Review: Lunch at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom

Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom was an overnight sensation, and has stayed at the top of every Disney fans’ must-get-a-reservation list.

The crazy to get a table has reached epic proportions and has resulted in an unprecedented move: this counter-service-at-lunch spot now offers Advance Dining Reservations. (Previously, Be Our Guest tested lunch Fast Passes. See more information on the move to ADRs here.) Dinner, which continues to be table service, also requires ADRs just as soon as your 180-day window opens.

And now, after hearing rumors forever, Be Our Guest just started testing Breakfast Service. We had a chance to try it for ourselves the very first morning it was served!

Be Our Guest Restaurant sign

Be Our Guest Restaurant sign

I’ve enjoyed all three meals here. The food has been good to great, and the impeccable themeing make this a must-do experience at least once.

Gargoyle Light Post and Waterfall

Scenery Begins Before You Ever Enter the Castle: Gargoyle Light Post and Waterfall

But I never like to assume a place continues to be awesome — especially a spot as busy as this. It’s very easy for busy restaurants to nose dive in the quality department, and to trade on their fame alone. And so, it’s become pretty important to me to check in with Be Our Guest periodically to see if I’d still recommend that you fight the good fight to get a table here. And that’s just what I did on a recent lunch visit.

Join me, won’t you?

Atmosphere

Be Our Guest has taken a hybrid approach to service since day one. While dinner is a table service meal, lunch continues to be…not so much counter service, as upscale quick service. But now there’s officially a twist to lunch — you can (and totally, totally should) book an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR for short). So you’ll check in for lunch much the same as you do for dinner.

Check In for Be Our Guest Restaurant

Check In for Be Our Guest Restaurant

My, how things have changed. Thanks to ADRs (and the fact that standby waiting often isn’t even available), the routinely crazy-long line for lunch doesn’t start up at the crack of 10AM anymore.

Be Our Guest Entrance

Be Our Guest Entrance

Wanna see what I mean? Here’s a view from the pre-ADR lunch days. Yikes!

Lunch Line at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Lunch Line at Be Our Guest Restaurant

But don’t get any ideas that you’re just going to stroll in for a quick look-see. Nearly the only ticket that will gain you access to Beast’s Castle is an ADR.

Entrance Into the West Wing

Entrance

Once you’re through the entrance (woo! You made it!), be sure to take in every detail. Be Our Guest is truly a gem, and a stunning example of Disney’s ability to imagine and bring to real life the animated worlds that they’ve created.

To your left, you can see just what I mean. Fans of the film will remember the backstory of Beauty and the Beast at the beginning of the film, told through a series of stained glass windows. And in the final scenes of the film, a new window is shown — with Belle and her Prince. You’ll find the scene immortalized in a mosaic at Be Our Guest.

Belle and Prince Stained Glass Window

Belle and Prince Stained Glass Window

But to get your lunch party started, you’ll actually head to your right, down the Gallery. The narrow passageway is lined with shining suits of armor standing at attention — and it’s one of my favorite spots in the restaurant.

Whispering Suits of Armour

Enchanted Suits of Armour

These Enchanted Suits of Armour whisper, crack jokes, and generally just have a good time.

More Whispering Suits of Armour

More Enchanted Suits of Armour

I’m going to take you a little out of the normal DFB sequence here so that we keep the order of how things work at Be Our Guest. Once you leave the Gallery, you enter the ordering area. And this is why I don’t call Be Our Guest a counter service spot. Here, you can see to the right the Digital Menu Boards that feature lunch items.

Digital Menu Boards

Digital Menu Boards

And directly ahead, there are kiosks. Some are manned with Cast Members who can take your order, and others are available for guests to enter their information directly. I chose the self serve option.

Instructions for Ordering

Instructions for Ordering

From there, the detailed menu took me through each stage of ordering. Here are the adult options. A “1” over the item indicates that it is part of our order. Because I had a FastPass to dine at Be Our Guest (this was before the restaurant changed to ADRs), I pre-ordered, making the ordering process slightly faster once I got there. It was just a matter of confirming our choices.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Entrees

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Entrees

And here’s a screen which shows you Kids’ Meal options. We had pre-selected a meal for the child in our party as well.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids' Meals

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Meals

An additional pop-up menu for the Kids’ Meal gave us the opportunity to change up any beverages or side dishes.

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids' Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu -- Kids Picks Options

Digital Touchscreen Kiosk Menu — Kids’ Picks Options

It’s at this point that you pay. Once payment is taken care of, you either receive a [Read more…]

News! Be Our Guest Restaurant Breakfast Menus and Reservation Booking Details

We’ve been hearing for what feels like forever that Be Our Guest Restaurant in Disney World’s Magic Kingdom would begin offering breakfast service — and it looks like that rumor is officially confirmed!

In speaking with Disney Cast Members today, we’ve determined that booking for reservations will open up tomorrow! Guests will be able to book dates from March 20th through June 18th, the date which will mark the end of the test period for this new offering at Be Our Guest.

Be Our Guest Restaurant

Be Our Guest Restaurant

So circle Friday, March 20th, on your calendars for the start date for breakfast! To be sure you get immediate updates as they become available, sign up for the Disney Food Blog newsletter!

Now let’s look a little closer at what is anticipated, and just a heads up: it looks like breakfast at Be Our Guest will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before!

Quick Service/Prix Fixe Mashup: Breakfast at Be Our Guest

For lunch service, Be Our Guest recently became the very first counter service spot to offer Advance Dining Reservations. (Dinner service remains table service, and Advance Dining Reservations have been in place for dinner since the restaurant opened.) And now, it seems that they’ll follow suit with lunch for the breakfast service.

Breakfast at Be Our Guest will be a counter service option, but it’s anticipated that advanced ordering will be available, just like at lunch. In addition, the menu will be prix fixe with a twist. Guests will pay one set price, and the meal will include a Deluxe Pastry Basket for sharing at the table, Your Choice of Entree, and a Beverage. (Be sure to continue further in this post for screen shots of the menu!) [Read more…]

News! Enjoy “Eat Local Week” in Disney World

Fun news for those of you visiting Disney World this week!

EatLocalWeek Orlando Logo

Slow Food Orlando is sponsoring Eat Local Week in The City Beautiful — and it’s happening right now!

While the event showcases eating, drinking, and shopping local throughout the Central Florida Region, there are opportunities to celebrate local growers and producers by dining in some of our favorite Disney Restaurants.

Enjoy menus featuring locally-sourced ingredients all this week, showcasing ingredients from Florida farms, ranches, and fisheries.

And the list of participating Disney restaurants includes some of our tried and true favorites. Choose from The Wave…of American Flavors or California Grill in Disney’s Contemporary Resort. We’ve enjoyed delicious seasonal dishes in both.

California Grill view

A Beautiful View and the Season’s Best Flavors at California Grill

At Disney’s Grand Floridian, dine slow-food style at the beautiful Citricos. Or hop over to Disney’s BoardWalk for dinner at Flying Fish Cafe — hands down, one of my absolute favorite spots! (Read our latest review of Flying Fish here.)

Crab Cake

The Flying Fish Cafe is Always an Excellent Choice, Especially for Seafood, Like Their Killer Crabcakes

But we aren’t finished! Yachtsman Steakhouse, known for perfectly prepared steaks and seasonally-inspired sides, will also be participating. Finally, end your Eat Local tour at [Read more…]

Best Disneyland Restaurants for First Timers

Okay. So I tried to come up with the Top Three Disneyland Restaurants for First Timers. But there was no way I could limit my picks to just three. So then, I said, hey, let’s try for the Top Five.

Even still.

So in the end, I cut myself off at Eight. :-)

Disneyland's Matterhorn

Matterhorn!

There is so much good food in Disneyland. Really, it was super hard not to just give you a list of pretty much every restaurant there, and call it a day.

But if you must narrow it down, these are the restaurants that I love. These are the spots that I’d go to every single time if I could. (And mostly, I do.)

Heading to Disneyland, or just dreaming about a pilgrimage there? Check out my picks for the places you have to visit during your very first trip. Whether you’re looking for a meal or a snack, you can’t go wrong with putting these spots on your list.

Cafe Orleans

If I could only eat at one spot in Disneyland for the rest of my life, I’m fairly sure that spot would be Cafe Orleans. Located on New Orleans Square, it’s offers some of the beautiful patio seating that Disneyland is known for.

Outdoor Patio at Cafe Orleans

Outdoor Patio at Cafe Orleans

But I’m going to be honest — Cafe Orleans claims the distinction of offering not just one or two, but three of my favorite Disneyland dishes. (And that’s pretty much all I ever eat there.) First, when you visit here, I insist you order the Pommes Frites. Tossed with Garlic and Parmesan, they’re served with a Cajun Remoulade ramekin. I also insist you order TWO remoulades. At least. Per person.

Cafe Orleans Pommes Frites

Cafe Orleans Pommes Frites

While I love their gumbo here as well, it’s the Monte Cristo Sandwich that I can’t live without. Pockets of bread layered with Ham, Turkey, and Swiss Cheese are lightly battered and deep-fried. Served with Berry Puree for dipping, this is pretty much something everyone should eat at least once in life.

Disneyland's Famous Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo at Cafe Orleans

Not a meat-eater? There’s also an All-Cheese Version. No. Seriously. There is.

Behold. The Three-Cheese Monte Cristo. Did I mention the Double Creme Brie?

Three-Cheese Monte Cristo at Disneyland's Cafe New Orleans

Three-Cheese Monte Cristo at Disneyland’s Cafe New Orleans

But save room for dessert — because you can’t pass on the Mickey Beignets served with Dipping Sauces.

Mickey Beignets with Sauces

Mickey Beignets with Sauces

Have this meal just once, and you can say “I’ve been to Disneyland” properly as far as I’m concerned.

Blue Bayou

But Cafe Orleans has an older, slightly more posh sister — Blue Bayou. And while I usually skip it in favor of Cafe Orleans, if you’re visiting the ‘Land for the first time, you really need to experience this place.

Because more than anything, Blue Bayou is an experience; it’s as much an attraction as a restaurant.

Blue Bayou Atmosphere

Blue Bayou Atmosphere

Because the restaurant is fashioned to look like a verandah on a river’s edge. Look below you into the water, and you see travelers, en route to explore the mysteries of the Pirates of the Caribbean.

Honestly, the food is less important here to me than the “view.” I have enjoyed the New Orleans Signature Gumbo. And in this setting, it’s even better.

New Orleans Signature Gumbo

New Orleans Signature Gumbo

And yep, to be honest, I like to order the Monte Cristo here, too!

Le Special de  Monte Cristo Sandwich

Le Special de Monte Cristo Sandwich

It’s a little fancier (and more expensive), but just as delicious.

Napa Rose

Some of my Disneyland dining choices are obviously sentimental; either I love the restaurant, the food, or both. But it’s not like they’re the tip-top of the culinary pyramid or anything. But then, there’s Napa Rose.

I Love the Napa Rose Outdoor Lounge Area

Start Your Napa Rose Adventure With a Glass of Wine on the Outside Patio

Nestled inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, Napa Rose stands as a testament to fine California fusion cuisine, inspired by fresh farm-to-market ingredients.

Chef Sutton's Chili Base

Chef Sutton’s Chili Base — Even Base Ingredients are Created in House From Scratch

Chef Andrew Sutton is in charge here, and his menus make use of the freshest items. Prepare to be [Read more…]

News! Lunch FastPass Testing to End at Be Our Guest Restaurant

Scoring a Lunch FastPass from the crazy popular Be Our Guest Restaurant has turned into an epic feat of sorts.

We (and countless others of you) have spent the better part of the last year trying to figure out how to get an elusive FastPass for lunch at Be Our Guest. It’s turned into a a full time endeavor for some guests.

And while those staying at Disney Resorts had a glimmer of hope for getting one, Annual Passholders and guests staying off property were shut out of the system altogether.

But change is clearly on the horizon. Today, we’re getting official word that Lunch FastPasses will no longer be available as of February 25, 2015.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Lunch FastPass Testing Will Be Ending Soon

Be Our Guest Restaurant Lunch FastPass Testing Will Be Ending Soon

According to this banner message that we’ve just discovered on the Be Our Guest Lunch Website given to resort guests, Lunch FastPasses have always and ever been tests. Lunch FastPasses will officially come to an end on February 24. The messages goes on to state that, beginning February 25, [Read more…]

Review: New Year’s Eve Dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table

Dinner inside the Magic Kingdom’s quintessential castle at Walt Disney World is a remarkable experience any night of the year!

But imagine hobnobbing with Cinderella and feasting inside the royal dining room at Cinderella’s Royal Table on New Year’s Eve. Last year, my family crossed this adventure off of our bucket list — right before the clock struck midnight!

New Year’s Eve Tips

First, make your Advance Dining Reservation as soon as possible. For the most popular restaurants (especially during holidays!!), you’ll need to book 180 days prior!

view of fireworks from Cinderella's Royal Table

You’ll find recommendations to arrive the Magic Kingdom early and stay all day and night. Without a break. In the massive crowds. This commando touring is not my family’s style. So I researched when the Magic Kingdom had closed and re-opened to guests for the past several years.

I found that the Magic Kingdom historically reached crowd capacity in the early morning and afternoon with re-openings by late afternoon/early evening. Even with our pre-paid dinner, we took our chances and it worked perfectly! Tip: You do not have to stay in the Magic Kingdom ALL day and night unless you must have a view of the castle forecourt for fireworks time. By 8PM on December 31, 2013, the Magic Kingdom had re-opened to all guests, including families staying off-site!

We spent the morning at the Animal Kingdom (late breakfast at Tusker House!!) and rested at our hotel the rest of the day. Arriving the Magic Kingdom about 6PM, we were admitted with no problems. Once inside, we experienced the thickest crowds that we’ve ever encountered anywhere. We formed a family chain by holding the back of each others’ shirts and somehow made our way to the back of the park.

Passing people sleeping on blankets as they saved their coveted spots in front of the castle for the evening’s fireworks display — we made our way to New Fantasyland. And the crowds were… gone! We practically had Big Top Treats and the area behind it all to ourselves. We got a snack and relaxed at an outdoor table. Tip: there were barely lines for the character meet and greets in this section of the park!

New Year's Eve Snack in New Fantasyland

New Year’s Eve Snack in New Fantasyland

Our advance dining reservation was for 9:30PM. It was especially crowded waiting to be let in to the castle; and believe me, we weren’t allowed to approach the podium even a minute before our reservation time. There was only a small area in which we could wait as the back of the castle was already roped off for the fireworks. Once inside though, we experienced pure magic!

Holiday Decor

Holiday Decor

After photographs with Cinderella, we waited in the lobby to be beckoned to the dining room.

Grand Hall

Grand Hall

Among the last diners of the night, we witnessed Cinderella playing with children. She actually played hide and seek with them all throughout the lobby. It was an intimate moment with a fairytale princess that we reveled in watching, and I’m sure the children and their parents cherished the experience.

Hide 'n Seek with Cinderella!

Hide ‘n Seek with Cinderella!

After our meal, we had to wait by the outdoor podium for the castle show to end. Once done, we were able to exit into Fantasyland. We found a place to sit on the pavement in front of Mickey’s PhilharMagic and waited for the fireworks. And they were amazing!

New Year's Eve Fireworks

New Year’s Eve Fireworks

Ringing in the New Year at the Magic Kingdom was an amazing experience. We continued to walk around the park allowing the crowds to disperse. We found very few crowds in Frontierland where a DJ was still spinning tunes!

DJ Entertains on New Year's Eve

DJ Entertains on New Year’s Eve

So, let’s check out our meal…

Atmosphere

Cinderella was holding court next to a Christmas tree decorated in rich silver, gold, and blue!

Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Once you ascend the winding red-carpeted stairway (or take the more modern elevator), you’ll step in to a medieval dining room with a vaulted ceiling.

Vaulted Ceiling at Cinderella's Royal Table

Vaulted Ceiling at Cinderella’s Royal Table

The table setting was enhanced with purple napkins and a gold table runner. The silver cutlery resembles crossed swords!

Table Setting

Table Setting

Gentlemen (young and young-at-heart) receive swords as souvenirs.

Souvenir Swords

Souvenir Swords

The menu’s cover echoes the jaw-dropping stained glass features found throughout the castle.

Regal Menu Cover

Regal Menu Cover

Eats

The bread basket and accompanying butter were delivered promptly.

Bread Basket

Bread Basket

With a choice of appetizers, hubby and son went with the Royal Tasting of Cheeses and accompaniments. Both of them enjoyed sampling the different options and gave it a thumbs up as a starter!

Trio of Cheeses

Trio of Cheese

For my picky palate, I requested a garden salad with ranch dressing (from the kids menu!).

Garden Salad

Garden Salad

For entrees, note that the accompaniments change up frequently.

The guys had no difficulty choosing the Beef Tenderloin. Again, they both found the steak to be a delicious option but not nearly as good as previous steak entrees at [Read more…]

Guest Review: Victoria & Albert’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

While an exclusive meal at the Chef’s Table at Victoria & Albert’s is a unique experience, the main dining room exudes romance. This week, guest author Michelle Buchecker reviews this table service restaurant at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

Located on the second floor in the main building of the Grand Floridian Resort, Victoria and Albert’s puts the “fine” in “fine dining”.

This table-service restaurant has won many awards and accolades for its fine food and superb service. The restaurant is divided into three seating areas: Main Dining room, Queen Victoria’s room, and Chefs Table. The Chefs table is in the kitchen. There is only 1 table and it often books well in advance. The Queen Victoria room seats 8 people and has only 1 seating a night. The 8 people may be all 1 party or 4 parties of 2 people or whatever ends up being reserved. But once they hit 8 people they close reservations.

Victoria and Albert's Entrance

Victoria and Albert’s Entrance

The main dining room (where we dined) has about 20 tables and has 2 seatings per night. This is a prix fixe meal for $135. A wine pairing is an extra $65. In addition, the menu will have “upcharge” items, which I will mention in the details below.

Victoria and Albert's Seating

Victoria and Albert’s Seating

The dress code is jacket and dress pants for men, and nice dress or pants for women. Ties are optional. We did see 1 family where the 2 men were dressed in tuxes and the woman was in a long cocktail dress. Most women were in nice dresses or skirts, but I did see one lady who was more casually dressed.

Our reservation was for 5:15PM on a Friday night. We arrived about 5:00PM and the doors were still locked. There were several other couples seated in the lounge area that is shared by Victoria and Albert’s and Citricos. Shortly after, a hostess came and asked people their names and escorted them into the restaurant based on their reservation time. Reservations are staggered, my guess is to not overwhelm the staff all at once. At about 5:10 we were escorted in and shown our table.

Atmosphere

As you enter the restaurant there is a [Read more…]

Cinderella’s Dining Experience at Citricos with Magical Add-On Options

Cinderella’s digs will be closed to diners as of January 5, 2015. But there’s no reason to panic as she’s only sprucing up her dining room, Cinderella’s Royal Table. The refurbished royal room has an anticipated re-opening date of March 7, 2015 — subject to change, of course.

Guests seeking royal dining experiences will not feel left out as the Disney Princesses will take up residence at Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian from January 8 – March 3, 2015.

And all of the traditions that we’ve grown to love at Cindy’s will carry over to the temporary residence. Yes, Cinderella will greet guests upon arrival, Disney princesses will grant photographs and autographs while visiting guests tableside, and the Maqical Wishing Ceremony will still be performed.

This interactive performance will include Cinderella and the Disney Princesses, of course. Wishing Wands and Swords will be bestowed upon the children so that they can join in the fun.

Wands and swords for interactive fun

Wands and swords for interactive fun

Want more? Take your Cinderella’s Dining experience at Citricos to a whole new level with an extravagant add-on gift. Surprise your little loved one with a personalized Princess Proclamation. It’s over-the-top! Perfect for a special occasion!!

Dreams become reality when your princess arrives the table where a “My Disney Fairytale Proclamation” signed by a Fairy Tale Princess is already waiting. And of course, there is bling! A gemstone tiara and crystal light-up slipper will make her smile sparkle. Plus, she’ll be able to don a pink plush princess cape (it even turns into a blanket!!) for when the Palace turns cold. This add-on is currently priced at $285.95.

A fairytale come true!

A fairytale come true!

Further enhance Cinderella’s Dining Experience with [Read more…]

News! Booking Begins TODAY for 2015 Star Wars Weekends Dining Packages

Booking for Star Wars Weekends Dining Packages will return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World in 2015 and booking begins December 3, 2014.

Star Wars Character Meal Backdrop

Dinner at the Hollywood & Vine restaurant and breakfast at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater will offer these galactic experiences May 4th through June 14, 2015. Note that the character meals are available all week — not just on weekends!

Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood and Vine

At Hollywood and Vine, Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine will feature Disney characters wearing their Star Wars best as they celebrate the greatest saga ever told! See our review from this year’s experience here!

You may get the chance to meet Ewok Chip & Dale, Jedi Mickey, Leia Minnie, Darth Goofy, and/or Stormtrooper Donald. Star Wars décor, themed foods, and music create a galactic experience. Advance Dining Reservations will be offered from 4:15-8PM.

Ewok Chip and Dale welcome you!

Ewok Chip and Dale welcome you!

Cost: [Read more…]

News! Be Our Guest Restaurant Currently Serving Only FastPass+ Guests, No Walk-Ups

UPDATE: Please note that as of February 25, 2015, FastPass+ is no longer available, as Be Our Guest Restaurant began to accept Advanced Dining Reservations for lunch. For further information, please click here

This morning, we began hearing rumors of another twist in the having-lunch-at-Be Our Guest Restaurant-Saga.

According to our friends at AllEars, Disney is now only permitting guests who have a FastPass+ reservation to dine at Be Our Guest Restaurant during lunch service.

Effectively, this means that, at least for now, you no longer have the option to stand in line and wait for a table during the lunch service at Be Our Guest Restaurant in Magic Kingdom’s New Fantasyland.

While this may be welcome news for resort guests, it remains up in the air at press time what impact this will have on day guests, annual passholders, and others who are not staying at a Disney resort or who cannot get a FastPass+.

This is a developing story, so we’ll be sure to keep you informed as details emerge! For now, it looks like you’ll need to take advantage of a Be Our Guest FastPass+ Reservation Invitation, should one come your way.

Be Our Guest FastPass+ Reservation Invitation

Be Our Guest FastPass+ Reservation Invitation

It remains to be seen if this is [Read more…]