Table Service in the Parks vs the Resorts – Which is Better? Part 1

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Table Service in the Parks vs the Resorts - Which is Better? Part 1
This topic stumped me for a while since it clearly falls into the category of it depends. It’s always tough to make recommendations on matters of personal preference since a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. Even if the same approach doesn’t work for everyone, do some options have a slight edge over others for a majority of visitors? I endeavored to find out.

In trying to answer whether eating at table service restaurants in the parks or the resorts wins out, I decided to break down the problem. Let’s take a look at type of dining today. Next time I’ll analyze the time of day and convenience.

Type of Dining

Signature Dining. If signature dining is your pleasure, eating at the resorts wins hands down for number of options. There are eleven signature dining restaurants at the resorts compared to a paltry four in the theme parks. For the most signature dining choices, try the Grand Floridian Resort or Disney’s Boardwalk area.

Signature Dining in the Parks

Bistro de Paris (Epcot)
Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
Hollywood Brown Derby (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Le Cellier (Epcot)

Signature Dining at the Resorts

Artist Point (Wilderness Lodge)
California Grill (Contemporary Resort)
Citrico’s (Grand Floridian)
Flying Fish (Disney’s Boardwalk area)
Il Mulino (Walt Disney World Swan Resort)
Jiko (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
Narcoossee’s (Grand Floridian Resort)
Shula’s (Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort)
Todd English’s bluezoo (Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort)
Victoria & Albert’s (Grand Floridian)
Yachtsman Steakhouse (Yacht Club Resort)

Character Dining. The theme park restaurants and resorts are pretty evenly matched when it comes to character dining. Although with three meals each that feature princesses at Cinderella’s Royal Table and Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, I would give the edge to the parks if you prefer dining with the princesses. Note that not every meal at the character dining locations features character dining.

Character Dining Locations in the Parks

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot)
Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
Crystal Palace (Magic Kingdom)
Garden Grill (Epcot)
Hollywood & Vine (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Tusker House Restaurant (Animal Kingdom)

Character Dining Locations at the Resorts

1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian)
Cape May Café (Beach Club Resort)
Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary Resort)
Garden Grove (Walt Disney World Swan Resort)
Ohana (Polynesian Resort)

Entertainment while you Dine. Whereas signature dining was weighted heavily in favor of the resorts instead of the parks, the opposite is true for unique dining experiences that have some sort of built-in entertainment. If character dining isn’t your thing but you’re still looking for a unique experience, it’s best to dine in the parks.

Unique Dining in the Parks

50s Prime Time Café (Hollywood Studios)
Coral Reef Restaurant (Epcot)
Restaurant Marrakesh (Epcot)
Biergarten (Epcot)
Rainforest Café (Animal Kingdom)
San Angel Inn (Epcot)
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater (Hollywood Studios)
Teppan Edo (Epcot)

Unique Dining at the Resorts

ESPN Zone (Disney’s Boardwalk Area)
Whispering Canyon Café (Wilderness Lodge)

Buffets. Sometimes there’s nothing like a buffet for dining value. Not only do you get to fill up, but many feature guaranteed character interaction also. You have a few more buffet options in the Walt Disney World Resorts. Please keep in mind that just like character dining, not every meal at these dining locations may be a buffet.

Buffets in the Parks

Biergarten (Epcot)
Cinderella’s Royal Table (Magic Kingdom)
Garden Grill (Epcot)
Liberty Tree Tavern (Magic Kingdom; Family Style)
Hollywood & Vine (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall (Epcot)
Tusker House Restaurant (Animal Kingdom)

Buffets in the Resorts

1900 Park Fare (Grand Floridian Resort)
Boma (Animal Kingdom Lodge)
Cape May Café (Beach Club Resort)
Captain’s Grille (Yacht Club Resort)
Chef Mickey’s (Contemporary Resort)
Fresh Mediterranean Market (Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort)
Garden Grove Café (Walt Disney World Swan Resort)
Ohana (Polynesian Resort; Family Style)
Trails End (Fort Wilderness)
Wave (Contemporary Resort)

It looks like there’s a pretty even split between the resorts or parks being best for buffets and character dining. In the signature dining category, the resorts take it while theme parks are decidedly better for unique dining.

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Table Service in the Parks vs the Resorts - Which is Better? Part 1

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