Review: Afternoon Tea at Grand Floridian’s Garden View Tea Room

Afternoon Tea is offered at the Garden View Tea Room daily. On Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturday, reservations are available between 2pm and 5pm. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, it’s available from noon to 5pm.

Beginning at 3pm daily, music alternates between the piano player on the ground floor and the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra on the second floor above where tea takes place. I ordinarily love listening to the orchestra, but I found the music mildly distracting while trying to enjoy tea. But the piano music was particularly calming.

The Tea Room is located on the ground floor straight back from the main entrance.

The mosaics of Mrs. Potts and Chip are nice touches.

It’s an elegant space with the window tables offering lovely garden views outside and a lot of people-watching opportunities.

Securing a reservation was challenging, a fact which was surprising given the number of empty tables throughout our tea. But you can check availability online here, in addition to Disney’s official word on the experience.

It’s not quite Royal Albert China, but I thought the room had an upscale, yet accessible air about it.

Tea is not an inexpensive proposition with prices that start at $35 per person and go all the way up to $87.50.

I actually considered going with “The Berkshire Tea” as it was “only” about $22 more per person than “The Cheshire Tea” to add the caviar. But with tax and tip, it would have cost $218, which seemed kind of rough. The difference between the Cheshire and Bedfordshire is that the Cheshire starts with a cheese plate.

The second page explains more about what each course offers and adds the Mrs. Potts Tea aimed at the youngsters for $23.

The tea list is extensive:


Unfortunately, it’s all tea bags these days, rather than anything loose leaf, so the tea has a tendency to get weaker instead of stronger as the afternoon progresses.

As someone that typically enjoys an afternoon scotch in lieu of tea, I am not much of an aficionado, but I went with the Perfect Afternoon and Erin got the Enchanted Forest. We added two glasses of Veuve for a total of $30, which is a little rich for my blood, but they were strong pours and the champagne is nice and crisp.

Both were fine as Twining’s Tea typically goes. But while I can appreciate the sponsorship, more flavorful loose leaf teas would certainly be appreciated.

We opted for one Bedfordshire, and one Cheshire, in order to share the “Selection of Fruits and Imported Cheese.”

We’ve got raisins, pineapple, mango, kiwi, and pear along with some chunks of straightforward cheese and some jelly. None of the fruits were particularly fresh or flavorful and I don’t think the cheese is anything you couldn’t get off the shelf at the grocery store. It was kind of fun to eat a little bit of this and that as we sipped the tea, but as far as $15 Disney cheese plates go, this would rank at or near the bottom on quality.

Five items arrive as part of the “Medley of Finger Sandwiches.”

These all seemed to be “fine.” The cucumber had a nice crunch to it. The goat cheese triangle had some tang to it. The onion tart had a nice crunchy crust and a sweet onion-y flavor.

The egg salad rectangle was proficient – soft and tasted like creamy egg. The curry sandwich, which was the only one served not-open-faced, had a light yellow curry flavor and a little bit of a sweet aftertaste. All told, it was fun to try the little sandwiches and sip the tea, but you might be able to pick up on my lack of excitement for any individual item. The plating seems to leave something to be desired as well.

The Tea is a very leisurely experience and all told, we spent just over an hour and a half enjoying ourselves. The sandwiches and cheese were brought out together and then this tower arrived just over 30 minutes after. I’m not sure if it’s “traditional” to bring out the scones and dessert at the same time, but here we are.

The “Buttery Golden Raisin Scone” with “Devonshire Clotted Creme, Lemon Curd, and Apricot Jam” was a real treat. The quick bread was dense, but light, and the sweetness of the raisins and buttery quality of the scone complemented each of the accompaniments nicely.

I particularly enjoyed the lemon curd with the sweet, yet sour chilled dessert spread contrasting with the raisins really nicely. I wish I had skipped a couple of bites of the sandwiches and saved some more room for the later courses. The Strawberry Preserve Tart was disappointing. The crust provided an adequate crunch, but the artificial strawberry flavor was overwhelmingly sweet. I felt like I had to take a rest in between bites.

There are three choices when it comes to dessert.

I was impressed by the Seasonal English Trifle with layers of Lady Fingers, Chantilly, Seasonal Fruit, and Hand-whipped Creme.

It was served at a cold, refreshing temperature, and was packed with an incredible amount of cherries that combined really nicely with the chocolate chantilly and the almost-frozen texture of the cream on top. The logo on top is a fun touch too. Again, I would have much preferred being able to finish this over gobbling up the egg sandwich from before, so be mindful of what’s coming if you elect to visit.

Erin went with the “Delicate House-made Pastries with Mousse filled Swan, French Macaroon, and Chocolate Covered Strawberry.”

She appreciated that the filling was lighter than expected, but still appropriately sweet. The swan didn’t add any flavor, but is certainly one of the more precious vessels we’ve run into.

The strawberry was ripe and juicy with your standard thin chocolate coating. It might have been a little bit of strawberry overkill given the tart, but still tasted good. Disney is never going to figure out what a macaron is, so I may give up that fight, but the chocolate and vanilla flavors were prominent and both had a nice chew to them.

Overall, Afternoon Tea cost $144 with tax and tip or $72 each. Granted, we added two glasses of champagne and the cheese plate, but it seemed overpriced for the quality of food and service we received. For the same money, we could have gone back to brunch at Narcoossee’s, which I thought was a far more enjoyable experience with significantly better food. The price is similar because Narcoossee’s takes 20% off with Tables in Wonderland (or, at the time of writing this, an Annual Passholder discount), while Afternoon Tea does not. I recommend skipping the cheese plate as what’s coming after should be plenty filling. If it’s not, hold off on the champagne and cheese for upstairs at Citricos or Mizner’s, both of which offer more drink variety and significantly better cheese.

But at the $35 price point, there may be some value here, though for the same money you could have breakfast at 1900 Park Fare or a steak at Grand Floridian Cafe. But the tea offers a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the theme parks in the middle of the day and the atmosphere is pleasant and relaxing. It’s particularly popular with moms and daughters, of which I’m neither (yet). Personally, I think I would have enjoyed spending $144 elsewhere on property, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to consider it.

Comments

  1. Thad says

    Thanks as always for the excellent review! What do you mean when you say that Disney is never going to figure out what a macaron is?

    • Jaimie says

      There are two similarly-named dessert cookies… macaroon and macaron (one “o”). What’s pictured is a macaron. I’m guessing it’s because the menu read “macaroon”?

  2. Jaimie says

    I enjoyed this solo last year at $35. It was a really lovely place to read a book, and a memoir from the 1920s at that. One of my favorite Disney moments, although they rushed my courses a bit. The scone and toppings were the best part, yep. I guess they keep it so empty because… atmosphere? Wait staff?

    I wish there’d been an option to get more tea for something less than $35 again.

  3. Deb says

    Thanks Josh for the review. I’ve always wanted to go and am finally taking my mom in July. I was debating which to get w/o breaking the bank and feel good about the less expensive option now. So helpful!

  4. Catherine says

    We did tea here and it was nice but nothing amazing. We definitely felt rushed through the courses. I’m not sure I’d rush back to do it again. If you’ve never done afternoon tea this is a decent, if limited, version.
    Beautiful photos!

  5. Elizabeth says

    My sister and I went together and spent closer to $35 each. For us it was well worth it for the ambiance and uniqueness. The setting is so lovely. I’ll definitely be going back with my daughters someday!

  6. Kim says

    I did this with my adult daughter last year. Kip, our waiter, was excellent, the tea was wonderfully refreshing and the puff pastry swan was adorable. You certainly are paying for the ambience and not the food.

    My biggest pet peeve were the place settings. For the price they certainly should have been my mom’s fine china tea set. Instead what you are served on is heavy ceramic dishes trying to mimic china. The cups in particular felt awkwardly heavy and the rims bulky. Took away from the vibe they’re going for.

  7. John says

    In England all courses arrive at the same time, or at least they did at the 4+ different places I dined at. The three tiered stand would have sandwiches on the bottom, scones in the middle, and dessert on top. I found tea at the GF to be lacking only in portion size, but felt pretty authentic.

  8. RebeccaMcK says

    The tea meal is nice, and Afternoon Teas everywhere I’ve seen are always overpriced. It’s an ambience thing more than anything else. I’ve done this GF one a couple times now and it’s decent enough. The swan pastry is precious, and everything tastes pretty good.

  9. says

    I had wanted to do this for so long but my husband is not a tea drinker nor into fancy things so I kept putting it off. Finally this March I just booked it and we went and it wasn’t for me. We booked the noon seating and treated it as lunch and got the $35 version. Everything was “fine” but the service was just bare minimum OK. Not rude, but not friendly or relaxing. In fact since I can’t eat gluten the chef came out and Brian said he was standing behind me rolling his eyes while I was taking pictures (I did not know he was there or of course I would have put the camera down) and our server was just OK – maybe she was having a bad day. The tea to me was also just OK. I love tea and while decent, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t easily make at home. Also, since we got there at noon we saw all the trays of food that they were going to serve sitting around in the open air just waiting on people to arrive. I appreciate you can’t make all of those things on the fly, but I would have though they would be kept refrigerated until served. This is not something I would do again. Maybe we just went on a day everyone working there was not in a good mood, but service to me can make or break a dining experience.

  10. dusty cheatham says

    in reading different reviews ” maybe they were just having a bad day ” stands out to me. as josh stated with comparable meals @ other locations to me should stand as a warning to steer clear of this ” tea ” . food sitting in the open , different items not tasting well service bad. I love the grand flo for its music & citricos & a nice adult bev. . but if the food , service was just so so & or bad I would not be coming back . make Disney earn your bizz. . as someone who just renewed passes $ 40.00 more per month Disney needs to earn my bizz @ this price point with their service & product . just one mans opinion.

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