Review: Dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant in Disney World’s Epcot

We’re heading back to Epcot’s Future World for dinner at Garden Grill Restaurant!

This is a DFB favorite, and it comes together as Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast. The dinner features an all-you-care-to-eat meal served Family Style.

If you’ve ever shied away from eating in Future World in favor of the more varied cuisine available in World Showcase, it may be time to give Disney World’s only rotating restaurant a chance.

Please join me, Chip ‘n Dale, Pluto, and the main Mouse himself (MICKEY!) at the Harvest Feast for some food and fun!

Garden Grill Sign

Garden Grill Sign

The Atmosphere

The atmosphere? Well, that depends… You see, the Garden Grill rotates over the various scenes of the Living with the Land attraction, so what you see depends on where in the rotation you are in the moment.

It takes about one hour to make the full rotation, so it’s slow enough that you don’t really notice the feel of it while you are dining — at least, I didn’t. I was too busy enjoying the views!  Take a look…

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- The Farmhouse

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — The Farmhouse Dog!

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill -- Rainforest

Living with the Land as seen from Garden Grill — Rainforest

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Transition from Rainforest to Desert

Garden Grill Mural

Garden Grill Mural

We enjoyed all of this from our table on the lower level of this two-level restaurant. It’s definitely a score if you are seated on the lower level, which is fashioned with booths as opposed to the chairs and tables on the upper level.

Garden Grill booth

Garden Grill booth

The booths provide more of a “front row seat” experience for the attraction, so it’s worth asking at check-in to see if you can get one. I wasn’t expecting a booth since it was just my husband and me, but several of the booths are divided with drop-leaf tables, allowing for a larger family on one side, and a pair on the other. The drop-leaf, of course, can be raised to accommodate a larger group, if needed.

Larger Booth -- Family Side

Larger Booth — Family Side

Larger Booth -- Side for a pair

Larger Booth — Side for a pair

Of course, the special touches are in full effect here — check out this table setting! Remind you of a certain character?

Mickey Table Setting :)

Mickey Table Setting :)

Speaking of… The one thing with the ability to distract you from the attraction views is… well, it’s actually FOUR things: the Characters!

Here’s Chip striking a pose in front of the Prairie Desert.

Chip strikes a pose

Chip strikes a pose

Pluto stopped by to say “Hello!”



Dale plotted how he might sneak some of our food…

Dale Plotting...

Dale Plotting…

… but I informed him it was people food, and not well-suited for chipmunks. (That makes for a sad chipmunk!)

Sad Dale

Sad Dale

Okay, this next shot is not a shining example of terrific photography ;) . But I hope it conveys that moment of excitement when you first spot THE EARS over a nearby booth (c’mon, you can admit it!), and realize who will be at your table shortly…



Farmer Mickey Mouse — in OVERALLS, no less!!!

Farmer Mickey

Farmer Mickey

At the start of the meal, I was a bit [Read more…]

Guest Review: ‘Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Resort

Join us in welcoming guest author Kevin Carpenter with a dinner review of ‘Ohana. This Polynesian Resort restaurant at Walt Disney World is popular for its all-you-care-to-eat fare served family-style. Aloha!

Dining at ‘Ohana is not an experience entered into without expectation. The restaurant regularly claims a spot among the best table-service venues on Disney property and it enjoys word of mouth that is nothing short of exemplary. As such, reservations go quickly.

After years of close calls and near misses, I finally secured a dinner reservation – for a party of nineteen, no less – and my hopes were sky high for my first visit to ‘Ohana.

The Entrance to ‘Ohana

As we arrived at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, a large crowd already milled about outside ‘Ohana’s entrance. Seeing this, I feared our large group would be in for quite a wait. After all, our party – extended family members enjoying a Disney vacation together for the first time in many years – was well used to lengthy waits for tables. And this night looked to be no different.

We checked in and, much to my surprise, were immediately whisked to our table. I should have known that there is very little the Cast Members of Walt Disney World are not prepared to handle.


From my very first steps past the Tiki idols guarding the entranceway, I was impressed by ‘Ohana’s ambiance. In true Disney style, the interior theming strikes a fine balance between subtlety and traditional Hawaiian decor.

Tiki idols stand watch as you enter ‘Ohana

As we reached our long table, one thing became abundantly clear – we had made the perfect choice for our trip’s centerpiece meal. The word ‘Ohana, meaning family, would prove to be more than simply the name of the restaurant. Everything – from the unending salads and appetizers to the main course and dessert – would be served family style. Even the servers are considered honorary “cousins”. What place could be better for a large family meal?!

While we had many cousins gathered around our table, it was our server, “Cousin” Candy, who stood out the most. She may have been a member of the family for just this one evening, but she fit right in with remarkable warmth and attentiveness.

Where all the magic happens – ‘Ohana’s grilling area


We had scarcely taken our seats before the table was filled with the incredibly tasty Welcome Bread and bowls of salad with passion fruit dressing. I could have been quite content to savor the bread’s rich tones of pineapple and coconut all night, but the few ‘Ohana veterans among us had warned not to fill up on the bread.

Welcome Bread

Salad with Passion Fruit Dressing

Next came plates of honey-coriander chicken wings and pork dumplings. These were labeled appetizers, but they could have sufficed as meals unto themselves. Especially as everything was all-you-can-eat!

Tangy and delicious, the trays of wings and dumplings demanded refilling several times. Thankfully, my seat at the end of the table afforded an excellent view of the grilling area, where skewers upon skewers of meat and shrimp delivered a firm reminder that the best was yet to come.

Chicken Wings & Pork Dumplings

Several of us requested drinks from the bar, including one who chose to fully immerse himself in the evening’s Hawaiian spirit by ordering the Lapu Lapu. This blend of rum and fruit juices comes in extravagant style – served inside a hollowed-out pineapple.

Much to the chagrin of the one who ordered it, the Lapu Lapu made its way around the table as everyone wanted a taste. It received high marks from all who sampled it. And, honestly, our meal just felt that much more traditionally Hawaiian for having the Lapu Lapu on the table!

Lapu Lapu

One important consideration to note is that it was not only the size of our party that posed a challenge, but that we were a motley crew of adventurous and picky eaters, with a dietary restriction thrown into the mix as well. One family member suffers from gluten intolerance and required special dietary accommodation. The chef came out to speak with her before any food arrived on the table, and he promised to keep her well-stocked with an assortment of gluten-free alternatives (including gluten-free bread, noodles, and dessert).

The ‘Ohana chefs worked hard to ensure that she did not miss out on any aspect of the meal and she could not have been happier with the results.

Gluten-Free Bread

Gluten-Free Dessert

“Cousin” Candy soon delivered [Read more…]

Great Places to Celebrate your runDisney Race!

Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend is upon us! And it got us thinking… where would we most like to relax and celebrate after a runDisney race in Disney World? There are lots of things to consider when planning your post-race celebration. So, lace up, friends, and read on!

Chef Mickey’s

Located in the heart of the Contemporary Resort, Chef Mickey’s fun-filled buffet is also character meal featuring the Fab Five… which, of course, includes the Big Cheese himself, Mickey Mouse!

Chef Mickey's!

Chef Mickey’s

• A great buffet with an abundance of choices to fill most any post-race craving;

• If your race happens during Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend in January, this is the place where you can get your picture taken with a character that likely matches the one on your medal! (Minnie for 10K finishers, Donald for Half Marathon finishers, Mickey for full Marathon finishers, and Goofy for those just goofy enough to run both the half and the full!)

Chef Mickey

Chef Mickey

• There will be a fair bit of standing (for character pics) and walking (to and from the buffet)… something to keep in mind for tired legs;

• Chef Mickey’s is not open for lunch (when most runners will finish the full marathon), so you’ll need to wait for dinner or next morning’s breakfast to celebrate.

• Epcot’s Akershus in the Norway Pavilion: We’re thinking of all of you Princesses running the February races with [Read more…]

Guest Review: Liberty Tree Tavern Dinner

Join me in welcoming back guest author Aaron Crum as he takes us to the Liberty Tree Tavern in the Magic Kingdom for a family-style meal!

Imagine this: you are walking through Walt Disney World, and suddenly you find yourself immersed in colonial America.

Not only are you reliving some of American history, you discover that it’s Thanksgiving Day and a feast has been prepared for you to enjoy.

Welcome to Liberty Tree Tavern!


Liberty Tree Tavern is located in the Liberty Square area of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. The lobby has somewhat of a “lodge” feel to it. There is a lot of exposed wood and very open spaces.


When we visited, the computers were down, causing several delays and the restaurant to be extremely crowded. After waiting outside for our table to be ready, we were summoned to the lobby and taken to our table.


There are several different dining rooms within Liberty Tree Tavern, all themed after historical figures from United States history. We happened to be seated in the [Read more…]

Review: Epcot’s Garden Grill Restaurant

Based on a previous guest review of this restaurant, I couldn’t wait to go try it out!

Now, to be fair, it’s not as though I’d never been to the Garden Grill Restaurant before… Well, that’s not entirely true. Before this visit, I hadn’t been to the current incarnation of the restaurant. In fact, back in the 80’s, I went to The Land Grille Room, which was what the restaurant was called before its renovation into the Garden Grill Restaurant. (Check out my friend Andy’s creation of a recipe from The Land Grille Room here!

Born as the Good Turn Restaurant and then morphed into The Land Grille Room, this restaurant has had many personalities (my memories include dark red booths and full-blown sculptures of Mickey Mouse made out of butter). Today, it’s a family-style character dinner featuring Chip, Dale, Mickey, and Pluto!

Garden Grill


Perhaps the most impressive attribute boasted by Garden Grill is that it’s a rotating restaurant. That’s right — you go around in circles while you’re eating!

But don’t worry; this isn’t as though you’re having dinner on the Teacups. The restaurant rotates s-l-o-w-l-y during your meal, allowing views of the different scenes from the Living With the Land ride taking place below the restaurant.

There are two seating styles in the restaurant, and…listen up — it makes a BIG difference where you sit. I know I’m picky about seating, but in this case, I strongly suggest that you request a semi-circular booth on the lower level of the restaurant.


This isn’t just for comfort’s sake (though the cushioned booths ARE more comfortable than the hard chairs at the tables). The booths give you an unobstructed view of the scenes you’re passing by from the ride below, and the high backs also [Read more…]

Dinner at ‘Ohana

Today, my friends, we’re headed to Disney World’s Polynesian Resort to visit one of my favorite places — and yours — ‘Ohana. Those of you versed in Lilo and Stitch, or those of you who have been lucky enough to visit the beautiful islands of Hawai’i, know that “‘Ohana” means “Family,” and at this restaurant, they drive the point home.

Food is served family style, everyone in the restaurant — including you — are “cousins,” and the Hawaiian entertainment is aimed at bringing everyone together to participate in common activities. It’s a restaurant like none other in the Disney realm, and its high points are what keeps ‘Ohana a tough reservation to get.

You’re greeted at ‘Ohana by “cousins” at the podium who take your name, give you a buzzer, and send you out into the Polynesian Resort to explore. Trust me, this is one of those rare restaurants where you hope you have 15-20 minutes to wait until you’re seated — there’s so much to do! Here are my favorite diversions while waiting for my buzzer to go off at ‘Ohana:

  • Have a Drink: Grab yourself a giant wicker chair in the Tambu Lounge just past the ‘Ohana podium. Knowledgeable bartenders and friendly servers will cater to your whims as you relax and wait for your table. (One of my favorites is the Lapu Lapu…a drink served IN a pineapple!)
  • Lapu Lapu

  • Listen to the Islands: ‘Ohana often provides a very talented [Read more…]