We return to Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa & Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for a fresh take on 1900 Park Fare, the popular character breakfast and dinner buffet.
The Grand Floridian is undergoing a number of changes at the moment, the majority of which are taking place inside the main building on the second floor. First, Mizner’s, the resort’s main lounge, is undergoing a major refurbishment. According to Disney:
This re-imagined lounge will feature four unique spaces inspired by Belle and the Beast. The signature bar will glow from the light of a magnificent gold chandelier that takes its inspiration from Belle’s flowing ball gown, with subtle nods to the Beast’s magical rose. The formal library showcases classical baroque designs and French furnishings inspired by Belle, with hints of the Beast’s friends. The garden room will be a whimsical space that draws its inspiration from the enchanted forest surrounding Beast’s castle. And an outdoor patio will evoke the romance of Beast’s garden terrace.
The lounge will also take over for Commander Porter’s, the men’s wear store that was previously located next to Mizner’s. If you ever went in, likely by accident, then you would typically startle the poor cast members working there because there was so rarely anyone shopping. I imagine that working there required some sort of release a la Mission: SPACE where you had to prove your heart was strong enough to take all of the surprise guest visits.
Back when I reviewed The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort, I noted that the sizable Disney Vacation Club building opened without any additional dining or lounge space. Because of that, Mizner’s was even more overrun with guests as those who visit often are more likely to stop for a relaxing drink or bite to eat in the evening, rather than spend all of their waking hours in the Parks. While I enjoy visiting the Grand Floridian, Mizner’s was among my least favorite lounges on property due to the slow service and cramped space.
We could probably debate the merits of bringing Beauty and the Beast into the Grand Floridian and whether or not it “fits” into the theme of the resort. And I actually do just that on the April 10th episode of Walt Loved Podcasting. While it’s an unpopular thing to do these days, I’ll hold my opinion on the re-imagined space for sometime after the new lounge opens. It sounds like a classy upgrade and the fact that it will be larger is only good news. I think Disney has a reasonable track record when it comes to updating spaces that weren’t working. I reviewed the new Storybook Dining with Snow White dinner at Artist Point favorably and also like the character breakfast at Trattoria al Forno.
During the refurbishment, the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra performs on the ground floor. When the new lounge opens, it’s expected that the band will move back upstairs. While it’s probably less “grand,” I enjoyed seeing the band play up close. Upstairs in the lounge, the band will have their backs to you and if you’re watching from the lobby, the music sounds a little more distant when it’s coming from up above. You can pull up the band’s showtimes for a specific date here, but they’re almost always 3:45pm, 5:15pm, 6:25pm, 7:40pm, and 9pm.
The work wasn’t disturbing during my visit, though you’d think that at some point some amount of heavy machinery would be audible. On the opposite side, the Ivy Trellis Salon has closed in anticipation that it will reopen as yet another Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique location, probably in tandem with the Princess Tea Party and other events held at the resort.
A takeaway bar is located behind the musicians in case you’d like to grab a drink.
For a more traditional lounge experience, you might try the one at Citricos, which is attached to the restaurant. You’ll usually find some unique cocktails, in addition to the full Citricos menu. I’ve circled the bar and a few of the available tables.
Back to the task at hand, you’ll find the check-in podium for 1900 Park Fare through the lobby and around the corner on the left, next to the check-in podium for Grand Floridian Cafe.
Park Fare offers two distinct meals with two very different sets of characters. Here’s the breakfast lineup:
You’ll be joined by Alice, Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and Tigger at a cost of $42.60/adult and $25.56/child ages 3-9, after tax. That’s a couple of dollars more expensive than most other character breakfasts, probably due in part to the location, the quality of the food, and the number of face characters. You can pull up the exact prices for the various buffets, character meals, shows, and other fixed price affairs here. Breakfast seatings are available from 8am to 12pm, so you could feasibly get over here for a late breakfast or brunch. They’ll keep the buffet stocked until everyone in the restaurant is done eating, which is usually around 1:30pm.
Here’s dinner, with seatings from 4pm to 9pm:
Cinderella, Prince Charming, Lady Tremaine, Drizella, and Anastasia meet during dinner, which is also more expensive than most other character meals at $58.58 for adults and $35.15 for kids ages three to nine, after tax. That’s the same price as Chef Mickey’s, but about $3 more per person than Crystal Palace, Hollywood & Vine, Garden Grill, Tusker House, and the like.
The characters should be a big part of why you choose to dine here.
Cinderella ordinarily meets at Princess Fairytale Hall at Magic Kingdom, but Prince Charming is not usually available.
Not to be shown up by Cinderella, Drizella has found her own prince to parade around the restaurant. What an impressive leg kick.
Anastasia is doing her own thing…whatever that might happen to be.
The characters do a nice job of making sure everyone’s autograph books are signed as they move from table to table mingling and taking pictures.
Here, Anastasia is patiently waiting while we calculate how many kingdoms we own.
And not particularly satisfied with the answer. The Tremaine sisters meet at Magic Kingdom from 9:20am to 9:50am, 10:30am to 11:10am, 1:30pm to 2pm, and 2:30pm to 3pm either at the Castle Wall across from Friar’s Nook or immediately behind Cinderella Castle on the right side, closest to Castle Couture.
This is the exact same look I make as I read over what’s new at the Food and Wine Festival. Lady Tremaine doesn’t hold regular meet and greets, so this is your only opportunity to see her up close. She, along with her daughters, truly steals the show. They’re a ton of fun.
With about 40 items available, the buffet is an expansive one with no items repeating themselves on either side of the carving station, which you’ll find front and center.
Granted, I went in with pretty low expectations on food quality, but I was impressed by most of what I tried.
There aren’t many things more awkward than taking buffet pictures at the buffet. There’s really no reason why anyone could conceivably want to look back at the shredded carrots that they probably didn’t take any of as part of their salad. But here we are. You also have to be pretty quick to the punch as you’re liable to be pushed out of the way by some starving person who hasn’t been back to the buffet in ten minutes and may perish if they don’t get a scoop of olives in the next five seconds. Because of that, these pictures may not all be particularly inspired. We begin with Caesar Salad and Mixed Greens on the left.
Here we have “Assorted Toppings,” including said Shredded Carrots, Mushrooms, Olives, Mandarin Orange, and Grape Tomatoes hiding towards the back.
To the left we have Sliced Cucumber, Red Onion, and Chickpeas along with Ranch, Blue Cheese, Balsamic Vinaigrette, and Italian Salad Dressing. 1900 Park Fare is perhaps best known for their Strawberry Soup, which is located there on the far right. For this review, we’re joined by Matt and family, who you might recognize from our ‘Ohana breakfast review as well as the Grim Grinning Guys Podcast. You can also hear my voice on that podcast, in case my own is unintelligible. There’s actually some amount of insight into what I do in that particular episode. Anyway, Matt basically ruined my life when he quipped that the Strawberry Soup is just a Strawberry Smoothie served with a spoon. You’re not wrong, Matt. But that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. And to be fair to the Soup version, there is a lot of heavy cream in there that you probably won’t find at the Jamba Juice.
Here we have Chow Mein Noodles, Raisins, Parmesan Cheese, and Sunflower Seeds. These are all items that will fill up space that might be better used on dessert, but the Salads are reliably crisp and fresh and there’s enough toppings to make something a little more interesting than just a handful of Mixed Greens with some Ranch.
Next up we have Butternut Squash Ravioli with Sage Cream and Candied Walnuts, Ratatouille, and Fried Mississippi Catfish.
The Butternut Squash Ravioli were my favorite item on the buffet and I don’t think I would stick my nose up at them if they were served as a pricey appetizer or entree at most restaurants on property.
They reminded me a lot of a similar Ravioli served at last year’s Food and Wine Festival, where this duo would set you back $4.50. The sauce here was even richer and creamier, and the plump Ravioli were stuffed with soft, sweet Squash. Really good. The Fried Catfish was tasty too – fried up until it’s nice and crispy with quite a bit of fish inside.
The requisite Peel and Eat Shrimp are present alongside Cocktail Sauce, Remoulade Sauce for the fish, and Lemon Wedges. For just a dollar or two more per pound, Disney could serve some decent shrimp, but these remain undersized and mildly unpleasant to peel in the middle of a meal where you’re trying to wrestle with autograph books, kids, and lots of other food.
You may notice that there isn’t exactly a cohesive theme with the buffet food, though perhaps we are at the Asian station with Jasmine Rice, Sauteed Green Beans, and Mongolian Beef Stir Fry. This was all really good too. We’re not in Morimoto Asia territory here, but the beef was lean and tender and enjoyed a sweet and spicy glaze alongside an attractive sprinkle of green onion and some sesame seeds. The beans were prepared to a nice al dente and weren’t over-seasoned, which is often the case. The rice will just fill up space that could be better used on dessert, but it’s there if you want it.
The Farro Salad up front is mixed with Tomato, Cucumber, Red Onion, Feta, and Balsamic Vinaigrette for a sweet and tangy summer salad that we enjoyed. Basic cubed cheese is available in the back.
Thick slabs of Herb-crusted Prime Rib with Chimichurri cut to order are the main event. The beef was high quality with a nice seasoning rub. As is typical of Prime Rib, it is on the fatty side, which you’ll need to contend with, but slices were thick and you could come back for as much as you wanted. Beef of similar quality would set you back $36 as an entree at something like Boatwright’s, so there’s some value here if you load up on a couple of slices. I hesitate to quote the grocery store price. Of course, those who don’t eat beef or don’t like Prime Rib will be left out.
Fortunately, there are more hot options on the buffet with Roasted Cauliflower and Pine Nuts, Plant Based Zoodles, and Salmon with Olive Tapenade and Balsamic Glaze. The Salmon was nice quality too, firm and flaky with a nice sweet and tangy flavor from the Balsamic. I didn’t care for the bitter, vinegary flavor of the Olive Tapenade, but it was easy enough to brush aside. You could certainly fill up on some pretty good fish. The Zucchini Noodles were prepared nicely with Spinach and Tomatoes in an oily, garlicky sauce. The Cauliflower on the left was nicely roasted with an earthy flavor from the Pine Nuts. All good stuff too.
Chicken Noodle Soup and Clam Chowder were available.
Broccoli Slaw and Loaded Potato Salad with Bacon, Red Onion, Chives, and Cheddar Cheese. The Potato Salad was just as hearty as you would expect with big chunks of Potato. The Broccoli Slaw is also present.
The Cheese Tortellini with Lemon Cream were a nice change of pace with some of the citrus zest cutting through the richness of the cream-based sauce. The juicy Lemon Pepper Chicken Wings were big and meaty.
Homemade Cornbread, Mild Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions, and Creamy Chicken are up next. All good options.
Up front we have a Strawberry Kale Salad and Honey Butter.
Behind is a Tomato and Mozzarella Salad that looks heavy on the Tomato. And there’s even a hidden Mickey. What theming.
Some rolls to go along with the butter.
Just about rounding things out, we have Watermelon Salad, Fruit Salad, Buttered Mashed Potatoes, Braised Carrots and Shallots, and Potato and Pea Casserole.
There’s also a couple of Kids’ Stations, this one with Chicken Nuggets, Buttered Corn, Macaroni and Cheese, and Cheese Pizza.
On the other side, it’s Hot Dogs with Buns, Turkey Meatballs, Marinara, Kid Pasta, and Pepperoni Pizza.
If nothing else, you can try to fill up on Barbecue Sauce, Honey Mustard, Mustard, and Bacon Bits.
The dessert lineup is rather expansive. We’ve got Chocolate Mousse, Key Lime Tarts, Cheesecake, Carrot Cake, Cream Puffs, and Cannoli.
This is typically a quantity over quality thing.
But the desserts are small enough that you can potentially pass them around and enjoy a bite or two of each.
Then return to the buffet to grab a couple of favorites.
There’s more, of course, with Gummy Bears, Brownies, and Rice Krispy Treats.
Then it’s Apple Cobbler, Warm Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce, and Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Atmospherically, the windowless restaurant hearkens back to the Victorian era, but these days it probably “feels” more like a cafeteria with a bygone theme.
But the carousel theme is prevalent with some attractive chandeliers and a magnificent calliope, an instrument that makes noise by sending gas through a variety of whistles.
Overall, 1900 Park Fare is an expensive undertaking and one that, like most other things Disney, will only continue to increase in price.
My original review of the restaurant is from all the way back in late 2012, when the below was on the menu for $38.33/adult and $19.16/child, after tax:
What’s currently offered isn’t a major departure, though I think the food might have been a little more upscale back then with the addition of the Pork Steamship to the Carving Station and some of the seafood options. But in about 6.5 years, the adult dinner price has risen over $20 per person, or 62.8%. That’s a pretty significant rise.
The meal is potentially worth it if you’re interested in meeting the characters, including a couple that are either difficult or impossible to find during a regular day. I thought the Prime Rib was just about as good as what’s served at your standard Disney restaurant, and after loading up on that, along with some shrimp and those delicious Butternut Squash Ravioli, felt like I was getting my money’s worth compared to other options. Park Fare, like other buffets, includes as many non-alcoholic beverages as you’d like, so adding a Diet Coke to start and a Coffee with dessert will add another $8 to the value of what you’ll receive. The current $58/adult price is similar to what you’d pay next door at Grand Floridian Cafe for a three-course meal.
Here’s what you’re looking at over there for dinner:
The average appetizer is $11.86, the average entree costs $23, and the average dessert will set you back $7.50. With tax, that comes out to $45.11. Add two non-alcoholic drinks and you’re at about $54, or just $4 shy of the 1900 Park Fare meal. Of course, the food is probably better at the Cafe, though you’re giving up a lot of variety.
If appetizers and desserts are of less consequence and you’d like to spend about that much for dinner, then you could head over to Narcoossee’s to enjoy Steak and Lobster for $57.51, or a dollar less than 1900 Park Fare. You can pull up my latest Narcoossee’s review here with a review of the Grand Floridian Cafe here.
If Afternoon Tea sounds more like your jam, then you can pull up a review of that experience here.
As with almost all character meals, you’re paying for the convenience of meeting the characters with little hassle. I thought the food was pretty good for the most part, though it’s an obvious step down from most plated entrees that you’d receive at the various sit-down restaurants. The quantity and variety of food may make up for that. I certainly don’t think you’ll leave hungry and, after all is said and done, you’ll be left with the fun memories of meeting the characters long after you’ve moved on to your next meal. Ideally at Victoria & Albert’s.