The uber-popular restaurant, Be Our Guest, serves a quick service lunch and table service dinner at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Sharing her dinner experience, guest author Rebecca Elliott takes us inside the Beast’s Castle!
My family and I have always been big Beauty & the Beast fans. Which made it such a surprise that, prior to the grand opening of the new Fantasyland in 2012, Disney World didn’t have a whole lot of Beauty & the Beast attractions.
All that changed with the opening of Be Our Guest, a spectacularly themed restaurant set in the Beast’s castle. It’s almost as if Disney is trying to make up for its previous lack of Beauty & the Beast material by creating this over-the-top, lavish dining experience.
As you can imagine, dinner reservations are hard to come by. Guests staying on site are able to make advance dining reservations (ADR) 180 days in advance. Since our plans came together rather spur of the moment, we attempted to make a reservation about 60 days out. Of course, none were available. However, we kept trying several times over the next week and, unbelievably, someone must have cancelled and we got our reservation for 6:30pm.
Hats off to the designers and Imagineers that brought the Beast’s castle to life. Every nook and cranny of this restaurant makes you feel like you’re in the movie. We checked in at the desk at the foot of the bridge outside of the restaurant, then crossed over and waited outside the castle until our buzzer went off.
It was fun to take in the details even the exterior of the building had to offer. Giant lion statues flanked heavy wooden doors with a tile mosaic above the threshold featuring the famous enchanted rose. (Roses became almost like Hidden Mickeys; they are featured consistently throughout the décor. It was fun to find them everywhere, from the napkins, to the chairs, to the sculptures and more).
Entering the castle is truly like entering the movie. Theming in Disney restaurants has always been ambitious, but Be Our Guest is their best interpretation of a film in real form. Don’t rush to the restaurant – you’ll want to take a closer look at the gargoyles holding up the archway. Even more, you don’t want to miss the tile mosaic of Belle and the Beast dancing, which is a re-creation of the very last scene in the movie.
We were greeted by a cast member at the inside host desk who informed us we would be eating in the West Wing. I nearly fainted. I had no idea where our reservation would be, and I certainly didn’t think it would be in the West Wing. We were very, very excited!
It is perpetually evening in the castle, no matter what time of day you go. To get to the West Wing, the cast member guided us through the Ballroom. Holy smokes! Stepping in there was like stepping into the scene of Belle and the Beast dancing, with Mrs. Potts singing, “Beauty & the Beast” in the background. The ceiling is painted with cherubs and clouds, the crystal chandeliers let off a soft, warm glow, and when we looked out the windows overlooking the terrace, it was snowing! We had read about this, but until we saw it, we didn’t realize what a truly magical effect it was.
We made our way to the West Wing, which was equally dramatic. The setting is a dark and stormy evening. Thunder and lightening can be heard and seen in the background. There is the painting of the Beast as a young man, complete with claw marks, just like in the movie. (Tip: Keep an eye on the portrait; it changes into the Beast himself with a flash of lightening!)
The most dramatic element of the West Wing is the enchanted rose. It floats beneath a glass dome, its petals falling. I have no idea how they created this effect (hologram?), but again, it is just like the movie.
My daughter and I decided to take in the Rose Gallery. Here is where things got a little confusing. The Rose Gallery is huge – not as big as the Ballroom, but certainly bigger than the West Wing. And it was empty. There were a couple of tables with guests, but the rest of the dining room remained unseated. This was perplexing, because reservations were so hard to come by. It looked as if the few tables that were seated were overflow from the main dining room. The rest of the tables weren’t even set. I understand this room is typically full at lunch. Why not utilize it at dinner? (Editor’s Note: At dinner, the Rose Gallery is often used as a food preparation area instead of a seating area.)
I should mention here another feature of the dining room. About every 15 minutes or so, a clock chimes and you can hear the Beast being introduced. Because we were seated in the West Wing, we saw him make his entrance into the dining room. He walked out, waved to the diners, and made his way to the picture taking spot at the other end of the restaurant, greeting guests along the way.
We thought this was a fun touch. The picture area is the quick service ordering spot during lunch. On our way out, we had our picture taken with him. He was very kind and accommodating.
Guests exit the restaurant through a hallway lined with suits of armor. I was reminded of the scene in Beauty & the Beast when Cogsworth gives Belle a tour of the castle. They walk through a similar hallway. Make sure you listen closely – some of the suits of armor talk!
We were seated and promptly greeted by our server, who informed us that Be Our Guest offers beer and wine, the first restaurant ever to do so in the Magic Kingdom. We don’t drink, but noticed several guests were taking advantage of this new offering. Instead, all three of us ordered the all-natural lemonade sweetened with organic cane juice and topped with wildberry foam. It was delicious. (FYI, even though this drink is non-alcoholic and we didn’t order it in the commemorative chalice, there were no refills and it is not considered a fountain beverage.)
The menu at Be Our Guest is French themed, thought not authentic French. Still, it was one of the better meals we experienced on our trip. We were participating in the Disney Deluxe Dining plan, so each of us ordered an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert.
To start, I selected the assorted cured meats and sausages. Please note, this dish serves two, but I made a pretty good dent in it all by myself! It is served with a whole loaf of bread, some delicious pate, cured meats (prosciutto, ham), sausages, mustard, cornichons, some tart jam, and cheese. I truly enjoyed this dish. A lot of Disney food tends to the mildly seasoned. This dish was bursting with savory flavors and a variety of textures. It was very satisfying, and could easily serve as an entrée.
My daughter tried the French onion soup, which was also very flavorful. Rich, beefy broth, with a toasted French bread crouton floating on top, smothered with ooey gooey cheese that had been browned under a broiler. It’s hearty and delicious dish.
My husband chose the Mussels Provencal. White wine, tomatoes, garlic, onions, basil, and butter… mmm…. This is one of our favorite flavor profiles. If you like shellfish, give it a try. There’s plenty to share.
If I have one complaint it’s this: we were still eating our appetizers when our entrees arrived. I was a server for many years, and this is a definite no no, especially with this meal. The appetizers are huge, and so are the entrees. We definitely needed a break between courses and unfortunately didn’t get one.
My daughter selected the sautéed shrimp and scallops in puff pastry as her entrée. I was impressed with the amount of seafood in the dish. Restaurants typically skimp on the seafood and load up on the vegetables, but this dish had the opposite proportions. The puff pastry was tender and flaky, and the sauce was rich and flavorful. She enjoyed it.
I selected the thyme scented pork chop. I was stunned at the portion size. That’s a lot of pork! But I was impressed that they got the temperature right. There was a hint of pink towards the center of the chop. I also enjoyed the macaroni and cheese, (or as Disney calls it, au gratin macaroni) with its homey yumminess. French green beans rounded out the dish. It was served with red wine jus on the side. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal.
My husband ordered the herb crusted lamb rack. If I thought the pork portion was big, the lamb was huge! It looked like something Fred Flintstone would eat. But again, I was impressed that they got the temperature right, and it was butchered beautifully.
The crust was savory and offered an interesting texture. The demi-glace was full of flavor and there was plenty of it. We love mashed celery root, so we all took a bite of this sweet, creamy side dish. Sautéed broccoli was also served on the side. This was another delicious plate that we all enjoyed.
On to dessert! Because it’s perpetually evening in the West Wing, the room is rather dark, and when our server brought the dessert cart over, he had to use a flashlight to illuminate the treats. Still, who doesn’t love an old-fashioned dessert cart?
We couldn’t eat at Be Our Guest without trying the Grey Stuff. The line, “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious!” sung by Lumiere in the movie has been belted out in my home many times, and I was dying to see how the Disney chefs would interpret it. I
t was tasty! A cake-like brownie base is topped with a whipped cookies-and-cream flavored panna cotta and sprinkled with what I call the “silver ball garnish.” (What is this? Freeze dried tapioca? Dried cake crumbs? I would love to find out!)
My husband enjoyed the triple chocolate cupcake for his dessert. It was rich and delicious, and as my husband said, “super chocolate-y.”
Be Our Guest Is Best! Be Our Guest pulls out all the stops and delivers at every turn. It is the most immersive experience I’ve had at the park – you truly feel like you’re a participant in the movie. I have no idea how they do it so consistently, but Disney definitely delivers on this four-dimensional experience. I highly recommend this dining experience to everyone!
Rebecca Elliott writes and hosts the food blog Home Cooks Unite! She is a dedicated foodie and Disney enthusiast whose latest trip to the Magic Kingdom included some incredible dining experiences.
Have you had the chance to dine at Be Our Guest? What’s your favorite menu item? Let us know in the comments below!