1900 Park Fare Dinner Review at the Grand Floridian Resort

Edit: Darcie and I seem to disagree about Prince Charming’s interaction.  It seems when he said, “They’re trying to figure that out,” that he was referring to his family who had misplaced his birth certificate.  Perhaps they had been drinking to celebrate the birth of a boy and simply forgot that they named him Doug.  A family after my own heart.  Anyway, you don’t have to fire him, Disney.

We’ll head over to the Grand Floridian Resort for dinner at 1900 Park Fare.  You’d think by paying top dollar that you would get the best bus service available at Walt Disney World, but the opposite is really the case.  From Animal Kingdom to the Grand Floridian, we’re first going to stop and unload at the Contemporary Resort and Polynesian Resort.  So not only is the Grand Floridian Resort as far away from Animal Kingdom as possible, but there’s going to be two additional delays.  I got in line for the bus at 5:27pm and didn’t step foot into the Grand Floridian until 6:19pm, so it took nearly an hour.  And let’s say you’re staying at the BoardWalk and coming from Downtown Disney.  You’re going to share buses with the Swan, Dolphin, Beach Club, and Yacht Club and you’re the last stop on that route.  Staying at Pop Century?  Dedicated bus service.

You’ll find 1900 Park Fare just inside the Grand Floridian’s main entrance on the left side of the first floor.

Like most resort character buffets, breakfast and dinner are offered.  There aren’t enough people at the resorts to sustain lunch.  Breakfast characters are usually Alice, Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger.  With the exception of Mad Hatter, all are pretty easy to meet in the theme parks and Mad Hatter can at least be seen during Magic Kingdom’s Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Parade.  He also appeared during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party in 2012.  Pricing is below average for a character breakfast.  Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary runs $30.99/adult and $16.99/child.  In Magic Kingdom, Crystal Palace is $22.99/adult.

Dinner is also a character buffet, this time featuring Cinderella, Prince Charming, Anastasia and Drizella.  It’s my understanding that Lady Tremaine no longer appears normally.

I wasn’t in a particularly photograph-y mood for some reason, so I don’t have a lot of pictures of the restaurant.  There are probably two reasons for that.  It’s pretty awkward taking pictures of buffet food while others are trying to serve themselves.  Everyone thinks I’m crazy.  Luckily, I have bobbing, weaving, and the deke down to a science.  I’m basically Wayne Gretzky of the Disney blogosphere.  This picture was taken from the main entrance.  The restaurant is basically a large room with an annex that I’m standing in.  For what’s supposed to be Disney’s upscale, flagship restaurant, the restaurant really isn’t particularly special.  You can see the carpet and generic chairs and tables along with the nondescript lighting.  The larger room is where the action happens.  There’s a waltz where a few people dining will be asked to dance with the characters.  The characters are also “presented” every once in a while.  Sitting in the back ( or really just inside the entrance), we didn’t have a clear view of any of this.  It might be nice if they waltzed around the room or something.  Otherwise, there really isn’t much at all to the restaurant.  We certainly aren’t talking Biergarten here, where the atmosphere is one of the main draws.  A lot of people complain about noise in the main room.  This is apparently less of a problem if you’re sitting near the entrance away from the action as noise wasn’t an issue for us at all.  So there’s some give and take there.  Before you enter the restaurant, you’ll have an opportunity to take a picture with a “fairytale backdrop.”  There isn’t usually a character present.  If you don’t want to wait to take the picture, you can ask to be seated immediately.  Since it’s usually just a backdrop. there likely won’t be a line if you’re planning to add the picture to a PhotoPass+ Package.

This Victorian organ is located high up above the opening between the main room and the annex on the main dining room side.  Had I not stood up to take pictures of the buffet food, I’m not sure I would have noticed it was there.

Buffet options:





































And finally, Gummy Bears(!), Brownies, Cookies, Apple Crisp, Bread Pudding, and a Vanilla Sauce for the Pudding.

That’s everything!

Le expertly prepared buffet plate.  Looks like we have some Beef Stew, Vegan Noodle Salad, Potato Salad, Watercress Salad, Beef Strip Loin, Pork Steamship, Pasta Alfredo, and Peel and Eat Shrimp.

First, I’ll tell you that Peel and Eat Shrimp with the cocktail sauce already poured over is a very bad decision in polite company.  Usually I’m alone, so I just dig in with my hands and throw anything I don’t want or like on the ground, but I was dining with Darcie (who you may recognize from Hollywood Brown Derby, Boma, and others) along with her friends Lynda and Beth.  I opted to try to eat the shrimp when as many of them as possible were at the buffet line, but I think I’m still wiping cocktail sauce off various parts of my body.  TMI?  This website is known for its thoroughness.

Anyhow, most of the food was good.  One thing that stood out as bad was the Pork Steamship, which was bone dry and one of the worst pieces of meat I’ve encountered.  That may not be the norm.  Of course, the nice thing about a Disney buffet is the “no hassle return policy.”  Simply skip whatever isn’t to your tastes and move on.  I particularly enjoyed the vegan noodles (what is happening to me) and beef stew from this plate.  The stew had a unique(?) presentation where potatoes were baked(?) on top.  The Watercress Salad was Lynda’s favorite and a nice cold, refreshing, light dish.  The shrimp were small and nothing to write home about.  It’d be nice if Disney wouldn’t cheap out and offer nice size cocktail shrimp, but they obviously do this peel-and-eat nonsense to slow us shrimp eaters down.

The salmon was another favorite – nicely prepared with an orange glaze that wasn’t as acidic as some.  My estimation is that the sushi is the same Mitsukoshi-prepared stuff that’s prevalent all over the resort.  They would sell you nine of these pieces for around $9, so this would be an easy way to get your money’s worth without having to worry about it being too much of a gut bomb.  It was served with all-you-can-pile-on wasabi and ginger.  The Paella seemed to be light on the seafood (and flavor), but you can spot a single small scallop and slice of sausage.  Someone may have stood there picking out the good stuff.  The fruit selection was what you could expect from a Disney buffet – fresh and a nice accompaniment to some of the heavier items.

Darcie assembled what may have been the most attractive buffet plate I’ve ever seen.  That’s a helping of the “Create Your Own Pasta” from the station pictured above.  While there aren’t as many options as your typical quick service, it’s a nice way to get a freshly prepared side of pasta created to your specifications.  This is also a better example of the vegetables, fruit, and salad that are offered.

The Strawberry Soup is lauded by some(?), but seemed to be not a whole lot more than melted strawberry ice cream.  It is creamy, sweet, and strawberry-y and would make for a nice light dessert I think.

There seemed to be a decent variety of desserts.  The bread pudding was particularly good and gummy bears are always fun!  The table made fun of my cheesecake with half the topping removed because they’re mean spirited, but I can assure my audience that I took the utmost care possible in placing the cake on my plate.  Otherwise, it’s rare to find a dessert at a character buffet that stands out and this is no different.

Character interaction seemed to be average at best.  As usual, I trolled Prince Charming by asking him what his name is.  The “Prince” came completely out of character and said, “You know that’s really a problem right now as he doesn’t have one,” along with, “They’re trying to figure that out.”  As you may know, “they” call him “Prince Charming,” but that isn’t his name because he doesn’t have one.  I persisted, asking, “So what does your mom call you?”  To which I got, “Prince or Prince Charming.”  Kind of weird, but I don’t just.  It is a faraway kingdom and all.

Drizella…always scheming.  Service was okay, if not entirely impersonal.  As far as buffets go, 1900 Park Fare may have the reputation for having the worst service.  Our plates were cleared quickly and beverages were refilled, but that was about it.  At least I was never asked how anything was or what else we might like, not that the server could potentially do anything to rectify it.  That’s actually something I’ve noticed lately at sit-down restaurants.  Servers rarely seem to check back in and ask how the meals are.  Maybe because they don’t want to know the answer?

Ordinarily, the characters will have at least one collective handler, if not one for each character to help take pictures of the group and move the characters along.  Here, they have none, and no one was interested in whether all the characters had come by.  Then again, we did briefly see all the characters, so I can’t complain.

While historically desperate to get married, I guess she’s not that desperate.

Overall, 1900 Park Fare is prototypical of the Disney Character Dinner Buffet.  Food ranges from below to above average.  You’ll likely find a few items you love and a few that aren’t quite as good, with most being perfectly decent.  But if you don’t like something, it’s very easy to move on to something else.  For the target demographic, there is a lot of value here.  Of course, the target demographic is the big eater that wants to meet the characters, doesn’t want to spend time meeting the characters in the Parks, and isn’t looking for the highest quality food and service for the money.  If you don’t care about the characters, don’t plan to eat a lot, and/or want impeccable food and service, then the Disney character buffets will only disappoint.  If you’re trying to justify the $36 price tag, keep in mind that fountain beverages are included as well as dessert and coffee. As a group of four adults, we felt right at home dining there, so don’t let the fact that you don’t have children or the children are older dissuade you from visiting if you’d like to.  And if you have kids that love these characters, the pictures and interaction are money well spent.

Comments

  1. marshallj says

    Good read. Gummy bears. mmmm.
    When staying at the Boardwalk, I routinely will get off at the Swan Bus stop and walk over to the Boardwalk instead of waiting on the bus.

  2. ex007 says

    Having just returned from our Polynesian 4-night stay, I’ll just say that I was STUNNED that bus service from AK was shared by GF, Poly and Contemporary. Yet, AoA gets its own direct service. Makes absolutely no sense to me. Especially that we had what I thought was an extremely long wait for a bus to leave, with the line approaching 40+ people. Not sure I understand what WDW is thinking.

    Re 1900 PF, agree with Josh’s comments re dinner. Very boring room. Sad to hear Lady Tremmaine is no longer there routinely. Frankly, she was the most interactive character for a dinner a couple of years ago. That said, we had breakfast there last Saturday, and I thought it was very good. The hash browns were the best of I’ve had on property and with all of the other options, including the omelet station, it was a good value. Interaction with Mary Poppins was terrific. She recited supercalifragilisticexpialidocious backwards when our DD6 asked without hesitation – and then provided an even faster version just to “show off.” Our DD loved it. I told her that she had aged far better than I had in the years since I first saw her movie in 1964. Without missing a beat, she came back with “See what a spoonful of sugar each day will do.”

  3. Mike D says

    Staying at Pop Century? Dedicated bus service.

    Precisely why we decided to opt for this value resort on our 4 day visit next month! Thanks Josh for reaffirming our decision. Little room time and losts of park time so POP sounds perfect. With that said we have a 6 night Poly stay in April, despite the bus service being shared, dedicated monorail service is worth the 4 or so potentially painful bus rides to/from AK and HS. Great review and it makes me happy to have a boy…1900 Park Fare isn’t on his list…I guess “princess worshiping” will come one day…too soon…

  4. bowbat says

    Interesting about the bus routes. When we stayed at GF, the bus was shared only with WL. And when we stayed BWI, the bus was shared only with Swan/Dolphin. Lucky? Or does the routing change based on season/crowds?

  5. BeckyW says

    We just had dinner at 1900 PF on 10/21, and Lady Tremaine was indeed there in all her glory. We LOVED the interaction with Drizella and Anastsia as well, they were sweet to my daughter and teased & kissed my son (much to his horror!)

  6. Heather says

    Honestly, after a few weeks of newbie reading this website, I’m pretty sure I’m just reading the articles and the comments for the humor.

    I mean, content is great and all, but seriously, make me laugh and I’m your girlfriend for life.

    Just for the sake of appearing normal(*snort*), we had dinner at 1900 waaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 2003. My kids were little sprouts back then, sniff. This was a highlight of the trip! Character interaction was precious and goose bumpy. A few years later we had breakfast at Crystal Palace…eh…you know? Just, eh. Got us at to front of the pack, so that’s something.

  7. Jill Marie says

    I don’t know why…but I love buffet food pictures. (And I swear…I’m not fat.)

    Darcie’s plate looks exactly like what I would have chosen.

    That “strawberry soup” stuff looks so disgusting. Like a bowl of pepto bismal with seeds in it or something. Nasty.

    What are the decent non-character buffets at WDW? Are they any cheaper than the character buffets?

  8. Sara Froimovitz (safroim) says

    So I read this whole post, slowly scrolling through all the food pics in the hope of seeing pics of Josh with the ladies. And………..nothing.

  9. wongck says

    Thanks for the review. I am thinking of doing this on my next WDW visit.
    Was wondering what that Strawberry soup was…. well, now I know.

  10. keri says

    @Jill Marie – the only one that comes to mind is Trail’s End Tavern over at Fort Wilderness, which I always loved (and plan to return to next time I’m on an overnight stay), but it’s a bit out of the way.

    @bowbat – I think they might change depending on time of day, too? At least, it seems like if I’m wanting to hop off at the BWI midday, I’m sharing the bus with the other 4 resorts, but if I’m heading out in the morning, it’s dedicated BWI, and depending on the park’s attendance for the day, may or may not be shared. There’s probably fancy algorithms for it. (I sometimes like to walk from BWI to Epcot after arriving at Disney via the Marketplace – I find the walk less confusing than from the Beach Club – I always get lost in the hallways there.)

  11. Darcie says

    I’m blushing. That was a nice looking buffet plate, wasn’t it? I actually liked sitting outside of the main room, especially since we were there without kids. It was quieter and we still got to see all of the characters (and Josh, you must have missed when our waiter come around to make sure they had all stopped at our table).

    Jill, my favorite non-character (or character) buffet by far is Boma.

  12. Darcie says

    Josh, I don’t think you were listening to Prince Charming. He did stay in character and said he would have to ask his dad, the King, if he had a copy of his birth certificate somewhere since he had always just been called Prince or Prince Charming. I thought he was very charming (and quite nice looking) and handled your trolling like a prince. :)

  13. Jeremy says

    Probably one of the best meals we have had on Disney property. The character interaction is Great. The step sisters flirting with all of the youg boys is hilarious. To top it off 4 year old daughter got to dance with prince charming. That made her year HAHA! The food was very good and there was a good variety. It is on our list for a return trip.

  14. Mike says

    I just don’t get those character buffets, well ok that’s not true I get them completely very often really expensive adults with cheaper kids who absolutely have this vision that the characters will be eating at their table, way to suck in the money Disney :)

    When I went with the “free” dining I stayed away from all character buffets, although the wife did want to try German food, so Biergarten it was! And I agree the atmosphere was just WOWZAH! Sat with this couple from up North someplace who didn’t want to fly so drove to down, even talked about driving to Disneyland, not being rude and saying “you’re nuts” I simply said “yeah my mom doesn’t like flying either”

    Most buffets entrees are really hit or miss usually miss as things more often than not get overcooked or are dried out, however the one thing I can never get enough of is the desserts at these places, yum yummy!

  15. Anonymous says

    I am just not a buffet person, I get grossed out by the serving utensils being handled over and over again. They should have stations with antibacterial gel for people to use before they start serving themselves. Even then I couldn’t, that’s just me.

  16. says

    Josh– you didn’t mention Boyd! My goodness, now you need to go back so you can see him, get his autograph, and a picture. You know who Boyd is, right?

  17. shalom says

    If they gave Prince Charming a better name, that’d just be one more thing for dads and other relatives of Princess lovers to get wrong. In hubby’s world, there’s “the Prince” (Snow White’s), “The other Prince” (Cinderella’s), “the Prince with the horse” (Aurora’s), “the Prince who can’t swim” (Ariel’s), etc. He has enough trouble keeping the princesses straight.

  18. Merrilyn says

    Cinderella has had a complete make-over (as most of the princesses will soon have). New dress and new hair. Of course this has stirred up quite a bit of controversy among Disney traditionalists

  19. Dana says

    This might be the only sentence in history that compliments both the vegan salad and the beef stew.

    Thinking about our trip at the beginning of October (only a few weeks ago, seems like years), Cape May dinner buffet absolutely hit it out of the park, with Boma being not nearly as great as I remembered. But maybe the fact that the in-laws came along to the Boma meal had something to do with it. 😉

  20. Jill Marie says

    @Mike – What’s wrong with driving to vacation locations? We love road trips. We’ve driven 1500 miles (each way) to/from California on a few occasions. And growing up, my family drove the 1500 miles each way to Florida too. It was fantastic.

  21. Melissa says

    The people I’ve known who went to 1900 PF, went because they couldn’t get reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table.

    I don’t feel so bad about Pop Century and Art of Animation having dedicated bus service when the grand Floridian doesn’t, because the bus is the only way to get *anyplace* from there without a car. While the boats and monorail at GF won’t get you *everywhere,* they will at least get you off the hotel grounds.

  22. Alby says

    Jill Marie: besides Boma, Cape May gets good reviews for its dinner clambake (breakfast is good too, but has Minnie and friends), while the Wave has a tasty and little known breakfast buffet

  23. RebeccaMcK says

    I’m glad we had dinner there in October 2011 and got Lady Tremaine. We thought the food was okay (I liked it more than Hubby did, but there’s a lot he won’t eat anyway), but we don’t feel we’ll ever go again now that we met each character. Might try the breakfast some time since we don’t have a pic of Mad Hatter yet.

    @shalom
    Those are great descriptions of the Disney princes, lol. Especially “the one who can’t swim.”

  24. shalom says

    @ Mike & Jill Marie — We like driving as well. I like the flying part of flying, but hate the airport hassle and like the pacing of driving better. Going down we take our time but don’t have anything particular planned and don’t get very far off the highway unless we’re traveling with little ones, when we’ll drive a few miles off in order to do parks with interesting play areas; coming back we take an extra day and usually hit a museum or a national park, but both ways we enjoy the scenery. And there’s not such a sharp “vacation’s over” thing. Eldest son would rather fly, but the rest of the family appreciates the transition time.

    For some reason airport delays make me crazy; driving delays, OTOH, are always an adventure.

  25. Rick says

    We had the character dinner at 1900 park fare at the end of October. The food was average, our server was very nice and helpful. Lady Tremmaine was there and wonderfully stern; Drizella and Anastasia were also great fun especially Anastasia who was asking to marry or at least kiss my 7 year old son and totally freaked him out. Cinderella and Prince Charming were a little dull in comparison. Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

  26. aobrien says

    I’ve pretty much decided I’ll never stay at a Deluxe resort unless I come into enough money to stay at the Contemporary with the Magic Kingdom view. They are expensive, far away from everything except the Magic Kingdom, and as I learned on our last trip share buses with each other. We stayed at AOA in September and went over to Chef Mickeys for dinner one night, then took the bus to Hollywood Studios. I was shocked that the deluxes shared buses when the lower level resorts get their own.

  27. Trudy says

    That’s not the annex. The annex is a little room at the far side of the dining room. The room is only two tables wide (one row against each wall) and maybe 7-10 tables deep. Now THAT is an annex.

    @Jill Marie Here are the non character buffets/fixed price meals that I can think of:
    Cape May Cafe (dinner) at Beach Club
    Trail’s End (breakfast & dinner) at Fort Wilderness
    ‘Ohana (dinner) at Polynesian
    The Wave (breakfast) at Contemporary
    Captain’s Grill (breakfast) at Yacht Club
    Whispering Canyon Cafe (breakfast & dinner) at Wilderness Lodge
    Boma (breakfast & dinner) at Animal Kingdom Lodge
    Biergarten (lunch & dinner) at Epcot in Germany
    I think Garden Grove at Swalphin may not have characters at every meal and may be all you can eat but I’m really not sure.

  28. Coltgurl says

    I too am disappointed in bus service at deluxe resorts. We have better bus service at a value or moderate. When we stayed at BW the only complaint I had was buses. It took FOREVER to get to or get from AK or MK. Not only that but the buses were full to the brin so standing for an hour on a herky jerky bus is not what I would consider a “deluxe” service. Thank goodness we spent most of our time at EP and HS.

  29. keri says

    Oh, wow, there are a ton more non-character buffets than I’d thought – I kind of had it in my head that all buffets are with characters. Also, I keep mixing up Boma and the one at the park.

    I have to agree with our Anonymous who thinks buffets are gross. I don’t necessarily think of it as gross in the anti-bacterial sense, but just having the food sitting out in the open air, practically, and goodness knows what getting past the sneezeguards, and all…

    On a more pleasant question, are there any sketches or photos floating around the internet of the new princess designs? I saw that the costuming department has influenced some merchandise in soft lines the other day – my brother says that the art on some new princess t-shirts for adults is by the same folks who put together the costume drawings for cast members, and i wonder if it isn’t part of the new looks?

  30. Blue striped polo says

    I was there! Just behind drizella(?) the sister with the magenta dress. I was mad that josh dribbled the strawberry soup on me.

  31. sharon says

    lady Tremaine is always there, the only reason she wont be there is if the person playing her calls out sick..also the characters DO have a handler, you just must not have seen him or her.

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