Here’s Why Thanksgiving Dinner at Disney Is Better Than Cooking It Yourself
This article originally appeared on Travel + Leisure
There's an easy way to avoid holiday cooking and cleaning — and it won't require you to source your own pixie dust.
These Thanksgiving buffets, dining events and special menus at Walt Disney World, in Florida, and Disneyland Resorts, in California, have the perfect makings for a new annual tradition, whether or not you dine with Mickey Mouse in tow.
From upscale entrees and quick gravy-slathered eats to a turkey dinner served within a coral reef, here's where you can get your traditional (and not-so-traditional!) Thanksgiving meal with a side of Disney magic on both coasts. There are more options at Disney World (which is much larger), but Californians can scroll down for West Coast feasting.
Thanksgiving at Disney World
Epcot's Coral Reef Restaurant and Le Cellier Steakhouse will both serve holiday meals at lunch and dinner, offering a unique twist to family traditions by providing a picture-perfect view of the park's saltwater-dwelling creatures or a taste Canadian fine dining, respectively.
There are also plenty of no-reservations-necessary options for festive feasting at Walt Disney World, too. Load up on a plate of turkey and all the customary fixin's at Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn and Cafe at Magic Kingdom or Sunshine Seasons at Epcot, or for something unique, head to Disney's Animal Kingdom. Satu'li Canteen, the eatery located within the park's new Pandora: The World of Avatar, is serving up a foodie-friendly take on Thanksgiving with a wood-grilled turkey plated with apple and sage stuffing, marmalade-glazed sweet potatoes and candied pecans, in addition to a pumpkin cheesecake mousse for dessert.
...and at Disney World Hotels
In Florida, Animal Kingdom Lodge's Jiko — The Cooking Place will serve a Thanksgiving dinner, while The Wave ... of American Flavors at Disney's Contemporary Resort will offer a holiday-specific lunch and dinner. Olivia's Cafe at Disney's Old Key West Resort will cook up a straightforward thanksgiving dinner, with turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce and every other classic dish, including a slice of pie.
Visitors to Disney's Wilderness Lodge will have two choices — a special lunch and dinner cooked up at Whispering Canyon Cafe as well as a mouthwatering seasonal three-course menu at Artist's Point which comes with fresh takes on traditional eats as well as seasonal dishes such as smokey portobello mushroom soup, white chocolate and cranberry bread pudding served with house-made eggnog ice cream and a wintertime trio of buffalo, venison and wild game sausage.
Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resorts restaurants will both have special entrees in honor of Thanksgiving as well. Il Mulino will feature a organic heritage turkey truffle panade with confit legs, brussel sprouts, sweet potato, while Bluezoo will serve Roulade de Dinde (a high-end turkey roll stuffed with ham), alongside winter squash, green beans, chestnut mezzalune pasta and porcini mushroom gravy.
Capa at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort is offering an a la carte menu as well, with a special roasted turkey confit, winter vegetables, stuffing and potato puree that can be topped off with a seasonal bourbon pumpkin mousse tart.
Over at Disney Springs, Morimoto Asia will serve an exciting "Peking Turkey Dinner" with Japanese-style candied yams, cranberry-lychee chutney, Szechuan peppercorn gravy and a roasted pork fried rice take on stuffing, while Chef Art Smith's Homecomin' will celebrate the holiday as well with a one-day-only roast turkey entree.
This year, you can enjoy turkey and stuffing with Mickey and Minnie both inside and outside the theme parks. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall at Epcot's Norway Pavilion will host a festive lunch and dinner with plenty of one-on-one visits from Disney's famed princesses, while Chef Mickey's at Disney's Contemporary Resort will host Goofy, Pluto, Minnie, Mickey and Donald Duck for its holiday dinnertime buffet.
Walt Disney World visitors to Fort Wilderness can enjoy Mickey's Backyard BBQ Feast with a turkey-focused twist. Along with the spread of every kind of Thanksgiving favorite — think both cornbread and cornbread stuffing — guests will enjoy a ho-down as well as a visit from Mickey and Minnie Mouse.
Load up on all of grandma's favorites at festive Disney buffets, including Thanksgiving at Four Season Resort Orlando's Ravello. In addition to the traditional tastes, the vast spread will also include oysters, king crab legs, prime rib, rock shrimp ceviche, and a wide assortment of antipasti, charcuterie, salads, meats and sides.
Within Epcot's World Showcase, Biergarten Restaurant will be serving up a seasonal lunch and dinner feast, perfect for adding a bit of German flavor and entertainment — not to mention a Bavarian beer stein — to your yearly tradition. Garden Grove and Fresh Mediterranean Market at Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin will also offer special holiday buffets on Thanksgiving Day.
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Thanksgiving at Disneyland
In Anaheim, Disneyland California Adventure will feature a rotisserie turkey dish with gravy, mashed potatoes and stuffing at Flo's V8 Café in Cars Land, and French Market Restaurant at Disneyland's New Orleans Square is offering slow-roasted turkey alongside mashed potatoes, gravy, apricot stuffing and cranberry relish and the requisite pumpkin pie.
...and at Disneyland Hotels
At Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California, families can celebrate a new custom with a ticketed event inside the resort's ballroom, complete with a massive buffet and sweet treats, and more importantly, meet-and-greets with plenty of Disney favorites.