Disney’s Cape May Cafe: How does it compare to the real Cape May?

Cape May Cafe sign in Walt Disney World
Photo of the Cape May Cafe sign in the lobby at the Beach Club Resort. Photo: Jessica Leeburg

For many, the Cape May Cafe, located in Disney’s Beach Club Resort in Walt Disney World, is their first — and maybe only! — brush with Cape May: a New-England style buffet restaurant (family style at present for safety reasons) featuring American fare and seafood.

But if you’ve eaten at the Cape May Cafe, have you gotten a taste of the real place? Well, I’ve eaten there and I work in the actual Cape May, so I’m here to shed some light on the subject.

Cape May is not in New England.

While Disney’s cafe transports you to an oceanside New England setting, the real Cape May isn’t located in New England. We are the southernmost point of New Jersey and considered to be America’s first seaside resort.

This one’s a little confusing, but despite the “new” in its name, New Jersey isn’t included among the six states that make up New England: Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.

We are oceanside, though!

Aerial view of Cape May
Aerial view of Cape May. Photo: Christopher Chin

Cape May is known for its seafood!

Combined, Cape May/Wildwood is the largest commercial fishing port in New Jersey, and one of the largest on the East Coast. Fishing is part of Cape May’s history, going back to our whaling roots in the late 1600s.

Scalloping boats on Cape May harbor
Scalloping boats in Cape May harbor. Photo: Michelle Giorla

Cape May does have beach cabanas like the ones constructed over the Cafe’s tables.

Peek through the Cafe’s gallery and you’ll notice cabana frames above some of the tables, reminiscent of the ones that dot our beaches! Though Disney’s aren’t covered, the colors are similar to the signature blue and white tents from Steger Beach Service.

Virginia Hotel cabana
View from beneath a red and white striped cabana. Photo: Michelle Giorla

Croquet really did used to be a popular pastime!

The Cape May Cafe uses croquet balls and mallets as decor, and yes, croquet really was a pastime enjoyed in Victorian Cape May. (Today, you’re more likely to see mini golf.)

Croquet players photograhed by Brown's Gallery
Historic photo by Brown’s Gallery of croquet players at the foot of Ocean Street. Photo from our archives.

Cape May absolutely welcomed vacationers at the turn of the last century, just like in the Cafe’s mural.

The Cafe’s mural depicts children in old-fashioned dress playing in the surf, and is reminiscent of vintage postcards you can find of Cape May. We have long been a popular vacation spot for people seeking a reprieve from Philadelphia’s sweltering summers. Even now that we have air conditioning, people still flock here to relax, and we’ve become a year-round destination.

Cape May beachgoers depicted on a postcard
Postcard of beachgoers in the last century. Image from our archives

We are known for great food!

Cape May is home to numerous restaurants serving breakfast, dinner, and—yes—lots of seafood. Try the scallops.

The Raw Bar at the Lobster House
The Raw Bar at the Lobster House

Apart from the New England mention, the Cape May Cafe is a charming nod to America’s first seaside resort. If you’ve never been to see us, we’d love for you to come and experience Cape May for yourself! Start planning your visit with our free travel guide.

Looking for Cape May restaurants that serve breakfast?