The Best Thing I Ever Ate at Magic Kingdom

by Roan Poulter, contributing writer
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I have some disturbing news for you: Much of the food at Magic Kingdom is overpriced, shipped in from some far away kitchens and worst of all, doesn't taste very good. Just ask any of your Disney hating friends, they'll tell you, overpriced under qualified food. But here's the good news: It doesn't have to be this way. I'm going to share the best of the best, my life's culinary culmination, my Coup de Grace. All the rest have been child's play, this is life or death. I will break it down into the following categories:

  • Best Dessert
  • Best Atmosphere
  • Best Drink
  • Best Counter service appetizer
  • Best Counter service entrée
  • Best Fine Dining appetizer
  • Best Fine Dining entrée

Best Dessert

Oh dear reader, you've hit the jackpot!! So many sweets are scattered throughout this park you could get hyperglycemia by sniffing too hard. But what's the best? With names like Ghirardelli at the resort, competition is stiff. But, bite for bite, the coconut bar with pineapple-basil compote and vanilla cream at Skipper's Canteen in Adventureland is the winner. Roughly the size of a stick of butter, this is a true foodie delight. I suggest getting your own, fist fights routinely break out when we share.


This is the best stick of butter you'll ever eat, Photo by Roan Poulter.

Honorable Mention

Fresh Fruit Waffle Sandwich with Chocolate Hazelnut Spread at Sleepy Hollow in Liberty Square. Chocolate Croissant at Gaston's Tavern in Fantasyland. Both of these treats have a dark heart of chocolatey goodness with warm pastry covers. Neither of them makes my teeth hurt and I always leave wanting more.

Best Atmosphere

Once again, competition is stiff. I snicker in disgust when I see people waiting in a 20-minute line for a hot dog in Tomorrowland knowing they could probably walk in at Skipper's Canteen. The Plaza on Main Street has an amazing hidden view of the park and Tony's Town Square Restaurant is the place most guests probably had no idea even existed. But top of the top? I will say the Butterfly table at Skipper's Canteen. I'd love to say Cinderella's Royal Table or Be Our Guest in Fantasyland, but I was unwilling/unable to get reservations or enough pocket money to ever visit either.


Plenty of eye candy abounds in Skipper's Canteen, but the Butterfly alcove is breathtaking. Photo by Roan Poulter.

Honorable Mentions

The Butterfly table at Skipper's Canteen is amazingly beautiful. Fireworks from the Plaza is a perfect capstone to a magical day.

Best Drink

No booze at the Kingdom now that Gaston's has dried up. I'm going to call a tie, though my son and I diametrically oppose each other on our selections. I believe and know to be correct, that Aloha Isle's Dole Whip Float, a marvelous combination of Dole Whip and pineapple juice is the clear winner in best drink. My son says I'm a geriatric with no taste buds and that Gaston Tavern's Le Fou's Brew, a frozen concoction of apple slush with mango foam is clearly tops. You should get one of each so you can see I'm right.


The Dole Whip float is a tartly delicious treat on a hot day. Photo by Roan Poulter.


LeFou's Brew is a clearly second fiddle treat. Photo by Roan Poulter.

Best Counter Service Appetizer

Some amazing treats have come and gone in this category. I wept when Sleepy Hollow stopped hand-dipping corn dogs after a short run (NOTE: There is a late breaking development, the menu for WDW currently shows corn dogs back on the menu, check it out). The loss of the pork shank at Gaston's still gets me misty eyed. Of what remains there is but one undisputed champion, the Chili-Cheese Waffle Fries at the Golden Oak Outpost in Frontierland. It is located on the far side between Pirates of the Caribbean and Splash Mountain. What it lacks in nutritional value it more than makes up in terms of sheer tastiness. Golden fried waffle fries are lavishly slathered with a potent chili and decadent cheese.


A man can dream. Photo by Roan Poulter.

Best Counter Service Entrée

For me there is no question, the Sweet and Spicy Chicken Waffle Sandwich at Sleepy Hollow is the king. There really is no substitute for freshly cooked food and this proves it. Watching the waffles and chicken cooked before your eyes is proven in the first bite, the still-moist chicken's breading giving a little crunch, while the sauce delivers powerful sweet and spicy flavor, all blanketed in the soft sweetness of the waffle. The small amount of greens helps to give additional texture and some hope of vitamins. The chips that are included are nearly as much of a treat.


A cross section of deliciousness for your viewing pleasure. Photo by Roan Poulter.

Best Fine Dining Appetizer

In a world of deep-fried appetizers, one stands above. The S.E.A. Shu Mai at Skipper's Canteen is touted as a legendary blend of pork, shrimp, edamame beans, and spices wrapped in gyoza skin, then steamed. The shu mai dumplings were soft, yielding to bites like gyoza, but with a more substantive filling. There are many flavors, but the overall savory pork and spices dominate.


This dish really hits all your savory flavor centers. Photo by Roan Poulter.

Best Fine Dining Entrée

I will share a grave disappointment I have, I never dined at Be Our Guest Restaurant. I heard great things, but I never put the time into getting a reservation, and I always missed the lunch window. But many wonderful sitting restaurant options are a much easier ticket, Skipper's Canteen, Plaza and Tony's come to mind. Each of them has wonderful food and air conditioned spaces to catch your breath from the punishing Florida sun. But which is the best? I must crown the Italian Trio at Tony's—three classic Italian favorites on one dish: chicken parmigiana, fettuccine alfredo, and spaghetti with pork-beef meatball. A generous helping easily split between two. In addition to this, you might be surprised to find many other legitimate Italian delicacies like house-made gnocchi primavera and Roman-style steak.


This is a truly exceptional bit of Italian dining. Photo by Roan Poulter.

Honorable Mentions

Nile Nellies Noodle bowl at Skipper's Canteen and the Meatloaf at the Plaza. All are wonderful dishes and I would strongly argue that they represent a far superior money value per food quantity over almost any other dining choice in the park.


It's been a pleasure, see you all on the road. Photo by Roan Poulter

As this will be my final review, at least for some time. I would like to thank everyone who has come along with us on this Gastronomical journey. I go now to seek far lands, exotic flavors and adventures outside the parks. If you're ever curious where we find ourselves, look us up: www.TheWaywardTravelers.com.

 

Comments

  1. By danyoung

    Thanks for the article, Roan. I don't disagree with any of your points. But I do have to make one correction. The proper name of the restaurant in Adventurland is the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen, or in short, the Skipper Canteen.


    /picky mode off

  2. By carolinakid

    Thanks, Dan! Skipperís Canteen sounds like it should be somewhere on Gilliganís Island with Jonas Grumby as the proprietor.

  3. By danyoung

    Don't feel bad, Roan. I had to look it up to see if I was right!

  4. By Dave1313

    The loss of the pork shank at Gaston's still gets me misty eyed.
    That was honestly the first item that came to my mind when I saw this review. That was a great meal by itself! I had it once or twice when NFL opened, and was sad to see it go.

    As for the atmosphere, I can't disagree with the butterfly table, but I think there is even a more impressive sight in there(assuming it's still there). The room off to the side of the room with the butterfly table (the room you don't walk through from the front of the restaurant) had some really beautiful chandeliers with birds that looked to be in a stained glass type of decor (no idea if it was real stained glass, but that's the best way I can describe it). I haven't been to SK in a little while, so I'm don't know for sure if this room is still there, or might have been impacted by the mods to make the "Club-33 like" facility in the same building. I was never lucky enough to sit in there (so I honestly can't comment on what else is in that room), but saw them on one visit and liked them a lot.

    And BOG is pretty impressive with it's 3 rooms. I've never been for dinner, but had lunch or breakfast a few times and walked around to check out the decor each time. All are very well done.

    While maybe not technically "atmosphere", I'd add a vote for the balcony at the Pinocchio Village Haus too. I had no idea that was a thing, but it was pretty cool to eat while looking down at the Fantasyland corridor.

    As this will be my final review, at least for some time. I would like to thank everyone who has come along with us on this Gastronomical journey.

    I've enjoyed your reviews. Thanks for writing them.

  5. By DisneyGator

    I'll agree with you that the Dole Whip Float is the best drink by far....no matter what some crazy kid says.

    Best Entree', believe it or not, is the Eggplant Parm at Tony's. Remember that I'm from Cali where we don't get authentic Italian. But this dish was amazing for me.

    It sounds like I'm going to have to come back to do the Skippers Canteen if nearly all of your faves are from there.

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