Ultimate Garden Grill Review – Walt Disney World
Spinning restaurants were supposed to be all the rage at one point. Several high-profile establishments built these architectural wonders, and then others followed suit. As Wikipedia contributors have noted, literally hundreds of these places exist, but their popularity has waned over the years. The state of Florida only has two. One of them is much better than the other, though. Here’s everything you need to know about Garden Grill, the most unusual and most savory restaurant in Future World.
You won’t have any problems finding Garden Grill Restaurant. Anyone who has spent a couple of days at Epcot has been in the building. The restaurant is in The Land Pavilion, located on the second floor. It’s right beside an escalator, making it fairly hard to miss.
When you enter the building, you’ll actually be on the right floor. Your natural tendency might be to walk downstairs to the popular attractions, Soarin’ Around the World and Living with the Land. The latter ride is important, as you’re about to see, but there’s no need to visit the lower floor unless you want to do one of the attractions. Garden Grill Restaurant is directly across from the main entrance to the pavilion.
I mean, it’s a restaurant that spins slowly. That’s the hook, although Garden Grill Restaurant has a couple of other things going for it. The spinning nature of this establishment isn’t random, though.
The central selling point of Garden Grill is its location. I don’t mean the fact that it’s inside The Land Pavilion. I mean its precise positioning inside the building. Garden Grill rotates to give diners a superior view of what’s transpiring underneath it throughout the day.
The eatery is right on top of Living with the Land, the infotainment dark ride that anchors the area. While Soarin’ grabs all of the attention, Living with the Land is one of the most underrated attractions at Walt Disney World.
The “theme” of Garden Grill is to spin the restaurant slowly, gradually revealing various set pieces from Living with the Land. While other restaurants at Walt Disney World like San Angel Inn and Pinocchio Village Haus show certain parts of attractions, the slow rotation of Garden Grill gives it a full view of the actual dark parts of the dark ride.
The food is actually the other part of the theme of Garden Grill. The food here is decidedly rustic…and for good reason. This place is farm fresh in the purest sense of the words. The connecting parts of Living with the Land supply many ingredients for this all-you-care-to-enjoy (AYCE) meal.
Yes, when you ride the attraction, you’ll learn about all of the healthy processes that Imagineers employ in creating sustainable foods. Then, you’ll eat this same produce and protein during your meal! It’s one of the best ways to dine at Disney, because you’ll know that you’re eating right and supporting strong sustainability practices.
Folks who don’t care about healthy eating will still have a great meal here. Disney calls it a harvest meal. Well, there’s a longer title, but we’ll get to that in a moment. During the harvest meal, you’ll feast on farm-fresh comfort food like sliced turkey breast, pot roast, and carved pork. Other menu options include the freshest salad on the planet, Herb and Leek Stuffing, and Macaroni & Cheese. The seasonal vegetables here are also taken from Living with the Land. By now, you should get the point. This meal features some of the best ingredients that you’ll ever eat.
I haven’t touched on the best part yet. Garden Grill is a character meal. Entitled Chip ‘n’ Dale Harvest Feast, it features everyone’s favorite chipmunk rescue rangers. They’ll roam from table to table, interacting with guests. As far as character meal setups go, it’s not an ideal situation, though. The spacing is very tight at Garden Grill due to the unique nature of the rotating main floor. Everyone is in small quarters, which will make you painfully aware of the gigantic size of the character costumes.
Once you get past the claustrophobic nature of Garden Grill, the character aspect is delightful. Chip and Dale are in adorable farmer gear. Your family will take countless pictures long before the chipmunks arrive at the table. Then, you’ll interact with them in an extremely intimate setting. The tight quarters are beneficial in this way. When Chip and Dale are at your table, they are 100% focused on you and nothing else.
Garden Grill is a tough restaurant to evaluate. It’s not a surefire recommendation like so many other Disney establishments. Let me enumerate the pros and cons so that you can make an informed decision.
The positives of Garden Grill are readily apparent. It’s a farm-fresh dining experience that could inspire you to shop and eat healthier in your own life. I especially recommend it in tandem with a FastPass for Living with the Land immediately prior to your way. You’ll have a deep appreciation of what’s gone into your meal preparations if you take this approach.
Also, the character meal aspect is adorable. Chip and Dale never look cuter than when they’re in the farmer outfits. That’s assuming that they’re dressed up, though. Sometimes, they wear regular (i.e. basic) chipmunk outfits instead of overalls. Also, other Disney characters appear, but the lineup isn’t set in stone. Mickey Mouse is regularly one of the characters, and his denim overalls look is delightful. When you pick the right day for your character dining experience, you’ll have a lovely time.
The negatives of Garden Grill are equally important. First of all, the spinning restaurant goes at a glacial pace. However, I have eaten a meal with someone who got a bit motion sick from the experience. If you have problems in a moving vehicle, this place might not be for you.
I’ll also mention the space again because it certainly could make some folks feel claustrophobic. I find the process of getting to and from the table a bit aggravating. Otherwise, it doesn’t bother me, but I see frequent criticisms about this issue.
Finally and most importantly, the food here…isn’t great. Yes, that’s a strange comment to make after dutifully pointing out the marvelous farm-fresh process in place. It’s just that Garden Grill has a limited menu for an AYCE meal, and some of the proteins disappoint.
I prefer the breakfast version of the meal, which is also quite a bit cheaper. It’s a strong compromise choice if you want the character dining experience but don’t care about the food. It’s also quite a bit cheaper. At the time of publication, breakfast costs $34 while lunch is $48 and dinner is $61 for adults.
For $61, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend Garden Grill even though I clearly admire it a great deal. It’s a wonderful idea that isn’t executed perfectly. A stronger menu would help a lot. I still believe that every Mickey Traveler should eat here at least once for the experience. Just don’t set your expectations unreasonably high. The characters are the highlight here, not the food.