We visit Magic Kingdom to check out what’s going on around Main Street and to stop in for lunch at Plaza Restaurant.
Six separate February visits to Magic Kingdom will comprise this series of updates using a a couple of different cameras and a variety of lenses. We’ll start at the front of the Park and work our way around in subsequent updates.
We head across the water on the afternoon of February 11th:
Here we are arriving at 1pm with quite the backup at the tapstiles.
And heading towards Plaza Restaurant:
“Rumors” indicate Town Square Mickey will return to his silent self come May 12th. That change may have something to do with a contract ending and something to do with confusion over the fact that the characters don’t talk in other locations. On the other hand, nobody at Disney is clamoring to shut down Hollywood Studios because people are confused when they have a bad time there and a good time at most other spots across property. Mickey should continue to meet at Town Square though it remains to be seen whether he can tell you that your touring plan is bad or if he’ll have to go back to tearing it up.
It wouldn’t be Magic Kingdom if at least one building wasn’t behind a scrim ruining our photos.
If Disney only knew how much we were paying for our vacations they would certainly never close or refurbish anything.
Disney typically removes the old facade and builds a new one in its place during these refurbishments.
It’s a lot more than a coat of paint.
The House of Magic facade continues looking radiant across the street.
And around the Hub:
Plaza Restaurant is surprisingly hidden if you’re not looking for it, situating itself just around the corner at the end of Main Street opposite Casey’s Corner.
Even here, it’s hiding behind this bush.
Disney seems to mess around with when Plaza accepts reservations – for a while it accepted reservations for just one hour in the afternoon. These days, the restaurant looks to accept reservations up until around 4pm most days and perhaps be walk-up only after that. That sort of situation is “good” for those that don’t do a lot of planning and wouldn’t be at all surprised if Plaza turned out to be an Asian restaurant specializing in Korean barbecue and aged rums. It’s not quite as good for those of us that like to lock in plans. But if Plaza is on your radar, be sure to check for reservations at a variety of different times to see if there’s guaranteed availability at some point during the day. Otherwise, you might plan on eating closer to 5pm when there’s less demand for tables.
Plaza is best known for its relatively inexpensive menu focusing on sandwiches along with its dessert menu heavy on milkshakes and ice cream sundaes. With several sandwiches in the $15-$17 range, you’re paying around the same money at the Plaza as you would for a fast food hamburger at Pecos Bill or Cosmic Ray’s.
This is 16 bucks worth at Pecos and I’m pretty sure those “grill marks” are drawn on with a Sharpie. Imagine if you grew up dreaming of working for Disney only to find yourself in a kitchen closet deep in Frontierland coloring in hamburger meat. Still better than spending the day at Universal.
Plaza is entirely no-fuss.
It’s comfortable, but we’ve also got two kids jumping up and down on their chairs across from us – something I didn’t even realize when I took this picture since it was so loud that pinpointing where any specific scream was coming from proved useless. And at least half of those screams are coming from me anyway.
The Art Nouveau style and gleaming natural light make for a pleasant-enough atmosphere that would probably be a bit more elegant if the ketchup bottles were replaced with $55 3-course prix fixe meals. Maybe we shouldn’t give Disney any ideas, though I can’t imagine them installing any fixed price meals in restaurants where people take up tables to share a cupcake.
The reincarnation of “Figaro Fries” arrived here a little over 18 months ago in the form of the $8 “Plaza Loaded Fries – French Fries topped with Melted Cheese, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomatoes, and Ranch Dressing.”
I was not particularly impressed – you’ve got Disney quick service fries topped with fake cheese sauce, Ken’s ranch salad dressing, bacon bits, diced tomatoes, and a couple shreds of lettuce. On the plus(?) side, they were delivered less than three minutes after we ordered them. But unless you’re starving, the fries-sans-toppings are available as a side with any sandwich and for eight bucks, I don’t think there’s much value given the handful that’s supplied and the low quality of the ingredients. On the other hand, you might find yourself adding a side of these if you’re planning on sharing a sandwich in order to save around $7 versus ordering two entrees.
My friend Josh (not me, but another person named Josh) ordered the $15 “Grilled Reuben – Thinly Sliced Corned Beef on Grilled Marble Rye with Sauerkraut, Swiss, and Thousand Island Dressing with choice of Seasonal Vegetables, Homemade Chips, or French Fries.”
This was a pretty solid offering as far as Disney sandwiches go, though we are far from Zingerman’s territory here. There’s a lot of salty, flavorful corned beef folded over in between the dense layer of sauerkraut and the creamy dressing. Josh (again, not me talking in the third person) was a little disappointed in that just the bread seemed to be very lightly grilled, which didn’t give the bread much crunch or add any flavor to the meat or sandwich overall. Still, very filling and considerably better than 99.2% of the quick service meals that you’re going to find at Walt Disney World for similar money.
We were a little potato’d out from the fries, which is one reason why I think starting with a plate is on the superfluous side, Figaro or not. In my experience, Disney chips are typically under-seasoned and somehow taste a little more artificial than Lay’s Kettle Chips or something similar. But they do have a nice crunch.
The glutton for punishment that I’ve become, I went with the $21 “Baked Honey-Barbecued Brisket Mac & Cheese – Baked Pasta in Cheddar Cheese Sauce sprinkled with Golden Brown Bread Crumbs, Fried-crispy Onions, and Scallions topped with a Savory Barbecued Beef Brisket.”
It reminded me a lot of Hamburger Helper, which I don’t necessarily mean as derogatorily as you might expect. I like Hamburger Helper. But it was your basic overcooked shell pasta slathered in a a thick, creamy, unnatural cheese sauce and topped with a hefty helping of beef brisket that I thought was a little too sweet to work with all of the cheese. The onions weren’t particularly crispy and there weren’t enough of them to provide any textural or flavor contrast with so much cheese. And the scallions were an afterthought – soft and lacking flavor considering all of the cheese.
But it was very filling considering all of the cheese and not nearly as bad as this review insinuates. It was just a very basic pasta topped with a lot of too-sweet brisket (for my tastes) and a lot of cheese. You could probably split the large portion between two people – it was way too much for even my buffet appetite to finish.
I’d definitely consider putting that $8 fry money towards dessert:
You can mix and match flavors on that bottomless milkshake, so you can start with the bloggable limited time flavor and then go with what you really want to drink.
Josh and I (again, there are two of us) walked up to the Plaza on Monday February 5th at 12:40pm and were quoted a 20-minute wait for a table without a reservation. That ended up being accurate and we were seated just after 1pm. The Plaza Fries arrived at 1:10pm and our entrees followed at 1:22pm. We were on our way less than a half hour later. So Plaza didn’t take much longer than quick service and didn’t cost a whole lot more either. It’s also more comfortable and more pleasant than most Disney fast food experiences. It’s not always on my radar, but I don’t think it will disappoint if it’s the direction you choose to go in for lunch or dinner. And something I really can’t emphasize enough – it’s not Tony’s Town Square.
Some nighttime pictures on the way out:
We’ll see what’s going on in Adventureland and Frontierland next.