/ Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Listen to the Show

Hello and welcome to The WDW Radio Show – Your Walt Disney World Information Station. I am your host, Lou Mongello, and this is show #168 for the week of May 2, 2010.

We’ll take a look at some Walt Disney World news and a few rumors this week, including some old favorites getting ready to return to the parks, and Imagineers continue to test new ways to pass the time in the queue, this time at a classic attraction in the Magic Kindgom. I’ll ask you to comment in the show notes and weigh in on some possible changes that may be coming.

I often kid about how attractions and shows in Walt Disney World are just things to occupy our time in between meals, but the parks and resorts do offer a wide variety of wonderful dining options – and not all of them require you to make dining reservations in advance. In fact, some of Walt Disney World’s best food can be found at the numerous counter service locations. So this week, we’ll count down our Top Ten list of Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants. If you weren’t hungry when you started listening, you just might be by the time you’re through. And hopefully we’ll introduce you to some options that you might not have considered before.

I’ll have a few announcements, and then play more of your voicemails at the end of the show, so sit back, relax, and enjoy this week’s episode of the WDW Radio Show.

You can email the show at lou@wdwradio.com or call the voicemail TOLL FREE at 888-703-2171.

Thanks for listening! Be sure to tune in next week!


Listen to our in-depth look at Captain EO on Show #126  

Watch our video from last year, as Lou wanders World Showcase, then enjoys Illuminations with Tim Foster 7 friends: Daily Disney Diary, March 21, 2009

24-hour LIVE video broadcast & chat from Walt Disney World – May 22-23, 2010. Click HERE for more information, including the May Meet of the Month specifics (to take place during the 24-hour show).

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Date: Saturday – May 22, 2010
Time: 8:15 pm – 9:30 pm
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Cost: $25.00 per person PLUS a minimum $5 –  Dream Team Make-A-Wish donation (Includes select desserts, beverages, tax, gratuity and Paypal fee) – Please note the event is almost sold out and no walk-ups permitted on the day of the event!). If you would like to attend, here is the link to purchase tickets: http://www.mousefantravel.com/mft/wdw_radio24.php

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40 thoughts on “WDW Radio Show #168 – Top Ten List of Walt Disney World Counter Service Restaurants”

  1. wdwdoc says:

    I’m Italian and originally from the Bronx. My grandparents owned a pizzeria for over 30 years. Lou is correct about water and pizza dough.
    My dad knew a man who owned a pizzeria in Fort Lauderdale in the 1970’s. He would truck down to Florida, New York City tap water with which he made his dough. Also, The Artist’s Palatte at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa makes a mean barbecue chicken flatbread.

  2. Jared says:

    I just listened to the conversation you and Tim had regarding the top 10 CS restaurants in WDW. I will definitely make a point to visit The Tangerine Café on my next trip for the shawarma platter! Yakitori House in Japan has always been one of my favorites too, so I’m sure I won’t feel let down following your suggestions.
    I must also add that I am very disappointed in the Epcot breakfast offerings. Sunshine Seasons just doesn’t do it for me and I can’t say I’m all that interested in the Princess breakfast at Akershus (two sons, no daughters). My family and I primarily enjoy hitting CS restaurants for breakfast when at the parks and ever since The Fountain View Café changed to an ice cream shop, and The Electric Umbrella doesn’t have a breakfast menu, we are left with too few options of what to do. My one request would be a bakery option for breakfast in Future World. The one time we ate at The Fountain View was very nice and it would be great to have a similar option again.
    Pecos Bills is another of our favorites. If for some reason we decide to skip it, it’s always a disappointment. But, it’s also a reason for us to go back to Disney World. The chicken wraps used to be our usual default item, but we’ve been increasingly disappointed with them over the past few years. We are now looking forward to the build your own taco salad. This one has high potential on our list. Can’t wait to get creative with this one at the fixin’s bar.
    Thanks Lou, I really enjoyed this week’s show, as usual.

  3. Tim W says:

    In Magic Kingdom, my favorite CS restaurant is Columbia Harbour House. The food is great (though it was better when they had bread bowl soup), the theming is fantastic and the location is pretty good, too.

    At Epcot, Cantina de San Angel was/is my favorite, especially for IllumiNations seating. At Hollywood Studios, I don’t really have a favorite, but I’d like to try the food at newly renovated Studio Catering Company. The same goes for Animal Kingdom; I think the only counter service restaurant I’ve eaten at there is Pizzafari (their breadsticks are AWESOME!!), so I guess that wins by default.

    At resorts, I think Trail’s End Take Out is great, but that’s probably not a fair choice since it’s essentially a table service meal packaged to go.

    I agree with Jared that breakfast at Epcot is really quite pathetic. I loved going to Fountain View Cafe before it became an ice cream place and Sunshine Seasons’ breakfast selection is just so-so. I usually end up having breakfast at my hotel on days that I visit Epcot.

  4. djdrew says:

    simple. Casey’s on main street. best corn dog nuggets ever.

  5. Stephan says:

    Hey Lou,

    The water is ABSOLUTELY a factor in pizza. In fact, I once watched a FOOD NETWORK show where they took an identical pizza recipe and made it in Chicago, and in New York and the ONLY difference was they used the local water from each town and they pizzas turned out differently.

  6. Stephan says:

    Oh! and CS:
    Flame Tree BBQ

    The whole “area” outside of Tower of Terror. It’s technically three separate counter services, but they are all squeezed together and that way offers a huge variety for a group of people who don’t want to eat the same thing.

    Tangerine Cafe, Cantina de San Angel, Main Street Bakery, Starlight Ray’s

  7. Aflores says:

    Hey Lou, Great show.
    Um…..You didn’t mention any of the quickservice for the hotel resorts, any thoughts on those???

  8. Sarah says:

    Tangierine Cafe is my favorite counter service at the World. My boyfriend and I love the wraps; I usually get falafel and he gets lamb. Both are fantastic and come with delicious couscous and lentil salads. Their hummus and tabouleh are tasty as well. Now I may have to go over to Epcot on Saturday just to eat lunch there! Thanks, Lou! 🙂

  9. ryan skrzypek says:

    dear the sole of rock and roll monjello,
    I think the replasment of the Q in rides are a bad idea. the idea of games is a good one but i think to many kids will fight over them. an example of this would be whin the free vidio games where at down town disney in the corner of the pirets room. it was twice as loud as it is now and i could not get on one to save my life. i think disney should do what the mummy at universal dose and put the games directly in the Q’s that way theirs only room for 1 group at a time, when the line moves the people must to. now i am all for out doing universal but i think the original consept will do more damege then good on this call.

    -RYAN S.

    P.S. my worl history teacher gives extra creadet for prity much enything about world showcase including resterant revews it would help me get a beter grade in his class and it would give you an excuse to eat at world showcase.

  10. Lou Mongello says:

    I actually mentioned the Beach Club grill, and Tim mentioned the Roaring Fork in Wilderness Lodge, but I do live the Pop Century counter service, as well as the grab-and-go at the Contemporary…. Hmm… do I see (smell?) another Top Ten coming? 😉

  11. tammy george says:

    Hey Lou
    Loved the show! I’m all about the food and agree with many of your’s and Tim’s choices.
    I want to let you know, if you haven’t heard already, of a supposedly really good bagel/deli in Orland. Delish New York Bakery (according to some of your fellow Jersey-ians (whatever) is supposed to have the best and most authentic bagels. According to the reports, they ship in the boiled bagels from New York (because of the water issue) and then bake them in the deli in Orlando. Now, I’m from the South and admit that I know nothing about bagels but I am definitely planning on stopping on my way in to Orlando in two weeks. They have all kinds of bakery items and sandwiches, but I HAVE to try an authentic NY bagel. They are located the Dr Phillips area.
    Let me know what you think if you try one and if you want me to bring you one at the meet–just say the word 🙂

  12. Myron says:

    PLANTAINS!! You bet Lou, those things are awesome!! Crunchy, salty plantains! We usually get them over at the ABC Commissary at DHS – and now you’ve got me craving them. Hard to find here in Canada! 🙂

  13. Goofypal says:

    Flame Tree BBQ is the best – love the ribs. They had a great promotion shortly after AK opened. You got a lunch entree, drink, plus a snack and drink later in the day for less than $10.

    Favorite at Epcot is Tangerine Cafe, though now I’m going to have to try Yakitori House. My DD and I love eating around World Showcase on our annual father/daughter trips. We may also have to try the new place Lou mentioned for the empanadas.

    Hmmm, we also have to try the carrot cake cookie at DHS. And what about the Butterfinger muffin? This next trip may definitely cause me to “expand” in my appreciation of WDW food.

  14. Katie T-W says:

    Awesome show! Only my second episode in and I’m already itching to throw in my two cents! XD

    Being from NJ I guess I guess take our pizza for granted. However I do agree that Florida pizza usually isn’t as good…and the fact that it’s the water does not surprise me one bit.

    But I will say that my family goes to the Wolfgang Puck Express in the Marketplace BECAUSE of their pizza. I know their pizza is more “artisan” than the standard cheese/pepperoni/mushroom etc. But every time we go there everyone orders a pizza. I don’t know what it is about that place.

  15. Tara Petar says:

    I loved the Top 10 of Counter Service and have added a few to my list of ‘must dos’ for my next trip to WDW. I think the no-Q idea is a good one but I can see where it could have its faults as well. Definately something that will need to be tried and tweaked. Baring that in mind, the mall we go to does this for meeting Santa. You go into the ‘grotto’ and there are two doors for meeting Santa where one of his Elves comes and collects you by calling your number…in the meantime there are some interactive games the kids can play and areas to explore….mind this is a small area and you also have to book a time so its never over crowded…if they can find a way for it to work without causing more headaches I’m all for it. I would also LOVE to see more of the Muppets around the park. I’ve seen Kermit and Piggy in one or two parades and Sweetums of course at Muppets Vision 3D, but i’d love a M&G with them or at least be able to find them wandering the Studios for photos and autographs

  16. dsnygal1 says:

    We were just in WDW last week, I would say our favorite is the Roaring Fork at Wilderness Lodge. Especially their breakfast they have the best hash browns in town! The most disappointing was Fantasyland’s Pinocchio Village Haus not only did the cast member who took our order act annoyed with his job and rather unfriendly, but the food tasted like microwave food.

  17. Dusten says:

    I would have to say Starlight Ray’s has the best entertainment of any counter service. We ate there twice on our last trip. I would like to hear if anybody else has another top pick for dining entertainment.

  18. Ivan72 says:

    Hey Lou,
    Great show! Our family loves to hit Casey’s for a late night 1/4 lb hot dog. Yum! I do seem to remember a menu change there, but the dogs are still great! Love the Main Street Bake shop, especially at night. A Napolean and a drink while watching SpectroMagic (or Main Street Electric Parade). Magic! And for Tim, Plantains rock!

  19. Kim in NJ says:

    Not only does the water play a roll in pizza dough but also in dough for rolls too. Once you’ve had the yummy hoagie/steak rolls from the NJ area…everything else is just blah!

    I think you need to be from here or just eat here (Jersey area) alot to appreciate the difference.

  20. Jon Grant says:

    You guys mentioned all my favs… including:
    #1 Sunshine Seasons. Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese salad.
    #2 Tangerine Cafe. Lamb Shawarma platter.
    #3 Pecos Bill’s. BBQ Pork sandwich + fries w/grilled onions & mushrooms, cheese sauce on top. Fork is mandatory.

    Casey’s used to be one of my favorites, but they have most definitely changed the dogs there. The new ones are not bad… they’re just not as good as they used to be.

    Also, a few years ago you could order a burger from the take-away register at Beaches & Cream. They don’t sell burgers to go any more, only ice cream (but not the sundaes… no No Way Jose to go.) That’s a bummer, but I guess I’d rather eat inside anyway.

  21. Paul in Wigan England says:

    My Food connoisseur vocabulary contains 4 words “good”, “nice”, “ok” and “poison”, thus the “food” based items on the podcast often pass me by. I enjoyed this episode though, I was waiting for mention of wolfgang puck express… fantastic option for CS dining plan, as it’s another deviation from burger and chips. It was about the food quality not the atmosphere.
    we were there for a fortnight, not sure when in the trip we “tried” it, but we went back twice over the course of the next 2 weeks.

    strange how an apisode all about the thing I have least interest in is the one that made me post !

  22. Brian says:

    I don’t want to be different nor dispute with the various podcasters who think Pecos Bill’s has the best burgers in MK, but I really prefer Cosmic Ray’s. It might be nostalgia, but I like the light airy atmosphere provided while I clog my arteries with fat and cholestorol! Yum!

  23. Emma says:

    Really enjoyed the ‘top ten with Tim’ this week!

    Another vote here for Yakitori House, I love the food there & the iced green tea, mmmm!

    I laughed at the ‘stale M&Ms’ comments – we have ‘Smarties’ in England too.. during our last trip, my fiance’s Dad confused a Cast Member by asking for “some of those Smartie cookies” at the Anandapur Tea cart in AK!

    Emma 🙂
    Surrey, England

  24. kevin says:

    Hey there everyone,
    Just thought i would put my two cents in here. Not sure if anyone mentioned it yet, but come on Lou!! What about the writers spot in the studios, man?? You know. The place where you found the best of the best snack food, the ever delicious carrot cake cookie! I love going there, grabbing a scrumptious snack and just chillaxin. Any-who loved the show this week, but it did make me very hungry.
    Gotta say though, that i have never been to Sunshine Seasons. For some reason, i have never really heard to many good things about that place. Oh and in my opinion (please don’t kick me off the forums), Pecos bills has seriously digressed in the quality of food they supply. I mean, the burgers honestly tasted like something i stood in line for in school. However maybe they have changed….hopefully. But i totally agreed with the Flame Tree Barbecue being on the top ten list. Its been a family tradition to always go over to animal kingdom as soon as we arrive and get some delicious pulled pork sandwiches and fries and go, sit and watch, and hear, people screaming as they are chased down Everest by the fearsome yeti :). yep anyways, its late soooo see ya.

  25. Marla says:

    Counter service top 10 was one of my favorite podcasts. I LOVE the Lou/Tim banter! You guys are the perfect team. As a vegetarian, I never have trouble finding something at the counter service spots. My favorites: Morocco, Cosmic Rays, Columbia Harbor House and Sunshine Seasons.

  26. Jonathan Grant says:

    Emma, you are so right about the iced green tea at Yakitori House! If I’m thirsty and anywhere in the ‘back half’ of World Showcase, chances are I’m headed straight for that tea.

    One other place for a fantastic iced tea is Morocco. You can order iced Moroccan mint tea from the baklava counter in the back of Tangerine Cafe. So refreshing. It’s a little more expensive, and is a smaller pour, but still a great drink when it’s hot out.

  27. Jim says:

    Totally agree with the BCV market place. We grabbed a sandwich almost every night for a quick late night snack.

  28. Jared Ward says:

    Hey Lou-

    Just recently got addicted to your podcasts. Love em!

    I wanted to weigh in on the new queue system that was in place at Rock’n Rollercoaster. Coming from a person who studies “Guestology” and the movement of guests, I personally love the idea of the queue system, however there are a few flaws.

    *No matter what, from what I’ve seen, if you give guests a ticket, they are still going to wait by the entrance sometimes forming a line of their own. The activities they did have (Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, DJ etc) were great, but there needs to be more.
    *It was really really hot, and there was a WIDE open space on the tarmac, making it pretty unbearable. More of an overall tent would be nice.
    *Something more than just your basic merch/food/icecream carts. A lot of guests seemed bored while waiting around, so maybe something simple, like board/card games.
    *Besides the DJ and video games, there isn’t any other entertainment. Maybe some “rocker streetmosphere”?

    Just a few suggestions. Love the show!!


  29. Mike Fink says:

    We will be in WDW next week and your tips on counter service restaurants could not have come at a better time. Thanks. We have two small children and find full-service meals are a little hard on them because they take too much time. On the other hand we don’t want to eat fast food burgers and fries all week. Your suggestions, particularly Tangierine Cafe, really came in handy.

  30. Sam says:

    Regarding Top 10 Counter Service – A trip around world showcase is never complete without a pair of egg rolls from china….

  31. ryan skrzypek says:

    dear lou,
    my plan every time i go to down town disney i walk down the walk with the magic shop and the magnet shop. then i go threw world of disney. then i go to earl of sandwich. once i did that i go to the christmas shop and then end the day by eating iceceam at Geodely.

  32. Carol says:

    Hi Lou,
    Love the podcasts – especially the ones about food (IOW all of them)! I was so happy you included Yak&Yeti counter service. We discovered it 2 weeks ago when we spent April school vaca week at WDW. My husband & I are both middle school teachers in Maine.
    The Honey Chicken was so good – just the right amount of rice at the bottom of the very convenient container and a little bit of broccoli and carrots, some tasty sauce and many pieces of yummy chicken. The rest of the family with us were also happy with their meals. Add to that a Yak Attack from the beverage window and we had a fabulous lunch!

    Carol (AKA chanken33)

  33. Emma says:

    @Jonathan Grant… thank you for the tip, I must try that iced mint tea at Morocco on my next trip (just 218 days to go!)

    Another ‘vote’ for the Beach Club marketplace too.. we got lunch there one day while staying at the YC – I had a ‘make-your-own-salad’ which was huge & delicious! my fiance had a warm beef sub sandwich which he loved too.

  34. Neuman Zoo says:

    Great show with great choices 🙂 The only problem with DAK counter service locations is that they have such very limited vegetarian options. I always shake my head at being at a park that celebrates animals & wildlife, and yet they offer the least in veggie options. We end up either eating cheese pizza (ugh) or a half-warmed Garden Burger (double ugh) – usually we just opt out and head to another location. I have heard the Tangerine Cafe is excellent, but never had the chance to eat there – that may just end up on the “to-do” list for our trip! Thanks for the great show – you two are hilarious!

  35. Alex says:

    I have to add in Aloha Isle must always stop for a Dole Whip

  36. Joanne says:

    I’m traveling alone in October for Wine and Dine Half Marathon and I really appreciate this list. You mentioned a lot of my favorites, but also mentioned a few I’ve never tried. I’ll be checking them out…if I ever step away from the F&W Festival! Thanks!

  37. Rev Philip Persico says:

    Hey Lou, Jus t listerd to your top ten places. You didn’t mention anything in Magic Kingdom. Maybe it is because the food isn’t great in MK and I would agree except for one I particularly like the Columbia Harbor House in Liberty Square. The have a lot of different salads if you are tired of burgers and their clam chowder is great. Just one i thought should have honorable mention. Thanks

  38. Sylvia says:

    Where exactly do you find the carrot cake cookie at? We are going to Disney in a couple of weeks and we would like to try them.. Thanks

  39. Tony says:

    Caysey’s Corner is one of my favorite places to eat in the Magic Kingdom.

  40. Chuck Zitta says:

    I believe I may like food too much to have a ranked list. Kinda depends on what type of food I’m in the mood for as to what is at the top of my list for the day. So, here’s just a few CS places I enjoy eating at in WDW, minus some of the places you guys already mentioned. Sunshine Seasons (great variety AND love the carrot cake at the bakery!), Mexico (feed the birds!), Sommerfest in Germany (brats and a beer always hits the spot!), Cosmic Rays (variety and little entertainment), Japan (nice and relaxing), Earl of Sandwich (so many good sandwiches to choose from), Bongos (for something different), Studio Catering Company (nice place to relax and eat in the back of HWS), Backlot Express (take in all that the Imagineers have done with this place!), Yorkshire Country Fish Shop in Great Britain (first place we ate at our last trip down – coming out of Beach Club Resort) and the list goes on. As usual, enjoyed listening to you and Tim chat. That big pork chop sounds delicious, Tim! Thanks again for another tasty show, Lou!!!