Being the family vacation capital of the world, Orlando, Florida offers countless choices for family meals. There's everything from dinner shows, which are on the pricey end of the scale but serve up live performances, acrobatics, and musical entertainment to generally good eats. Budget-friendly restaurants are also covered, below.
Restaurants at Disney World
Guests in the four giant Disney World theme parks can choose from dozens of restaurants. One recommended strategy is to sample at least one of the Character Meals which—though more expensive —are great fun especially when kids see their very favorite characters (such as Tigger, who appear at the Crystal Palace restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.) These all-you-can-eat buffets are huge, and a late breakfast or late lunch can power a family for many hours of touring in the theme parks.
Families can find just about any type of dining at Disney World. Check out this list of top restaurants that includes both "Table-Service" and "Casual" choices, as well as options in the lively Downtown Disney entertainment zone as well.
Also of note at Disney World: a major part of the Epcot theme park is the World Showcase area, where eleven pavilions from different countries surround a 41-acre lagoon, and each of these pavilions has restaurants that offer the nation's cuisine. Some pavilions have both a fine-dining choice and a casual eatery.
Restaurants at Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando also offers many choices for dining, both within its two theme parks and in its CityWalk entertainment zone, and families can find character meals here as well. Universal Orlando also has three resorts located near the theme parks and these too have restaurants including high-end dining options; evening kids clubs at these resorts help parents enjoy a night out.
Fun Themed Restaurants
A great place to find fun restaurants outside the theme parks is CityWalk, the entertainment zone that connects the two theme parks at Universal Orlando. CityWalk restaurants include a huge Hard Rock Cafe filled with rock'n'roll memorabilia (and featuring truly giant desserts), NBA City for basketball fans, and a NASCAR Cafe with a game area.
Ways to Save Money on Meals in Orlando
Stay at a place with a kitchenette; many hotels in Orlando are all-suites properties that have kitchen facilities. Standout choices include Nickelodeon Suites Resort, which has two water parks on-site and theming and entertainment by Nickelodeon, and Disney World's value-priced Art of Animation Resort which has cleverly designed suites.
Consider staying at a place with breakfast included, such as Embassy Suites Orlando Downtown. Complimentary cooked-to-order breakfasts are a feature at Embassy Suites properties.
Families visiting Disney World and driving their own vehicle can detour to the MacDonald's restaurant located at 1596 West Buena Vista Drive, between the Animal Kingdom theme park and Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park, and also fairly near Disney's All-Star Movies Resort.
Weekly and Monthly Restaurant Specials
Orlando has a Restaurant Week that offers a chance to try out different restaurants at bargain prices, with fixed menus starting as low as $10. Meanwhile, September is Magical Dining Month, and again visitors can find multiple-course meals at a fixed price. (Participating restaurants may skew toward the fine-dining sort.)