Millions of families travel to Orlando, Florida each year to visit the area's endless theme parks and family-friendly attractions, and there are plenty of "Disney on a budget" guides out there — but for those looking to mix a little relaxation and indulgence into their "vacation" — look no further than this luxurious food lover's guide to visiting Orlando and the Disney Parks.
The story begins with Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resorts — boasting the only Michelin-starred restaurant on Disney property, plus the sole adults-only pool on any local Disney resort, and complimentary scheduled resort transportation is offered to the four major Disney Theme Parks (with 30-minute early entry to any theme park of choice, daily). Nestled in a secluded, residential setting within 26 sprawling acres, the AAA Five Diamond Resort is a pristine lakeside escape dotted with gardens, pools and towering pillars of palms and cypress. Of course, there’s also the exclusive Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club Orlando, a world-class Spa, and a five-acre Explorer Island water park including slides and a paradise-found lazy river.
The Pool Bar and Grill provides an escape from the madness and undoubted 20,000 steps you'll rack up in a day at a Disney Park, with excellent cocktails and zero-proof drinks with relaxing views. Of course, there’s exquisite room service, and Park View Suites provide an introvert’s dream for watching the fireworks at multiple parks, from the privacy of your own balcony.
Downstairs at Ravello, the resort’s award-winning Italian restaurant, Chef Fabrizio Schenardi serves up modern and classic Italian cuisine from wood-fired pizzas and house focaccia to handmade veal ravioli, grilled meats, and stunning desserts from the resort’s standout Executive Pastry Chef Rabii Saber. Twice a week, Ravello hosts an on-site character breakfast, while every other day serving a sprawling breakfast buffet with Truffle Forager Omelettes, Vegan Breakfast Sandwiches, and Belgian Waffles.
Take the elevators up to the 17th floor rooftop to visit the Spanish-inspired steakhouse, Capa, which was recently awarded a Michelin star for the second year in a row. Feast on traditional Spanish tapas with modern flair, plenty of Spanish charcuterie and cheeses, fresh seafood, and grilled meats. Be sure and plan your reservation time accordingly to toast the nightly Walt Disney World® fireworks views over coffee and dessert (as with most recommendations on this list, book reservations ahead of time).
Of course, EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival is the prime time for food lovers to visit the park, with tons of roaming shirts of folks "drinking around the world" while sampling as many bites from the booths as they can muster. This year, there’s a cheese crawl! Emile’s Fromage Montage allows you to explore the parks with dairy in mind, while Remy’s Ratatouille-themed "Hide and Squeak" also provides a game plan for dining throughout EPCOT. For sit-down meals on Disney World’s parks and resort properties, there are a few "worth it" reservations to plan well in advance.
Nestled inside EPCOT’s Japan Pavilion, find Takumi-Tei, with two options for lengthy omakase meals. Enter the impressive wooden door to be transported from any trace of a crowded theme park. Also within the Japan Pavilion, find the newly opened Shiki-Sai Sushi Izakaya, inspired by the seasonal festivals of Japan with opulent bridges of sushi and park views. Or, settle in for a quick casual meal beside the koi pond at Katsura Grill with the kids for a sushi roll and udon noodles before jumping on to ride Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
Elsewhere on Disney property, schedule a visit to Victoria & Albert's at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort for an unparalleled fine dining experience. The multi-course tasting menu paired with impeccable service is a must-try for food connoisseurs, and The Chef's Table is the hardest-to-get reservation on park property (so call daily to check on cancellations).
But the food magic doesn't stop on Disney property. In fact, it's just the beginning. If you have a car, take a ride to Winter Garden's Plant Street Market for a casual progressive dining and drinking experience, sans theme parks. The food hall is kid- and dog-friendly, but you might want to plan a date night to experience one of Orlando's best, most exclusive dining experiences -- Norigami. Chef David Tsan's tiny sushi, sashimi, and handroll spot has been open just less than a year but already secured the spotlight with a 2023 Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand Award. The chef counter staged in the food hall seats just 8, where you can have the chef curate a special omakase experience just for you. The forms are endless - just like origami.
Head to Winter Park to experience The Ravenous Pig, which features classic pub fare with creative Southern spins. Also in Winter Park, find another of the city's four Michelin-starred selections: Soseki Modern Omakase. At Soseki, which means cornerstone in Japanese, it's an intimate 10-seat multi-course dining experience featuring a modern take on omakase by Chef Michael Collantes. The “chef’s choice” dinner explores the local Florida Terra through its partnerships with farmers, fishermen, cheese and ceramic artisans. Soseki's beverage director, Michelin Guide Florida Sommelier 2023 winner, Benjamin Coutts pairs the dining experience with an unmatched global sake and wine program.
There are two more Michelin-starred Orlando dining destinations: Kadence, another snug reservations-only Japanese restaurant featuring multi-course sushi meals, and Knife & Spoon, a signature steak & seafood restaurant conceived and led by award-winning Chef John Tesar, located in The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes.
Domu (a slang term for "a dream come true) is an excellent neighborhood restaurant and bar offering house-made noodles, creative takes on small plates, and seasonal cocktails in a stunning blush pink setting. YH Seafood Clubhouse is a great, family-style source for fine Cantonese dining in Dr. Phillips. Find XO-style clams, jumbo oysters with steamed ginger-soy-black bean sauce, Peking duck, and much more, plus magical Cantonese-style dim sum.
As you can tell, it's quite easy for a kid-focused Walt Disney World vacation to intertwine with plenty of luxury -- providing a well-balanced vacation the whole family can enjoy that also allows adults to relax and indulge in Orlando's incredible restaurant scene.