Spectacular Foodie’s Guide to Eating at Magic Kingdom
Walt Disney World is the Most Magical Place on Earth. It features several of the most trafficked theme parks on the planet and is among the most popular paid tourist attractions on the planet. When you visit here, you will have a wonderful time. You WILL get hungry, too. You’re doing tons of walking and thereby burning calories like crazy.
MickeyBlog wants you to have the best possible time during your vacation. We understand that eating is a significant component of that. So, we’re starting a new series to help you prep for your trip. Here is the first of a two-part foodie’s guide to eating at Magic Kingdom.
Despite its size and stature, I’d only rank Magic Kingdom as having the third-best food options of the four Disney theme parks. Only Disney’s Hollywood Studios falls under it in this category. I say this so that you can reset your expectations.
While several restaurants serve quality cuisine and a few are genuinely outstanding, Magic Kingdom still falls into the trap of selling generic theme park food too often. Burgers, pizzas, nuggets, and hot dogs are available at most places, a worrisome sign.
Disney experts know a secret about the food situation at Magic Kingdom. The best place to go for a wonderful meal is outside the park. You can take the Resort Monorail from the park to the three hotels on this route. Disney’s Contemporary Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort all host terrific restaurants.
You’re never more than 10 minutes away from any of them, assuming that you’re willing to navigate your way to Magic Kingdom’s exit and then walk over to the monorail station. This guide won’t include any of those restaurants, though. It’s strictly focused on in-park meal options. Part one will discuss Signature Dining options at Magic Kingdom.
Signature Dining at Magic Kingdom
The Signature Dining category is the one that interests most Mickey Travelers. The two fine dining experiences at Magic Kingdom are also the most famous ones. Everyone dreams of eating at both locations. The primary sticking point is the price tag.
The restaurants aren’t merely the most expensive ones at Magic Kingdom. They’re among the costliest meals at Walt Disney World. As such, most guests view them as special events meals or one-time experiences.
Cinderella’s Royal Table
The show-stopping meal at Walt Disney World is available at Cinderella’s Royal Table. When you dine here, you’re an invited guest of Cinderella. She and several other Disney Princesses hold court during the meal, a phenomenal incentive for many Disney fans. Most importantly, you’re literally eating inside Cinderella Castle during this meal. It’s an inimitable opportunity that some guests consider a once-in-a-lifetime situation.
Since this is a foodie guide, you’re rightfully wondering about the food. This is a sore subject among Disney fans, as a meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table frankly could be better. The Charcuterie Plate, the best appetizer, isn’t anything special, and the only two lunch/dinner entrees of note are the Braised Pork Shank and Beef and Shrimp.
The desserts at this restaurant are exquisite. The stylish Jaq & Gus cheesecake is marvelous, but the showstopper that everyone covets is The Clock Strikes Twelve. It’s a dark chocolate mousse with a dark chocolate ganache that will remind you why you fell in love with chocolate in the first place.
Evaluating Cinderella’s Royal Table is more about the experiential nature of walking within Cinderella Castle than it is about the food. I wouldn’t ever describe as the best meal at Magic Kingdom. It is, however, the most magical thing that you can do at the Most Magical Place on Earth. Foodies can do better on flavors, but they can’t beat the sensation of feeling like royalty as you strut through the castle.
Be Our Guest
I have trouble wrapping my head around the fact that you can eat at two different castles at Magic Kingdom. Park officials recognized several years ago that they couldn’t possibly meet the persistent demand for Cinderella’s Royal Table. Some enterprising person had an idea to mitigate the problem without reducing the appeal of the Cinderella experience. Disney built a second castle with a show-stopping royal meal.
Be Our Guest isn’t precisely a character meal. You can and should engage with the Beast in his study. This character meeting is a bit odd in that you choose the time. Either before or after your meal, you’ll get in the line queue and watch guests interact with Beast.
From time to time, the character WILL appear during your meal. This isn’t a meeting, though. An announcement will come over the loudspeaker, and then Beast will quickly walk across the room as he waves at guests.
Regarding ambiance, Be Our Guest isn’t quite as revered in Disney circles as Cinderella’s Royal Table. Personally, I like it better due to the breathtaking Imagineering effects in play. At one end of the restaurant, you can look at your window and see snow falling down the mountains, an odd sensation during a Florida summer. You’ll also want to look at the magical rose in its jar. It’s an unforgettable image worthy of your favorite Instagram filter.
The primary difference between Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table is the food. While the latter restaurant has the perception of being the most upscale meal at Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest blows it away in terms of flavor. The cuisine here is better across the board.
Since Belle is French, the flavors tend toward that type of cuisine. You’ll eat the harder kind of French bread as an example, and croques are available for breakfast and lunch. Be Our Guest is a bit of an oddity at Disney. I’ve listed it as a Signature Dining experience, which it is…but only at dinner. During breakfast and lunch, it’s a Table Service meal that requires only one Disney Dining Plan entitlement.
In the summer of 2018, Disney changed Be Our Guest’s dinner to a prix fixe, a three-course menu that costs two Table Service entitlements. They did it because they could, as the demand for this meal borders on unprecedented.
The changes in the menu to accommodate a prix fixe meal are oddly subtle. Many guests already ate an appetizer with their meal due to the Disney Dining Plan providing it as part of the package. And no self-respecting person would dine at Be Our Guest without eating one of the desserts. One of them is quite famous, after all.
You’ll start your prix fixe dinner with a Sourdough Loaf, which arrives hot, hard, and unsliced. Your family can decide how to divide it. The choices begin with the high-end appetizers like Escargot, Maine Lobster Bisque, and Charred Octopus. I’m a devotee of the plate of meats and cheeses, which thankfully survived the dramatic menu overhaul.
For the main course, Be Our Guest serves elevated versions of recognizable entrees. Your mouth will water as you look at the menu and evaluate possibilities like Center-Cut Filet Mignon, Spice-Dusted Lamp Chops, and Saffron-Infused Seafood Bouillabaisse. As a diehard steak guy, I toss in my full support for the filet mignon, which I’ve had and loved several times.
When you dine at Be Our Guest, you’re passing the time until dessert. You want the Grey Stuff, which they lyric states is delicious. This delectable treat now comes in a “Chip” cup styled after Chip from the film, Beauty and the Beast. Weirdly, the Chip cup is edible, a dark choice, especially to fans of the character.
The brilliant change at Be Our Guest is that you no longer have to decide on the Grey Stuff, though. You’ll receive three different desserts in a sampler. The Almond Macaron and Dark Chocolate Truffle are no longer an either/or choice where you have no bad options. You’re going to eat all three of them, thereby guaranteeing that you’ll exit the restaurant with a smile on your face.
Be Our Guest differentiates itself from Cinderella’s Royal Table in one other way. It was the first restaurant at Magic Kingdom to sell alcohol. It’s no longer the only one since the arrival of Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen; it’s unquestionably the place with the most in-depth wine list, though. It sells wine by the glass and by the bottle, with some of the finest brands costing $100 a bottle or more. Everything about Be Our Guest is first class.
While comparing and contrasting the Signature Dining experiences at Magic Kingdom is useful to an extent, the truth is that Mickey Travelers will want to eat at each one at some point. My family has gravitated toward Be Our Guest since its inception, but we’ve still kept Cinderella’s Royal Table in the dining rotation. Both meals are so memorable that they single-handedly justify a Disney vacation.