Booking your Disney World vacation can be overwhelming, but this article will curb your Disney restaurant worries and let your taste buds take the lead.

I have been visiting Disney since I was just 1 year old. Each time my family drives under the great big ‘Welcome’ sign, we get excited about our favorite restaurants, snacks, rides, and hotels, but also love trying out new Disney experiences. There is so much more to do than just rides.

Nonetheless, after trying many Disney restaurants over these past two decades, here are the ones that either stunned me the first time I ate there or are ones my family and I keep going back to because we can't stay away!

1. 'Ohana 

McKenna Leaden

Aloha. Like a tropical paradise, the Polynesian Resort welcomes you with warm tones, bubbling waterfalls, and bright florals, setting the scene. Upstairs, the 'Ohana hosts greet your party with leis. It is my favorite restaurant in the resort. Two other sit-down restaurants are Kona Cafe and Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show–what my family and I have dubbed "The Luau." The Luau surely wins entertainment-wise; it is a dinner show with hula dancers, fire throwers, and a sweet story. 'Ohana’s menu, however, wins over my taste buds.

Presented with warm pineapple coconut bread as you are seated, your dining experience is just getting started. The meal is served family-style, so platters come out with dumplings, lo-mien noodles served with peanut sauce, chicken wings, and more. Spoiler alert: warm washcloths are brought out so you can wipe your fingers (but shhhh, if you lick them first, I won’t tell). Waiters come directly from the open grill with gigantic skewers. Offering shrimp, chicken, steak, and pork, there are options for everyone in your party. If you want to stick to the appetizers, that’s okay too! Endless helpings of seconds to fourths (why not?), are brought out. Save room for the bread pudding, though! It’s gooey and amazing. 

I recommend booking at sunset. Cinderella’s Castle stands in the distance as you overlook the pool's volcano and Bay Lake. If you can only get a late-night reservation, you get a cozy viewing of Happily Ever After, the Magic Kingdom firework show. It begins anytime between 8 and 10 pm, depending on the night, so consider checking the firework schedule before you make a reservation!

2. Yachtsman Steakhouse

As for the Yachtsman Steakhouse, you can head over to Epcot and catch IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the 9 pm fireworks, after dinner.

Inside Disney's Yacht Club Resort, treat yourself to a dining experience fancier than any other night– with a dress code and all. Inspired by New England eateries, lobster is on the menu along with other seafood, pastas, a pizza option, and of course, steak. Peruse the menu here

The sides are my favorite part. Don't miss out on the creamed spinach, the brussels and bacon, or the twice baked potato. 

3. Tony’s Town Square Restaurant

This Lady and the Tramp-inspired restaurant is inside Disney's Magic Kingdom. You might be pretty full by the time you get here, from eating your way around the park (because how could you not get the Dole whip, the Mickey-head ice cream, the chocolate-covered frozen banana, or the buttery popcorn), but you have to save room for Tony's. 

If you enjoy Italian food, I highly recommend it. Their calamari app and spinach dip with warm ciabatta bread are delicious. My favorite meal on the menu is the House-made Gnocchi Primavera: buttery, full of pesto, and decorated in fresh, bright vegetables.

Eating outside of Tony’s Kitchen at sunset and seeing families coming in and out of the park with their Mickey ears on is one way we celebrated my mom’s past birthday. Pro Tip: If it's your/someone in your party's birthday, always wear the ‘Happy Birthday’ pin Disney gives you because your waiter will almost always bring you a free dessert or break into song. If you don’t have a pin, make sure to let your waiter know you’re celebrating and score a delicious dessert!

4. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Another theme park restaurant I’d love to go back to is the princess dining experience in Epcot’s World Showcase. Take a hop, skip, and a jump into Norway for a huge buffet and some pictures with the princesses.

Disney dining is notorious for buffets, including Chef Mickey’s restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort, but Akershus surprised me. This past fall was my first time dining there. Previously, my family stuck to Cinderlla’s Castle for our princess-breakfast-outings (also amazing), but the unique Norwegian twist that weaves its way into the dishes here is refreshing. In addition to a family-style platter brought to each table, guests get up to choose whatever they wish.

My mom, sister, and some friends of mine realized we had a 'magical' reservation time when we were seated right before the transition period from breakfast to lunch. For the price of one, we ate from two different menus.  

The Disney restaurant and dining options are endless. With snack carts scattered all over the parks and hotels housing multiple restaurants a piece, I can't wait to try more of these appetizers, savory meals, and sweets. This is going to be my guide for the next time I'm at Disney: The 50 Best Things to Eat in Disney World Before You Die!