Looking for something fast to eat while out enjoying a day at Disney? As someone who is constantly running around the parks all day, the efficiency and price of the quick-service dining locations around the Disney parks are necessities. And although you may be solely expecting your typical burger and fries from quick theme park food, Disney has worked hard to expand their offerings in recent years. Nowadays, there are some hidden gems (and some less hidden) around the parks that offer some great food-and fast! Today I’m going to take you through my personal favorite quick-service locations to eat at in each of the four Disney Parks.
Magic Kingdom – Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe
I’ll start our list off at the Magic Kingdom. Unfortunately, the park that is the most iconic has some of the weakest quick-service offerings. This is especially true after the conversion of the Be our Guest Restaurant in Fantasyland to strictly table-service dining (with some royal prices at that).
With that said, the best place that I can recommend in the Magic Kingdom is the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Cafe. Pecos Bill is a Magic Kingdom staple. Located right on the border of Frontierland and Adventureland, it’s been around since the park first opened in 1971. The restaurant is absolutely enormous and it gets completely packed around lunchtime, so I would do my best to try and avoid peak lunch hours-the earlier, the better. Inside, the theming is centered around the lesser-known cartoon cowboy Pecos Bill. It’s a fun, nice-looking restaurant, but it becomes difficult to enjoy when the lunchtime chaos ensues.
Overall the restaurant is pretty mediocre, but with Magic Kingdom’s lack of great choices, it does the job. The food here follows trend. It’s a Tex-Mex-style restaurant with various bowls, tacos, and fajitas. The menu items are just alright. They offer a somewhat fresher and more diverse option to some chicken fingers, but that’s about as much as I can say about them. I always go for the chicken rice bowl. It’s a healthy and hearty option that provides some much needed protein and carbs for a long day at the parks, while also tasting pretty good. This is also a good spot for vegetarians and vegans, since the options can be easily customized without meat. They also have a specific veggie rice bowl.
The redeeming quality of the location is it’s toppings bar, which has been upgraded in recent years to include all the different veggies, queso, guacamole, and salsa you can ask for. With good portion sizes, a standard $10-$12 entree price, and a great toppings selection, Pecos Bill is my favorite quick service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom. But don’t bring your hopes up too high, because that’s not saying much.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe in Tomorrowland is an honorable mention for Magic Kingdom. The food is meh, but the iconic animatronic alien Sonny Eclipse makes up for it.
EPCOT – Regal Eagle Smokehouse
To finally get into the quick-service places I really enjoy, we’ll move on to Epcot. Notorious for it’s great dining, Epcot has no shortage of food, but you may be wondering where you can get something nice and fast before a bigger dining reservation. While my favorite has always been the Sunshine Seasons in Future World (still a fantastic option and honorable mention), I’ve actually changed my ranking on a recent trip.
A perfect choice for barbeque lovers, the new Regal Eagle Smokehouse in the America pavilion on World Showcase is my new favorite quick-service spot in Epcot. This restaurant really surprised me with how great the food, atmosphere, and overall experience was. With a fun and fitting inclusion of the Muppets, the restaurant is themed to the patriot of all patriots, Sam Eagle. The indoor seating area has some cool muppet details, while mainly featuring the uber-American aesthetic you’d expect from Sam Eagle’s barbeque joint.
The outdoor seating area is even more compelling to me. They have an impressive barbeque-smoker area where they actually cook the meats occasionally in front of guests. The outdoor seating also gives great views of the World Showcase Lagoon, and easy access to an outdoor bar attached that serves some different craft beers.
The Regal Eagle boasts a BBQ selection covering popular meats and dishes from all over America. From Kansas City smoked half-chicken to Memphis dry-rub pork ribs, they give a little taste of it all, with great portions as well. The barbeque really holds up, even to the standard of hardcore barbeque lovers. For those in the group that aren’t the biggest fan of the American smoked meats, they also have a classic burger, and a beyond burger for vegans.
My entree of choice is the BBQ burger, a ⅓ Ib. burger patty topped with BBQ pork and garlic aioli in between some garlic toast. Add a side of their specialty mac n’ cheese to that, and you’re in heaven. If you’re a meat lover and don’t want to do the typical 1-2 hour Epcot sit-down, the Regal Eagle is for you.
Hollywood Studios – Woody’s Lunchbox
Woody’s Lunchbox is a great example of Disney’s recent trend towards higher quality quick-service offerings. Hollywood Studios has recently had many new things come to the park, and it’s welcomed some great new quick-service areas that have really set the bar high. For a park with major attractions around every corner, it’s super important to have the opportunity to grab something quick in between the race from Tower of Terror to Rise of the Resistance.
This quick-serve is a smaller one compared to some of the other enormous ones. It’s tucked into Toy Story Land and perfectly themed as Andy’s lunchbox. It blends in so perfect, you might even miss it as you’re power-walking into Galaxy’s Edge. As someone who loves great theming, this food area is just another element to admire in the masterfully designed land.
The seating area is completely outdoors, but tables all have umbrellas to provide some much-needed shade. Woody’s Lunchbox is directly adjacent to Slinky Dog Dash, and it’s a great place to sit down and watch Slinky make his way around the track. It’s right off the main path in the land as well, so you’re very much able to take in everything going on in the Toy Story area (and do some people watching).
The food offerings and portions here are a little smaller than other locations I’ve mentioned, but they’re still large enough to make a meal out of. They have a smaller menu with smoked sandwiches and grilled cheese, which can sound pretty basic on their own. However, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. Everything tastes great. They use multiple cheeses on the sandwiches, and the grilled sourdough bread is amazing. They also have house-made pop tarts and loaded tater-tots, which are unique items. For both kids and adults, you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. For vegans, they offer plant-based sandwiches.
Although it’s a simple choice, something about their three-cheese grilled cheese is sooo good and eating it in Toy Story land gives the perfect level of nostalgia. It’s like your mom’s grilled cheese, just a little better. This entree hits the spot for me every time I’m in Hollywood Studios.
(Covid PSA: With the current mobile ordering going on in the parks because of Covid, availability fills up pretty quickly because it’s a smaller location. Make sure you make your order earlier on and pick a time later in the day to eat.)
Some other honorable mentions in Hollywood Studios are Pizzerizzo and Ronto Roasters, both some great spots. You really can’t go wrong at any of the quick-service spots in Hollywood Studios at this point, I really like the food there.
Animal Kingdom – Satu’li Canteen
I saved the best for last. By far my favorite quick-service in Disney and perhaps favorite restaurant overall is the Satu’li Canteen in Pandora at Animal Kingdom. This place is so so good. It’s a must eat at Animal Kingdom, and I find myself specifically looking forward to it any trip I make to the animal-themed park.
Yet another gem in the sparkling mine that is Pandora: The World of Avatar, the main dining area in the land does not disappoint. Continuing the theme of purifying the natural land ruined by the greedy humans of the RDA, Satu’li Canteen is a retrofication of the mess hall the soldiers ate in during the films. It’s cool to see details of the human army from the Avatar film, paired with new Na’vi art pieces that adorn the ceiling of the indoor dining area. The whole restaurant is very well themed, not surprising given the land it’s in. The outdoor seating area, like Woody’s Lunchbox, is able to give great views of the land while also staying off to the side of the main hustle and bustle.
For the food, think Chipotle but better. The main entrees have a similar “build a bowl” style, except with a few less toppings. The proteins they offer are freshly grilled over a giant fire that can be seen by guests. Everything is incredibly fresh, and it’s really high quality food. Each bowl has a vegetable slaw and your choice of some creamy signature sauce options. Another menu option is the “cheeseburger steamed pods”. This is an innovative, orb-shaped take on a burger that tastes exactly like a McDonald’s cheeseburger (I’m not kidding), but with better ingredients.
Although the burgers are also tasty, the grilled chicken bowl is my main order. It tastes great, has fresh ingredients, and is a healthy, filling meal to fuel your day at Animal Kingdom. When imagining the perfect theme park meal, this is what comes to mind. The reasonable pricing doesn’t hurt, either. You have to make a stop here during your next journey to Pandora.
Animal Kingdom has a few other good quick-service spots, like Hollywood Studios. Flame Tree Barbeque and Yak and Yeti Local Foods Cafe are both great alternatives after you’ve eaten at Satu’li Canteen.
In this blog, I hope I’ve been able to give you some great options for quick meals during your next Disney trip. Luckily, theme parks are taking a shift towards better food options, it’s just about knowing where to look! Even though some are better than others, you really can’t go wrong while eating at the Disney parks nowadays. It’s become a destination for foodies around the world. But, this list gives some of the best of the best. Go give them a try!
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