I am a data nerd and vacation detail planner for my family. I do my research before going to any vacation spot to try to minimize the amount of money we spend and maximize how much we enjoy our time together. The same goes for Disney, but as a mom with young children, I sometimes find it frustrating that several of the best rated restaurants (or attractions … or whatever) tend to be more appealing to adults than to my kids. Of course, I would love to go eat steaks at Le Cellier to end a busy day. But my kids will get bored in the cool, dark cellar. And when they get bored, they go crazy – and no one enjoy it. So what are some Disney table service restaurants that get high family satisfaction scores that include young children like mine? And which ones should I avoid?
Explain the math!
We collect restaurant satisfaction data in our post-survey surveys of all your lovely TouringPlans users. Part of the survey asks respondents to indicate at each dining site that they experienced a Thumbs Up or a Thumbs Down. I can add (summarize) all the answers for each particular dining place and tell you the percentage of parties they give to this “Thumbs Up” restaurant. Overall, this is what we call satisfaction of this restaurant and is considered a percentage.
One of the doubts I have with this overall satisfaction score, however, is that it is FOR ALL TIME. And, as you know, things can change very quickly (or 18 months may seem like they’ve lasted 6 decades, but who cares). Therefore, it could solve it only extracted from surveys of a specific and recent time period. Or you could enter a weighted average. And by introducing this, I can teach you about it. So we will go this route.
Let’s say I want recent reviews to affect overall satisfaction rather than old ones. So I need a way to reduce the weight of previous reviews. There are lots of ways to do it, but I want it to be simple. This means that for this analysis we will do a review of the full “weight” of the last 3 months. It counts as an answer. But anyone who was over 3 months old, but under 6 months old, only gets half the weight. It counts as a half answer. Anything bigger than that, but less than 9 months, weighs a third. Anything bigger than that, but less than a year old, weighs a quarter. We can continue to expand this concept linearly:
- 12 to 15 months ago? 1/5 weight
- 15 to 18 months ago? 1/6 of a weight
- 18 to 21 months ago? 1/7 weight
- 21 to 24 months ago? 1/8 weight
- Etc …
This means that in order to “balance” a review of last month’s “thumb down”, you’ll need to have eight “thumb up” reviews from 2 years ago. Or vice versa. Old reviews still count, but they are not worth as much. Therefore, my satisfaction reflects more what is happening recently, without ignoring the past.
To find out how these satisfaction scores differ for parties with young children … we need to know which parts have young children. Fortunately, you can also tell us the gender and age of your party members when you complete the survey. I filtered the results only to parties that included someone under the age of 6 to get our results from “parties with young children.” All other polls fell into the “everyone’s” repository.
WDW restaurants to try with young children
- 1900 park rate – (97% for parties with young children, 85% for the rest)
The food at the 1900 Park Fare is not particularly inspiring and the characters there attract young children (Mary Poppins at breakfast and the Cinderella crew at dinner). Unfortunately, as of this time, 1900 Park Fare has not reopened. In just the last few weeks, a couple of law firms have reopened (or reverted to family-style buffet style), so change could be on the horizon.
Cape May Cafe – (90% for parties with young children, 79% for the rest)
This place where you can eat everything can be reopened on May 18, 2021 after remaining closed for more than a year, but without the buffet or pre-breakfast characters. Our park team had a really terrible experience back there in June, but it seems like the parties with young children find the new experience as satisfying as the old one. If you have few seafood lovers (there are, I have one), this might be your place.
- Mama Melrose’s Italian restaurant – (94% for parties with young children, 87% for the rest)
The Italian fare at Mama Melrose’s will not win any prizes. But it is accessible and children’s meals are highly customizable. Your younger group is also likely to be impressed with the “elegant” lights lined up around the restaurant. And, as an added bonus, Mama Melrose’s location at the back of PizzeRizzo means you may not have to struggle with humanity’s tissues to eat.
Hollywood & Vine – (82% for parties with young children, 76% for the rest)
Hollywood & Vine is a restaurant that is often overlooked right next to the Prime Time cafe of the 50’s. Breakfast here is basically aimed specifically at the small children’s set, with Disney Junior stars like Doc McStuffins and Fancy Nancy (the latter , by the way, was my kids ’favorite encounter and greeting on their Disney Cruise). Therefore, it is not surprising that it performs better with young people. Lunch and dinner include visits from Minnie, Mickey and friends. And at these meals, the food is no joke. It’s still overpriced, but don’t call just because your kids are busy watching the characters.
- Restaurant All Italy – (96% for parties with young children, 85% for the rest)
Do you hear any issues? It’s like little kids enjoying noodles or something. The advantage of Tutto Italia is that the food is more authentic than that of Mama Melrose for the adult set, with a good selection of wine flights. But the atmosphere is hectic and noisy enough that you won’t be embarrassed to bring your three-year-old to a good meal.
WDW restaurants to avoid with young children
Sanaa – (84% for parties with young children, 95% for the rest)
All right, I knew there would be a time when the data would disappoint me. My kids love to eat some bread and watch animals out the window. But I’ll admit that Sanna definitely has a more adventurous menu (and a children’s menu) than your average WDW restaurant. If your little one doesn’t like fish or doesn’t want to try chicken with butter, their choices are reduced to cheese pizza or a cheeseburger. On the other hand … what a child I wouldn’t I love choosing “Pumbaa’s Dessert Grub” as one of its two sides ?!
- Tiffins – (71% for parties with young children, 92% for the rest)
At least in Sanaa, even if the food is not accessible to your children, the atmosphere is cozy and attractive. In Tiffins, you’ll find yourself in one of three small, quiet dining rooms where the bustling child can’t mingle. And children’s meals are even less common than in Sanaa. From now on, you can choose between grilled beef tacos. shrimp, grilled chicken or “Impossible Bunny Chow” (a curry stew of root vegetables and herbal protein in a brioche bread). And they are all expensive for children’s meals.
- Restaurant and pizzeria Via Napoli – (85% for parties with young children, 92% for the rest)
Wait … what happened to accessible Italian food being a winner for the kids? I do not know. Perhaps the authentic Neapolitan pizza does not meet the general expectations of American children. Or it may be very difficult for Via Napoli to get out pizzas and other foods at the same time, which can be especially frustrating for families with young children. Either way, Via Napoli has no echo with these parts.
Kona Coffee shop – (80% for parties with young children, 89% for the rest)
The Kona Café is an interesting mix of things that ends up working poorly for young people. They can be daring and order chicken tacos or sushi, or they can also stick with the burger or mac for sure. But for the sides? Choose two green beans, fruit salad or yogurt. Ideal for health conscious parents. It’s not so great for your child that they want fries or dessert. It’s also a pretty cramped space, so good luck containing your rambunctious little ones.
- Rainforest Coffee – Animal Kingdom – (67% for parties with young children, 78% for the rest)
Satisfaction scores are already so low at Rainforest Café that I didn’t think it would hit the list. But here we are. The Rainforest Café has one of the property’s more extensive children’s menus, so food selection is likely not the issue here. The atmosphere can be to blame: many children find animatronic animals and the jungle environment fun. But if your party with an anxious child is sitting next to a moving animal “scary” or temporary storms throw the furrow, this could certainly ruin the experience. Also, there is always the possibility that parents are upset about spending Disney time in a restaurant where they can eat where many other places can be found and go out through a gift shop.
What does this mean for me?
- Want a safe bet with young kids at Disney? He usually thinks in Italian. But maybe not pizza.
- Meals of characters who are not in the parks are also places that work best with parties that include young children.
- If you have demanding meals, save the restaurants with delicious adventurous menus for the evening or an adult-only trip. If you have an adventurous menu for adults, the children’s menu is probably the same.
Which WDW table service restaurants are your family’s favorite places? Have you had “that kid” in a fancy restaurant after a long day? Let us know in the comments.