Most people don’t get excited about dining at water parks, even if they do have to eat while there. Typhoon Lagoon at Walt Disney World has several restaurants, with numerous food options available. Unfortunately, most of these options are decidedly ordinary and aren’t the types of foods you yearn for between vacations. The good news is that it’s not all bad, and there are more than enough options at Typhoon Lagoon to have a good day of dining while there. That good day of dining just requires that you pick the right things.
Picking the “right things” is more difficult than it sounds. Virtually every new food option in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, etc., is documented and reviewed online, making it easy to find foods you otherwise might not see in the parks. Typhoon Lagoon doesn’t receive the same attention, but it does have one advantage that the other parks don’t: posted park-wide menus! Without the assistance of a smart phone app or Google, you can view all of the menus in the park via illustrated menus throughout the park! Now, Disney obviously doesn’t review the items found on these menus (I’m sure they’d describe them all as “decadent” or “yummy”), but that’s where we come in!
There’s a decent amount of overlap on the Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach dining options, so some identical options we have tried at one water park we assume are substantially similar to the exact same item at the other water park. We aren’t the types who think Cinnamon Rolls are baked with magical dust in a special pixie oven on Main Street, but not in New Fantasyland (when the reality is that both are baked in a central kitchen elsewhere), so we aren’t the types who think the exact same foods taste better in one water park at Walt Disney World than they do at another.
Before we get started, here are a couple of general tips. First, buy the refillable mug. The two of us always share a mug (as far as I know this isn’t prohibited by any posted signage, but perhaps it is and now our souls will forever burn), making the cost for our drinks (and a cool souvenir) at the water parks minimal. Second, order entrees and not combos unless you really like Disney fries or house-made chips (if you’ve never done this, it’s as simple as saving “______ only, no side”). This will save you $2 off the posted combo price. More importantly, it will save you room in your stomach for the two standout dessert options discussed herein.
Below are our overviews of each restaurant, along with what we recommend and don’t recommend.
Leaning Palms is the largest restaurant at Typhoon Lagoon, and it’s easy to find–just look for the leaning structure. Actually, that’s not sufficiently descriptive since a lot of Typhoon Lagoon buildings lean. Look for the yellow leaning tower. It used to be part of the Placid Palms Resort community, but since the epic typhoon, it’s now being used to serve fast food. I assume the Leaning Tower of Pisa has a similar backstory.
There’s a decent amount of variety on the Leaning Palms menu–probably enough that this should be your default choice if you don’t want to split up your party and go to the smaller counter service locations. The menu starts out with the types of choices you’ll find in a lot of locations at Walt Disney World: burgers, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, and pizza. In our experience, the hot dogs, pizza, and burgers here are exactly like what you’d find elsewhere. Think Cosmic Ray’s or Pizza Planet on this front. None of these items have any signature twists–they’re all the basic variety. We don’t recommend them, but if you have picky eaters or want predictability and like these things elsewhere, go for them.
Further down the menu, you’ll encounter some of the more unique items, like the BBQ Pork Sandwich, Turkey Pesto Sandwich, and Chicken Wrap. The standout option here is far and away the Turkey Pesto Sandwich. It’s sizable, has plenty of toppings, is moist, and is served on delicious bread. It’s very reminiscent of a sandwich you might find at Sunshine Seasons, which is fairly high praise coming from me, as I almost always order a sandwich at Sunshine Seasons. The BBQ Pork and Chicken Wrap are fine options, although Sarah found the Chicken Wrap to be dry (a common problem with Walt Disney World wraps) and the BBQ Pork Sandwich to be fine but “not memorable.”
Anything not mentioned here we haven’t tried or haven’t seen during our visits–order at your own risk.
Typhoon Tilly’s is a smaller restaurant, but it’s our pick for the top spot to dine at Typhoon Lagoon, especially for those who enjoy seafood. It has several of the items mentioned as “more unique” above, plus seafood and a unique hot dog. The only thing it lacks is a selection of the ordinary stuff found at Leaning Palms.
The seafood here will remind Walt Disney World regulars of the standard seafood options on the Columbia Harbour House menu. We’ve named Columbia Harbour House as one of our Top Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants, but that’s mostly because of its unique menu options. Still, the regular stuff at Columbia Harbour House isn’t bad, my point with all of this is just that you shouldn’t expect Typhoon Tilly’s to sudden jump to the #4 spot on that list after this review. It has good seafood, but not that good.
As far as what to order, my recommendation here is the Battered Shrimp. I counted 9 fairly large shrimp when I ordered this, which isn’t a bad haul. If ordering seafood, I’d make an exception to the “no sides” recommendation above and get your seafood with fries. There’s something about fish or shrimp and fries that I just love. Maybe the greases from the two mix and make the blend even better? I have no clue.
For those who don’t like seafood, the Turkey Pesto Sandwich remains our strong recommendation here. Even for those who do like seafood, this might be our overall top recommendation. The Slaw Dog is a signature option here, and while it looks very tempting, I just can’t bring myself to order Disney hot dogs. They used to be so good, but not anymore. I made the mistake of ordering one at Blizzard Beach, and I ended up regretting it. In addition to the flavor not being all that great, they’re just so expensive for what they are.
Happy Landings Ice Cream
As the name implies, this is an ice cream location. It has a variety of standard, packaged choices and soft-serve ice cream options. I should preface this review by saying that I love soft serve ice cream. I prefer it to hand scooped ice cream. If you differ on that, you might not enjoy Happy Landings as much as me.
The best item here is the Sand Pail. Think of it as the “Kitchen Sink Light.” For $9.99, you get a bucket filled with chocolate and vanilla soft-serve ice cream, and topped with waffle cone pieces, cookie pieces, sprinkles, hot fudge, caramel sauce, strawberry sauce, whipped cream, and a cherry.
This might sound like heresy, but it’s better than the Kitchen Sink at Beaches & Cream. Whereas the Kitchen Sink is a fun dessert that is mostly recommended for its novelty, the Sand Pail is just flat out good. Unlike the Kitchen Sink, it doesn’t have any weird toppings in it–the combination of ingredients in the Sand Pail is actually good, and tastes like a sundae on steroids. Plus, at less than half the price of the Kitchen Sink, it offers a much better value. In fact, that $9.99 price might seem like a lot, but the Sand Pail will easily feed 4 adults (or 2 pigs like us), making it a great value for the price. This is a must-do in our book.
If for some reason you don’t want the Sand Pail, there are other sundaes and ice cream options here, all of which looked pretty good. You really can’t go wrong with anything at Happy Landings.
This is actually an outdoor vending (food cart) location, not a counter service restaurant. But it’s such an important location to our nation and will cause you to rethink the way you look at fried dough, so it deserves its own section. As the name suggests, mini donuts are served here.
I implore you to set aside your incredulity and just order a half-dozen. Do it. Despite hearing rave reviews about these, I came so close to not ordering them because I’m not a big fan of fried stuff like this (I don’t even like the world famous Monte Cristo at Disneyland), but I bit the bullet and did it for “research.” I am so glad I did, and now I’m hooked. These are the best donuts I’ve ever had. They are soft, doughy, and rot-your-teeth delicious.
Combining them with a dipping sauce might lead to an OD on sugar, but do it anyway. Why these mini donuts aren’t sold outside the water parks is beyond me. They are one of the best snacks at Walt Disney World.
There are a few other options, including Lowtide Lou’s, the Snack Shack, and Surf Doggies. The former two locations are good places to get snacks (and a tuna sandwich that I don’t believe is available elsewhere), while Surf Doggies is where you can grab the infamous Disney Turkey Leg. I don’t know why on earth you would want to have a turkey leg at a water park, but others probably think the same thing about eating a bucket of ice cream, so whatever.
Overall, with the exception of the Sand Pail, Mini Donuts, and maybe the Turkey Pesto Sandwich, there probably is nothing at Typhoon Lagoon that you’ll be craving after your trip. However, these two snacks plus several solid entree options help make proverbial lemonade out of lemons with regard to the otherwise mundane Typhoon Lagoon dining lineup.