Walt Disney World Restaurant Review – Be Our Guest
BY MIKE WARING – FEBRUARY 2013
Be Our Guest is a brand new, big addition to the revamped Fantasyland. And I do mean big. During the day it’s a counter service restaurant, but at night it’s transformed into a full service restaurant through the patented Disney magic, which consists of adding servers and hiding the touch screen ordering kiosks. Inside, the place is big enough to play a game of football. Ok, arena football, but you know what I’m talking about.
The main room of the restaurant is modeled on the ballroom from the seminal Ballroom Dancing Scene from Beauty and the Beast. And it’s a pretty accurate depiction, right down to the ceiling with cherubs floating about on clouds. (I don’t know about you, but I find small naked children with wings looking down upon me a little disconcerting.) Along one wall is an illuminated set of picture windows through which one can see snow falling on snow-clad mountains, at night. Very evocative. This is the only area where the ballroom differs significantly from the movie, as in the film the windows extend around the entire room, while in real life (or as real life as anything at Disney World gets) they just occupy one end. Thought I’d point that out for people who are sticklers for detail like me.
Besides the ballroom there are two smaller but still decently sized dining rooms modeled on other portions of the movie. The West Wing is what a room looks like after a Beast temper tantrum, with cobwebs, slashed portraits, and post-existential angst. The Rose Gallery is dominated by a bigger-than-life-sized music box rendering of Belle and the Furry One dancing.
To my intense disappointment, the staff were not dressed as pieces of cutlery or crockery. The Disney magic just lost a little bit of its luster.
There’s also the castle Study, which during the day is where the ordering kiosks for the counter service restaurant are located. At night, the kiosks are still there, just not in use. The Beast, as your host, will do meet-and-greets in here periodically during the evening, though sadly he refuses to devour small annoying children, you know – pour encourager les autres.
Ah, yes, the food. Well, it’s spendy, though just a little spendy. For some reason we came out of the restaurant with the firm opinion that the prices were quite high, but when we reviewed the bill we found out that it really wasn’t that bad. Appetizers were between $4.50 and $7, with a couple of outliers like the mussels at $11, but it’s mussels! And there was a charcuterie platter for two at $15, so that works out to $7.50 a pop, or if you were us, it’d be $11.50 for one and $3.50 for the other, based on relative consumption rates.
Main courses were between $16 and $23, though there is a steak sitting out there all by itself at $30. Finally, there are the desserts, which are pretty cool, even if you’re an adult. They bring around a dessert trolley just like in those fancy temples of haute cuisine, but here they have cupcakes, which is a magnificently great idea. You can choose from three different cupcakes and three different cream puffs. All are priced at $4.
As a side note, the dessert trolley has an added, probably unintended benefit: they were not able to cram tables into this restaurant at anything like the maximum capacity, because they needed to leave room to maneuver the trolleys around the place. So there is actually a decent amount of separation between the tables, which corresponds to a somewhat lower sound level than one would expect.
Quality-wise, well, it’s no Victoria and Albert’s. Actually, I’d put it solidly in the chain restaurant class, like Chili’s or Mimi’s. So, not bad, not great. One thing to note, though, is that the kitchen has quite a heavy hand with the herbs. My thyme scented pork chop was quite thyme-y, and Mary’s tarragon flavored Cornish game hen was tarragon taken to a higher power. Be sure when you order to look carefully at the menu so as to avoid herbal accidents.
Servers are well intentioned, pleasant and always bustling around. Watch them, though, because they do have a tendency to want to turn tables at maximum velocity. This means, as we heard before we went, and then experienced ourselves, that they will try and bring out your entrees within 5-10 minutes after you receive your appetizers. If like us, you like to keep these two courses separated, which is the adult equivalent of making sure that your food doesn’t touch on the plate, be firm with the wait staff and tell them you’re not ready for the main courses and to bring fresh ones out later, after you’ve finished the starters. And be unyielding that you want fresh entrees, not ones that have been wilting under the heat lamp for twenty minutes. If they bring the main courses out too early it is their error, not yours. This is not a phenomenon exclusive to Disney: we’ve encountered the same thing recently at a couple of chain restaurants.
Overall, I think Be Our Guest is a pretty awesome experience if you have an eight-year-old girl who loves, loves, loves Beauty and the Beast. It’s an impressive venue and I would, personally, prefer to eat lunch here over dinner. It’s less expensive, the food choices sound like things that appeal to me more than the offerings at dinner, and it’s less expensive, which I offer up twice because saving money is our bag.