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…


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


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: Dinner at Les Chefs de France in Epcot

Join us in welcoming guest author Eric Lane! Today, he’s sharing a review of Les Chefs de France in Walt Disney World’s Epcot. Bon Appetit!

Based on its location and consistently solid food quality it’s no wonder that Les Chefs is one of the most popular establishments in Epcot.


Sitting right on the promenade of World Showcase Lagoon, Chefs de France is a prominent restaurant. Built to replicate a French bistro, the large open interior is fronted by a long, glass sunroom. Those walking along the World Showcase Lagoon can see the diners all the way in the back, and those in the back can see all of those walking by.

Les Chefs de France Window Tables

Our reservation was at 8:50PM and a positively bubbly maître d’ seated us right in the middle of the sunroom window. Seats against the glass were for two, we were one row away from the window. Because the whole restaurant is an open room, you can see all the waiters, everyone getting up and down, and all the people walking outside.

Les Chefs de France Back Sunroom at Night

A large floodlight outside provided an amber warmth that calmed all the hustle and bustle.

Front of Les Chefs de France at Night

We ate as the restaurant closed and slowly cleared until it was just our table and about 5 others when we were finished at 9:45PM.


Since we were at a French restaurant I decided to start with the French onion soup. The cheese was a little sharper than I thought it would be, which caught me off guard. Although unexpected it added a welcome bite to the flavor. The onion and beef flavors were much more subtle, but the cheese didn’t overpower them.

French Onion Soup

French Onion Soup

Another unusual touch was that I got the heel of the bread, which made it a little difficult to cut out a good hunk of bread with my spoon. Overall good, but not enough to stop me from sampling another appetizer next time I eat here.

The next dish was the ungainly titled “Filet de Saumon, pommes de terre ecrasess, au buerre et chboulette, sur coulis de tomate et poivron rouge.” That was the bold faced name of the dish, but instead of saying it while ordering or the direct English translation of “broiled salmon, smashed potatoes with butter and chives, served on a tomato and red pepper sauce” I was able to get away with just asking for the salmon filet. I appreciated that the sauce was not served on the salmon, but placed on the plate before the potatoes and salmon. It let me dip the salmon in the slightly spicy sauce and get just the right amount on the fish for my taste.



The salmon itself was perfectly cooked and seasoned with a little black pepper and just enough other spices to bring out the flavor of the fish. The potatoes were simple and added nothing of note to the dish other than a starch. It was a good, straightforward main course. (Note; the accompaniments on this dish have changed on the menu since the review was written.)

My friend, who despite not being a foodie is my BDFF (best Disney friend forever), had the baked macaroni with cream and gruyere cheese. She enjoyed it but I absolutely loved it. Flavorful, simple, and among the best [Read more…]

Review: Carioca’s on the Disney Magic Cruise Ship

Today we’re visiting the newest Disney dining establishment on the high seas… Carioca’s!


The Disney Magic is Disney Cruise Line’s original ship. After fifteen years of sailing, she recently underwent her first lengthy renovation (referred to as a “re-Imagineering” by Disney Cruise Lines :) ). Several of the dining and adult lounge areas were refreshed and enhanced, while others received a complete redesign.

With the ship’s launch in 1998 came the introduction of Disney’s unique approach to dinner seating known as Rotational Dining. Instead of gathering in one large dining room every night, guests aboard Disney Cruise ships are assigned to a rotation among three different dining rooms. Their table servers rotate with them, getting to know their likes and dislikes (as well as any special dietary needs), allowing for a more seamless dining experience.

Welcome to Carioca's

With the Magic’s recent post-renovation relaunch, what was formerly Parrot Cay in the dining rotation has become Carioca’s!


Carioca’s is inspired by and named after Donald Duck’s pal, the one and only José Carioca! You may know José from two Disney films from the early 1940s: Saludos Amigos and The Three Cabelleros.


Even if you aren’t familiar with these films, you may have enjoyed sailing and singing along with José, Donald, and their third amigo, Panchito, on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion!

Gran Fiesta Tour

“Where one, two, and three goes, [Read more…]

Photo Tour! Re-Imagined Restaurants and Lounges on the Disney Magic Cruise Ship!

Remember when we told you that the Disney Magic cruise ship was about to get a full makeover?? Well, today we have an awesome photo tour for you!!

The Re-Imagined Disney Magic

The Disney Magic – The original cruise ship of the Disney Cruise Line – first set sail in 1998. Fifteen years later, she has just launched again after a lengthy stay in dry-dock where she spent her time being “re-imagined.”

Re-imagining is more than simply being refurbished or refreshed. Some spaces around the ship were entirely redesigned while others were enhanced. She sure is a beauty!

Disney Magic

Since the re-imagined areas are primarily public spaces, this, of course, means that some of the dining areas and adult lounges were re-imagined or refreshed as well! Though some spaces, already timeless, remained unchanged or just refreshed.

Let’s have a look inside this amazing vessel and see what’s new!


The biggest update to the dining scene on the Disney Magic is the addition of Carioca’s.

Carioca's Entrance

What was previously Parrot Cay now pays homage to one of Donald Duck’s [Read more…]

Review: Cinderella’s Royal Table Dinner in the Magic Kingdom

Gather, Subjects of the Royal Kingdom! It’s time to head to the castle for the dinner feast at Cinderella’s Royal Table!

Eating INSIDE Cinderella Castle is a quintessential experience for guests who visit Walt Disney World. After all, the castle has served as the icon for Disney itself in the past, and is the symbol for Disney World’s flagship park, Magic Kingdom.

Any guest visiting Magic Kingdom, whether they are 4 or 94, has dreamed of seeing inside the majestic building. Dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table gives you the best taste of the royal residence itself. Plus,  you get an audience with Cinderella herself as well as her Princess friends.

This is the type of experience that Disney dreams are made of. As such, an advance dining reservation here continues to be a tough one to score. While it may be a little easier to get now that Be Our Guest Restaurant is open and pulling lots of guests in, you should still plan to call 180 days out if you hope to secure a table.

We thoroughly enjoyed breakfast at Cinderella’s Royal Table a while back. Time to see if dinner still measures up to that experience (I hadn’t been here for dinner in ages)! But first, let’s take a look around.


Inspired by some of Europe’s most beautiful castles (plus the fortress from a certain animated feature film we all love), the interior of Cinderella Castle is every bit as grandiose as the outside.

The Grand Hall

The Grand Hall and waiting area lends a great deal of happy anticipation to the experience. Only guests with advance dining reservations — apologies, but no prying eyes permitted — are allowed beyond the heavy double wooden doors that lead into the Grand Hall.

And once you’re there, you’ll have an opportunity to visit with Cinderella for a bit as she welcomes you into her home.

We were really fortunate to capture some great shots of the hall while it was empty. Here, you can see the weaponry and shields that adorn the stone walls. Heavy chandeliers and Gothic arches punctuate the scene. Seating in the hall is available while you await your visit with Cinderella and your admittance into the dining room.The low benches are plush and comfortable.

Entry Hall Seating and the Elevator to the Dining Room

Here’s your chance to [Read more…]

Guest Review: Cinderella’s Royal Table Dinner

Welcome back guest author Katie McFarland as she takes us to Cinderella’s Royal Table in the Magic Kingdom!

Cinderella’s Royal Table is one of my favorite restaurants in Disney World. The main reason for this is obvious: it’s in a castle (duh!).

With that said, the food is also (usually) fantastic and appropriately portion controlled!

Let’s take a look inside…


The restaurant entrance is located inside the castle walkway directly across from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. You have to check in at the hostess booth in front of the door to gain access to the restaurant.

Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom!

Beautiful Mural!

Beware!: Don’t arrive too early (more than 15 minutes) or they will not let you in! My husband and I learned that the hard way and we had to kill time in Sir Mickey’s (oh darn!).

Restaurant's Check-In Podium and Entrance.

Once you enter the castle, you are treated to an opulent foyer complete with: knight in shining armor, tapestries, grand chandeliers, stained glass windows featuring the birds from Cinderella, and of course: Jaq and Gus.

Jaq and Gus

While in the foyer, each party is treated to a photo op with Cinderella as part of their meal package. And then comes the *gong*gong*gong* announcing the dining party that will be escorted in the dining area of the restaurant.

They probably do this to keep nosy neighbors like me out of the restaurant and from awkwardly [Read more…]

Review: Artist Point in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Editor’s Note: The Buffalo strip is now a three meat combo of buffalo steak, venison loin, and wild game sausage.

There are some signature dining restaurants in Disney World that really don’t get mentioned very much, and are held in the shadow of greats like California Grill and Victoria & Albert’s.

Artist Point in the Wilderness Lodge is one of these, but it’s actually the perfect spot if you’re looking for a quiet, out-of-the-way restaurant where you can enjoy some truly innovative eats.

Over the past several years I’ve dined at Artist Point four times and while my first visit was a rocky start, the subsequent three visits have been delightful. I’d love to hear YOUR comments about Artist Point!


Artist Point, because of it’s location in the Wilderness Lodge, is themed to the American Northwest. You can expect Craftsman furniture, a slightly art deco feel, and sturdy, simple decor.



Restaurant dining room

The artwork is the true draw in the main dining room at Artist Point (natch). The walls sport gorgeous murals by celebrated artist Thomas Moran, who is noted for his “larger-than-life interpretations of the West during the late 1800’s.”

Smaller paintings were inspired by Albert Bierstadt works. Bierstadt sketched landscapes of the [Read more…]

Review: Epcot’s Bistro de Paris

One of Disney World’s “signature” restaurants, Bistro de Paris is a truly elegant getaway from stereotypical theme park dining.

The restaurant is the concept of French chefs Roger Verge, Paul Bocuse, and the late Gaston Lenotre; these three also created concepts for — and originally ran — Chefs de France downstairs from the Bistro and the Boulangerie Patisserie next door. Today, Chef Bocuse’s son keeps an eye on the proceedings here.

Bistro is expensive and high-end, and service is usually excellent. I’ve heard raves about this restaurant, but I’ve also heard that it can be disappointing. My review lands somewhere in the middle.


The entrance to the restaurant can be tough to find! Guests must walk into the France pavilion and all the way around Chefs de France before coming to a small, residential-looking door marked with a small Bistro sign and menu. I can imagine wandering around the pavilion for quite some time if I were looking for this place in the dark!

Once you enter, things become much more…refined. The general feeling of the Bistro lobby is one of richness.

Entryway Ceiling


The deep red carpeting, brass fixtures, milk-glass light treatments, and drop-dead gorgeous art nouveau staircase and “chandelier” are [Read more…]

Guest Review: Artist Point

You guys are in for a treat today. One of the best food photographers I know has agreed to write a guest blog about her experience at Artist Point in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge! Thanks to Morgan Rooks for this culinary adventure.

Artist Point

Artist Point

I had long wanted to try Artist Point, located at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge. I would often eye the menu listed at AllEars, my eyes lingering over particularly alluring delights like venison pot stickers and cedar plank roasted salmon, while my fiance would frown at the suggestion — having remembered a bad experience from years past.

Finally, my chance would come in January 2010, due to my dear fiance’s parents, who have rekindled their love for the establishment. It was the last day of our vacation when we boarded the boat from Magic Kingdom. The hull cut its way through inky black waters, past the lights of the Contemporary, headed to the dock of Wilderness Lodge. We reached our destination, and the long wooden dock, flanked with intricate lanterns that called us into our Pacific Northwest inspired destination.

Wilderness Lodge Walkway From Dock

Wilderness Lodge Walkway From Dock

The restaurant is elegant, yet earthy and rustic, which gives it a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere. Lighting — styled like the lanterns we saw outside — hung over head, and a wall of long windows offers a view of the wooded lands that surround the resort.

Artist Point Lanterns

Artist Point Lanterns

Tall wooden beams emulate the majestic trees of the [Read more…]