Food, Fun and
at Orlando Theme Parks and Themed Restaurants
fairy-tale day with Cinderella in the Magic Kingdom. Turbo charge a
lunch order at Race Rock Supercharged Restaurant before shifting into
overdrive on the virtual racetrack. Then talk to the animals while
experiencing dinner at Rainforest Café, a veritable jungle of dining
fun. There’s enough themed dining in and around Central Florida theme
parks to turn a storybook vacation into a blockbuster hit.
Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the Magic Kingdom’s iconic
castle serves a delightful Once Upon a Time breakfast and A Fairytale
Lunch with Cinderella and other Disney princesses to greet guests and
pose for photos. Reservations are booked months in advance, but if the
castle is already sold out, princess fans should reserve dining at
Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Epcot, where fairy-tale heroines like
Sleeping Beauty and Snow White appear for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
For a fancier memory, girls are encouraged to dress up for the My Disney
Girl’s Perfectly Princess Tea Party at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort &
Spa, a party that includes tea and sweets with Princess Aurora from
Mickey Mouse followers can meet the “Big Cheese” at Chef Mickey’s at the
Contemporary Resort, at breakfast at Ohana at the Polynesian Resort, and
for lunch and dinner at Garden Grill in The Land pavilion at Epcot. More
Disney characters: Winnie the Pooh and friends at The Crystal Palace;
Goofy and pals at Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom, and Donald
and friends at Restaurantosaurus at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Also in
the resorts, there’s breakfast at Disney’s Beach Club Resort with Goofy
and friends, and breakfast and dinner at 1900 Park Fare at Disney’s
Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, with Mary Poppins and friends at
breakfast, Cinderella and friends at dinner.
At Universal Orlando Resort, Thursday through Sunday, Dudley Do-Right,
Cat in the Hat and other storybook and television characters join guests
for breakfast at Confisco Grille at Islands of Adventure. And at
SeaWorld Orlando, make a reservation for the Shamu & Crew breakfast in
the park’s Seafire Inn.
Movie and television themes ramp up the fun at several Disney-MGM
Studios restaurants. At the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, the meatloaf and
milkshakes are as magical as the black-and-white TVs airing classic
sitcoms at dining tables. The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant serves
salads, sandwiches and fries to guests seated in classic convertible
cars. And 1940s Hollywood is in the spotlight at the Hollywood Brown
Derby, serving modern American cuisine (including the original Cobb
Salad) and featuring the restaurant’s trademark celebrity caricatures on
At Universal Studios Florida, Mel’s Drive-In is the quintessential ‘50s
American diner based on the famous California eatery and Universal
Studio’s Classic Monster Café serves “monster” salads, “devilish”
desserts and pasta like “Mummy” used to make. The Beverly Hills
Boulangerie is the spot for gourmet sandwiches, homemade soups and
Try a Dagwood
At Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure: Blondie’s:
Home of the Dagwood takes the long-running syndicated cartoon theme to
new sandwich heights for fans of Dagwood’s incredible concoctions and
Wimpy’s makes the most of the great American burger, for which Popeye’s
sidekick has a long-running obsession.
Lions and Tigers
and Pasta, Oh My!
Several pasta dishes win fans of fine jungle fare at two Rainforest Café
locations, one at the entrance of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the other
at Downtown Disney Marketplace. The realistic animals roar, hoot and
twitter while guests enjoy Safari Salads, Rasta Pasta and Rainforest
Pita Quesadillas. Deeper into the Animal Kingdom park, visitors “do the
dinosaur” at Restaurantosaurus, where wacky “prehistoric” music plays
and guests enjoy a character breakfast buffet or counter-service salads
and sandwiches for lunch. Tusker House Restaurant, themed to a
realistic African eatery, lures visitors with aromas of roasting meats
like rotisserie chicken, grilled salmon and other goodies. Roasted
vegetables make for a terrific veggie sandwich.
On the Waterfront
Sharks Underwater Grill at SeaWorld Orlando serves “Floribbean-style”
food while sharks from the Shark Encounter attraction swim in full view
of guests. Or, Dine With Shamu in a private backstage area alongside the
killer whale habitat. Polynesian flavors headline the park’s Makahiki
Luau, a nightly dining and entertainment celebration with a menu that
includes tropical salad, sweet-and-sour pork, Hawaiian chicken and
A World of Eateries
Dining choices are diverse and plentiful at Epcot, where
architecturally true pavilions of 11 countries showcase ethnic fare.
World-famous fettuccine alfredo is made fresh daily at L’Originale
Alfredo di Roma Ristorante in the Italy pavilion and belly dancers
entertain crowds feasting on Middle-Eastern fare at Restaurant Marrakesh
in the Morocco showcase. Other popular World Showcase restaurants
include Nine Dragons Restaurant in the China pavilion, Mitsukoshi
Teppanyaki Dining Room in Japan, Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada, San
Angel Inn in Mexico, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway, Rose & Crown
Dining Room in the United Kingdom, Biergarten in Germany and Les Chefs
de France and Bistro de Paris in France.
The park’s Future World also features two other nicely themed,
full-service restaurants. Coral Reef at The Living Seas pavilion gives
diners a panoramic view of the attraction’s main aquarium and a menu
heavy on seafood such as salmon, mahi, scallops and snapper. At the
Garden Grill in The Land pavilion, some of the salad fixings come
straight from the attraction’s hydroponic greenhouses and the dining
room actually moves slowly past scenes of farming environments.
It’s a Themed World
Racing is the number one theme at two Orlando-area restaurants. Race
Rock Supercharged Restaurant on International Drive serves traditional
American fare with tasty shakes and visitors can commandeer one of many
virtual race vehicles for a ride on the wild side. NASCAR Café at
Universal CityWalk showcases racing collectibles and serves steaks,
chops and more.
The stars may not be on hand, but there’s enough celebrity memorabilia
displayed to keep diners happy at Planet Hollywood at Downtown Disney,
where film clips and movie previews play to visitors as they chomp on
Cap’n Crunch-coated chicken tenders, ribs, pastas and salads. On
International Drive, Café Tu Tu Tango celebrates the arts as dancers
tango down the aisles and artists work on their next masterpiece.
Diners enjoy tapas of many flavors, such as flavorful chicken eggrolls
or goat cheese and sun-dried tomato pizzas. Down the road at Disney’s
BoardWalk, the ESPN Club serves up multiple satellite feeds of sporting
events on 90 video monitors, plus sports-themed food ranging from
Tailgate BBQ Pork to the Hockey Puck dessert of a rich fudge brownie
with chocolate and vanilla sauce. And at Disney’s Wide World of Sports,
the Official All Star Café broadcasts favorite sports to guests who dine
on nachos, sandwiches and other American favorites.
At Universal CityWalk, NBA City is another sports-themed chain with
brick-oven pizzas, steaks and burgers. Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville
brings an island flare to town with cheeseburgers in paradise and a
variety of tropical drinks. Visiting rock stars stir it up as they cook
their favorite dishes for restaurant guests at the chef’s table in The
Kitchen at Universal’s Hard Rock Hotel. Hard Rock Café Orlando at
Universal CityWalk plays hard rock on loudspeakers (what else?) while
visitors check out 1,000 pieces of rock memorabilia and eat up potato
skins, chicken wings and other menu favorites.
The Dinner Show
Must Go On
Luaus, medieval feasts and other themed dinner shows earn applause
nightly throughout the Orlando area. Disney’s Spirit of Aloha luau at
the Polynesian Resort, the Makahiki Luau at SeaWorld Orlando and the
Wantilan Luau at Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort provide traditional
Polynesian entertainment during dinners that celebrate Pacific cuisine.
Kissimmee is home to several popular dinner shows. Medieval Times
serves finger-lickin’ roast chicken and other sturdy fare as knights
joust in the tournament arena and audiences cheer for their team.
Arabian Nights tells the story of an Arabian princess and showcases
gorgeous horses and plenty of arena action as the audience dines on
prime rib, vegetarian lasagna or other fare. Capone’s Dinner and Show
is a speakeasy and cabaret with Italian buffet and plenty of “mobster”
In the Lake Buena Vista area, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede Dinner &
Show lays out a four-course meal while dinner guests join in a
North-South rivalry featuring entertainers on horseback, racing pigs and
ostriches, plus plenty of Dolly’s music. And at Sleuths Mystery Dinner
Show on Universal Boulevard, guests can consider clues to the whodunit
performances as they enjoy several courses, including a “mystery
dessert.” It’s no mystery that Disney’s Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue has been a
Fort Wilderness staple for decades, and the show goes on nightly with
the singing, dancing, joking troupe of Pioneer Hall Players as visitors
chow down on buckets of fried chicken, ribs and strawberry shortcake.
If pirate fare is a priority, Pirate’s Dinner Adventure near
International Drive serves guests several dinner courses while a
swashbuckling, sidesplitting show unfolds aboard a fully rigged pirate’s
Add Spice to Orlando Dining Scene
Florida dining scene offers visitors a culinary journey around the world
with tastes from many countries and the islands of the Caribbean.
The area’s three African-inspired restaurants are located at Walt Disney
World Resort. There’s the buffet-style Boma – Flavors of Africa, with
many choices to please various palates and award-winning Jiko – The
Cooking Place, both at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. In Epcot, the
foods of Morocco are represented at Restaurant Marrakesh where belly
dancers entertain the constant stream of visitors.
China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, India and other Asian
countries are represented at a wide variety of restaurants throughout
Central Florida. Ming Court – The Art of Oriental Cuisine on
International Drive and Taste of Hong Kong on Carrier Drive serve dim
sum and other gourmet traditional Chinese cuisine. P.F. Chang’s China
Bistro in Winter Park and at The Mall at Millenia gives a contemporary
twist to Chinese fare and the mostly Cantonese menu at China Garden
Restaurant on South Semoran has been a local favorite for decades.
Amura Japanese Restaurant on Sand Lake Road is a progressive eatery
featuring high-definition sushi and steak. Raw seafood fans head to
Shari Sushi Lounge in Thornton Park, Nagoya Sushi in Orlando, Sushi
House of Orlando near Florida Mall, Seito Sushi in Winter Park and
Celebration and Seito Japanese Restaurant in Kissimmee are local
favorites. For Japanese specialties, Ran Getsu of Tokyo on
International Drive serves authentic cuisine. Asian and Polynesian
flavors work wonders on the palate at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at Universal
Royal Thai on South Semoran, Tasty Thai on Curry Ford Road, Thai Thani
Restaurant on International Drive and Siam Orchid on Universal Boulevard
are all sure bets for the many great flavors of Thailand. A cluster of
Vietnamese restaurants sits along East Colonial near downtown – two
favorites are Little Saigon Restaurant and Anh Hong. Great Indian spots
are scattered across Central Florida, with Memories of India on Turkey
Lake Road serving specialties like tandoori chicken; New Punjab Indian
Restaurant on International Drive with its lamb curry and Clay Oven in
Longwood with spicy platters that include Indian coconut, mangoes and
Pan-Asian and Pacific-Rim creations deserve applause at Roy’s Restaurant
on Sand Lake Road, where fresh produce, seafood and meats are dressed in
European sauces and bold Asian spices.
Flavors of the Caribbean are found appetizers and entrees
in many Central Florida restaurants, but some eateries specialize in
island-inspired fare. Bahama Breeze, with multiple locations including
one on International Drive, is one of them, with its emphasis on seafood
and island spices such as jerk, ginger, garlic and nutmeg, as well as
flavors including coconut, rum and citrus. Jimmy Buffett’s
Margaritaville at Universal CityWalk presents Caribbean flavors plus the
popular Cheeseburger in Paradise. Rolando’s in Cassleberry and Numero
Uno on South Orange Avenue near downtown are long-established Cuban
restaurants and Samba Room on Sand Lake Road and Bongos Cuban Cafe at
Downtown Disney serve Cuban fare in a trendier setting. A mélange of
Hispanic cuisine is served at Café Madrid on Curry Ford Road with Puerto
Rican specialties that include plantains deep fried with pork skins and
The Orlando ethnic-dining scene continues to grow with exciting new
experiences that reflect cultures from around the globe.
Schnitzel, strudel and good beer offer a taste of Bavaria at the
Biergarten Restaurant at Epcot, which features lively entertainment and
33-ounce steins. France is well represented across metro Orlando, from
Epcot’s popular Les Chefs de France and Bistro Paris to the elegant
Maison & Jardin Restaurant in Altamonte Springs. Locals recommend the
cozy Le Coq Au Vin on Orlando’s South Orange Avenue in Orlando and Chez
Vincent and Café de France in Winter Park.
Italian restaurants – more than 100 in the Orlando metro area – dominate
the ethnic dining landscape. At the attractions, try Bice and Mamma
Della’s Ristorante at Universal Orlando’s Portofino Bay Hotel or
L’Originale Alfredo di Roma Ristorante at Epcot. On the same end of
town, Christini’s Ristorante Italiano (in the Dr. Phillips area) is a
longtime favorite. Other popular spots include Bravissimo on Shine
Avenue not far from downtown; Timpano Italian Chophouse on Sand Lake;
Antonio’s Ristorante, with locations on Sand Lake Road, Hwy. 17-92 in
Maitland and downtown Celebration; Vito’s Chop House on International
Drive; Enzo’s on the Lake in Longwood and Limoncello Ristorante in
The British Isles are represented at several locations. The newest is
Raglan Road at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island, where Irish cuisine
ranges from fish and chips to rack of lamb. Fiddler’s Green Irish Pub &
Eatery in Winter Park serves traditional favorites like shepherd’s pie;
both standard and gourmet fare are found at An Tobar in Maitland; Epcot
guests can belly up to the bar or grab a table at the Rose & Crown Pub &
Dining Room and fill up on fish and chips or smoked salmon. Cricketers
Arms on International Drive serves 17 beers on tap with British fare.
Olympia Restaurant on East Colonial serves moussaka, baklava and other
authentic Greek food. The kafka kabob and other Mediterranean treats
keep diners coming back for more at Elijah’s Grill in Winter Park and
Spoodles at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort serves tapas and entrees with
Middle Eastern fare reigns at Cedar’s Restaurant on Sand Lake Road and
at Tony’s Deli on North Mills Avenue and for Old World Spanish cuisine,
try El Quijote International Cuisine, a new restaurant in Dr. Phillips.
Brazilian cuisine with emphasis on lots of meat is on the menu at three
International Drive stops: Camila’s Restaurant, Crazy Grill and Texas de
Brazil. Choo Choo Churros is an Argentinian steakhouse on Lake
Underhill Road in southeast Orlando.
Live music and Columbian food
can be found at La Hacienda on Crystal Clear Lane near The Florida Mall
while Columbia Restaurant in the town of Celebration serves traditional
Spanish-Cuban cuisine in an Old-World setting.
Orlando’s Romantic Spots
ORLANDO, Fla. – Which Central
Florida restaurants are made for romance? Here are some favorite places
for first dates, anniversaries or other amorous occasions.
(407-599-2929). It’s like a trip to Paris in this snug little bistro in
Winter Park’s historic Hannibal Square, with candlelit tables and
classic French cuisine and wines.
Enzo’s on the Lake
(407-834-9872). Enzo Perlini offers favorites from his native Rome in
this hideaway on Lake Fairy in Longwood, built in the style of an
Italian villa. Ask for a table overlooking the water and sculpted
(407-934-1609). Exquisite kimonos are the backdrop in this little
hideaway at the Walt Disney World Swan. Choose a quiet table in the
corner and share a plate of superb sushi and sashimi. (Karaoke kicks in
at 9 p.m., so you may want to slip out for a quiet walk.)
Maison & Jardin
Restaurant (407-862-4410). Ask for a corner table in this
elegant old manse in Altamonte Springs, with one of Orlando’s best wine
lists and Continental fare.
Make a Big Impression
(407-581-4700). In downtown Orlando’s Westin Grand Bohemian, start your
evening in the sensual Bösendorfer Lounge, then slip into a luxurious
booth in the adjacent dining room for classic Continental fare.
(407-939-3463). This Walt Disney World Epcot restaurant, with a view
into the world’s largest saltwater aquarium, is a unique place to pop
the question—and the food is delicious. Impress your significant other
with a special message from a scuba diver—plenty of “Will You Marry Me”
signs have surprised unsuspecting diners.
Manuel’s on the 28th
(407-246-6580). Dates are swept off their feet with an elevator ride to
the 28th floor and a panoramic view of downtown Orlando. Contemporary
world cuisine changes seasonally and features nightly creations of
exotic game and seafood.
(407-238-8000). Dramatic ambience and haute cuisine make this upscale
dining room at the Caribe Royale Orlando a favorite.
Victoria & Albert’s
(407-939-3463). Orlando’s only AAA Five-Diamond restaurant and the
crème de la crème of dining at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa.
The serene dining room with harp music, butler-style service and an
award-winning, seven-course seasonal menu, embodies a spirit of luxury