Just returned from a week at Disney and want to report to assist others planning.
As background, I am not a Disney person but I agreed to take the family because the kids are the perfect ages. So it was my wife who made all the plans if that matters. I was simply along for the ride.
Stayed at the Polynesian because the location is perfect. Great vibe at the resort and the rooms were bigger than I expected, but the furnishings are extremely tired and below what I expected for the money. Disney knows this as they were beginning a building by building renovation.
Bought the meal plan because it was on sale when we booked the trip. I would probably do it again, but it is a bit confusing to keep track of each category and we encountered many servers who poorly explained (or could not explain) what was included.
Table Service Meals:
O'hana (in Polynesian)-- this was a good meal and a fun atmoshpere. Unbelievable amounts of food, all well prepared. But I could have used some more vegetables and not so much meat. Also, service was lightening fast - it was the only meal where we felt rushed to finish and leave.
Hollywood and Vine (at Hollywood Studios) -- character lunch buffet. This was worst experience of the trip, the food was good if unremarkable but the service was horrific. Waited forever even with our reservation, server took initial drink order and then we never saw him again until time to pay - no refills or bussing of dirty plates. Also the place was so crammed full of tables you could literally not get up (and we are not a "plus sized" family)
Restaruant Marrakesh (Epcot) -- excellent meal, service, and atmosphere. Mind you I love Mediterranean/Middle Eastern/North African food, but this was very good. Lamb shank was the highlight, but all the supporting dishes were very good.
Biergarten (Epcot) -- another good choice. It is a buffet, but every item was good. Kids loved the floor show and I loved the beer. Highlight was the crispy pork skin from the pork roast carving station.
Royal Askerhaus Princess Lunch(Epcot) -- great experience for our little princess, but food was a mixed bag. The cold buffet of salads and smoked fish was excellent, but main courses were pretty bad. Meatballs were hard as rocks and the open face steak sandwhich was blah, as was the tomato soup it was served with.
Via Napoli (Epcot) -- best overall meal of the trip. Really good salad with lots of veggies, and the pizzas were much better than I expected. I am a pizza fanatic, make it from scratch at least once a week in my pizza oven (also know as the Big Green Egg) and travel for work a lot and I eat it out in every wood fired pizza joint I can find.
Quick Service Meals:
Captian Cook's (in Polynesian) -- Yuck. Terrible in every way. Bad burger, bad chicken sandwhich, bad flat bread pizza.
Sleepy Hollow (Magic Kingdom) -- Worst food of trip. Disgusting. Waffle sandwhiches may sound like a good idea but these were terrible. "Proscuitto" sandwhich was actually deli ham. Really.
La Cantina (epcot) -- solid beef or chicken tacos for adults, and yellow cheee nachos for the kids. Tacos are served on corn tortillas with lime the way they should be.
Yorkshire County Fish Shop (Epcot) -- Why does fried food taste soooooo good late at night after a long day and a few beers? Had fish and chips after fireworks on a busy night at Epcot and they were perfect. Hot, crispy, and delicious.
Tangierine Cafe (Epcot) -- good shawarma, falafel, tabouleh, and hummus. Yum.
So you can see we basically went to Epcot for our meals. This was because it was so easy to get to from Polynesian, and with an 11, 8, and 5 year old in tow we chose to eat as much for atmospherre as food. I understand that many people feel that the best food is in the resorts, but we wanted the kids in the parks as much as possible.
Being a long time Chowhound I had prepared for the worst, but all things considered I was pleasantly suprised with the food. I will say that the underlying note of the food was that everything we ate was a bit bland, even in the cuisines that are known for strong flavors. I understand the logic, even if I don't agree with it.
Hope this helps future 'hounds manage a trip to a decidedly non-houndish place. Cheers.