The Frozen Ever After Dessert Party replaced the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party back on July 17th, 2017.
At a cost of $79 per adult and $47 per child (ages 3-9), including tax and gratuity, the Dessert Party consists of three major components:
- The dessert buffet, featuring sweet and savory options, in addition to beer, wine, and select cocktails.
- Reserved viewing for IllumiNations. If the dessert buffet portion is conducted outside, then viewing is seated at reserved tables. If the dessert buffet portion is held inside (typically due to the chance of inclement weather), then the reserved viewing is standing-room-only. Either way, there’s plenty of room for all to see.
- One ride on the Frozen Ever After attraction after IllumiNations.
As always, we’ll take a good look at what’s available at the buffet, consider the value of the reserved viewing and Frozen ride, and try to figure out whether or not it makes sense for you and your group to book this experience. My recent review of the Happily Ever After Dessert Party is available here. I also have a review of the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party here. If you’d like to skip the review, my opinion of whether or not the event is “worth it” can be found in the last sentence below.
During the summer, there’s a good chance that the buffet portion will occur indoors in the lounge space above the Frozen Ever After attraction in Norway. This seems like good news as the space is large and air-conditioned versus the heat and humidity of your typical Floridian evening. If the Party occurs outside, you’ll find the tables and dessert buffet in the reserved section to the left of the much-larger FastPass+ viewing area at the base of World Showcase directly opposite of the United States Pavilion.
In effect, the Dessert Party basically includes two extra Tier 1 FastPass+ experiences. If you end up standing for IllumiNations due to the threat of rain, then the experience is very similar to the one offered with FastPass+ next door. If you’re seated, then that is a more comfortable, unique experience, though you don’t have as much control over your vantage point since tables are assigned. But either way, Party attendees can basically guarantee that they’ll have a view equal to or better than 97.6% of the other people watching the show.
Back to the food, here’s what’s on the menu, food-wise:
This is a nice assortment of items that Disney will offer you if you’re hosting a private event at one of the many areas available to rent out around World Showcase for the nighttime spectacular.
We’ll work our way down the line beginning as far from the broccoli as possible.
How hard you come down on the quality of the majority of these desserts depends on your expectations. They are universally edible, but most are made by the thousand using basic ingredients. Just about anything you’d order at a World Showcase quick service would taste better. Anyway, the Key Lime Tart filling had a largely artificial citrus taste with the graham cracker crust doing a nice job of containing it and the sugar glaze on top adding a satisfying, crispy crunch. It’s certainly serviceable and of course, if you don’t like something, you can push it to the side and try again.
I feel like “no sugar added” is typically code for “try something else,” but the “No Sugar Added Lemon Curd with Blueberry” was light and refreshing. The lemon curd had a surprisingly rich quality to it, nicely tempered by the cream and brightened by the burst of blueberry flavor from the ripe fruit on top. There’s perhaps some hidden Mickey action going on as well.
The “Crispy Bon Bons” are typically a bust as far as I’m concerned and these were no different – dry and lacking much flavor. But there’s no real downside to biting into one, which is one of the nice things about the buffet versus dropping $5 on a larger “crisped rice treat” at Mouse Gear that somehow has an expiration date seventeen years in the future.
I appreciated the fun presentation on the “Snow Flake Blue Velvet Cupcakes.”
And these were above average, though the moistness of the cake may have had something to do with the fact that they basically marinate in food coloring. But the snow flake candy topper is a lot of fun and the icing is light and sweet. The kids love ’em.
What Disney is calling “Assorted Eclairons” are available in a variety of colors and flavors. These are quite similar to the macarons that we ran into at the Happily Ever After Dessert Party – soft and chewy with what is typically an artificial overall flavor. But with the eclairon, you “feel” like you’re getting two big bites out of each, versus the nibbling that usually goes on with the hamburger-looking version. You might ask for a to-go box for these as they transport somewhat well, even if they’re probably going to get a little squished.
The fruit selection was miles better than what we saw at Happily Ever After, including what might have been the last watermelon on the planet that was still full of seeds. Here, we have green apple slices, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, cantaloupe, strawberries, and pineapple – mostly all ripe and flavorful, though these particular strawberries don’t look great.
This is officially “Winter Spiced Snack Mix” though it’s probably a little closer to your standard trail mix. Still, it was packed full of crunchy nuts and pieces of this and that along with quite a bit of dried apricot, cranberry, raisin, and more. Another good choice.
Grilled Flatbread next door.
Finally, there’s a little bit of a fondue station with the three-cheese version accompanied by broccoli and bread cubes.
After flinging a couple bowls of trail mix across the room at the mere sight of broccoli at a DESSERT PARTY, I spooned some of the cheese fondue over the green vegetable and it’s actually a pretty good excuse to eat a lot of cheese sauce.
But there’s more than just the main drag as a table located opposite offers some of the best items at the Party.
The “Double Chocolate S’mores Pudding Cake” was my favorite item with the warm temperature, smooth texture, and rich chocolate taste contrasting expertly against the creamy Hand Dipped Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. The toasted marshmallow added some fluffiness, in addition to more sugar.
You may well prefer the “Warm Cottage Pudding with Salted Caramel Glaze,” but it was too sweet and too caramel-y for me, and you’re talking to someone that would take Karamell-Küche intravenously if it was only offered for a snack credit.
On the food front, we end with the Nitro Popcorn, which is kind of fun.
The nitrogen-infused popcorn causes smoke vapor to be released upon biting into the chilly, brittle pieces, with cast members warning each person grabbing a cone that they might come out of the experience feeling a little more like a Targaryen.
Quite a few alcoholic beverages are included – more than we’ve seen at other Dessert Parties. In my review of the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, you might remember that select cocktails were included, but no wine, beer, or cider were offered. At the Sparkling Dessert Party that preceded the Frozen offering here, only a couple of low-end sparkling wines were offered.
The Hogue Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Cabernet Sauvignon, along with the Mirassou Pinot Noir are just fine as far as table wines go at around $9/bottle. If you’re looking for the lightest, fruitiest, least expensive wine, then Beringer White Zinfandel is also available. Angry Orchard Apple Cider, Corona Extra, Yuengling, and Bud Light are also available. At regular Disney prices, these are “worth” around $7 each with the Angry Orchard and Corona typically costing a dollar or two more than the Bud Light.
To make sure the bar was consistent, I tried at least two of each cocktail. On the far left is the “Pina Colada – Pina Colada Mix, Malibu Pineapple Rum, Garnish Boba Pearls.” This is just about as basic as you can get with a cocktail with the syrupy, sugary, thick pina colada mix watered down a bit so it goes further for the bar and is easier to drink for the consumer. The boba pearls were so small that they didn’t seem to have any effect on the experience and if anything, tended to stick to the ice. The “Summertime Celebration Margarita – Tequila, Strawberry Monin, Lemonade, Lime Juice” was my favorite of the bunch. Nobody looking for La Cava del Tequila circa 2012 is going to be impressed, but the juice does a decent job of masking the Sauza.
On the left is the “Sangria – Veuve Vernay Champagne, Blue Curacao, Pineapple Juice, Triple Sec.” It’s certainly an “interesting” take that sort of works, at least so far as masking any bitterness from the wine with the sweet, tropical flavors of pineapple and artificial orange. I thought the Veuve Vernay, which had a nice crisp quality to it, tasted much better on its own as pictured on the right. You can also ask about getting any of the other liquors on the rocks or neat if you prefer.
Canned sodas are available – Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, and Sprite. We didn’t see these at the Happily Ever After Party and while they will provide a can if you ask at Star Wars, they’re not out there either.
From the left, Decaffeinated Coffee, Coffee, and Hot Water are on offer, followed by Summer POG Juice (Passion Fruit, Orange, and Guava) and a Frozen Heart (Lemonade, Sprite, Cotton Candy Monin.)
The sweet POG juice is a favorite of many and you may have tried it at one of Disney’s many breakfast buffets. The Frozen Heart was kind of fun as a fizzy lemonade with some added sugar from the cotton candy syrup.
Hot cocoa and tea are available.
Here’s the dessert buffet setup in Norway. The non-alcoholic beverages are on the left with the ice cream and hot dessert options further up. The nitro popcorn is around the corner on the right. The bar is behind me.
There’s two main dining rooms with this one “feeling” a little more congested with about 65.8% of the people attending assigned to one of these tables. Each seats ten, so your party will likely be seated next to others, at least two of which will have a vlog.
The other room has about four tables of ten people each.
The Dessert Party officially gets under way one hour before IllumiNations begins, but they’ll start seating people 15 minutes before that. So with your regular 9pm IllumiNations start time, I’d be be there for the Party by 7:40pm either in Norway or at the outdoor location at the base of World Showcase. You can check in for the event and receive your wristbands at least two hours before IllumiNations begins, so you may want to check on which location is hosting the event early so you’re fully prepared. If the Dessert Party takes place in Norway, then you’ll see cast members holding signs at the front of the Pavilion and the sign that we saw above at the usual location tell people to head to Norway.
Above is the scene outside the Party entrance at 7:45pm. It’s not a big rush to get here as seats are assigned, but you might as well get your full time with an early arrival. Cast members begin walking Partiers over to the reserved viewing location at 8:45pm, so if you show up at 8pm, you’ll only have 45 minutes with the drinks and desserts, which is not very long at all.
The IllumiNations viewing is not particularly crowded with maybe two rows of people at the railing then another row in the very back. We’ve still got a shoulder kid though.
When the buffet portion is over here, everyone should remain seated at their tables.
After IllumiNations, cast will hold the group for about five minutes to let the walkways clear a bit.
We left the viewing area at 9:17pm and were outside the entrance to Frozen Ever After at 9:22pm.
Party guests walk through the FastPass+ queue, so if there are any stragglers from standby still waiting, you’ll bypass them.
But standby has completely cleared out by 9:25pm. You might remember that I’ve mentioned numerous times that getting in line for the Frozen ride a couple of minutes before close is one of the easiest ways to experience the attraction if you’re willing to miss IllumiNations and make a bet that you don’t visit during one of the three days over the course of a given month that Frozen will be down for technical problems as IllumiNations begins.
Since only around 125 people will be attending the Frozen Dessert Party, you’ve only got about ten minutes worth of queue at worst. So there’s no rush to get over here from the IllumiNations area at all.
We were on the ride in under five minutes and the queue was completely empty by the time we disembarked. There is currently no opportunity to ride a second time.
IS IT WORTH IT?
The Frozen Ever After Dessert Party is $79/adults and $47 for kids ages 3-9 with tax and gratuity included. As usual with these things, value and whether or not it’s “worth it” comes down to how much value you put on each of the components of the Dessert Party along with the intangibles that they offer. Let’s break it down.
Like most Disney dessert parties, the food is what offers the least value. Or at least, if you have a group of four people that each put $10 towards desserts at Les Halles Boulangerie, L’Artisan des Glaces, Kringla Bakeri Og Kafe, Karamell-Küche, or even something like Fountain View Starbucks, then you’re going to come away with a much tastier spread. But the desserts offered should satisfy any sweet tooth and items like the fondue, trail mix, bread, and popcorn should put a dent in the appetites of those trying to stay away from sugar-heavy desserts. With the exception of the S’mores Pudding Cake, there’s nothing here that I would have the itch to seek out again, but it did the job.
On the drinks front, each wine/beer/cocktail is worth about $7 compared to what you’d pay at another on-property venue. With a total of an hour at the buffet, plus a potential drink to-go, there isn’t a tremendous opportunity for most people to put more than a couple back. But anybody that drinks two beers here is going to get more value out of the buffet portion compared to somebody trying to eat $14 worth of popcorn and broccoli.
Of the nighttime spectaculars, IllumiNations is the easiest to see from a prime location, by far. It also offers plentiful FastPass+ experiences each day, which means it’s relatively easy to secure same-day FastPass+ for it as people cancel in order to book other experiences. I even secured two day-of IllumiNations FastPass+ on July 4th of this year. So if seeing IllumiNations is your priority, then FastPass+ offers a similar experience, especially because the viewing area is slanted so that those in the back have a much higher vantage point and can see over the heads of those in front more easily. On the downside, the FP+ reserved area is significantly larger with far more people. So if a fear of crowding is a real concern, then the dessert party viewing would be more comfortable.
Scenes like this of people pushing towards the Frozen ride are a thing of the distant past.
FastPass+ for Frozen are also much easier to secure and exactly one month ago, I updated my advice on how to experience the ride with the least amount of hassle, whether you want to visit first thing in the morning, with FastPass+, or use standby when the wait will be shortest during the day.
The point here is that seeing IllumiNations and riding Frozen Ever After are not particularly difficult achievements for the average guest. I was a lot higher on the Happily Ever After Dessert Party because there really is no easy, comfortable way to see that show from Main Street at the moment. The area in front of the Castle is incredibly congested, hot, and miserable. And attending the Dessert Party completely eliminates that discomfort. It’s also $20 less expensive, but of course does not include alcohol or a ride on any attraction, popular or otherwise.
Breaking things down, let’s say you:
- Eat $15 worth of dessert with the ice cream, pudding cake, and other goodies.
- Drink $20 worth of alcohol – a margarita and two beers.
That means you’ll need to get $45 of value out of the IllumiNations view and Frozen Ever After ride. With one day to visit Epcot, it may be worth it for those that are not returning for a while. Riding Soarin’ at rope drop is easy and it opens up your other FastPass+ selection to use at Test Track or another Tier 1 FP+.
But anybody spending two days at Epcot should be able to experience both Frozen Ever After and IllumiNations at least one time each with little hassle and find some goodies around World Showcase that taste better than what’s offered on the buffet.
On the other hand, those willing to spend more money in order to experience Epcot with the least amount of hassle or with limited time at Walt Disney World may find value in the offering. But with IllumiNations so easy to see and Frozen wait times averaging 40 minutes or less from 9am-11am, it seems like most people should spend their money elsewhere.