I won't claim to have eaten every Disney World meal or how each would rank to a professional foodie. What I do know is that I have logged in roughly four months of time in Disney World in the past ten years and that I eat my fill when I am there. Vacations in Disney World have higher expectations than almost anything else in the world. Disney has built up a level of anticipation that borders on insane and I have personally seen an average meal bring a person to tears of frustration and disappointment. I can't promise the below meals will meet your needs the way they meet mine but hopefully I can categorize them in a way that you can get an idea if it would suit your tastes as well.
Credit: wdwinfo.comCharacter Breakfast: For my money there isn't a better way to get access to the Disney characters than during a character meal. Rather than wait in lines to get an autograph you can fill your plate with waffles and wait for the gang to come to you. When it comes to character breakfasts there is no debate for me. Chef Mickey's, in the Contemporary Resort, has all the breakfast staples you would expect: eggs, pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, fresh fruit, and the list goes on. Top it off with a pot of coffee and you're good for the five-minute walk to the Magic Kingdom.
Quiet Breakfast: Quiet doesn't necessarily mean devoid of children but rather a breakfast where children aren't the obvious focus. The Kona Cafe, in the Polynesian Resort, is probably my favorite breakfast in all of Disney World. If you book an early reservation, say 8am, you will likely just be among a handful of people. The Tonga Toast is a rite of passage as far as I'm concerned. Two pieces of fried sourdough sandwiching a banana filling which is topped with cinnamon and sugar. True, you'll be walking around with it in your stomach for the rest of the day, but it's worth it. Top it off with some freshly ground Kona coffee and your morning is set.
Quick Breakfast: If you're not the breakfast type but still want something better than a box of donuts, than I suggest you try the bakery on Boardwalk. This is the bakery where much of Disney World's baked goods are made so they are very fresh in the morning. The sticky buns are a personal favorite but you really can't go wrong. Pull up a chair or find a bench on the boardwalk and enjoy the cool breeze off the water as the day unfolds before you.
Buffet Breakfast: While most character meals are buffet style, not all buffets have characters. In fact my favorite breakfast buffet breakfast has no characters at all. Tucked away in Fort Wilderness Campground is the Trails End Buffet. While the food is the same as any other of the breakfast buffets this one has the benefit of being roughly a third of the cost. Such is the savings when you don't need Mickey's autograph when you eat.
Credit: wdwinfo.comMessy Lunch: If you don't mind a pile of crumpled napkins around your plate after a meal, than this is the lunch for you. The Flame Tree Barbeque in the Animal Kingdom serves ribs and isn't light on the sauce. Put them besides an order of baked beans and coleslaw and you have a meal that all the carnivores in the park drool for. Just be sure to find a seat near the condiment station should you run low on wet naps.
Lunch with a view: This restaurant gets a bad rap but I enjoy it every time. The Garden Grill is in EPCOT in the Land Pavilion. It is a circular restaurant that slowly rotates while you eat so you can get a view into the Living With the Land ride. The food is served family style and has some down home favorites such as fried catfish and cornbread. The food is simple but I'll never be accused of having a sophisticated palate.
Classic Lunch: There's nothing more classic for me than a couple hotdogs heaped high with sauerkraut and mustard with a side of fries. If you're going to get a hotdog, than you really have no excuse not to hit Casey's on the corner of Main Street USA. However, I do feel the need to mention that seating is horrible. If you plan on eating here during the lunch rush, than grab your food and head toward Tomorrow Land. If you walk directly past the Plaza Restaurant you'll see a bunch of seating up ahead that is rarely used.
Healthy Lunch: If your idea of the best Disney World meal is a healthy one, than you are not out of luck. The Wave in the Contemporary Resort serves a healthy lunch full of lean meat and fresh produce. I particularly liked the Bison burger with a fresh wild berry smoothie. Everything is vibrant and nutritious and is definitely on my list to try again my next trip.
Credit: wdwinfo.comDinner and a Show: The Hoop-De-Doo Review is a show that every family should do at least once. While it does have a tendency to be hit or miss, it was a huge hit for me. What the food lacks in five-star quality it makes up for in quantity. All you can eat ribs served by the bucketful, cast iron corn bread, corn on the cob, and bottomless pitchers of beer and sangria guarantee you walk out happy if not a little slanted.
Comfort Food: Sometimes you just want a big plate of meatloaf or a few pieces of fried chicken. The 50's Prime Time Cafe in Hollywood Studios will never win an award for the healthiest meal but it very may well be the most delicious. You are waited on by "Mom" and be sure to remember your manners. The wait staff takes a very hands on approach to making sure you eat all your vegetables so be sure to go into this meal with an empty stomach and a good sense of humor.
Sunset Dinner: One of the best memories I have with my family is splitting a large pizza from the Boardwalk Pizza Window while watching the sunset. If you wait long enough the street performers will come out and dazzle you with magic tricks and juggling. Yes, it's only a pizza but the ambiance is hard to beat. The best Disney World meal doesn't always mean the best tasting.
Meat, Meat, and more Meat: If you need to be stuffed to the gills with meat to be satisfied, than O'Hana at the Polynesian Resort is the dinner for you. Appetizers are all you can eat wings and pot stickers to warm you up for the main course. The main course is all you can eat meat on a stick. They serve beef, pork, chicken, and shrimp that is grilled over flame on skewers. After a long day of playing in the parks, the best Disney World meal for me has to be accompanied by a wait staff walking towards my table with sticks piled high with meat.