Disney’s Art of Animation Resort | Family Suites

The girls walking through the Art of Animation lobby

about disney’s art of animation resort

Type of Resort: Value

Types of Rooms: Standard rooms and family suites

Theme: the artwork and animation of beloved Disney and Pixar films

Location: ESPN Wide World of Sports Area

Transportation Options: Buses

Unique Amenities: Art of Animation is filled to the brim with amazing theming, starting with the buildings and grounds themselves. It’s really a place you have to see to understand the scope of design that Disney delivers here, between the artwork, giant set pieces, and building decor. AOA also has three pools, including the Big Blue Pool (the largest on Disney property, with giant Finding Nemo set pieces surrounding it, zero-entry point, underwater speakers, and “sprayground” that will thrill your kids), Cozy Cone pool (Cars), and Flippin’ Fins pool (Little Mermaid). They also have fine art photography available, if you want to commemorate your trip with family photos.

They also have the standard Disney amenities like merchandise pickup and delivery, laundry services, mail, ATM and bank services, airline check-in, concierge services, Magical Express, online check-in, and complimentary wi-fi. This is also one of the pet friendly resorts on property!

Dining: Landscape of Flavors is this resort’s quick service hub, featuring tons of stations and options for each meal. At breakfast, you can choose from traditional breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, and eggs, but my personal favorite was the breakfast burger. There is also a wide variety of lunch and dinner options, from salads, soups and sandwiches (I highly suggest the roasted turkey croissant) to burgers, pizzas, and pastas (we loved the make-your-own option) to more exotic flavors at the World of Flavor shop (tandoori chicken and Mongolian fish, for example).

The breakfast burger at Art of Animation's Quick Service restaurant

Shopping: The Ink & Paint Shop features a mix of sundries, collectibles, and souvenirs. They also have a large pin and toy selection. We had a lot of fun shopping here.

Activities: Bike rentals, Finding Nemo courtyard playground, Pixel Play Arcade, Movies Under the Stars, jogging trails, and swimming.

About Our Stay

The girls peering out the window from the Finding Nemo building hallway

Details of Our Stay

Time of Year: December 2017

Room Type: Finding Nemo family suite

Travel Party Size: 4 people (2 adults and 2 children), 1 household (We were joined by family on our last night and had 3 additional guests, two adults and one infant, also in our room.)

Our Experience

I feel like I can’t say enough about the spectacular theming at the Art of Animation resort. There are just so many details to take in. The resort is truly a Disney experience in and of itself. I have a soft spot for Finding Nemo and really appreciated the fun infused into this part of the resort. We all got a kick out of the giant seagulls on the building that would shout out “Mine! Mine! Mine!” at random times!

Our family suite was really spacious and well designed. We loved having two bathrooms at the end of the night, so we could all efficiently get baths and get to bed! The kitchenette was also great, because we really utilized that space with kid snacks and cups.

We were a little concerned about space when my cousin’s family joined us, but we were totally comfortable with all 7 of us in the room. I was pleasantly surprised by how comfy the Murphy bed mattress was!

Our family suite was the first one on our hall, just off the elevator. That meant that the ice machine and vending were just on the other side of our wall, which concerned us for noise, but was actually totally quiet. We loved how convenient everything was because of that too! If we stay again, I’ll definitely request that location.

We really enjoyed being so close to the main building and Big Blue Pool too. The “downside” (not a downside!) of that was that the girls wanted to just hang out at the pool all day and had no desire to go to the parks! They had so much fun playing in the sprayground area. We almost didn’t make it to the pool itself. There are tons of lifeguards stationed around the pool, along with life preservers, so we felt really comfortable too.

Art of Animation Big Blue Pool sprayground

Our only real complaint was that there weren’t any luggage carts available when it came time for check-out. The carts are first come, first served, so plan to go claim one early! It definitely was like salt in the wound to have to take so many trips to the car on check-out day. We were sad enough!

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Favorite Part: Basically, everything. The suite was large and comfortable, the pools were awesome, we were close to the QS restaurant, and the girls loved the theme!

Least Favorite Part: The busy buses and luggage cart shortage

Would We Stay Again?: No question. We had a great experience overall and loved the suite. The small drawbacks we experienced were anticipated going into a value resort and we didn’t find them as a reason to not stay!

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Art of Animation

 

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1900 Park Fare Dinner

My family has unanimously voted 1900 Park Fare for dinner as one of our favorite character meal experiences. We love breakfast too! You won’t experience anything like these character interactions at any other character meal. And you definitely won’t get to interact with this group of characters all together anywhere else!

about Dinner at 1900 Park Fare

Cost: $35 – 59.99, Disney Dining Plan accepted

Characters: Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Anastasia, and Drizella

Reservations: Highly suggested! Log in to the Disney website, your My Disney Experience app, or call (407) 939-3463.

Food: It’s impossible to leave this dinner still even remotely hungry. Some of our favorites are the Mongolian beef, key lime-ginger grilled chicken, taco bar, and fruit tarts, but the real star of the show is the butternut squash ravioli. I dream of that ravioli!

Rating: 5 out of 5 frying pans

 

About Our Experience(s)

 The characters are what sets 1900 Park Fare apart from any other character dining experience, both at breakfast and dinner. The food and service always exceed our expectations, but the characters are unlike anything else you’ll experience while at Disney World!

1900 Park Fare is the only place to interact with Cinderella and Prince Charming together. You’ll love the audible sighs of little girls as they dance together through the restaurant! They also often include guests in their dance, which is a truly magical moment for little ones. My girls were blown away!

Ruby especially loves the stepsisters and they never disappoint! She always wears her Drizella dress, which in turn gets her a lot of attention from Lady Tremaine and her daughters! On our last trip, Drizella was so enamored with her Mini Me that she took her around the dining room, dancing and showing her off to guests and her family. It made Ruby’s night and is something she still talks about to this day!

Lady Tremaine and the stepsisters really do such a spectacular job at character acting. They play their characters so well, with big personalities, lots of jokes, and priceless interactions with guests. I love watching the stepsisters try to trip up guests, with trick questions like which one is prettier or if they’d like to take one of them on a date.

You’re guaranteed to have some serious laughter, magic, fun, and delicious food.

 

More Information

Location: Inside the Grand Floridian main building

Transportation Options: If you’re staying on property, you can take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then hop the monorail. You can also take the monorail directly from any of the Magic Kingdom area deluxe resorts, Magic Kingdom, or the Ticket and Transportation Center. If you’ll have a vehicle, you can also drive directly to the Grand Floridian by following signs to the Magic Kingdom area resorts and park at the resort. Or try the new Minnie Van service, Lyft, or Uber directly to the resort!

Things to Know: When you check in for your reservation, they’ll request a phone number to text when your table is ready. We love this feature, because it frees us up to explore the Grand Floridian’s lobby and shops while we wait.

While You’re There: Check out some of the fabulous high end shops in the Grand Floridian lobby. In the evenings, you’ll find fantastic live entertainment happening there too! You can also take a stroll around the resort to see the giant chess set by the main pool, the teacup splash pad area, and enjoy the views of the lagoon and Bay Lake!

A+R Insider Tip: If you’re dressed in your Cinderella best, don’t forget to stop outside of the main entrance for a photo opportunity! There, you’ll find a beautiful carriage and antique car. If you’re close to fireworks time at Magic Kingdom, walk out into the parking lot or to the lake to catch a great view!

 

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Everything You Need to Know About the Grand Floridian

About the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Type of Resort: Deluxe, Disney Vacation Club

Theme: Victorian elegance

Location: Magic Kingdom Area, on the monorail loop

Transportation Options: Monorail to the Magic Kingdom, other monorail resorts, TTC, and Epcot (switch at TTC). Boat to the Magic Kingdom. Buses to other destinations.

Unique Amenities: The Grand Floridian amenities are everything you’d expect them to be and then some.

There are two pools, each with their own special twist. The Beach Pool overlooks the Seven Seas Lagoon, with a peaceful vibe alongside a walking bridge, 181-foot waterslide, waterfalls, and a zero-depth entry point. There’s also a poolside bar and cabanas available for rent, as well as an incredible Alice in Wonderland inspired splash area that sent my heart soaring! The Courtyard Pool is directly behind the main building and caught our attention with a giant poolside chess set!

There’s also Senses, a full-service spa, and the Ivy Trellis, a full-service salon that also offers princess makeovers for young guests! Fine art photography is also available to commemorate your stay with family photographs!

The Grand Floridian the standard Disney amenities like merchandise pickup and delivery, laundry services, mail, ATM and bank services, airline check-in, concierge services, Magical Express, online check-in, and complimentary wi-fi.

Dining: You haven’t truly Disney dined until you’ve dined at the Grand Floridian restaurants. There are so many incredible dining experiences available here!

I have to start with Victoria and Albert’s, the quintessential fine dining experience, with meals that include things like Italian truffles and Russian caviar, served on fine china, crystal, and silver. There’s also private dining and Chef’s Table seating available for a truly indulgent experience.

Cítricos offers Mediterranean infused American cuisine, along with a lounge featuring an award-winning wine list and special 12-course dinners available via the Chef’s Domain at Cítricos.

Narcoosee’s serves up seafood inspired by the waterfront view for brunch and dinner, with views that overlook the fireworks and Electrical Water Pageant.

The real star of the show for our young family is 1900 Park Fare. The Supercalifragilistic Breakfast features Mary Poppins, Alice, the Mad Hatter, Tigger, and Pooh, alongside a delicious spread of breakfast foods to suit every taste. Cinderella’s Happily Ever After Dinner is one of the most unique character meals, in our opinion, because it features Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, and the Stepsisters! You so rarely get to dine with “villains” and Ruby adores the sisters!

The Grand Floridian Cafe rounds out the table service locations on property as a casual, but elegant restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There are also three opportunities for tea, including the Perfectly Princess Tea or Afternoon Tea in the Garden View Tea Room and the Wonderland Tea Party at 1900 Park Fare.

The Gasparilla Island Grill is the 24-hour quick service hub at the Grand Floridian and also where you’d pick up your resort mugs with the Dining Plan. I recommend the mahi mahi “Reuben”! Adults can also enjoy cocktails at the two pool bars and Cítricos and Mizner’s lounges.

Shopping: There is so much shopping to do here, including shops like Basin White (specialty soaps and other bath products), Commander Porter’s (apparel from brands like Tommy Bahama), M. Mouse Mercantile (souvenirs), Sandy Cove Gifts and Sundries (groceries, snacks, spirits, souvenirs), and Summer Lace (upscale women’s boutique).

Activities: Because of their waterfront location, there are some unique activities available at the Grand Floridian, like the Pirates Adventure Cruise, fireworks cruises, and other specialty cruises (including the Yacht 1, which can hold 17 guests and a butler and is rented by the hour). You can also catch the Electrical Water Pageant floating by.

In the lobby, you can sit and enjoy the pianist and the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra throughout the day.

There’s also motorized boat and cabana rentals, fishing, Arcadia Games, Movies Under the Stars, campfire activities, basketball, jogging trails, and swimming.

About Our Stays at the grand floridian resort & Spa

Time of Year: May 2017

Room Type: Garden view, lagoon view

Travel Party Size: 4 people (2 adults, 2 kids), 1 household. (My cousin also joined us in a connecting room for part of the trip.)

Our Experience: I’ll be honest. I was skeptical about spending this much money on a resort.  We had so much park time planned, that I couldn’t imagine us getting our money’s worth. But, I get it now. It was worth every dollar spent!

From the moment we drove into the Grand Floridian gates, we felt “at home”. I also love that the gate guards say “Welcome home!”. It’s definitely appropriate! The Victorian architecture is just spectacular. Ruby was amazed as the monorail went by overhead. And then she laid eyes on the carriage and antique car parked outside.

The lobby was filled with fresh cut flowers, live music, and beautiful furniture. It was just a “wow” arrival moment. We also loved the way they incorporated Disney decor in such an elegant way, like in the marble floors and wood detailing.

The outer buildings’ interiors are also lovely, but not as awe-inspiring as the main building. They are still elegantly Floridian though. We quickly settled into our spacious room, complete with plenty of storage space that handled our suitcases, double stroller, pack & play, and other baby gear with ease. The beds were very comfortable, as was our couch.

We were in Sago Cay, which turned out to be the perfect building. We’ll definitely request it on any future trips. Sago Cay is directly across from the quick service restaurant, close to the main building (monorail), and has a walking path to head directly to the buses (instead of going through the main building). We also had a gorgeous lake view just outside the building and a partial view even from our “garden view” patio.

Our stay was also enhanced by lots of little things – chocolates on the pillow, super friendly cast members, larger sized toiletries, coffee and water in the room, and other little things like that. They aren’t reasons to stay, on their own, but they just make you feel wrapped in the Disney magic.

If I was really going to nitpick, the only oddity was the bathroom door. When they updated the bathrooms and installed the elongated toilet seats, they didn’t account for door clearance, so the door hit the toilet. It was in no way a deal breaker, but it was just a funny little detail that seemed like something Disney normally would have addressed. (We stayed at the Grand Floridian again and our other room had a notch carved out of the door to clear the toilet, so I guess some of them were addressed. It made me giggle when I saw it!)

For us, the big draw was monorail access to Magic Kingdom – and it didn’t disappoint. The monorail was rarely congested and ran constantly. We loved that there was a security checkpoint at the resort, so we didn’t have to wait in security lines at the park. This allowed us to routinely make it door-to-park in 10-15 minutes!

We also loved being close to our favorite restaurant, 1900 Park Fare! The food across the resort is just delicious. Even the quick service restaurant food seemed a little more elevated than at other locations.

But here’s how you know we really loved our time here. At the end of our Disney trip, we headed south to visit family in Miami for a few days. On the way home, we called our travel agent and asked if there was a room at the Grand Floridian for that night… and stopped for one more night’s stay! We pulled into the parking lot, hopped the monorail and went straight to catch the fireworks in Magic Kingdom, rode a ton of rides, grabbed quick service on our way back to the room, and crashed. It was the perfect way to end our Florida adventure.

This second room was a lagoon view. The room interior was basically identical to our previous room, spacious and lovely. We loved looking out over the Polynesian, but there was a downside. A noisy downside. The boat horns! We heard them well into the night and early the next morning. So, if you’re a light sleeper, the lagoon view may not be for you. If you’re a sip-your-coffee-on-the-patio person, it really may be though! I’m some combination of the two… and I’m not sure which would win out!

Outside of our actual stays at the Grand Floridian, we’ve visited again for meals. On our last trip, the resort was decorated for Christmas and it was truly spectacular. Their Christmas trees and decorations are just gorgeous. The life size gingerbread house has to be seen to be believed though. I mean, smoke actually comes out of the chimney! We went wild buying special holiday treats from the bake shop inside too. Gingerbread roof tiles for everyone! If you’re looking for a magical Disney Christmas memory, this is it. Don’t miss it!

Favorite Part: Monorail, monorail, monorail, and did I mention the monorail? The feeling of decadence, comfort, room size, all of it.

Least Favorite Part: I can’t think of a single thing. I guess the boat horns from the lagoon view.

Would We Stay Again?: Obviously, yes! We did! So far, this is our favorite resort on property by a long shot.

 

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Cinderella’s Royal Table

about cinderella’s royal table

Cost: $35 – 59.99 for breakfast, $60 and up for lunch and dinner

Characters: Cinderella, Snow White, Ariel, Belle. Aurora, Jasmine

Reservations: There are highly coveted dining reservations and notoriously hard to score! Plan to book this meal as soon as your 180 day ADR window opens. Log in to the Disney website, your My Disney Experience app, or call (407) 939-3463.

Food: Breakfast starts with a delicious pastry plate for the table to share. Entrees include traditional breakfast fare, as well as a healthy choice meal and some more decadent options like beef tenderloin with a frittata.

Rating: 2 out of 5 frying pans

Things to Know: You can’t check in before your reservation time, so don’t waste time standing in line early. Be prepared to meet Cinderella as soon as you enter the castle. Have your autograph books and cameras ready! Also, the bathrooms are downstairs from the main dining room, so plan to stop on your way in, if possible, so you don’t miss any princesses.

While You’re There: Look at the beautiful mosaic work along the castle corridor! It’s truly spectacular work. Also, Cinderella’s Royal Table is directly across from Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, so you might consider making your appointment and reservation close together.

 

About Our Experience(s)

I’ll get straight to the point. “Underwhelmed” best sums up our feelings on our breakfast. I’m not sure if it’s because there’s so much hype around Cinderella’s Royal Table (the cost, the location, the impossible-to-get reservations), but this dining experience didn’t come close to meeting our expectations.

We were excited to do such a big princess meal for Ruby’s actual third birthday morning, following a makeover at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique! What could be better than breakfast in Cinderella’s Castle, right?

Maybe a lot of things, it turns out.

Our underwhelmed feeling started at checkin, where the cast member was clearly stressed and super short with guests. It instantly killed our magic buzz. I try to keep in mind that cast members are just people too, so we put it behind us.

As we made our way in, we were struck by how gorgeous everything was. It really felt like entering a castle. Meeting Cinderella, decked out in her BBB Cinderella makeover, was probably the highlight of Ruby’s three years on earth at that point. We started to buy in to the hype.

But then, we were seated and began to feel like cogs in a machine. All of the waitstaff also seemed stressed and rushed. The wand and Wishing Star were dropped off in a hurry and our waitress seemed impatient as we ordered our food. We both remarked later that we felt like we couldn’t even ask any questions about the menu.

We had the same feeling as the princesses visited – they just posed for the picture and rushed off. We got some beautiful photographs, but no small talk or “special moments”. Maybe the extraordinary experiences at 1900 Park Fare have ruined us for other character meals, but we expected more interaction. There was no small talk and some didn’t even sign her book that was open on the table. What surprised us most was that not a single princess wished Ruby a happy birthday! Ruby had to use the restroom (we were in the throes of potty training), which is downstairs, so we rushed there and back. She’d missed a princess while we were gone and we had to really advocate to get her to come back.

We found the food okay. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t delicious and certainly not worth the two dining credits, in our opinions. We were all hungry shortly after we left, which never happens with standard Disney portions! The pastry assortment was delicious though – that was the food highlight, for sure.

Overall, we felt like we’d paid a lot to feel rushed through our meal and like an inconvenience to every cast member we encountered. Like I said, maybe our expectations were too high, after reading so much hype in groups and blogs. But we expected an expensive meal in a magical place to feel, well, magical.

From talking to other Disney lovers, I’ve found that many share our same breakfast experience, but that lunch and dinner are better. We might consider trying lunch or dinner in the future, but we definitely won’t be back for breakfast. I’ll take Akershus or 1900 Park Fare over this experience any day!

 

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Disney’s Art of Animation Resort | Little Mermaid Rooms

about disney’s art of animation resort

Type of Resort: Value

Types of Rooms: Standard rooms and family suites

Theme: the artwork and animation of beloved Disney and Pixar films

Location: ESPN Wide World of Sports Area

Transportation Options: Buses

Unique Amenities: Art of Animation is filled to the brim with amazing theming, starting with the buildings and grounds themselves. It’s really a place you have to see to understand the scope of design that Disney delivers here, between the artwork, giant set pieces, and building decor. AOA also has three pools, including the Big Blue Pool (the largest on Disney property, with giant Finding Nemo set pieces surrounding it, zero-entry point, underwater speakers, and “sprayground” that will thrill your kids), Cozy Cone pool (Cars), and Flippin’ Fins pool (Little Mermaid). They also have fine art photography available, if you want to commemorate your trip with family photos.

They also have the standard Disney amenities like merchandise pickup and delivery, laundry services, mail, ATM and bank services, airline check-in, concierge services, Magical Express, online check-in, and complimentary wi-fi. This is also one of the pet friendly resorts on property!

Dining: Landscape of Flavors is this resort’s quick service hub, featuring tons of stations and options for each meal. At breakfast, you can choose from traditional breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, and eggs, but my personal favorite was the breakfast burger. There is also a wide variety of lunch and dinner options, from salads, soups and sandwiches (I highly suggest the roasted turkey croissant) to burgers, pizzas, and pastas (we loved the make-your-own option) to more exotic flavors at the World of Flavor shop (tandoori chicken and Mongolian fish, for example).

The breakfast burger at Art of Animation's Quick Service restaurant

Shopping: The Ink & Paint Shop features a mix of sundries, collectibles, and souvenirs. They also have a large pin and toy selection. We had a lot of fun shopping here.

Activities: Bike rentals, Finding Nemo courtyard playground, Pixel Play Arcade, Movies Under the Stars, jogging trails, and swimming.

About Our StaY

Ruby, posing in front of the Christmas tree in the Art of Animation lobby

details of our stay

Time of Year: December 2017

Length of Stay: two nights

Room Type: Little Mermaid standard room

Travel Party Size: 4 (2 adults and 2 children), 1 household

Our Experience

I’m going to sound like a broken record, but the theming of these buildings are so incredible! Our girls were blown away by the big set pieces outside our building. It took us forever to usher them to the room, because they wanted to stop and look at everything. In their defense though, so did we! There is just so much detail at this resort. I feel like we noticed something new every time we stepped outside.

Once we made it to our room, we were delighted by the theming there too! It really was adorable.Everything from the chairs to the mirror to the shower curtain were Little Mermaid themed. It was a dream come true for our Ariel lover!

Much like our review of the Port Orleans Riverside Royal Rooms (the rooms actually seemed identical in terms of size and layout, just different theming), our only complaint was space. These rooms are equitable in size to your normal motel room and have doors that open to the outdoor corridor. For a long visit (or in our case, kids with a lot of stuff), you may find yourself a bit cramped. Still, despite the smaller room sizes and more motel feel, we didn’t hear any hall or neighbor noise, except for the occasional toilets flushing.

These rooms are the furthest away from the main building, which isn’t a big problem, unless you’re relying on getting your morning coffee there. At other resorts, one of us usually makes a coffee run while the other gets kids dressed, before we all walk back over for breakfast and more morning fuel. The main building was definitely too far away for us to just make trips back and forth. In fact, we didn’t visit it more than once during this part of the stay.

Because of the long walk (and long bus lines), we ended up not using the internal buses from AOA. We walked out on our first day and saw a few buses worth of people waiting to head to Magic Kingdom. So, we quickly decided to drive our own car instead. We noticed that the lines weren’t bad later in the day, so it was definitely a timing issue. If you plan to use the buses during peak times, definitely plan to be at the buses early. There are a lot of guests at this resort and they’re all going the same places that you are!

We didn’t use the pools during this part of our stay, but we did during our family suites stay. You can read about that experience and the pools here!

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Favorite Part: The look of wonder on our kids’ faces and the feeling of really being transported into the Disney bubble.

Least Favorite Part: Tight quarters for all of our stuff, being pretty far out from the main building, and very busy buses.

Would We Stay Again?: It was a major standout for Ruby, so we would definitely consider it. I don’t think we’d stay for a long trip (with a lot of stuff), but it would be one of our first choices for a quick weekend trip!

 

 

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Be Our Guest Quick Service

about be our guest Quick Service

Be Our Guest entrance

Location: Fantasyland, Magic Kingdom

Cost: $15 – 34.99 for breakfast, $14.99 and under for lunch (according to Disney’s site, but the menu has items as high as $16.99), Disney Dining Plan accepted

Characters: None! Make sure you’re not booking this dining experience with the hopes of seeing Belle or the Beast. You can usually meet the Beast at Be Our Guest for dinner though!

Reservations: Highly suggested! This is the only quick service restaurant that takes reservations and with good reason. There’s a good chance you won’t get in without them! Log in to the Disney website, your My Disney Experience app, or call (407) 939-3463.

Theme: Beast’s Castle, French cuisine

Food: The French inspired menu has some really delicious options that can be a welcome respite from chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers. Picky eaters may be limited in their options though.

Rating: 3 out of 5 frying pans

Things to Know: Consider ordering your meal through the MDE app, so you can skip the long line to order! Also, there are not characters at Be Our Guest during breakfast and lunch. You’ll usually find Beast at dinner though! If you really want to meet Belle, head next door to the Enchanted Tales with Belle attraction after you eat!

While You’re There: Explore all of the dining rooms inside the castle! There are so many beautiful details that you’ll miss, if you stay put in one room! Also, stop by the stained glass window on your way out for a great photo op!

Ruby posing in front of the stained glass window at Be Our Guest

About Our Experience(s)

The atmosphere of the castle is really exciting for Beauty and the Beast fans. The quick service environment is definitely a little different though. When you enter the castle doors, you’ll go to the right and wait in line to place your orders on touch screens. Then, you’ll head into the dining rooms to look for an available table.

When we arrived, we were surprised to find such a long line to order! I now totally understand why people encourage you to order online ahead of time. I was very glad we had a dining reservation, as I doubt we would have been able to dine without one.

For this particular dining experience, we had our extended family with us – 14 people in total. We were disappointed that even with our reservation, we wouldn’t be able to sit together. While I understand that it’s self-seated quick service, I wish they’d noted somewhere that most tables only seat 4 guests (with some 8 tops) and that large parties will likely not be able to sit together. I was also disappointed by the lack of assistance from the cast members to help us find seating. This was our only meal all together and we would have definitely made reservations elsewhere, if we’d known that there’d be no chance of sitting together. It defeated the point! Still, we rallied. The environment of the castle is so gorgeous and it’s impossible to stay upset in such a beautiful space.

I could eat the french onion soup for every meal forever – it is so delicious. I was underwhelmed with my croque monsieur though. It was just okay. My cousin shared my same feelings. Todd is a somewhat picky eater and settled on the french dip sandwich, which he enjoyed, but wasn’t so outstanding that he’d want to eat it again. Ruby enjoyed her grilled cheese and turkey noodle soup, the same meal she’d eaten when we had dinner at BOG. We also split a few desserts and it was universally decided that the grey stuff (Master’s Cupcake) is indeed delicious. Don’t believe us? Ask the dishes (or toddler)!

Overall, we were left with an “ehh” feeling. The castle is beautiful and the food was good enough, but we don’t understand the craze and probably won’t eat lunch there again. Maybe stop in for a french onion soup and Master’s Cupcake snack though!

Master's Cupcake at Be Our Guest

 

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Crystal Palace

About the crystal palace

Cost: $15 – 34.99 for breakfast, $35 – $59.99 for lunch and dinner

Characters: Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Piglet

Reservations: Recommended! Log in to the Disney website, your My Disney Experience app, or call (407) 939-3463.

Food: The Crystal Palace buffet is pretty much your standard Disney buffet fare. At breakfast, you’ll find a variety of breakfast meats, potatoes, scrambled eggs, pancakes, waffles, fruit, and pastries. At lunch and dinner, you’ll find a variety of salads, soups, meats, seafood, vegetables, and kids’ items like chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. This means you won’t leave hungry, but you’ll likely encounter other similar foods at other buffets on property!

Rating: 3 out of 5 frying pans

Things to Know: Our travel agent timed this meal just right for us. We enjoyed the Move It Shake It Parade at the hub and then were just steps away for our lunch reservation. It’s definitely worth trying to time, if you plan to have both experiences!

While You’re There: Make sure to admire the Winnie the Pooh themed topiaries just inside the main doors. You’re also very close to First Aid and the Baby Care Center. If you could use either service, make sure to take advantage of the convenience before heading deeper into the park.

 

About Our Experience(s)

We were one of the first lunch reservations on Thanksgiving day. The dining room was mostly empty when we arrived, which was a welcome quiet from being out in Magic Kingdom! It’s neat to see all of the glasswork and framing in this building, but otherwise the environment isn’t particularly special. As the meal progressed, we ended up with pretty bad glare though (the downside of a crystal palace!). It kind of put a damper on a lot of our character photos, so keep that in mind, if you have an option to sit out of the sun’s rays!

This was our girls’ first up-close-and-personal character experience, so I was anxious about how they’d react. The characters were fantastic. They seemed to really take their time and posed for funny pictures with our group. Piglet photo-bombed one shot and cooed over the baby. Tigger spied on my cousin’s phone over her shoulder. It was a lot of fun to interact with them, even as adults.

Overall, while we enjoyed it, the Crystal Palace wasn’t a super memorable experience. The food is good enough, the characters are pleasant, and the environment is okay. If you have a big Winnie the Pooh fan, it’s definitely worth dining. Otherwise, there are a lot of other great dining experiences to consider too!

 

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about Breakfast and Brunch at 1900 Park Fare

Cost: $35 – 59.99, DIsney Dining Plan accepted

Characters: Alice in Wonderland, Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Tigger, and Pooh

Reservations: Highly suggested! Log in to the Disney website, your My Disney Experience app, or call (407) 939-3463.

Food: This expansive buffet includes traditional breakfast food (bagels, eggs, waffles, breakfast meat) and specialty items like the Grand Floridian’s signature strawberry soup smoked salmon lox, and omelet and carving stations. Personally, I love the blintzes and red velvet pancakes, while my girls love the breakfast pizza. At brunch, you’ll also find a breakfast burrito bar, salads, and typical kids’ lunch foods joining the menu.

Rating: 5 out of 5 frying pans

 

About Our Experience(s)

As I noted in the food section, the buffet is awesome. There’s something for everyone – and lots of it! The food and service is always impeccable, but the characters are what really sets 1900 Park Fare apart for my family.

The Mad Hatter is such a unique character to see brought to life. He really puts on a show and will have as much fun with you as you’re up to have! Ruby is obsessed with Alice in Wonderland, so Alice is really the star of her show. We adore her spot-on accent, great references, and kindness with the little ones. My girls wait anxiously to crawl into her lap!

Mary Poppins is also truly practically perfect in every way. Tigger and Pooh seem to take turns at the restaurant’s exit, where you’ll find a PhotoPass photographer waiting to take your picture. The other character will come to greet you in the dining room.

I like how the characters seem to move through the dining room in a really informal way, not a clear pattern like some other character dining experiences. They never seem rushed and truly take their time with each guest, often including multiple tables in their conversations as they go.

 

More Information

Location: Inside the Grand Floridian main building

Transportation Options: If you’re staying on property, you can take a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then hop the monorail. You can also take the monorail directly from any of the Magic Kingdom area deluxe resorts, Magic Kingdom, or the Ticket and Transportation Center. If you’ll have a vehicle, you can also drive directly to the Grand Floridian by following signs to the Magic Kingdom area resorts and park at the resort. Or try the new Minnie Van service, Lyft, or Uber directly to the resort!

Things to Know: When you check in for your reservation, they’ll request a phone number to text when your table is ready. We love this feature, because it frees us up to explore the Grand Floridian’s lobby and shops while we wait. Also, make sure to exit at the back of the restaurant (opposite of where you came in), so you don’t miss the extra character meet & greet and PhotoPass opportunity!

While You’re There: Check out some of the fabulous high end shops in the Grand Floridian lobby. You can also take a stroll around the resort to see the giant chess set by the main pool, the teacup splash pad area, and enjoy the views of the lagoon and Bay Lake (you can even spot the castle)! You also don’t want to miss the great photo opportunity just outside the resort’s main entrance. You’ll find an antique car and carriage that make a beautiful backdrop for photos.

A+R Insider Tip: Since we love Alice in Wonderland so much, my girls often wear their Alice themed attire to this breakfast. I like to plan to head to Magic Kingdom afterwards, for awesome photo opportunities by the Mad Tea Party ride!

 

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