Battle of the Buffets

Chef Mickey's

I believe that in all the mouse advice I share, the most difficult questions to answer are about Disney buffet experiences.  Disney buffets are extremely popular dining options and find themselves on various lists and blogs as being some of the most difficult dining reservations to obtain.  I want to attribute this to a number of reasons.

  1. Families find buffets to be low pressure, kid friendly dining opportunities with choices for everyone.
  2. Buffets are believed to be less time consuming.  We sit, we order our drinks, and we help ourselves.
  3. You’re going to get the best bang for your buck.  Buffets are all you can eat, right?
  4. Many buffets have character experiences.

While all of those may be true, each buffet excels in different areas making them unique dining experiences and popular for different reasons.  This is why it can be difficult to place any type of consistent, numerical rating without getting into why each experience is truly worth visiting.

To help gain a better understanding of interpreting not only buffet dining but any Disney dining experience, let’s discuss five of Disney’s top buffet dining experiences that seem to all fight for those top spots in the battle of Disney buffets.

  1. Chef Mickey’s (Full Review & Rating):  If there is ever a more talked about dining experience or difficult reservation to land, it’s Chef Mickey’s.  While Disney boasts an entirely separate standard of food compared to your local restaurants, you will not typically receive a recommendation for Chef Mickey’s due to it’s food.  Check Mickey’s is all about an experience.  It’s not that Chef Mickey’s food is bad but when you consider what you can get with a dining credit on the Disney Dining Plan, it falls short of many other Disney dining experiences.  However, sitting in the midst of the Contemporary Resort, amongst the monorails, all while visiting Disney’s ‘fab five without waiting in line, it’s pretty difficult to beat.  So while Chef Mickey’s doesn’t quite measure up to other buffets or table dining options at Disney, it certainly offers an experience that cannot be matched.
  2. Cape May Cafe: It’s funny how often people ask me for suggestions for dining experiences at resorts.  It’s just a thing that people like to resort hop and gain insights to where they may want to stay in the future.  Cape May Cafe not only provides an opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful resorts in all of Walt Disney World, but offers an added planning convenience as its a short walk from Epcot or boat ride to Hollywood Studios.   Cape May is not only a nice visit, it offers a unique buffet experience with a couple of options.  First, Cape May offers a Character Experience breakfast, Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast”, that is an experience comparable the Chef Mickey’s.  Cape May also offers a Seafood buffet with some incredible offerings such as crab legs, mussels, clams, and more teamed with savory, homestyle sides.  The dinner is not a character experience but they really up the ante with the quality of food and options offered.  Even Disney’s site dedicated to Cape May recommends reservations 180 days in advance.
  3. Boma (Full Review & Rating):  Boma is yet another resort dining opportunity that boasts a unique dining menu.  While Boma does not offer a character experience, the resort atmosphere working in tandem with an African themed menu really makes up for any shortfalls in comparison.  The buffet at Boma never ceases to amaze me.  From their incredibly prepared proteins to the world renown Zebra Domes, it’s hard to find a buffet to match this quality throughout Walt Disney World.  Even their unique choice of salads can be a new experience to anyone’s food palate.
  4. Crystal Palace:  Crystal Palace is one of my earliest memories of Disney so I was excited to visit this dining experience a couple of years ago after more than a decade ago.  Crystal Palace has a similar experience in terms of food that Chef Mickey offers.  There’s not a special or uniquely themed menu but the food is par for the Disney course.  However, this is a character experience in the heart of the Magic Kingdom.  Given the character experience is not the Disney fab five but Pooh and Friends is certainly an endearing character experience especially while sitting in a dining hall, surrounded by windows looking out to Cinderella’s Castle.  Again, this is another dining opportunity that is much more about the experience than the food offered on the buffet.
  5. Tusker House:  The Tusker House is probably one of the best combinations of available experiences and dining options in all of Disney.  First, the Tusker House offers character experiences for every available meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner which is a fairly unique opportunity as several character dining opportunities will host characters for a single meal.  Not only does the Tusker House offer character experiences throughout the day, they offer a unique, marketplace-themed buffet menu.  There is this assumption that there’s a trade with quality of food with experience.  While that may be true that more attention may go to one versus another but the Tusker House defies this notion.  Their food is simply incredible all while offering opportunities to meet members of Disney’s fab five in their safari attire.  So come hang out with Donald and friends for breakfast, lunch, or dinner while you experience a delicious family-focused buffet of African flavors.

So you can see just how difficult it is to arrive at an accurate rating for any Disney dining experience, especially buffets.  Regardless if you’re following The Mouse Advisor, your favorite food blog, or traveling site, the averages really hide the full story.  Someone may share with you that they were not impressed with the food at Chef Mickey’s but understand, while it may fall short of other Disney dining options in terms of food, the experience is absolutely unforgettable.

If you were looking for a “Top 5” or “The Best Disney Buffet” I’m sorry if you felt mislead, that’s a post for another day, but I think it is more beneficial to share the full story and maybe provide the insight along the way.

I hope you share your experiences and insights in the comments.  Let us know what you think about our examples and maybe others that were not discussed in this post.


~ The Mouse Advisor