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 ones that are worse than their reputation or hype might suggest. Not all are universally beloved, but all aren’t as good as the consensus suggests.
It’s not easy to define what makes a restaurant overrated. In our view, Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) availability, pricing, and cuisine quality are big factors. Equally significant is uniqueness–if a particular restaurant brings nothing special to the table and is surpassed by similarly-situated counterparts that are less popular, cheaper, or serve better food, it’s more likely to be overrated. At least, that’s our perspective on what makes for an overrated Walt Disney World table service restaurant.
Obviously, this is highly subjective and not even remotely scientific, but at least it comes with identifiable criteria considering restaurants overrated. Believe me, it was very difficult to resist my impulse to simply bash restaurants that I dislike. That’s one reason 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 do not like for one reason or another. While it’s tempting to pile on to 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 any of those overrated.
That would imply that the consensus on them is positive, and I just don’t think that’s true anymore. If anything, I might still be including a couple restaurants on this list that are no longer highly-hyped. Time has passed them by as Walt Disney World fans have moved on to greener pastures.
The other reason it was more difficult is because there was my even stronger temptation to defend several restaurants that I know many Walt Disney World fans hate. There’s a draft version of this post explaining why one particular restaurant is not overrated just because it’s a difficult Advance Dining Reservation. It’s probably not too hard to guess which restaurant that references.
After rambling on about it for 8 paragraphs, I realized that it was tangential to the topic at hand and that the same reasoning could apply to about a half-dozen table service restaurants that, contrary to popular Walt Disney World fan sentiment, we think are not overrated. So stay tuned for an “unpopular opinion” list of restaurants you (as a community, not you as the individual reader) think are overrated but actually are good.
But even this explainer is now tangential to the topic of the post, so let’s cut to the chase and start listing some Walt Disney World’s table service restaurants that we think are overrated…
Beaches & Cream Soda Shop – This is one of two modestly priced meals we were on the fence about including, with the other being Plaza Restaurant. Both used to be recommended for having entrees at counter service prices, but are now an upwards of $20.
The difference, and why Plaza Restaurant escapes inclusion, is the competition. In Magic Kingdom, there are no good alternatives at or around that price point. You’ll spend less for something inferior or much more for something superior. By contrast, Beaches & Cream is surrounded by great dining at a range of price points. Even with that said, Beaches & Cream does have a couple of tasty entrees (and I’d happily remove the restaurant from this list if they’d just bring back the Patty Melt and Pork Belly Cuban Sandwich).
Then there’s the ice cream, which is literally just Edy’s. Don’t get us wrong, the novelty shakes are a ton of fun, and we’re suckers for a No Way Jose or Kitchen Sink, but the hype is too much. There are superior scoop shops all around Walt Disney World, including a short walk away in Epcot’s France pavilion.
Tusker House – The next two come with fairly large asterisks. First up is Tusker House, which used to be one of our favorite character meals in all of Walt Disney World. Its buffet served up some of the most ambitious and diverse cuisine, almost on par with Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Nowhere has been hurt by the switch to family style and physical distancing more than Tusker House. The current–and hopefully temporary–food spread is a shadow of its former self, with cuisine that’s unambitious and okay at best. It’s also incredibly overpriced given the quality of the food and character component. Tusker House needs to return to full form more than anywhere else, as it deserves to belong on a ‘best of’ list rather than this one. As it stands, we strongly recommend avoiding Tusker House.
Chef Mickey’s – The asterisk here is that Chef Mickey’s is overrated for its dinner buffet–meaning it’s fine for both breakfast and its current family style meal. We’re expecting the latter to disappear any day now as things go back to normal, at which time we’ll once again sacrifice stomach and wallet to see whether Chef Mickey’s still stinks.
The normal breakfast buffet at Chef Mickey’s (also currently unavailable) is a very different experience. Our memories of it are fond, and it’s generally a good experience that also costs less. Both meals are overpriced given the cuisine, but there’s something to be said for the experience of these characters in their culinary costumes before a day in Magic Kingdom.
Le Cellier Steakhouse – How the times change. A decade ago, this would have been a highly controversial pick. Then, Le Cellier was a great value on the Disney Dining Plan, while offering some excellent appetizers and good (albeit slightly over-buttered and over-salted) cuts of meat. It was almost impossible to land an Advance Dining Reservation at Le Cellier.
Over time, buzz increased and reservations became more difficult to land. Disney made changes to the Dining Plan and, eventually, to Le Cellier’s status at dinner. Finally, Le Cellier became a two-credit restaurant for lunch, too, making it a full-time Signature Restaurant. It 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 Le Cellier has soured with many Walt Disney World fans. Nevertheless, it remains a difficult ADR even as many steakhouses in or around Epcot have ample availability. On that basis, Le Cellier remains overrated despite not being as overrated as before. It’s still a good restaurant with some solid options, just not deserving of its enduring popularity or price points.
Chefs de 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 has had high price points and enjoyed popularity thanks to relatively approachable and crowd-pleasing cuisine.
The only problem? It’s overpriced, pedestrian, and like the fourth best dining option in the France pavilion. (Fifth best if there’s a festival happening that has a moderately-good menu–so pretty much always.) This is probably going to be a controversial pick, but we just don’t think Chefs de France lives up to the hype, and we’ve had eerily similar meals from Costco’s premade bulk meals. (In fairness, those 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 couple of paragraphs in this run-down. In a nutshell, ‘Ohana is a Walt Disney World institution for good reason–but that reason is not the food. It’s also not the prices. Or its ease of booking.
For many longtime Walt Disney World fans, revisiting ‘Ohana is an emotional experience evoking all sorts of nostalgia and fond memories. There’s also something to be said for the actual atmosphere, with the fireworks, views of Cinderella Castle, and Electrical Water Pageant. Then there’s the communal energy and vibe that yes, in fact, ‘Ohana does mean family.
Given all of that, we can hardly fault 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 untangle that from today’s actual ‘Ohana experience is messy, but to the extent that we can, our perspective is that present-day ‘Ohana is overrated.
Which Walt Disney World table service restaurants would you consider overrated? Do you agree or disagree with our list? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!