Review: Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner at Garden Grill in Epcot

Today, we’re sharing with you our latest visit to Garden Grill Restaurant for Chip ‘n’ Dale’s Harvest Feast Dinner!

Garden Grill is basically one of my favorite character meals. First, it’s a character meal with really great interaction. And while Chip ‘n’ Dale are the headliners, here, you also get to hang out with Farmer Mickey and Pluto!

But beyond the characters, we enjoy the unique ambiance that Garden Grill offers. If you’ve never visited the restaurant, wait ’til you see what it does! Yes — DOES!

We’ve also had some pretty fantastic meals here. Breakfast is virtually a tradition for my family.

But today, we’re visiting in the evening. We’ve enjoyed past dinners here. Let’s see if the trend continues.

Atmosphere

Looking for Garden Grill Restaurant? Hang a right after Spaceship Earth and head toward The Land Pavilion in Future World West.

The Land Pavilion

The Land Pavilion

Walkways line the perimeter walls inside the building and lead you down to the pavilion’s three levels, which host The Circle of Life film on the right, and Living with the Land, Soarin’, and Sunshine Seasons (one of our favorite counter service spots) on the bottom. There’s also an elevator if you’d prefer it to walking.

The Land Ceiling

The Land Ceiling

You’ll find the Garden Grill directly across from the entrance.

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

And here’s where we talk about what Garden Grill does: it rotates. In fact, it’s the only restaurant in Orlando — and only one of a handful in the world — that spins.

Now, just in case the thought of a rotating restaurant doesn’t sound all that appetizing, we promise you that Garden Grill spins at a snail’s pace. We aren’t talking spinning teacups here.

Garden Grill Wide View

Garden Grill Wide View

Why does it spin? Well, there’s more than one way to check out the attractions within Living with the Land! As the restaurant rotates, guests are treated to scenes from the ride. This mural acts as sort of a gateway.

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

You’ll visit a farmhouse — or see it from above, anyway. I think this scene is particularly fun, because you get to look inside one of the windows from this vantage point!

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

Farmhouse Scene in Living with the Land

You’ll also see extremes in landscapes. As you view a rainforest scene, and watch it morph into a desert scene as you travel.

Rainforest

Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill

The Desert

Your vehicle for sightseeing is your table, of course.

Tables are arranged in a sort of stadium seating pattern on two levels around the restaurant. Top tier tables are your garden variety rectangular tables, like you see here.

Table and Seating

Table and Seating

On the lower level, semi-circular booths face out, giving you the best view of the scenes you pass.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

And did you notice? Mickey makes an appearance before your meal ever starts! :-D

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

And that brings me to Reason Number Two that you might want to visit Garden Grill: the characters. Let’s check ‘em out.

Characters

One of my top reasons for visiting Garden Grill is the character interaction. In fact, it’s one of my Top Two Favorite Character Meals in Walt Disney World! Of course, I love when I can see Mickey during a character meet and greet. And here, he’s dressed in his farmer finest.

Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse

Mickey is joined by his faithful pup sidekick, Pluto.

Pluto

Pluto

But this is, after all, Chip ‘n’ Dale’s gig. So you’re sure to see the playful pair as you enjoy your dinner.

Chip

Chip

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

And that’s one of the coolest things about Garden Grill — it’s not just the stellar character interaction, but the amount of interaction you get. The restaurant is fairly small in size, so that means you normally have the chance to visit with characters more than once during your meal.

Eats

So we’ve talked about the fact that Garden Grill rotates, thus making it something kinda special. And, of course, any day that you can share your meal with Chip ‘n’ Dale and Friends is gonna be a good one.

But how about the food? Well, the good news is — that’s pretty great, too.

Garden Grill serves its meals family style, meaning that shareable platters are brought to the table, and you can ask for more of anything you like. That also means that everyone dining has the choice of a non-alcoholic beverage as part of the prix fixe price of his or her meal. But if you’d like, you can also order from a list of special drinks, including cocktails, mocktails, beer, and wine.

Special Drinks Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Special Drinks Menu — Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu -- Click to Enlarge

Wine Menu — Click to Enlarge

You don’t really choose what you’re getting at Garden Grill (unless you have special dietary needs; talk to your server in that case). The offerings are pretty much standard. You’ll start with warm Dinner Rolls, served with a side of Whipped Butter.

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Rolls with Whipped Butter

Next comes the Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad. During our visit, the salad included greens, hard boiled egg, radishes, and grape tomatoes. It’s lightly dressed with a creamy dressing.

Harvest-Inspired Farmer's Salad

Harvest-Inspired Farmer’s Salad

The main course is the combination platter with sliced Homestyle Pot Roast, sliced Turkey Breast, and Italian Sausage served with sautéed Peppers and Onions. Sides on the platter include Mashed Potatoes and Bacon and Leek Stuffing.

The Italian Sausage is new, having replaced the previously served Sustainable Fish of the Day.

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

Platter of Meats, Mashed Potatoes, Dressing, and Gravy

But that’s not all. You get additional veggie sides, like Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes, plus Macaroni and Cheese.

Platter of Sides -- Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

Platter of Sides — Mac & Cheese, Green Beans, and Sweet Potato Fries

For dessert, it’s a shareable Short Cake topped with Fruit Compote and Vanilla Bean Whipped Cream.

Short Cake

Short Cake

Some folks may call this a cobbler. Whatever name you give it, the rich cake and super saucy berry topping is a winner with everyone at the table.

Nosh or Not?

You’ll enjoy Garden Grill if:

  • You’re looking for a great character meal that combines great food, MICKEY, and more fun aspects
  • You have a nostalgic affinity for Epcot (Living with the Land!!!)
  • You’re touring Epcot with small children. The rest of the table service restaurants in Epcot can be ho hum for little kids.

You may want to skip Garden Grill if:

  • You’ve got a busy touring day and would rather stick to counter service
  • You’re in an adults-only party and nobody much cares about characters

Overall

After lots of visits, I still love Garden Grill Restaurant.

I think I’ve laid out a pretty convincing argument. When you visit Garden Grill, you’re getting a three-way combo of unique environment, great characters, and excellent (and plentiful) food. And when it comes to characters and kids, I personally lean toward a character meal where the food comes to you, because it’s so much easier to juggle kids, characters, and food when you don’t have to worry about visiting a buffet.

But even beyond the convenience of Garden Grill, the characters, and the novelty of the place, I think this place just offers really great food. It may be kind of standard fare, but it’s thoughtfully prepared. And when you’re paying Disney prices, it’s great when you can enjoy a character meal as much for the food as for everything else.

If you haven’t tried it before, book an advance dining reservation for Garden Grill Restaurant. I think you’ll be pleased.

Read Our Review of Garden Grill’s Breakfast Options Here!

Now, I’d love to hear from you! Is Garden Grill Restaurant one of your favorites? Let us know in comments!

Review: “Frozen” Premium Package and Dessert Party at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

We’ve got a holiday surprise for you today… . I’ll give you a hint — it involves Frozen, dessert, and more Christmas lights than you can possibly imagine!

Well, maybe it’s not really a surprise — after all, you already saw the title at the top — but still!

Osborne Family Lights

Osborne Family Lights

On a recent trip to Walt Disney World to check out some of the early holiday decorations and events, I bought a ticket for the Frozen Holiday Premium Package. This package includes reserved viewing in the Premiere Theater for the “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration”, plus a unique Holiday Lithograph and Frozen Pin. There’s also a Frozen Dessert Party — which includes an all you care to enjoy spread of sweets and beverages. And the party was taking place right underneath the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in a reserved area!!

Can I be honest? I really didn’t care about the Frozen stuff. I don’t have a “Frozen-aged” kid at the moment, and while I saw the movie, I didn’t need to see it a bajillion times. So the big reason why I booked this party — besides wanting to show YOU guys what it was all about, of course — was to get a VIP vantage point for the Osborne lights.

Seriously, most of the time when I go to the Lights, I’m shoulder to shoulder with everyone else there. It’s PACKED many nights, so I was thinking it might be worth the money for the dessert party if I’d be able to enjoy the lights without re-living my “on-the-subway-going-to-work-during-rush-hour-in-NYC” days.

Unfortunately, the evening that I attended the event, the weather was…well…crap. One of those Orlando days when it just pours…and pours…and pours…with no break at all.

Anna and Elsa Cupcakes!

Cupcakes AND Lights?!?

BUT — the show must go on. And so, with the dessert-eating portion of the event moved to a covered location (Studio Catering Co.), we still had the opportunity to view the Osborne Family Lights. But they were not “dancing” due to the weather and TORNADO WARNINGS (wha???!!!???!?!). And, did I mention it was pouring? So it wasn’t all that hard to find a spot to watch whatever WAS happening out there, since everyone else was smart enough to go back to their hotels during said tornado warnings.

Fortunately, our friend, Mealtrip, took some pics on his Frozen party night that show you what the event looks like when the weather behaves itself!

Let’s head back to the Streets of America for a close up of the festivities.

Atmosphere

If you’ve purchased tickets for the Frozen Holiday Premium Package, you’ll want to head to Guest Services first, where you’ll pick up your credential. Hold onto this. It gets you into the different experiences included in your package.

Frozen Dessert Party Credential

Frozen Dessert Party Credential

Consult the back of the badge for a map of the route you should take to get to the area where the party is set up.

Back of Credential with Map

Back of Credential with Map

In addition, you’ll find a rip-off coupon-type thing at the bottom of the credential; you’ll need this to pick up your Special Pin and Lithograph. I waited until the end to pick mine up so I wouldn’t risk setting it down someplace, but I’ll go ahead and show it to you now.

Pin and Lithograph

Pin and Lithograph

So, in order for this to make sense, I’m going to show you what the Frozen Dessert Party should look like — and then what it looked like for me.

Normal Frozen Dessert Party Setup

When it’s not raining, you can expect to attend the Frozen Dessert Party in a special reserved area on the Avenue of the Americas. For those who know DHS well, it’s called the “teardrop.”

Here’s a shot of the seating area at dusk before the lights came on. You can already see the crowds building in anticipation of the lights coming on.

Seating at Dusk Before the Lights Come On

Seating at Dusk Before the Lights Come On

And once they’re on — lookout! This area can become extremely crowded. And that can become the opposite of fun very quickly. But the seating area of the dessert party gives you a fair amount of elbow room to enjoy the display.

Seating with the Lights On

Seating with the Lights On

Another View of the Lights and Seating

Another View of the Lights and Seating

Tables and Lights

Tables and Lights

Here’s a shot of a Beverage Table.

Beverage Table and Gorgeous Lights

Beverage Table and Gorgeous Lights

Tables laden with sweets are positioned with [Read more…]