There's nothing my 13-year-old son loves more than a good cheeseburger, so while planning a recent trip to Walt Disney World, I searched the internet for the best cheeseburger available in Mickey Mouse territory. Unfortunately, I came up lacking.
I was disappointed, both as a lover of Disney food and a mom who wanted to take her son for a special lunchtime treat. So, I decided to figure it out for myself.
My family and I spent three days at Walt Disney World, where we tried a total of 12 cheeseburgers. To find the best burger, we developed a highly scientific rating system based on qualities like appearance, value and taste.
We even deliberated over how well the burger matched the theme and concept of the restaurant. And, because my favorite part of dining at Disney World is getting to sit down in a cool restaurant for a break, we ranked the overall enjoyability of the dining experience. (If I have to eat my food leaned over the top of a trashcan at Epcot, I'm out.)
Adding a specific food focus to the trip made it one of our most fun trips to Walt Disney World, and I'd highly recommend spending some of your next Disney trip researching your family's favorite type of food.
But if it's cheeseburgers, I've already done the work for you.
These are the 12 best cheeseburgers at Walt Disney World Resort, from worst to best, determined by my trained panel of Disney food experts — aka my husband and kids.
12.The Wave of American Flavors: Signature Burger
This classic burger, topped with bacon, cheddar cheese, red onion, house-made pickles, lettuce and tomato, is served on a brioche bun. It reads like standard burger fare, but the toppings were fresh and crisp and the restaurant's "signature blend" of beef was flavorful. My kids loved the waffle fries served on the side, which were thin, crisp and well-salted.
The Wave loses points for atmosphere, however, as there's no real theme within the dining room. But fear not: Walt Disney World plans to temporarily close the restaurant for a remodel in July 2021.
$19 at Disney's Contemporary Resort
11. Beaches and Cream Soda Shop: Angus Beef Burger
After spending the day poolside at Disney's Beach Club Resort, this traditional cheeseburger hit the spot, along with the fries, Tater Tots and milkshakes that accompany it.
Overall, Beaches and Cream's burger topped with cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato was well-cooked and flavorful, but lost points due to the additional charge for sides and the chaotic atmosphere (at lunchtime, the restaurant was filled with kids who were still set to high-volume from their morning at the pool).
$17 at Disney's Beach Club Resort
10. Regal Eagle Smokehouse: BBQ Burger
Topped with barbecue pork, garlic aioli and a fried onion ring and served on garlic toast, this burger won points for the wide selection of sides we could pick from. (I'm still dreaming about the house-made pickles!)
We found the main dish to be a bit dry, and my husband thought using shredded lettuce made it "too fast-food-y." I found the mobile ordering and pick-up process to be a bit stressful, causing it to lose points with me.
What redeemed this Regal Eagle Smokehouse burger for my family was the outdoor dining area, which was shady and set back a bit from the chaos of Epcot.
$13.49 at Epcot's World Showcase, American Adventure Pavilion
9. Adventureland Spring Roll Cart: Cheeseburger Spring Rolls
While not technically a burger, these spring rolls, served at a cart at the entrance to Adventureland at Magic Kingdom, have a cult following for good reason.
Totally worth braving the long line for, these snack-sized cheeseburgers packed into spring rolls are delicious and unique: filled with ground beef, cheese, pickles, onion and mustard.
$9.50 for two at Disney's Magic Kingdom Park, Adventureland
8. Terralina Crafted Italian: Crafted Burger
Made of a mixture of ground chuck and brisket, this burger takes simple toppings and elevates them while keeping the appearance clean. And the house-made truffle chips and garlic pickles were among the best sides we had on the trip.
Topped with arugula, tomato, pickled red onion, fontina cheese and chili-sage aioli, we found Terralina's only burger to be light and fresh — perfect for enjoying after a day of working up an appetite in the hot Florida sunshine.
$20 at Disney Springs, The Landing
7. Rose and Crown Dining Room: Welsh Pub Burger
Beer-battered leeks were the star of this burger at Rose and Crown Dining Room, followed closely by the flavorful cheese sauce. The Angus beef burger had a char-broiled taste that paired well with the saltiness and crunch of the beer-battered leeks, and the mayonnaise topping added some much-needed tanginess.
With its British pub vibe, this restaurant also got points for the beautiful outdoor seating along Epcot's World Showcase Lagoon and the impressive beer list.
$22 at Epcot's World Showcase, United Kingdom Pavilion
6. The Plaza Restaurant: The Main Street Burger
A brand new burger as of May 2021, this giant all-beef cheeseburger is topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, a sunny-side up egg, a beer-battered onion ring and poblano mayo.
The chef who created the dish, which is part of the Plaza's complete menu revamp for Walt Disney World's 50th anniversary celebration, said her favorite parts of the burger are the thick-cut bacon slices and the kick of the poblano mayo, and I have to agree.
The only burger we had that was topped with an egg, this one won big points with my husband. And, having never dined at the Plaza myself, I was captivated by the beautiful view of Cinderella Castle from our table.
$21.50 at Magic Kingdom Park, Main Street, U.S.A.
5. D-Luxe Burger: Southern Burger
Come for the fried green tomato and pimento cheese on this D-Luxe Burger, stay because this is a really great burger all-around.
Also topped with lettuce, grilled onion and bacon, this burger made our top five for good reason: We loved every part of it, from the buttery soft bun to the way the acidity of the fried green tomato balanced out the flavors of the burger.
$13.49 at Disney Springs, Town Center
4. Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant: Drive-in BBQ Burger
Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant is a Disney's Hollywood Studios gem you may not know about. With its small entrance, you may pass it by, but it's truly a unique and relaxing dining experience, where guests are seated in a vintage car and invited to watch drive-in movies in simulated outdoor darkness.
But this Hollywood Studios restaurant packs more than just atmosphere: Its burgers are phenomenal.
On this trip, we tried the Drive-in BBQ Burger, a perfect mid-day-at-a-theme-park treat topped with Texas-style barbecue pork, cheddar cheese, bourbon-bacon jam and barbecue sauce. My kids described this flavorful burger as "sloppy, sweet and good," and they weren't wrong.
$21 at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Commissary Lane
3. Grand Floridian Cafe: Lobster Thermidor Burger
What do you get when you cross a tasty burger patty with Lobster Thermidor sauce? We weren't sure what to call it other than the most inventive take on a surf-and-turf dinner we'd ever had.
Topped with a crisp round of Parmesan cheese and served with seasoned fries, this burger is what my husband called "the holy grail of value at Disney" because it's stuffed with almost as much lobster as burger.
A manager we chatted with told us he recommends customers order the Grand Floridian Cafe burger cooked to medium and confessed that he "eats one every night." We can't blame him.
$22 at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
2. Ale and Compass Restaurant: Bacon and Vermont Cheddar Burger
My favorite Disney burger hands-down, I was concerned I was being biased when I talked up this Ale and Compass delight to my family. To my burger-expert credit, they agreed it's one of the best.
Topped with caramelized onion, bacon, lettuce, tomato, herb mayo and Vermont cheddar cheese, this flavorful burger is garnished with house-made pickles and peppers and is a prime example of a fork-and-knife burger (good luck biting into it as a handheld food!).
It's important to note this burger is also available in the Ale and Compass Lounge, the bar next door to the restaurant. I cherish every memory I have of coming back from a hot theme park to hole up in the lounge, which boasts dark navy blue walls and freezing-cold air conditioning, to recover from a long day with the Bacon and Vermont Cheddar Burger.
$18 at Disney's Yacht Club Resort
1. Geyser Point Bar and Grill: Bison Bacon Cheeseburger
When I told most of our servers that we were at Walt Disney World working on a story about the top burgers, there was a standard response: You're trying the bison burger at Geyser Point, right?
I am so glad we did.
Not only is this burger, topped with crispy onion straws, marionberry sauce and garlic aioli and made of a blend of bison and beef, flavor perfection, but it's also served in what I now believe is the most relaxing restaurant at Disney World: a bar and grill set in the middle of shade trees and scenery so reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest that my husband insisted he "forgot he was in Florida."
One of the main reasons this burger made No. 1 on our list: When multiple Disney cast members tell you something is their favorite park food, you know it's legit.
$16 at Disney's Wilderness Lodge