There are many articles available that offer advice on sit-down dining in Walt Disney World. You can find them divided by park, by price ranges, and by types of food. But by comparison, there are relatively few that focus on counter service meals. I’m sure many people, especially those who don’t visit the parks very often, think, “What’s the difference? Counter service=fast food. Burgers and fries, right?” Nothing could be further from the truth! You can find counter service selections that rival those of many “nice” restaurants in both quality and portions, not to mention the fact that for those traveling on a tight budget, a counter service meal is far more economical while still serving the exquisite food Disney has to offer. Here are just a few quick meals that I would highly recommend!
1)Casey’s Corner- This small eatery at the end of Main Street in the Magic Kingdom is one of the simplest, and best in the four parks. The menu- hotdogs and French fries, served in an old baseball themed atmosphere. These hot dogs aren’t just regular dogs though; they’re huge, plump, all-beef, quarter pound dogs. Casey’s Corner also has a toppings bar, where you can pile on as much ketchup, mustard, sauerkraut, or relish as you can possibly want, plus cheese for the fries. Ok, so this one’s a little on the typical “fast food” side of the spectrum, but hey, sometimes you just shouldn’t mess with a good thing. The point is, these hot dogs are well worth the stop!
2)Flame Tree Barbeque- Alright, if you guys want to talk about some of the best BBQ available anywhere, this might just be the place. Located near the walkway to Dino Land in the Animal Kingdom, this counter service stop will cost you a few more dollars than most quick meals at Disney. The upside to that? How does a half rack of BBQ ribs sound? Or a pulled pork sandwich dripping with sauce? Don’t forget the brisket either. If the smell of this place doesn’t get your mouth watering, the sight of the food certainly will. As I always stress, the portion are plenty big, and the nearby condiment stand insures that you can have as much or as little sauce as you like. Added bonus- I’ve read somewhere that if you want the recipe to any of their BBQ sauces, all you have to do is ask. Imagine taste like that whenever you want it!
3)Turkey Legs- If the thought of eating a turkey leg half as thick as your head has always seemed like a distant dream to you then quit dreaming! As with many other dreams, Disney can make this one come true, too. Available in numerous locations (The Lunching Pad in Magic Kingdom and Toluka Legs Turkey Co. in Hollywood Studios, just to name the couple I know offhand) these are a huge favorite with park guests. Each turkey leg weighs nearly two pounds and is smoked to an absolute perfection. Unlike most meals, this one can be eaten on the go, and you’re sure to feel like a medieval king surveying his land while you’re putting one back. Honestly, I’ve never found a piece of bird that tasted so good.
4)Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café- This huge eatery, found at the junction of Tomorrowland and Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom, is probably the best choice for larger groups who may have somewhat diverse tastes. Inside, you’ll find three separate serving stations offering different kinds of food selections- chicken and pork, the standard burgers and fries, and a healthier offering of salads and wraps. A huge condiment table includes pretty much everything you can imagine topping an item with, and seating is available indoors and out. As always, Disney offers a benefit to either. Inside diners are serenaded by an audio-animatronic lounge singer (cleverly name Sunny Eclipse) while those seated outdoors are treated to a beautiful view of the Castle. At the risk of sounding like a broken record- you get a ton of excellent food!! I’ve never finished a meal here, and that’s just a shame.
And that’s that. You’ll notice that I haven’t included any counter service restaurants in Epcot, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fantastic places to eat there. I chose not to highlight any for the simple fact that the World Showcase features so many eateries, and offers a selection that is so varied, that I feel what constitutes a “can’t miss” dining experience is much more relative to personal tastes. (On a personal note, I’d highly recommend the Tangierine Café in the Moroccan pavilion. Spectacular!) Any of these meals should run about $10-$12 on average, and are a great deal with the Disney dining plan (which includes a dessert and drink.) I hope this helps your Disney trip be a little more magical, memorable, and delicious!!