Top 10 Disney World Restaurants (with a Tiki or Mid-Century Modern Theme)

Maybe I'm a little bit of a foodie but I feel like half the fun of planning a trip to Disney World is deciding where to eat!  Since I have a natural inclination for all things tiki and mid-century modern, I've spent some time scouting out the best dining (and drinking) experiences where I can immerse myself in those environments.  Beyond their great theming, these places have proven to have excellent options for the taste buds!  In alphabetical order (because I just can't manage to pick my favorite), here are some spots worth exploring on your next trip to Florida: 

1. 50'S PRIME TIME CAFE & TUNE-IN LOUNGE 

Hollywood Studios 

Visiting the 50's Prime Time Cafe is an experience that you need to be ready and willing to have.  All of the waiters & waitresses are characters who act like parents or older relatives stuck in a 50's time warp...which means you're required to use your best table manners!  I once became a member of the "Black Sheep Club" for excessive use of elbows on the table...or maybe not eating all of my veggies...I forget, but that's beyond the point.  The decor here is A+ if you want to feel like you've traveled back in time to another era and the food matches the atmosphere.  Big hits are the fried chicken, PB&J shake, and the S'mores dessert.  

For a faster, cheaper, and less intense experience, guests can grab drinks and some of the menu offerings at the Tune-In Lounge which feels a little less like a 50's kitchen and a little more like a mid-century living room.  It actually looks quite a bit like my duplex in Silver Lake (if only I had more fitting furniture)!  Worth a stop to rest your feet and enjoy some libations while at Hollywood Studios

2. California Grill

Contemporary Resort 

Beyond the outstanding food and panoramic views of the Magic Kingdom & Seven Seas Lagoon, I can't get over the colorful mid-century modern renovation they've given to the California Grill.  Both the food & decor are super fresh and the vibe is fun (not stuffy like some of the other higher-end places at Disney World).  Come around the time of the Magic Kingdom fireworks to get a prime viewing location from your table atop the Contemporary Resort

3. Captain Cook's

Polynesian Village Resort 

Captain Cook's serves some of my favorite counter service meals in Disney World.  With options like Lobster Rolls, Aloha Pork Sandwiches, and Hawaiian Flatbreads, you can't get much higher quality & unique fare elsewhere.  Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that they offer the coveted Tonga Toast for breakfast (in addition to Kona Cafe)!  To top it all off, the whole place has been recently renovated & modernized as part of the Polynesian Village Resort overhaul.  Now I'm just waiting for the walls to come down outside so the views of the tropical grounds are restored! 

4. Cosmic ray's Starlight Cafe 

Magic Kingdom

Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe is a great location for its diversity of food options, futuristic mid-century theming, and the one-and-only Sonny Eclipse.  While enjoying your lunch in Tomorrowland, you can be entertained by the musical stylings of Sonny who's admittedly a little like Chuck E. Cheese but way less creepy and way more retro-cool.  This is one of the best places to grab a burger in the parks as well since there's a toppings bar that lets you customize whatever you order. 

5. Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction 

Hollywood Studios 

Maybe I'm partial to this place after studying the crazy California trend of uniquely-shaped roadside architecture, but getting ice cream from a giant dinosaur building is pretty cool!  I'm glad this iconic landmark at Hollywood Studios on the bank of Echo Lake has stood the test of time since my first visits to the park more than 20 years ago.  

6. Kona Cafe 

Polynesian Village Resort 

Kona Cafe is probably best known for its offering of Tonga Toast (deep fried french toast filled with bananas and coated with cinnamon sugar...mmm) but it's also got some great island fare.  I've only visited for breakfast but the lunch & dinner menus look equally (if not more) interesting with several seafood dishes and all things tropics-inspired. 

7. 'Ohana & Tambu Lounge

Polynesian Village Resort 

Everyone suggests saving your appetite for 'Ohana because it's served in all-you-can-eat family-style fashion.  For breakfast, you can dine with characters like Lilo & Stitch but I prefer the (less chaotic, more unique) dinner.  Throughout the course of the meal, they serve dishes like pineapple-coconut bread, chicken wings, dumplings, noodles, shrimp & meat skewers, and banana caramel bread pudding.  Delicious, tropical, fun, and very filling - definitely a top notch spot! 

Outside of the restaurant, guests can get drinks and small plates (like pork sliders) at the Tambu Lounge.  The best cocktail worth ordering is the Lapu Lapu which is served in a whole pineapple.  Even better if you take it out to the beach to enjoy while watching the Magic Kingdom fireworks show across the Seven Seas Lagoon! 

8. Pineapple Lanai

Polynesian Village Resort 

Pineapple Lanai is definitely the spot to go if you want to avoid the long pineapple Dole Whip line at Aloha Isle in the Magic Kingdom.  It's never been crowded when I've gone and it offers a peaceful (and refreshing) break away from the parks.  My favorite way to order Dole Whip is the pineapple & vanilla swirl but everyone has their own preferences.  Souvenir bowls are available too if you're a tiki collector! 

9. Sci-Fi Dine-In THEATER

Hollywood Studios

Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater is probably the most immersive dining experience you can get at Disney World (ok, T-Rex and Rainforest Cafe are up there too).  This place feels like a giant drive-in movie theater where you get to sit in cars converted into dining areas and enjoy some hilariously vintage sci-fi footage on the big screen.  The food here is pretty limited to your typical American fast food offerings like burgers and fries but the atmosphere is one of the most unique you'll ever experience! 

10. Sunshine Tree Terrace 

Magic Kingdom 

I love Sunshine Tree Terrace for its location next to the Enchanted Tiki Room, awesome building, and its famous Orange Bird mascot.  This is like the orange counterpart to the pineapple offerings served at Aloha Isla & the Pineapple Lanai.  A prime spot if you're looking for an orange-vanilla Citrus Swirl to cool off from walking around the Magic Kingdom!  

Beyond these tropical and/or mid-century options, Trader Sam's will soon be open at the Polynesian Village Resort.  Since the Disneyland location was the initial tiki bar that got me hooked on all tiki bars, I'm super excited to check it out on my next trip!  

I'd love to know if there are any other restaurants & bars that I may have missed or if anyone has drink/meal suggestions at any of my favorites list above - let me know!