Long has Florida been a destination for travelers. Particularly those from chilly locales. In the winter months, one thing this New Yorker yearns for is to sit in the sun. In particular, open-air restaurants have strong appeal to us snowbirds. However, the pandemic has heightened the benefits of the great outdoors. In the foreseeable future, vacationers will have multiple reasons to make note of the best outdoor dining at Walt Disney World
Presently, as per the CDC, on-site dining limited to outdoor seating with a seating capacity reduced to allow tables to be spaced at least 6 feet apart is the safest form of eating out. (Next to drive-throughs.) Establishments across the country may be permanently reconfiguring their spaces. Perhaps this is why Zagat deems outside restaurant venues the future of dining.
Best Outdoor Dining at Disney World
Fortunately, Walt Disney World has an expansive list of options. From all four theme parks to Disney Springs shopping and dining mecca, the choices for soaking up the Sunshine State are many. Ultimately, if you have a front row view of the magic, all the better.
Here’s the best of the best outdoor dining venues in each location. And which ones pack extra Pixie Dust!
Table-seating dining at Walt Disney World has come a loooong way in its almost-fifty years. I would venture to say that Mickey now serves up fine dining that measures up to most major cities.
As a result, many of these venues are difficult to make advance reservations for. Though Florida pandemic restrictions have been lifted, each establishment may set their own comfort with capacity. Not ALL Disney restaurants have reopened. Outdoor seating may be further coveted. Therefore, do your research, plan ahead, and make outdoor dining Disney World reservations HERE.
Sadly, when it comes to dining in general, the Magic Kingdom is the least magical option. Sigh. (Though you can now order a cocktail in any of their sit-down establishments. So that might help.)
Tony’s Town Square Restaurant
If popcorn and turkey legs are not your thing, this is your one and only outdoor option. Tony’s Town Square has a lovely little patio overlooking Main Street U.S.A., but it not always open. If you ARE lucky enough to score an outside seat, the food may make you feel unlucky.
Since it’s opening in 1981, I have tried to appreciate the Italian food here. Truly. I have visited over 20 times in that period. Each time with an open mind. Sadly, it always manages to disappoint. Tony’s Pizza Pie might be a passable exception. My suggestion? Head to another theme park or Walt Disney World Resort hotel to chow down.
NOW we’re talking. Though the outdoor restaurants regularly get some competition from the near year-round festivals and outdoor kitchens, some of my favorites live along its World Showcase.
Tutto Italia Ristorante
Amore. If you love classic Italian food prepared in a traditional way, you, too, will fall in love. The service at Tutto Italia is always impeccable, which adds to the romance. Though the indoor dining room is beautiful (complete with authentic Murano glass chandeliers), it is the outdoor patio where we prefer to dine.
Take in the sights of San Marco Square while you sip from your quartino of wine. I swear their lasagna measures up to anything I’ve eaten in Italy.
Spice Road Table
Sitting alongside Showcase Lagoon is this newer establishment. Now under Disney ownership, Spice Road Table serves Mediterranean small plates, beers, and wines. And sangria! With the newest Epcot nighttime spectacular Harmonious debuting soon, there will be no finer seat in a theme park.
In my mind, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has some of the best Quick Service venues on property. Unfortunately, due to the current masking policy, munching and sipping while strolling is verboten. Enter another outdoor dining must-do.
The Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge
Right off Hollywood Boulevard, this outdoor spot instantly transports me right back to Los Angeles. During typical times, you can dine on smaller-sized variations of the famous Cobb Salad and Grapefruit Cake.
Regrettably, due to the pandemic, the tapas-style menu is temporarily on hold. However, the full beverage and specialty cocktail offerings are available. Please check the website for menu updates.
Adventure awaits you at the Nomad Lounge. Attached to Tiffins Restaurant on the path to Pandora, a travel-themed menu offers more than typical fare. This walk-up lounge has the option of sitting at the indoor bar, or outdoors on the porch.
Sitting alongside Discovery River provides a serene vista. But more recently, there is an added bonus: a front-row seat to the Animal Kingdom character cavalcades! While this is decidedly an adult spot, the kiddies will be now be thoroughly entertained. And you can completely enjoy your Lamu Libation.
This newest “park” is Walt Disney World’s outdoor dining mecca. And despite COVID, its options continue to expand!
The BOATHOUSE seems to have it all. Because it DOES. (Hence, the all caps…) Its three bars, multi-level dock dining, and covered patio seating areas give outdoor diners the first-class treatment.
Sit along Village Lake and enjoy passing amphicars, a fleet of vintage boats, and water taxis. Impressively, the surf and turf menu lives up to the quality of the surroundings. From a full raw bar to the best burger on property, there is something for everyone here.
Wine Bar George
Wine Bar George has quickly achieved fabled status. It shares that status with owner and proprietor, Disney legend George Miliotes. George serves 140 wines (including those on tap!), Frosé, a perfect variety of small plates, entrées, charcuterie boards, and a complete allergy menu. All of this is served on their outdoor terrace- the catbird’s seat for the rest of Disney Springs.
Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ Shine Bar & Social
Introducing the NEW outdoor seating area at Homecomin’- the Shine Bar and Social. I can think of no better spot to sit outside and toast the end of the pandemic. With some moonshine in hand!
Chef Art Smith’s comfort food is also just what the world needs right about now. Honestly, the hardest part of any meal here is choosing which favorite to order. (Which is why we try to visit more than once each trip!)
- Fried Chicken & Donuts
- Shrimp & Grits
- Auntie’s Chocolate Cake
- Rumshine Punch
His famous Hummingbird Cake I now make at home with Art’s fab recipe!
If encountering crowds makes you more uncomfortable than usual now, escaping to the resorts is my best advice.
Wyndham Lake Buena Vista
Oasis Restaurant and Sports Bar
Located within steps of Disney Springs, the Wyndham Lake Buena is a hidden gem on this distinguished list. Finding it difficult to secure an outdoor dining reservation at the increasingly bustling Disney Springs?? The Oasis Restaurant and Sports Bar is now your answer!
With what I agree are the best wings on property, you can munch at the bar, outdoor tables, or score a seat near one of the multiple TV screens. Never miss your favorite sporting event again!
In a relaxed atmosphere overlooking their newly- refurbed pool area, there is something to satisfy the entire family- Angus Bacon Cheddar Burgers, Italian Sausage Sandwiches, Jerk Mahi Mahi Tacos, and a Reef Salad with Salmon round out the menu. Vegetarian Impossible Burgers too!
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
Admittedly, food is not the tale here, but oh, those handcrafted cocktails. Plus, any reason to walk through the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is a good one.
This signature lounge features four distinct enchanted spaces: the chandeliered (modeled after Belle’s gown!) bar, formal library, forested garden room, and lastly the beautiful heated outdoor terrace with distant views of Seven Seas Lagoon.
The menu is currently limited to 5 items- from flatbreads to Crab Macaroni & Cheese. However, the cocktail listings are extensive. Come for the atmosphere. Come for a sip. But don’t come hungry.
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
Geyser Point Bar & Grill
It doesn’t get more outdoorsy than Disney’s Wilderness Lodge and its Geyser Point Bar & Grill. Enjoy their full menu and ‘Signature Libations’ while gazing at Bay Lake and the local herons. Go at night and you may just catch the Electric Water Pageant!
The ‘Rustic Fare’ includes favorites such as Handcrafted Charcuterie and Cheesy Barbeque Brisket, but healthier, creative options such Bison Cheeseburger, Edamame, and amazing Roasted Salmon. They provide a full allergy-friendly menu too!
Disney’s Coronado Resort
Three Bridges Bar & Grill at Villa del Lago
This fairly new dining spot sits smack in the middle of Lago Dorado. Approached by three distinct bridges (hence its name), it can be accessed conveniently from any area of this sprawling resort. Though covered, it is completely outdoors. Sit in the Art Garden Court and be surrounded by wind sculptures, or plop on a comfy couch next to the firepit in Palm Court.
The menu here is Spanish-inspired and fairly eclectic. But Elotes, Harissa Lamb Chops and Braised Pork Tacos are balanced by a Marinated and Grilled Sirloin and Crispy Chicken Biscuit Sliders. Both the Tres Leches and Warm Churros are desserts excelentes!
Be aware, both the Geyser Point and Three Bridges Bars & Grill do not accept Advance Dining Reservations. Finding a table on a busy weekend can be hit or miss at either.
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek
Sear + Sea Woodfire Grill
One of the newest hotels to open near Walt Disney World property is the
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa. Unfortunately, it opened during the pandemic, so the news of its glory might be slow to spread. But I’m here to help. The hotel’s signature restaurant- Sear + Sea Woodfire Grill- is certainly worthy of mention here.
The classy outdoor veranda dining, overlooking the untouched woods, is the just the beginning of a superior dining experience. The staff here is utterly professional, and the food measures up fully.
Though quite expensive, (the bread service costs $7), the chilled Half Dozen Oyster Selection ($24), Prime Angus Beef NY Strip ($68), and Fresh Catch Strawberry Grouper ($38) were worth every penny. All sides/sauces are an extra charge as well.
For a special occasion, this new steak and seafood restaurant is worthy of a visit.
Thankfully, whether COVID is a consideration or not, the future of outdoor dining at Disney World looks quite promising. Perhaps, in the long run, communing with nature will prove good for the digestion…