Signature Restaurants – Are They Worth It? Part 1

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When it comes to planning your Walt Disney World vacation, there are so many things to think about, and one of the most important (in my opinion anyways!) is where to eat while you’re there. Chances are good you may want to have a special meal to commemorate your vacation, and that’s where WDW’s Signature Restaurants come into play. This group of restaurants are the cream of the crop, the finest food (and drinks!) available at Walt Disney World.

So the big question is, are they worth it? Are they worth the extra money/2 dining plan table service credits apiece? Are they really that much nicer than the other restaurants at WDW? Hopefully the information below and in parts 2 and 3 (coming soon!) will help you make that determination when it comes to planning your meals for your next WDW vacation!

Here we go:

Jiko – The Cooking Place – Located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, this multi-cultural menu includes dishes like oak fired filet mignon, grilled wild gulf shrimp curry, and coconut bread pudding. They also have some amazing wine options, and the interior of the restaurant is uniquely decorated and the perfect setting for a celebratory dinner
Survey says? If you are looking for something different, this is your place! Wine lovers will also love it here, while the less adventurous eaters might want to pass on Jiko

Flying Fish Cafe – Take the trip to this restaurant, located at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, for some of the best (award-winning!) seafood at WDW. Start out with an assortment of artisinal cheeses, follow it up with their signature potato wrapped red snapper, and finish off the meal with their ‘trio of concession sweets’ – fancy name for desserts that look like popcorn and french fries but taste like dessert!
Survey says? Seafood lovers rejoice and make your ADR’s for Flying Fish Cafe! For those non seafood lovers out there (like myself!), they have some non seafood dishes on the menu. Are they as good as the seafood dishes? In my opinion, not really, and as a non seafood fan, I would probably skip eating here again, but for those who like seafood it’s a must-do for sure!

California Grill – A special elevator takes you up to the 14th floor of the Contemporary Resort where you step out into the lobby/lounge area of the California Grill, which features an extensive wine list, an open kitchen, and a large sushi selection as well as flatbreads, an oak fired filet mignon, and fish options. They have a few observation decks where you can get an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks show, and the view from the restaurant is amazing.
Survey says? I ate here for the first time on my last trip, and maybe I was expecting too much, but overall I was disappointed in the California Grill. I wanted it to feel intimate and upscale, but mostly it felt loud, crowded (with lots of families and children), and like it was trying too hard. The food was good (but in my opinion not worth the money), the wine list was extensive, and the desserts were delicious (I am a sucker for desserts!). If you are a wine enthusiast who wants an amazing view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks, then the California Grill is for you. Otherwise, you might be better off skipping it

Citricos – One of two Signature Restaurants at the Grand Floridian Resort, Citricos serves up European inspired dishes (think Tuscan and Spanish influenced!) like braised veal shank, pan seared grouper, and a trio of gelatos and tropical fruit crème brulee for dessert. The restaurant itself has an upscale but casual atmosphere – with comfortable chairs and an overall relaxed aura that is sure to make you feel comfortableSurvey says? If you are looking for a relaxing, delicious meal then this is the place for you. But if you’re looking to be impressed by a restaurant’s location or fanciness, then you may end up slightly disappointed (as Citricos isn’t as fancy as Victoria and Albert’s, and it can’t offer the views like California Grill can). Personally, I love it here, and would go back in a heartbeat. The food and service were some of the best I have had at WDW

Narcoossee’s – The second Signature dining experience at Disney’s Grand Floridian is found here, with many seafood dishes like lobster corn bisque, steamed whole lobster, and crispy whole snapper. Non seafood lovers can feast on chicken, gnocchi, or filet mignon, and after you’re stuffed full of delicious food, you can head out to the wraparound porch and get a great view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks.
Survey says? If you’re looking for a great view of the fireworks with a chill, relaxed atmosphere and great seafood, then Narcoossee’s is the place for you

Artist Point – Located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, this restaurant draws its inspiration from the Pacific Northwest, with choices like cedar plank roasted salmon, roasted pork tenderloin, and an amazing berry cobbler for dessert. It tends to be less crowded than other Signature Restaurants, and Wilderness Lodge is a beautiful resort and the perfect setting for a romantic-post dinner stroll.
Survey says? This place gets mixed reviews, but I think they have improved immensely over the last year, and it’s a great place for a delicious, quiet meal

If you think any of the above Signature Restaurants sound good to you, then I highly recommend you make your Advance Dining Reservations, or ADR’s, 180 days in advance so you don’t miss out on experiencing all that these eateries have to offer!

And stay tuned right here at Chip and Co for parts 2 and 3 of this series where I will review the rest of WDW’s Signature Restaurants in search of the answer to the question “Are they worth it?”


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