The Plaza Restaurant Review

The Plaza Restaurant as seen from the Tomorrowland bridge. It may come as a surprise, but we aren't fans of the Plaza. Here's our review: http://www.disneytouristblog.com/plaza-restaurant-review/


Tucked away behind the Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street USA in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, the Plaza Restaurant is in what would seem to be a high traffic area, yet it never seems to be too busy–at least not when we’ve stopped by. Perhaps this is because it’s a high traffic area when people are entering and exiting the Magic Kingdom, and at those times, a table service meal isn’t crossing the minds of most guests. The Plaza Restaurant’s menu consists of mostly American deli and soda-fountain classics, and is actually a lot like the Magic Kingdom’s version of Beaches & Cream.

The Plaza Restaurant participates in the Disney Dining Plan as a one credit table service meal. It also accepts the Tables in Wonderland card for a 20% discount. We always pay out of pocket when dining here, as this restaurant is a terrible value on the Disney Dining Plan (click to see top restaurants for maximizing your bang for buck on the Dining Plan) because the restaurant is so inexpensive.

In terms of ambiance, the Plaza Restaurant is basically a simplistic soda fountain with Victorian and Art Nouveau stylings. Its interior is very light and airy, with a lot of natural light plus some pretty, yet understated design flourishes. It’s not going to win any awards for being one of the best themed restaurants at Walt Disney World, but I would definitely call its design intimate and charming. Plus, it’s fun when the Mayor stops in to entertain guests or sing ‘Happy Birthday.’

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We have dined at the Plaza Restaurant a few times, and the first couple of times we ate there, we were not sold on the place. It was one of those hyped up restaurants that many people sang the praises of, due to its regular availability and low cost as compared to other table service restaurants at Walt Disney World. In fact, with our Tables in Wonderland card, it is typically almost as cheap as a counter service meal. Even though we hadn’t been impressed with our first couple of meals there, we have returned, partly given the overall quality (or lack thereof) of counter service restaurants in the Magic Kingdom.

This review has been revised since our most recent 2014 visit to the Plaza Restaurant, at which time we finally understood the basis for some of its cult-like following. We finally had the level of meal that has earned this place a small cult following…

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On one visit, I ordered the Plaza Club and Sarah ordered the cheese burger. A lot of things on the Plaza Restaurant’s menu sounded good, I actually sought advice from my Twitter followers as to what we should order. I made my order based on volume of Twitter responses (yeah, I really can’t think for myself, I guess). Sarah asked the waitress if the burger was comparable to the burger at Beaches and Cream. The waitress didn’t know, nor do I think she even knew what Beaches and Cream was, but she said it was a “real” burger as opposed to the burgers at Pecos Bill’s or Cosmic Ray’s. I knew it! Bill and Ray were serving imposter burgers! Alert the authorities at once!

I had no clue what she meant by a “real” burger. Sarah’s burger on that visit tasted no different than a burger at Cosmic Ray’s or Pecos Bill’s, and was certainly not comparable to Beaches and Cream. My Club was decent, but lacking overall. It seemed like it had about half the things listed in the menu’s description of it. On top of that, it was dry (it could have used a more liberal application of dressing). The dessert list looked good, but given how slow our service had been for the main portion of the meal (and the quality thereof), we decided to just get dessert later at a quicker location.

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On a recent trip to Walt Disney World, we decided to give the Plaza Restaurant another try. They had a new ice cream dessert and we had heard about some changes to the menu that might be worth checking out. Plus, we were unable to get into Be Our Guest Restaurant for lunch, so figured this was a good alternative. It actually has some lunch entrees that are cheaper than those at Be Our Guest Restaurant for lunch—quite astounding given Be Our Guest Restaurant is counter service for lunch!

This time, I opted for the Beef Brisket Onion Burger, which our server said was relatively new. I was debating between this and the Cheese Steak Sandwich, but ultimately the presence of burger, brisket, and bacon (the 3 major food groups) made this win out for me. Our server seemed to agree, calling this by far the best item on the menu.

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It did not disappoint. The 3 meats plus the provolone cheese, lettuce, and tomato fused perfectly for a mouth-watering burger bursting with flavor. Now this was a real burger! It reminded me a lot of one of the ‘gourmet’ burgers served at trendy places around us that use high quality sources and unorthodox combinations for some really intriguing flavors. I’m not sure that brisket on a burger is exactly unorthodox, but I had never tried it, and the overall quality and “flavor profile” (that might be a bit overzealous for describing a burger, but whatever) was of the same caliber. At ~$16, the burger was one of the more expensive items on the menu, but given the quality and filling portion size, I was not at all disappointed.

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Sarah ordered the Vegetarian Sandwich, consisting of Fresh Mozzarella, Hummus, Basil Pesto, Cucumber, Roasted Red Pepper, Tomato, and lettuce on Freshly Baked Focaccia with choice of Broccoli Slaw, Homemade Chips, or French Fries. She described this as being really flavorful thanks to the basil pesto and mozzarella, which tied the sandwich together nicely and gave it a much more robust taste than an ordinary vegetable sandwich. As far as “healthy” theme park dining goes, this is a great option.

For me, this meal is what totally redeemed the Plaza Restaurant, and finally put it in the league that so many people claimed it was in, one of the “hidden gems” of Walt Disney World dining at a reasonable price point. Next time I think I will try the cheaper Cheese Steak Sandwich (at $13 it seems like a solid value), but I would not hesitate to recommend the Beef Brisket Onion Burger—it’s actually the best burger I have had at Walt Disney World!

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This time, we split the Mickey Kitchen Sink Sundae, which was a relatively new special offering available here and at Beaches & Cream. When it was first introduced, it sold for $23, but in a rare move, Disney decreased the price to $14! I’m not sure whether this sundae is still available, but for $14, I think it is a very solid deal.

Unlike the Kitchen Sink at Beaches and Cream, this is entirely “normal” ingredients, consisting of hand-scooped chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice cream drizzled with hot fudge, strawberry, and caramel sauces and topped with chocolate and peanut butter chips, whipped cream, and cherries. We are pigs, and the two of us could not finish this by ourselves, so I’m thinking it safely serves 2-3 people. Four would probably be pushing it. If it’s still there when you visit, we highly recommend this–it’s a solid value at $14.

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Overall, the Plaza Restaurant is now somewhere I’d highly recommend to others not wanting to do counter service, and instead contemplating the limited table service options in the Magic Kingdom. I still think some of the menu options are nothing special, but there are at least a couple that are excellent, and most (at the very least) are going to be superior to what you’ll find at a counter service restaurant for roughly the same price. That’s what’s important to remember here: this is a table service restaurant, but in terms of price, it is basically a Counter Service+ restaurant. Based upon the price points, it’s a great value if you’re paying out of pocket. However, it’s not going to be for everyone, as if you have limited time in the Magic Kingdom, it may not be worth the added time it will take you to sit down at this restaurant and be served, and the tip you’ll pay for the service on top of the food. On vacations when time is a precious commodity, the Plaza Restaurant just might not bring enough to the table to justify the use of that precious commodity. Yes, the brisket burger is great, but other items are so-so, and it certainly lacks the impressive theming found at other Walt Disney World restaurants.

Want more dining tips? Check out our 101 Delicious Walt Disney World Dining Tips. If you are planning a Walt Disney World trip, make sure to also read our comprehensive Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide to make the most of your experience!

Overall Score: 8/10

To read other Disney restaurant reviews from Walt Disney World and dining resources, check out our Walt Disney Dining Reviews Index.

Your Thoughts…

Have you dined at The Plaza? If so, do you agree, or do you think we’re way off and view The Plaza Restaurant as one of Walt Disney World’s hidden gems? What dishes did you order? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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34 Responses to “The Plaza Restaurant Review”

  1. Kristi says:

    We have positive experiences there. We have dined there twice (Mar 2011 and June 2011). In June, Disney lost our reservation and made arrangements for us to get in very close to our reservation time and we did. (They thought there was something with the time in what they emailed and what went into their computers due to a time change).

    The food was good and the service was good. The server even told us where Disney buys their cheesecakes….Gasp! I know….I thought they were made with pixie dust.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I fully expect this to be one of the “least agreed with” reviews on the site, but even though I hear rave reviews about the place, I still review based solely on my experiences. None of us were impressed. We are not dining snobs (we love Cosmic Ray’s and Sunshine Seasons, after all!), but this was just nothing to write home about.

      If anyone is considering dining here, I hope they read the comments, too, and not just my text. Just because it wasn’t for us doesn’t mean it’s not for anyone. A lot of people really LOVE The Plaza!

  2. Ellen says:

    Gorgeous top photo!!! I also ate here for the first time in Dec 2010. We actually enjoyed it! I can totally see what you mean though…about it being counter service quality and not worth the waste of time. We ate here in the big freeze of Dec 2010 though and it was about 50 degrees at MK that day, so we actually enjoyed the “wasted time” sitting inside somewhere warm. The ice cream desserts and milk shakes looked great, but yeah, entrees were kind of “ehh…”

    • Ellen says:

      Oh and I should add that we were last-minute walk-ups and seated within 5 minutes…which also led to our enjoyment of the place!

  3. MIke Sperduto says:

    I agree with you totally! I was not impressed at all and lacked the magic that some of the other sit down restaurants in Walt Disney World have.

  4. Gordon says:

    We had pre-booked so were taken very timeously and the food I had was fine, nothing great but nothing spectacular. To be honest I really like Burgers so you have to go some way to wreck that. What made it suck for me was the service from our waiter. At best it was slow at worst it was disinterested but the doozy came when he brought me the wrong dessert but asked if I would rather not have that anyway….’no sunshine, I would not!’ was about as polite as I could be at that point. Glad I tried it though but its on the never again list and not many make it there after only 1 experience

  5. Jon Grant says:

    Comparing this place to to “one of the few restaurants in its class, the stand-out Beaches and Cream” is an automatic setup for disappointment. Can you even imagine if this place was near as good as B&C? Talk about a 180-day-out-or-you’re-out-of-luck type place THAT would be. Holy. Cow.

    The burgers (IMO) are better than Pecos/Ray’s. Not by a lot, but by enough that I don’t mind spending a little more. The fries are much better. The drinks get refilled. The food comes on plates and with metal silverware. The room holds many fewer screaming children than any counter service. All of that adds up to why I think this place is worth a visit.

  6. John B says:

    I’ll defend your review. I’ve been to Plaza twice. Both times the food was . . . fine. Like you said, nothing bad, but nothing to make me blacklist the place (like Tony’s).

    However, the service is VERY slow. It took an hour for my cup of soup and sandwich.

    The only part of your review I disagree with is that it’s not very busy. Both times I’ve been there for lunch it’s been MOBBED. And the place is really small, so it’s also very loud with all those people.

    With a TiW discount it’s not much more expensive than CS, but I still won’t rush back there. Won’t rule it out either.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Agreed completely. I guess it being slow was just the day we went–I was shocked by that, so I definitely believe you that it gets busier.

  7. Mary says:

    I’ve had hit and miss experiences at Plaza. Growing up, it has always been a favorite but the older my brother & I got, the less we ate there. I ate at the Plaza back in May (2011) and it was extremely busy the day I ate there. My waitress was an absolute DOLL. I recently, at that point anyway, had to make some serious diet changes due to being diagnosed with Kidney Stone Disease so she worked with my shyness about my diet restrictions. At the time, I was not comfortable with saying I had dietary restrictions to the point of needing to speak with the Chef, but she was more than willing to accommodate me in any way that she could. That time my food was actually pretty awesome. Fast forward to July of 2011 and my opinion changed. I was eating with my friend Christa who had met me after work for dinner and it was not the best experience. I was still experimenting with foods to eat within my diet situation (mainly, no meat and low sodium and not due to choice. Thanks purines and high uric acid levels!). I specifically asked how the veggie burger was. Was it the consistency and thickness of the regular hamburgers or was it a typical thin veggie burger? I know it’s silly, but for me, the texture makes a huge difference. Our waiter had no real explanation and that should have given me a clue. When the burger arrived I tried desperately to continue to eat it, but honestly, it was absolutely hard as a rock. I was pretty sure it was flash frozen in rock. Christa forced me to send it back and I reluctantly did so and ordered the veggie sandwich. The first time I had the sandwich was AWESOME, the second was absolutely horrible. I will probably eat at Plaza again in a pinch, but I thoroughly enjoy Cinderella’s Royal Table, Liberty Tree, and Crystal Palace enough to always choose those first. Even Tony’s! And quite frankly, when you have the GF, WL, Poly, and Contemporary THAT close, you really have even more dining options for the Magic Kingdom than the Plaza!

  8. Justin M says:

    I ate here for the first time in June 2011 and liked it alot. I really like the ambiance, but it definetly is a bit small and the tables are close together. I had the reuben and my girlfriend had the strawbery salad, both were excellent and it was one of the best meals I have ever had at MK and at reasonable price. We had a window table and a beautiful view of the castle. Give this place a try again!

  9. Glenn says:

    I’ve never eaten here because the menu is limited to mostly sandwiches. It seems very pricey for just a sandwich. Is it really any better than the counter services? The meat loaf is the only entree on the menu that’s not a sandwich; I would like to see a few other things offered. But it is someplace I’ve always wanted to try. Can anyone convince me why I should? We usually use the dining plan, and this doesn’t seen like a good use of a dining credit.

  10. Christa says:

    If you try The Plaza again, and decide to try the club again, be sure to order it on the multi-grain bread. This is what they used to serve it on, and when they switched to the sourdough bread it was yucky!

    For me, the love of The Plaza is that I can get a sit-down meal that’s not a buffet and get out of the heat and rest my feet a bit. Perhaps this may change with the opening of Be Our Guest?

  11. Rose says:

    The turkey club is on the sour dough and the turkey sandwich is on the multigrain(both have bacon,lettuce and mayo, but the turkey sammie has 2 slices of bread instead of 3 in the club). Burgers are good too but they usually undercook in our experiance. We eat here every trip. To me it is a lunch type place. I don’t use a dining plan credit if on the plan. But it is a MUST DO! They also have great soups. The fries and the new housemade chips are soooo good if hubby orders chips I get fries. So we can have both. Usually too full for dessert but the times we got sundaes they were yummmm. The only complaint is some of the tables are too close. Once the server even thought we were with the people next to us and took my order and then tried to take the other girls order. Kinda funny but not at the same time.

  12. Kerry says:

    We ate at The Plaza on our last full day at WDW just a month ago. And I have to say that I was so happy with out experience there. We have a difficult time dining anywhere (even outside of WDW) because my daughter has a tree nut allergy. We had mixed experiences at WDW in dealing with the allergy issue (but that’s for another reply). The Plaza was the best experience we had. The chef, Connie, came to our table to discuss my dd’s allergy. When my daughter (9 Years old but with a sophisticated palate) expressed disinterest in any of the meals on the children’s menu (which she’d been forced to eat since we’d been on the dining plan), the chef told my daughter she’d make anything she wanted. My daughter requested a chef salad. Chef Connie made my daughter the most amazing chef salad we have ever seen. It was enormous and so amazingly delicious. Yes, I sneaked a few bites. My own salad was just as huge and just as delicious. My husband was also thrilled with his meal.

    The three of us ordered dessert but I can honestly say that none of us finished them because the dessert portions were just as large as our dinners were. Amazingly delicious, as well. Chef Connie gave my daughter sugar cookies, nut free of course, to take with her since she wasn’t able to finish her dessert.

    Unlike the staff at every single counter service restaurant we tried, Chef Connie knew exactly what was in every bit of food in her restaurant. She knew what my daughter could and couldn’t eat. And she went out of her way to give us a wonderful dining experience. When we sent a thank you note back to the kitchen to thank Connie for our wonderful meal, my daughter received a glowing Tinkerbell and her own note as a thank you for our thank you. Tink now flies over my daughter’s bed as a nightly reminder of our trip to Disney and, of course, our dinner at The Plaza.

    So, no, The Plaza will never be Le Cellier. But sometimes, there’s much more than ambiance and a good steak that makes a fabulous dining experience.

    • Tom Bricker says:

      I don’t think anyone is expecting it to be Le Cellier (or a high caliber table service restaurant). I don’t think it was much of a step up from counter service.

      Your story is a great one, and I can understand why you’d like it more because of that. Just realize that you can find stories like this for–literally–every single Walt Disney World restaurant. Above and beyond service is, thankfully, not all that uncommon at WDW. That said, isolated incidents of great service don’t make a restaurant great.

  13. michelle says:

    We ate there about 2 years and it was exactly how you described it! It took way too long for not great food! We haven’t been back since.

  14. Elonwy says:

    Agree completely with your review. Though I would caution to not bother comparing burgers from anywhere else on property to B&C or you will always end up disappointed.

    If you want to use it to it’s full potential order a dessert or drink only and sit and enjoy the view. That is the only thing that makes it worth a second look – the food is not.

  15. mitch says:

    It serves the purpose of allowing you to relax and be waited on for very reasonable prices and food that non-foodies will find appealing.

  16. Jessica says:

    We would go to The Plaza every time we came to Disney in the 90’s. My father and I religiously ordered the Ruben with German potato salad. We thought it was delicious but in recent years we have found the quality of food to be much lower and left feeling like it has “lost its magic”. I know my father had to save all year for our yearly trip and we took many shortcuts so we could go (yes I carried a can soda in my fanny pack) and this was a cheaper place to eat maybe that is why we came so much. Now that I have been bringing my own children The Plaza just doesn’t do it for us, my dad included. If we need a quick eat and there isn’t a wait then it’s ok but I wouldn’t be sad if I missed out on it.

  17. Andy says:

    I would likely rate this average. Its not awful food. We stopped here on our last trip and used our Deluxe Dining Plan, mostly because we were too full for another big meal. My main reason for responding is because of the remarks about Tony’s. I actually really enjoy Tony’s. I live in St. Louis which is infamous for our Italian, and im certainly not saying its great italian food, but its actually pretty good. Especially the calamari and Tiramisu (actually one of the best I have had). There pistachio gelato actually isn’t bad either.

  18. Donna A. says:

    I agree with your review, The Plaza just seems overrated. I have been there twice and doubt I will return for a third meal. The first time, my burger was cold and we were packed in so tightly our server couldn’t refill our drinks easily or quickly. The second time I had a glorified deli sandwich on semi stale bread and had a drink spilled on me. I could have gotten a better quality sandwich at Publix for half the price. Yes, I know it’s Disney and it’s theme park food but it’s for those reasons that I hold them to a higher standard. Overall, I haven’t been impressed with sit-down food at the Magic Kingdom. I’d rather get a hot dog at Casey’s and save my money to splurge on a nice meal at EPCOT or Hollywood Studios.

  19. Sadly, I agree with you 100%! The Plaza Restaurant used to be a favorite of mine and we would make a reservation at 180 days out for every visit. Unfortunately, the last few times we have gone there, it has really gone downhill. The service has been ridiculously slow even when the place was half empty. Even the servers didn’t seem to have their usual Disney pep and enthusiasm. Not to mention the food. I generally like plain food, but The Plaza’s food, has seemed exceptionally bland and flavorless. I’m hoping they turn it around. I would love to give it another chance once I see some good reviews again!

  20. Kevin says:

    They need to import some fried chicken from the west coast!

  21. Beth Jackson says:

    Tom, may I get your opinion, please? Reviews of the Plaza are obviously mixed. I made ADRs for this restaurant so we wouldn’t have to stand in line for lunch when we are WDW with my 4 year old son next month (and I’m going to be 20 weeks pregnant and would like to sit in an AC’d building for lunch!). Do you have a MK recommendation that is a similar price and doesn’t have a 30 minute line to order? Thanks bunches!

    • Tom Bricker says:

      This review is actually about to be updated. We recently revisited the Plaza Restaurant (which has added several new menu items since our last visit) and had an AMAZING meal. I would now highly recommend it.

      Hope that helps! :)

      • Beth says:

        That helps tremendously! I’ll keep our ADR and hope the same chef is on duty! Many thanks! :-)

  22. Michael Voumard says:

    I love this restaurant. Great food and the staff is very nice and friendly.

  23. Sarah says:

    The Alphonse Mucha inspired menus are a nice touch. We’ll have to give this one a try on our next visit.

  24. Tom says:

    I think they are expanding the number of outside tables here. I wonder about two things. Will the enlarged outdoor terrace offer better views and photographer’s venues for Celebration and Wishes. Secondly my top WDW burgers ranking has always been the same: First Place to Le Cellier (now gone). Second Place to LTT, still better there and better than Pecos Bill. And the show place Pecos Bill’s which I only eat to get a root beer float served in a cowboy boot. Where does that onion burger stack up in that grouping. I have eaten at Beaches & Cream many times, but for some strange reason have never had the burger. So I don’t know where it fits in in my above rankings. But a larger and more important question is: do you get to keep that cute mickey’s pants bowl after you finish the sundae?

    • Tom Bricker says:

      Yeah, you can keep the Mickey bowl after eating the sundae. Unfortunately, it’s built into the price of the sundae, so even if you don’t want it…you’re paying for it.

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