Camping Holiday

Top 10 Disney World Restaurants for Christmas

If you’re visiting Walt Disney World in November or December and want to choose a good restaurant or two (or 10!) for a festive feast, this list of the best restaurants at Christmas is for you. We rank the top dining options imbued with the spirit of the season, offering special entertainment or menus, or great atmosphere for the holidays–including Festivus (no better place to air your grievances than the communal tables at Biergarten).

As we’ve said countless times now, Christmas is our favorite time to visit (and if you haven’t, read our Ultimate Christmas Guide to Walt Disney World). We’ve experienced Walt Disney World every year at Christmas-time since 2007, eating at…I dunno…probably ~100 different restaurants in the process.

In additions to the restaurants themselves, this top 10 list is colored by the “Christmasy-ness” of their respective locations. That’s especially true for the ones outside the parks. So as much as we might like Olivia’s or Sebastian’s Bistro and find it to be a nicely familial experience that’s fitting for the holidays…the island vibes of Old Key West and Caribbean Beach don’t exactly scream Christmas. (Speaking of which, check out our Free Self-Guided Yuletide Tour at Walt Disney World for resorts you should visit during the holiday season.)

Now for a couple of caveats. First, most restaurants do not have special Christmas menus throughout November and December. Frankly, we don’t know why–it sure seems like this would be a popular option given all of the reader questions we receive about it–but they do not. At best, you’ll find a drink or dessert, and that’s mostly at counter service restaurants.

On Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, a handful of restaurants do have special menus, but even that list of locations has gotten smaller over the years. And oftentimes, those “special” menus are anything but. One option we’re watching this year is Whispering Canyon Cafe, which will supposedly offer a prix-fixe holiday meal for lunch and dinner on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day 2022. That’s going to be a recommendation on this list, anyway, so it might be worth snagging an Advance Dining Reservation there if you want a meal on one of those two dates.

Another word of warning: table service restaurants may not be decorated for Christmas in 2022, with limited exceptions. In the past, it was common for all or most dining locations to put up garland, trees, and other decor for the holiday season. That didn’t happen during the phased reopening, which wasn’t the least bit surprising given the limited nature of everything, presumably extending to staffing shortages in Disney’s Holiday Services team.

However, decorations were also not installed in most table service restaurants last year, even as Christmas was closer to normal at Walt Disney World. Even more is returning for Christmas 2022, so it’s possible restaurant decorations are one of those things, but we won’t know until the holiday season starts. Regardless, we’re assuming they won’t and are thus recommending restaurants based on their atmosphere and other characteristics, rather than decorations that may or may not be installed.

Also, we wanted to share these ‘words of warning’ in case you’re a repeat Walt Disney World visitor who likes a particular restaurant for its decorations–you may not see them in Christmas 2022! With that out of the way, on with the list…

Grand Floridian Cafe – The interior here is dated and eclectic, giving it serious “eating at grandma’s house” vibes. Even though Disney might recoil at that characterization, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Grand Floridian Cafe is comfy and cozy, making it feel like home away from home in a sense. Of course, it’s also located at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, which is a top 3 resort during the holiday season.

For us, the other reason Grand Floridian Cafe scores serious points at Christmas is the menu. You’ve got comfort food go-tos like the meatloaf or strip steak, but our favorites here–and two of our favorite menu items anywhere at Walt Disney World–are the Buttermilk-friend Chicken and Lobster ‘Thermidor’ Burger.

The latter makes our list of the Best Burgers at Walt Disney World, and the former would top our list of the best chicken at Walt Disney World, if we had one. This Buttermilk-fried Chicken is the pinnacle of comfort food, with the tangy bacon vinaigrette making it more than a one-note indulgence. Seriously great stuff, and perfect for a heavy holiday meal before soaking up the Christmas ambiance in the Grand Floridian lobby.

Citricos – Exact same idea here with this Signature Restaurant in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort. There is absolutely nothing that’s Christmasy about Citricos. However, if you’re like us, you might enjoy getting dressed up and doing a nice meal during the holiday season, enjoying an elegant setting and getting ‘Christmas card caliber’ photos after the meal.

There are a number of options that check all of the right boxes for that, and honestly, Citricos probably wouldn’t be our first choice. (That would be Narcoossee’s, but it won’t reopen until 2023. California Grill would also be up there, leapfrogging Citricos on Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party nights.) Nevertheless, Citricos has a great mix of menu and ambiance outside the restaurant at the resort itself.

50’s Prime Time Cafe – This is a sentimental selection, as it’s my parents’ favorite restaurant at Walt Disney World. When I was a kid, we always dined here on our annual trips. So it reminds me of family at Christmas-time, making it feel a bit like a home away from home.

While that’s true for me for my own personal reasons, it’ll probably be true for you, too. Here you’re dining in Mom’s house (and Mom has not updated the place since the 50s!), by Mom’s rules, and with all of your cousins and the rest of your extended, mostly-functional, family. If you put your elbows on the table or slouch, expect to be reprimanded!

Mom will, however, let you watch TV during your meal, and many classic sitcoms from the 1950s play on televisions at certain tables. 50’s Prime Time Cafe specializes in comfort food, with the highlight of the menu being the milkshakes. All of this makes it a fun family setting for Christmas at Walt Disney World.

Biergarten – Every restaurant in the World Showcase at EPCOT is well-themed, but the highlight of these is Biergarten. Offering authentic German buffets, Biergarten’s food can be hit or miss. We’ve had excellent meals some days, and underwhelming ones others. That’s not uncommon of buffets at Walt Disney World, but Biergarten seems to have spottier quality. (In general, we’ve found that the busier Biergarten is, the better the food–and it’s always packed at Christmas-time.)

Regardless, the atmosphere more than makes up for the food. Themed to be a nighttime Bavarian Village, Biergarten celebrates Oktoberfest year round. Throughout the course of the meal, musicians perform traditional German songs and encourage guests to come to the dance floor to join in the fun. Take the opportunity during the downtime between the band’s sets to air your grievances to family, friends, and first-time acquaintances alike at the communal tables. (Or pull a Frank Costanza and shout them over the oompah band.)

Typically, that traditional village gets decked out for the holidays, and the Bavarian-style oompah band adds some holiday songs to it’s mix of traditional folk music. Consequently, Biergarten is always our top pick for Christmas in EPCOT, and especially for Candlelight Processional Dining Packages. The jovial Christmas atmosphere, music, and value for money is all tough to beat. Oh, and the German cuisine is rich, hearty, and meat-forward, making it the perfect festive feast! Read Our Christmas Feast at Biergarten Restaurant for what the holiday time experience is like there.

Whispering Canyon Cafe – This zany restaurant in Wilderness Lodge specializes in hilarity and hijinks, skillets and shenanigans, fun and food. It’s one of those rare restaurants at Walt Disney World that offers both an exceptional show and great food–not just one or the other. Guests are brought right into the wry humor of the show, which is very amusing for most, but might not be as fun for the shy.

The Signature Skillets are the standout and highly recommended if you have big eaters in your party thanks to being an all-you-can-eat dish. These definitely have ‘holiday feast’ vibes, and there are a few different varieties, offering something for everyone. (The Traditional skillet is probably the most Christmasy, but I’d recommend the Pig.)

Whispering Canyon Cafe also excels in holiday ambiance. Since it’s an open-air restaurant with views into the soaring Wilderness Lodge lobby, dining here during at Christmas-time is an awesome way to enjoy the decorations and iconic lobby tree. Our “perfect” visit to Wilderness Lodge at Christmas involves booking a late ADR here, requesting a lobby-side table, enjoying our feast, and then crashing into a comfy fireside seat while recovering from food coma afterwards. Holiday perfection. Read more about the skillets and shenanigans at Whispering Canyon Cafe.

Liberty Tree Tavern – Over in Liberty Square at Magic Kingdom is Liberty Tree Tavern. Thematically, this restaurant feels like colonial era America, much like what you’d find in Williamsburg, Virginia. Upon closer inspection, you’ll find a treasure trove of details, including dining rooms that each pay homage to a different Founding Father of the United States. Beyond that, lots of rich woods, warm lighting, and cozy details–like an old timey inn.

This distinctly patriotic table service spot serves up a traditional family-style Thanksgiving dinner that’s great for families. The menu is like a smorgasbord of items you could find on your table at Thanksgiving, and just like those, most of these dishes could pass as something home-cooked by grandma. Perhaps that’s all you need to know about Liberty Tree Tavern?

Right now, the family-style all-you-can-eat Bill of Fare Patriot’s Platter is your exclusive menu option at Liberty Tree Tavern (well, there’s also a plant-based option). The Bill of Fare is an exact re-creation of the first Thanksgiving feast, right down to the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake and Coca-Cola.

Be Our Guest Restaurant – If the Hallmark Channel and Netflix have taught me one thing, it’s that you find love in unexpected places at Christmas–usually with your ostensible enemy who evolves and becomes perfect in the last 5 minutes of a movie. If they’ve taught me two things, it’s that no setting is more perfect for Christmas than a castle.

And so it goes in Magic Kingdom, where two in-castle dining experiences add a certain swakiness to the season. Of the two, our preference is Be Our Guest Restaurant inside Beast’s Castle. The menu is one part of this, as it offers a variety of options that check the right boxes for Christmas. (See our Prix Fixe Lunch & Dinner Review of Be Our Guest Restaurant.)

The bigger reason why Be Our Guest Restaurant ranks highly is for its special effects. The main one is snowfall outside the ballroom, which really makes the main dining room feel like a wintry escape. This is doubly true if Be Our Guest Restaurant decorates for Christmas, putting up a tree and garland inside the ballroom. There’s no guarantee of that happening in 2022, but if it does, this is a top pick.

P & J’s Southern Takeout – You have to take the boat from Magic Kingdom over to Fort Wilderness if you’re visiting in November and December. It’s a must-do. For one, you’re visiting during two of the busiest months, so it’ll be a welcome reprieve from the midday chaos and crowds of Magic Kingdom. Fort Wilderness is the exact opposite of that. For another thing, the camping crew at Fort Wilderness goes hard for the holidays. Lots of inflatables and custom-made decorations around the campsites.

As for eating, there are a handful of options. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is a great pick, and highly recommended if you’ve never done it. However, that’s a dinner show and is definitely taste-specific (the entertainment, that is–the food is for everyone). Our normal go-to would be Trail’s End, which we absolutely love, or rather, loved. Currently, it’s serving a family-style menu that doesn’t do much for us.

That leaves P & J’s Southern Takeout, which has become my go-to sleeper restaurant at Walt Disney World over the course of the last two years. In Biggest & Best Value Holiday Feast at Walt Disney World, I explain why I love–and recommend–it so much. (In fact, I’m currently working on a list of the Best 22 Restaurants at Walt Disney World and really, really want to include P & J’s as one of the two Magic Kingdom resort area options…but I’ve been “advised” that’s a terrible idea that will call the credibility of my entire list into question. Yikes!)

Jiko – Lots of comfort food feasts on this list, which is great. That’s what Christmas is all about. (How else do you explain Santa Claus’ portly appearance? One night of cookies isn’t doing that much damage.) Okay, so it’s also quality time with family, friends, cheesy Hallmark movies, and more.

Again, one of our favorite ways to celebrate the season is with date nights dressed in our holiday finery at nice restaurants. The type of place that calls for my most opulent ugly Christmas sweater, not just the cheapo Amazon ones. Don’t get me wrong, I still order indulgent, food coma-inducing dishes and crash on a couch in the lobby afterwards while gazing up at that glorious Christmas tree. To that end, I really like Jiko. Here, you have wild boar, lamb shank, short rib, and more on the menu. And it’s fancy. Perfection.

Story Book Dining at Artist Point – This restaurant has a ton going for it during the holidays. It’s in Wilderness Lodge, the best resort at Christmas. The setting is an enchanted forest meets rustic National Park dining room, two things that feel Christmasy to me. The menu is approachable but upscale with earthy options, which also strikes me as seasonally-appropriate. Then there are Snow White characters, and…uh…snow is right there in the name!

Look, I don’t know why Story Book Dining at Artist Point is a particularly good option at Christmas. It just is. The mood and atmosphere strike the right notes, and your family won’t regret doing this as one of your holiday meals.

Minnie’s Holiday Dine – It’s much easier to explain why this character dining experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Christmasy. This version of Minnie’s Seasonal Dine is offered only in November and December, and is expressly holiday-themed. Walt Disney World describes it as follows: “Deck the halls at a dazzling dinner party filled with holiday cheer and the joy of the season!”

At Minnie’s Holiday Dine, you’ll meet Santa Goofy and other characters dressed in their holiday finery, meaning unique Christmas costumes for Minnie and Mickey Mouse, plus other character friends. This Christmas-themed character meal at Hollywood & Vine is a ton of fun. Minnie’s Holiday Dine will once again be a buffet and offer character hugs, autographs, high-fives, etc. for Christmas 2022. We absolutely love this, and share our thoughts and photos in our Minnie’s Holiday Dine Review. We’ll be doing it again this November!

There you have our top choices for Walt Disney World restaurants at Christmas-time. Several of these probably come as no surprise, but hopefully we’ve included a few unique picks (and ones with easier availability!) to give you some food for thought when deciding on your holiday ADRs. No matter where you dine, the Christmas ambiance at Walt Disney World is infectious, and you’ll find plenty to keep you in the holiday spirit during your time in the parks!

Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!

YOUR THOUGHTS

Do you have a favorite restaurant during the holiday season at Walt Disney World? Thoughts on any of the options on our list if you’ve dined at them during Christmas-time? Considering one of these or a different table service restaurant? Do you prefer fancy meals or comfort food feasts during the holidays? Do you agree or disagree with our list? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!