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