Dinner this evening is at the Be Our Guest Restaurant, the sit-down/quick service hybrid restaurant in the Enchanted Forest section of New Fantasyland.
New Fantasyland will be conducting “previews” for cast members, Annual Passholders, DVC Holders, and D23 members virtually all day, every day through November 18th. Beginning November 19th, the area will be open to all guests through December 5th as “Previews.” Beginning December 6th, the area will be officially open. At least until 2087 when Disney decides to demolish it and build, “Newer Fantasyland.”
In other news, here’s Test Track signage. You may be able to get into New Fantasyland, even if you’re not signed up for a Preview, if you go up to the New Fantasyland entrance and ask if they’re seating for Be Our Guest Restaurant. On the evening of November 1st, I had heard Be Our Guest would be seating. I walked up to the most important looking person manning the entrance and said, “A friend told me Be Our Guest Restaurant would be seating guests for dinner, do you need a wristband for that too?” with my patented sad puppy dog blogger eyes. The wristband refers to anyone that is officially part of the “Preview.” She replied, “Oh, you want to dine at Be Our Guest?” I said, “I’ll do anything” and she led me back.
For the best opportunity for dinner seating, I would head over at 4:30pm. They should also be allowing guests in for quick service lunch over the coming two weeks. For that, head over around 10:45am. This will afford the best opportunity to get in as you’re arriving just before they begin service. If you’re admitted, you’ll proceed up to the arrowed area. For dinner, you can opt to be seated immediately or another person off to the right will be signing people up for reservations later in the evening.
The good news is that once you’re through the initial gate, you can tour New Fantasyland to your heart’s content. No one is going to give you trouble about not having a wristband. This is mine train construction from November 1st.
And you can meet Ariel at her grotto, which is located at the end of the area past Under the Sea, Journey of the Little Mermaid.
And ride said attraction as a walk-on as many times as you want. For cast previews, the longest wait I’ve seen here is 5 minutes. And that’s the amount of time it takes to walk the queue.
Gaston’s Tavern will be serving LeFou’s Brew, Pork Shanks, and the rest of the menu.
Meet Gaston earlier in the day or pop into Bonjour Gifts:
They seem to be running out of items already, including the low ball glassware and drink coasters.
But back to Be Our Guest. Whether you opt to dine immediately or make a reservation for later, you’ll be handed one of these nondescript pagers and then proceed to the exterior of the restaurant where you’ll wait for a cast member to escort you into the Castle. This is where I saw the first potential problem. While standing outside the restaurant is no problem during a cool November evening with the sun shining, it’s going to be much less comfortable in the summer or during a rain storm. I’m not sure what the contingency plan will be for that as no one is going to be willing to stand out there for 20+ minutes when it’s 90 degrees and raining.
Speaking of Previews, we’re not quite there yet. That’s a scrim underneath the bridge to make it look like there are logs. And scaffolding was up around Maurice’s Cottage.
Once your buzzer goes off, you’ll be escorted into one of the two dining rooms open for dinner.
The Grand Ballroom is much larger and most diners will be seated there. It isn’t quite this dark in the Ballroom, but it’s pretty close. More on this later.
The other seating option is the West Wing, which looks terrible in this picture.
But we’ll return here to take a slightly better look later, hopefully before the last petal falls.
Tabletops in the Grand Ballroom are a nice faux(?)-marble(?) and the chairs are comfortable.
And the napkins folded into roses are a nice touch. Unless you’ve been sitting under a rock for the last few months, you’ve probably seen the restaurant’s dinner menu, but here it is if you haven’t. Pricing is surprisingly decent. We’ll take a look at a few specific items later, but you can theoretically get out of here with spending just $16 each on entrees.
Which includes bread service. These little French rolls were good, but nothing out of the ordinary. I prefer the Mama Melrose rolls from a couple of days ago.
Accompanied by a nice salted butter reminiscent of California Grill.
A couple of things while we stare into this cup of Onion Soup topped with a Crouton and Gruyère Cheese ($6.99). Service was abysmal. This is an early preview and I would imagine terrible service won’t be the norm once the restaurant opens. We saw our server, Brenda, exactly four times – once to order drinks, once to order appetizers/entrees, once to order dessert, and once to pay the bill. Someone else brought out the food – every time either before we had completed the previous course or before the last course’s dishes were cleared. That included the entrees where the runner asked, “Are you ready for these?” I’m not sure what he would have done if we said “No.” The appetizers came out before I even had a chance to take a picture of the bread, let alone butter a piece. No one offered to refill Jeff’s Coke. I asked for a glass of water before the appetizers came out and didn’t receive it until I asked again with dessert. The server basically threw the bill on the table with an outstretched arm and didn’t run the Tables in Wonderland card separately, as they usually do. It was just atrocious. But you can probably ignore my experience unless it becomes typical come December 6th.
Speaking of living under a rock, I ordered the:
Seasonal Salad Trio – 6.99
Three individual bowls of:
- Roasted Beet, Gold Raisin, and Orange Salad
- Green Bean, Tomato, and Roasted Shallot Salad
- Watermelon, Radish, and Mint Salad
without really looking at what was in it. I was just looking for something light since I had consumed a gut bomb for a lunch at “Bodie’s All American” just a few hours before.
Watermelon and radishes wouldn’t have been my first pairing choice, but this was my favorite of the three. The watermelon wasn’t particularly ripe, but it’s certainly one of those hit-or-miss things. I didn’t care much for the mint.
I may not be the target audience for this orange tomato, red tomato, green bean, and onion concoction. I found it to be disgusting, but you may like it if it’s your thing.
Another of what I would call an odd combination, this time oranges, roasted beets, raisins, and potato. Disney is definitely going for something “a little different” here and they’ve certainly achieved that. I wouldn’t order this again, but it may have just been my mistake in ordering it. If you like this sort of thing, I think it would be very good.
Despite being short, the beer list is pretty fantastic. I’ve discussed the Hoegaarden and Kronenbourg numerous times in the past, so I won’t retread those. Basically, the Kronenbourg is your Budweiser option and the Hoegaarden is a light, citrus-y beer.
Saison Dupont is a world class saison style beer that comes in at 6% ABV. A 750ml (25.36 ounce) bottle is going to run you $9 – $10 in stores or a four-pack of the 11.2 ounce bottles would be $16 – $20 if you can find them. The $7.25 price tag is really pretty decent considering Disney’s usual beer upcharge is 500% or more. They have no problem charging you $6.50 for a Sam Adams or Sierra Nevada that you could buy in a 12-pack for $12.99.
I was bemused by our server haphazardly pouring the 11.2 ounce bottle (directly above is le expertly poured glass from a 750ml bottle) into the glass. It was 37.4% beer, 56.9% foam, and 5.7% empty glass. Like the menu says, this is a refreshing farmhouse ale that should taste of citrus and clove. It’s surprisingly easy to drink and my favorite of the four offered.
Wow, Chimay Blue at the Magic Kingdom. Color me surprised. This is another world class beer – this time a 9% Belgian Dark Ale. A word to the wise if you’re picking one of these up at home – opening one is similar to a bottle of champagne. You’ll twist the cage six times to remove it. Then you want to ease the cork out of the top of the bottle. Pull it right out and the beer will sort of explode all over the place. This is one of the smoothest Belgian ales that’s a little too sweet for my tastes. Considering the high alcohol volume, you really aren’t going to taste it. Well known as one of the best Belgians available, it’s complex and fruity with a creamy texture. I prefer the Dupont, but I’d probably order one of each at the restaurant. In stores, a 750ml (25.34 ounce) bottle runs $10 – $12 or a four-pack of 11.2 ounce bottles would run $18 – $22 if you could find them.
When I mentioned Jeff earlier, I wasn’t talking about that Jeff. I owed Scarlett from TouringPlans.com a favor for getting me into an early Enchanted Tales with Belle preview, so I sent her a text seeing if she wanted to join me for dinner since I was standing at the podium waiting to make a reservation. She couldn’t, so she sent her boyfriend Jeff as an agent. He ordered the Grilled Strip Steak with Garlic-Herb Butter and Pommes Frites – 29.99. As you can see, the portion is huge and it was grilled perfectly to medium rare. The seasoning was spot on and the meat was tender and flavorful. This is hands down the best piece of meat in Magic Kingdom.
The “Pommes Frites,” or “French Fries,” were way over-salted. The menu advertises a “garlic herb butter,” but the lump you see next to the “frites” is actually a truffle mayonnaise meant for the fries. This caused some amount of confusion at the table as it looks exactly like something you’d slather on the steak. With the dip, the fries were much better, but probably still well over-seasoned.
I opted for the Sautéed Shrimp and Scallops with Seasonal Vegetables served in Puff Pastry with a Creamy Lobster Sauce – 22.99. In this case, the seasonal vegetables seemed to be carrots, green onions, spinach, mushrooms and bamboo shoots(?).
It was nicely presented with an additional puff pastry to the right and a single shrimp and scallop off to the side with a generous serving of the sauce layered on top.
This was easily the best entree I’ve ever had at Magic Kingdom. I’d say there was easily eight each of the shrimp and scallops inside the pastry. The vegetables and puff pastry did an excellent job of soaking up the sauce, which was rich and creamy. In some ways, you might compare it to a lobster bisque full of seafood and vegetables. The dry puff pastry on the side seemed to be overkill. Since it hadn’t been soaking up sauce for the duration of the meal, it was overly dry and flaky. And by the time you consume the 500 grams of saturated fat from the heavy cream in the lobster sauce itself, you’re probably not going to be looking to add more. But this was extremely satisfying and one of the best meals I’ve had on property. No question.
A dessert cart is brought tableside after you finish your entrees.
The options are:
Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake
- Vanilla Sponge Cake, Strawberry Mousse Filling, and Cream Cheese Icing
Triple Chocolate Cupcake
- Chocolate Sponge Cake, Chocolate Mousse Filling, and Chocolate Ganache
Lemon Meringue Cupcake
- Vanilla Sponge Cake, Lemon Custard Filling, and Flamed Meringue Icing
Chocolate Cream Puff
- filled with Chocolate Mousse topped with Whipped Cream
Passion Fruit Cream Puff
- filled with Passion Fruit Mousse topped with Whipped Cream
Lemon–Raspberry Cream Puff
- filled with Lemon Custard (Gluten-free and No Sugar Added)
For the sake of bloggability, we ordered one of each. I could have sworn I saw Disney Parks Blog say that a cupcake or cream puff is included with dinner, but they’re not. We paid $3.99 each and they’re listed on the menu as such.
I opted for the Passion Fruit Cream Puff. It was not particularly good with an artificial tasting filling. Still, Jeff and I agreed that the cream puff is overwhelmingly a better choice than the cupcakes, which are pretty boring.
The chocolate cupcake. I’m not sure if it looks small in the picture, but it is. We’ll take a look at the lunch menu momentarily, but it sounds like the same exact desserts are offered for $2.39, or about half price, at lunch. That’s about what they’re worth compared to Disney’s regular cupcakes.
I can understand why Disney is offering these simplistic desserts as they’re easy to prepare, easy to sell, and don’t take long to eat. And at $3.99 a pop, even those completely full are likely to order one or two for the table just to try once the cart appears. They are presented very nicely though with the drizzle of chocolate on the side, Be Our Guest chocolate topper, and raspberry or whipped cream topping.
Food-wise, this is a giant leap ahead of anything else available at Magic Kingdom. Tony’s Town Square is blah at best. Crystal Palace is a buffet that’s only getting more expensive as the quality and choices deteriorate. And Cinderella’s Royal Table is far more expensive and the food isn’t nearly as good.
To a point, I’m wondering what exactly Disney is up to back here. They’ve got the newest, most immaculately themed restaurant on property that’s also one of their most reasonably priced. It also serves the best, most unique food at Magic Kingdom and gives most of the Monorail Resort restaurants a run for their money on pricing and quality. I mean, the dinner steak at Kona Cafe is $28.99 these days and the steak served here is (arguably?) just as good, if not better. And my $21.99 Scallops/Shrimp entree is less expensive than all but one entree at The Wave at the Contemporary Resort. And if you want to go cheap, you can get out of here with a $15.99 Cornish Hen or vegetarian Ratatouille. And this is the only place on property to get a picture with Beast. As we’ll see shortly, it seems like whoever is in charge of food and beverage in New Fantasyland doesn’t really have a grasp on how things are run at other property restaurants and quick services. I can’t imagine things are going to stay the same here for long.
Atmospherically, the restaurant doesn’t work for me. It’s hard for me to accurately show how dark it is in here. It’s much darker than this. So dark, that the table next to us asked for a flashlight to read the menu.
The restaurant is basically lit with these chandeliers, that the cast member walking us inside the Castle was proud to point out were constructed in Italy and put together here in Florida. I guess Beast tows the company line with outsourcing.
You’ll also have a candle on your table and there are a variety of other chandeliers and lighting fixtures around the restaurant. But it’s very dark, and not in the same charming way as San Angel Inn at the Epcot Pavilion. If you’ve eaten there, it’s just about as dark here, though not quite. When I was eating the salad appetizer, I asked Jeff what he thought a few of the items were. He had to use his phone as a flashlight.
In the back of the ballroom, there is a neat mural effect.
With snow falling on the countryside.
Otherwise, the Ballroom doesn’t feel like much more than a cafeteria with chandeliers above. There’s certainly no privacy as it’s just one big room. While we were seated in the corner, noise wasn’t as big of a problem as I was expecting, but we didn’t really have anyone nearby.
And speaking of up above, the “cherubs” in the mural on the ceiling all have the faces of Imagineers’ children.
I find this to be a little creepy.
The cast member leading us into the Castle said something to the effect of, “But you might notice that not all of them look like cherubs.” I honestly have no idea what she was talking about and I was harassing her so much about trying to get her to admit that they were creepy that I didn’t want to press.
The other room open for dinner is the much smaller West Wing.
These pictures don’t do the room any justice, but it is even darker than the Ballroom, and virtually impossible to photograph.
I was kind of creeping about after dinner so I didn’t have a lot of opportunities with all the people around. But the room is true to the movie with a picture of the prince slashed.
I realize Disney is cheap, but you’d think they could replace these torn tapestries!
I mean come on! Someone tell WDWMAGIC.
Of course, the rose makes an appearance here along with the mirror.
I’m not sure how else they would theme Beast’s Castle other than dark. But it’s really, really dark.
EXCEPT!!!! The Rose Gallery, which is open for quick service lunch, but not dinner.
I like the bench seating that runs the length of the room along with the paintings and bright atmosphere. The room is probably even brighter than it looks.
The centerpiece of the room is a Belle and Beast music box, gifted by Maurice, underneath the rose light fixture above.
A few more while we’re here:
Anyway, I’m going to be eating lunch in this room. If I wanted to eat a turkey sandwich in the dark, I would just go home to my computer.
Back out near the front of the Castle, we’ll take a look at the lunch menu and ordering process.
On your walk inside, the suits of armor discuss Belle and Beast’s relationship status. One hopes Belle will fall for him instead. Another doesn’t like Beast’s chances. They either haven’t seen the movie or hearing/visibility aren’t great inside the helmets. Or maybe they’re confused by the fact Beast is both the Prince and the Beast at the same time.
This is the lunch menu. Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports5/boglunch.jpg.
I’m all for expanding the horizons of children’s palettes, but this might be a little much. I’m trying to subtract 20 years and look at the menu as a seven year old, and I’m not sure there’s anything “I would eat” off this menu. I’d be particularly concerned whether or not there were any onions or “ickies” in the marinara sauce. And I wouldn’t be in the same building as meatloaf. With broccoli florets and zucchini? LOL. Sauteed Pork with Green Beans? Are you serious? Even the Turkey Sandwich comes with Sweet Potato Fries and Peach Applesauce. Please.
This is the picture Disney Parks Blog released of the “Mickey Meatloaf.” Yeah, good luck with that. I’m taking bets on how long it takes for a hamburger and chicken nuggets to land on the menu. But I don’t recommend betting longer than three days.
Back to the most popular, newest restaurant thing. These adult entrees are less expensive than virtually any other comparable item.
This cold, boring turkey sandwich from Cosmic Ray’s with generic Disney fries is $9.59. Why would anyone order that over a “Carved Turkey Sandwich served warm on a Baguette with Dijon Mayonnaise and Pomme Frites?” FOR LESS MONEY! And we’re not even taking into consideration atmosphere here. At Be Our Guest, they bring the food to you! Everything at Be Our Guest looks to be better than the alternatives. And it’s less expensive!
And standard Disney fountain beverage pricing is $2.59 for a Regular and $2.99 for a Large. At Be Our Guest, you can refill your cup as many times as you want for $2.23. And heck, no one’s watching! You could get two drinks for four people and fill them up as often as you want. And as far as I know, this is the first time Coke Zero has been available at a Magic Kingdom quick service.
If you know how Disney works, the company is basically 37 heads that look the other way whenever one of the other heads is talking. You may remember Disney Parks Blog went live with the $7.99 Pork Shank at Gaston’s Tavern as a snack credit, which is ridiculous. The snack credit symbol was quickly covered up and Parks Blog “updated” their pictures, but it’s indicative of the disconnect between whoever is behind New Fantasyland Food and Beverage and what the rest of Walt Disney World Food and Beverage is trying to accomplish. And not to mention, dessert was originally supposed to be included with an entree. Now that the restaurant is open, it’s not. I’d be surprised if more interesting desserts aren’t offered by this time next year, if it even takes that long.
Otherwise, the ordering area for lunch is tres cute.
You’ll select what you want to purchase onscreen. Once you complete your order, you’ll be given a “rose” with a chip that will let the person delivering the food know where you’re seated.
With better food, cheaper prices, and newer, more impressive surroundings, I have no idea what Disney is going to do for lunch come Christmas Day, not to mention just about any day during the summer. Demand is going to far exceed supply, as evident by the fact Be Our Guest dinner reservations are completely full months in advance. The only detriment I see is the potential for the kids not being crazy about the offerings. But with Pinocchio Village Haus just a three minute walk away, it would be far from impossible for a parent to run over and buy a pizza while the rest of the group waits at their designated table for their food to arrive. I’m personally looking forward to the riots and parents in line for lunch at 9:30am. Extremely bloggable.
While we’re here, let’s take a look at Enchanted Forest at night. We’re headed over the bridge to Gaston’s Tavern and the rest of the area.
Here’s a few more:
I think the area will contrast well with the much brighter Storybook Circus.
And finally, a new scrim over Fairytale Hall.