by: AJ Wolfe\/Disney Food Blog Updated:
Spring is upon us, my friends! And as we celebrate the coming of Summer and start to get that vacation vibe going, it's a thrill to plan a trip to the Disney World parks. But while a day of fun at Magic Kingdom or Epcot may sound like a great idea, breaking the bank with an expensive meal probably isn't something that appeals to you -- especially when you're after fastpasses! So let's take a look at some awesome counter service eats in the parks that will leave you with plenty of dough for the important things -- like dessert!
> IMAGE GALLERY: Best quick service eats at Disney
Magic Kingdom: Sleepy Hollow Refreshments
Since even a counter service meal can set you back some serious coin in Disney World, sometimes we like to think outside the box for counter service options. One of our favorite spots to grab a bite is Sleepy Hollow Refreshments. Located in Liberty Square just beyond Cinderella Castle, this spot has long been known for epic funnel cakes. There is also a good assortment of gourmet coffee drinks, like cappuccino and espresso. Lovers of cold caffeine can even find iced coffee and coffee floats, and don't forget one of my favorite treats -- the Ice Cream Cookie Sandwich! But if you're looking for a snack that counts as a meal, try the savory Waffle Sandwiches. Right now, they're available in two varieties -- Sweet and Spicy Chicken, and Ham, Prosciutto, and Swiss. Both are delicious and satisfying, and will definitely keep you going as you take in all the attractions from Mickey's Town Square meet and greet all the way back to Journey of the Little Mermaid! If you prefer something sweet, you can also choose one of my favorites, the Nutella and Fruit Waffle Sandwich!
Animal Kingdom: Flame Tree Barbecue
When planning a trek through the wilds of Animal Kingdom, you need not fear starvation -- even if you didn't book an Advanced Dining Reservation. There are some delicious meals to be had here, with many that are far less expensive than a trip to one of the table service restaurants. When I want the quality of a sit-down meal, but I'd like to pay quick service prices, I head to Flame Tree Barbecue. Located in the Discovery Island section of Animal Kingdom, this fan favorite boasts slow-smoked meat entrees that rival some of the table service eats around the resort. The 1/2 Slab of St. Louis Style Ribs are delicious, and the Pork Sandwich is awesome as well! In addition to the delicious eats, you'll find one of the most interesting seating areas in all of Disney here. Surroundings depict a whimsical and slightly disturbing Circle of Life theme in bright, cheerful colors. Multiple covered pavilions and patios also offer some breathtaking views.
Epcot: Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie
Why spend money on airfare to Paris when you can find a little corner of the City of Lights right here in Orlando? And with the expansion of the incredibly popular Boulangerie Patisserie, more guests are sure to become fans of this delicious counter service spot. The new location, officially renamed Les Halles and located just next door to the old spot, boasts many of your tried-and-true favorites, like Eclairs and Crème Brûlée. Many savory options from the old spot made the cut too, and a few welcome additions have been added, like daily soups and salads. Overall, Les Halles is a solid choice for counter service, with delicious and interesting options, that are just different enough to make a trip there feel exotic. Remember, this spot opens at 9am for breakfast, even though the World Showcase itself doesn't open until 11am.
Hollywood Studios: Starring Rolls Cafe
While you can find some interesting sandwiches and other counter service fare in Disney's Hollywood Studios, our readers list Starring Rolls as their top pick for terrific quick eats while waiting for their Toy Story Mania Fastpass time. I couldn't agree more. With behemoth treats like the Butterfinger Cupcake, I'm guaranteed to make at least one pilgrimage to this little, unassuming shop located next door to the Hollywood Brown Derby. But when it's real food you crave, they have some really interesting selections. Try their Turkey Focaccia Sandwich. Another cool feature: they serve sushi here as well! It's a great alternative to heavier burgers and fries options that you'll find elsewhere. If you plan to dine at Starring Rolls, be sure to get there early; they're only open for breakfast and lunch and usually close at 4pm. There is so much incredible food throughout the parks of Walt Disney World. We hope we've given you some ideas for truly memorable eats that can be found beyond the table service restaurants, which can be pricey and hard to get into. Armed with a little knowledge of all the deliciousness out there, you can have a special day with fantastic food memories, and still have a little dough left over to buy that coveted set of Mickey Ears.
Bio: AJ Wolfe is the owner and executive editor of The Disney Food Blog, a website covering all things food and drink in Walt Disney theme parks, resorts, and cruise ships. Check out the updated version of her best-selling e-Book -- The DFB Guide to Walt Disney World® Dining 2013 -- for in-depth advice on Disney World dining! The Disney Food Blog is not affiliated with the Walt Disney Company.