1900 Park Fare
OK. We all know that one of my major qualms with many Disney restaurants is inconsistency of experience. Some days, it’s great. Some days, it’s awful. You just don’t know what you’re going to get.
My visit to 1900 Park Fare was on one of those not-so-great days.
Now let me fully admit — here up front — that I know many folks who love 1900 Park Fare, swear by the food quality, and find the atmosphere charming. They have a great time at this restaurant, so understand that my review is just one of many.
Hopefully some readers (HINT HINT ;-)) will add their two cents to the comments section below so you can base your decision to go on a number of experiences.
1900 Park Fare is located in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort (read: swanky), but it’s not a hoity toity spot. As a character meal and buffet, feel free to wear your shorts and t-shirt.
You can get to the Grand Floridian by car (park valet — the walk from self-parking can be long), monorail (take the resort line), or boat from the Magic Kingdom or the Polynesian Resort. The restaurant is located near the front entrance of the lobby, right under the monorail line and opposite the check-in desks. I highly recommend an Advance Dining Reservation for this one, as it does book up quickly.
When you arrive, check in at the small podium. There will be a line in the small hallway past the podium — guests are offered the chance to have their photo taken before their meal (and paid for later) against the pretty fairytale backdrop. On our visit there were no characters in the photos.
Here’s a tip — if you’d rather not have your photo taken, ask to please be led directly to your table if/when it’s ready. You don’t have to wait in that line if you’d rather go photo-less.
When you’re called for your table, you’ll be lead through a set of double doors into the dining room to your table. Unfortunately, on our visit we were called over 40 minutes late for our Advance Dining Reservation. 40 minutes late! I know that, in Disney World, an ADR only means that you’ll be seated at the next available table for your party size and isn’t a real reservation, but come on! A 40-minute wait with an ADR means that the restaurant planned poorly. End of story. We were not pleased; especially because we had and upcoming appointment that was rapidly approaching.
Eventually we were seated and we proceeded to wait for 15 minutes for a server to approach. This would have been frustrating at any restaurant, but when you’re at a buffet and you know you’ll be serving yourself anyway, it’s especially so.
While we were sitting there, we were able to assess the dining room. It’s very loud. And large. Cavernous in fact. And for some reason the lighting gives everything a sickly beige tone. The lack of windows and natural light adds to the weird atmosphere of the room. Very cafeteria-like, but not in a good way.
Maybe if you get seated in the strange little “additional room” at the back, which has a doorway, but does not serve as an entrance for the restaurant, things are different since you have a little natural light. But it still looks pretty nondescript in here to me.
The Victorian carousel theme of the restaurant is played out on the walls and in the decor of the room. I absolutely loved the massive pipe organ on the wall and the odd carousel animals scattered throughout the restaurant. They’re quite beautiful!
Another plus for this restaurant are the characters. While other Disney World character restaurants have sets of characters grouped together that make sense — 100 Acre Wood characters, the Fab Five, etc — 1900 Park Fare is a hodge-podge. It reminds me of Disneyland in that way, which is a good thing! Both boys and girls will enjoy the group of Disney friends here!
You can run into just about anyone at 1900 Park Fare, though Mary Poppins, Pooh Bear, Tigger, Alice and the Mad Hatter, and various members of Cinderella’s extended family are the most likely to join you (Note that Cinderella, Lady Tremaine, Prince Charming, and the wicked Stepsisters show up only for dinner most of the time).
On the day we were there, we saw Pooh Bear, Alice and the Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Mary Poppins. But, actually, the only one we really interacted with was Pooh Bear. In fact, even though it took us 15 minutes to see a server — service that stayed true to form for the rest of the breakfast — and were at the restaurant for at least 45 minutes, Pooh Bear was the only character that actually came to our table. As such, I had to take pictures of the other characters in a fly-by-night fashion and with other people’s kids.
If you’re the owner of these kids and want me to take the pictures down, just let me know.
When our order for drinks was finally taken and we were given the go-ahead to tackle the buffet, we headed over to the low-ceilinged, less-than-attractive buffet area. You see the Grand Floridian is pushing
40 30 (whoops!), and I would believe this buffet area was around from the beginning.
That said, I do kind of dig the “quilted” wall tiles, and the Alice themeing on the dish identification placards is very cool.
The buffet is comparable to other Disney breakfast buffets. Fruit, breads, muffins, pastries, breakfast meats and eggs, Mickey waffles, cereals, french toast, breakfast pizza, veggies, yogurt and granola, biscuits and gravy, and hand-carved meats.
There are a few interesting additions to the 1900 Park Fare buffet line, however. Some of which are exclusive to this restaurant only!
We liked the option to have bananas foster syrup on our Mickey waffles…
…and the Lobster Benedict was certainly decadent for a Disney character breakfast!
I’m always pleased to see a made-to-order omelet station, but the endless line and extremely attentive chef meant that by the time I got my omelet, my husband had already let one plate of food get cold while waiting for me and had gone up to get another one. Once again — poor planning on the restaurant’s part.
1900 Park Fare’s Strawberry Soup is a thing of legends, but our meal had already gone so far south by the time I tried it, I was not in a mood to enjoy it. The taste is extremely creamy, but I couldn’t help thinking I was eating something that held melted before its time. Perhaps if our overall experience had been better, if the atmosphere of the restaurant was pleasant versus feeling like a low-grade cafeteria, I would have indulged and enjoyed.
And, of course, who could resist soft-serve ice cream for breakfast, complete with plenty of toppings?
Now, just to compound our dining woes on this ill-fated morning, there was no butter to be found on the buffet — at least not that I could find. Even by the breads, where there was jelly, boursin, salmon spread, cream cheese… no butter. I finally asked a buffet cast member, who said I would have to ask my server for butter.
Sigh. I hadn’t seen my server in…what?…decades?
We finally got some butter — after our meal was already cold for the second time — and used a couple of cursory swipes on a now-chilly Mickey waffle just to show we’d used it.
We paid the bill and we bolted for freedom. And for my next appointment; for which I was now very late. Luckily, it involved drinking margaritas. Exactly what I needed after breakfast at 1900 Park Fare.
I think my opinion of this place is pretty clear, but let it suffice to say that we did not have a good time. Our food was mediocre, when it wasn’t cold due to the length of time we had to wait for butter, drinks, and my omelet to be made. I can’t really comment on character interaction because only one character came to our table in the 45 minutes we were there.
And the atmosphere of the restaurant is exceedingly loud (I know character meals are loud, but I have a feeling that this type of explosive noise had a lot to do with the cavernous room and the acoustics therein) and has that weird dim lighting that makes food look just plain unappetizing. (Thus the flash pictures above — the non-flash pics, no matter how much I edited them, still looked gross.)
It just wasn’t our day, I guess. As I said, I know that many of you love this restaurant. I hope you’ll mention your good experiences in the comments section below.