By Guest Blogger, Ashley Nichols of Theme Park Foodie
Visiting Epcot® on a budget can be a bit of a challenge. Not only does the park feature more shopping locations than attractions, it also has more restaurants. Although Epcot®'s dining variety is one of its strengths, it can also lead to confusion for first-time visitors and guests on a budget. Many of the more popular restaurants (and more widely discussed in reviews, forums and other trip planning resources) are more expensive choices and may require advance reservations. Never fear, I've trekked through Future World and the World Showcase more times than I care to count, and I'm happy to report that it IS possible to enjoy some of Epcot®'s most delicious dining options on a budget. Each of the following locations would be considered a "$" budget option, with only one exception. If you eat at these dining locations during your visit to Epcot®, both your stomach and wallet will thank you!
The line for Boulangerie Pâtisserie is always long, but the wait is worth it. The bakery, located in France in the World Showcase, serves everything from pastries to sandwiches. Craving something sweet? This dining option features cakes, fruit tarts, cookies, croissants, éclairs, turnovers, cream puffs, cheesecake and more. Yum!
If you're looking for a meal, you can find ham and cheese croissants, quiche and sandwiches all for under $6 per serving. French baguette bread and cheese plates are also available at Boulangerie Pâtisserie. Because of its quality and its affordable price, this bakery is so popular that it is currently undergoing expansion. That means fewer lines and (possibly) more dining options in the near future!
If you're hoping for something with an Eastern flair, travel across the World (Showcase) to Katsura Grill. This budget restaurant, located in the Japan Pavilion, features basic sushi rolls, udon, teriyaki and traditional favorites such as miso soup, edamame and okonomi yaki. Most of the entrees are less than $10 per serving, making Katsura far more affordable than its sister restaurants in the Japan Pavilion.
Desserts are also available at Katsura Grill. If you're feeling adventurous, try a Matcha Roll (green tea swirl cake) or green tea ice cream! If you're hoping for something more traditional American, cookies and strawberry ice cream are also available. While I love the food at Katsura Grill, the restaurant's environment really makes it special. Seating is available outside near a Japanese garden beneath colorful lanterns with a beautiful view of the pavilion's signature pagoda and the Seven Seas Lagoon.
Kringla Bakeri og Café
The magic of Norway can be found in the Pavilion's signature attraction, Maelstrom, but it can also be discovered in the Kringla Bakeri og Café. The bakery serves traditional Norwegian pastries, desserts and sandwiches, but also has options for the more conservative diner. Sweet traditional options include the Kringla Sweet Pretzel, Lefse (potato bread with butter and cinnamon sugar), the Cloudberry Horn, Verdens Beste (rum cake with custard topping), Rullekake (yellow cake with raspberry filling and powdered sugar) and a Disney World favorite, School Bread (a sweet bread roll filled with vanilla pudding or custard). If you are more of a picky eater, never fear -- fruit danishes and cookies are also available.
The Kringla Bakeri og Café is also a perfect stop for lunch or dinner. The Kringla Daily Chef's Selection, a gourmet sandwich served with a salad or fruit cup, is a nice meal for less than $10 per person. Sandwiches may vary by day, but can include the Norwegian Club Sandwich, a ham and apple sandwich, traditional roast beef with Jarlsberg cheese, the salmon and egg sandwich, or the vegetable torte.
Located in The Land in Epcot®'s Future World, Sunshine Seasons can best be described as a food court. Food stations, including Breakfast, the Bakery, Sandwiches, Asian Noodles, Soup & Salad and The Grill serve a wide selection of dishes. While I normally avoid anything food-court style, Sunshine Seasons is my favorite exception. Cost effective and delicious, the food offerings are a great value for visitors on a budget; I've yet to try something that I haven't enjoyed! I highly recommend the Reuben Panini (located at Sandwiches) and the Oak-grilled Fish (found at The Grill). It's also fun riding Living with the Land, then going to dine at Sunshine Seasons; some of the food grown in The Land is served at the dining location. Don't forget to end your sustainable food adventure with dessert (I recommend the Chocolate Raspberry Cupcake)!
Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar
The most expensive of our list, the Tutto Gusto Wine Cellar still provides a unique and affordable dining experience for Epcot® guests on a budget. One of Epcot®'s newest dining locations, the Wine Cellar serves "Gusto Plates" for groups of two or more, small plates of pasta, paninis, desserts and more than 200 selections of wine. Stop in for lunch with a friend and enjoy La Siciliana, a Gusto Plate featuring Fior di Latte Mozzarella, Cacciatorini and Caponata for only $27; this is the most expensive of the Gusto Plates, making the shared dining experience more than affordable. While the restaurant's pasta options are more expensive, ranging from $12-18 per serving, they are delicious and worth saving for. Panini fans will love the dining location's unique Panini offerings, which include Proscuitto di Parma, Fontina and Salametto and more.
Desserts at the wine cellar are more expensive, coming in at $8 per serving, but these delights are perfect for sharing! I recommend the mocha tiramisu or the Torte di Nocciole Cortiemilia (hazelnut polenta cake with Nutella and sweet cream cheese). Don't worry if you didn't plan ahead; like the other restaurants on this list, the Wine Cellar does not require reservations.
These are only a few (and my favorite) of Epcot®'s wonderful budget dining locations. Have a personal favorite that you would love to share? Or, do you have questions about these and other dining locations? Comment below!
As you plan your Disney trip, here are a few related dining posts to check out:
Ashley Nichols is the editor of Theme Park Foodie, a blog that highlights dining and cuisine opportunities at theme parks throughout the United States with a focus on Central Florida. TPF, an UrbanSpoon featured blog, features content on Walt Disney World, SeaWorld, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens and more! Join the theme park food conversation on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Facebook.