In the face of the ongoing pandemic, many guests who choose to visit Walt Disney World are opting to stick to outdoor dining in order to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Unfortunately for those who prefer table-service dining at Disney World, restaurants offering outdoor table-service seating at Disney World’s theme parks and resorts are scarce. Fortunately, there are still a few solid table-service options across the parks and resorts, as well as a number of excellent lounges and nearly all of Walt Disney World’s quick-service locations. To help you stick to meals outdoors, here are the best restaurants for outdoor dining at Disney World.
Outdoor Dining at Walt Disney World’s Theme Parks
All four of Walt Disney World’s theme parks are light on outdoor table-service dining options, and even at the restaurants that do have patio seating, you’ll be at the mercy of two major factors – availability and weather. Winter nights in Florida can plunge into the 30s and summer storms can soak even covered tables. Low demand or unruly elements can mean even the few table-service restaurants that do have patios will choose not to serve on the patio. This means when it comes to dining at the theme parks, you can have a plan for outdoor table-service dining, but it’s smart to be prepared with a quick-service backup in case your table-service plans fall through.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
None of the table-service restaurants at Disney’s Hollywood Studios offer outdoor dining (Brown Derby Lounge used to, but it’s drinks only for now), so you’ll need to rely on quick-service. Quick-service offerings at Disney’s Hollywood Studios have historically left a lot to be desired. Luckily, a few newcomers have really elevated the quick-service game at the Studios.
Something to keep in mind: At time of writing, only two quick-service locations at Hollywood Studios stay open until close: Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo and Rosie’s All-American Cafe, so you’ll want to plan accordingly if you’re staying at the park until close. Park and restaurant hours are subject to change and are adjusted regularly so always check the Walt Disney World website or your My Disney Experience app before you go to be sure.
This is the go-to spot for “space meat” on Batuu, the Outer Rim planet that’s home to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. While you wait for your Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance boarding group to be called, grab a Ronto Wrap, a grilled pork sausage and roasted pork wrapped in a pita with peppercorn sauce and tangy slaw. For breakfast, the Ronto Morning Wrap, filled with eggs, grilled pork sausage, shredded cheddar, and peppercorn sauce, has a cult following of its own. There’s plenty of covered outdoor seating with a view of the pitmaster droid manning the spit.
Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo
The main quick-service location within Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo (you can’t miss it, just look for the spaceship on top) is truly out of this world, and has an outdoor seating area that rarely gets crowded. Fresh, colorful ingredients, exotic presentation, and names that nod to planets and animals from the Star Wars universe give an intergalactic spin to dishes like fried chicken, pot roast, pork ribs, and chicken salad. A guest favorite among carnivores and vegetarians alike, the Felucian Kefta and Hummus Garden Spread is made with delicately spiced plant-based meatballs, herb hummus, tomato-cucumber relish, and pita.
Baseline Tap House
Like many of the spots on this list, Baseline Tap House, in the Grand Avenue area of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is more lounge than restaurant. Queue up to place your order inside (don’t be discouraged if the distanced queue extends all the way along the outdoor seating area – it moves quickly). Choose from an array of California beers, cider, wine, and cocktails on tap. There are only four items on the menu (I love the Bavarian Pretzel with beer-cheese fondue and spicy mustard), but it’s definitely possible to make a meal of them. The breezy outdoor seating area and chilled-out background music make this a perfect spot for a relaxing break.
Woody’s Lunch Box, Toy Story Land
Taking an elevated approach to classic kid fare, Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land is the most family-friendly of the Hollywood Studios suggestions on this list. Woody’s is probably best known for a decadent Three-Cheese Grilled Cheese and the Totchos – an over-the-top tater tot, chili, chips and cheese concoction. All of the seating at Woody’s is outdoors, but it fills up quickly. Mobile Orders do too, so plan ahead – it’s not uncommon to see Mobile Order return times up to two hours into the future on busy days.
Magic Kingdom is a wonderful park but my least favorite when it comes to dining. My preferred move is to load up on snacks (hello, Mickey pretzels, popcorn, and Dole Whip), and save my full meals for other parks. If you need to eat outdoors at Magic Kingdom, here are my picks for meals.
Magic Kingdom Table-Service Restaurants
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
Tony’s isn’t on here because it’s the best option – it’s the only option. Tony’s has a nice patio overlooking Town Square, and it’s the only table-service restaurant at Magic Kingdom with outdoor seating. However, the “Lady and the Tramp”-themed spot serves just-okay Italian-American fare and ranks last on my list for Magic Kingdom table service in normal times. If I’m eating at Tony’s, it’s just for the patio (Skipper Canteen in Adventureland gets my pick for best Magic Kingdom table service).
A warning: the patio at Tony’s isn’t always open so make that reservation, but have a backup plan and check in when Tony’s opens for the day. If they aren’t serving on the patio and you aren’t comfortable eating inside, they will allow you to cancel your reservation with no penalty. My recommendation is to skip Tony’s and take the gorgeous new walkway over to Grand Floridian Resort and Spa for a relaxing outdoor meal there.
Magic Kingdom Quick-Service Restaurants
Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Café
This Frontierland favorite offers a Tex-Mex-inspired menu that includes rice bowls, fajitas, and nachos. Grab a table near the outer edge of the outdoor seating area and you might be treated to a view of a passing Character Cavalcade.
Perennial Magic Kingdom quick-service favorite Columbia Harbor House has remained shuttered since reopening (the space is currently being used as extended queue space for Peter Pan’s Flight). But, ahead of the holidays, Tomorrowland Terrace, which had been used since reopening only as a Relaxation Station, has reopened as a quick-service location serving menu favorites from Columbia Harbor House like fried fish and shrimp platters and a lobster roll.
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe
Cosmic Ray’s serves fairly typical theme park fast food. And, depending on who you ask, it’s either a blessing or a curse that to dine outside you’ll have to forgo entertainment by audio-animatronic alien Sonny Eclipse, who performs inside. But there’s a sprawling outdoor patio that always has plenty of open seating and some people swear by the burgers. A Greek salad and a recently-added Impossible Burger give guests a few options beyond your standard theme park burgers, hot dogs, and chicken fingers.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
None of the traditional table-service restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom offer outdoor seating, but Nomad Lounge, a laid-back offshoot connected to higher-end restaurant Tiffins next door, offers table-service cocktails and small plates to both indoor and outdoor tables. As for Animal Kingdom’s quick-service options, it’s actually hard to go wrong – this park has the most consistently good quick-service options, most of which have nice outdoor seating.
If you ask me, it doesn’t get better than this – the ultimate Walt Disney World lounge. You’d be forgiven for never wanting to leave Nomad’s covered wraparound terrace lined with comfy couches and wicker chairs.
A travel log-themed menu features handcrafted cocktails and lots of small plates – great for sharing, but most are large enough to make a meal. Standouts include the Impossible Sliders, seasoned plant-based mini burgers served with yucca fries and chipotle aioli; an exotic bread service—served with red pepper hummus, spiced coriander yogurt and ginger-pear chutney—that comes from Tiffins, the table-service restaurant next door; and for dessert, the best churros at Walt Disney World (which happen to be gluten-free but you’d never know it).
Snag a table by joining the Walk-Up List on My Disney Experience. Make sure to stop by the host stand and let them know if you’re only willing to be seated outside. As an added bonus, Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s character cavalcades make their way along the Discovery River below Nomad’s terrace, so you’ll even get to see favorite Disney pals cruise by while you dine.
Satu’li Canteen, the main quick-service location in Pandora – The World of Avatar, gets my vote for the best spot for fresh and inventive quick-service within the parks. Guests looking to break from heavy, unhealthy theme park fare flock here for the design-your-own bowls – choice of protein atop hearty salad, noodles, rice and beans, or red and sweet potato hash and topped with colorful, crunchy slaw.
The Cheeseburger Steamed Pods, an equally delicious but less healthy choice, also have a devoted following. An other-worldly Pandoran soundtrack adds to the atmosphere in the breezy, covered, outdoor seating area.
Flame Tree Barbecue
Come to Flame Tree Barbecue for the food, but stay for the tranquil, picturesque seating area surrounding a quiet pond (occasionally made less calm by the exotic birds that come to bathe there – they can get a little feisty.)
It’s a meat lover’s paradise here with entrees like St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, and smoked chicken. Vegetarians get a satisfying plant-based option though: the Hotlink Smokehouse Sandwich, a plant-based sausage topped with slaw, crispy onions, and a tangy mustard barbecue sauce.
Epcot Table-Service Restaurants
Epcot is the only Disney World theme park with numerous traditional table-service restaurants offering outdoor seating.
Via Napoli Ristorante e Pizzeria, Italy Pavilion
Dining al fresco is the Italian way, so it’s no surprise that there are multiple spots within the Italy pavilion to eat outdoors. Via Napoli slings incredibly authentic Neapolitan pies – flashed fired in wood-burning ovens named after Italy’s three active volcanoes. But, while Via Napoli has a handful of outdoor tables, don’t count on being seated at one. As with many other table service restaurants at the parks, utilizing the outdoor tables is at the discretion of the management based on weather, demand, and staffing.
Tutto Italia Ristorante, Italy Pavilion
Epcot’s answer to the traditional Italian restaurant, Tutto Italia serves all the classics: calamari, chicken parmigiana, spaghetti and meatballs. Guests are regularly seated on the outdoor patio, though during the winter it often gets and extra layer of plastic cover, eliminating some of the fresh air.
Rose & Crown Dining Room, UK Pavilion
For the best fish and chips around plus serene views of World Showcase Lagoon, Rose & Crown Dining Room in Epcot’s UK pavilion has a lovely outdoor patio. Fireworks are currently suspended, but this is one of the best spots to nab a table during a nighttime spectacular, so keep that in mind when Epcot eventually launches Harmonious, a new nighttime show coming later in 2021. For now, get a good look at the Harmonious barges that have already made their way to the lagoon and dine on traditional English fare like the aforementioned Fish and Chips, plus Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers and Mash, and a Savory Impossible Hot Pot for vegetarians.
Note: Rose & Crown Dining Room is closing for refurbishment from Feb. 15 through “early spring.” A reopening date hasn’t been announced yet. But, if you have your heart set on Fish & Chips, Yorkshire County Fish Shop (see below), will remain open during the Dining Room closure.
Epcot Table-Service Lounges
Spice Road Table
One of the loveliest outdoor table-service options at Epcot, Spice Road Table in Morocco’s pavilion has just reopened under new ownership, having transitioned from third-party- to Disney-owned. Highlights from the new menu of Middle Eastern small plates, perfect for sharing, include Fried Calamari, Pomegranate-Chili Crispy Cauliflower, and, for a little taste of everything, the Spice Road Table Sampler.
The restaurant is currently operating like a lounge, with walk-up availability only. We’ve found it easy to get a table every time we’ve tried.
Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar, Italy Pavilion
Enter through Tutto Italia for access to Tutto Gusto, a wine bar serving antipasti, small plates and more than 200 bottles of Italian wines. Enjoy a glass of vino and some food at one of a number of outdoor tables.
The Best Epcot Quick-Service Restaurants
Yorkshire County Fish Shop, UK Pavilion
Enjoy the same beer-battered fish and chips served in Rose & Crown, but get more bang for your buck by ordering them at the Yorkshire County Fish Shop stand outside the pub. Get a heaping basket of delicately battered hake and thick-cut chips and a proper pint to wash it down and grab one of the many outdoor tables lining the UK pavilion’s main “street,” or along the water.
La Cantina de San Angel, Mexico pavilion
La Cantina de San Angel in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, is one of my absolute favorite quick-service restaurants at Walt Disney World. The outdoor, covered terrace overlooking World Showcase Lagoon is a perfect spot to cool off with a frozen margarita, a pile of fresh chips and guac, and delicious takes on Mexican classics like Empanadas con Queso, Tacos de Barbacoa, and Nachos.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue
No one was sorry to hear the news that Liberty Inn, the unremarkable quick-service restaurant in Epcot’s American Adventure pavilion, was closing to make way for a replacement. Enter Regal Eagle Smokehouse, featuring a menu that celebrates American barbecue traditions, with dishes nodding to BBQ meccas Texas, North Carolina, Kansas City, and Memphis, killer sides like housemate pickles and mac and cheese, and even a solid plant-based dish for vegans.
An outdoor bar pouring craft brews, inventive cocktails, and wines rounds out the alfresco fun at this new go-to in the middle of World Showcase.
Many guests don’t even know this tranquil spot exists. Find your way to Katsura Grill high up within Epcot’s Japan pavilion, via a winding path past koi ponds.
Theme park hustle and bustle is drowned out by the sounds of waterfalls and relaxing background music. Grab a meal from the quick-service menu featuring Japanese staples like sushi, ramen, and teriyaki.
Since Walt Disney World’s July 2020 reopening, Epcot has more than lived up to its reputation for always having a festival going on, and it’s a welcome offering during the pandemic. On now through Feb. 22 is the Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Arts, and the Taste of EPCOT International Flower & Garden Festival runs March 3 through July 5.
Each festival features more than 20 different temporary outdoor kitchens serving inventive small plates. Grab a dish (or five) and belly up at one of the many outdoor tables scattered throughout the park.
Outdoor Dining at Walt Disney World Resorts
Every Walt Disney World Resort offers some variation on quick-service dining with outdoor seating, including at the pool bars. Many resort restaurants now offer carryout service to take meals from indoor restaurants back to your room too. Mobile order meals to-go on the My Disney Experience app. In addition to the quick-service and to-go options, here are a few of my favorite outdoor spots at the resorts where you can enjoy table-service.
Geyser Point Bar & Grill, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Geyser Point, an open-air bar and lounge overlooking Bay Lake, is like a rustic outdoor sports bar. You can catch a game on the flatscreen TVs or just as easily ignore them if you want to pretend you’re really out in the middle of the woods – easy to do at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge.
Start with Cheesy Barbecue Brisket or a platter of charcuterie followed by a Bison Cheeseburger, Roasted Salmon, or the Teriyaki Chicken Wings. Come late and watch the Electric Water Pageant go by while you sip signature cocktails and craft beers.
Outdoor Dining Accessible by Disney Skyliner and Epcot Resorts
The Disney Skyliner has brought a new level of accessibility to resorts and parks, enabling guests to hop between Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century, Caribbean Beach and Riviera resorts and Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Epcot area resorts. Here are a few great outdoor dining options along the Skyliner route.
AbracadaBar, Disney’s Boardwalk
A perfect spot to pull up a chair, step back in time, and watch the world go by, AbracadaBar is a whimsical, magician-themed lounge that’s right at home amongst the turn-of-the-century, Atlantic City-esque theming of Disney’s Boardwalk Resort.
The handcrafted cocktail selection is plentiful. Food options are minimal, but delicious – get the Abra Fries, topped with parmesan cheese, truffle oil, and meyer lemon aioli, and thank me later. Or, ask your server or the bartender if you can order from Trattoria al Forno, the Italian restaurant next door.
Trattoria al Forno
For dinner, I prefer the food at the Italian restaurants a few minutes’ walk away in Epcot, but Trattoria al Forno can’t be beat for consistent availability of outdoor seating and a great view of Disney’s Boardwalk and Yacht and Beach Club Resorts.
Lunch and dinner are traditional Italian – pizza, pasta, meatballs, chicken parmesan. Where Trattoria al Forno really shines, though, is at breakfast. Pre-pandemic, the character meal was a favorite both for food and interaction. There’s no character dining now, but the breakfast remains excellent, with highlights like Avocado Toast, an Italian Omelet, Buttermilk Pancakes, and Steak & Eggs.
Bar Riva, Disney’s Rivera Resort
Technically, it’s the pool bar at Disney’s Riviera Resort, but Bar Riva is a breezy, relaxing spot for table-service dining. Accessed via a European-style arcade, the space is tiled in calming shades of blue with scenes from the Italian and French Riviera.
Sip regional European wines and signature cocktails and order from a French- and Italian-inspired menu with sharable plates like Baked Brie in Puff Pastry Grilled Chicken Wings with roasted garlic and lemon-herb butter sauce, plus salads and sandwiches for main courses.
Some of the best restaurants at Walt Disney World are housed within the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, situated within the Epcot resort loop accessible by Skyliner, Friendship boats, and walkable to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot.
All of the restaurants here are excellent, but Il Mulino is one of my favorite restaurants at all of Walt Disney World. The service is excellent and the Rigatoni con Funghi with wild mushrooms, spicy cherry peppers, garlic and truffle oil just might be my all-time favorite pasta dish. Il Mulino offers limited outdoor seating in the courtyard.
Outdoor Dining at Magic Kingdom-Area Resorts
As I mentioned above, Magic Kingdom is my least favorite park for dining. Instead, I love to make the 10-minute walk along the gorgeous new walkway to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to eat at one of several outdoor options there. Disney’s Polynesian Resort is 10 minutes further down the path and Captain Cook’s is a great quick-service option with outdoor seating there. In the opposite direction from Magic Kingdom is Disney’s Contemporary Resort, but the pool bar is really the only outdoor option there.
Grand Floridian Café & Gasparilla Island Grill
Although Grand Floridian Café doesn’t always serve outdoors, they have recently been seating outdoor tables at lunchtime, weather permitting. This a great spot for a brunch or lunch, with both breakfast and lunch items available morning and afternoon.
If Grand Floridian Café isn’t seating outside, Gasparilla Island Grill is a solid backup, with plenty of waterfront outdoor seating and a varied menu of pizzas, burgers, and hot and cold sandwiches.
Another great lounge with outdoor seating, be sure to take in the details in Enchanted Rose’s “Beauty and the Beast”-themed rooms on your way to the heated outdoor patio overlooking Grand Floridian’s lovely grounds.
Signature cocktails are the name of the game here, like the Floral Bitter Beauty, Lavender Fog, and Seasonal Old Fashioned. Make a meal out of shareable plates like House-made Flatbread, Crab Macaroni & Cheese, and Mini Smoked Brisket Sliders.
This article originally appeared on Better.