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Shock for Disney as Another Theme Park’s Restaurant Is Voted Best in the U.S.A.

Disney Parks are renowned for their impeccable theming and Imagineer details – from attractions and shows all the way to the dining locations.

Across Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks, Guests have an array of food options when they’re hungry – from quick-service favorites like Backlot Express and Pinocchio’s Village Haus to table-service character dining at Chef Mickey’s and Tusker House.

But a surprising new list has revealed that Disney’s competitors were voted to have better restaurants, with only two of Disney World’s restaurants making the top 10.

restaurant-mickey

Credit: Disney

This year, when USA Today asked people to vote on which theme park restaurants are the best, only two Walt Disney World restaurants ranked in the top ten. A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. The top 10 winners in the category Best Theme Park Restaurant are as follows:

  1. Confisco Grille – Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  2. Yak and Yeti – Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park
  3. Trappers Smokehouse – Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  4. Aunt Granny’s Restaurant – Dollywood
  5. Mythos Restaurant – Universal’s Islands of Adventure
  6. Zambia Smokehouse – Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  7. Das Festhaus – Busch Gardens Williamsburg
  8. Leaky Cauldron – Universal Studios Florida
  9. Be Our Guest Restaurant – Magic Kingdom Park
  10. Mrs. Knott’s Chicken Dinner Restaurant – Knott’s Berry Farm

That’s right; you read that correctly. Only TWO restaurants from Disneyland or Walt Disney World made it to the top 10 list, and they may not be the ones you’d expect.

Yak & Yeti Restaurant sign, asia, animal kingdom, walt disney world

Credit: Disney Dining

The delicious Yak and Yeti found in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park comes in second on the list. The Disney restaurant is known for its amazing Asian cuisine and air-conditioned comfort, but there may be other more unique dining locations that come to mind over Yak and Yeti at Walt Disney World. Disney World describes the Nepalese restaurant as:

“Family-Friendly Feast. Discover exciting pan-Asian cuisine at a quaint village home that’s been transformed into a restaurant. At the base of Expedition Everest sits Yak & Yeti Restaurant, a table-service eatery serving delicious dishes from various regions across Asia.

Decorated with the proprietor’s collection of Southeast Asian artifacts, this eclectic eatery offers a menu of sweet-and-sour chicken, ahi tuna nachos, pork pot stickers and Kobe beef burgers. Vegetarian options abound, as do kid-friendly choices like cheeseburgers and mac and cheese.

Unique alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages include cocktails, chilled sake, Asian beers, wine and an assortment of hot teas. Those with a penchant for exotic tastes might try a specialty drink from our full-service bar. Guests must be 21 years of age and older to order alcoholic beverages.

Be sure to save room for one of our sumptuous desserts—chocolate pudding cake, mango pie or fried wontons served with fresh pineapple and ice cream.

Interestingly, Yak and Yeti is part of Landry’s Restaurants, so its menu and operation are not handled by the Disney Company. This makes the restaurant’s position on the top 10 list even more surprising when you consider it is not even a Disney-run dining location. 

be-our-guest-restaurant-magic-kingdom

Credit: Disney

The only Disney-owned restaurant to make the cut is Be Our Guest. As table-service restaurants at the Walt Disney World Resort go, dining in Beast’s Castle and getting to actually try the grey stuff (it is, in fact, delicious) are a real treat for families who are fans of the animated classic Beauty and the Beast (1991).

Located in Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland’s Be Our Guest Restaurant consistently enchants Guests wishing to be treated like royalty as they step into the setting of the classic Disney animated film.

Made up of three differently-themed rooms in the Beast’s Castle – the Grand Ballroom, the Castle Gallery, where you’ll watch Belle and Beast dance the night away; and the dark West Wing, complete with an enchanted rose – the restaurant offers a French-inspired lunch or dinner in royal style. Be Our Guest has seen changes since its reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic, losing its quick service offering and its breakfast menu. When the restaurant reopened after its March 2020 closure, it only offered lunch and dinner, recently adding brunch to its menu.

Be Our Guest at Magic Kingdom

Credit: Disney Photo Snapper

The full-service restaurant is special but has been criticized for its costly menu and hard-to-find reservations. We’re surprised that other Walt Disney World favorites like Space 220 and Le Cellier in EPCOT, Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen in Magic Kingdom, and Oga’s Cantina in Disney’s Hollywood Studios didn’t make the top 10 theme park restaurant list.

The top-voted restaurant, Confisco Grille at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, is a grill that offers a menu influenced by Asian, Mediterranean, Greek, and other cuisines. Located at the Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure, the menu features French onion soup, pad thai, pork belly banh mi, American burgers, sticky ribs, ahi tuna nachos, and more.

Universal Orlando

Photo Credit: FamilyVacationCritic

There was also a surprise for Disney Park fans when the top 10 winners in the category “Best Theme Park for 2022” was released. The top 10 list featured Florida theme parks SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, as well as Dollywood, Silver Dollar City, HersheyPark, and Cedar Point. Disney and Universal Studios were completely dropped from the list.

Disney Guests have been vocal in their opinions on recent changes to the Disney Park experience. Higher ticket prices, a complicated Park Pass Reservation system, the beloved free FastPass being replaced by the costly Disney Genie+, the removal of the Disney Dining Plan, and the overall negativity towards Disney’s CEO, Bob Chapek, have all led to many Disney fans feeling displeasure with Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Did your favorite Walt Disney World restaurants make the cut, or are there other dining locations you prefer?

About Melissa Cannioto

Melissa is an author, adventurer, and chatterbox, who loves to enjoy Disney's theme parks with a Mickey Premium Bar in hand! A British native, she has traveled the world seeking new experiences, and now resides in Florida with her Air Force pilot husband. Find her children's book at @thebearandthehug_book