly recommend avoiding Tusker House.
Chef Mickey’s – The asterisk here is that Chef Mickey’s is overrated for his buffet dinner, which means he’s good for both breakfast and his current family meal. We expect the latter to disappear any day as things return to normal, in which case we’ll sacrifice stomach and wallet again to see if Chef Mickey still stinks.
Chef Mickey’s normal breakfast buffet (also currently unavailable) is a very different experience. Our memories are good, and it’s usually a good experience that also costs less. Both meals are overpriced considering the cuisine, but there’s something to be said for experiencing these characters in their culinary suits before a day at the Magic Kingdom.
Steakhouse Le Cellier – How times change. Ten years ago this would have been a very controversial choice. Next, Le Cellier was great value on the Disney dining plan, while also offering great finger foods and good cuts of meat (albeit slightly over buttered and over salted). It was nearly impossible to get an advance reservation at Le Cellier.
Over time, the buzz grew and reservations became harder to come by. Disney has made changes to the meal plan and, possibly, the status of the Cellar at dinner. Finally, Le Cellier has also become a two-credit restaurant for lunch, making it a full-time Signature restaurant. It has also moved to a lunch/dinner menu, removing many cheaper options that were popular with those paying out of pocket.
By now, I think the perception of the Cellar has soured with many Walt Disney World fans. Still, it’s still a tough ADR even though many steakhouses in or around Epcot have great availability. On this basis, Le Cellier remains overvalued although it is not as overrated like before. It’s still a good restaurant with some solid options, but doesn’t deserve its enduring popularity or prices.
Chefs of France – Another World Showcase entry joins Le Cellier on the list of overrated restaurants. Although Chefs de France never had the same buzz as Le Cellier, it had high prices and enjoyed popularity thanks to relatively accessible and crowd-pleasing cuisine.
The only problem? It’s overpriced, pedestrian, and like France’s fourth-best pavilion dining option. (Fifth best if there’s a festival that has a moderately good menu, so pretty much always.) This is probably going to be a controversial choice, but we just don’t think Chefs de France lives up to the hype. , and we’ve had eerily similar meals from Costco’s Pre-Made Bulk Meals. (In all fairness, they were very good, but frozen food shouldn’t compare to one of World Showcase’s most popular restaurants.)
Ohana — Our post-reopening review of ‘Ohana encapsulates the emotional highs and lows of a meal at this beloved restaurant far better than a few paragraphs in this recap. In a nutshell, ‘Ohana is a Walt Disney World institution for a reason, but that reason isn’t the food. Nor are they the prices. Or its ease of booking.
For many longtime Walt Disney World fans, revisiting ‘Ohana is an emotional experience evoking all kinds of nostalgia and fond memories. There’s also something to be said for the current atmosphere, with the fireworks, views of Cinderella’s Castle and the electric water show. Then there’s the shared energy and vibe that yes, in fact, ‘Ohana means family.
Considering all of this, we can hardly blame Walt Disney World fans who love ‘Ohana. We love ‘Ohana! However, our love for ‘Ohana is based more on the idea of the restaurant and fond memories of past experiences. Trying to disentangle this from the current ‘Ohana experience is messy, but as far as we can, our view is that today’s ‘Ohana is overrated.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Learn more about the hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotel Reviews page. To find out where to eat, read our Walt Disney World restaurant reviews. To save money on tickets or figure out which type to buy, read our tips for saving money on Walt Disney World tickets. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips article takes a unique look at smart on-the-go items. To know what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride guides will help you. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Travel Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Which Walt Disney World table-service restaurants do you consider overrated? Do you agree or disagree with our list? Questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback – even when you disagree with us – is both interesting for us and helpful for other readers, so share your thoughts below in the comments!