Is This the Best Character Meal In Disney World Right Now?
There’s no question that things are a little different at Disney World right now, including character meals. Although Disney just announced that more character meals will be offered in the near future, the experiences still remain modified.
On a recent personal trip to Disney, I was lucky enough to participate in a couple of these beloved experiences with my husband and our four-year-old daughter. One thing was obvious at the end of our trip: not all character dining is created equal right now. So which restaurant gave us an unexpected excellent meal? You’d be surprised.
Character Dining at Disney World
Disney has a variety of experiences available when it comes to dining with your favorite pals. Chef Mickey’s has long been an iconic “must-do” for first time guests, while Be Our Guest and Cinderella’s Royal Table offer a more elegant atmosphere and “special occasion” feel.
Today we’re revisiting a long-standing (albeit, underrated) guest favorite in Epcot. Garden Grill is known for their consistently good food and quality character interactions. But when it comes to character meals, Garden Grill is far from elaborate, gourmet, or even “special”. Sure, the revolving dining room and classic characters are a huge draw, but in the grand scheme of character dining, Garden Grill is pretty basic.
So why is this seemingly basic, no frills meal suddenly the star of the show? It all comes down to value and quality.
Let’s start with the food here, which is obviously a pretty key component in a meal. During our Chip ‘n Dale’s Harvest Feast Lunch at Garden Grill, we were treated to quite the array of delicious eats. Servers bring food to your table “family-style”, so everyone can pick and choose what they like.
Options during our visit included beef with chimichurri sauce, roasted turkey with gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, green beans, macaroni and cheese (topped with Goldfish!), herb and leek stuffing, rolls, salad, AND dessert. Side note: they also offer beer, wine, and specialty cocktails. It was a lot of food but we enjoyed every bit of it! Everything was cooked perfectly and very tasty.
It’s also worth noting that it was refreshing to see a spread where everyone in our party could find something they liked. Character meals are not cheap, especially when you have kids who eat one or two bites and call it a day. Since the foods offered here were very approachable, our daughter was able to sample a little bit of everything, which ultimately made us feel a little better about the price. Just something to note.
Garden Grill is a unique restaurant because it actually moves as you eat. Now don’t let that freak you out, it’s barely noticeable. The ride rotates around the Living with the Land attraction, which offers a pretty neat view throughout your meal. We were seated at a half booth on the lower level (it’s the only level open for seating right now) and were treated to front row views of the various ecosystems.
The highlight of the meal, though, was getting a glimpse into the upper level of the farmhouse! For me, at least. My husband and daughter would probably choose other things.
Characters are always subject to change, but are almost always Chip, Dale, Farmer Mickey, and Pluto. Now this is where the experience really stood out. With character meals right now, generally the characters just come out into the middle of the room for socially distanced photos and interactions. It seems so impersonal compared to “normal” times. But Garden Grill offered a more intimate interaction, and with a Pluto-obsessed four-year-old, that experience was priceless!
Since all guests are seated on the bottom level of the restaurant, characters walk around the upper level, behind the tables. This allows you to get unobstructed and relatively close photos with each character. Our daughter was able to talk to them and actually get reactions from them, which was invaluable. And as an added bonus, the characters came around twice which was a pleasant surprise.
We were pleasantly surprised with Garden Grill, especially when compared to other character meals we experienced during our trip and even in non-COVID times. Other restaurants left much to be desired (ahem, Be Our Guest, I’m looking at you), but Garden Grill felt like money well-spent. We devoured our delicious and plentiful food, took in some unique sights during our meal, and made priceless memories watching our daughter interact one-on-one with the characters. At $55 per adult and $36 for kids, we felt this experience was an excellent value when all was said and done. After all, you can’t put a price tag on magical memories!
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