Budget Guide To Dining Outdoors at Walt Disney World

March and early April are the best months to visit Walt Disney World due to reasonably mild temperatures, the lowest humidity of the year, and a low probably that your expensive day will be ruined by heavy rains.

The parks will still seem crowded and the newer attraction like Toy Story will require FastPass to ride. If you wait until August 29 when the Star Wars section opens with about 50% of the planned activities, they might have to close Hollywood Studios by noon.    WDW couldn’t afford to wait until December to cash in on the audiences.

Most of you will correctly expect that few outdoor sections of expensive table service restaurants will be booked and most of the better counter service places with outdoor seating will be crowded.   This is about less expensive meals with neat views.

What do I do when I visit WDW?  How about a relaxing fifteen-minute boat ride away from the noise of Magic Kingdom and eat lunch with a scenic lakeside meal?   Take the small launch at the boat docks that sails to Wilderness LODGEDon’t worry: they don’t check tickets or Magic bands – WDW would actually like some park guests to eat lunch at the half-empty hotel spots.


A view that doesn’t seem like crowded WDW

From the wharf at the Wilderness Lodge, head for the rustic resort, but don’t go inside. Walk around the pool area toward the Wilderness Villas on the left side of the complex. There lakeside is the open-air covered Geyser Point Bar and Grill, open for lunch, dinner, and wonderful sunset views of Bay Lake, the only natural lake at WDW.

FLORIDATRAVELER geyser-point-bar-and-grill2

The place accepts some Disney dining plans and serves the burgers, sandwiches, salads, and kids meals as well as alcoholic drinks.  The view is so relaxing, few people are watching the sports events in the bar television.

With all the new attractions, including the Mickey Mouse movie opening this summer in the Chinese Theater, Disney Hollywood Studios will be crowded.  The counter service places are generally poor.  One of the best restaurants is the expensive Hollywood Brown Derby, a replica of the lost California landmark.


Look for the maroon umbrellas around 11 am

But notice the maroon umbrellas to the right on the restaurant entrance.  The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge opens at 11 am and serves more than just dozens of cocktails. It has the famous Cobb salad, Derby sliders, cheese boards and lush desserts.

It also has a wonderful view of the people in the Main Square.

FLORIDATRAVLER flame-tree-barbecue-seating-2-600x465

Animal Kingdom has a lot of outdoor fast food spots, many with little cover from the sun.  If you have kids – the best food and the chance of a table by the River is found at the Flame Tree Barbecue.  Ribs, chicken, pulled pork, salads, kids meals with beer and cocktails in a wooded picnic sitting.

FLORIDATRAVELER Tiffins_Restaurant_Animal_Kingdom

This spot becomes a riverside lounge-restaurant at night

But there is a secret spot.  A great evening spot for adults is The Nomad Lounge, almost hidden behind the expensive Tiffins Restaurant.  This porch overlooking the exotic Animal Kingdom River serves small plates like truffle poutine and wagyu beef sliders.

It’s a lounge so the beer, wine, and cocktail menu is vast.

Disney Springs has an incredible amount of good restaurants and none of the inexpensive counter service spots have A+ outdoor locations.  So where do I do?  I walk ride down the wharf between the Amphicar and the at upscale Boathouse Restaurant to the bar with table seating at the end of the wharf.

FLORIDATRAVELER -boathouse-at-disney

With a nice lake view of all of Disney Springs as well as the boat-cars going past and the huge collection of antique boats, I can order a beer and a dockside bucket of clam strips or shrimp or something from the main menu.

I must admit that outdoor dining at Epcot is poor since restaurants dominate the lake front.  The best seating at a counter service place is to come early to the outdoor Mexican spot: grab a table and get someone to buy the margaritas and the tacos.

FLORIDATRAVEER La-Cantina-de-San-Angel-3

Good seating at La Cantina fills up quickly!

The best waterfront outdoor spot of the expensive table service spots is the seating right by the water at England’s Rose and Crown.

Have a happy “outdoor dining experience” at WDW!

About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
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